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Maine Governor Leaves Expletive-Filled Voicemail for Rival; Is Presidential Race Ugliest in History; Iraqi Army Celebrates Taking Back City from ISIS. Aired 1:30-2p ET

Aired August 26, 2016 - 13:30   ET



[13:32:41] BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: The presidential candidates aren't the only politicians who are trading accusations of racism. The Republican governor of Maine is feeling the heat after he left a profane message on a Democratic state Senator's voicemail.

We do want to warn you before we play it, we have bleeped out the obscenities but some viewers may still find it offensive.


PAUL LEPAGE, (R), MAINE GOVERNOR (voice-over): Mr. Gattine, this is Governor Paul Richard Lepage. I would like to talk to you about your comments about my being a racist, you (EXPLETIVE DELETED), and I want to talk to you. You want -- I want you to prove racist. I've spent my life helping black people and you little son of a (EXPLETIVE DELETED) Socialist (EXPLETIVE DELETED). I need you to, just frigging, I want you to record this and make it public because I am after you. Thank you."


KEILAR: Well, he did get his wish there. And all of this stemming from the comments by the governor back in January.

CNN Phil Mattingly picks it up from here to explain how it got to this point?

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This stems back to when the state back in January was facing a very serious problem on heroin and pain killers. When the governor was trying to talk about that issue, he made comments in January that were considered very racially charged. Then he doubled down on them again this week. Take a listen as we play both of them.


LEPAGE: Guys with the name D. Money, Smoothie, Shifty, these types of guys that come from Connecticut and New York. They come up here and they sell their heroin. Incidentally, half the time impregnate a young girl before they leave.

Every since I made that comment, I've been collecting every single drug dealer who has been arrested in our state. 90-plus percent of those pictures in my book -- and it's a three-ring binder -- are black and Hispanic people from Waterbury, Connecticut; the Bronx and Brooklyn.


MATTINGLY: Now, Brianna, it's worth noting that 90 percent number doesn't correlate with any public numbers we've seen from authorities in terms of arrests or in terms of who is bringing the drugs into the state at all. But those are the types of comments that have drawn from civil rights groups about what the governor was actually trying to say there.

Now, the governor has, as you noted and as you've seen, defended the comments in January and almost doubled down on them in some way. Anyone who covers politics says Governor Lepage is known to say inflammatory things. He joked when he endorsed Trump, "I was Donald Trump before Donald Trump." But, clearly, this is an escalation of sorts based just on that voicemail alone.

[13:35:33] KEILAR: So, is there any apology? Has he said anything to back off of his inflammatory remarks?

MATTINGLY: The governor, his office, put out a lengthy statement just a little bit ago. He said, "When someone calls me racist, I take it very seriously. I didn't know the state lawmaker from a hole in the wall. It made me enormously angry when a TV reporter asked me. The absolute worst, most vile thing you can call a person. I called Gattine and used the worst word I could think of. I apologize for that to the people of Maine."

Apologizes for his language in the voicemail. But I will note, in talking to reporters after he left that voicemail, the governor said he wished it was the 19th century so he could challenge the state lawmaker to a duel and said he would be Aaron Burr, not Alexander Hamilton. So not backing off. A wild situation, scenario all around in Maine.

KEILAR: That is so weird.

OK, Phil Mattingly, thank you so much for that report.

Coming up, dueling ads and dueling comments from the presidential contenders, accusing each other of bigotry, race and hate. We'll discuss, next.


[13:41:08] KEILAR: The battle lines are clearly drawn when it comes to the fight for African-American voters. Donald Trump says Hillary Clinton is a bigot. Hillary Clinton said Donald Trump is a friend of racists. And their fight just seems to be getting uglier.


DONALD TRUMP, (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: She is a bigot. You look at what's happening to the inner cities. You look at what's happening to African-Americans and Hispanics in this country.


TRUMP: Because she's selling them down the tubes. She's not doing anything for those communities.


TRUMP: Well, or maybe she's lazy.

