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Clinton Stumps in Ohio; Trump in Mexico. Aired 1-1:30p ET
Aired August 31, 2016 - 13:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: Let's modernize our Army, and Marines, our Navy, and Air Force, our Coast Guard. We need to respond to evolving threats from states like Russia, China, Iran, and North Korea from networks, criminal and terrorist networks like ISIS.
[13:00:07] We need a military that is ready and agile so it can meet the full range of threats, and operate on short notice across every domain, not just land, sea, air and space, but also cyberspace.
We'll invest in new technology so new breakthrough's can transform our military, just as stealth, precision weapons and advance communications did in the past.
We'll make a renewed push to reduce the world's nuclear weapons. Because that does make us all safer. And we'll step up our efforts to secure nuclear material around the world and stop terrorists from acquiring or using weapons of mass destruction. One of the first things I will do as president, is to call for a new nuclear posture review. We have to make sure that America's arsenal is prepared to meet future threats.
We'll invest in the next frontier of military engagement, protecting U.S. interests in outer space and cyberspace. You've seen reports. Russia's hacked into a lot of things. China's hacked into a lot of things. Russia even hacked into the Democratic National Committee, maybe even some state election systems. So, we've got to step up our game. Make sure we are well defended and able to take the fight to those who go after us.
As President, I will make it clear, that the United States will treat cyber attacks just like any other attack. We will be ready with serious political, economic and military responses. And we're going to invest in protecting our governmental networks and our national infrastructure. I want us to lead the world in setting the rules of cyberspace.
If America doesn't, others will. So in short, we have to be ready to win today's fights and tomorrow's. But you know that the most important thing isn't the size of our military or the sophistication of our weapons. The most important thing is our people, the men and women who put on the uniform and serve. We need to...
We need to take a hard look at our military's personnel policies to make sure we are doing everything to attract and keep the best and the brightest who volunteer. We need to support not only them, but also their families.
And as President, I will never forget the debt we owe to our veterans and your families who also served. I will never, ever disrespect gold star families who've made the ultimate sacrifice for our nation.
Or prisoners of war who endured so much in our name.
To insult them is, just so wrong. And it says a lot about the person doing the insulting. In the Senate, I worked with Republicans to increase the benefit paid to gold star families, to expand access to military health insurance, to make sure all members of the guard and reserves and their families have access to health benefits. Whether they're deployed or training at home.
I fought successfully to amend the 2007 Defense Appropriations Act. To establish a training program for family caregivers helping loved ones with traumatic brain injuries. Senator John McCain and I joined forces to personally raise money for a state of the art rehab facility at Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, to help seriously wounded service members coming home from Iraq and Afghanistan.
Like you, I was outraged by the scandals at V.A. hospitals. People waiting for months or years for wheelchairs and basic medications. Some even dying while waiting for an appointment.
I know that you heard from Secretary McDonald and I know how hard he and his team are working. We are going to build a 21st century Department of Veterans Affairs that delivers world-class care, and we are not going to let anyone privatize the V.A. We're going to reform and strengthen it, not privatize it.
[13:05:06] We will ensure access to timely quality care for all of our veterans; improve care for women, who are often underserved; identify and treat all wounds of war, visible and invisible, including Agent Orange and Gulf War Syndrome, and traumatic brain injury and PTSD.
We will end the epidemic of veteran suicides by expanding access to mental health care and fighting the stigma that isolates too many of our veterans from getting the care that they need.
I feel passionately about this because I have looked into the eyes of too many family members who have lost their loved one to suicide. That's why just two days ago, when I released my plan to improve mental health services for all Americans, I included a specific section about more help for veterans and their families because we know too many aren't getting the help they need right now. We've got to serve them, just as they served us.
We are also going to help more veterans looking for jobs, with expanded tax credits for businesses that hire veterans. More support to veterans who want to start their own businesses. And making it easier for veterans to get credit for the skills they learned while serving.
And we will crack down on for-profit schools and companies that prey on or discriminate against service members, veterans, or military families. They should be ashamed of themselves, and we're going to hold them accountable.
