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STATE OF THE UNION
Crisis in Charlotte; Trump, Clinton Preparing for First Debate; Interview With Donald Trump Campaign Manager Kellyanne Conway; Interview With Hillary Clinton Campaign Manager Robby Mook. Aired 9- 10a ET
Aired September 25, 2016 - 09:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Showdown.
With the first presidential debate just hours away, the candidates are trying to get into one another's heads.
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: They say she's been practicing for the debate. Some people think she's slipping.
TAPPER: Is that a preview of Donald Trump's on-stage strategy?
Plus, Hillary Clinton says she's ready to take the hits.
HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: You got to be prepared for, like, wacky stuff. I am drawing on my experience in elementary school.
TAPPER: Which Donald Trump will show up on stage tomorrow? And with millions watching, could this change the race?
Both campaign managers and top debate pros will be here to weigh in.
And crisis in Charlotte.
RAKEYIA SCOTT, WIFE OF KEITH LAMONT SCOTT: He better not be dead. I'm not going to come near you. I'm going to record, though.
TAPPER: The candidates cancel trips to the city, as the mayor says things are too tense to protect them, as protesters and police face off over the release of more video. How will this end?
Plus, the best political minds will be here with insights from the campaign trail.
TAPPER: Hello. I'm Jake Tapper in Washington, where the State of the Union is counting down.
The very first presidential debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump is almost upon us. It's the first time the two will meet face to face after months of brutal attacks on the campaign trail.
Donald Trump now threatening to give a front-row seat at the debate to Gennifer Flowers. Flowers, in case you need your memory jogged or maybe you're young, she's the former Arkansas state employee and cabaret dancer who nearly derailed then Governor Bill Clinton's 1992 presidential campaign with her account of their longstanding affair. Clinton initially denied any sexual relationship. Then he admitted it under oath years later.
As for Trump's invitation to tomorrow's debate, Flowers told "The New York Times" -- quote -- "Yes, I will be there," but the Trump campaign has not confirmed whether they actually invited her.
This was all a response to Clinton inviting billionaire Trump critic Mark Cuban to the debate. That escalated quickly.
The promised spectacle comes as the candidates are locked in a dead heat. Clinton is at 46 percent, Trump at 44 percent in a new "Washington Post"/ABC News poll out this morning, with Libertarian Gary Johnson at 5 percent and Green Party candidate Jill Stein at 1 percent.
I'm joined now by the Trump campaign manager, Kellyanne Conway.
Kellyanne, thanks for joining us. Appreciate it.
KELLYANNE CONWAY, TRUMP CAMPAIGN MANAGER: It's my pleasure, Jake.
TAPPER: So, let's start, obviously,with tomorrow's big debate.
Take a look at what Donald Trump tweeted yesterday -- quote -- "If dopey Mark Cuban, of failed 'Benefactor' fame, wants to sit in the front row perhaps I will put Gennifer Flowers right alongside of him."
Afterwards, Gennifer Flowers, who infamously had an affair with then Governor Bill Clinton, sent a text message to "The New York Times" saying -- quote -- "Yes, I will be there."
Can you confirm if Gennifer Flowers is going to be at the debate as a guest of Mr. Trump?
CONWAY: No, I cannot confirm that.
And I can't believe how easily baited the Clinton campaign was. Basically, Mr. Trump was saying, look, if Mark Cuban is going to send out these texts that say the humbling at Hofstra and this is his big downfall, then Mr. Trump was putting them on notice that we could certainly invite guests that may get into the head of Hillary Clinton.
But we have not invited her formally and we don't expect her to there as a guest of the Trump campaign. I did think it was really odd, just one day after Hillary Clinton was rebuffed by a Democratic mayor of Charlotte to please not come to Charlotte, not divert resources and not come at this time, then they exercise poor judgment the very next day by putting out a statement by the Clinton campaign about Gennifer Flowers and what this meant with Donald Trump, that it shows he's easily provoked.
No, the easily provoked people here were the Clinton campaign. So, it's very poor judgment. But, look, we're going to talk about the issues that face America. That's what the debate is.
I can understand why Hillary Clinton wants a billionaire in the front row. That's just another Monday night for her. But we're going to talk -- we're taking the case directly to the American people tomorrow night.
TAPPER: Just as a point of fact, I think both Trump and Clinton were talking about visiting Charlotte, and the mayor said that they didn't have the resources for either one to visit.
