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Clinton, Trump Debate at 9PM Eastern Time Monday on CNN; Clinton, Trump Taunt Each Other Over Front Row Guests; Race Tightens with Presidential Debate Hours Away. Aired 7-8p ET

Aired September 25, 2016 - 19:00   ET


[19:00:12] ERIN BURNETT, CNN ANCHOR: OUTFRONT next, a very special edition of OUTFRONT. "Debate Night in America." What are Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump doing in the final hours before the big event?

And psychological warfare. Trump and Clinton are playing mind games on and off the debate stage. Will it work?

Plus, one of the hardest things about debating Hillary Clinton. Almost all of her opponents have fallen into this trap. Let's go OUTFRONT.

And good evening. I'm Erin Burnett. Welcome to a special edition of OUTFRONT. "Debate Night in America." The button lines are drawn. The first head to head debate between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton on CNN now a little more than 24 hours away. We'll show you the debate hall. This is Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York, that is where they'll going to be standing. Some of Trump's top aides are inspecting the debate stage just a short time ago, we can see them there on your screen.

The Trump-Clinton face-off is the most important even to date in the presidential race, no question about that. It comes just 43 days before Election Day. And it will be an historic event, no matter what happens. Analysts say that it will be the biggest presidential debate audience ever, as many as 100 million people are expected to tune in. And it's a number like the Super Bowl.

Hillary Clinton is spending time at a hotel near her Chappaqua home right there, and it is where Clinton has been hunkered down the past few days. A long-time aide Philippe Reines, portraying Donald Trump in debate prep. Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani leading Trump Tower earlier today. You see him with a brief case. It looks like they were talking about something, photo short time later by the New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. Both candidates today meeting with the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

And I'm joined tonight by my panel, a political experts. We want to begin though with Sara Murray OUTFRONT at Trump's headquarters in New York. And Sara, this question, Trump's campaign manager just speaking about, you know, what she said is a disadvantage going into tomorrow night's debate. What did she say?

SARA MURRAY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, that's right, Erin. They're basically already saying -- not even on the debate stage yet, but already blaming the media if Trump ends up at a disadvantage tomorrow night. Take a listen to what Kellyanne Conway said earlier.


KELLYANNE CONWAY, TRUMP CAMPAIGN MANAGER: If Mr. Trump has any disadvantage going into tomorrow night's debate, it is that he is not really treated fairly. And that's pretty obvious, if you read many of the reports. If you turn on almost any station at any point in the day. The coverage varies from incomplete, meaning it's all about him and it's negative against him, to you know, over --


MURRAY: That's really a clue to how the campaign is going to react if the moderator, Lester Holt, tries to fact check Donald Trump. If he does have a tough moment in that debate, the campaign can fall back on what has been a very useful strategy for them, which is to blame the media. Also a very unpopular group in the U.S., even lower than some politicians. But Donald Trump has been hunkered down today. He has been prepping for this.

His campaign is taking it seriously. We saw Rudy Giuliani. We saw Chris Christie, we saw RNC Chairman Reince Priebus. Just a little bit ago, and they've been in there for most of the afternoon. And now as of right now, we're still not hearing that Donald Trump has done any mock debates. Obviously, there is a risk in that. He's never been in a one-on-one debate like this before. But this is not a traditional politician we're talking about. And aides are trying to prep them in a way that makes him very comfortable. We'll see if that gamble pays off tomorrow night -- Erin.

HARLOW: All right. Sara, thank you. And now, I want to go to Jeff Zeleny. He's OUTFRONT now in Chappaqua near Hillary Clinton's home. And Jeff, Hillary Clinton preparing for something above all else.

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: She is indeed, Erin. And she's been preparing in a resort not far from her home here in Chappaqua, with a small cluster of advisers really for the last several days. And last night, she worked into the night until almost midnight preparing for this. Erin, one thing that they expect and know is coming are questions about her e-mail. She has been answering those questions with varying degrees of success over the last year, year and a half or so. But her aides are trying to convince her to not be a lawyer.

She is a lawyer, of course. And sometimes, her answer on this has been somewhat lawyerly. She is going to -- at least her aides say she will try to sort of be contrite about this. Acknowledge, again, what she did with that private e-mail server was wrong and try and pivot beyond that. But they want to avoid her getting into the weeds in a legal answer that she sometimes has given on that classified server that really has dogged her since her campaign began.

HARLOW: And the campaign also, Jeff, has been, you know, out there, trying to get everybody to fact check. Something that they say, of course, will hurt Trump significantly more. But that may not happen, right? The moderator may not be doing that. So what will Clinton do in response?

ZELENY: Erin, there's never been a presidential campaign, at least in modern times, where the facts have been so disposable, if you will. Fact checkers have said that Donald Trump simply, you know, does not stick to them nearly as much as any other candidate. But it is not her burden, necessarily, to fact check him constantly. That might be her instinct. That might be her, you know, first thing she wants to do. But her advisers want her to limit that two or three big things and not have her, all night, be correcting him. Because they think that will not be the right image for her, for those voters out there. Many of whom may be tuning in for the very first time. They want her to have more levity rather than lecturing Donald Trump -- Erin.

