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Ben Carson Talks Clinton Hammering Trump During Remarks to Journalists; Trump to Endorse Paul Ryan; Presidential Candidates' Strategies in Battleground State Pennsylvania. Aired 1:30-2p ET

Aired August 5, 2016 - 13:30   ET



[13:34:06] WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: We just heard from Hillary Clinton, the Democratic candidate for president, during her appearance at a journalist conference in Washington. She took several shots at Donald Trump, saying it's her message each and every day to talk about Trump's controversial comments.

Let's get a different perspective.

Joining us from Florida, Dr. Ben Carson, a top adviser to Donald Trump.

Thanks very much, Dr. Carson, for joining us.


BLITZER: She says America is better than Donald Trump. You heard what she told those Hispanic and African-American journalists. I want to get your response.

CARSON: Obviously, it's an attempt to make this whole thing about Donald Trump. If we can always be talking about him and his short comings, we don't have to talk about her and her short comings. We don't have to talk about the economy. This is something that is very important to the American people. We don't have to talk about terrorism. We don't have to talk about how ISIS was formed because of her policies and Barack Obama's policies of withdrawing and allowing that vacuum to form. There are a whole host of things I am sure they would prefer not to talk about. It's much easier to try to talk about Donald Trump.

But this is about so much more than Donald Trump, so much more than Hillary Clinton. We're talking about the future of this country, this direct of this country for our children and on our grandchildren. They do not want to talk about that.

[13:35:34] BLITZER: I want to talk about the economy in a moment. I want to get your reaction, your response to what the former acting CIA director, Michael Morell, did today. Wrote an article in "The "New York Times," endorsing Secretary Clinton, describing Donald Trump this way -- let me put it up on the screen. He said, "Donald J. Trump is not only unqualified for the job, but he may well pose a threat to our national security. In sharp contrast to Mrs. Clinton, Mr. Trump has no experience on national security. Even more important, the character traits he has exhibited during the primary season suggest he would be a poor, even dangerous commander-in-chief."

He spent 20-plus years, served Democratic presidents, Republican presidents. He said he can no longer remain silent and wrote this arm. Your reaction?

CARSON: My reaction is that he has also involved with the secretary of state during the Benghazi thing. And he was not critical of her in a situation where we had those Navy SEALs on top of that compound firing away, helping their colleagues escape. And I know in the back of their mind, they were saying, help is on the way, because we've always supported our troops. We've always supported our staff. We left them. We said it's too dangerous. What precedent does that set? What does that tell our military people in the future? You get in a scrape, you're on your own? That's not a good message. That's somebody who I think would not be a fit commander-in-chief.

BLITZER: So you are saying Hillary Clinton would not be a fit commander-in-chief. But you are raising questions now about Mike Morell, a career professional, rose through the ranks in the intelligence community. You are suggesting what, that he's partisan, that he's not responsible?

CARSON: That he supports -- yeah, he supported her throughout that whole endeavor. If he was truly someone who was concerned about America, about our defense and about our image, I think he would not have participated in that.

BLITZER: He had two CIA contractors who were killed in that Benghazi operation, terrorist attack. I assume he's very, very intimately involved if all that of that. And all of the congressional reviews, basically, did not condemn if at all, as far as I know.

CARSON: Well, whether they condemned him or not, he was a part of it, Wolf. You can't get him out of it. He was in it. He knew what was going on. He knew -- I mean, this is really quite, quite clear. So why was he not concerned about that if he's so concerned about the defense of our nation?

BLITZER: I am sure he is very concerned.

ISIS also right now in this article very concerned about Donald Trump and his relationship with Vladimir Putin, the Russian president. Listen to what he writes, among other things, about that, he says, "In the intelligence business, we would say that Mr. Putin has recruited Mr. Trump as an unwitting agent of the Russian Federation."

Now, those are very -- that's a very powerful accusation.

CARSON: Yeah, but, Wolf, there's going to be all kind of accusations flying from both sides, things that aren't accurate and things that again are trying to make this about Hillary Clinton, about Donald Trump. It's not about them. And I think a lot of the American people recognize that. That's why you are seeing some of these large enthusiastic crowds, even though there are a lot of people telling them things to the contrary. They see hope. They want a future for their children. They want economic freedom. They don't like the fact that we are going on $20 trillion deficit. They don't believe people who say the economy is humming along beautifully because they have eyes and ears. They can see for themselves that it's not.

BLITZER: Let's talk about the economy. 255,000 jobs created last month, 30 months in a row if now more. 15 million jobs created since the Great Recession that President Obama inherited when he took office. You remember, in 2009, the U.S. was losing maybe 800,000 jobs a month, 900,000 jobs a month. Unemployment is right around 9, 10 percent. It has clearly improved dramatically since then, wouldn't you agree?

