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Trump, Clinton Clash Over Who's Fit to Lead; Republican Warns Trump About Taking Putin Compliments; Clinton Speaking About Her Faith at Baptist Convention; Critics Call RNC's Chair's Clinton Comment Sexist; Gary Johnson Stumbles on Syria, Asks "What is Aleppo?"; Matt Lauer Faces Criticism Over Clinton-Trump Forum. Aired 7-8p ET

Aired September 8, 2016 - 19:00   ET


[19:00:05] ERIN BURNETT, CNN ANCHOR: OUTFRONT next, Donald Trump taking aim at America's generals. Hillary Clinton says no more troops in Iraq as new polls tonight show Clinton leads shrinking in crucial swing states.

Plus, Trump's Putin obsession, is it a smart political move or is Trump being played? And what is Aleppo? The three words haunting Gary Johnson tonight. Let's go OUTFRONT.

And good evening, I'm Erin Burnett. OUTFRONT tonight, bitter battle, Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump in the biggest clash of the campaign so far launching nasty personal attacks on who is fit to lead America at war. Tonight, Clinton slamming Trump charging he's scary and dangerous.


HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: It's hard to forget what Trump did last night. It was a test and he failed it. He trash talked about America's generals saying that they have been, quote, "reduced to rubble." He suggested he would fire them all and can't pick his own generals, since you know, he knows so much about what it takes to be a general.


BURNETT: Trump firing back citing Clinton's use of her private email server saying that she put the nation at risk.


DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: This is yet more evidence that Clinton is unfit to be your commander-in-chief. By the way, the whole country saw how unfit she was at the town hall last night where she refused to take accountability for her failed policies in the Middle East.


BURNETT: Now this battle coming as a new poll shows Trump and Clinton tied in a two-way race in the crucial swing states of both Florida and Ohio. The stakes could not be higher. Right now Clinton is speaking at the National Baptist Convention in Kansas City talking about her faith. And what she says is the importance of humility.

Jeff Zeleny is OUTFRONT at that speech on the trail in Missouri tonight. And Jeff, tonight is about faith, but today was about anything but.

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Exchanges in this campaign. But perhaps not as consequential or grave as this discussion over national security. Now, there was far less talk about their qualifications than heated rhetoric about why their rival is not.


CLINTON: As your commander-in-chief, I will not trash our country's most cherished values. I will defend them.

TRUMP: This is yet more evidence that Clinton is unfit to be your commander-in-chief.

ZELENY (voice-over): The commander-in-chief audition now at the heart of Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump's escalating clash. Trump says the fight against ISIS has failed blaming Clinton right along with President Obama.

TRUMP: Under the leadership of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, the generals have been reduced to rubble.

ZELENY: Today in North Carolina, she accused Trump of trash talking U.S. military leaders.

CLINTON: What would Ronald Reagan say about a Republican nominee who attacks America's generals and one thing you didn't hear from him was any plan to take on ISIS, one of the biggest threats facing our country. He says his plan is still a secret. Well, the truth is he doesn't have a plan.

ZELENY: Trump insists he does. But says he will ask his generals for their plan 30 days after taking office. On Iraq, Clinton was blunt last night at a military forum on NBC.

CLINTON: We are not putting ground troops into Iraq ever again.

ZELENY: We asked her today whether that was a promise she could keep if elected president.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Isn't A that ignoring some ground forces toward there, and B boxing yourself in, should your military commanders if elected, advice that you, in fact, need to do that?

CLINTON: I think putting a big contingent of American ground troops on the ground in Iraq and Syria would not be in the best interest in the fight against ISIS and other terrorist groups. I support the air campaign. I support Special Forces. I support enablers.

ZELENY: She's acknowledged her support for the Iraq war was a mistake. He has not. He supported the ground invasion at the time. HOWARD STERN, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: Are you for invading Iraq?

TRUMP: Yes, I guess so. You know, I wish the first time it was done correctly.

ZELENY: Even though now he says otherwise.

TRUMP: I opposed going in. And I did oppose it.

ZELENY: Above all, the clash on national security is a fight over judgment. Trump is asking voters thirsty for change to trust him. And Clinton, at every turn, tries to highlight his thin resume.

TRUMP: If we would have taken the oil, you wouldn't have ISIS.

CLINTON: We don't send our brave men and women around the world to steal oil.


ZELENY: And Erin, it is that debate over judgment that also is at the heart of this. The Clinton campaign believes the best way to make Donald Trump unacceptable in the minds of voters is to question his judgment on matters like national security. Of course Donald Trump's objective is to make voters feel comfortable with him, the man who could have his hand on those nuclear codes -- Erin.

[19:05:12] BURNETT: All right. Jeff Zeleny, thank you.

