Return to Transcripts main page

CNN NEWSROOM

Report: Kelli Ward, GOP Opponent Says McCain Too Old and Weak for the Job; Maine Governor Apologizes for Profanity-Laced Tirade; Strong Aftershocks Rock Area as Rescuers Search in Italy; Tracking Down a Chinese Spy in CNN's Declassified. Aired 3:30-4p ET

Aired August 26, 2016 - 15:30   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[15:30:00] BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: McCain's spokeswoman has fired back, let me quote her. "At the end of campaigns desperate candidates too often end up embarrassing themselves by launching dishonorable personal attacks. It is unfortunate that Kelli Ward has chosen to end her campaign with desperate fictions. The people of Arizona deserve better."

I should also point out the latest CNN/ORC poll shows 55 percent of likely Republican voters support McCain, 29 percent support Kelli Ward. Joining me now on the phone, Kelli Ward, Arizona candidate for senate, Kelli, welcome.

KELLI WARD, GOP SENATORIAL CANDIDATE, ARIZONA: Hey, Brooke, it is great to be with you. I think it is interesting to Lorna says about dishonorable personal attacks. They've been doing it for over a year attacking my record, my character, my integrity, seeking to prop up an 80-year-old senator and keep him in Washington for some reason.

BALDWIN: Let me just stop you, Kelli. I think it's -- listen, this is politics and it is perfectly fine to attack a record or an issue. But my question is, where in the U.S. constitution does it say you are too old to serve in congress?

WARD: Oh, it certainly doesn't. Mainstream media attacked John McCain over his age eight years ago when they implied he was too old to be president. John McCain himself --

BALDWIN: We're not talking about eight years ago, Kelli.

WARD: John McCain said I don't want to be one of those old guys who should have shoved off. And Megan McCain, his own daughter on television says her father is depressed, downtrodden and she has concerns about her own father seeking another term.

BALDWIN: But Kelli, I'm listening to you, but again let me go back to my original question though. Where in the U.S. constitution does it say that you are too old to serve in the U.S. senate? Does it say that anywhere?

WARD: Nowhere.

BALDWIN: Why is that a valid attack?

WARD: It is a valid attack because term limits are in order. People have --

BALDWIN: That's why he's rerunning.

WARD: John McCain has stayed in Washington, D.C. for way too long. Almost four decades. And we need new excellent policy ideas. They have to come from outside the beltway. We need new vision. John McCain in nearly 40 years hasn't delivered what people are crying out for in this great country.

BALDWIN: Kelly, you just pointed out how long he's been in Washington. People have been re-electing him precisely because they do believe. But I'm with you on term limits. That's precisely why we have term limits in this country for folks like you to challenge him. But let me point out, term limits as part of the conversation when you look at the polls -- again, most recent CNN/ORC poll showing you are down by 26 points, is this a desperate move? Kelli.

WARD: Brooke, Brooke, Brooke, the desperation comes from the McCain campaign releasing a poll that doesn't poll anybody under the age of 45 and doesn't --

BALDWIN: Kelli, I'm not talking about that poll. I'm talking about a fair poll that CNN/ORC poll shows you are down 26 percent.

WARD: The CNN poll -- Brooke, the CNN poll. Look at the cross tabs. No one under 45. No one in rural Arizona. It is a bogus poll that overestimates the Republican -- the general electorate in a primary. It is a desperate move by an incumbent seeking to maintain the control and the empire that they have created. This is the year we are going to send a message to Washington, D.C. that has never been heard of. We, the people, want someone of, for and by the people, and it starts by electing someone of the people. And that's Kelli Ward.

BALDWIN: Kelli, stand by. I've got Dan Nowicki, you're listening to my conversation with Kelli. I'm curious how this attack on Senator McCain's age for some time now, how has that resonated with voters in Arizona?

DAN NOWICKI, REPORTER, ARIZONA REPUBLIC: Well, thanks, Brooke, for having me on. But I think it is kind of a tough sell to voters just because they know Kohn McCain so well.

[15:35:00] Regardless of what you think of Senator McCain's policies or his positions, Arizonans see him every day. He is very energetic. He keeps a very heavy schedule and work load. I think of maybe any of the senators out there who are maybe getting a little bit up in years, McCain might be the toughest to make that attack stick.

BALDWIN: Okay. Let me also just point out, we know McCain took the unprecedented move, releasing his records in '08 allowing media to look at some 400 pages, eight years of medical records. Showed cancer-free, strong heart, generally good health. Kelli, let me pivot back to you.

Let's talk politics just briefly. I know you are a Trump supporter. We've been talking a lot this week about Mr. Trump and his stance on immigration. We know in Arizona, in Phoenix, we' he's talking next Wednesday for his big immigration speech. There have been calls for him to clarify, as he himself used the term softening his stance earlier this week, this was the center piece he ran with and won that nomination. What do you expecting to hear next Wednesday?