[19:05:37] BURNETT: All right. Jeff, thank you very much. And OUTFRONT now, our panel, as we are getting ready for this event tomorrow night.

David Gergen, former presidential adviser for four presidents. Mark Preston, executive editor for CNN POLITICS. Kirsten Powers, CNN political analyst. Lanhee Chen, he helped both Mitt Romney and Marco Rubio. Prepare for their respective debates. Corey Lewandowski, former Trump campaign manager who is still receiving severance from the Trump campaign. CNN political commentator Bakari Sellers, Hillary Clinton supporter. Patti Solis Doyle, Hillary Clinton's former presidential campaign manager, and Paris Dennard, a Donald Trump supporter.

OK. Now I get to take a breath. OK. Corey, you helped prepare Donald Trump for debates during this primary season, of which there were so many. So, what's happening right now? Is he done? Did you watch the football tonight?

COREY LEWANDOWSKI, FORMER DONALD TRUMP CAMPAIGN MANAGER: Look, my recommendation is, if I was still part of the campaign, would be take some time, enjoy a football game, relax. Unwind, you know. Think about what you'd want to be doing before the night of a big day tomorrow. I'm sure he's going to come down from the apartment and go to work. It's what he does. He'll probably spend some more time doing some more debate prep.

But the debate prep that Donald Trump does is more conversational. It's with experts in their respective fields. Whether it is General Flynn or Rudy Giuliani. He learns by talking to other people. I think that's what he'll do. And I think he'll spend some time with his family, drive out to New York and have a big night tomorrow night.

BURNETT: Patti, what about Hillary Clinton? Is she now done? We know, she has been, you know, she has an offsite location. She is taking this very seriously, in terms of her briefings. But is she going to basically take off from now on and be done?

PATTI SOLIS DOYLE, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: No. I mean, so Hillary likes to prepare. She likes to study. She likes to be prepared when she goes on the debate stage. She has spent weeks preparing for this, going over briefing books, watching videos of Donald Trump debating. But tonight, what she's done traditionally the night before is really get a good night's sleep. Tonight, she went to go to visit her grandchildren so that she can be in a happy place. Her grandchildren always put her in a happy place. And tomorrow, she'll review, again, possibly do some Q&A and maybe even try and squeeze in another mock debate.

BURNETT: Wow. Another mock debate on the same day. Let's talk about two very, very different strategies. You actually have prepared someone to debate against Donald Trump, Marco Rubio. So, what do you do? What do you advise someone do to get under Donald Trump's skin, to get him to go on the attack and do something that will come off badly?

LANHEE CHEN, HELPED ROMNEY (2012) AND RUBIO (2016) WITH DEBATE PREP.: Erin, I think it's very, very difficult to prepare someone for debating against Donald Trump. Because there is so much unpredictability. Right? It's not like you can say, hey, here is his tendency. He'll go this way. He'll go that way. When we prepared Governor Romney, for example, against the President, it was very clear what the President was going to try and do and what he had to accomplish. And that was a much easier debate in some ways prepare for.


CHEN: With Donald Trump, you have to expect the unexpected. And so, it's difficult to say, prepare for Donald Trump in all sorts of different ways. You just have to be on your toes and recognize that anything could come at you. You have to stick to your strategy. Know what you have to accomplish and don't let him throw you off your game.

BURNETT: I mean, Mark, because that is the thing. He is unpredictable. And he could come out with those, you know, a one liner or quip, and you know, in his case, it isn't practiced in advance. It's very clearly what came to his mind at that moment.

MARK PRESTON, CNN POLITICS EXECUTIVE EDITOR: Right off the top of his head. You know, I'm in the mindset that he is probably going to be restrained tomorrow. I think that he's going to come out there and people are going to walk away and say, wow, where is the Donald Trump that we're used to and that we know? I think that the campaign advisers, Steve Bannon and Kellyanne Conway and others have really locked him down in many ways. He still occasionally has a pop-off moment but I think that he's going to be very restrained tomorrow.

BURNETT: OK. One of the issues here is going to be the fact- checking. The executive director of the commission on presidential debates says, moderator, not their job. All right? That is Lester Holt tomorrow. Not his job to expect him to be fact-checking. Here's what they said.


JANET BROWN, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, COMMISSION ON PRESIDENTIAL DEBATES: I think personally, if you start getting into fact-checking, I'm not sure what is a big fact, what is a little fact? I don't think it is a good idea to get the moderator into essentially serving as the Encyclopedia Britannica.


BURNETT: Does that take pressure off Donald Trump, Paris, or is he going to feel the pressure that people are going to be checking every single thing he does, and that he needs to get it right?

PARIS DENNARD, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Well, Mr. Trump has been debating -- he's had a one-on-one debate since he first got into this race with the media, with all his naysayers, and he did very well against all the people that ran against him in the primary. What Mr. Trump is going to do is not going to focus on Lester Holt, he's not going to focus on Secretary Clinton.

He's going to focus on the American people. That's what this debate is about. So, everyone thinking that this debate is about Secretary Clinton, they're wrong. Mr. Trump is going to message directly to the American people like he always has. He is a master and really understanding and tapping into what we need to hear.

