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Trump And Clinton To Debate For 90 Minutes; Campaigns Look To Set Tone Ahead Of First Debate; Dozens Dead As Syrian Army Pounds Aleppo; Colombia's Farc Rebels Ending 52-Year Insurrection; Frustration In France Over Migration Struggle; Syrian Journalist: U.K. Seized Passport; One Hundred Million Americans Expected To Watch Debate. Aired 3-4p ET

Aired September 26, 2016 - 15:00:00   ET




[15:00:23] HALA GORANI, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. I'm Hala Gorani. This evening we're live from CNN Paris. Thanks for being with us. This is


Eighteen months of campaigning, a grueling primary season, hundreds of speeches and appearances, and now we are awaiting the first face to face

show down between America's two top candidates for president.

On a stage at Hofstra University on New York's Long Island, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump will meet less than six hours from now in their first

debate. This is a live shot from inside Hofstra University where it will go down.

Now just to explain how this is going to work, it will run 90 minutes with no commercials, no breaks. NBC News anchor, Lester Holt will moderate.

The debate itself is divided into six segments focusing on themes including America's direction, that's one of them.

Achieving prosperity is the other, security America finally, there will be six 15-minute segments, a coin toss will be used to determine who will get

the first question. Clinton won that toss.

Now the debate is easily the most anticipated event of this presidential election so far and a staggering 100 million viewers are expected to tune

in this evening at 9:00 p.m. Eastern Time. Now that would be a record.

Among those watching will be CNN's Kate Bolduan. She is the host of "STATE OF THE RACE," and she is live at the debate venue. First, let's talk about

the anticipation leading up to this debate that everybody -- I'm going to push through and watch it at 3 a.m. Paris time.

Many people here in Europe as well have said they will do the same and so much is at stake for both because they're really neck and neck in the


It is not just the polls, it's the fact that these two candidates are so well-known in America and internationally, but they're also the two most

disliked candidates who have ever run in modern American history.

So what are they going to do to change the conversation from this day forward in this final sprint to November 8th, that's what is going to come


In terms of the preparation and the anticipation leading up to today, you have Hillary Clinton's team have said that yes, she is known for cramming.

She's known for her preparation, Hala. She's been hitting the books.

She's been doing mock debates. She's been actually the mock debates late at night so she's standing 90 minutes starting at 9:00 p.m. Eastern to get

the real feel of what the debate is going to be like. Donald Trump kind of par for the course. There is a lot less known.

There was no joke about him preparing, but in no way has it been the kind of preparation we have seen of other candidates, but to be honest that has

worked to his benefit as you saw when he took all of those primary challenges out to this point.

GORANI: Yes, and what's going to be the Clinton strategy versus the Trump strategy here because, of course, there is no prompter. This is 90 minutes

without a break. First let's start with Hillary Clinton, what is she going to try to do tonight?

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN HOST, "STATE OF THE RACE": It seems that they are not entirely sure and here's why because they're preparing they say for

multiple Trumps to show up. I mean, it's hard enough to prepare for a debate. They don't know which Trump is going to show up.

The goals that we are hearing coming out from the Clinton campaign is they want to not only describe her vision, but they want to try to get under his

skin. They want to rattle him. They want that unfiltered and unleashed Trump that we've seen in some rallies come out.

They think that is where she will win. They also want to fact check him. Her campaign manager, Hala, even said that she's going to be a realtime

fact checker on that stage.

A lot of analysts I've talked to say that could work to a benefit, but also runs a risk. If you're just fact checking him and not talking about what

you will do to improve the lives of Americans, you could lose that argument.

[15:05:06]GORANI: Right. And Donald Trump as well, I mean, we mentioned no prompter. It is kind of a tight rope for him as well, right? Because I

mean, the reason he is popular with his supporters at least is because he says some of those off the cuff things. In this particular case, he is

going to have to be careful. He is going to have to sort of kind of frame his message in a way that doesn't get him in, quote, "trouble" here, right?

BOLDUAN: That is right, and to be honest with everyone out there, I'm not entirely sure from all the folks I'm talking to. I am not sure exactly

what the Trump strategy is to this point.

Maybe not surprisingly because really it's only Donald Trump who knows what his strategy is and that can change up to the last minute. You hear that

it is going to be Trump who is going to be the more kind of scripted Trump that's going to get on the stage and be more serious.

We have even heard from some of our reporters, Jeff Zeleny was just telling me that he could even come out and try to throw her off by being nice to

Hillary Clinton. We have never seen that in this election as you well know so we have no idea what that looks like.

But will Donald Trump talk policy? Will he be pushed to talk policy? That is a key question because that is one of the glaring holes in Donald

Trump's strategy. He doesn't get into week.