[13:40:05] CARSON: I don't know about the "dramatically" part. There has been some improvement. I'm happy for that. That's good. But I want you to understand that this is the first time in a seven or eight-year period of a president that we have consistently had less than 3 percent growth. I don't believe that has ever happened in the history of the United States. People say it's the new normal. There is nothing normal about it. It's these policies, these excessive regulations tamping down the ability of people to use their God-given abilities to create in this country. It's excessive taxation. It's things that allow the government to grow and control our lives, when the American people don't need somebody controlling their lives.

BLITZER: You remember, the economy, if you take a look at the economy, where it was when he took office, the Dow Jones was 7,000. Now it's about 18,000? That's a pretty dramatic improvement. If you ask people who remember what it was like at the end of 2008, the beginning of 2009, that Great Recession we were all having, what it's like now, there has been a dramatic improvement, even though it's by no means perfect.

CARSON: It's been a dramatic improvement for you, Wolf, for me, and all of Hillary Clinton's Wall Street buddies, but it's not a dramatic improvement for the average American family who's lost 2,000 in annual income over the last few years. So it's not even. And what we need to do is be looking for things that will spread the wealth to all of the people, not just the selected few.

BLITZER: Let me get your reaction, because the latest uproar involving Donald Trump and the House speaker Paul Ryan, as you know, so far, Donald Trump has failed to endorse Paul Ryan. He's got his own primary election coming up next Tuesday. Certainly, hasn't endorsed John McCain or New Hampshire Senator Kelly Ayotte. You told me on Wednesday you thought Trump would be on board, especially with Paul Ryan. You still believe that?

CARSON: Yes, I believe he will come on board with them. You know, it's much to do about nothing. All those people that you just mentioned are working on the same team, working towards the same goals, and they will continue to work together. In terms of what one says one day versus one day versus another day, it's not important. What is important is that they're continuing to move in the right direction. BLITZER: By the way, we're just getting word -- in fact, I'm just

learning right now that tonight when he's in Green Bay, Donald Trump, Green Bay, Wisconsin, he will, we are told by two sources, he will go ahead and endorse Paul Ryan. You fully anticipated this. Did you think he was going to do it before the primary or after the primary?

CARSON: I don't -- I don't really know. What I do know is that Paul Ryan is a good man. He works extremely hard. And he's very concerned about the direction of our country and the future. And Donald Trump feels exactly the same way. There's no way that they cannot be working together.

BLITZER: And do you feel the same way about John McCain and Kelly Ayotte? Should Donald Trump endorse both of those Republicans if they face tough re-election bids?

CARSON: I think it would be a wise move, absolutely.

BLITZER: Dr. Ben Carson, as usual, thank you so much for joining us.

CARSON: Thank you. Have a good weekend.

BLITZER: You, too, please.

Coming up, Colorado, a key battleground state that could help Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton win the White House. So why is Hillary Clinton suspending some political advertising in that state? We will ask the governor, John Hickenlooper. He's standing by, live.


[13:47:45] BLITZER: The breaking news we're following, we just learned from two sources Trump is expected to formally publicly endorse Paul Ryan, the House speaker, tonight, in his primary race. The race coming up on Tuesday. The endorsement will come at an event that Mr. Trump has scheduled in Green Bay, Wisconsin. This comes several days after Trump said he wasn't quite there yet on backing Paul Ryan. Once again, the breaking news in the race for the White House. We are told that Donald Trump will go ahead tonight and endorse the House Speaker Paul Ryan. No word on John McCain, of Arizona, or Kelly Ayotte, of New Hampshire.

Colorado is a key battleground state, one which Donald Trump has called a must-win in his race for the White House. Recent polls there show Hillary Clinton leading the state.

CNN's Kyung Lah takes a closer look at the different strategies of the two campaigns.


KYUNG LAH, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In the battleground state of Colorado, the ground war.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm getting people registered to vote.

LAH: Taking aim with real and augmented retail politics. Clinton campaign workers paying Pokemon Go to register potential voters.


LAH: And using other attention-getting draws.

(on camera): A cello, for real?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A cello. You have to be unique in a battleground state like Colorado.

LAH (voice-over): Battleground Colorado twice elected Republican George W. Bush, and gave Barack Obama back-to-back victories.

This year, the state is showing signs of leaning Democratic. Some recent polls give Hillary Clinton a double-digit lead. Another potential advantage, since 2012, Democrats have registered more voters than Republicans.


LAH: And the ranks of Latino voters continues to grow, up to 15.3 percent higher than the national average.

14 Clinton campaign offices are up and running in the state. Hundreds of workers are on the payroll. The operation is expected to triple by early October.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But we're not going to take anything for granted. For us, our end game is critical.

LAH: Democrats have spent $5 million on Colorado TV ad. Trump supporters have spent $232,000.

The Clinton camp now pulling TV ads, saying Trump isn't on the airwaves or, frankly, on the pavement.

(on camera): Are you seeing the Trump operation out there?


