Return to Transcripts main page


Trump Talks Tough on ISIS as Polls Fall; Trump Impacts Down- Ballot Senate Race of Ayotte/Hassan; Third Party Candidate Gets on Utah Ballot. Aired 11-11:30a ET

Aired August 16, 2016 - 11:00   ET





RUDY GIULIANI, (R), FORMER NEW YORK CITY MAYOR: Before Obama came along, we didn't have any successful radical Islamic terrorist attack in the United States.

HILLARY CLINTON, (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE & FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: He said I know more about ISIS than the generals. No, no, Donald, you don't.

TRUMP: Those who do not believe in our Constitution will not be admitted into our country.

TIM KAINE, (D), VIRGINIA GOVERNOR & VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: He doesn't have a clue. He really doesn't. He doesn't have a clue.

CLINTON: Friends should not let friends vote for Trump.



KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Kate Bolduan. John Berman is off today.

About three months, as any pregnant woman can tell you, that can feel like an eternity. Any parent with a kid on summer break can tell you that will feel like an eternity. But is it enough time to turn the campaign around as a new swing state poll is out showing Trump down by double digits. Trump is trying to recapture the magic that helped propel him to the presidential nomination and part of the plan, tough talk on dealing with ISIS.


TRUMP: We should only let into this country those who share out values and respect our people. In the Cold War --

(APPLAUSE) TRUMP: -- we had an ideological screening test. The time is overdue to develop a new screening test. I call it extreme vetting. I call it extreme, extreme vetting.


BOLDUAN: Trump campaigning today in Wisconsin, home state of two of the nation's top Republicans, Republican party Chairman Reince Priebus and House Speaker Paul Ryan.

Let's go to Athena Jones for more on the reboot.

How is Trump trying to turn this around? What do you hear?

ATHENA JONES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Kate. He's trying to turn this around by staying on message, staying on script, trying to keep the focus more on Hillary Clinton and why he believes she would make a bad president, why he would make a better one. This is the argument that he needs to be making over and over again, not these controversies over his own making.

So he did that yesterday. You see he delivered a teleprompter-aided speech in the key swing state of Ohio, kept the focus on Clinton, on criticizing Secretary Clinton's policies while secretary and also President Obama's policies. He did not repeat that outrageous claim from last week about President Obama and Secretary Clinton being the founders or MVPs of ISIS, but he still placed the blame for the rise of the terror group on their shoulders.


TRUMP: Before the Obama-Clinton administration took over, Libya was stable. Syria was under control. Fast forward to today, Libya is in ruins, our ambassador and three other brave Americans are dead, and ISIS has gained a new base of operations.


JONES: So there he is making an argument against Clinton policies and Obama policies and if kind of policies he believes would be carried forward in Clinton administration. You can take issue with what he said. The bottom line, he's not repeating these claims that are distracting from his message -- Kate?

BOLDUAN: We'll see if that message continues.

One quick thing that came out this morning, Hillary Clinton announced her transition team, a lot of well-known names in the political world. What does that tell you?

JONES: It signals they have confidence that she has a real shot of winning and we have top officials signing on with what the campaign, what a chairman called an accomplished group of by Kent Salazar (ph), the former secretary of the interior. Also other co-chairs, Jennifer Granholm, the former Michigan governor; Tanden (ph), who has been a policy adviser to Clinton; Maggie Williams, her chief of staff. The former national security advisor, Tom Donilan, also in that group. The idea here is that if she wins in November, they want to have a turn-key operation ready. By law, both campaigns have teams they can set up. And now we get the word of the big names on her team -- Kate?

BOLDUAN: A lot needs to happen before then.

JONES: Absolutely.

BOLDUAN: Athena, great to see you. Thanks so much.

Let's bring in Kris Kobach, a Trump supporter and Kansas secretary of state; Pete Seat, communications director for the Indiana Republican party and also worked in the George W. Bush White House; and Nayyera Haq, a former senior director in the Obama White House and was also spokesperson for Hillary Clinton's State Department.

Thank you all for being here. A lot to get to.

Secretary, he didn't mention the temporary ban on all Muslims, what we heard in November, now talking about banning people from countries with heavy terrorist activity. Do you consider this a shift or is this a ban by another name.

[11:05:] KRIS KOBACH, KANSAS SECRETARY OF STATE & DONALD TRUMP SUPPORTER: I think it would be more appropriate to call it a ban by another name. He's refining. He spoke in generalities before. Now he's talking about exactly how it would work. What I hear sounds great. This is exactly what we did when I was in the Bush administration right after 9/11. We had something similar, which served to protect the American public until the Obama administration disbanded it. It was called the National Security and --


BOLDUAN: But, Mr. Secretary, you think it's the ban on all Muslims entering the country, it's just the same ban by a different name?