WARD: I'm excited to hear what he has to say. I know he, like me, wants to mix the mortar to fix the border. We know John McCain is a huge open borders fan. His invade the world, invite the world foreign policy, John McCain's and Hillary Clinton's has put this world at risk.

It's put our country at risk and it's put Arizonans at risk. I personally don't feel safer since John McCain has been in the United States senate in 1987 when I graduated from high school. We weren't at war in 1987 but since the time he has been in the senate it's been war, war and more war and people are weary of that war which is why they're ready for a change in the United States senate.

They're ready for a new day. They're ready for a new voice. They're ready for a new perspective. That's why on Tuesday Dr. Kelli Ward will become the Republican nominee for the United States senate from this great state.

BALDWIN: Dr. Kelli Ward, thank you for calling in. I appreciate it. Arizona senate Republican candidate here, in a race against Senator McCain and Dan Nowicki from the Arizona Republic, thank you. We will watch it closely.

Coming up, a sitting governor is apologizing after leaving a vulgar voicemail for a fellow lawmaker. We'll tell you what he said and why he wanted this message to go public.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[15:40:00] BALDWIN: The search continues for victims and survivors from Wednesday's devastating quake in central Italy. Death toll now stands at 278. These rescue teams are franticly plowing through massive lots of rubble just hoping to find any sort of survivors who could still be trapped. Frederik Pleitgen has been there for days and days in the town of Amatrice. It is about 10:00 your time. What's going on?

FREDERIC PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, there's still frantic searches hoping to find any more survivors here. I am getting out of the way so you could see exactly what is going on here. Obviously the rescue crews they know, they're pushing about 70 hours of that 72-hour time period what they believe it is most likely they could still find survivors.

And quite frankly, today we haven't seen any survivors that were pulled from the rubble. However, we were here when at least one body bag was brought out of that area that you see there right now where all the rescue crews are working. They're also still being very much hampered by those aftershocks that are going on. I would say that's the biggest problem that the crews face at this point in time. They have a lot of heavy equipment that they are working with but

every time there is an aftershock all of them have to scramble to safety, they all have to go away. Then it takes a while for them to get back and start working again. Of course, every time the rubble also shifts making it more dangerous for them to go back.

Another thing that's also happened, Brooke, which is also a big problem for search and Rescue guys here is that the aftershocks have been so strong that

they've destroyed two access roads to this town here which is hardest hit by the earthquake. Local mayor says if one more access road gets taken out by an aftershock this town will be completely shut off from getting here by road, the Italians will probably find some sort of way to supplies in here. But it will be a lot more difficult.

Crews working against the clock. We are really pushing that time limit of the 72 hours where it is still possible for people to survive under the rubble. We haven't seen any rescues yet. Certainly they know it is a race against time and that's certainly the mode that they are in right now, really working very, very quickly doing all they can in the hopes they might be able to pull off some miracle rescue. Brooke?

BALDWIN: Crucial, crucial window. Fred Pleitgen, we'll stay in close contact with you, thank you in Amatrice, Italy.

Coming up the governor of Maine not mincing words leaving a profanity- laced voicemail for a rival lawmaker in his state. We'll tell you what the heck he said.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[15:50:00] BALDWIN: All right, even more racially charged rhetoric consuming the trails today. This time though not talking presidential race but in the state of Maine. The outspoken Republican governor there, Paul LePage is now apologizing after leaving a profanity-laced voicemail for a Democratic lawmaker in which he accused said lawmaker of calling him racist. We have bleeped out the worst of it, but before we play it for you, his comments are vulgar.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOVERNOR PAUL LEPAGE, (R) MAINE: This is Governor Paul Richard LePage. I would like to talk to you about your comments about my being a racist. You (BLEEP) sucker. And I want to talk to you. I want you to prove that I'm a racist. I've spent my life helping black people and you little son of a (BLEEP) socialist (BLEEP) sucker. You -- I need you to just friggin' -- I want you to record this and make it public because I am after you. Thank you.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: OK. The charges of racism here stem from LePage doubling down on comments he has made in the past. He blames black and Hispanic dealers for flooding Maine with drugs. Phil Mattingly is on this one today. Wowza. Couple of bleeps. He says go out and make it public.

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN Correspondent: It is the thank-you at the end that I thought was the most interesting part. You nailed why this all started. Right? This is about the opioid crisis in Maine which like many northeastern states has been ravaged by this issue. Paul LePage doubled down on his comments earlier this week in a town hall talking about, he said 90 percent of the people he sees that were arrested on heroin charges are Hispanic or black.

Now we've asked the campaign -- or his office for those numbers. There is nothing that correlates that that we've seen publicly. But that's what people responded to. Democratic lawmakers, civil rights groups were responding to that. They weren't calling him racist. They were saying they are racially charged comments.