But I think it's curious, and probably a lot of viewers are wondering, you think that what's odd is the Clinton campaign's reaction to Donald Trump tweeting about somebody that her husband had an affair with decades ago, not the fact that Donald Trump tweeted something about someone the nominee's husband had an affair with decades ago?
CONWAY: It seems odd -- it seems odd that they would give it life and breath, since you just said three times in a row that Governor Clinton had an affair with her. I didn't say it, but now a lot of Americans...
TAPPER: But Donald Trump gave it life, did he not? Donald Trump gave it life. He's the one that brought it up.
CONWAY: No, he basically -- well, and they could have left it at that.
What he said, if she's going to do this as a way to beat him, then perhaps, perhaps -- it was in his tweet, perhaps he will invite Gennifer Flowers there and -- or have her sit in the front row.
But, you know, I also just want to say, Jake, that this -- the particular presidential -- this year's particular presidential debates are incredibly important, so that we can hear the visions of these two candidates.
Donald Trump is out on the stump every single day. He was in Roanoke last night. He was in four or five swing states just this week giving policy addresses, talking about issues. Hillary Clinton is running negative ads against him.
You know what should be fact-checked? Hillary Clinton's campaign two weeks ago saying she was going to become more uplifting and optimistic and aspirational. Where was that -- where has that gone?
It's negative ad after negative ad. It's negative pieces of mail, phone calls, get-out-the-vote programs. We're just not going to do that. We're taking our case directly to the American people tomorrow in this debate, and, may I add, every single day out on the stump.
TAPPER: But, Kellyanne, it's hard to -- it's hard to argue that Donald Trump hasn't been negative about Hillary Clinton.
I want to ask you, in fact, is he planning on bringing up Bill Clinton's marital infidelity during the debate itself? This is something he's discussed on FOX News Channel and in other places. And he's some -- it's something that he's talked about in speeches.
CONWAY: Mr. Trump will answer the questions as they are asked by Lester Holt, the moderator. And he has a right to defend himself against anything that Mrs. Clinton, Secretary Clinton may say in response.
There's -- there's no -- there's no plan to do that. I'm not going to reveal what we have been doing in our debate conversations. But the fact is that he has every right to be defend himself.
You know, he -- he's always -- he's always, constantly attacked, and then the moment he counterpunches, then people are just shocked that he would do that, he would try to defend himself.
But he will answer the questions, as we certainly hope that the questions go to policy. Answer the questions that the American people have. They deserve and expect these candidates to be talking about the issues.
You know, ABC/"The Washington Post" came out with a poll overnight, Jake, that shows the issues that motivate American. They want these candidates to talk about the economy, terrorism, health care, immigration, national security.
And so Mr. Trump is ready to have that conversation.
TAPPER: You say he only counterpunches. And I know that that's kind of like the methodology of the Trump campaign. But the truth is, he attacks people on their own all the time without being provoked.
Heidi Cruz, Ted Cruz's wife, is a perfect example. Rafael Cruz, Ted Cruz's father, is a perfect example.
Ted Cruz just endorsed Donald Trump, a big moment for your campaign. I know you used to support Ted Cruz. Has Donald Trump apologized to Senator Cruz for attacking his wife and suggesting, bizarrely, that his father had something to do with Lee Harvey Oswald?
CONWAY: I won't reveal their private conversations.
But I will tell you, we're thrilled to have the endorsement of Senator Cruz. And we know that Senator Cruz and Donald Trump, combined in the primaries, got the lion's share of the votes. Between them, they won almost all of the states, with -- with very few exceptions, as you know.
I think John Kasich won one. I think Marco Rubio won one, not his home state. And -- and, so, together they really do represent a large part of the party.
But I'm -- I'm very happy that Senator Cruz kept his promise and adhered to principle. He signed a pledge that they all signed saying that he would support the Republican nominee. And I also appreciated the fact that, when Senator Cruz endorsed Mr. Trump on Friday, Jake, he did not just do it in a statement.
He just didn't -- he didn't just say, I'm going to vote for him. It was a very lengthy, very thoughtful presentation of the six reasons or so why Donald Trump is much more -- much preferable to Hillary Clinton, the Supreme Court, national security and cyber-security.
CONWAY: He went on and on with that. And I think that's incredibly important.
Donald Trump recently, according to all the polls, has been able to pull in the Romney voters. He has nine in 10 Romney voters. Hillary Clinton has eight in 10 Obama voters, according to the new ABC/"Washington Post" poll. And Donald Trump has also been able to get 90 percent or so of Republicans to support him.
CONWAY: I think Senator Cruz's endorsement will help with a few points here and there as well. And it shows great party unity.