That's what his supporters love about him, but that's what undecided voters may still be waiting for from him, but what does that mean? How does that

come across in the debate and does that score him points or does he fall flat? You can't say make America great again for 90 minutes. I do know


GORANI: Yes, sure, last question, I want to ask you here from many viewers internationally asked me, how did Trump managed to close the gap with

Clinton after the convention in Philadelphia. She got a big bump. She maintained that bump for several weeks, and now all of a sudden here back

with the two of them pretty much as we mentioned neck and neck in very critical swings states not just nationally.

BOLDUAN: The country is divided. The country will be 50/50, that is kind of where the country lands. This is what I'm told from all of the smart

folks. The smart folks in the campaign tell me that the bump always subsides. It definitely subsided after the post-convention bump.

Another thing also happened, a lot of the story in the primary was just how divided the Republican Party was. It looks like it finally happened.

People didn't know if it would, but it happened with the Republican Party decided in last part 90 plus percent are now getting behind Donald Trump.

So you see the numbers consolidating around him on that side. Hillary Clinton has seen some softness with the Obama coalition, that's what

younger voters, nonwhite voters, those are people who really helped President Obama win in 2008 and of course, in 2012 again.

And so that is where they are focusing all the reference now. It's basically just all happening at the same time as we head into this debate.

They are just raising the stakes for exactly who their audience is.

They're speaking basically to the same people at this point. Millennial voters, college educated white voters are a group that both of them are

going to be speaking to as well. That's important when you look deep into the hole, yes.

GORANI: All right, Kate Baldwin, thanks very much. We'll catch up with you later. I know you will be watching the debates along with millions and

millions of others in the U.S. and all the around the world. Thank you.

Now this debate is not just the first time we will see the candidates go head to head. It also comes at a crucial time during the campaign. We

were mentioning with Kate, these poll numbers.

This is a national poll of polls, it shows Clinton with just a 2 percentage-point lead across the United States. Both campaigns are looking

to get a boost from tonight's debate, but both are also concerned they might not get a fair shake, listen.


ROBBY MOOK, CLINTON CAMPAIGN MANAGER: I'm very concerned that Donald Trump will be graded on a curve just because he doesn't fly off of the handle in

the middle of this debate does not mean that he is prepared to be president of the United States.

KELLYANNE CONWAY, TRUMP CAMPAIGN MANAGER: If Mr. Trump has any disadvantage going into tomorrow night's debate is that he is not really

treated fairly and that is pretty obvious if you read many of the reports, if you turn on the station at any point in the day.


GORANI: Now this isn't all of the campaigns have been saying as they seek to set the tone ahead of tonight's showdown. Representatives for both

Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton appeared on CNN earlier today.

The Trump campaign questioned Clinton's days of debate preparation, and the Clinton camp wondered if Trump would be held to account tonight.


JASON MILER, SENIOR COMMUNICATIONS ADVISER, TRUMP CAMPAIGN: With regards to Secretary Clinton, our reports (inaudible) America last night saying

that Secretary Clinton was polling two a day. You know, that might something to brag about when you're getting ready for high school football.

But I'm not sure heading into arguably the biggest presidential debate that our country has ever seen that that is something that you really want to be

putting out there.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: What wrong with preparation, Jason? You guys are trying to spin this as a virtue that Trump doesn't want to study the

issues, doesn't want to do mock debates. Why is going in there and winging it an advantage?

[15:10:07]MILER: That's not the case at all. Mr. Trump will be very prepared for this evening, but the key point to make about Mr. Trump is

that he is going to go in there with the clarity and a conviction of a candidate who knows exactly what his vision is, exactly how he wants to

help the country, and so he's going to go in there essentially be himself.

That is something that's really easy to prepare for. Secretary Clinton has a much bigger challenge as he is trying to program all of her lines and

figure out what methods will work tonight. Mr. Trump has a much different approach, and quite frankly I think that is why he is doing so well in the


ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: What is Hillary Clinton's plan if she hears a falsehood from Donald Trump?

BRIAN FALLON, PRESS SECRETARY, CLINTON CAMPAIGN: I don't think she will let it go by the wayside and I don't think that the moderator should

either. You know, Donald Trump is somebody who lies 70 percent of the time if you look at the analysis that "Politifact" did last year when they

dubbed him liar of the year. Just this past week, you had a range of media outlets look at his statements and "Politico" calculated that he lies about

every 3 minutes.

GORANI: Well, because the reason I ask is the executive director of the Commission on Presidential Debates that sets the rules said that they do

not think that it is the moderator's responsibility to call them out and they are going to let candidates fact check each other. So does Secretary

Clinton have a ready quip, a "there you go again" moment if that happens?