And OUTFRONT tonight, Trump's supporter, retired Lieutenant General Jerry Boykin and Clinton supporter, retired Rear Admiral Jamie Barnett. Thanks to both of you.

General Boykin, let me start with you. You just heard Donald Trump say the generals have been reduced to rubble to the point that it's embarrassing for the United States. As a retired three star general, do words like that offend you?

LT. GEN. JERRY BOYKIN (RET.), U.S. ARMY, ENDORSED DONALD TRUMP: No, it doesn't offend me. My interpretation is that the advice of our generals has been relatively ignored. Probably up until the last three to six months when it appears that he is starting to listen to them. So I don't think that the generals advocated for precipitous pullout of Iraq in 2011. And I think that's what Trump was saying.

BURNETT: Admiral Barnett, Hillary Clinton says of course Donald Trump is trash talking the generals. You just heard General Boykin saying he completely disagrees. What do you say?

REAR ADMIRAL JAMIE BARNETT (RET.), US NAVY ENDORSED HILLARY CLINTON: Well, I think this is a long line of things where Donald Trump has disrespected our serving military, our current veterans and military families. In this way, it's just outrageous. I served with some of the people that he's talking about right now. These are the people that are executing and actually taking away the state from the Islamic State. It just another example why he's not really fit temperamentally or

otherwise and on the other hand, Hillary Clinton last night clearly demonstrates. She's got the command of the facts, the issues, she has the judgment and the knowledge to go forward. And one of the things that came out last night, what he talked is, he doesn't have a plan for defeating ISIS. She does.

BURNETT: So let me ask you about that. Because last night Admiral, she said there would be no more ground troops in Iraq ever again. Those were her words. Today you just heard her. Press by our Jeff Zeleny. She said, there wouldn't be a big contingent of ground troops. So, you're criticizing Donald Trump for not having a plan, but hers appears to be changing hour by hour as well.

BARNETT: No, not at all. She's always said that. The fact of the matter is she's recognized that we have enablers there. We have the folks that are able to do the airstrikes, the trainers, the Special Forces. She's always acknowledged that. She's talking about having all of these people are in combat, they are in harm's way. But she's talking about large contingent of combat troops. And here's why. We don't want to put an Iraq force like we did in in 2003. What we want to have happened is, for the people in the Middle East to put the boots on the ground so that they can do it over the long haul. That's exactly what she's talking about.

BURNETT: But no troops is different than a big contingent. And when you talk about people being in harm's way, that's what most people see as troops on the ground.

BARNETT: There are no change, Erin. She's already acknowledged that we have troops there. And what I would say is, we do need to enable the people that in -- the Kurds, the Syrian freedom forces to go and take back this from ISIS. So, she's got a three-point plan. Defeat ISIS where they have these strongholds in the Middle East. And that's happening. We need to continue to execute that. Disrupt the terrorist network worldwide. And then make sure that we're safe, at home by, you know, increasing our intelligence, sharing information, working with our allies.


BARNETT: And we have heard nothing from Donald Trump on anything. He even kind of revealed he doesn't have a plan when he said, when I do come up with a plan. That's an equal quote from last night.

BURNETT: What do you say, General?

BOYKIN: Well, to begin with -- yes to begin with Erin, nobody has ever won a war by telling the enemy how you're going to fight them or what you're going to do. It's a terrible mistake and this is endemic of the Obama administration as well that has told the enemy what we're going to do. We are, you know, making a foolish mistake by doing that. Secondly, it does not recognize the admiral calls them enablers. He probably ought to call them combat troops because I know a lot of them. They are Special Forces, they are SEALs, they are special operations forces, they are in combat. So, don't tell them that they are not combat forces. But the final

thing is, one of the things that I believe is that Donald Trump has signaled his willingness and eagerness to restore military readiness. I think our military is in very sad shape right now from a readiness perspective. That's one of the reasons that I am supporting Donald Trump is because I think that he will make an all-out effort to listen to his generals, take their recommendations and then apply those in restoring our military readiness. And I think that's what America has to have.

BURNETT: When it comes to the war on ISIS as you both are talking about though. General Boykin, today Hillary Clinton stood by her comments that Donald Trump is a recruiting tool for ISIS. She was speaking in an interview with Israeli television. And here is exactly how she answered the question.


CLINTON: Trump has made Islam and Muslims parts of his campaign. And basically Matt Olsen argues that the jihadists see this as a great gift. They are saying, oh, please, Allah, make Trump president of America.


[19:10:13] BURNETT: Olsen of course is the former director of the National Counterterrorist Center. General, you previously said in the radio interview, quoting you, Islam is not a religion and does not deserve First Amendment protection. Do you think comments like yours, comments like Donald Trump supporting a ban on Muslims coming to America help ISIS recruit?