TAPPER: So, Kellyanne, let me turn to the influence of Russia on this election, questions surrounding one of your advisers.
On March 21, Trump spokeswoman Hope Hicks confirmed to CNN that Carter Page was a foreign policy adviser to Donald Trump, and that same day, Trump himself identified Carter Page as a member of the Trump campaign foreign policy team during a meeting with "The Washington Post," both these stories still on your campaign Web site.
We now learn from Yahoo News that Mr. Page has opened up private communications with senior Russian officials about lifting economic sanctions.
Has your campaign spoken with Mr. Page about this?
CONWAY: Well, I have not spoken with him at all, in fact, meaning he's not part of our national security or foreign policy briefings that we do now at all, certainly not since I have become campaign manager.
TAPPER: Is he not part of the campaign anymore? He is not part of the campaign anymore? CONWAY: No, he's not.
He's certainly not part of the campaign that I'm running, meaning we don't have him -- we have a number of people, fabulous people, men and women, as part of our national security and foreign policy team. And he's not among them at Trump Tower.
And I also will say, if he's doing that, he's certainly not doing it with the permission or knowledge of the campaign, the activities that you described.
TAPPER: So, if he's out there talking to Russian officials, he's not doing so on behalf of the Trump campaign in any way, shape or form?
CONWAY: He is certainly not authorized to do that.
TAPPER: All right, Kellyanne Conway, thank you so much. And good luck at the debate tomorrow night. We will all be watching.
CONWAY: Thank you, Jake.
TAPPER: Mind games -- Donald Trump threatening to invite Gennifer Flowers to sit in the front row of the debate after she gives a ticket to Mark Cuban, Hillary Clinton, that is.
Will the Clinton campaign escalate the feud further? That's next.
TAPPER: Welcome back.
Hillary Clinton is spending the weekend in mock debates, preparing for tomorrow night's face-off with Donald Trump.
Who is playing the role of her rival? Well, it turns out it's one of her closest confidants. Sources tell CNN that Philippe Reines, her one-time press secretary, who she has described as shrewd and loyal, is pretending to be Trump to help her prepare. There's a lot riding on the debates for both candidates.
Let's talk about it with Clinton campaign manager Robby Mook.
Robby, thank for joining us. Appreciate it.
ROBBY MOOK, HILLARY CLINTON CAMPAIGN MANAGER: Thanks, Jake.
TAPPER: So, let's start with tomorrow's big debate.
Donald Trump tweeted yesterday about Gennifer Flowers. I know you know who that is. You heard Kellyanne Conway saying that they have not -- have -- they have not actually formally invited her.
But I guess the bigger question is, in the mock debates, are you preparing for anything? Are you preparing for the Gennifer Flowerses of the world to be invoked?
MOOK: Well, Jake, as you would appreciate, nobody knows which Donald Trump is going to show up to this debate.
And, in fact, his erratic temperament has been a subject of quite a bit of discussion in the debate. And I would argue it's why he's not fit and prepared to be president.
But, look, big picture, this debate is an opportunity for the American people to look at these two candidates and see which one of them is ready to be our next president and commander in chief.
And I think the fact that Donald Trump is spending the hours before this debate on this sort of thing is indicative of the kind of leader he would be and the kind of president he would be.
And so I think it's 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.
TAPPER: Former Obama adviser David Axelrod, who wants Hillary Clinton to win, is concerned that if Hillary Clinton spends a lot of tomorrow night attacking Trump, that might not be enough for her to win the race.
He told "The Washington Post" -- quote -- "If Trump finds a way to normalize himself, it can be a trap door."
Going into this debate, do you think it's more important for Hillary Clinton to sell her own vision or to paint Donald Trump as a threat, which could, in doing so, feed into her issues with likability and trustworthiness and honesty, et cetera?
MOOK: Well, Jake, I'm really glad you asked this question, because I think this is really the heart of the matter.
Every time that Hillary has had an unfiltered opportunity to talk to the American people about not just what she's going to do to make their lives better, the specific plans and policies that she has, but also how her entire life and this campaign is part of a mission to help kids and families, she's done better.
And so we're really excited to have that opportunity. And, to your point, I'm very concerned that Donald Trump will be graded on the curve -- on a curve. Just because he doesn't fly off the handle in the middle of this debate doesn't mean that he's prepared to be president of the United States.
He needs to have coherent answers to the questions. He needs to demonstrate a command of the issues. And he needs to roll out specific plans about how he's going to make life better for Americans.