FALLON: I don't know about, but I know that there is enough lies that Donald Trump tells consistently that everyone by now should be able to call

them out. Lester Holt, Hillary Clinton will, too.

But I think that even the observers and reporters tonight watching that are grading the two candidates' performances should take into account.

By now we all know he likes to lie about his record when it comes to the Iraq war. He lies about his support for the intervention in Libya. He

lies about who started birtherism.

He lies on any different number of issues and he tells them so frequently that we all know them now. He can't be given a passing grade if he repeats

those lies.

GORANI: All right, let's take a closer look at the strategies for each candidate tonight. Joining me now is Jack Kingston. He is a senior

adviser to the Trump campaign and he joins us now from Hofstra University.

First of all, let me ask about the strategy here because Donald Trump will not have a prompter. He has to be very careful what he says in terms of

whether or not he says something that perhaps those undecided voters will consider, you know, outrageous or a little bit too out there.

How is he going to do? How is going to perform 90 minutes under those circumstances?

JACK KINGSTON, SENIOR ADVISER, TRUMP CAMPAIGN: Well, he has been on the stump, as you know, a lot more than Hillary Clinton during the last year.

He survived a 17-way primary with lots of debates and then every day, he's been out on the streets of America talking to voters and giving speeches.

And his speeches aren't, you know, 10 or 15 minutes. They're often 45 minutes to an hour long so obviously he has a lot of energy, stamina, and

he has been talking about issues that count, the economy, creating jobs, national security and things that Middle America is looking for.

GORANI: Those are speeches, they are not debate. It's quite different specifically how has he been training for a debate, a one on one head to

head with Hillary Clinton?

KINGSTON: Let me say, he has been through debates in the Republican primary, and often going out on the streets and talking to people and

formulating your ideas, that is preparation for a debate.

And I know as a candidate because the more you're out on the campaign's trail as opposed to being at fundraisers. It is a little bit easier.

You're trying to sell a message so it is good preparation.

But let me say this, he is not sliding that preparation stage. He's been sitting down with They have been peppering him with questions. He is

absolutely taking a seriously. But you know, Donald Trump has his own style, he is a different candidate. He is non-Washington and he is


Hillary Clinton, as you know, has been running for president since 2007. Before that she ran for the U.S. Senate, before that she was helping her

husband run for president, our governor, so she has 30 years of traditional campaign debating style coming behind her.

She's an extremely experienced debater. We have a lot of respect for her ability, but in terms of her message versus our message of jobs and strong

national security and making America great again, we feel very confident that that is the one that Americans want to hear.

GORANI: All right, Jack Kingston, stand by. We are now joined by Maria Cardona. She is a CNN political commentator and a Clinton supporter, and

Maria joins us from Washington, D.C. So you were able to hear a little bit of what Jack Kingston there who is a senior adviser to the Donald Trump


He was telling about Donald Trump's preparations and anticipation of this very important debate. What does Hillary Clinton need to do tonight

because you have seen the polls? These polls for your camp must be worrying.

MARIA CARDONA, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think that the only way you run to win is by running and being worried because that's the only way that

you are going to make sure that you are doing your best every day to earn every single vote, which is exactly what Hillary Clinton has been doing

from the day that she started running for president.

Look, in terms of the debate tonight, I think Hillary Clinton needs to do two things. The first one is to take advantage of this great opportunity

to talk to 100 million Americans.

Many of them who will be tuning in, it's incredible to say, but tuning in for the first time in a very focused manner on these two very different


She will have an opportunity to talk about her life's work, which has been public advocacy for children, families, middle class working Americans, to

make sure that this is economy is an economy that works for everybody, not just the 1 percent.

Versus Donald Trump, who for the last four decades has done nothing but enriched himself many times at the expense of workers, at the expense of

students and immigrants, and who will make the contrast in terms of who has the temperament to be commander-in-chief.

And if the Donald Trump that we all know shows up tonight I think --

GORANI: Maria, I guess, the question is how does she --

CARDONA: -- that's going to be the contrast for her to make.

GORANI: Maria, the question is, is it's not the content of the message as much, and Jack, I'll get to you in a moment, as much as the way she

delivers it. She has to appeal to those undecided voters in a way that has been different than she has been doing so far because she has been

criticized, as you know full well, for not having that kind of warmth, that kind of sort of that relatibility. Is that something she can train for,

for a debate like tonight?

CARDONA: Well, she certainly not going to try to be somebody that she's not, Hala. I think what you have seen in most of the polls and frankly if

the election were held today, she would win. I think what the majority of Americans will come away with tonight is that you have a binary choice

between somebody who is incredibly prepared.