BOYKIN: If you believe that ISIS is influenced by the comments by Donald Trump or by me, you don't know anything about what the jihadists are up against. The Muslim Brotherhood in America and the jihadi network globally are going to attack us because it's theological. They are going to attack us because we are a western democracy and because we are infidels. So, if you don't understand that and you can honestly say that we are increasing their recruiting, you know absolutely nothing about why these people do what they do and that's the problem. Our president has never faced up to why they motivated to do what they do against us.

BURNETT: Admiral Barnett?

BARNETT: I have to totally disagree. I mean the things that Donald Trump says are used in the recruiting. He actually shows up in recruiting videos. And not only that, it's not just that he's helping ISIS and terrorist organizations like that, he's also damaging our alliances and our partners in the Middle East. Muslim countries all over the world who listen to this and wonder what America is about. We need them. Those are the people that we want to have boots on the ground. These are the people that we need to work with to defeat ISIS. And to go off on rants about Islam and that somehow another Islam is against America when millions and millions of people are peaceful Muslims and will work with us. BURNETT: All right. Well, thank you both very much. I appreciate

your time tonight. Thanks.

BARNETT: Thank you.

BOYKIN: Thank you.

BURNETT: And OUTFRONT next, Hillary Clinton in one of her most revealing interviews on why she's perceived as, quote, "cold and aloof."

Plus, third party candidate Gary Johnson with a stunning gaffe.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And what is Aleppo?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're kidding.



BURNETT: Will it torpedo his campaign? And Trump on Putin. Should a U.S. presidential candidate be saying this?


TRUMP: He is really very much of a leader. I mean, you can say isn't that a terrible thing. He called the man -- the man has very strong control over our country.



[19:16:11] BURNETT: Tonight Hillary Clinton slamming Donald Trump for praising Russian President Vladimir Putin. Trump says he prefers Putin to President Obama.


CLINTON: Now, that is not just unpatriotic and insulting to the people of our country as well as to our commander-in-chief. It is scary. Because it suggests he will let Putin do whatever Putin wants to do. And then make excuses for him.


BURNETT: Trump's running mate Mike Pence is coming to his defense saying it's inarguable in his words that Putin is a stronger leader than Obama. Barbara Starr is OUTFRONT.


BARBARA STARR, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Donald Trump doubling down on his praise of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

TRUMP: Well, he does have an 82 percent approval rating according to the different pollsters.

STARR: And insisting that Russia's harassment of the U.S. military will stop under his presidency. Like this one from April and another one Wednesday over the black sea that caught Donald Trump's attention.

TRUMP: Take a look at what happened with their fighter jets circling one of our aircraft in a very dangerous manner. Somebody said less than ten feet away. This is hostility.

STARR: Yet that hostility from Russia isn't stopping Trump from extolling what he sees as Putin's virtues.

TRUMP: It's a very different system. And I don't happen to like the system, but certainly in that system he's been a leader. Far more than our president has been a leader.

STARR: Trump says he'd have a better relationship with Putin and Russia than President Obama.

TRUMP: You know, the beautiful part of getting along Russia wants to defeat ISIS as badly as we do.

STARR: But U.S. officials say that isn't the case. That Russia is propping up Assad, not hitting ISIS.

ASH CARTER, DEFENSE SECRETARY: Russia with its support for the Assad regime has made the situation in Syria more dangerous, more prolonged, more violent.

STARR: Trump and the Obama administration at odds over allegations of Russia's involvement with the alleged hack of the Democratic National Committee in an attempt to disrupt U.S. elections.

TRUMP: Nobody knows that for a fact. But you want me to start naming some of the things that President Obama does?

STARR: Secretary of Defense Ash Carter appears to have little doubt issuing a stern warning to Moscow.

CARTER: Make no mistake. We will defend our allies, we will counter attempts to undermine our collective security and we will not ignore attempts to interfere with our Democratic processes.


STARR: It's not exactly anything new for Russia and the U.S. to be at logger heads, but this time around, the critical question, does Vladimir Putin think he might get a better deal if Donald Trump is the next president -- Erin.

BURNETT: All right. Barbara, thank you very much.

OUTFRONT now, our chief political analyst Gloria Borger and the anchor of "INSIDE POLITICS" John King. And John, you know, we hear this from Donald Trump last night. It is not the first time. He's been criticized again and again for this. But he repeatedly praises Vladimir Putin. Let me just play for everyone so they can understand how much he's dug in on this.


TRUMP: I think I get along very well with Vladimir Putin.

Putin is a nicer person than I am.

I would get along with Russia and I'll get along with Putin. And he's not going to make us look bad anymore.

When people call you brilliant, it's always good especially when the person heads up Russia.


