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THE SITUATION ROOM
Clinton, Trump Back on Trail after Debate; Clinton: Maybe Trump Isn't as Rich as He Claims; Voters Rate Trump's Performance as 'Disappointing'; Trump: Temperament "My Strongest Asset"; Ex-Miss Universe Says Trump Publicly Shamed Her; Clinton Celebrates After "Great Time" At Debate. Aired 5-6p ET
Aired September 27, 2016 - 17:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now, under his skin. Hillary Clinton rattles Donald Trump in their first presidential debate, goading him to going off message. Trump took the bait. Now Clinton is taking a victory lap. Will they have to change their strategies for round two?
[17:00:29] Trading barbs. Trump's best moments came when he jabbed Clinton on trade deals. But after she stung him on taxes, Iraq and his birther movement, Trump warned he may hit harder next time by raising Bill Clinton's indiscretions.
Mic drop. While Trump is grumbling about the moderator and what he calls a defective microphone, Clinton today is mocking her rival, saying his microphone complaints mean he did not have a good night.
And weighty insults. Slammed during the debate for insulting women, Trump today launched a fresh personal attack on a former Miss Universe who's accused him of calling her "Miss Piggy." Now she's fighting back.
I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are back on the campaign trail today, hitting the road just hours after their fiery first debate. Clinton's camp sees this as a victory lap. Most experts, focus groups, our own CNN/ORC poll declared her the winner.
Clinton was very well-prepared, armed with facts and a battle plan. After a good start, Trump sounded like he didn't do his homework. And when he wasn't getting himself lost in the weeds, he fell into the traps that Clinton laid for him.
Even today Trump is complaining about his microphone and the debate moderator; and, stunningly, he's launching fresh insults toward a former Miss Universe he once labeled "Miss Piggy" for gaining weight. Now she's firing back.
But exactly six weeks before election day, the presidential race is neck and neck. And while Clinton aides hope she swayed some of the record, 81 million people who watched the debate here in the United States, it's not clear that she managed to break Trump's recent momentum.
I'll talk with Republican Senator Jeff Sessions. He's a top Trump advisor. And our correspondents, analysts and guests, they will have full coverage of the day's top stories.
While Hillary Clinton is making hay out of her strong debate performance, Donald Trump today is making excuses. We begin with CNN political reporter Sara Murray, on the campaign trail in Florida for us.
Sara, what's Trump up to today?
SARA MURRAY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, as Donald Trump is campaigning across the Sunshine State, his campaign is dismissing Hillary Clinton's debate performance as overly scripted. All of this as Donald Trump continues to air his grievances about the format last night.
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: It was an interesting evening, certainly. And big league. Definitely big league.
MURRAY (voice-over): A day after the first presidential debate, Donald Trump is playing the blame game.
TRUMP (via phone): Well, he didn't ask her about the e-mails at all. He didn't ask her about her scandals. He didn't ask her about the Benghazi deal that she destroyed.
MURRAY: After complimenting the debate moderator last night...
TRUMP (on camera): I thought Lester did a great job. Honestly, I thought he did a great job.
MURRAY: Today he's taking issue with NBC's Lester Holt.
TRUMP (via phone): I had some hostile questions, but that was OK.
MURRAY: And even the quality of his microphone on the debate stage.
TRUMP: You have a bum mike, and it's not exactly good.
MURRAY: Now Trump is trying to reset the narrative, taking to Twitter to cast Clinton as a career politician in a year when voters are looking for change, saying, "Crooked Hillary says she is going to do so many things. Why hasn't she done them in her last 30 years." That's after some of Trump's sharpest lines early in the debate.
TRUMP: Your husband signed NAFTA, which was one of the worst things that ever happened to the manufacturing industry.
CLINTON: That is your opinion.
MURRAY: At least partly overshadowed by feisty exchanges later on that put Trump on defense. CLINTON: You've got to ask yourself: why won't he release his tax
returns? Maybe he's not as rich as he says he is. Or maybe he doesn't want the American people, all of you watching tonight, to know that he's paid nothing in federal taxes.
TRUMP: That makes me smart.
MURRAY: Clinton pressing the billionaire businessman on his refusal to release his taxes yet again today.