[19:10:16] BURNETT: All right. We're all staying here. Because next, the first shot in the psych war. Clinton putting Trump critic Mark Cuban in a front row seat at the debate. Can Trump be rattled?

And the trap that other Clinton opponents have fallen into.


PRES. BARACK OBAMA (D), UNITED STATES: You're likable enough, Hillary.




BURNETT: Can Trump avoid those pitfalls?

And Jeanne Moos on how a weak and a sigh can make the difference between winning and losing? You're watching a special edition of OUTFRONT.


[19:14:07] BURNETT: And welcome back to a very special edition of OUTFRONT. You're looking at live pictures of Hofstra University, that is the host of the first presidential debate which will be seen right here on CNN tomorrow night. The psychological warfare raging between the two candidates though in anticipation. Clinton promising to bring Trump's nemesis, well, he used to be a friend but now he is a nemesis in many ways. The businessman and reality TV star billionaire Mark Cuban going to

bring him to the debate and sit in the front row. Trump then threatened to bring Gennifer Flowers, the former reporter who nearly derailed Bill Clinton's campaign in 1992 when she revealed they had a long-time affair. Both campaign managers addressed this today.


CONWAY: I can't believe how easily they baited the Clinton campaign was. We have not invited her formally and we don't expect her to be there as a guest of the Trump campaign.

ROBBY MOOK, CLINTON CAMPAIGN MANAGER: I think it is a warning sign before the debate has even started about Donald Trump's lack of fitness, his bullying tactics, that make him unfit to be president.


BURNETT: Phil Mattingly is OUTFRONT from the debate hall tonight. And Phil, just hours away and a lot of drama about people and whether who is going to be sitting in that front row, trying to psych out the debaters.

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: And Erin, obviously, a lot of attention right now being paid on what the candidates are doing to prepare themselves for Monday night. But also, no shortage of interest in who is actually going to be in the audience. Now obviously if you look behind me, you're the candidates themselves, they will be at the two podiums. But there's also going to be a few people in the audience that they care about. The Clinton family will be here. The Trump family will be here.

Donald Trump's running mate, Mike Pence is also going to be in the audience, something that is not very usual. But all eyes have been focused on Twitter over the course of the last 48 hours as we all know. Because the Clinton team invited Mark Cuban, the billionaire who has been sparring back and forth with Donald Trump over the course of the last several months. One that Hillary Clinton has used as a top surrogate. The Clinton team has given him a front row ticket, something Cuban has been very happy to point out to Donald Trump needling him and basically trying to goad him into a response.

Well, that is exactly what happened. Donald Trump responding on Twitter to the news that Mark Cuban would be here, saying that he might just bring Gennifer Flowers. Gennifer Flowers, obviously, the woman Bill Clinton had an affair with decades ago. It's something that may Republican officials kind of backed off in horror. It's the last thing they want Donald Trump to be talking about. When you talk to the Trump campaign, they're basically saying, look, this is Donald Trump the counter punchers.

The Clintons, they feel good about this because this is exactly what they were trying to draw out of Donald Trump. Now, it's worth nothing, Gennifer Flowers, at least according to the Trump campaign, will not be attending on Monday night with a Trump team ticket. Whether or not she comes, well, she said she was going to show up. But it won't be because of the Trump operation. So, there you go. Not only what's happening on the stage, Erin, but apparently it's a pretty big deal on what's happening in the audience, as well.

BURNETT: Yes, for sure. When you put it that way. All right. Thank you, Phil. And my panel back with me.

All right. Kirsten, Trump campaign, this whole issue, I mean, you know, Mark Cuban, Gennifer Flowers, sort of made for reality TV. How appropriate. Okay. For the Trump campaign is reportedly created psychological profile of Hillary Clinton, body language, words and phrases she uses, to try to exploit her. So, what could some of these things be, this profile?

KIRSTEN POWERS, USA TODAY COLUMNIST: I'm not sure I believe they really did that. They may just be saying they did that. To freak her out because a lot of what he does in terms of his psychological warfare is all the way up to the moment of going on to the debate stage. So, if you watch what he did in the primary with the Little Marco and the low energy jab, and the lying Ted, all this kind of stuff, he didn't tend to do it on this debate stage unless somebody came after him. So, it's not something he necessarily uses. And with Hillary, we've seen him do it with her health. Now she coughs on the stage, it can be like, oh, is she sick? Is she weak? He's called her weak. He's called her shrill.

BURNETT: He doesn't need to actually say or do anything in that moment.

POWERS: And she's being shrill. Reince Priebus came out and complained that she didn't smile enough last time. So now there is always pressure on her. Is she going to smile enough? And so, I think he sets it up all the way up until the debate stage. And unless she actually strikes him, he probably won't strike her back.


DAVID GERGEN, FORMER PRESIDENTIAL ADVISER: I think that there are certain times where candidates are reflexively defensive about issues. And with Donald Trump, we know that if you go after his success as a business person --

BURNETT: That is right.

GERGEN: He gets very defensive. And he cares more about that and almost anything else, as far as we can tell. So, and there are certain aspects of Hillary Clinton that are that way, too. But, you know, it amazes me if they spend a lot of time preparing on her psychological profile and not on preparing him to stand out at a podium, as he should do. Let me just say, I'd go back all the way to the Reagan debates. Helping to -- Reagan in 1980.