We will also work closely with the American Legion to clean up and expedite the appeals process. Benefits should be delivered as quickly as possible, and appeals should be decided as expeditiously as possible. I thank you for the work you are doing on that.
Now a lot of what I have mentioned has support from Democrats and Republicans. Maintaining our military and caring for our veterans should never be a partisan issue. Defending American exceptionalism should always be above politics. But this is not a normal election. The debates are not the normal disagreements between Republicans and Democrats. So I hope you will listen carefully to what my opponent and I propose, consider our plans and the values behind them. And after you've given us both a fair hearing, I hope you will join the growing number of Americans, Democrats, Republicans, and Independents, who are supporting our vision for the kind of future that we want for our country.
This election shouldn't be about ideology. It's not just about differences over policy. It truly is about who has the experience and the temperament to serve as President and Commander-in-Chief. Just three weeks ago 50 Republican National Security experts, who served in prior Republican administrations, wrote a letter saying that they will not vote for Donald Trump because he would be, in their words, the most reckless president in American history.
By contrast, I am deeply honored to have so many retired military leaders backing me, along with these Republican experts. I'm supported by people on both sides of the aisle and both sides of the debates that have defined our foreign policy for the last 30 years.
They know I believe in a bipartisan foreign policy. They know I believe we should be finding ways to bring our country together around national security, our role in the world, our values. They know they can count on me to do that. And what matters to them is that we make the right choice in November.
CLINTON: The stakes this fall are as high as any election in our lifetimes.
[13:15:01] So I'm going to keep raising these issues, keep telling people where I stand, laying out plans for what I'd do if elected.
I have to tell you it is a little funny to me, I get criticized for having so many plans. People say, oh there she goes with another plan about mental health, about veterans. Well I have this old fashioned idea if I'm asking for your vote for president I should tell you what I want to do as your president. So yes, I have laid out plans and I'm going to work my heart out to implement those plans. And if I win this fall no one will work harder for our troops, our veterans, and our military families.
This is personal to me, starting with my dad. His name was Hugh Rodham, he enlisted in the Navy shortly after Pearl Harbor. He became a chief petty officer at Great Lakes north of Chicago responsible for training thousands of young sailors before they shipped out to sea, mostly to the Pacific theater.
After my dad died I received letters from men who had served under him, I treasure them to this day. My father told me how emotional he got when he accompanied his trainees to the West Coast and saw those young sailors get onboard their ships. He knew some of them wouldn't survive. But he believed in their cause, he believed in them, and they went to serve to protect our country. They knew their country needed them.
Over the course of the last years I've also had the privilege of working with, helping and supporting so many active duty and retired military members and families. First as first lady then as senator, then as secretary of state.
Whenever I would go anywhere representing you and be privileged to meet with the men and women who serve our country. I would sit down if we had a chance and hear what was on their minds, would shake hands and take pictures, sometimes bring messages back to their loved ones. And I too knew that some of those young men and women wouldn't be coming home either. It's that kind of courage and honor that our men and women in uniform demonstrate every single day.
I will never forget that. And I would expect the American Legion to be my partner in the White House, to make sure I never do. You and all our veterans deserve nothing less. Our respect, our thanks, but you also disserve a country that honors your service, not just with words but with deeds. That's why the American Legion is so critical, working everyday to make sure America lives up to that standard.
I will be doing that work right alongside you if I am given the great honor to serve as your president and commander in chief. Thank you all, God bless you, and God bless the United States of America. Thank you.
(APPLAUSE) (UNKNOWN): Secretary Clinton, I'd love to give you one of our medallions. Inscribed are the words "For God and country." Thank you for your kind words to our veterans, your support of veterans, and we wish you the very best.
CLINTON: Thank you.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Hillary Clinton, the Democratic presidential candidate, speaking in Cincinnati, Ohio at the American Legion convention.
We want to welcome our viewers in United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer reporting from Washington.
We heard Hillary Clinton attack Donald Trump several times during the course of that nearly 40-minute address, all ahead of the major immigration speech that Donald Trump is set to deliver later tonight in Arizona.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CLINTON: You don't build a coalition by insulting our friends or acting like a loose cannon. You do it by putting in the slow, hard work of building relationships.