I was a little surprised to hear Kellyanne Conway imply that he has those plans. We haven't seen them. He has a secret plan to defeat ISIS. He won't tell anybody what it is. He says he knows more about ISIS than the generals. That's not -- that's not a specific plan. And that's not being transparent with the American people about what those plans are.
So, we hope that that will come out at this debate. And we absolutely want this to be an opportunity for Hillary to deliver her message directly, so that people can understand she's fighting on their side.
TAPPER: Does Secretary Clinton have anyone in her orbit who can be brutally honest and frank with her?
I ask that, because it seems like, based on a lot of the information we have gotten about her e-mails and the like, that she might not have people like that. And in debate prep, it would be very important for somebody to really be able to go after her to prepare her for a debate. And I don't know that she has anybody like that in her orbit.
MOOK: Well, she absolutely does, Jake.
Anybody who has worked for Secretary Clinton, first of all, knows that she surrounds herself with experts on every matter that she looks to. She just did a call earlier this week after the events in New York with her national security team.
But she also likes a spirited debate and a spirited discussion. And the people she brings closest to her are the ones that challenge her thinking and push her.
This preparation process has been very rigorous. But, again, she released plans -- I mentioned, on ISIS, she released that 10 months ago. And that was the product of rigorous debate and discussion with experts. She's continuing to update that, as I said, as that situation evolves. That's who Hillary Clinton is.
Donald Trump has not released specific plans. And unless he does that and unless he tells the truth during this debate, unless -- unless he shows his ability to conduct himself without lying constantly, he's not getting a passing grade on this debate and he's not ready to be president of the United States.
TAPPER: There was a document dump on Friday. We learned from the FBI that an I.T. contractor managing Hillary Clinton's private e-mail server made reference to the -- quote -- "Hillary cover-up operation" in a work ticket.
He used those words after a senior Clinton aide asked him to automatically delete e-mails after 60 days. This I.T. worker certainly sounded like he thought he was covering something up, no?
MOOK: Look, Jake, first of all, I'm actually glad you asked this question, because a lot of this stuff is swirling around there in the ether.
It's important to pull back and look at the facts here. The FBI did a comprehensive and deep investigation into this. And at the conclusion of that, FBI Director Comey came out and said to the world that there was no case here, that they did not have evidence of wrongdoing on Hillary's part.
TAPPER: So, what's the Hillary cover-up operation that the I.T. worker was referring to?
MOOK: Well -- well -- but this is -- this is the perfect example of what's going on here.
The Republicans in the House side are selectively leaking documents for the purpose of making Hillary look bad. We have asked FBI to release all information that they have shared with the Republicans, so we can get the full picture.
But, again, I would trust the career professionals at the FBI and the Justice Department who looked into this matter, concluded there was no case than I would Republicans who are selectively leaking information.
TAPPER: I want to turn to the subject of immigration, because it's a topic that's sure to come up tomorrow. It's a major part of the Trump campaign.
I know you have a lot of criticism of Donald Trump's position. When it comes to Hillary Clinton, I have to ask about sanctuary cities, cities where they do not enforce federal immigration laws. And that sometimes means that people who are criminals who are in this country illegally end up getting free and committing worse crimes.
It just is a fact that that does happen. Does Hillary Clinton consider sanctuary cities to be a problem?
MOOK: Well, first of all, Jake, as you mentioned, we do think this is a really important difference between both of the candidates.
And Secretary Clinton has released a comprehensive plan for immigration reform. This is something she's pledged to do in the first 100 days. We cannot have a situation where anybody is coming to this country illegally and committing crimes.
And so she has, as I said, put out plans to make sure that we're removing violent criminals from this country. But that is -- that can happen at the same time that we're not tearing families apart and that we're making sure that hardworking people who have been here for a very long time come out of the shadows, come in to the system, pay those back taxes, become citizens, and so actually our economy can continue to grow.
TAPPER: I'm not clear, though. Does she want to end sanctuary cities or not? You said that people shouldn't be coming into this country illegally.
But a Clinton campaign spokeswoman last year said -- quote -- "Hillary Clinton believes that sanctuary cities can help further public safety, and she has defended those policies going back years."
Does she support sanctuary cities or not?
MOOK: Well, I think that's -- I think that's too narrow a view of this situation.
We need comprehensive immigration reform. And part of comprehensive immigration reform is making sure that law enforcement has the tools to find these violent criminals and get them out of the country and that, for people who do not have legal status right now, that we put them on that path to citizenship.
TAPPER: All right, I look forward to further clarity on the sanctuary city issue specifically.
