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THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER

Trump Camp May Target Clinton for Response to Bill's Accusers; Johnson Blanks Again On Basic (And Crucial) Question; Gary Johnson Flubs Answer On Favorite World Leader; "What Is Aleppo?" Part II: Johnson Blanks Again; Clinton Takes Reporters' Questions; Clinton: Middle Class Is "Historic" Accomplishment Of Our Country; Clinton: I Will Not Raise Taxes On Middle Class. Aired 4:30-5p ET

Aired September 29, 2016 - 16:30   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I saved her job because they wanted to fire her for putting on so much weight.

[16:30:01] And it is a beauty contest.

JASON CARROLL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Trump's campaign manager Kellyanne Conway says she reprimanded Trump for his comments.

KELLYANNE CONWAY, TRUMP CAMPAIGN MANAGER: He gave that particular woman a second chance.

CARROLL: As for the next debate, Conway says she does not think Trump should bring up Bill Clinton's infidelities.

CONWAY: I'm not advising him to go there. It's fair game to think about how Hillary Clinton treated those women after the fact.

CARROLL: GOP leaders also encouraging Trump to stick to the issues.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We need to stay on the issues that are important to the American people. You know, that's ancient history.

CARROLL: But behind the scenes, the Trump campaign is instructing its surrogates to use Bill Clinton's marital scandal to defuse the candidate's comments about Machado. This according to a copy of the campaign's talking points obtained by CNN.

Polls show Trump is still struggling with women voters in his battle against Clinton. The Clinton campaign today seizing on a report in the "L.A. Times" that Trump wanted to fire female employees at his Southern California golf course who were not pretty enough.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CARROLL: And an attorney for the Trump organization weighing in on that lawsuit from southern California, saying, "The allegations in the lawsuit are meritless, we do not engage in discrimination of any kind. The statements made by a group of former disgruntled employees are far from an accurate portrayal of what it is like to work at Trump national golf club" -- Jake.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: All right. Jason Carroll, thank you so much.

Donald Trump says voters want a president who finds a way to avoid -- finds ways to avoid paying taxes. Is that really the best way to win over voters? That's next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[16:36:00] TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD.

Let's stick with our politics lead. Let's bring in our political panel. Senior writer at "The Federalist", Mary Katherine Hamm, Donald Trump supporter Kayleigh McEnany, and Democratic strategist Hilary Rosen.

Thanks one and all for being here.

Mary Katharine, let me start with you. Last night, Donald Trump was asked if he pays federal income taxes. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: I never said I didn't pay taxes. She said, maybe you didn't pay taxes.

BILL O'REILLY, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: Right, a speculation.

TRUMP: And I said, well, that would make me smart because taxes is a big payment. But I think a lot of people say that's the kind of thinking that I want running this nation.

O'REILLY: OK.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: Does he have a point at all, do you think, that people might say, he is smart with business, and he gets out of paying taxes, I want him handling the country's taxes?

MARY KATHARINE HAM, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes, I think that moment was not as much in admission as some in the Clinton campaign thinks it was. I think it was sort of a flippant comment. And he could settle all of those by releasing taxes, of course.

But I think the Hillary Clinton campaign and Hillary Clinton herself need to be careful about walking this Harry Reid line, which in 2012, he on the floor of the Senate was like, Mitt Romney didn't pay taxes for ten years. I know because someone told me.

TAPPER: Right.

HAM: And, of course, that was not true. So, let's keep sort of within the bounds here. I think that's a little bit of a danger for them.

TAPPER: Hilary?

HILARY ROSEN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, she didn't say he didn't pay taxes. She said show us your taxes.

(CROSSTALK)

TAPPER: She said there are five reasons why he might not be.

ROSEN: Well, the years he did release it that he had it for his casino license showed a modest amount.

But here's the key point, which is, don't brag that you don't pay taxes, when -- you know, have recognition that for the average guy, the factory line worker, the minimum wage housekeeper, like, they don't have the loophole options that you do when you're investing in real estate and depreciating, you know, non-existing asset. So, I think that's really the point is, can Donald Trump really relate to a middle class worker who is paying taxes and not feeling his, you know, cavalier attitude about this.

