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Clinton Linking Trump to Alt-Right Extremism; New CNN Polls in Arizona, North Carolina; Italian Rescue Workers Fight Aftershocks, Ticking Clock. Aired 11:30-12p ET

Aired August 25, 2016 - 11:30   ET



[11:32:22] CNN ANCHOR: In just a few hours, Hillary Clinton will speak at an event in Reno, Nevada, where she plans to try to connect Donald Trump, some of his associates and a lot of his language, with a certain kind of what she considers to be extremism. She previewed her speech on CNN last night. Listen to this.


HILLARY CLINTON, (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE & FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE (voice-over): Donald Trump has shown us who he is, and we ought to believe him. He's taking a hate movement mainstream. He's brought it into his campaign. He's bringing it to our communities and our country. And someone who questioned the citizenship of the first African-American president, who has courted white supremacists, is someone who is very much peddling bigotry and prejudice and paranoia.


BERMAN: I want to bring in CNN chief political correspondent, Dana Bash; CNN's political director, David Chalian; and CNN's senior media correspondent, Brian Stelter, host of "Reliable Sources."

I'm seriously deficient of titles myself here, but thanks for being here, guys.


BERMAN: Brian, in 20 seconds or less, what is the Alt-Right. What Hillary Clinton is going to do today is connect Donald Trump to something called the Alt-Right. I'm not sure everyone knows what that is.

BRIAN STELTER, CNN SENIOR MEDIA CORRESPONDENT & CNN HOST, RELIABLE SOURCES: All right, 20 seconds or less. It's an amorphous movement born on the Internet and on fringe websites that's trickle into the mainstream via sites like that get millions of viewers. This is mostly young, white men, who reject progressive thought, but also mainstream conservative thought. They have long lists of grievances. Some would say they identify as white nationalists, others would say that's not true. Bottom line, it can have many different definitions. Hillary Clinton can try to pick the most extreme definition and tie it to racism. BERMAN: Dana Bash, we haven't seen a lot of Hillary Clinton on the

trail of late. She's been raising money and doing phone interviews. She was great with Anderson Cooper last night. We're thrilled she decided to do an interview with us. But we haven't seen her on the stump. Why this speech, and why now?

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Very simple. The Clinton campaign, and now obviously using the biggest asset from their perspective, the candidate herself, are trying very hard to continue to label and define Donald Trump as somebody not palatable. Those who should not be palatable from their perspective. She will focus somewhat I'm told on some things his new chief operating officer, Steve Bannon, who is the head of "Breitbart," has said. But not just about that, mostly trying to tie that to, as she said to Anderson last night, which she calls the real Donald Trump. That this is beyond race, I'm told. This is something that is hate filled movement that Americans should be weary of.

[11:35:12] STELTER: It can be about gender as well as race. So called men rights activists say men are being oppressed by the feminist movement. Really, they're anti women in many cases. But that kind of rhetoric you see often on the Alt-Right.

BERMAN: David Chalian, does this speech have a new heightened importance because of what some are looking at as a somewhat different tone from Donald Trump on the stump about immigration? Now also talking about, not to, but about certain minority issues. Is that another reason why Hillary Clinton is doing this today?

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: There's no doubt that this comes at a time where he has started making this direct appeal talking about issues that he believes important to the African-American community and Hispanic community. There's no doubt it's part of this.

But Dana's point should not -- we shouldn't go by it too quickly. What is fascinating about where we are, 75 days out from election day, is both campaigns, both candidates are employing the same strategy. They believe they are at their best when they are creating a referendum on their opponent. What Hillary Clinton, after being out of the spotlight, has been doing is raising money and not hammering on the trail every day. Coming out of the gate, she wants to give this big, negative-framing speech on Donald Trump because that's where they believe they are on their most solid ground. That's where they think the campaign does best.

BERMAN: Matthew Dowd, our friend, said, "Whoever this campaign is about more, loses." So you want to talk about your opponent whenever and wherever.

Guys, four journalists right here. Let's talk a little bit about journalism because Anderson pressed Secretary Clinton last night on press conferences and the idea that she doesn't really give them. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) CLINTON (voice-over): Anderson, I'm talking to you right now. I've given, I think, way in excess of 300 interviews this year. I'm going to continue talking with the press and answering questions and --


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST, A.C. 360: Why not give a press conference with a lot of different reporters?

CLINTON: Well, you know, I've got a lot -- a lot that I have been sharing with the press, talking to the press, as I'm doing with you right now. Stay tuned. There will be a lot of different opportunities for me to talk to the press, as well as continuing to talk to the American public.


BERMAN: Dana, interviews are awesome. It's great that Secretary Clinton spoke to Anderson last night. It's great that Donald Trump will speak to Anderson tonight.

Press conferences, when you're dealing with traveling press corps, it's a different thing, and they matter.