CLINTON: I got to that point where I said, "Well, maybe he's paid zero." He said that makes him smart. Now, if not paying taxes makes him smart, what does that make all the rest of us?
MURRAY: And leaving Trump's campaign manager to explain the GOP nominee doesn't believe climate change is man-made.
KELLYANNE CONWAY, TRUMP CAMPAIGN MANAGER: He believes that climate change is naturally occurring.
MURRAY: After Clinton scoffed at Trump's beliefs last night.
CLINTON: Donald thinks that climate change is a hoax perpetrated by the Chinese. I think it's real.
TRUMP: I did not -- I do not say that.
CLINTON: And I think science is real.
TRUMP: I do not say that.
MURRAY: Back on the campaign trail today, Clinton couldn't resist one last chance to needle her opponent.
CLINTON: Anybody who complains about the microphone is not having a good night.
MURRAY: Now, earlier today in Florida, Donald Trump was asked whether he would participate in the next two presidential debates. He said sure. We're expecting him here at this stop in a couple hours, and we'll see if he has anything new to add about how he thinks last night's debate went -- Wolf.
BLITZER: All right. Sara Murray in Florida. Thank you.
Hillary Clinton today is taking what she clearly views as a victory lap. Our senior political correspondent, Brianna Keilar, is out on the campaign trail in North Carolina.
Brianna, Clinton seems pretty upbeat after that first debate.
BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: She sure does, Wolf. The Clinton campaign after Hillary Clinton's criticism of Donald Trump's treatment of women last night, followed up today with a big attack on the issue as the candidate took what can only be described as a victory lap here in North Carolina.
KEILAR (voice-over): Hillary Clinton, all smiles after her first debate showdown with Donald Trump.
CLINTON: Did anybody see that debate last night?
One down, two to go.
KEILAR: Jabbing at her rival today at a rally in North Carolina for his criticism that she was over-prepared.
CLINTON: He made it very clear that he didn't prepare for that debate. At one point he was kind of digging me for spending time off the campaign trail to get prepared. But just trying to keep track of everything he says took a lot of time and effort!
I think it's real.
TRUMP: I did not -- I do not say that.
CLINTON: I think the science is real.
TRUMP: I do not say that.
CLINTON: I think it's important that we...
KEILAR: The Clinton campaign thinks Trump's constant interruptions of Clinton won't go over well with women and reinforce her attacks on his temperament.
TRUMP: Wait. The AFL-CIO the other day, behind the blue screen. I don't know who you were talking to, Secretary Clinton, but you were totally out of control. I said there's a person with a temperament that's got a problem.
LESTER HOLT, MODERATOR: Secretary Clinton.
CLINTON: Whoo, OK.
KEILAR: Clinton also went after Trump, the former owner of the Miss Universe pageant, for criticizing the weight of one winner.
CLINTON: And one of the things he said was about a woman in a beauty contest. He called this woman "Miss Piggy." Then he called her "Miss Housekeeping," because she was Latina. Donald, she has a name.
TRUMP: Where did you find -- where did you find this?
CLINTON: Her name is Alicia Machado.
TRUMP: Where did you find this?
CLINTON: She has become a U.S. citizen, and you can bet...
TRUMP: Oh, really?
CLINTON: ... she's going to vote this November.
TRUMP: OK. OK, good.
CLINTON: The Clinton campaign followed up today with a new online video featuring Machado.
ALICIA MACHADO, FORMER MISS UNIVERSE: "Hello Miss Piggy, hello Miss Housekeeping."
KEILAR: And Trump's comments about her.
TRUMP: She weighed 118 pounds or 117 pounds, and she went up to 160 or 170. So this is somebody that likes to eat.
KEILAR: A Trump spokesperson said Machado's claims are unsubstantiated, but Trump refused to back away from his comments today.
TRUMP (via phone): She gained a massive amount of weight, and it was -- it was a real problem.
KEILAR: Trump did land blows on the issue of trade, where Clinton's ardent support of the Transpacific Partnership as secretary of state, despite her reversal as a candidate, has been a vulnerability in Rust Belt battleground states.
TRUMP: You called it the gold standard.