HILLARY CLINTON, (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE (voice-over): If he doesn't respect all Americans, how can he serve all Americans?

I am reaching out to everyone. Republicans, Democrats, Independents, everyone, who is as troubled as I am by the bigotry and divisiveness of Donald Trump's campaign.


KEILAR: Joining me now, from Austin, Texas, is CNN presidential historian, Douglas Brinkley, who is going to give us a little historical context here.

Just compare for me, Doug, how bad this is. He is saying that Hillary Clinton is a bigot. He frequently calls her crooked. She is saying he is a friend of racists. This has devolved into something very divisive and ugly. How unusual is this?

DOUGLAS BRINKLEY, CNN PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: It's very unusual. It's brutally ugly out there right now. Now, we can go back to the 19th century, Brianna, and talk about the Civil War, the "Know Nothing" Party. But I'll just take us back to 1964 when Barry Goldwater and Lyndon Johnson were the nominees. They made a pact never to devolve into racist attacks on each other and they both lived up to that pledge. The reason they did that is because they both said it's not good for the country. I don't know anybody who is sane in America that thinks Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump calling each other bigots and racists every day and this isn't stirring it up, it is the two of them. I think they need to take a big time-out and go back to the Goldwater Johnson pledge of '64 and stop making their country suffer through all of this.

KEILAR: So you hold them both to account on this?

BRINKLEY: I think Donald Trump has run a bigoted campaign. But I think Hillary Clinton's got to take a high road on it and not get down in the muck with Donald Trump. She' done that for a while, but I think she now sees Trump is vulnerable on this front. It is better to make other people make the charges because it just becomes inflammatory. As you saw Donald Trump turning to his supporters saying Hillary Clinton is calling all of you who support me racist. He had a little bit of a comeback with that. So, I think we need to take the debate to a better and higher plain. Any time racial politics of this kind gets involved, whether it's the Willy Horton ads during George Herbert Walker Bush or Bill Clinton, it's never good for American people. It becomes, it makes many people disgusted with the political process.

KEILAR: She is trying to hold him to account for who his supporters are, among the white supremacist groups. He talked about -- Donald Trump responded to this in an interview with CNN affiliate, WMUR. Here's what he said.


UNIDENTIFIED WMUR REPORTER: Do you want white supremacists to vote for you?

TRUMP: No, I don't. Not at all. I will tell you, this is not about hate. This is about love. We love our country. We want our country to come back. We want our country to be strong again.


KEILAR: Doug, it seems like normally when a Republican is asked, or any, I mean, any politician is asked about something, a racist group, there is this almost knee-jerk condemnation that Donald Trump doesn't -- it follows different rules but he doesn't quite follow that script.

[13:45:03] BRINKLEY: Right. He goes off the script. He is the kingpin of dog whistle, and innuendo about race. Part of the problem is, since 1968, Richard Nixon decided that law and order was a clever way of being a bigot. Let's not focus in '68 on the Vietnam War. Let's talk about crime in the street and African-American riots and ghettos. It worked for a while for Nixon, but, of course, it caught up with him by 1973 and '74, his taking America to the gutter politics. And I would argue that Donald Trump's candidacy, if he loses, is going to be known in history for bigotry and doing these kinds of dog whistles. You know, when he talks about the wall and talks about Latino Americans the way that he does, he does it in a law-and-order way. We're going to get all the drug dealers. But people are smart. They know what he's saying. He's looking for racist votes, and white supremacists have been flocking to Donald Trump.

KEILAR: He's insistent that is not what he's saying, but we will look back in years to come and see, Doug, if your assessment is right.

Doug Brinkley, presidential historian, thank you.

BRINKLEY: Thank you.

KEILAR: You are looking at some brand-new images that we have. This is from inside Qayyara, Iraq. This is a town liberated from ISIS just 24 hours ago. CNN is one of the few media outlets embedded with the Iraqi army. We will have our report, next.


[13:50:32] KEILAR: Turning now to northern Iraq where the Iraqi military is celebrating a strategic victory over ISIS. CNN is getting a first look at a town liberated from the terror group just 24 hours ago. This is a key win on the long road to taking back another city, Mosul.