BURNETT: Today, John, Senator Bob Corker, right? Who has come out and said all kinds of positive things about Trump warned him, warned him about that kind of flattery. Do you think there's a strategy behind Donald Trump praising Vladimir Putin? You know, is it possible that American voters buy into this? That Putin is strong?

JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR, "INSIDE POLITICS": American voters don't like Vladimir Putin. If you look at public opinion polling back over the past few years, he has highly negative ratings. I think we just have to take Trump at his word here that he admires Putin and sees strength as a good thing. Donald Trump's -- strength and toughness. And this is mind boggling. Not just to Democrats but to Republicans.

Remember it was Mitt Romney four years ago who had a fight with President Obama at the time. Mitt Romney said, Russia and Putin were the greatest strategic threat or strategic, you know, should be the strategic interest of the United States. And President Obama said, no, that's not the right way to rank it. Now the Republican establishment is apoplectic that their candidate plays footsie with Putin all the time.

A guy who Barbara just noted, bullies his neighbors, you know, helps Assad, is not serious about helping the United States when it comes to interest in the Middle East and other places in the world. This is a mind boggling one to the Republican establishment. Not only Chairman Corker, but Speaker Ryan spoke out against this today. Neither one of them wanted to directly criticize Trump so much. Corker did a little bit. But they think this is just -- they think frankly Erin, to use a tough word, they think it's a stupid policy and a stupid embrace.

BURNETT: I mean, and Gloria, does he care or does he think that even though Americans don't like Vladimir Putin, they do want strength and they admire that about him?

[19:21:02] GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Here's what I think it is. I think that Donald Trump is returning a compliment.


BORGER: So Putin has said, okay, I think you're brilliant. I think you're a smart guy. And I think Donald Trump is turning around and saying, you know what, he thinks I'm a smart guy. I am going to say, he's a smart guy too. But I don't think it's a strategy. I don't think it's anything someone would suggest to Donald Trump. Hey, why don't you embrace Putin? I think Republicans remember Ukraine not too long ago. And I think that it's anathema to them.

Particularly those who worship at the shrine of Ronald Reagan. I know today that the vice presidential candidate Mike Pence told Dana Bash that he agreed with Trump that Putin is a stronger leader than President Obama. But in another era, this would be considered treasonous, OK? To say something like that. And if a Democrat had said that, I think he would be in a lot of trouble. He or she, they'd be in a lot of trouble.

BURNETT: And yet Secretary Kerry is talking with the foreign minister of Russia to try to work together on Syria. Right?


BURNETT: And yet this administration is working with Russia, trying to. But to your point about a compliment, you know, Trump defended Putin last night and he brought up that exact point. Basically if I'm complimented, I will compliment back. Let me play it for you.


MATT LAUER, NBC NEWS, "THE TODAY SHOW": He's also a guy who annexed Crimea, invaded Ukraine, supports Assad in Syria, supports Iran, is trying to undermine our influence in key regions of the world. And according to our intelligence community, probably is the main suspect for the hacking of the DNC computers.

TRUMP: Well, nobody knows that for a fact. But you want me to start naming some of the things that President Obama does?

LAUER: Do you want to be complimented by that former KGB officer?

TRUMP: Well, I think when he calls me brilliant, I will take the compliment, OK?


BURNETT: Is he being played John by Putin?

KING: A lot of intelligence analysts would say, yes. The experts who do this will say, he is being played. They say, number one, it's just naive. They say number two, it's not what a potential head of state should be saying about Vladimir Putin. A man if Donald Trump is elected in 60 days, he's going to have to sit across the table from his people and going to have to do business with on a number of very difficult issues, which at the moment, the evidence is indisputable. Vladimir Putin acts in ways that are contrary to American interests. He acts in ways that are contrary to Democratic interests. He acts in

way that are contrary to Western values. Those are facts. Those are indisputable facts. And Donald Trump says these nice things. Intelligence analyst say, essentially when a leader does this, what signal is Donald Trump sending to his voters? He's essentially sending a signal to his voters, what Putin does is okay. It's okay. And the current president of the United States, but a lot of Republicans too, this is not a Democrat Republican issue. This is an issue on which just about everybody in the foreign policy and intelligence establishment, people that experience just say, listen to Donald Trump and they shake their heads because Erin, they just don't get it.

BURNETT: The establishment Gloria, but isn't that the whole point that he thumbs his nose at the establishment?

BORGER: Well, he thumbs his nose and I think if you look at Paul Ryan as an example, you know, he spoke out against Vladimir Putin today as you were saying. But he didn't take on Donald Trump. I think they are at a point in the campaign where they are stuck. They can't take on Donald Trump anymore or they take on water for their own Republican Party, you know, in the down-ballot. And so Paul Ryan was kind of twisting himself in a press talk today trying to distance himself from Donald Trump's embrace of Vladimir Putin and yet not taking on Trump. And it's a, you know, it's a tough position for them to be in right now with 60 plus days left before the election.