CLINTON: Well, I hoped...
TRUMP: You called it the gold standard of trade deals. You said it's the finest deal you've ever seen.
TRUMP: And then you heard what I said about it, and all of a sudden, you were against it.
CLINTON: Well, Donald, I know you live in your own reality, but that is not the facts. The facts are I did say I hoped it would be a good deal.
KEILAR: Now, that is not true. Hillary Clinton, as secretary of state, never said that her support for TPP, for that trade pact, was contingent on the final details, Wolf, that would be negotiated. In fact, you'll recall she was effusive in her support for the trade deal.
BLITZER: Yes, she was. All right. Thanks very much for that, Brianna Keilar reporting.
Joining us now, Republican Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama. He's a key advisor to Donald Trump. Senator Sessions, thanks so much for joining us.
SEN. JEFF SESSIONS (R), ALABAMA: Hey, good to be with you, Wolf.
BLITZER: All right. So by all reasonable measures, Trump didn't necessarily have the greatest night at the debate. So what does he need to do better in round two?
SESSIONS: Well, I think one of the things that he's going to do more of and did pretty well last night, actually, is talking about these issues. The American people are hurting by a three to one margin. They believe this country is on the wrong track.
We've got a decline in wages of at least $1,700 over the last ten years, median income for families in America. This is a tragedy. We want wages up. So her plan is more taxes, more government, more programs, more spending, more debt.
And Donald Trump has a plan that will actually grow this economy and protect workers from bad trade deals that she's been supporting and excess of immigration that's clearly making jobs harder to get and pushing down wages.
[17:10:04] BLITZER: When he was debating her on those issues you just mentioned, like free trade, for example, he was doing well, but instead he got himself trapped, if you will.
Instead of backing away, for example, from what he said about a former Miss Universe, Alicia Machado, Trump this morning doubled down. He said she had gained a massive amount of weight, his words. Should he have said that? Why didn't he just clean it up?
SESSIONS: Well, you guys have all this advice about it. Donald Trump is not the normal politician. One of the things that I heard one of his friends say, well, he shouldn't have answered the questions that were asked. But he's a direct person. They asked a question, he tried to answer it.
Slick politicians like Hillary Clinton, well, we try to learn how to spin it around and answer something else.
So -- but the issues are what is going to be critical. Do people trust him to change the direction of this country? We're going in the wrong direction. Is she going to change it? No. She defended the Europeans in NATO for riding us on defense spending. She couldn't answer why we couldn't bring back the money from abroad that we need to collect taxes on and create growth in America. After being there for years, she couldn't defend the bad decisions that have been made in the Middle East for quite a long time now. And created chaos and refugees and a disastrous humanitarian situation.
So Donald Trump, I think, won on those issues. And that's what's going to decide this election. She is doing her best to get it off those issues that really count and onto these personal issues. I don't think that's going to work. I think the people are looking for new, strong leadership, and they saw that last night in Donald Trump. BLITZER: Last night Donald Trump denied he ever claimed climate
change was a hoax, but he clearly did, at least back in 2014. He tweeted this: "NBC News just called it the great freeze. Coldest weather in years. Is our country still spending money on the global warming hoax?"
So has he shifted his position? Does he still believe climate change is a hoax?
SESSIONS: Well, his staff -- I just thought I heard a staff person respond to that. I don't know exactly where he -- what his position is today. I think they just stated it to you.
But my view is that we know for a fact that the computer models that have projected all this increase in temperature has not occurred. We've had some hot years for sure, but they're not that -- they're not anything like what was predicted. And it's well below that. Storms are not up. In fact, storms are down.
So the question is how much money can America afford to spend driving up costs of energy and electric bills and gasoline bills for this agenda. And I think we have to be careful about it.
And we've got great sources of energy in America. If we use those sources, we'll keep wealth at home rather than sending it to Saudi Arabia or Venezuela. It will make us more competitive against China. It will help keep jobs here. That's what we've got to focus on. We're not doing a good enough job of that in my opinion.
BLITZER: Let's talk about climate change for a moment, because back in 2012 he tweeted, "The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive."
Do you, Senator Sessions, do you believe climate change is man-made or, at least in part, man-made?