BASH: Completely. You took the words out of my mouth. First of all, this is one of the many reasons we love Anderson, pressing her on that. The people who travel in the pack that follow a candidate around -- you were one. I was one a few times -- they have such a very specific perspective of the candidate. They hear that stump speech over and over and over again. They see how the candidate is feeling. They see the people around them. It's different. The fact that she doesn't have -- those people who travel and follow her all over the country don't have the opportunity to press her is crazy, it just is, it's just wrong.

I think you can say the same thing about Donald Trump. He's done more press conferences but both of them should be doing more. Back in the day, not that long ago, when we were covering campaigns, it happened more regularly.

BERMAN: Brian Stelter, you have written about this.

STELTER: Viewers can say, why are four journalists talking about themselves. We're advocating for the viewers. We don't also succeed at that. Sometimes we end up talking too much about silly topics. But in this case, Hillary Clinton, she's most likely the next president of the U.S. All the polls show she's the most likely person to be the next president. We have a lot of questions for her. I know viewers have a lot of questions for her.

BERMAN: There's also a lot of real estate between now and Election Day.


STELTER: And after Labor Day, she may open up. BERMAN: David, along that line, there's also a big series of debates

coming up right now. I expect we should start to hear language the candidates may be testing out, idea, themes, the types of things they want to prepare for in these debates. What are you watching for?

CHALIAN We know both candidates have started debate prep, even if they're not doing the formal mock sessions yet. They've started being briefed and reading in. You're right. The first debate is September 26th. I think everything you hear from them, from now until then, you can hear how they're going to frame arguments, where they think they will post up best against their opponents.

In fact, take a look at this week, as an example, from Donald Trump. Wanting to really -- although he wasn't successful at not making immigration an issue, because he did end up talking about it, but he didn't give that formal policy roll out speech that we anticipated because he wanted to keep the focus on Hillary Clinton ethics and e- mails and the Clinton Foundation. I think that's in anticipation of some arguments that he's going to bring at the debate. I agree, it would be so beneficial for the public at large, for Hillary Clinton to give a press conference, for Donald Trump to continue to give press conferences.

But we also have to realize that these campaigns -- and we see this in the White House all the time -- they are employing strategies to reach these voters that are around us. And that is frustrating to us because we do want to press them on certain matters. Yet, it's not like they're not able to reach voters in the terms that they want to in a constant kind of way.

[11:40:40] BERMAN: They do this because they think it's the best way to win. Doesn't mean it's right.

BASH: Exactly.

BERMAN: Dana Bash, Brian Stelter, David Chalian, thanks so much for being with us. Really appreciate it.

Again, as we mentioned, Anderson Cooper will interview Donald Trump. Donald Trump. Trump hasn't done a lot of interviews with anyone besides FOX for a long, long time now. This is big. He'll be with Anderson tonight on "A.C. 360," at 8:00 eastern, only here on CNN.

Just ahead, rescue workers racing against the clock in Italy. A town there reduced to rubble. The efforts to save people still trapped in the destruction continues. That's coming up.


[11:45:34] BERMAN: This morning, CNN has new polling out. Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are tied in the state of North Carolina. A one point edge. Within the margin of error. North Carolina, the state that voted for President Obama once and Mitt Romney once. In Arizona, Donald Trump is up five points. You see it right there, 43- 38. Arizona is supposed to be a red state. Mitt Romney won it by nine points four years ago. Let's talk about where the race is right now. Joining us CNN

political commentator, Republican strategist, Margaret Hoover, a veteran of at least two presidential campaigns; Donald Trump supporter, Andre Bauer, the former lieutenant governor of South Carolina; Hillary Clinton supporter and executive director of Progress Texas, Edward Espinosa; and Maria Cardona joins us again, a CNN political commentator and Hillary Clinton Supporter.

Margaret Hoover, I want to read you a tweet from Donald Trump who loves what he is seeing in the polls. He says, "The poll numbers are starting to look very good. Leading in Florida. CNN, Arizona, and big jump in Utah. All numbers rising. National, way up. Wow."

First of all, let me say that CNN, the Utah poll isn't one we consider to be a high-quality poll. Florida either. Although, there are polls showing Hillary Clinton leading there. Then there's Arizona. Is this all good news for Donald Trump?

MARGARET HOOVER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: No. It's not good news. For the sake of our viewers, one poll does not an election make. If you look at the average -- although, I will say the CNN polls are excellent and can stand on their own. However, if you look at an average of polling, you see a 272-154 in the Electoral College. That's 272 is not in Donald Trump's column. That is in Hillary Clinton's column. The idea he is bragging that he is closing the loop in Arizona, a state that Republicans have won consistently for more than the last 40 years, there's no bragging rights for that.

BERMAN: Edward Espinosa, I want to bring you in, because you live not terribly far, Texas, but there's so much talk every four years about how some of these states will shift blue. Arizona was one that people thought might happen sooner. Maybe the Democrats are getting closer but they're still not there yet. Is there a reason why?