The most qualified candidate that we have had in history, who is ready on day one, with the temperament to be commander-in-chief with the knowledge,

the foreign policy experience, who can handle a national crisis versus somebody who has been dubbed the most dishonest candidate that we have had

in presidential history, who the majority of Americans do not believe has the temperament to be commander-in-chief, and who we all should see as a

very dangerous person if he get to the White House and gets his hands on the nuclear codes.

GORANI: All right, Jack, how do you respond to that, Jack Kingston?

KINGSTON: Which one of the 94 million underemployed or unemployed Americans are fired up about Hillary Clinton. Which ones of the families

have seen their household income fall from 57,000 to 53,000, how are they going to be fired by Hillary Clinton or what about the 43 million Americans

that are on food stamps?

The fact that we have the lowest home ownership rate in history. They're supposed to be excited about Hillary Clinton. There is nothing new.

Nothing --

CARDONA: More so than Donald Trump, that's for sure.

KINGSON: And the thing about Hillary Clinton, what will she do? Lecture us? She has that angry school principal approach who doesn't like

children. You heard her shrill last week to the unions why aren't our 50 percent -- that's not anybody that Americans are going to get behind --

CARDONA: that's not sexist at all, Jack, right, to call her shrill? When in fact what we have seen the majority of Americans -- here is the other

problem with Donald Trump. Donald Trump has a huge problem with women voters because they do believe that he is sexist.

GORANI: Jack, let's get Maria to respond to what you just said, Jack.

CARDONA: The big challenge for Trump going into tonight is that college educated white women are going for Hillary Clinton. No Republican has ever

won, and in fact, Mitt Romney won college educated white women and lost the election last time around so Donald Trump has a huge problem with women.

And making comments like the one that Jack was just making, that underscore the sexism, racism, and bigotry that has been a huge part, a huge part of

the campaign message of Donald Trump from the first day he announced his campaign that will be a big challenge.

KINGSTON: It's a default position -- a default position from the Hillary Clinton camp to call somebody a name. The fact is that 94 million people

are under employed or unemployed. We have less than a 2 percent growth rate.

GORANI: We heard those figures. Jack, we want to thank you.

KINGSTON: But when --

GORANI: Yes. We've heard those figures. We want to thank you both. We would love to have an opportunity. We would love to have an opportunity

for to have you both back on after the debate to discuss what we'll all be watching and listening to from Hofstra University. Thanks to both of you,

Maria Cardona and Jack Kingston.

As you can see there, we are starting off in this pre-debate period there with some very fiery conversations between the supporters of both camps and

it gives you a general sense of how passionate the conversation is in U.S. politics.

A lot more to come this evening. We'll have the very latest from Aleppo pounded like never before.

And a historic peace deal in Columbia aims to end the western hemisphere's longest armed rebellion, and they're signing it with recycled bullets. We

hope that can happen in Aleppo and Syria one day as well. We'll be right back.


GORANI: When either Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump sits down in the oval office in January, the nightmare that is Syria will be high on their


Our Fred Pleitgen has a report that contains very graphic images. He shows how hopes for a prolonged ceasefire were dashed after Syrian forces pounded

the rebel-held eastern part of Aleppo. Take a look.


FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The situation activists say worse than ever before. More than 200 people

killed. Hundreds more wounded over the weekend. Few hospitals still function. A bed often a soiled tile floor. Rescue workers say they too

are under fire.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We don't know why they are targeting us. We're just doing our job, trying to save people.

PLEITGEN: The pictures are heartbreaking. The screams deafening. Aid groups say about half of those killed or wounded are children. Rarely a

moment of luck, this baby pulled out of the rubble alive and handed to her grateful father.

But while Aleppo is suffering, those charged with ending the violence are themselves fighting. The U.S. and Russia squaring off and the U.N.

Security Council accusing Moscow of barbarism for aiding the Syrian military.

Russia for its part blames the U.S. for the failure of a ceasefire while Syria's representative makes the government's intentions clear.

"I would like to reassure you that the government will reclaim Aleppo in entirety," he says.

As the government presses its current offensive, getting aid to the rebel held areas of Aleppo has been made impossible. The U.N. calling for a halt

to the violence and a humanitarian corridor.

JAKOB KERN, U.N. AID COORDINATOR FOR SYRIA: We need (inaudible) unimpeded, sustained, and safe access to those areas, for all civilians and those in



[15:25:12]GORANI: All right, well, Fred is in the Syrian capital of Damascus for us and joins us now. What hope is left for any kind of

ceasefire right now in Syria?

PLEITGEN: I would say the hope is pretty slim at this point in time, Hala. I mean, it's not only the fact it's offensive that the Syrian government

has acknowledge of that says is very comprehensive and (inaudible) both air forces as well as ground forces, that offensive appears to be going on.

What we're hearing in Aleppo is that apparently there was fewer airstrikes today than there have been in the past couple of days. Still activists

there are saying that almost 20 people were killed in those air strikes today.