SESSIONS: I have accepted the theory that greater CO2 could act as a blanket and a greenhouse effect. But it has not come close to what was projected, Wolf. This is over 20 years we have been studying this. It's not occurring.
They predicted storms that we've never seen before. It hasn't happened. So we've just got to be careful about how much wealth, how much damage we do to this economy to achieve goals that will have very little, if any, impact on the climate.
So it -- it's a difficult issue for the world. I believe we should slow down and be careful. We should do the things that we can agree on, like good conservation, more efficiency, but not mandate things that cost much more, that's ultimately going to place a burden on American people who are struggling with lower incomes. We don't need to artificially drive up their electric bill and their gasoline bill.
BLITZER: All right, Senator, we've got more to discuss. I know you're a member of the Armed Services Committee. Want to talk about these reports that Russia has been hacking various political actions here in the United States, presumably to help Donald Trump. We'll talk about that and more right after this.
[17:19:16] BLITZER: We're back with a top advisor to Donald Trump, Republican Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama.
Senator, we're getting some breaking news coming into THE SITUATION ROOM right now. President Obama has just nominated Ambassador Jeffrey DeLaurentis, the current chief of mission in Havana, to become the first U.S. ambassador to Cuba in some 50 years. Obviously, like all ambassadors, he's going to need Senate confirmation. Will you support Ambassador DeLaurentis's nomination?
SESSIONS: I don't know. This is the first I've heard of his name. We'll do some background and study on it. We have to be careful about our relationship with Cuba. It's still a dominating totalitarian state where people are oppressed and denied basic freedom. So we'll have to see how that plays out and what his role might be. In this new role that we have not had before.
[17:20:10] BLITZER: He's s been in Cuba, Havana, Cuba, for the past year as the chief of mission. But in principle do you support full diplomatic relations between the United States and Cuba at the ambassadorial level?
SESSIONS: I have not. I have felt that, as a special relationship, adverse relationship, between the people of Cuba and the United States, and I haven't supported it. I know a lot of people, good people, have different views about that. The president has made a decision. It looks like it's final. And so we'll have to deal with that as it is now.
BLITZER: So you probably won't vote to confirm? Is that what I'm hearing?
SESSIONS: I don't know. I haven't thought that through, Wolf. I really haven't.
BLITZER: Let's talk about another key issue. You're a member of the Armed Services Committee. You get briefings all the time. Why doesn't Donald Trump acknowledge that Russia is likely behind these cyberattacks when U.S. intelligence points to this conclusion? You've been briefed on this. You heard what he said last night. Maybe it's Russia, maybe it's China, maybe it's some 400-pound guy who's just doing it by himself.
SESSIONS: Well, I don't know that. I haven't had briefings that indicate with any clarity that Russia is doing this.
They are highly sophisticated in cyber warfare. As are the Chinese, as are even North Koreans and Iranians. So this is a threat to us. And I think Donald Trump handled it well. He said we don't know for sure how that happened. It's not acceptable for Russians to be doing that kind of thing. They should not be impacting in any way within the presidential elections. But cyber security breaches are occurring throughout industry,
throughout politics, throughout our most sensitive defense systems, and it's a big trouble -- or problem for us. We've got to fix that and get a lot better fast. And I've offered legislation that passed that will require us, the Defense Department to come forward with some plans to protect our systems.
BLITZER: One final question. Did you agree with Rudy Giuliani that Donald Trump shouldn't attend the next presidential debate?
SESSIONS: I think he'll attend. And -- but I do think that the moderator did a lot of things good. It's not an easy job to be the moderator of that kind of debate. I've got to say.
But I do think that they left unasked a number of questions that, like are Trump supporters deplorable? What about the Clinton Foundation? Could have asked more about the e-mails and pressed that more effectively. Those kind of things I think would have given balance to that debate that was not there last night.
BLITZER: Donald Trump had the opportunity to bring all those issues up if he wanted to. It was a relatively free-wheeling debate, right?
SESSIONS: Well, you know, I've been there, done that. And every time I leave one of those debates, it's like I could have, would have, should have. What -- he tends to answer the questions they ask him. He's not like a normal politician that can spin it around and get on their issue before you can say Jack Robinson.