KOBACH: No. What it is, instead of making it a blanket ban, you say let's focus on parts of the world where radical Islam is present, namely an ISIS presence and let's put heightened scrutiny on those individuals. As he said, extreme scrutiny. And those individuals have to go through secondary inspection. They have to be scrutinized and tracked while they're in United States. We did that after 9/11 and it worked to secure the American public. We know it can be done. Now, he's talking about doing it on a larger scale. That's exactly what this country needs. We know there are ISIS operatives in the United States and we can't let any more get in, especially through the Syrian refugee program.

BOLDUAN: Where is the evidence there are ISIS operatives in the United States? I know there are investigations, as the FBI director has said, of ISIS-related activity in the United States and all 50 states. But where there are ISIS operatives.

KOBACH: The Orlando shooter for one and other terrorists who claimed they did this on behalf of ISIS. The open question is were they receiving orders before they carried out terrorist attacks or did they act on their own and declare affiliation with ISIS? The bottom line is they're killing Americans on behalf of is right now.

BOLDUAN: Nayyera, you worked under Hillary Clinton in the State Department. You said you didn't hear anything new about what to do differently?

NAYYERA HAQ, FORMER SENIOR PRESIDENTIAL ADVISOR & FORMER SPOKESPERSON, U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT: This is part of the problem that Trump is facing, looking to make a reboot, particularly after making bizarre, off-the-cuff comments about how President Obama founded ISIS. It's muddied the waters because he hasn't described a single thing, no nation building, targeting strikes. These are all things the Bush and Obama administration have done and are doing to attack ISIS.

What he did map out were a series of simple statements that appeal to his base, how we have to stand up for American values. We can't let people in our country who support bigotry and support anti-gay sentiment or anti-Semitism. The challenge is a lot of his base will not pass the test itself he's laying out for foreigners. How do you balance that in the context of what Trump has been saying? We have seen so many in his Twitter feed, retreating white supremacists, a whole Star of David moment that also blew up in his face. In that mushy space of policy that, without the clarity, we can't really tell where he's going and what he's going to be trying to do next.

BOLDUAN: One thing we heard clearly, Pete, and I want you to weigh in on, this extreme vetting. We heard in the sound bite when I was speaking with Athena. What does extreme vetting mean to you?

PETE SEAT, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I'm not entirely familiar. I'm familiar with what -- extreme makeover home edition is but I'm not as a familiar with extreme vetting.

BOLDUAN: I don't think that's what's what he's talking about.

SEAT: I don't either.


SEAT: I want to tag on the balance word that's used. Donald Trump seeing things very much in black and white. And there's not that balance in his rhetoric to say we need to be a welcoming nation that welcomes legal immigration.

I take this very seriously. Both of my parents are legal immigrants to this country. They came here to seek out a better life. He focuses just on the bad side of immigration, people that may be coming to the United States to do harm. That's important. We need a strong vetting process for sure. But he needs to give the other side time of day, too, to say we want people who have skills, who can help build our economy, to come here, too, as well.

HAQ: And in particular, at a time when we're talking about a businessman looking to be commander-in-chief. He should have a better understanding and awareness of what visas and the travel, what that does for the U.S. economy, in particularly because so much of his business has been reliant on partners overseas.

BOLDUAN: I want to talk about what one of the things Mr. Trump discussed yesterday, Mr. Secretary, was the ideological test, a very basic question when it comes to an ideological test of people coming into this country. Do you think terrorists are going to tell the truth if they want to enter this country?

[11:10:18] KOBACH: This isn't the first time we've had to ask that question. The Immigration and Nationality Act of 1992, we were engaged in a fight against Communism and the Cold War. We had a similar ideological test still in U.S. law.


BOLDUAN: In 2016, do you think that's effective?

KOBACH: Yeah, I do. Nothing is perfect, but it works like this. You come to the port of entry, go to the primary inspector and he says we're going to send you to secondary inspection and you sit down and have a long discussion with someone. That person would look for any clues that this individual harbors any intent against the United States constitution. Is it perfect? Is it possible the immigration inspector might let somebody slip by? Yes. You have a presumption that the individual doesn't get in unless certain boxes can be checked. That, right now, isn't happening at our border. It needs to be happening again. We're at a time of national crisis just like we were in 1952.

BOLDUAN: Go ahead, Nayyera.