Robby Mook, thank you so much. Good luck tomorrow night.
MOOK: Jake, thank you very much.
TAPPER: Appreciate it.
Coming up: masters of the dark arts. Two of the country's top political pros will be here with tips for both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump on how they can win tomorrow night's debate.
Stay with us.
TAPPER: I'm Jake Tapper, and I'm a political junkie.
I'm going to go ahead and assume that, if you're watching the show, you are as well. So, I know you will be tuning in to tomorrow's night debate here on CNN.
And you want to know what to look for. What are the traps that Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump each risk falling into?
We asked two debate pros to share their secrets about what works and what doesn't when it comes to presidential debates.
With me now, David Axelrod, who served as a senior adviser to President Obama, and Mark McKinnon, who was brought in to prep Sarah Palin for her V.P. debate and obviously also worked for President Bush in 2000.
Axe, Mark, good to see you guys. Thanks for coming in.
MARK MCKINNON, FORMER MEDIA ADVISER TO PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: Hey, Jake.
DAVID AXELROD, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Good to see you, Jake.
TAPPER: So, you have both studied and worked to beat candidates from the other party for years. Let's start there.
Mark, what do you think Hillary Clinton needs to do tomorrow night to win the debate? MCKINNON: Well, I think there are basically two things that both the
candidates have to do.
She has to disqualify Donald Trump, and he needs to qualify himself. But, you know, she is going to be really prepared. But there's a whole notion that all Trump has to do is sort of not come off the chain. She needs to make him come off the chain.
And I think she does that by wearing him down and just prosecuting him for 90 minutes. I mean, I think he can hold his composure 30 minutes or 40 minutes of -- but, man, 90 minutes is a long, long time. And she just needs to persevere and wear him down with facts, figures, policies, and make it clear that he's not ready to be president.
TAPPER: David, what...
MCKINNON: That's what it's all about at the end of the debate: Who is ready to be president?
TAPPER: And, David, what do you think Trump needs to do to beat Clinton?
AXELROD: Well, first of all, he has to do what Mark suggests. He has to show a modicum of mastery of details of governance.
And he has show the temperament that people so far have felt he lacks in, you know, presidential temperament. So -- but I agree with Mark.
You know, one of the big questions here is stamina. You know, for all of his yammering about stamina, Trump wearied at the end of the primary debates. And he was able to hide because there were a lot of candidates on the stage.
There's no hiding in these debates. It's 90 minutes of rigorous exchange. And the top line answers aren't going to be enough.
So that is -- now the question is whether knowing that he tries to turn this into something other than a debate and turn it into a spectacle and go hard after her and try and unsettle her. Because her mission in this debate in addition to doing what Mark said is to project a kind of connectedness with people to connect -- to project her motivation, to allay some of these concerns that go not to her experience but to her personality and to her approach politics.
TAPPER: And speaking of spectacle Donald Trump threatened to invite Gennifer Flowers to debate the campaign early in this program says, they're not -- they haven't formally invited her. I don't know what that means, formally.
But Bill Clinton's infidelities are obviously not a big topic of discussion for Hillary, however in 2000 during a Senate debate here's how she responded to a question from the moderator about not being honest with the country about her husband's involvement with Monica Lewinsky. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CLINTON: Obviously I didn't mislead anyone. I didn't know the truth. And there's a great deal of pain associated with that. And my husband has certainly acknowledged that and made it clear that he did mislead the country as well as his family.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: David, do you expect her to respond the same way if Flowers is mentioned or any of that subject?
AXELROD: You see, I mean, Trump is coming at her from a different direction and (INAUDIBLE). This wasn't about her misleading the country. He is attacking her in hopes of getting some of these of votes of women who are strongly voting her way.
He's raising the notion of that she mistreated the women who were involved in those cases which is a harsh charge. I have no doubt that they've spent is a lot of time prepping for that because it would be like Trump to make an attack like that. It's a high-risk strategy and, you know -- but it's a -- it's a hard one for her. So I think they have been modeling this out in their debate prep. I have to assume they have.
TAPPER: Mark, if you were advising Donald Trump would you tell him to bring this up?
MCKINNON: No, I wouldn't go near that. I mean, that is such as risk. And I think that she -- they are so prepared for anything that comes near that question or that issue. And that's the kind of -- that could be a debate ending moment I think if he gets anywhere near that kind of territory.
AXELROD: Mark, you know --
AXELROD: You know, just I would -- just to add one thing. When this came up in 2000 it went to her benefit because...