So I think Trump tried to answer the questions, and maybe one of the things he should do is to develop a better ability to go to the issues he wants to talk about instead of letting the moderator dominate the issues before the debate.
BLITZER: Senator Sessions, thanks as usual for joining us.
SESSIONS: Thank you.
BLITZER: Thank you.
Coming up, new reaction to the debate from inside the Republican Party.
Plus, is Hillary Clinton being held to a different standard? We'll be right back.
[17:28:12] BLITZER: Clearly energized, Hillary Clinton is back out there on the campaign trail today. In North Carolina she repeated her main attacks from last night's debate with Donald Trump.
For his part, Trump says he may hit Clinton harder at their next debate. He's holding a rally in Florida in about 90 minutes or so.
Let's bring in our political experts: Jamie Gangel, you've spoken with many Republican establishment sources. What are they telling you behind the scenes that they're not necessarily saying in public?
JAMIE GANGEL, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: So Wolf, the word I would use is "disappointed." And these are both Republicans who are supporting Trump and some who are not supporting Trump.
They feel that, as we've been hearing all day, he started out very strong, that he was controlling the debate, and then, after the first half hour, just completely lost his focus. The word that I keep hearing over and over again was that there was a lack of discipline and that too often he ended up on the defense.
I also chatted with former speaker of the House, Newt Gingrich, who's been publicly supporting and advising Trump. And he made the following points. He was willing to admit on the record that he agreed that Trump did not have a good answer on the birther question or on releasing his taxes, and he also said it was, quote, "fair criticism" that Trump took the bait over and over and got off message.
That said, Newt Gingrich also said that there was no knockout punch, that -- and that Trump came out fine because, quote, "He didn't throw an interception." In other words, there was no major stake.
So all in all, he thought he was OK. It wasn't the end of the world. But he acknowledged that there were problems.
Dana Bash, one of Hillary Clinton's strongest moments was when she accused Trump of paying nothing -- nothing -- in federal income taxes. Watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
[17:30:13] HILLARY CLINTON (R), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: Why won't he release his tax returns? And I think there may be a couple of reasons. First, maybe he's not as rich as he says he is. Second, maybe he's not as charitable as he claims to be. Third, we don't know all of his business dealings, but we have been told through investigative reporting that he owes about $650 million to Wall Street and foreign banks.
Or maybe he doesn't want the American people, all of you watching tonight, to know that he's paid nothing in federal taxes, because the only years that anybody's ever seen were a couple of years when he had to turn them over to state authorities when he was trying to get a casino license, and they showed he didn't pay any federal income tax. So...
TRUMP: That makes me smart.
CLINTON: ... if he's paid zero, that means zero for troops, zero for vets, zero for schools or health. And I think probably, he's not all that enthusiastic about having the rest of our country see what the real reasons are, because it must be something really important, even terrible, that he's trying to hide.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: So Dana, did this exchange move the needle on voters worrying about his tax returns?
DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Probably not. I think that what this moment did was feed into and speak to something much more than the issue of tax returns. But it was kind of a -- you know, almost a trifecta for Hillary Clinton, maybe a hat trick, if we want to talk in hockey terms.
Because she first of all went after him for his -- for his money and his wealth and what he's really worth, which is, you know, one of a few ways to easily get under Donald Trump's skin, because he doesn't like that.
But also the way that she got him to react was, you know, by saying that it's smart to not pay taxes, which he later told me that he didn't really say and then later told our colleague that he actually does pay federal taxes.
But then also, the last thing that that really did for -- I'll just tell you, talking to Trump's supporters, was feed into the frustration that they were feeling all night. Because even though he looked unprepared in those moments, I'm told that he was prepared.
This is not a surprise, that Hillary Clinton is going to come after him for not paying taxes or come after him for questioning how much he's really worth. I mean, this is something that has been a staple of the Democrats' arguments against him. But what's frustrating to the people who are with him, particularly those who helped to prepare him, is that he knew how to do it, but he just let her get under his skin.
BLITZER: Yes. And what he said when she said, "Maybe he didn't pay any income tax," he said, "That makes me smart." I'm sure his advisors weren't necessarily thrilled by that.