Getting countries working together was my job every day as your secretary of state. It's more than a photo op. It takes consistency and reliability. Actually, it's just like building personal relationships. People have to get to know that they can count on you, that you won't say one thing one day and something totally different the next. And it certainly takes more than trying to make up for a year of insults and insinuations by dropping in our on neighbors for a few hours and then flying home again. That is not how it works.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Strong words from the secretary of state, the former secretary of state I should say.
I want to talk about that and much more, Trump's upcoming meeting later this afternoon with Mexico's president, Enrique Pena Nieto. Our senior Washington correspondent Jeff Zeleny is in Cincinnati for us. He's covering the Clinton campaign. Here in Washington with me, our senior political reporter, Nia-Malika Henderson, White House reporter for "The Wall Street Journal," Carol Lee, the anchor and senior Washington correspondent for CNN en Espanol, Juan Carlos Lopez, and CNN political commentator and Washington correspondent for "The New Yorker Magazine" Ryan Lizza.
Jeff, you're there. You're in Cincinnati. She delivered a major speech on national security, foreign policy, veterans affairs, which we all expect at an American Legion conference, but she also used the occasion to issue several blistering attacks against Donald Trump. JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: She did indeed,
Wolf, and she did all that without saying Donald Trump's name specifically or even Mexico specifically. But she certainly didn't have to, to get her point across.
This was very much a commander in chief speech, I would say, Wolf. She went throughout her address talking about American exceptionalism, talking about the allies that America has with the world and how she believes that her rival would break those.
She also, Wolf, spoke specifically about gold star families. She said, I will not disrespect them. I will not disrespect POWs. Of course referring to the dustup after the Democratic Convention with Donald Trump and the gold star family from Virginia, as well as his comments about Senator John McCain earlier in the year. Wolf, that drew the biggest applause line here from a crowd that was otherwise fairly quiet, I would say respectful, but certainly not a crowd of Democrats. The legion is like a slice of the country, but certainly more conservative.
Wolf, I can tell you that those lines drew applause here. But this is one of the, I would say, more sober speeches she has given, all hanging under the framework of who this group and America believes its next commander in chief should be.
BLITZER: And, Nia, the Democratic candidate clearly trying to underscore her credentials as a potential commander in chief, as opposed to what she said is Donald Trump's lack of credentials.
NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER: Yes, that's right. And Donald Trump, we're hearing about his trip to Mexico. Part of the reason he's doing that is to look presidential. Standing on stage with another world leader puts him in a different light. So there was Hillary Clinton showing why she is also presidential. In part reading her resume there and then undercutting Donald Trump, not using his name, but at every turn putting herself in the situation room during the bin Laden raid and essentially suggesting that Donald Trump doesn't have the temperament and experience in the way that she does to something like that.
BLITZER: These are themes we've heard many times, but interestingly on this day, Carol, that Donald Trump is actually outside of the United States, in Mexico City, getting ready to meet with President Pena.
CAROL LEE, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, "WALL STREET JOURNAL": Right, and she took a little -- some opportunities to dig at him for that, saying, you know, he's trying to make up for past insults by now visiting our neighbors and -- and among other things. But this speech had a lot of things in it. There was cybersecurity. She talked about the sequester. She went through the bin Laden raid. She talked about the Iran deal, veterans affairs. And essentially, you know, made a case for her professional experience, first lady, senator, you know, secretary of state and also her personal experience. She talked a lot about her father. And all of it, though, then she tied it together and said what really matters is temperament. So it goes back to the argument that she thinks is the best one against Donald Trump, which is that he's not consistent and he doesn't have the appropriate temperament.
BLITZER: Juan Carlos, you know Mexico, you know President Pena. A lot of us were surprised that he invited Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton to come to Mexico City. Donald Trump immediately accepted that invitation. Why do you think he invited Donald Trump specifically?