GERGEN: And it was, what we found was the first time we got him up at a podium and you have two minutes to answer, he had about a 40-second answer. He had not learn to live with like, a two minute answer. And he needed to practice that. He doesn't that he needed to learn a lot of things. He needed to learn how to put together a compact answer that filled out the space that dominated the debate. And after two or three times up, he was doing it. When he was first started it was terrible. By the third time around, it was terrific and he won the debate and he won the presidency. That's what I'm amazed about with the Trump responses, dismissive of traditions that have served others so well.

BURNETT: So Bakari, Philippe Reines is playing Donald Trump. That's what they came out and said. Now, he has been with Hillary Clinton a long time. He is a loyal attack dog. For example, with a journalist once, he said, why do you bother to ask questions you've already decided you know the answers to? Have a good day. And by good day, I mean, f-off. And he didn't say f-off. He spelled it out. Okay? The guy has no shame. He's fine to do that. But this is who he is. So, this is who they picked. That could be very smart. Is that the right person to pick him? Is he going to really be able to go after her?

[19:19:38] BAKARI SELLERS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I don't think anybody will portray Donald Trump the way he will come off on the stage. I actually agree with Mark, I think that he's going to be relatively sedated. But you have to have someone who can be very sharp with Hillary Clinton who can go places with Hillary Clinton and many others in her circle cannot go. And he is somebody that can do that. He can do that without any reins or without any reservations because that's who he is. But the fact is that, to piggy back a little bit on what David said over there, you know, this is a very large moment.

And Donald Trump has never in his life stood on a stage of this magnitude and had to debate someone one-on-one and have to debate someone with a greater sense of policy depth and be the underdog going into it. So this is something extremely new for him. And he has to hope that he doesn't get consumed by the moment. We know one thing is for sure that Hillary Clinton has been there and done that. And this debate prep shows that she's taking it really seriously.

BURNETT: And Corey, has he been practicing things like the 90 seconds? Because sure, he knows television, but "you're fired" is one second. I mean, but you know, to David's point, has he been practicing? I know he stood at the podium for five hours. Was he doing two minutes answers, was he doing that?

LEWANDOWSKI: What I think you have to remember is, you know, the expectation when Donald Trump first debated, when he walked on to that stage in Cleveland, was expert debaters. You know, the future of the Republican Party. You know, you have got a Princeton debate champion standing up there and then you've got Donald Trump, a businessman who never participated.


LEWANDOWSKI: And guess what happened. Within one minute, he dominated the debate, he responded back to the moderator with the response that was both funny and comical and, look, that's what everyone talked about from that. BURNETT: That's what you expect?

LEWANDOWSKI: I think what you will find is Donald Trump does things differently. And what has worked so very well is making everyone else think about what Donald Trump is going to do and then watching him do something completely different than what everyone thought he was going to do.

BURNETT: The other -- go ahead, Patti.

DOYLE: I just want to say, on the Philippe thing, you know, yes, he is very loyal and yes, he can be a real son of a gun when he wants to be. But he also is extremely cleaver. I think it was a brilliant choice actually. Because all of -- he is very good at designing and producing media moments. Everybody knows Hillary knows the issues backwards and forwards. Well, she is going to need help is taking advantage of those opportunities where she can have a media moment. And Philippe can do that for her.

BURNETT: And now, what about the Mark Cuban issue? Mark Cuban and Gennifer Flowers. Mark Preston, Mark Cuban and Donald Trump used to be friendly. And I say used to be because it is now downright nasty. Here is Mark Cuban on this show and recently a couple of the other things he said.


BURNETT: How smart do you think Donald Trump is?

MARK CUBAN, DALLAS MAVERICKS OWNER: Probably not as smart as he thinks he is.

As a business person, I thought there was an opportunity there. Then he went off the reservation and went bat -- crazy.

Donald, your companies failed so often, you must have gone to business school at Trump University.


PRESTON: Well, first of all, I don't want to get on the wrong side of Mark Cuban.

BURNETT: OK. He's not going to like it.

PRESTON: Yes. I'm pretty certain that Mark Cuban could probably take me down a few notches, as well. Listen, he is bombastic. Two things. One is, the Clintons really thought they got over Donald Trump by saying, we're going to put Mark Cuban in there. And what did Donald Trump do? He came in and he dropped the atomic bomb all of a sudden. And then it spun right back again. And we're talking about psychological warfare. Listen, I think, you know, give this one to Trump. I do want to say this about fact checking, OK? Because this is really the most important part of the discussion, the debate.

BURNETT: Yes. PRESTON: There's been a lot put on this. Donald Trump -- a lot of

people think that Lester Holt is not going to be able to fact check him or he won't do it aggressively because the game here, and of course the debate executive director saying today, well, you should let the facts check themselves. Donald Trump is going to be fact checked in real time on social media. OK? So, whatever happens on that stage is extremely important. And there are going to be moments. However, he will not get away with any lies, neither of them will. It will be real time on Twitter, on Facebook, on snap chat. And that will live on and on and on. So, I do think this fact-check controversy has spiraled a little bit out of control.