And of course, they've been saying throughout the weekend that many places could still be trapped under the rubble simply because there has been so

much destruction over the past couple days.

You still have a very active battlefield up there in Aleppo, which the Syrian government has identified as being a very important one for its

campaign up there in the north of Syria, but also, of course, you have the two powers who were supposed to try and bring all the violence to an end

namely the U.S. and Russia very much at odds.

With the Russians blaming the U.S. for apparently not being able to identify the jihadists under the rebels and distinguish them from the

moderate groups that are fighting up there, and what is going on right now in the north of Syria, with the Russians, of course, aiding the Syrian

military, they call that barbarism.

So it seems those two sides have never been further apart. So the prospects for a ceasefire really seemed like the people there need to just

hunker down and pray that the two sides get back together.

GORANI: All right, Fred Pleitgen, thanks very much. She's live from inside Syria. Here in France, President Hollande travelled to a huge and

controversial migrant camp today to make a promise. (Inaudible) France will shut down the camp (inaudible) known as "The Jungle."

Mr. Hollande toured the camp and spoke to the people of Calle and migrants sheltering there, trying to reassure everyone that the camp's days are

coming to an end.


FRANCOIS HOLLANDE, FRENCH PRESIDENT (through translator): I have come here to say to the inhabitants that are irritated that we're on the track of a

solution. It is close and we will protect them as much as necessary.

I have also come here to say to desperate immigrants that they will not remain here because their place is not here. And that is why we will carry

out a full and find dismantlement of the camp.


GORANI: Now, later in the hour, I'll be speaking to French author, (inaudible) about Hollande's announcement as well as ask him for his

thoughts on the U.S. presidential race.

The longest armed insurgency in the western hemisphere is just hours away from officially ending, the end of an era. Marxist rebels and Colombia's

president are set to sign a peace agreement that will end what was a 52- year conflict. They'll do it with a pen made from a bullet. The insurrection there costs 220,000 lives.

Rafael Romo joins us from Cartagena, Colombia, where the historic treaty will be signed. Thanks, Rafael, for being with us. First of all, are

Colombians ready for peace after so many atrocities committed by the gorillas over the decades, the kidnappings, and the rest of it?

RAFAEL ROMO, CNN SENIOR LATIN AMERICAN AFFAIRS EDITOR: Yes, that is a very good question, Hala. I'll answer by saying today there was a protest with

2,000 people here in Cartagena who are all saying no to the peace agreement.

They say that Colombia should not forgive the Farc guerilla group because they committed all kinds atrocities in the last five decades including

kidnappings, bombings, and assassinations.

They say that by giving the guerilla group an opportunity to be in the Colombian Congress, this country will move more to the left, and that is

something they don't want. It is a very strong movement here in Colombia not only in Cartagena but throughout the country.

It's a movement led by a former president, (inaudible), and a movement that is speaking very vocally about it. On the other hand, you have a lot of

people who say this peace agreement that will be signed behind me in 2-1/2 hours from now is Colombia's best chance at peace.

They say there has been nothing better in the past, and it may be a way for this country to end a war that has lasted for 52 years. I had an

opportunity to talk to the interior minister of Colombia, who is actually one of the victims of the conflict.

His own father was murdered by the ELN, the second largest guerilla group in Colombia. He says it is time to turn the badge.


[15:30:10] ROMO: What do you say to those people who are protesting, saying that those who kidnapped and murdered fellow Colombians should not

be forgiven?

JUAN FERNANDO CRISTA BUSTOS, COLOMBIAN INTERIOR MINISTER: I am (inaudible). My family has suffered. What I would say this people is that

if we don't forgive, if we don't give a chance for the peace in Colombia, we are going to have more victims, more families suffer. We have to stop

this war.


ROMO: And this position, Hala, seems to have the support of the international community. Just to give you an idea, U.N. Secretary General

Ban Ki-moon is going to be here behind me at the ceremony, and so will be U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry along with the presidents of 15

countries. Twenty seven other nations are sending foreign ministers.

So the message is we support Colombia in this effort and just one final image, Hala, 400 victims of the guerilla group are going to be here and are

going to be standing right in front of the guerilla leaders, their victims, for all of these years. Hala, back to you.

GORANI: All right, Rafael Romo in Colombia, thanks very much. More on the upcoming debate in a few minutes after the break. Stay with us.


GORANI: A look at our top stories, we are now less than six hours away from the debate the world has been waiting for. Democrat Hillary Clinton

and Republican Donald Trump will meet in the hall at New York's Hofstra University for their first one-on-one debate. These are live images for

you. As many as 100 million viewers are expected to watch and that's just in the United States.