Arwa Damon is reporting for us from Qayyara, Iraq.


ARWA DAMON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Just take a look at how desolate it is here, how abandoned the road is, at least in this direction. This was the main road that cut through the town. This was the main market here. It was a thriving place before ISIS took over this town some two years ago, more than two years ago. Then still have this thick black smoke billowing above it. And that is from the crude oil that ISIS was burning to try to impair visibility of coalition aircraft and drones. Residents were telling us they had been burning this crude oil for about the last six months.

These forces here are part of Iraq's counterterrorism unit. They were the ones that first came in and really led this operation to liberate the city. You see some of the kids. There were a lot more children out earlier. The kids are wearing three-quarter pants or shorts now, and they weren't allowed to do this under ISIS. It may seem like something that is very basic, but just to be able to do that right now for them is a novel experience to a certain degree.

A lot of the residents that we have been talking to are also describing how ISIS was using them as human shields. There was a father who was here earlier with his 2-year-old son and he was saying that ISIS had fighters positioned in front of his door. They were firing out towards the Iraqi security forces as they were advancing, and then the Iraqis countered with mortar fire, or somehow his house was hit in a mortar, just described how everything went black and he grabbed his little 2-year-old and ran for it out back door. People would have escaped if they could. They just said that they weren't able to do so.

One of the lamp posts down the street, a little girl that the Iraq army soldier met and showed us a video of, she described how her father was strung to one of these lamp posts for three days because ISIS accused him of collaborating with the coalition.

You just hear story after story like this from this one town that the Iraqis have just managed to liberate.

They described the fighting as being very intense. There were roads that were inlaid with bombs. They were attacked in all, total, 15 suicide bombers, suicide car bombs.

You see more people coming out over here, children taking -- coming down the street on their toys. Just to think of what they've been through and just how 24 hours ago, this was an active battle zone. They must have been so afraid. It's really hard to imagine what it was like for the children, what it was like for parents that weren't able to keep their children safe in all of this.

You'll also notice that a lot of the men are clean-shaven and that is because under ISIS, of course, they all had to keep the really long beards. Some of the women -- there aren't any out right now. We haven't actually seen that many coming out. But the handful of women we have seen, some are still wearing the full black, and that is partially because of the psychological impact of everything, and that's how they've been having to dress for the last two years. Some of them have already taken it off.

But what we're seeing here is really just a snapshot of the challenges that the Iraqis are facing, the sheer and utter horror and hardship that the populations are going through.

And you think about what is going to lie ahead as the Iraqi security forces push towards Mosul, Iraq's second-largest city and the civilian population that is there, the potential destruction that might be caused there.

And one of the residents we were talking to, put it, he said, look, the town can be rebuilt, the country can physically be rebuilt, but what we're paying for in terms of lives lost, that is a price that can never be restored to us.


[13:54:51] KEILAR: Our thanks to Arwa Damon for that report.

Coming up, Zika cases on the rise. The FDA is recommending new screening recommendations nationwide. Details next.


KEILAR: All blood donations of blood should be tested for the Zika Virus -- that is according to new guidance just released by the Food and Drug Administration. The tests are an extra precaution to ensure the blood supply is safe for anyone needing a transfusion. There are more than 2,500 cases of Zika in the United States as we speak.

[13:54:30] Finally this hour, today marks the 45th anniversary of Women's Equality Day. It was established in 1971 to commemorate the passage of the 19th Amendment giving women the right to vote. Pioneers like Elizabeth Katie Stanton and Susan B. Anthony, launched the Women's Suffrage Movement. But it took more than 70 years for women to win the right to vote. And the fight didn't stop there. The Equal Rights Amendment was first introduced to Congress in 1923. It took 49 sessions to finally get it passed in 1972. It was sent to the states for ratification but fell three states short. Then in 2014, President Obama signed executive orders aimed at closing the pay gap between women and men. And the White House announced today that nearly 30 leading businesses have signed the --