HAQ: This is a lack of understanding of what diplomats do every day and what the State Department does at embassies around the world. They do extensive interviews, vetting people before they even come to the United States. There's a secondary screening here at the United States when people come to the port of entry. The challenge of somebody slipping through I think is more of fear mongering that we're hearing and seeing at the expense of people who legitimately have business interests or are supporting the United States. And hearkening back to the Cold War, and particularly the reference to commissions, is very dangerous to some of the other liberties we hold dear as Americans, freedom of speech, freedom of religion. This is the kind of rhetoric that is going to be divisive. And it's not going to attract --

KOBACH: These are individuals who are not Americans. They don't enjoy those liberties until they come to this country. We have every right to stop someone at the border and say, no, you can't come into this country until you assure us that you meet our criteria. We must do that to secure our country. And Trump understands that.

BOLDUAN: Let me ask you this. Yesterday, Donald Trump said this, and a lot of people are talking about it. "Importantly, Hillary Clinton lacks the mental and physical stamina to take on ISIS and all the many adversaries we state."

You worked for her at the State Department. When you heard that, what do you think he meant?

HAQ: Trying to reflect back on the criticisms launched against him, like the temperament argument resonating not just among 50 or so Republican national security advisers, who sent out a letter saying he is not temperamentally fit to be commander-in-chief. I think that's his way of lashing out. There's a lot of things you can say about Hillary Clinton and a lot of questions and concerns that people do have, but temperament tends to not be one of them.

BOLDUAN: In terms of mental and physical stamina, Pete Seat, do you think Hillary Clinton -- you don't support Hillary Clinton, you don't support Donald Trump either. When it comes to mental and physical stamina to take on ISIS, it is not your typical wording someone will use in order to attack someone. Do you think Hillary Clinton has the mental and physical stamina to take on ISIS, Pete?

SEAT: This hasn't been a typical campaign season. I think what both campaigns are doing is racing to the bottom. Not only did you have Donald Trump making those comments, but you also had Joe Biden on the campaign stump yesterday with Hillary Clinton saying that Donald Trump couldn't be trusted with the nuclear codes. Not the first time we've heard that. But everyone is racing to the bottom. These two candidates are not trustworthy in the eyes of voters. I think people would probably prefer they weren't the nominees. But rather than an elevated debate about how we take this country forward, we're questioning people's mental stability. I think it's a joke.

BOLDUAN: Can we have fun really quick. Debate prep. The first debate is at the end of September. "Politico" reporting Hillary Clinton's has a new job they've posted, who wants to be Donald Trump in her debate prep? This is a fun game.

Nayyera, you worked for her at the state.

HAQ: It's difficult. Who wants to kind of say the torturous things about your boss' past to their face? I think it's going to be difficult to find someone who can stand up to that. Certainly Donald Trump is a very unique debater. It's going to be hard to find someone who can be as unpredictable.

BOLDUAN: Dodged that question very artfully.

Secretary, you will not dodge this?

KOBACH: I've got an answer for you.

BOLDUAN: Who should play Hillary Clinton in debate prep?

KOBACH: OK. I was going to answer your previous question. I think Joe Biden should play Donald Trump. He's very good at unpredictable answers. That's Donald Trump's biggest strength, unpredictability.

Who plays Hillary Clinton? That's a tough one. You probably have to find a female Republican U.S. Senator who can capture Hillary's -- I'm thinking, I'm thinking.

BOLDUAN: Who is also supporting Donald Trump.

KOBACH: I'll come up with one.

You've got that issue, too.


BOLDUAN: Pete, any suggestions? You've been around this?

[11:15:17] SEAT: I'm not sure who plays Hillary Clinton. I think there's no question for Donald Trump. It's either Darrell Hammond or Jimmy Fallon. Those two do it spot on.

BOLDUAN: Got to love it.

Good to see you. Thanks for little bit of fun. Appreciate it.

Kris Kobach will be joining us a little bit later. He just can't get enough.

Coming up for us, she is not endorsing Donald Trump but says she plans on voting for him. What is the difference in those things? Senator Kelly Ayotte tries to keep her distance as she tries to keep her seat and help Republicans hang on to the Senate majority.

Plus, on the ballot and possible putting the deep red state of Utah in play. Ahead, we'll talk to a former CIA officer who is now running an alternative to Donald Trump. Why he says his campaign won't hurt Trump because the GOP nominee is going to lose anyway.


[11:19:55] BOLDUAN: Donald Trump's down-ballot impact is the big focus in New Hampshire. Republican Senator Kelly Ayotte is fighting for re-election against Maggie Hassan.

They both spoke with CNN's Manu Raju, who is joining us from New Hampshire.

How big a role is Donald Trump playing in that New Hampshire race?