PRESTON: I think the court of public opinion is going to be very powerful.

BURNETT: Yes. Very important. All right. All of you is staying with me.

Because next, one of the biggest challenges of debating Hillary Clinton. And we haven't talked about it yet. But it is probably the most important thing. It has nothing to do with policy.

Plus, a new poll tonight out of Pennsylvania. Is Clinton losing her grip on what honestly is the linchpin state in so many models? You're watching a special edition of OUTFRONT.


[19:27:53] BURNETT: And welcome back to this special edition of OUTFRONT. Live pictures right now of the stage at Hofstra University. For the first time, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton will be squaring off right there tomorrow night.

Jim Acosta is outside that debate hall right now. And Jim, you know, obviously when you look at the numbers here, the estimates are. Right. This could be the most watched presidential debate in history by a huge margin.

JIM ACOSTA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right. If we hit 100 million viewers and some people are talking about that number, we would definitely see a record set tomorrow night. And obviously, Donald Trump has a -- has been a big ratings draw throughout this presidential cycle. We saw it during the primary process and we'll probably going to see it again over this next three debates. And Erin, I can tell you from what we're hearing from inside the Donald Trump campaign, they're trying to play the expectations game.

Kellyanne Conway, the campaign manager, she came out of Trump Tower earlier this afternoon and said, you know, the only disadvantage that Donald Trump has at this point is that they feel like he's going to be judged unfairly coming out of this debate. They're basically saying no matter what happens at this debate, they feel like the media is going to pronounce Hillary Clinton the winner. I think the other very interesting thing about this debate prep going into tomorrow night, Rudy Giuliani came out of debate prep earlier today at Trump Tower and said, they're still not using standards, they're not doing role playing.

So, Donald Trump taking a very non-traditional approach to this debate prep. He had Bobby Knight, the college basketball legend again at Trump Tower today. He was spotted coming out of Trump Tower. Perhaps giving him some motivational advice. So, all of this is shaping up, at least on the Trump campaign side, as being sort of non- conventional, untraditional approach when it comes to preparing for this debate.

And as we know, Donald Trump, he does not always play by the rules. We saw this throughout the primary process. We watched those debates, Erin. You know, 16 some odd candidates. They tried to go toe to toe with him, match insult for insult during those debates --


ACOSTA: And he just sort of knocked them off one by one. I think that is a big warning sign for Hillary Clinton going into tomorrow night. They're saying she wants to try to get under his skin. That might be the last thing that she wants to do, going by what we saw during those primary debates -- Erin.

BURNETT: All right. Jim Acosta, thank you very much. Interesting though on Coach Knight. You know, someone who is used to dealing with pressure, albeit of a very different sort, but pressure and timing.

All eyes are on this first debate. And as we've seen time and time again, a candidate can stumble in the first debate and sometimes never recover.

Dana Bash is OUTFRONT.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think it can be.

DANA BASH, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Kennedy versus Nixon. Exactly 56 years ago.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The things that Senator Kennedy said --

BASH: The first televised presidential debate in American history and an instant historic lesson in what to do.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Which point of view and which party do we want to lead the United States?

BASH: And what not to do.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Nixon, would you like to comment on that statement?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I have no comment. BASH: Richard Nixon was shifty eyed and sweaty, coming across as a

nervous wreck next to calm, cool, John Kennedy. It was a turning point for JFK's campaign.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: As the -- would you like to respond --

BASH: In 1976, President Gerald Ford made agreed to the first debates since the Nixon debacle and made his own epic mistake that helped cost him the election to Jimmy Carter.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There is no soviet domination of Eastern Europe.

BASH: That was flat wrong and immediately diminished Ford's stature. Over the years, candidates better understood the impact of TV debate but still didn't know his goes plan. Some first debates turned out to be the beginning of the end of the campaign especially when a moment fed into pre-existing doubts. In 2000, Vice President Al Gore repeatedly let out sighs as George W. Bush was speaking. For many watching, Gore came across as rude and dismissive. In 1988, Mike Dukakis made it through his first debate. But his second go at it was a disaster

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Governor, if Kitty Dukakis were raped and murdered, would you favor an irrevocable death penalty for the killer?

MICHAEL DUKAKIS, FORMER MASSACHUSETTS GOVERNOR: No, I don't Bernard, and I think you know that I opposed the death penalty during, all of my life. I don't see any evidence that it is a deterrent.

BASH: Dukakis' antiseptic policy response instead of a human one was a campaign and political career ender.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We have a question right there.

[19:32:12] BASH: And who can forget President George H.W. Bush, caught on camera looking at his watch in 1992, coming across as disengaged and out of touch. Precisely how Bill Clinton had been trying to paint him. Not all debate debacles kill the campaign. Just last cycle, Barack Obama choked big time in his first face-off with Mitt Romney.


BASH: Obama was able to redeem himself in later debates.


BASH: Ronald Reagan's first debate performance in his re-election bid was also a flop.

REAGAN: Imbalance.

BASH: Reagan rebounded with debate two with a prepared line delivered perfectly.

REAGAN: I am not going to exploit for political purposes my opponent's youth and inexperience.