LePage heard it as it was conveyed to him he was being called a racist. Hence his remarks and he followed up that voicemail by talking to reporters and saying he wished it was the 19th century because he would challenge the lawmaker to a duel. And he would be Aaron Burr, not Alexander Hamilton, in that.

Now you mentioned that he did apologize. Sort of. His office put out a lengthy statement today where he said being called racist is the absolutely worst, most vile thing you can call a person. So I called the state lawmaker and used the worst word I could think of. I apologize for that to the people of Maine but I make no apology for trying to end the drug epidemic that has ravaged the state.

So apologized for the language that he used. But he is not apologizing for anything else in fact he went on in his statement to say he plans to stop everything that state lawmaker does politically and legislatively going forward if he can.

BALDWIN: Has this I mean this is just sort of part of his reputation, this sort of tough talking kind of governor.

MATTINGLY: He actually put it best himself probably when he endorsed Donald Trump earlier this year, he said I was Trump before Trump. And he very much so is, he was an outsider who came up kind of riled the GOP establishment in the state, certainly upsetting all of the Democrats in the state.

He once said that President Obama could go to hell. Once at the end of a tiff with the NAACP, he said the NAACP could kiss his butt. So this is not unusual for Paul Le Page in fact this is kind of his M.O. battling back and forth. But there is no question, maybe these types of voice mails are traded between legislators on a regular basis, but typically they don't ask for them to be made public. And that is what Paul LePage did and now it is public.

BALDWIN: We got a little sneak peek, I guess. Thank you, thank you.

[15:55:00] Coming up here, the U.S. government says he stole Naval Security secrets for more than a decade. Why did it take so long for the FBI to catch this Chinese spy? We have a sneak peek at this week's episode of "Declassified". (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BALDWIN: The U.S. government learned that someone was leaking top Navel Security secrets from the inside. The year was 2003, and on the next episode of CNN's "Declassified" we see how the FBI went undercover to bring a team of spies to justice.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE ACTOR: We have to follow principles, policies, and laws. One of those is we have to have the evidence. Our greatest fear was will we catch him doing what we thought he was doing.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE ACTOR: The thing that hit me the hardest about this case is we have a man that came here for better opportunity, and in fact was a spy. Sent by China to come here, pledge allegiance to the United States, and he took an oath with the intention of betraying it.

[16:00:00] He lived in this country for decades. And he was willing to put in danger members of our military. There was a lot pressure on all of us. I wanted to stop that leak. That's why I wanted to catch him, and to protect our people.

BALDWIN: Joining me now, the man that helped take him down. Gunnar Newquist, nice to have you on.

GUNNAR NEWQUIST, Special Agent, NCIS: Thank you for having me on, Brooke.

BALDWIN: What a story. Agents were going through Chi's trash every week, you made the breakthrough. Tell me about the handwritten note you saw.

NEWQUIST: Yes, we did use a lot of trash covers, and trash covers are a dirty business. But one day, Jesse had brought those notes back to us and she had them laid out on the floor like a jigsaw puzzle and she said can you help me over here.

And I thought she was kidding. Because clearly I don't speak Chinese. And I just saw three letters that meant something to me which was DDX, we all know is the next generation of the US Navy destroyers.

BALDWIN: Three letters so that then told you everything you needn't to know. What did he tell you?

NEWQUIST: Initially he told us, he had a number of stories that tried to explain the evidence that we had. But eventually he said he'd been giving information to the Chinese since he began working at Power Paragon. He talked about giving away power distribution systems.

In one case, the power distribution system he gave away enabled the Aegis weapon system to work. Aegis is important to us because it allows ships to work together in a group to fight off 100 threats at a time simultaneously. We had not been able to do that in the past. Since he gave it to the Chinese now the Chinese are able to do the same thing. BALDWIN: You mentioned one example just then. What else in terms of

damage did he and his family do to the U.S. Navy?

NEWQUIST: Well, the important piece about the submarines and the power distribution system, we were afraid he would give away the quiet-electric drive which would provide signature data to the Chinese. Any time a submarine passes through the water it leaves a signal whether it be sound, displacement of water or an electromagnetic pulse.

A submarine is a very dangerous place to be if the world knows where you are. It is like playing blind man's bluff and you have your eyes open. So if the Chinese were able to get that signature data. They would be able to track our submarines.

Submarines do a very important mission, they protect aircraft carriers and if you can't trust your submarine to create that safety zone. It does influence our ability to project power.

BALDWIN: Aircraft carriers are everything. I was on an aircraft carrier a few months ago in the Persian Gulf. Gunnar Newquist, thank you so much.

Watch CNN's "Declassified" this Sunday at 10 o'clock eastern. We're going to send it to you early, "The Lead" with Jim Sciutto starts now.