AXELROD: ... there was a great deal of sympathy for her in that situation. And so I agree with Mark that it's a very high-risk strategy. But you never know with Donald Trump.
TAPPER: Mark, we know that it's not just what the candidate says on stage of course but how he or she presents him or herself. As well Al Gore heavily criticized for sighing frequently in 2000 in those debates against then Governor George W. Bush.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE W. BUSH (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The man is practicing fuzzy math again. There's differences. I've had a record of appointing judges in the state of Texas. That's what a governor gets to do. There's no accountability measures in Vice President Gore's plan.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: There's a split screen. Candidates, remember that there's a split screen.
TAPPER: ... Donald Trump's campaign has created a psychological profile of Hillary Clinton -- detailed analysis of her body language, verbal ticks. Does that kind of thing work at all?
MCKINNON: Well first of all that just shows you that they are not winning it, they are doing psychologically profiling, examining as you just mentioned.
But, you know -- and of course the campaigns we always, you know, try to make a deal with commission there wouldn't be split screens. And there always was. So body language is really important.
In fact I've talked to Jim Lehrer this week and he said that -- you know, he was watching the candidates. He was questioning and he had no idea that Al Gore was doing that and it was his daughter after the debate that (INAUDIBLE), dad you realized that Al Gore lost the debate. So what are you talking about?
So, those kind of body language issues are big, big, big signals to the audience and people are going to be watching temperament and body language as much as they do the actual language itself.
TAPPER: And David, another key thing to watch for tomorrow night of course are one liners. They can win or lose a debate.
Back in '84 running for re-election Ronald Reagan was facing questions about his advanced age. He was 73 at the time. This of course is the famous way that he handled it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RONALD REAGAN, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I want you to know that also I will not make age an issue of this campaign. I am not going to exploit for political purposes my opponent's youth and inexperience.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: And, David, Roger Ailes the former head of "FOX News" he has had a hand in Donald Trump's debate prep as far back as August according to "Washington Post." Ailes and Trump were having Sunday chats at the Trump golf course in New Jersey testing out zingers over bacon cheeseburgers and dogs. Can you -- can you plan something like this?
AXELROD: Yes. Well, you know, Roger Ailes was involved in that debate prep with Reagan in 1984. So he's very well versed in this. And these debates, Jake, come down to moments.
You don't get graded for 90 minutes. They come down to revealing moments. And yes, both camps are probably planning these exchanges and hoping to land lines that accentuate their message.
But I want to say one thing about the split screen thing because I can't emphasize this enough. In the primary debates Donald Trump's split screen image was, I thought, damaging to him. He looked like Jackie Gleason in many moments. And he has to -- he has to avoid that kind of thing in this debate because if his goal is to appear presidential, then Jackie Gleason isn't going to fly.
MCKINNON: Jake, can I say one thing about the zingers? You have to be really good -- you know, actors are good landing lines. Politicians are not. Ronald Reagan was an exception.
And the problem with zingers if -- you know, if you try and coach your candidate to think about a zinger then they get so focused on that and when they're going to do it during the debate that they don't focus on the moment. So we found that, you know, like nine times out of 10 it actually doesn't work and is better to just stay in the moment and not be thinking about trying to land a line somewhere. And then as it often happens you get a good spontaneous moment like Bush did on the fuzzy math thing.
AXELROD: But it does depend on the candidate.
AXELROD: Because some of these candidates are more proficient than others. And Hillary Clinton my guess is will come in armed with a really sure sense of how she's going to deal with certain situations, including lines. Trump may be a little bit more improvisational as (INAUDIBLE).
TAPPER: I can talk to you two all day. Thank you so much. Really appreciate it.
TAPPER: The candidates are cancelling their trips to Charlotte as the mayor says the city is too tense but weigh in from the campaign trail as the protests continue. That's next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Those pedaling the narrative of cops is a racist force in our society and this is a narrative that is supported with a nod by my opponent. You see what she's saying and it's not good. Shared directly in the responsibility for the unrest that is afflicting our country and hurting those who have really the very least.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: That was Donald Trump with a strong response to Hillary Clinton's comments about the violence across the country this week.
Joining me now our panel. CNN political commentator Van Jones, former special adviser to President Obama. Congressman Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee, a Republican and supporter of Donald Trump. And CNN political commentators Angela Rye, former director -- a former executive director of the Congressional Black Caucus, and Andre Bauer, former lieutenant governor of the great state of South Carolina. Thanks one and all for being here. I'm sorry. Tennessee is a great state too.