JUAN CARLOS LOPEZ, CNN EN ESPANOL ANCHOR AND SR. WASHINGTON: That's a question that I believe only Enrique Pena Nieto has an answer for because of the timing, if you look at it, the consensus you seem to be hearing out of Mexico and many Mexican-Americans is that if he gets Donald Trump to apologize, he might gain politically from this trip. Good luck with that.
[13:20:01] Now, there's a timing issue, but he has his state of the union tomorrow and Donald Trump is giving a speech on immigration today in Phoenix. And it's just surprising that he would be willing to have this meeting today without knowing what's going to come out of it. It's just a very interesting decision by the president of Mexico, who's polling around 23 percent.
BLITZER: I don't know, Ryan, what was more surprising, the invitation from President Pena to Donald Trump to come to Mexico City --
RYAN LIZZA, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes.
BLITZER: Or Donald Trump's accepting that invitation.
LIZZA: Yes. And given his personal political situation in Mexico, as you point out, his approval ratings in the low 20s, Donald Trump is not a popular political figure in Mexico. So the president of Mexico has every incentive to confront Trump, not to give in to any of his requests. And for Trump, I mean, you know, most of the time when you meet a world leader that you have had some kind of adversarial relationship with, and who you say is going -- you're going to get to pay for this wall, you want to come out of that meeting with something. All of us in the press are going to be asking Trump, what did you get, you know? And so I think it's a high risk low reward for Trump because the big question out of it is going to be, did he convince -- did he convince the president, did he make any steps toward convincing him of this core campaign promise of making Mexico pay for this wall.
BLITZER: Yes, we'll see how he emerges, Donald Trump, with President Pena at that bilateral meeting, if you will. They're supposedly going to be answering reporter's questions after the meeting as well. Then he flies to Arizona for the big speech tonight.
Stand by for a moment.
Trump will speak, by the way, at the American Legion Convention in Cincinnati tomorrow. But today the Republican presidential candidate, as we've been noting, is in Mexico after accepting that surprise invitation to meet with the president of Mexico, President Pena.
After he wraps up the meeting, it's on to Arizona later tonight where he'll give what his campaign is billing as a major speech on immigration. Here's how his running mate, the vice presidential candidate, Mike Pence, summed up today's Mexico meeting when he was interviewed on CNN's "New Day."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. MIKE PENCE (R), VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Today is really the beginning -- the beginning of a conversation. Negotiations will follow this. But it all proceeds out of a relationship. And to know Donald Trump is to know not a -- not your standard issue politician, but really a business leader that knows, you know, you first got to sit down with people, you've got to look them in the eye, you've got to tell them where you stand. They can -- they can express their positions and that's where real negotiations can begin. But make no mistake about it, I'm very confident that my running mate will be very clear with President Pena Nieto about our priority of securing the border, building a wall.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: While, Mike Pence also applauded Donald Trump for accepting that invitation on short notice -- it came just last week, that invitation. The U.S. embassy, by the way, in Mexico City apparently not very enthusiastic. Staff there advised the Trump campaign not to make the quickly planned trip because of logistical challenges caused by the tightened timeframe. Our CNN correspondent, John Vause, is live in Mexico City for us.
John, what's the feeling there. Why would the Mexican president invite Donald Trump to speak after all the harsh words that have been exchange between these two men, the rhetoric that certainly emerged, President Pena referring to Hitler and Mussolini at one point when describing Trump.
JOHN VAUSE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that is the big question that a lot of people here are asking and there's not a lot of answers, Wolf, you know, as has been pointed out by the panel. You know, President Pena Nieto has his lowest approval rating since taking office in 2012. Among the lowest approval ratings in South America. So why would he want to be seen in a photo opportunity smiling and shaking hands with Donald Trump, a man who is deeply loathed by so many here in this country. Why did he invite him to Mexico on what is essentially an official visit.
Certainly lawmakers and other Mexican leaders have made it perfectly clear that Donald Trump is not welcome. I've talked to Mexicans, they'll say, unless there is some kind of major change by Donald Trump in the tone and the rhetoric and the policy, then as far as they're concerned, the relationship between Mexico and Donald Trump at this point is irreparable.