Mark Preston, Trump found himself on the defensive many times throughout the debate. For example, he didn't bring up her comment about deplorables, didn't bring up the Clinton Foundation, barely touched on her e-mails. Did he miss opportunities to shape the conversation?
MARK PRESTON, CNN POLITICS EXECUTIVE EDITOR: He absolutely did. Let me just give you three quick examples.
One, when Hillary Clinton brought up the fact, her defense of her stamina, noting that she had testified before Congress for 11 hours, Donald Trump had Benghazi survivor Mark Geist sitting in the audience. He could have used that as an example.
When he -- when he could have went after her for the foundation, at least to draw some concern and talk about the ties between her private charity and her work at the State Department, he just didn't do it.
And then when she accused him of his racist lies, regarding, you know, his pursuit of birtherism, she [SIC] could have went after him [SIC] for the idea, about, you know, the deplorables that are supporting her candidacy.
So Wolf, he attacked her a lot last night, but he just didn't attack her smartly.
BLITZER: What were, Rebecca, some of Trump's most effective arguments of the night?
REBECCA BERG, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, Wolf, I actually watched the debate with a group, a focus group of undecided Pennsylvania voters. And throughout the debate, they were rating each exchange by the candidates, minute by minute.
And a few of the exchanges that rated really highly by Trump were when he was talking about trade, when he was talking about the Iran deal, attacking the Iran deal, even when he was talking about his hotel in Washington, D.C., being under budget and ahead of schedule. Something that we all kind of laughed at. These were really successful exchanges force him.
But at the same time, this focus group was looking for him to be more presidential, they said prior to the debate. And for many of them, his detours into attacks, his tangents that he went off on, these were distracting, and they ultimately overshadowed, at least for this group of undecided voters, those good, positive moments for Donald Trump when he was on message.
[17:35:11] BLITZER: All right. Rebecca, everyone, stand by. We're getting some breaking news. FBI now concerned about a possible Russian cyberattack. We'll update you on that when we come back.
BLITZER: We're getting new breaking news. Learning the FBI is now concerned about a possible cyberattack on the phones of Democratic Party staffers.
Our chief national security correspondent, Jim Sciutto, has been working his sources. What are you learning, Jim?
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, that's right.
Well, the FBI has now asked to examine the cellphones of a small number of Democratic Party staffers as it investigates a possible hack of cellphones, this coming from law enforcement as well as Democratic Party sources.
Law enforcement reaching out to the staffers individually about imaging their phones. In effect, taking a copy of their phones to search for evidence of hacking such as malware.
Investigators are still probing whether this attempted hack is part of the original breach of DNC e-mails, which is widely thought to be the work of the Russian government or people working for the Russian government, or if this is a new hacking attempt.
Now, asked about this new attempt, the interim DNC chair, Donna Brazile, told CNN, quote, "Our struggle with the Russian hackers that we announced in June is ongoing, as we knew it would be, and we are choosing not to provide general updates unless personal data or other sensitive information has been accessed or stolen."
But Wolf, we know that this investigation has been ongoing. They've been looking to see the extent of that original hack of these e-mails. You have that going on right now. And now you have this probe here to see how far it's gone into the cellphones of a small number of Democratic Party staffers, as well.
BLITZER: Jim Sciutto, reporting the latest news. Jim, thank you.
I want to get some reaction from our political experts. Dana, the Democratic Party already had to deal with the fallout from cyberattacks, embarrassing leaks. What type of effect could more leaks, for example, have if they were to emerge before the November 8 election?
BASH: It's hard to imagine it being any worse and more embarrassing than the e-mails that came out that obviously were the beginning of the end of Debbie Wasserman-Schultz's chairmanship at the DNC and obviously fed into the very real frustration from Bernie Sanders and a lot of his supporters that they felt that they weren't getting a fair shake from the party during the primary process.
As I said, it's hard to imagine it could get worse, but you never know. When people are texting or e-mailing and doing whatever it is that they do to communicate, when they think it's private, they say things that they might not want to get out. And that, of course, is the entire goal of these hackers, these hackers who, as Jim was reporting, the DNC firmly believes are backed by, or at least done by Russia.