BURNETT: Obviously, that, of course, famous line. Now Dana, the first debate for Reagan, as you point out, didn't go well. And there is now a relationship between that debate and where we are tonight.

BASH: That's right. One of the people who prepared Ronald Reagan for that debate in 1984 was former FOX News Chief Roger Ailes, who before he went to FOX, was a debate coach. He has been working with Donald Trump in preparation for this debate. I'm told that he hasn't actually been in the room for about a month, but the two of them have long had a telephone relationship and I'm told that continues.

BURNETT: So, you know, Lanhee, what are the candidates doing right now to try to avoid those moments? Because, you know, the one thing that (INAUDIBLE) Mike Dukakis, he was prepared and he gave his prepared response. He missed the human moment. Right? These are traps that you can see coming. But at the moment, you're nervous and you step right into them.

CHEN: Well, I think that's right. You know, it's easy to prepare for the policy stuff. It's easy to figure out what is the right answer on Russia or in Syria or on health care. But the tougher thing really is to get those unscripted moments right. And some of that just has to come from the back and forth that comes with a mock debate. I do think mock debates can be important in that sense because you get the dynamic between candidates, you get to figure out exactly what it looks like.

You get to figure out how a human being responds. And you can't always predict that stuff. Right? So, having someone to spar with is important. I just want to make one point real quick about the primary debates that Donald Trump has been in. Neither of these candidates has been in a general election debate. And the two formats are very different. To have 15 people on the stage and maybe six minutes of talk time, you know, is very different from having two candidates with 45 minutes each.

BURNETT: Right. There is no commercial break. I mean, just for anyone watching. They're not even getting a break.

CHEN: Yes. Exactly.

BURNETT: There is no bathroom break, there is nothing.

GERGEN: But she's had a lot of experience in one-on-ones herself. I mean, she goes into this as a much more experienced public speaker.

BURNETT: Right. Certainly. And Senate races and everything --

GERGEN: Yes. That is right. And the other thing that you have to do here is not just watch for watch for the gasps. If you're too tight, that's when the gasps come. That is why you need to be relaxed as Corey was saying that Trump is doing. But the other part is to bring in the zingers. You know, to have the one or two lines. And that's where Reagan excelled. Those didn't come out of debate prep but he went to his private place and came up with funny lines that were putdowns and they are really hard to deal with.

BURNETT: So Paris, there's a lot of thing -- one thing here that's very different, we haven't talked about. OK?

It is the first time a woman has been on the stage. And so far, the male candidates opposing Hillary Clinton have really messed up this issue. It has caused big problems in her past for Senate and, of course, in this race, as well, with Bernie Sanders. Let me just play the moments.


CLINTON: Well, I would be happy to when you give me the signed letters --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right here. Right here. Sign it right now.

CLINTON: We'll shake on this.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I want your signature because I think everybody wants to see you signing something that you said you were for.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I admire what Senator Clinton has done for America and what her husband did for America. Not sure about that coat.

OBAMA: You're likable enough, Hillary.

CLINTON: Thank you.

SANDERS: Excuse me, I'm talking.


BURNETT: How does Donald Trump avoid that, Paris?

DENNARD: Donald Trump just needs to remember that he is a husband to Melania. He is the father to Ivanka. And just to treat Secretary Clinton like he treats the women that are executives with his company and the way he treats his wife and daughter, with respect. I believe that's what he's going to do.

BURNETT: All right.

DENNARD: But I will say this, what Secretary Clinton should not do is be herself, be robotic, be a lawyer.

BURNETT: OK. I don't want to turn this on her yet. Because I want to finish here, Corey. Because Donald Trump has debated against a woman, Carly Fiorina and it did not fair well for him. This was a moment that really did not play well for him. Here he is.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Donald Trump said the following about you, quote, "Look at that face. Would anyone vote for that? Can you imagine that, the face of our next president?" Mr. Trump later said, he was talking about your persona, not your appearance. Please feel free to respond on what you think about his persona.

CARLY FIORINA (R), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You know, it's interesting to me. Mr. Trump said that he heard Mr. Bush very clearly and what Mr. Bush said. I think women all over this country heard very clearly what Mr. Trump said.


TRUMP: I think she's got a beautiful face, and I think she's a beautiful woman.

Why does she keep interrupting everybody?


[BURNETT: OK. That was an off the cuff moment. It did not play well. You know that. Afterwards, people didn't like that. So, how does he avoid that now with Hillary Clinton? What he's doing tomorrow about the fact that he's sitting there with women?

LEWANDOWSKI: Look, I don't think it's an issue of a women's vote, the agenda for America and what your agenda is versus what her agenda. And that's what it should be about. It's not a gender issue and no one should make it a gender issue.

BURNETT: What about those when Bernie Sanders said -- as I interrupt you. Bernie Sanders said, don't interrupt me, excuse me, excuse me. Donald Trump says that, he's done an interviews with me, he's done it on the stage. That is Donald Trump's signature thing. Excuse me. Excuse me.

LEWANDOWSKI: I understand. I understand.

BURNETT: Will he do it?