Also among our top stories, Syrian government forces have been pummeling rebel-held Eastern Aleppo with airstrikes again in a new offensive after a

short-lived ceasefire. Dozens were killed and hundreds more wounded over the weekend. The U.N. secretary general says the strikes on heavily

populated areas may amount to war crimes.

American golf legend, Arnold Palmer has died. Palmer is created with helping to popularize golf and become one of its big stars in the 50s and

60s. He was awaiting heart surgery when he passed away Sunday at age 87.

Let's talk more about upcoming debate, as I mentioned, about six hours from now, joining me from Hofstra University to share their insights about the

upcoming first Hillary Clinton-Donald Trump presidential debate is Hillary Clinton supporter, Hilary Rosen.

[15:35:12]Hilary, first of all, let me ask you about these polls because they must have you worried. Neck and neck between Hillary Clinton and

Donald Trump. Not just nationally, but also in critical swing states like Pennsylvania, Virginia, or Florida. What's the strategy tonight?

HILARY ROSEN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: As you correctly point out, this is a state by state race. Not really a national race when it comes down to

the voting booth. And you know, look, I'm confident Hillary Clinton is going to win in Pennsylvania and in Virginia and Florida is very much a

tossup right now.

The interesting thing, though, is that Donald Trump has to win Florida. Hillary Clinton actually doesn't. That doesn't mean she doesn't want to

win Florida, but it's not a must win for Hillary Clinton. So the polls are tight.

This is always going to be a very tight election with the polls tightening, and this is exactly the campaign that the Clinton team prepared for. We

are at exactly the moment that they thought they would be at this time in the race, very, very close.

GORANI: But now you're saying it was always expected to be a close race. But I mean, in her heart of hearts, do you believe that Hillary Clinton is

saying to yourself, how did we get to a stage where I'm neck and neck, nationally and in critical swing states with a man who has said some of

these things he said about minorities and women, who is really a reality television show star with absolutely no political experience. Is there

something -- I mean, at some stage has she not said to herself how did I even end up here, what is wrong with my strategy?

ROSEN: Well, look, it is clear that any Democrat right now would be struggling when you have an economy that's growing slower than we would

like it to be growing, when you have a majority of the American people questioning whether we are on the right track.

The real question is why isn't Donald Trump further ahead, any other Republican running would be farther ahead than he is. But the fact that he

has done as many crazy things and said as many crazy things as he has, it has actually depressed his support.

So look, you know, I think Hillary Clinton is doing her best right now to run her own race. She has a conversation with the American people that she

has to double down on tonight.

I think if she goes out there tonight and only focuses on Trump, she's going to disappoint a lot of people and I don't think that is what she's

going to do. She is going to talk about what people care about, which is the issues and what she will do as president.

GORANI: Because nobody really is questioning whether or not Hillary Clinton knows the issues. I mean, generally speaking people know she is a

policy wonk. She's very, especially on foreign policy, very well versed, very experienced. She knows her numbers. She knows the facts. She knows

the figures.

Is her strategy tonight going, you know -- does she have to go off script essentially this evening and try to do something slightly different in

order to woo those voters who think she is just not relatable enough?

ROSEN: People do know that she is substantive. That she's qualified to be president. But what they don't make and what they don't know as well is

how does she differ from Donald Trump on the issues?

When you have candidates where, you know, much of what we are seeing in the media today is sort of a tit for tat on insults. What people will learn

tonight hopefully if we get the chance is just how different they are on fundamental issues.

How different their approach is to foreign policy, more internationalists versus more close up the borders and build big wall, more focused on the

middle class like Hillary Clinton is, focused on women's health and freedoms.

Whereas Donald Trump is the opposite. So I think what you are going to see is just more contrast on issues. That's what people need to tear from both

of these candidates really is where do they stand on the issues. All right, we already know they don't like each other, but what kind of

president will they each be?

GORANI: All right, and certainly a big challenge for Lester Holt as well for this big first presidential debate. Thanks, Hilary Rosen, for joining

us from Hofstra University in New York. We appreciate your time.

Returning now to Francois Hollande's visit to the Calais migrant camp, his promise to shut it down. It is part of France's ongoing struggle over a

big question, how do you deal with the refugee crisis on this continent, but also big issues facing France on this date.

You remember the burkini debate over the summer and of course, this country has been hit very hard by terrorist attacks, three of them in just a year

and a half.

Joining me is French commentator and intellectual Bernard-Henri Levy. Thanks for being with us.


[15:40:06]GORANI: Nice to see you in person. Let me first ask you for your thoughts on Donald Trump? What do you make of the man?

LEVY: I can tell you that from outside, from a foreign point of view (inaudible), Donald Trump is obviously not fit for office. He is obviously

saying such strange things when he pays homage to Putin, who is not a friend of America. When he laughs after -- against or after the veterans

of U.S. Army. That is so strange. I love America. I never saw such a candidate.