BURNETT: Sixty one, but who is counting?

BORGER: Who is counting?

BURNETT: Everyone on screen right now.

KING: I am.

BURNETT: All right. Thank you both.

And OUTFRONT next, the Republican Party Chairman calling Hillary Clinton out for not smiling. So, is that sexist or not.

And libertarian candidate Gary Johnson, the three words he wishes he could take back.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And what is Aleppo?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're kidding.




[19:29:16] BURNETT: Breaking news. Live pictures out of Missouri on your screen right now. Hillary Clinton speaking at this moment at the Baptist Convention in Kansas City. Moments ago opening up about her faith and family. It comes as she gave an extremely candid interview with the website called Humans of New York and in part she said, let me read it to you.

"I know that I can be perceived as aloof or cold or unemotional, but I had to learn as a young woman to control my emotions. And that's a hard path to walk. Because you need to protect yourself. You need to keep steady. But at the same time, you don't want to seem, quote, "walled off." Clinton also said, "But if that sometimes is the perception I create then I can't blame people for thinking that."

Brianna Keilar is OUTFRONT. And Brianna, this is Hillary Clinton as open as we have ever seen her.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. That's right. I don't recall her talking about this before or really in this way where she's talking about how she has learned to control her emotions and also that she feels that there's a double standard for men and women that something that may be acceptable for men will seem shrill for women.

So, she talks a lot about that as well as one particular anecdote where she talks about being at Harvard and doing a test and young men actually getting mad at her and other women who are taking the test and that she thought I have to keep my head down. I have to focus on this test. It's something that has carried her through her life.

But you'll recall also something that I thought was interesting as I read this. When she actually choked up in New Hampshire in 2008 and showed some emotion, she completely turned that race around. There have been times where she's not been able to control her emotions and it's actually been to her benefit.

BURNETT: And, you know, Brianna, she's -- there's also this tweet last night. She's now down playing it but it came from Reince Priebus. He said, "Hillary Clinton was angry and defensive the entire time." He was talking about her performance in the forum. "No smile and uncomfortable. Upset that she was caught wrongly sending our secrets."

Clinton saying, look, I don't take anything from the RNC seriously.

But what's the reaction from people inside the Clinton campaign that talks about how she was not smiling and was uncomfortable?

KEILAR: I talked to one of her top aides who said it was ridiculous, laughable. You wouldn't ask a man to smile. That was certainly the feeling there. And also from a lot of people who locked at that and they don't think it's anything that's going to hurt her. It's not something that irritated her.

In fact, Donald Trump has a problem in the polls with women. And this certainly isn't going to help with that and that's something that plays to Hillary Clinton's favor. But I think this is something that they look at and roll their eyes at. And because there is an overtone of sexism, and it comes on the heels of Donald Trump saying that Hillary Clinton doesn't have the presidential look, which was a remark that a lot of people took to be sexist in nature, that he was saying she's a woman. So, it doesn't seem she would be president. It was something he also said in the past about Carly Fiorina as well.

BURNETT: All right. Brianna, thank you very much.

OUTFRONT now, Donald Trump supporter Kayleigh McEnany, senior adviser to the Trump campaign, Boris Epshteyn. Hillary Clinton supporters Basil Smikle and Maria Cardona joining me as well. Maria's firm does work for pro-Clinton super PAC.

Kayleigh, Reince Priebus coming out and saying, you know, she wasn't smiling. You just heard Clinton campaign saying they see this as sexist. This isn't something you'd say to a man. He wasn't smiling. By the way, it isn't something you'd say to a man.

Should Reince Priebus apologize?

KAYLEIGH MCENANY, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: No, absolutely not. This is what Clintons do to every candidate she's up against. Apparently, everyone she's ever run against is sexist. She did this to Rick Lazio. She's doing this to Donald Trump.

I don't think women like to be painted as victims. I certainly don't. I'm a strong woman. I know millennial women in particular resents the victim card.

Reince Priebus was making a point that she was uncomfortable answering questions about how she was caught mishandling classified information. She looked upset. She looked irritated. I heard many non-partisan folks on the air say that today.

It was very clear. This was not sexism. This was --

BURNETT: Victim card?

MARIA CARDONA, HILLARY CLINTON SUPPORTER: This was the definition of sexism, Erin. And I've got to tell you, between her posts on humans of New York, and this tweet, I think it really wraps everything into a narrative that's going to start to help her. The humans of New York post was, as you said, as personal as you her.

She talked about why she's looked at in a very different lens. And women who are in the workplace of every age do understand that. You've got to be pretty, but not too pretty. You've got to be smart, but not too smart. You've got to be firm, but you can't be bitchy.