LEWANDOWSKI: Look, he's very -- he thinks he has to make a point. But that is not related to Hillary Clinton being a female. That is a point that he wants to make. He does it all the time. Look, again, what the goal tomorrow should be for what Donald Trump and Hilary Clinton is outline their vision for America. Where we are going. What the path is moving forward. And who the America people are going to like as the next president of the United States -- debate stage tomorrow night? And it shouldn't have anything to do with gender, that's what it should come down to.

BURNETT: All right. And next, the new poll showing more voters expect Clinton to win the debate. Could those high expectations hurt her?

And what happens if this guy shows up tomorrow?


TRUMP: He referred to my hands, if they're small, something else must be small. I guarantee you there is no problem. I guarantee you.



[19:42:30] BURNETT: Welcome back to a very special edition of OUTFRONT. The stakes for the debate not just about 24 hours away could not be higher. There are brand-new polls tonight showing Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump tied.

CNN political director David Chalian is OUTFRONT. And David, ABC/"Washington Post," this race is getting, I mean really neck and neck.

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: I mean, it doesn't get much closer than that. Forty six percent to 44 percent. Clinton with this two-point edge. Of course, that's what the margin of error. It's among likely voters, but take a look at how it compares to the ABC News Washington Post poll from just a couple of weeks ago. September 8. Hillary Clinton stays the same. She doesn't drop 46-46. All the growth is with Donald Trump, 41 percent to 44 percent. So, she went from a five-point lead among likely voters now to two-point lead among likely voters, well within the margin of error.

BURNETT: So, people who are saying that Trump had this ceiling, this is actually showing that not to be true. I mean, at least, you know, he has crept up.

CHALIAN: He has crept up. You know, I mean, people thought maybe the ceiling -- well, they thought the ceiling was much lower but now maybe we've seen a ceiling at about 45 percent. We haven't seen too many polls within north of 45 percent.

BURNETT: OK. So, the poll of polls though, this is an average of all the polls that are out there that we've compiled here at CNN. She's still winning.

CHALIAN: Yes. She is by about three points, 43 percent to 40 percent. Take a look at debates. September 9th through September 22nd among likely voters. That includes the NBC News/Wall Street journal last week that had her six points out. The McClatchy poll that had her six points up. But all averages are out to about a three-point lead. And this is really close.

BURNETT: All right. Really close. And then, you know, one of the states that when people look at the map, they say if she gets Pennsylvania, she's golden, right? That's sort of the way a lot of people see it. And now, you see Pennsylvania now in play.

CHALIAN: Look at this. The Mecklenburg college poll, it's a two- point race in Pennsylvania. You are absolutely right, Erin. Forty percent to 38 percent. This is part of her Democratic fire wall. This Pennsylvania is the key that Donald Trump needs to unlock in order to have a real, viable path to 270. And this shows he is in the hunt for it. This is an alarm bell for Clinton Headquarters.

BURNETT: And a state that has not voted Republican in six cycles.

CHALIAN: That's right.

BURNETT: So, I mean, that would be an absolutely incredible, and those polls tightening. Very significant.

Dana, the expectations when you see which way are these polls going to go after tomorrow night, the expectations game is key. And in that ABC/Washington Post poll that David was just talking about. Forty four percent say Hillary Clinton will win the debate. Thirty four percent for Trump. What does the differential mean?

BASH: It means that the Clinton campaign is worried about the fact that the debate is going to happen and that, as they say that Donald Trump will be graded on a curve. And I think what this shows is that it is not necessarily the media that would be looking at that. It is the public.


BASH: Now, they argued that the media influences the public and that it's, you know, it's all kind of connected, which might be true. But this is proof of why the Clinton campaign has been so actively and overtly, explicitly saying that they hope that Donald and Hillary Clinton are viewed in an equitable and equal way going into it.

BURNETT: David, on this point though that Dana raises -- sure there is a relationship between the media and the public. But yet, the public also see Donald Trump as a change agent. He's not used to this. And you look at the numbers. Forty times she debated since she run for Senate. He's 11 times and all just this cycle. The American public may have a double standard here.

GERGEN: Well, I think that's right. Because this is a change election. And she is running as the status quo candidate. And I think that gives him a built-in advantage. She's still ahead. She's still the front runner. She's modestly ahead, to be sure. But I think it actually is an advantage for him to go into this debate as an underdog. And as a challenger. What history shows is, there are more opportunities for challengers than there are for front runners in one of these debates.

And that there's a lower bar that's often set for a challenger. What he has to do is show he is presidential. If he does that, if he ties her in this debate, you know, the tie goes to Trump. Because he's the underdog. But she has to show she's more than presidential. She has to show she is presidential and likable, that people will like having her in the Oval Office.

BURNETT: So, as a double challenge, he is a single. And David, on this point, that ABC poll, 58 percent of Americans say, Donald Trump lacks the temperament. So, in that, it is against him.

CHALIAN: This is the ball game I think for Donald Trump tomorrow. So, 58 percent you said lacks the temperament. A majority also doesn't see that he has the knowledge to be president. Can't really envision him in the Oval Office yet. If he leaves that debate changing those numbers a little bit to his favor, that is going to be a big problem for Hillary Clinton. She has spent her entire campaign trying to disqualify him as the person that can fit the job.


CHALIAN: Yes. If he leaves that debate where people start seeing him like, oh, maybe he could be president, that could be a game changer.