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER: Pretty significant, Kate. Everywhere you go Democrats are trying the tie Kelly Ayotte to Donald Trump. Donald Trump is losing handily to Hillary Clinton in the state, down eight, nine, ten points, even down by 15 according to one poll. So Kelly Ayotte needs to run significantly ahead of Donald Trump if she wants to hang on to the seat.

But what puts Kelly Ayotte in a bind, Kate, is she needs Donald Trump supporters. After all, he won this state's primary by a healthy margin in February.

When I asked Kelly Ayotte about Donald Trump, she had a little verbal gymnastics, we should say, about her support for Donald Trump.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) RAJU: What's the difference between endorsing and voting for?

SEN. KELLY AYOTTE, (R), NEW HAMPSHIRE: There's a big distinction. Endorsing is where I'm out campaigning with someone. While he has my vote, he doesn't have my endorsement. I'm going to continue to focus on my race. I think the people of New Hampshire deserve to know, will you ever disagree on a major issue with your nominee? Unfortunately, Governor Hassan has not. I have a long history of doing that, even before Donald Trump became our nominee.

RAJU: She says she's voting for him, but she's not going to endorse him.

MAGGIE HASSAN, (D), NEW HAMPSHIRE GOVERNOR & SENATE CANDIDATE: I think people should hear that statement for what it is. She is trying to have it both ways. I don't think any elected leader who is supporting Donald Trump for the presidency should hold office.


RAJU: So if you listen to Kelly Ayotte, what she's trying to do is showcase what she believes is independence. She's willing to spar with her part party's nominee.

But when I asked Ayotte whether or not she believes Donald Trump could be trusted with his finger on the nuclear codes, she wouldn't say. She said she wouldn't trust Hillary Clinton but wouldn't say what she thought about Donald Trump -- Kate?

BOLDUAN: Manu, you have Maggie Hassan saying you can't have it both ways for Kelly Ayotte. When you talked to her about the Democratic nominee and whether or not she thought Hillary Clinton is honest, is she trying to have it both ways as well?

RAJU: One could argue that. When I talked to her about honest and trustworthy numbers, she didn't really have a straightforward answer. Take a listen to this exchange.


RAJU: Do you think she's honest and trustworthy?

HASSAN: I support Hillary Clinton for the presidency because her experience and her record demonstrate that she's qualified to hold the job.

RAJU: Do you think she's honest?

HASSAN: She has a critical, critical plan, among others, for making college more affordable.

RAJU: But do you think she's trustworthy?

HASSAN: I think she has demonstrated a commitment always to something beyond herself, bigger than herself.


RAJU: Now, after that interview, the campaign called me and said, of course, she believes Hillary Clinton is honest. But when you look at those numbers, Kate, there's no question why she was hedging. 61 percent of voters do not believe Hillary Clinton is honest or trustworthy.

BOLDUAN: Was the terminology you used, verbal gymnastics?

RAJU: Verbal gymnastics.


BOLDUAN: I think that's what he's seeing in New Hampshire today.

Good to see you, Manu.

Coming up for us, Donald Trump makes a direct plea to voters in Utah. And the Independent candidate makes it on the ballot there. We'll talk to the former CIA officer running as an alternative to Trump, why he thinks Trump won't make it through the election.

Plus, scrambling for safety. Thousands of people are forced from their homes in Louisiana. Now the governor of the state worries about standing water and a possible Zika threat.


[11:28:46] BOLDUAN: The reliable red state of Utah maybe not looking so reliable this election. After Donald Trump admitted he has tremendous problems there, he's reaching out to Utah voters. He said, in part, "Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton have tried to undermine religious liberty on the altar of political correctness. They challenged the rights of business and religious institutions to speak openly about their faith. Undermining religious liberty has been a trend in the Democratic party for decades."

Trump's tremendous problems in Utah may have gotten a bit worse. The third-party candidate from Utah just got on the ballot there.

Evan McMullin is joining me now.

Evan, great to see you.


BOLDUAN: You're on the ballot of Utah. That was just announced. That's your first ballot?

MCMULLIN: We were on Colorado before Utah. But it is a major "get" for us. It shows a lot of momentum. Also, in Minnesota, the Independence Party has nominated me as their candidate. They'll be helping us on the ballots there. We've got --

BOLDUAN: What are the big states you're getting on the ballots of? MCMULLIN: There will a number. Too many to tick through now. Iowa

is another one that will be coming soon. We've made a lot of good progress there. We have excellent volunteer who come out of nowhere immediately to help us there. We're making progress in other states. So we'll --

BOLDUAN: What are the chances? I know you're fighting and you'll make challenges for states where the deadlines have already passed. What are the chances you make it in all 50?

MCMULLIN: I don't think --