EDWARD ESPINOSA, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, PROGRESS TEXAS & HILLARY CLINTON SUPPORTER: Well, I've actually worked in Arizona and when I was the western states director at the Democratic National Committee, on of my jobs was to produce memos to see where we could make gains in Arizona. First of all, Trump should not be bragging about it. The state should not be on the table now. But it is. Part of the reason is because the gap in that state is not nearly as big as some might think it is. It's about 200,000 votes. In a state that large, that's not a huge margin, somewhere between 5 and 10 percent, depending on the audience. What Democrats need to do to win in that state, they need additional funding, additional infrastructure, to help get them over the top. Then pull away some Republican women, maybe some Mormon population voters that don't agree with Donald Trump. Those two populations could be enough to put Hillary Clinton over the top. And that is why she is in the running right now. The state should not be on the table in this election, but it is because Donald Trump has failed to seal the deal there early on.

BERMAN: When she starts spending real money there, then I believe it's on the table.

Lieutenant Governor, let me ask you, Donald Trump told "The New York Times," he's got a new campaign strategy right now. Let me read you a quote. He said, "I've been staying on message more now because ultimately I'm finding I do better with voters, do better in the polls when I'm on message."

What do you think?

ANDRE BAUER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I agree with him staying on message. The American people have seen this back and forth. They've seen this tennis match with personal attacks. I'm supporting Trump, but I want to see issues. I want to talk about who will make America a better place to live. Who's going to create the job? Who's going to change the economic environment? Who's going to make our country and our community safer? Any time he stays on message, it gives less to dig on him about. When he stays on message, I think his message is a much easier message to sell than Hillary's. But as long as he's stubbing his toe, it's going to go back to her.

BERMAN: Maria, last word on this. It's pretty interesting because, for a long time, the Clinton campaign wasn't even giving us staffers to talk on TV because it seemed like they felt Donald Trump was doing enough to himself. But now they are coming back out again. Is it a case now where Donald Trump is harder to run against?

[11:50:04] MARIA CARDONA, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, look, I have always been of the belief that -- and by the way the Clinton campaign has as well -- that Democrats cannot take anything for granted in this year because everything really is up in the air. Everything is very live in a very polarized, partisan electorate. For sure, Donald Trump has given us some softballs, and has from the very beginning, frankly, of what I believe, has stayed on his message of being divisive, of pedaling hate, connecting his campaign and having connections with white supremacists and white nationalists and anti immigrant figures. Yesterday, at his rally, he had Nigel Farage, who was famous for putting together the Brexit vote based on fearmongering and anti immigrant rhetoric. So that is his message.

I would agree with Andre that voters want to hear about what these candidates want to do for him. That's what Hillary Clinton has been doing from the very beginning. Then when you have a candidate who goes out and calls Hillary Clinton a bigot -- and apparently that's his message, because it was in his prepared remarks -- that's not something that American people think will help the conversation.

BERMAN: We should make clear that Hillary Clinton is making a speech in a few hours, where she'll connect Donald Trump to a movement that they think is bigoted.

CARDONA: That's right.

BERMAN: We'll wait to hear what the campaigns have to say.

Margaret, Edward, Andre, Maria, thank you all very much.

CARDONA: Thank you, John.

BERMAN: I want to show you pictures of what's going on in Italy. Rescue workers pulling a 10-year-old girl from the rubble nearly a day after the huge earthquake absolutely flattened one town in Italy. Officials are rushing to save others as the death toll climbs. We'll go there next.







[11:54:57] BERMAN: New developments out of Italy. The death toll right now at the earthquake is at 250 and likely to rise. Rescuers are dealing with strong aftershocks and a ticking clock. The window for finding survivors is rapidly closing.

CNN senior international correspondent, Fred Pleitgen, is in Amatrice right now.

Fred, what's the latest?

FRED PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The biggest problem that the authorities are dealing with is the aftershocks. We've had a couple of them, and one of them was really strong. When that aftershock hit, one of the buildings that had already been damaged in the original earthquake, then collapsed. A lot of the rescue workers who are working in the rubble, many of them looking for survivors in that rubble, they, themselves, had to flee the scene as fast as possible.

We only found out a couple minutes ago that that aftershock alone was a 4.1 magnitude quake itself. The original earthquake was a 6.2 magnitude earthquake. So very, very strong as well. It really is those aftershocks that are hampering things.

As you said, they know they are in a race against time at this point in time. With every minute that goes by, less likely to find survivors. As you can see, a lot of rescue workers still here and they're still trying.

BERMAN: Working so hard. The aftershocks deeply unsettling, and dangerous as well.

Fred Pleitgen, thanks so much.

BERMAN: We have one programming note. Tonight, Anderson Cooper sits down with Donald Trump for a big interview. Watch it at, 8:00, on "A.C. 360," only on CNN.

We'll be right back.