BLITZER: Yes. That's what they certainly believe.
Mark Preston, Trump in last night's (UNINTELLIGIBLE) seemed to -- in last night's debate, he seemed to express doubt that Russia is behind these cyberattacks, suggesting maybe China, maybe some 400-pound guy, if you will, doing it on his own. But if these leaks continue to be an issue right now in this election season, how problematic is it for Donald Trump to keep, in effect, defending Russia and its president, Vladimir Putin?
PRESTON: Well, I mean, that's it right there. If he does continue to defend Vladimir Putin and try to, you know, steer away to somebody else who has done this, it's perplexing at best, Wolf.
I mean, this might be the most bizarre thing we've seen in a campaign that has been very, very bizarre: to have your Republican presidential nominee defending one of the United States' biggest enemies, certainly is really under -- you know, I'm at a loss for words for why he does it. All he's doing to drawing attention to himself. And I've got to tell you, there are leaders in the party right now,
the Republican Party right now, that are really frustrated that Donald Trump keeps on returning to defending Russia and Vladimir Putin.
BLITZER: Jamie -- Jamie Gangel, what do you make of the fact that the cyberattacks seem to be targeting Democrats a lot more than Republicans? Republicans, if at all. Colin Powell was targeted, we know. He's a Republican. But Democrats, by and large, have been the targets.
GANGEL: Right. And you never know. And Condi Rice's e-mails were out there.
Look, the concern, again, is exactly as Dana said and Mark said, that there is a sense that Trump keeps talking about Russia and positive things about Putin, and so that reflects in concern about is there some connection between it? Nobody is saying that there is, but the fact that it keeps being the Democrats just raises concerns about why it's them. Why it's not the other side.
And I think this goes to the whole concern about just, also, people saying that there are things going on in this election that are going to be out of control, that maybe the process is being meddled with in some way.
BLITZER: Rebecca Berg, Trump again said last night his temperament is his strongest asset. Do you think his performance last night swayed undecided voters in key battleground states who are still concerned about his temperament?
[17:45:03] BERG: Well, at least based on my experience outside, Wolf, it looks like he might have swayed them in the wrong direction. Again, I was with a focus group in Pennsylvania of undecided voters who, at the beginning of the debate, said they hoped that Trump would be presidential in the debate and show some restraint.
But by the end of the debate, they said that they had not seen that from him. Instead, they said that he took the bait from Hillary Clinton, got side-tracked too often into some petty arguments, and they were really actually disappointed in that performance.
And since you mentioned temperament, there was that exchange in the debate, a very memorable one, where Trump said he had better temperament than Hillary Clinton. And during the focus group, the participants actually rated that as one of Trump's worst moments in the debate. They reacted really negatively not only to his attack on Clinton but his own assertion that he has a better temperament, so it really fell flat at least among this group of undecided voters.
BLITZER: All right. Everyone, stay with us. I got to give you a quick programming note, an important one. President Obama sits down with CNN's Jake Tapper to discuss his legacy as Commander-in-Chief as well as the challenges facing U.S. military veterans. You can watch the CNN presidential town hall tomorrow night, 9:00 p.m. Eastern, only here on CNN. Coming up, we're getting some surprising new details about the beauty
pageant contestant who Hillary Clinton brought up in last night's debate.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HILLARY CLINTON, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: He called this woman "Miss Piggy," then he called her "Miss Housekeeping" because she was Latina. Donald, she has a name.
DONALD TRUMP, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Where did you find that? Where did you find her?
CLINTON: Her name is Alicia Machado.
TRUMP: Where did you find her?
CLINTON: And she has become a U.S. citizen, and you can bet --
TRUMP: Oh, really?
CLINTON: -- she is going to vote this November.
TRUMP: OK. OK, good.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[17:51:15] BLITZER: Donald Trump was put on the defensive during last night's Presidential Debate for his insults to women, including a former Miss Universe who says he ridiculed publicly. Today, Trump is launching fresh attacks and the ex-beauty queen is fighting back. Brian Todd has been looking into all of this. Brian, what are you learning?