So she understands that. The way she said that I think is really relevant to so many people and then the tweet I think just underscores just how sexist it is. And, by the way, the people she has run against have been sexist.


MCENANY: No, he's not. EPSHTEYN: And Donald Trump is absolutely not sexist.

CARDONA: He's the definition of sexism.

EPSHTEYN: Look at all the women he's employed throughout his career.


EPSHTEYN: Let's ratchet all this down.

BURNETT: He doesn't do well with women overall, 53 percent of married women, he's doing better than half. But overall among women --

EPSHTEYN: Twenty percent lead over Hillary Clinton in married women.

Now, let's go back. The tweet was by Reince Priebus and not by Donald Trump. Let's not conflate --



EPSHTEYN: It's very important to know.

Two, she was unquestionably testy with Matt Lauer last night. She was testy from the get-go, from when that former naval officer, John Lester, said, if I had done what you did, I would be in prison. That's the truth. She became upset and she stayed upset. She kept interrupting Matt Lauer.

[19:35:00] She went over her time. Matt Lauer kept reminding, you're over your time.

She wasn't friendly with them. Donald Trump was. Donald Trump seems much more comfortable, much more presidential and much more in his own element.

BURNETT: To your point, the last thing I would expect would be a smile.

BASIL SMIKLE, HILLARY CLINTON SUPPORTER: First of all, let's go back to last night.


BURNETT: That was a senatorial --

SMIKLE: And the man got from his podium and wag his finger in her face.


SMIKLE: Let's go back to last night. She is at the forum to talk about foreign policy and security, a commander-in-chief forum. You expect her or the head of the RNC expect her to be smiling and grinning the entire time? (CROSSTALK)

SMIKLE: Let me finish. So the fact of the matter is she's there talking about very serious issues. She's not testy. She's forthright and strong.

EPSHTEYN: She lied. She lied.

SMIKLE: She talked about in this interview how --


BURNETT: Hold on.

SMIKLE: She's gotten to the point where she can be a steadfast hand as a leader, particularly in areas of foreign policy.

BURNETT: Let me ask a question. On this issue of smile, do you find -- I want to get to the bottom of it. Do you find it strange in a commander-in-chief forum, that anyone would say why would someone be smiling?

MCENANY: No, because I think men can smile too. If Donald Trump was angry the way Hillary Clinton was, there would be a lot of scrutiny of him.

I would have pointed out, I wonder if either of you think Bernie Sanders is sexist because when she was on the debate stage with him and he said, look, you're screaming, Hillary . She goes, maybe men interpret that when I speak loud I'm screaming because I'm a woman.

She did this against Bernie Sanders too.


BURNETT: Hold on. Do you think Bernie Sanders was sexist when that happened? Because she did say that. Kayleigh is right.

CARDONA: I think that a lot of men actually have that attitude towards women. I'm not saying that.

EPSHTEYN: Is Bill Clinton sexist?

CARDONA: I'm saying, it's either subconscious or conscience.

The fact of the matter that there is that double standard, and we all know it. For people to deny it means that they don't understand the situation.


BURNETT: I want to get to the emails, but I want to ask you first about what she said in humans of New York about this issue, OK? Not about what happened last night, but overall. She said, "If you want to run for the Senate or the presidency, most of your role models are going to be men. What works for them won't work for you. Women are seen through a different lens. It's not bad, it's just a fact."

EPSHTEYN: Plenty of women all over the world, Margaret Thatcher and Indira Gandhi, who have been unbelievably successful and won very close elections, but also haven't had to break and this is the liberal left trying to take attention away from her real issues. Her real issues, the Lincoln bedroom -- renting out the Lincoln bedroom and everything that came before them.


BURNETT: Pause for a moment. I want to play that. She did give a new defense, she has said I didn't get email with a classified heading. She has given a lot of different excuses or explanations, whatever word you'd like to use for what happened with the e e-mails. Let me just play.


HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: I did not e-mail any classified material to anyone on my e-mail.

I did not send or receive any e-mails marked classified at the time.

There was never any material marked classified that was sent or received by me.

Classified material has a header, which says top secret, secret, confidential. None of the e e-mails sent or received by me had such a header.


BURNETT: Just to be clear there were differences there. I never sent or received any classified material. I didn't send anything marked at the time. Now it didn't have a header. It does seem to change.

SMIKLE: No, I don't think it changes. The director has said this himself that anyone looking at those e-mails would reasonably conclude they were not classified.


SMIKLE: Excuse me. He has actually said that, and her responses have been consistent, that she did not send e-mail that she saw was classified. In fact, she handed led the classified information appropriately.


EPSHTEYN: There's no proof that she told her aides to make secure e- mails non-secure. She instructed her aides to strip the headers of those e-mails.


EPSHTEYN: There's obstruction of justice in there as well. BURNETT: Final word.