You know, as to President Pena Nieto, well, maybe this could be a symbol as wanting to sit down and talk with the man who could, in fact, at the -- come November, end up being the president of the United States. It may be a chance to settle some of those issues. At least starting working out some of the problems, the issues of security, immigration and trade. It's not -- because, don't forget, Hillary Clinton was also extended a very similar invitation. So at the end of the day, it might just be as simple as that, working on the relationship between the United States and Mexico. A relationship which is so incredibly important to both countries, Wolf.
BLITZER: All right, John Vause is there in Mexico City. We'll get back to you. We're anticipating seeing Donald Trump go into that meeting fairly soon with the president of Mexico.
I want to bring back our panel.
Nia, if they emerge from that closed door meeting one on one, the Mexican president and Donald Trump, they make statements which we anticipate they will make. We have heard from Trumps people that they will then answer reporters' questions, Mexican reporters, American reporters who are there. This could be rather lively.
[13:25:14] HENDERSON: Yes, you imagine, because if you are President Pena, you have everything to gain by making Donald Trump look bad and sort of upbrating (ph) him for some of the things he said about Mexican immigrants in the past, the things that he said, implying that there's going to be a wall and that Mexico is going to pay for it. And if you're Donald Trump, who in the past has sort of talked trash away from the actual person on Twitter, but when he gets on a debate stage, for instance, he's often pulled his punches. So you wonder if that sort of Donald Trump style and pattern that we've seen before come to the fore in this instance too. But if it does, I mean, he has everything to lose because he has been so tough. He's talked so tough about this wall. He's talked so tough about his ability to get Mexico to pay for this wall. And you've seen, obviously, President Pena, and former President Vincente Fox, eventually call him crazy and say that there's no way that that would happen.
BLITZER: I'm sure he's going to be asked, Donald Trump, did you tell the president of Mexico that if he's elected president and the U.S. builds that wall, Mexico will pay for it?
LEE: Of course. And there's a lot at stake. Imagine if he were to say no --
LEE: You know, or said that he backed down on his -- it's just -- it's really hard to imagine either of these folks coming out and saying something dramatically different from -- from where they've been. But if you step back and look at it, it's a very presidential looking scene. I mean you've covered a number of these, you know, a foreign leader and the president come out and they deliver statements and they, you know, take questions from the press. And so in that sense Donald Trump perhaps has an opportunity to look presidential. But I would find it really hard to believe that either of them would come out and say something dramatically different from what they've been saying.
BLITZER: Juan Carlos, I've interviewed the president of Mexico. I assume you have as well. I know he speaks English, although he likes to do interviews in Spanish and I assume that there will be translators there for this session.
LOPEZ: Definitely, that's going to be interesting. And I think the optics of this are fascinating. The fact that you have the president of Mexico, a democratically elected president, hosting a private citizen from the U.S., because Donald Trump hasn't been elected yet to anything. So you have a private citizen traveling to Mexico, getting this reception, standing with the president of a country he's maligned many times, and we'll see what the interpretation each country has, but this is going to be part of this very atypical campaign.
BLITZER: Where do you see this heading today?
LIZZA: I think -- I'm not being facetious when I say this, that Donald Trump really -- his experience in public life is wrestling and the reality TV world of "The Apprentice," and he does like to create villains and then create some drama around going and meeting them. And I think a lot of his -- a little bit of is -- it is, as you pointed out, is -- he never -- is as serious when he says he hates someone or that someone's an enemy. And I think he just loves creating moments of drama like this for the campaign that completely dominate our attention and doesn't necessarily think through the politics in a conventional sense the way we've been talking about it, you know, that it's a risky thing for him to do.
BLITZER: This will be a real moment of drama when we see them emerge from that meeting and then Donald Trump will fly off to Arizona to deliver his major speech on immigration, all happening on this day.
Everyone stay with us.
Coming up, Donald Trump makes this his first international trip as the Republican Party's presidential candidate. He did go to Scotland for a golf course event, but that was not necessarily an international affair. We're going to ask a reporter how locals are reacting to the Mexican president, President Pena, meeting with the man who wants to build a wall between the U.S. and Mexico and wants Mexico to pay for it.