VAN JONES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: You got (INAUDIBLE).
TAPPER: I know. I know.
REP. MARSHA BLACKBURN (R), TENNESSEE: That's right.
TAPPER: So, Van, let me just ask you.
TAPPER: There are those Democrats who worry that the unrest in places like Charlotte will help Donald Trump.
JONES: Well, that's true. But I'd tell you what. Donald Trump has botched an incredible opportunity to reach out to African-Americans. I was saying many times in the fall...
JONES: ... it is unnatural for one group to vote for one party 90, 94, 96 percent. There's a huge growth opportunity for Republicans. And you've seen the most inept, botched, failed, zigzagy out reach to African-Americans. So on the one -- on the one hand he sticks up for one of the shooting victims and then he tries to --
TAPPER: In Tulsa. Yes.
JONES: In Tulsa. And he turns right around and says I want stop-and- frisk. Stop-and-frisk the most unpopular -- the least -- the least effective and the most alienating policy period in policing in 20 years.
TAPPER: Found unconstitutional. JONES: Found unconstitutional. He reaches out for that. So, you know, you can criticize Hillary Clinton if you want to. What you will see when this campaign is over is the biggest missed opportunity for the Republican Party with black voters in a generation.
TAPPER: What do you say, congressman?
BLACKBURN: Well, I would take, of course, a different approach to this.
First of all, I think that everyone needs be careful about how they talk about these issues on TV. I think that it is imperative that we support assembly line. It is what separates us from order and anarchy. With that said, should we be doing more with threat assessment and that kind of training, body cams of that nature? Absolutely.
Donald Trump's remarks were directed at the comments of institutional racism. And -- pardon me. That is something that, indeed, needs to come to an end. Mike Pence talked this week about bringing that kind of talk of institutional racism. There are --
JONES: The talk or the practice of it?
BLACKBURN: Well --
TAPPER: ...talk about the institutional racism.
BLACKBURN: No, no, no. It's -- you don't -- you cannot say that all cops are bad. But there are issues...
BLACKBURN: ... that cops need address, absolutely. But to say they are all bad or that there's an institutional racism.
ANGELA RYE, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: And that actually hasn't been said but I think it's very important when we talk about institutional racism to understand where that comes from. And what gets dangerous is when we pretend that history isn't what is it. So as we commemorate the first National Museum of African American History and Culture let us also acknowledge the very treacherous history of law enforcement and black people that roots back to 1704 when you had the very first slave patrol. That is our first interaction with law enforcement.
The foundation of the institution is horrible for us. And you pass those tales down by generation to the point where kids like me growing up now I'm 36 are afraid of the police. And that's not for -- that's not for nothing. There's a history there.
Even after reconstruction there was vigilante violence. So we can't pretend like this came out of nowhere and this is a new phenomenon. We're just now seeing it on video.
TAPPER: Let's bring it back to the presidential election if we could...
TAPPER: ... which is -- Andre, do you think -- we just heard Congressman Blackburn talking in a fairly nuanced way about these issues.
Is that what you hear from Donald Trump from the stump or do you think he's painting, pardon the expression more of a black and white picture.
ANDRE BAUER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: No. Absolutely not. This is the difference between a career politician and a business person.
Look he is making a concerted effort to go after minority voters and he is trying to do the best job he can to reach out to them. But when a problem arises he doesn't worry what the most politically correct term is or what poll is the best. He's saying, here's what worked. Here's what changed numbers. And here's what saved lives.
And in New York it did work. And so he's trying to come up with a way to fix a problem as someone who is -- as someone who is looking at it from a bigger picture than worrying what poll is best.
And look, I'm a 16 year member of law enforcement and I can tell you most of them are good. We're -- we're now blanketing all of them as bad people. One of the most important things in this country is a safe society --
TAPPER: I think we all agree right here. All five of us agree you cannot paint the police with a broad brush.
BAUER: Well, Hillary Clinton has --
JONES: That's not true. First of all -- I'm going to say something. I'm from a law enforcement family. My father was a police officer in the military, my uncle just retired from the Memphis City police force. What African-Americans want is effective and fair policing. And that's all.
And so -- but it's very important to point out here a couple of things. When someone says there's institutional racism they are not saying every single police officer hates black people or every -- what they are saying is something is happening where there's a bias, where an African-American kid wearing a hoodie seems to be a threat. A white kid wearing a hoodie might be seen as maybe a Silicon Valley entrepreneur and there's an unfairness there. And you got to look at it. The big danger that I see is when you start talking about data, when you start talking about trends and then somebody says, well, you just hate all cops, that shuts down the discussion as well and that's not effective.