CARDONA: The bottom line is James Comey said himself that nobody could have reasonably said that she knew this was classified because of those.

[19:40:07] BURNETT: That's not what he said.

CARDONA: And classification itself is the problem here.

ESPHTEYN: Don't lie to the American people because she lies.

CARDONA: I'm not lying to the American people. You are trying to lie to the American people.


CARDONA: She never sent or received material that was marked classified and that's why the FBI never went forward because there was no intention.

BURNETT: He couldn't prove intention.


BURNETT: All right. Pause.


BURNETT: That may be true in the voters' minds, we'll see. Of course, when it comes to charges, you are right. The case is closed.

All right. Next, NBC executives thought Matt Lauer's performance was a, quote, "disaster". That's from NBC executives. Was that fair or selling him out? Brian Stelter reports.

And Jeanne Moos on, what is Aleppo?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: One of those animals?




BUNRETT: Breaking news, brand new swing state poll showing a surge for libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson in two must-win states, in North Carolina, he gets 15 percent support. And he has 14 percent in Ohio. Pretty incredible numbers when you look at those.

The only problem for Johnson is that the polls are coming out hours after this embarrassing exchange.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What would you do if you were elected about Aleppo?



JOHNSON: And what is Aleppo?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're kidding?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Aleppo is in Syria. It's the epicenter of the refugee crisis.

JOHNSON: OK, got it. Got it. With regard to Syria, I do think that it's a mess.


BURNETT: The executive editor of CNN politics, Mark Preston, is OUTFRONT now.

Look, Mark, Gary Johnson actually put a hashtag on Twitter. You know, what is Aleppo? He's saying he's going to do his research.

Here's what he said on "The View" today trying to do damage control.


JOY BEHAR, THE VIEW: I know what Aleppo was, I know what it is, and I should not be any smarter than you because you're running for president. Having said that, I'm sure Trump doesn't know what Aleppo is either. I think it's a disqualifying statement.

JOHNSON: And fair enough. And fair enough, yes.


BURNETT: So, Mark, lots of times we have heard game over for Donald Trump. Voters don't care about things you think they might care about. Could Gary Johnson survive this?

MARK PRESTON, CNN POLITICS EXECUTIVE EDITOR: It all depends what your definition of survival means. At this point, Gary Johnson an incredibly uphill battle, right? The bottom line is he needs to get into the Commission on Presidential Debates debates.

And right now, he does not qualify. He needs to get 15 percent across five different polls. He comes nowhere close to that. The highest we have seen come is about 10 percent. So, he wasn't going to get into the debates.

What we have seen is become a spoiler. Could he -- does he take away from Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton? And in the polls that you just showed, Gary Johnson takes away from Donald Trump in three of those states. In Florida, in North Carolina and in Pennsylvania. In Ohio he takes away from Hillary Clinton.

So, he could be a spoiler to both of them should his campaign continue to move on.

BURNETT: And those polls that you mentioned right, where he's at 15 percent, 14 percent in Ohio and Florida, are those voters voting for him or are they voting as a protest vote against Clinton, against Trump?

PRESTON: Yes, one of his biggest problems is that he wanted to become a magnet for all the anti-Trumpers. They did not go for him. In many ways, a lot of these folks are looking elsewhere.

Certainly, some of that support are Republicans who do not want to vote for Donald Trump, but there is a solid core of libertarians in the United States. Maybe it's 4, 5 percent who are going to support Gary Johnson. So, just take his number at 10 percent let's say and take half of that off, half for Trump and half for libertarians.

BURNETT: All right. Mark Preston, thank you very much. Obviously, it's going to be crucial what happens here given that he could be the defining person in so many crucial states.

OUTFRONT next, everyone on the stage at the forum was criticized for their performance. Why? What went wrong?

And Jeanne Moos on the toughest question of the day.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What would you do if you were elected about Aleppo?

JOHNSON: And what is Aleppo?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're kidding.




[19:51:05] BURNETT: Tonight, the countdown is on to the presidential debates. A new poll just into CNN shows voters think Hillary Clinton will come out on top 53 percent she'll do a better job, 43 percent betting on Trump. Last night's forum with the two candidates show the stakes at this debate could not be higher.

Brian Stelter is OUTFRONT.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) BRIAN STELTER, CNN SENIOR MEDIA CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Matt Lauer not running for cover, heavily criticized for his handling of the commander-in-chief forum. Even some of his colleagues now saying it was this appointing.

With 15 million watching and just 25 minutes to interview each candidate, "Today" show co-host repeatedly interrupted Hillary Clinton.

MATT LAUER, NBC NEWS: Let me go --

CLINTON: He refuses to take responsibility for his support.

LAUER: Let me go to another question.

CLINTON: That is a judgment issue.