BURNETT: And Mark, you know, when you see Pennsylvania tightening, you see it tightening in the cycle where you had birther come back up again --


BURNETT: And Donald Trump coming out with things that weren't true about it, it did not seem to matter. You still saw those polls narrowing.

PRESTON: Right. You know, the thing about Pennsylvania for Donald Trump is, you know, we wouldn't expect our viewers to notice or probably a lot of people, he actually has somebody running that state that knows the state very, very well. It is Arlen Specter's former chief of staff.


PRESTON: Somebody who is well-known in the state. Some people who does a lot of business in the state. And somebody who knows how to organize. In fact, he's the one who helped Trump win Pennsylvania and really organized it within three weeks during the primary. So, when we talk about ground game, when we talk about numbers and what have you, but it's about personalities and it's about trust and it's about knowledge. And Trump has got a really good team on the ground there.

BURNETT: All right. Thanks to all.

And next on this special edition of OUTFRONT, Jeanne Moos on those little moments that can make such a big difference.


REAGAN: I am paying for this microphone.



[19:52:00] BURNETT: And welcome back. Special edition of OUTFRONT. We are just over 24 hours away from the first presidential debate. And with the race virtually tied, tomorrow's event could be the major turning point in the final outcome. So, all right, winner or loser -- and I know this is really hard to do -- but let's give it a shot, when you look at all the factors here.

BASH: Do I have to go first? BURNETT: Yes.


BASH: OK. Can I say something really corny? I actually think it is the voters that are going to be the winners. Because this is something that everybody is so anticipating. And we've never seen anything like this in modern history, and at any point in history.


BASH: And so I just think that the fact that we're able to watch them for 90 minutes uninterrupted really go at it on policy, we hope mostly policy and probably some other things.

BURNETT: And probably some other things.

BASH: I know.

PRESTON: It's really corny.

BASH: I know.

PRESTON: Let me just say it this way. We don't know who is going to win or lose. It all depends on what your definition is of winning or losing. The most fascinating thing to watch is those body language tomorrow night. It really is, it is how he engages her. It's how she engages him. It is the smirks. They have to sit there as David said for 90 minutes.

BURNETT: You can't be -- for 90 minutes.

PRESTON: Right. You can't touch your face. That is going to be the most fascinating thing.

GERGEN: I reckons she wins on debating points. I'm sure she'll be (audio gap) than she will be. But I think he'll do better than expected for great number in the public. And I think it's going to be unknowable. If this comes out close, we're still in a fluid campaign, and it can be down to the wire. If they come out close to each other and it is really hard to judge who won, you know, if it is 55-45 in the public, I think this race is going down to the wire.


CHALIAN: I don't know that we'll know who won until we see how like "Saturday Night Live" treats the debate and the lasting impression that gets left. But I do know this, we are going to learn something very, very important tomorrow night when we watch them. Are they speaking to the middle slice of this electorate that is still undecided, that is small and shrinking, or are they motivating their bases? Which of those voters are they trying to speak to more during the course of the debate, I think will be a critical thing to watch.

BURNETT: Very telling. OK. Thanks to all. And a sigh, a wink, a glance, here's Jeanne Moos. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Prepare for the good, the bad and the ugly debate moments. They're the only things the candidates point our fingers. The debate dual is fought with zingers.

LLOYD BENTSEN, FORMER VP CANDIDATE: Senator, you're no Jack Kennedy.

MOOS: Even if one of the more famous debate zingers --

REAGAN: I am paying for this microphone.

MOOS: Was a line borrowed -- from Spencer Tracy, running for president in a movie. We have seen debates remembered for wings.

SARAH PALIN, FORMER ALASKA GOVERNOR: How long have I been at this, like five weeks?

MOOS: Debates remembered for sweat. Debates remembered for sighs.

GEORGE W. BUSH (R), 43RD PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: That's what a governor gets to do. There are differences.

MOOS: Ross Perot's running mate became famous for being unknown.


MOOS: Candidates should probably avoid invading their opponent's space.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And I believe I can.

MOOS: Made Hillary's Senate rival look like a stalker.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sign it right now.

CLINTON: Well --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I want your signature.

MOOS: A signature line is what lives on after a debate.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Here you go again.

BUSH: I hear there are rumors on the internets.

CLINTON: I don't think I'm that bad.

OBAMA: You're likeable enough, Hillary.

CLINTON: Thank you so much.

MOOS: You want to advance beyond the primary debates --

RICK PERRY (R), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: What's the third one there? Let's see.

MOOS: Thing to avoid --

PERRY: Oops.

MOOS: -- is the oops moment. When the Donald debates Hillary, he should stick to bragging about the size of his buildings.

TRUMP: He referred to my hands being small, something else must be small. I guarantee you there is no problem. I guarantee you.

MOOS: Jeanne Moos, CNN --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are we not doing the talent portion?

MOOS: New York.


BURNETT: And you're watching a special edition of OUTFRONT. We'll be right back.


[19:59:51] BURNETT: And thank you so much for joining us on this Sunday night. We'll going to see you again tomorrow night at 7:00 for a special edition of OUTFRONT. We'll be live from that debate site. "AC360" starts right now.