LAH (voice-over): The Trump plan in Colorado is far different. Yes, there are some workers knocking on doors, but only a handful are on the payroll. Most are volunteers.

The Trump campaign has just five offices, relying instead on an extensive Republican national and state and local network in place since 2013. The campaign not worried about being out-gunned in the traditional ground game.

ROBERT BLAHA, CHAIRMAN, COLORADO DONALD TRUMP PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN: Her game plan is the same old, tired, worn-out paradigm we've seen for years and years and years. Trump brings a brand new level or energy.


BLAHA: How well we do will be decided in large by a group of people in the middle of America.

LAH: In Colorado, more than one-third of voters are registered Independents, like Mark Saban. He supports Trump.

[13:50:49] MARK SABAN, INDEPENDENT VOTER: I will do is as an Independent so I will correct directly to Donald Trump. I do not contribute to the GOP.

LAH: Loyalty to Trump, not party, an "X" factor not lost on both sides.

And with both candidates having high unfavorability numbers, it is leaving some Independent voters uncertain of which way they will go in November.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm not even sure of which way I'm going to vote for president.

LAH (on camera): So how are you going to decide?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't know. I guess it's the lesser of two evils.


BLITZER: That was Kyung Lah reporting for us from Colorado.

Let's talk about this more with the top Democrat in Colorado. Governor John Hickenlooper joins us now live from Denver. He, of course, is a Hillary Clinton supporter.

Governor, thanks for joining us.


BLITZER: Hillary Clinton's lead in the state has significantly grown, and she's pulling advertising at least for now. Is that wise?

HICKENLOOPER: I think the campaign is demonstrating it is going to be nimble and strategic. Resources now into other states but trust me, they still recognize Colorado as a battleground state that they still have to win. As things change or the campaign evolves I would expect to see them back up on the air in Colorado in the future.

BLITZER: In other words, you aren't taking anything for granted and the Clinton campaign shouldn't either. Is that what you are saying?

HICKENLOOPER: Yeah, exactly. I think what we are seeing in the polls. You have to take polls with a grain of salt. What we're seeing in it the polls is certainly a number of Democrats and Independents and even some Republicans are coming around to secretary Clinton. I think they find her specifics around proposals around the economy and national security. At the same time, most Republicans in Colorado, many of them, really align themselves around family values. I think they've been disappointed by some of Mr. Trump's comments. There is a strong pro-military sentiment in this state, and support for first responders. And when Mr. Trump was berating the family, a Gold Star family who lost their son in combat, and then a week later, he's attacking a fire marshal who's just doing his job, that rubs a lot of Republicans in the state the wrong way. I think both of those things coming together have created a little bit of space.

BLITZER: Have you said all of that, looking at the polls, looking at what's going on right now, and you know your state, do you think it is still possible Donald Trump could carry, could win, Colorado?

HICKENLOOPER: Well, just on my own beliefs, I'd like to think that's not possible. But anything's possible. We've known -- we've watched Donald Trump over the last 12 months again and again defy polls, inexplicable in many cases, inexplicable way. Secretary Clinton was out here a couple days ago for a day and a half. And that woman works as hard as anybody I know. She certainly wasn't taking anything for granted.

BLITZER: What advice are you giving the campaign? What advice are you giving Hillary Clinton?

HICKENLOOPER: I think to continue demonstrating that she has a knowledge of policy. When she's talking about how to get the economy going and make it fairer for everyone, she talks about cutting red tape, about expanding access to capital, helping small businesses, and she has specifics, she's going out and really talking about that out to the people. I think that gets a lot of enthusiasm and creates a leverage point. Because, so far, Mr. Trump hasn't really given any specifics around any of his --


BLITZER: Because her biggest problem, correct me if I'm wrong, when you ask the American public, is she honest and trustworthy, 60 percent, if not higher, say she isn't honest and trustworthy. That's a big problem for her.

HICKENLOOPER: Well, but she's doing exactly what we should be doing, is going out there and demonstrating day after day after day what a hard worker she is and her command of policy, she knows more -- I mean this -- more than any governor or Senator or congressperson I've ever worked with. She knows more policy and understands what's failed in the past, what might --


BLITZER: So why do so many voters out there think she's not honest?

HICKENLOOPER: I think there is a fairly large cottage industry that, the moment she's running for something, they're out making sure that every possible story that could emphasize any mistakes she's made, anything that might not have been done right. I thought Michael Morell's comments this morning were very valuable. Here's somebody who understood the details about Benghazi, almost certainly. And he clearly recognizes that Hillary Clinton is trustworthy, hard working, and would be -- as a commander-in-chief, a far better leader than Donald Trump. [13:55:] BLITZER: All right, Governor Hickenlooper of Colorado. I

should say the beautiful state of Colorado.

Governor, thanks very much for joining us.


HICKENLOOPER: You bet. My pleasure.

BLITZER: That's it for me. I'll be back 5:00 p.m. eastern in "The Situation Room."

The news continues right after a quick break.