STELTER: Lauer spent ten minutes on Clinton's e-mails then had to rush her along.

LAUER: You think you're going cheat.

CLINTON: This is an important issue. I know who were on TV, we don't have a lot of time.

LAUER: I want to get to a lot of questions.

CLINTON: I will talk quickly.

STELTER: His aggressive approach, a contrast to his handling of Donald Trump who got more open-ended questions.

LAUER: What kind of research are you doing now? What kind of homework are you doing?

STELTER: Raising questions of whether Lauer went too easy on the GOP nominee. Most egregiously, Lauer failed to fact check this.

TRUMP: I was totally against the war in Iraq from -- you can look at "Esquire" magazine from '04. You can look at before that.

STELTER: This claim is easy to debunk.

HOWARD STERN: Are you for invading Iraq?

TRUMP: Yes, I guess so. You know, I wish it was -- I wish the first time it was done correctly.

STELTER: Trump did not publicly oppose the war until well after the invasion.

The forum was a preview to a highly anticipated debate and a glimpse of what to expect from both candidates. Trump's critics slamming him for being short on specifics.

TRUMP: I may love what the generals come back with. I will -- LAUER: But you have your own plan.

TRUMP: I have a plan, but I want to be -- I don't want -- look, I have a very substantial chance of winning. Make America great again.

STELTER: And Trump hitting Clinton for her defensive demeanor.

CLINTON: There is no evidence my system was hacked.

STELTER: Even some audience member saying they were disappointed. Moderating Trump is a unique challenge. Add Clinton and it's even harder.

Now, all eyes on the presidential debate just 2 1/2 weeks away where the stakes are even higher.


BURNETT: Now, Brian, you had today Hillary Clinton using this to raise money.

STELTER: That's right. Putting on a fund-raising letter saying even Matt Lauer won't fact check Trump so we have to do it ourselves, support us.

I think what we're seeing in this campaign is the very purpose of journalism. The very purpose of interviewing is up for debate. Trump is such a unique figure. Clinton also a challenge, but journalists have to be forceful with both candidates. That's what our viewers want.

BURNETT: Absolutely. Brian Stelter, thank you very much.

And, of course, all eyes going to be on that first debate as we said just 2 1/2 weeks away.

All right. Next, Jeanne Moos on how a long hard-fought political campaign can crumble in just the blink of an eye, in just a couple of words.


RICK PERRY (R), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Commerce, Education, and the -- what's the third one there? Let's see.



[19:57:27] BURNETT: Gary Johnson's stumble heard around the world, but he's far from the only gaffe-prone candidate for president.

Here's Jeanne Moos.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We dare you to try and look away even if you've seen it ten times already.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What would you do if you were elected about Aleppo?



JOHNSON: And what is Aleppo?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're kidding?


MOOS: The exchange instantly gave birth to #whatisaleppo. Granted, 11 out of 14 people we asked on the street --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What's Aleppo? I wouldn't know.

MOOS: -- couldn't identify the Syrian city at the epicenter of the refugee crisis.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I have no idea.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't know. I know the libertarian candidate got it wrong and I don't know it, either.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: One of those animals?


MOOS: Speaking of animals, someone tweeted "Donald Trump probably wouldn't know the difference between Aleppo and Alpo."

But when you're criticizing someone for screwing up, be sure you don't screw up, yourself.

A former U.S. ambassador to Iraq called libertarian Johnson Aleppo Johnson, then proceed to mischaracterize Aleppo.


MOOS: Actually, the ISIS capital is Raqqah, not Aleppo. "The New York Times" made the same mistake and printed a correction, then a correction to the correction.

Candidates hate what they consider to be gotcha questions. Though then-Governor Bush gave as good as he gotcha.

REPORTER: Can you name the president of Chechnya?


MOOS: What happened to Johnson wasn't a gotcha. It was more like what happened to Sarah Palin.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you agree with the bush doctrine?


MOOS: And when Herman Cain was asked if he agreed with President Obama on Libya --


MOOS: The silence was deafening.

CAIN: Got all the stuff twirling around in my head.

MOOS: What wasn't twirling in Rick Perry's head was the third department he would eliminate.

PERRY: What's the third one there? Let's see.

MOOS: Gary Johnson said he first thought Aleppo was an acronym. "I blanked."

Trying to guess could be worse."

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Could it be a disease?

MOOS: One tweet framed his gaffe as if it were "Jeopardy," a three- word sentence meaning end of campaign.

Johnson, "what is Aleppo?" Trebek sighing, "That is correct, Gary."

Jeanne Moos, CNN --

JOHNSON: And what is Aleppo?

MOOS: -- New York.


BURNETT: And thank you so much as always for joining us. Don't forget, watch OUTFRONT anytime, anywhere, on CNN Go.

"AC360" begins right now.