GORANI: But why is it happening in your opinion?

LEVY: It happens everywhere. We have also in France (inaudible). We had in U.K. the Brexit. So my hope is that this strong and decent democratic

people of America, at the end of the day, we'll choose -- as you said, Hillary Clinton knows her numbers, her facts, and the world policy.

GORANI: It's happening everywhere including France, including the U.K. This populist message is resonating. There must a reason for it. Is it

not a failure of the establishment political class? That has failed their electorate. That has failed to convince them that they are working in

their best interest not to, you know, help themselves personally.

LEVY: That is true. There is a feeling of failure and there is certainly a failure. Now to choose again a failure, a man who worked all his life

for himself, who made money for himself, who spent decades thinking about himself would be a great paradox.

So in the whole west, creating discontent against politics. This is the crisis of now, that there is in the city, reinventing politics from top to

toes, from the ground to the roof. This is true.

GORANI: So there is that challenge that exists as well in France. You saw your president, Francois Hollande, to promise to dismantle the example, he

promised to protect the migrants who are there. What is the challenge that Europe is facing with regards to this humanitarian disaster that has

created this refugee crisis? What is the responsibility morally of a country like France?

LEVY: It is the source of that, the source of that as you know, the conflict in Syria. The war launched by Bashar al-Assad against his own

civilians. This is the stemming point of this crisis of migrants.

We are paying the price for our (inaudible) or our non-responsibility toward this terrible fight between -- on one side, Bashar al-Assad and

ISIS. On the other side, the civilians. We have to deal with that.

Now if you see France few tens of thousands of migrants is not such a big deal. The jungle of Calais as it is so (inaudible) said, it is not such a

problem for France.

And the real problem are those politics who lack humanity, who like cities and who seem to say that integrating their city of a few hundred migrants

would be a huge crisis, it is not true. France is making a whole story and a whole drama about real drama, which is what is happening in Syria.

GORANI: You went to Iraq. You went to Irbil. You were alongside the Peshmerga fighting ISIS. Is ISIS a bigger crisis in Syria and Iraq than

those governments especially I'm speaking in Syria of the government of Bashar al-Assad, what is the biggest threat to that region?

LEVY: It didn't say. I really believe that thinking totally about it. That Bashar al-Assad and ISIS are two faces of the same coin. Bashar al-

Assad really did feed ISIS, did create a cursed twin ISIS. And look at what is happening today in Aleppo.

Bashar al-Assad and the Russian planes are targeting the race, the civilians, targeting those who want neither ISIS nor Bashar al-Assad. This

is a real problem of the area.

GORANI: All right, Bernard-Henri Levy, thank you so much. Really a great pleasure having you on CNN.

This is THE WORLD RIGHT NOW. Coming up, speaking of Syria, I speak to a journalist and anti-Assad activist who says the U.K. confiscated her

passport at the request of the Syrian regime. We'll be right back.



GORANI: An award-winning Syrian journalist says the U.K. Visas and Immigration Agency confiscated one of her passports at the border, at the

request of the Syrian government. Zaina Erhaim says she was questioned for 90 minutes at Heathrow Airport and had a recently issued passport seized

from her. She said she was told the Syrian government reported the passport stolen.

Zaina Erhaim joins me now from Barcelona via Skype. She was forced to leave London and traveled to Spain. Let me first ask you exactly what

happened at Heathrow Airport over the weekend.

ZAINA ERHAIM, SYRIAN JOURNALIST: After being investigated, they took my two passports. I have a new passport because mine ran out of pages and

there is no place to stamp it. So they took the passport. They asked me many questions, keep coming back and forth, and then eventually they told

me that my passport is reportedly stolen.

Although it has my picture, name, date of birth and everything. It's identical to previous one and they told me I should go and work on it with

my government about why this has been reported stolen and that they have to see this and they let me in with my old valid passport.

GORANI: Did you tell them I cannot with my government. I'm an opponent of the Syrian regime and I obtained this passport at a consulate in Istanbul,

and therefore, I cannot get a new passport from them. Did you explain that to them?

ERHAIM: I told them that you know that I'm a journalist and he is a criminal and you're taking his word against mine, and he said ma'am, we

don't deal with politics. In our system it shows your passport is stolen and we have to seize it.

GORANI: Now we got a response from the home office, it's not a very long response, but a home office spokesperson told CNN, "Our first priority is

the security of our borders and it would be irresponsible to ignore warnings about lost or stolen passports."

Then they went on to say that essentially you would be allowed to travel with the old passport because you have a visa in there, but you're saying

you can't because that passport is full. It has no more free pages. So essentially you're unable to travel any more.