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, tonight, the Trump campaign is still on the defensive over this saying this is a smear campaign that will have no effect on voters, but the story is still in play tonight. This woman, Alicia Machado, and the Clinton campaign succeeding in raising more questions about Donald Trump's character and his treatment of women.
TRUMP: She doesn't have the stamina.
TODD (voice-over): When Donald Trump questioned Hillary Clinton's stamina, she was ready taking on Trump with his own alleged words about a Miss Universe contestant.
CLINTON: He called this woman "Miss Piggy," then he called her "Miss Housekeeping" because she was Latina. Donald, she has a name.
TRUMP: Where did you find her? Where did you find her?
CLINTON: Her name is Alicia Machado.
TRUMP: Where did you find her?
CLINTON: And she has become a U.S. citizen and you can bet --
TRUMP: Oh, really?
CLINTON: -- she is going to vote this November.
TRUMP: OK. OK, good.
TODD (voice-over): Alicia Machado from Venezuela, winner of Trump's Miss Universe contest in 1996. With all the stressors after the event, Machado says she gained about 20 pounds. Trump claimed it was at least 40. That's when she says Trump publicly shamed her. The Clinton campaign had a highly produced ad ready to hit Trump.
This summer, Machado spoke of the names Trump called her, which Hillary Clinton had mentioned.
ALICIA MACHADO, FORMER MISS UNIVERSE: Miss Housekeeping. Miss Piggy. Miss Eating Machine.
TODD (voice-over): Machado claims that not long after the 1996 pageant, Trump pressed her into working out in front of a crush of reporters and cameras. She said she felt like a lab rat.
TRUMP: One of the things that she will do in between, she'll go back and forth. OK? It's called an active rest.
She's been a great Miss Universe. She's like me and everybody else. We like to eat.
TODD (voice-over): Machado recently told the network Fusion she protested that display.
MACHADO: When I talked to him, like, I don't want to do that, I feel so bad with these reporters in front of me. And he told me, you know something, I don't care.
TODD (voice-over): Machado says she suffered from anorexia and bulimia for five years. Today, on Fox News Trump defended his treatment of Machado.
TRUMP: She was the worst we ever had, the worst, the absolute worst. She was impossible. She was the winner and, you know, she gained a massive amount of weight. And it was a real problem. We had a real problem. Not only that, her attitude. And we had a real problem with her.
TODD (voice-over): Analysts say the Clinton campaign likely believed Alicia Machado gave them the same kind of opportunity as Khizr and Ghazala Khan, the Gold Star parents who blistered Trump at the Democratic Convention.
DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: The Clinton campaign clearly planned this out in advance, and it was going to be a rat-a- tat-tat. Last night was going to be the opening salvo from Hillary and here comes Miss Machado, you know, appearing on television shows. She's all over the news. And they made it a big story. It's very clever. It is an after debate story that keeps the issue alive.
TODD: We reached out to the Trump campaign about the specific allegations made by Alicia Machado. The campaign, in a statement, called her claims, quote, totally baseless and unsubstantiated, said Machado had lobbed a public smear campaign to gain notoriety at Donald Trump's expense. Wolf.
BLITZER: Brian, this seems to be a double whammy for the Clinton campaign and then it's also playing heavily in the Hispanic community, right?
TODD: That's right. Our Dan Merica who's embedded with the Clinton campaign, Wolf, he asked the campaign how this back and forth was playing in the Spanish media today. A Clinton aide came back with a Trumpism saying, it was huge.
[17:55:02] BLITZER: I'm sure it was. All right. Brian Todd, thank you very much. And the former Miss Universe Alicia Machado speaks out in her first live interview since last night's show, Don. That airs on "ANDERSON COOPER 360" live tonight at 8:00 p.m. Eastern right here on CNN.
Coming up, in their first debate, Hillary Clinton rattles Donald Trump, goading him into going off message. Trump took the bait. Now, Clinton is taking a victory lap, and we're standing by for Trump's first rally since the debate. Will he deliver the punches that he pulled last night?
BLITZER: Happening now, a bad night. Hillary Clinton jabs Donald Trump for complaining about his debate microphone while she celebrates what she calls a "great, great night." Trump is listing a growing number of grievances about their first showdown. How will his uneven performance impact his campaign?