BLACKBURN: That was my original point. Everyone needs to be very careful about how they discuss this. You need to go back and look at things that have worked. You need to look at what --
JONES: Well, stop-and-frisk did not work.
BLACKBURN: Well, you need to look what Giuliani did in New York. And then you need to see what happens -- we got 500 in Chicago that have been murdered.
JONES: And we should talk about that as well. I just want to say that the stop-and-frisk needs to end.
Every study showed that you had a fraction of people that had any guns. Burglaries did not go down. Robberies did not go down as a result of that. And cities that did not implement stop-and-frisk had a steeper decline in violence. So this whole methodology that terrorizing and alienating a whole generation of African-Americans was somehow good for African-Americans has got to stop.
RYE: ... for anyone --
BLACKBURN: I know. You have to be sure that what you're doing is looking at things that have worked, making certain that there is training on threat assessment and then making certain law enforcement who are on the front lines every day and deserve our respect.
They put their life on the line.
TAPPER: Angela, go ahead.
BLACKBURN: They got the tools they need.
RYE: With all due respect. To continue to frame this as a threat assessment conversation is also part of the problem because what we're saying is very simple and that is when you deem a person by nature of who they are and what they look like and the race of that person as a threat that, in fact, is the problem.
TAPPER: Can I -- can I end this on a nice moment of unity which is the National Museum of African American History and Culture opened yesterday which you mentioned. And I would love to share this photograph if we could of this time of intense partisan fighting.
Here is the first lady Michelle Obama embracing in a candid moment former president George W. Bush. He -- President Bush 13 years ago signed a legislation to establish the museum, the bill was brought to him by Congressman John Lewis and Senator Sam Brownback. And -- that's a nice moment. RYE: It is a nice moment.
TAPPER: Thanks one and all -- thanks one and all for being here. Really appreciate it.
When we come back how tomorrow night can make history without a single word being said. It's the subject of this week "State of the Cartoonion." That's coming up next.
TAPPER: History could be made tomorrow night but not just on the debate stage. Experts believe that the first Clinton V. Trump matchup could reach 1 million viewers crushing the current presidential debate record and putting it in Super Bowl territory. And each candidate knows it's not just what you say, but how you look saying it. An important lesson learned at the first televised debate which is the subject of this week's "State of the Cartoonion."
TAPPER (voice-over): Good-bye Mayberry. Hello Camelot.
In 1960 CBS bumped the beloved "Andy Griffith Show" to make room for T.V.'s very first broadcast of a presidential debate.
HOWARD K. SMITH, MODERATOR: The Democratic candidate, Senator John F. Kennedy.
SEN. JOHN F. KENNEDY (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Can freedom in the next generation conquer or are the communists going to be successful? That's the great issue.
SMITH: Vice President Richard M. Nixon.
RICHARD M. NIXON (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I subscribe completely to the spirit that Senator Kennedy has expressed tonight.
TAPPER: Senator John F. Kennedy and Vice President Richard M. Nixon argued over the Soviet Union and civil rights but the debate is perhaps best remembered not for what was said but how the candidates looked.
Legendary producer Don Hewitt recalls talking to the candidates backstage.
DON HEWITT, PRODUCER: I said, do you want any makeup? Now, Kennedy who had been campaigning in an open convertible looking tan and fit, this guy was a matinee idol. And he said, no, no (INAUDIBLE). And I said, Nixon, would you want some makeup? Having heard Kennedy say no, he said no. And he came out I looked at him on camera and he looked like death warmed over.
TAPPER: And how they looked impacted voters. Here's how Bob Dole remembers it.
SEN. BOB DOLE (R), KANSAS: I mean I listened to it on the radio and I thought Nixon was doing a great job. Then I saw the T.V. clips the next morning and the guy, you know, he was sick and he didn't look well.
Kennedy was young, articulate and sort of wiped him out.
TAPPER: Most historians now say that debate forever changed politics and not everyone thought that was a good thing.
TAPPER: You can watch all of the drama unfold right here on CNN, special coverage of Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton's first debate begins right here 7:00 p.m. Eastern tomorrow night. You won't want to miss a second of it.
Thanks for spending your Sunday morning with us. You can catch me here every Sunday and weekdays on "THE LEAD" at 4:00 p.m. Eastern. And you go to CNN.com/SOTU -- STATE OF THE UNION for extras from the show.
I'm Jake Tapper in Washington.
"FAREED ZAKARIA GPS" is next.