Is your concern that the U.K. government confiscated your passport at the request of the government of Bashar al-Assad? That is a concern for you?

ERHAIM: Yes, they actually said it. It's not like something I'm expecting. They told me we are taking this passport because your

government reported it as being stolen. I told them that you know who my government is. It is a criminal regime against a journalist. It's not

like I have stolen my passport.

[15:50:00]And they said they're sending my passport back to my government. I don't know how or where, but they said they will send it back to them. I

told them I entered the U.K. and they stamped on my passport in Heathrow.

They said, yes, but your government reported the passport stolen after a couple of months is. So they really know their story, but they said they

are just following the rules and they're treating the Syrian regime like it is a legitimate government.

GORANI: So just so I'm clear, the passport they confiscated you have been traveling on since the spring, correct. You entered the U.K. on it. You

went to another, I believe, it's Norway with it, but now you're not in possession of it anymore and your passport now is full. You have no more

pages so can you travel anywhere?

ERHAIM: I don't know, I'm worried that coming back to Turkey, they will ask me where is the exit visa or the exit stamp, I will tell them, I don't

have the passport anymore and then after being in Turkey, I don't think I will be able to travel anywhere because there is no place for any further

stamp. And if I issued a new passport, the regime would easily flag it as stolen again, so what's the point?

GORANI: So do you have any right of appeal with the U.K. government? We have reached out to them all day, this is all we have gotten from them it

is a very short paragraph and then a little bit of background on the fact that you have a valid passport that was not reported stolen with the U.K.

visa, but of course, that one has no more pages. You can't use it for international travel any more.

Do you have, are you still trying to get in touch with authorities in Britain in order to get that passport back, or have it sent to a place you

know you can retrieve it yourself?

ERHAIM: I don't know where the passport is since they took it from the airport. I have no idea where it has been. My organization is trying to

follow up on that, but I'm not expecting that much. The only reason that prevents the regime from reporting my (inaudible) -- my current passport is

that it has a Damascus airport stamp. Otherwise, we would do same and obviously all of the European countries are coordinating with him

especially U.K.

GORANI: Lastly what message would you have for the U.K. government right now, I mean, if you were able to talk to them and plead your case, what

would you say?

ERHAIM: It is really sad that in a country that considers itself a true democracy and human rights, when it comes to a dictator against a

journalist, they would stand with him against me.

GORANI: Zaina Erhaim, thanks very much for joining us from Barcelona with more on the story that has a lot of people talking online. It was reported

over the weekend. Thanks for joining us and sharing your story. We will be posting it as well on our Facebook page and online at We're going to take a quick break.

Coming up, almost 100 million Americans are expected to tune in for tonight's presidential debate. Next, CNN's Brian Stelter will explain why

this could be the Super Bowl of all debates. We'll be right back.



GORANI: Almost 100 million Americans are expected to watch the presidential debate tonight. That's just several million fewer than

typical viewership for the Super Bowl. Brian Stelter looks at how the Clinton-Trump face off will stand against earlier presidential debates in

the United States.

BRIAN STELTER, CNN SENIOR MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: Yes, already out here at Hofstra. It's a bit of a show. There is a marching band to the right, a

free ice cream truck, and all the television networks are surrounding the debate hall where we see Clinton and Trump face off in a few hours.

What I will be looking for right afterward are the ratings, the television ratings and the digital viewership for streaming services like YouTube,

Twitter, and Facebook.

This is likely the most watch presidential debate in American history. Right now, the bar is at 80 million. That is back in 1980 when Ronald

Reagan and Jimmy Carter had just one debate ahead of Election Day.

About 80 million viewers tuned in, in the United States, back then on just three channels, NBC, ABC, and CBS. Since then debates about anywhere

between 40 million and 70 million viewers.

For example, the first debate in 2012 between President Obama and Mitt Romney had about 67 million viewers. Traditionally, the first debate is

the highest rated of them all.

So this year like in 2012, we'll have three debates and the anticipation for the first one is especially high. So 67 million was the number four

years ago. This debate will easily beat that.

The television experts and political pros I've talked to expect somewhere between 80 million and 100 million viewers and it's possible to see even

more than that number.

The Super Bowl in the United States averages about 110 million. This is just counting viewers in the United States. There will be even more

attention around all around the world.

It's hard to measure worldwide audiences for big events like debates, but I think it's safe to say if you're near a TV in the next day or so, you'll be

watching at least part of this debate, it is the Super Bowl of politics. Hala, back to you.

GORANI: OK, thanks very much, Brian. This has been THE WORLD RIGHT NOW. Thanks for watching. I'm Hala Gorani live in Paris. "THE LEAD" with Jake

Tapper is up next.