TAPPER: Kayleigh, I want to ask you. The Trump campaign is signaling very clearly that they will target Hillary Clinton as being a bully who allegedly tried to smear women who accused Bill Clinton of various misdeeds, including rape.

Here's Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CONWAY: It's fair game to think about how Hillary Clinton treated those women after the fact. She called Monica Lewinsky a loony tunes.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: Kayleigh, I am not one for bringing in people's personal lives, but it doesn't seem to me that Donald Trump, who -- whose extramarital exploits filled tabloid after tabloid in the '80s, '90s and more, has really that much of a moral high ground when it comes to the question of his rival's husband's infidelity. What am I missing here?

KAYLEIGH MCENANY, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Right. Look, I don't think Donald Trump should bring this up in a debate. I think it plays right into Hillary Clinton's hands. Every time this is brought up to her face, and she responds, women voters respond positively to her. So I don't think he should bring it up in the context of a debate.

That being said, the people around him, I certainly think, should bring it up on the air waves because there are women out there, Juanita Broaddrick, Kathleen Willey, Paul Jones, who all claim to have been sexually -- the recipient of sexual aggression on the part of bill Clinton and bullied by Hillary Clinton.

TAPPER: Kayleigh, which people around him should bring it up? Roger Ailes, Steve Bannon, Rudy Giuliani, Newt Gingrich? I mean, he is surrounded by a philanderers club. Why would any of these people have any leg to stand on when it comes to this sort of thing?

MCENANY: Well, I think there are many female surrogates. His campaign manager, who we just saw, who should be bringing this up, because there are women out there who are very hurt. And when Hillary Clinton says she is for sexual assault victims but hasn't practiced it in her own life, I think women surrogates on the airwave should be pointing out this discrepancy.

TAPPER: Hilary, let me pick up Kayleigh's point here. Hillary Clinton's campaign website used to have a section about how victims of campus sexual assault, quote, "have a right to be believed." But after Juanita Broaddrick and others started pointing out, well, what about Bill Clinton's accusers, that section was actually removed from the Hillary Clinton website.

[16:40:02] ROSEN: Yes. So, you know, look, there is nobody who has more empathy with victims of sexual abuse than Hillary Clinton. She has actually worked on this. She supported extra attention for victims of sexual abuse.

But, you know, the Trump campaign is spreading this story, keeping it out there, teasing it all. Hillary Clinton is doing rallies talking about college affordability for student debt. That is what the American people want to hear.

They do not want to have this conversation. They do not want to rehash this. They don't want to hear about Donald Trump's affairs. They don't want to hear about Bill Clinton's affairs.

They really just want a president who is focused on their own issues, and I think that, you know, sending Trump female surrogates to trash Hillary Clinton instead of the male surrogates, who have no credibility here is just nauseating.

TAPPER: Mary Katharine, let me ask you because you are -- of the three of you, you are the undecided voter at the table. And you actually live in a battleground state.

What do you think when you hear this fight among philanders about who is more guilty?

HAM: Right. Look, a couple of things. I do think it's important when Hillary Clinton is sort of making the argument that she has more empathy for survivors than anyone else to look at the past and say, well, is that actually how her conduct went, and to deal with those facts? Do I think it's advantageous politically? I'm not sure.

But it's also tricky here for her because the idea of believing the victims sort of on a blanket level is such a millennial, feminist point of view, the exact area where she is having trouble gaining voters. And if she's not able to make that argument to them in a clean way, which she is not able to do because of the history here, then that's a risk for her with millennial voters. So, I think it's risky for both camps here. But she took that part of the website down for a reason. She's not able to make that argument.

ROSEN: She doesn't want to continue the conversation. But look --

TAPPER: About her husband's behavior. ROSEN: You know, the fact that people in Hillary Clinton's lives went

after those people, there is still no evidence that Hillary Clinton did this. And I'm just sick of trying to defend it.

Look, her husband had an affair. Of course, she was going to deny it. Of course, she didn't want to hear it until presented with evidence otherwise. So, to keep pursuing this and to talk about a lack of credibility is just silly. Again, that is not what people want to talk about.

If Donald Trump keeps doing this, it's just going to be worse and worse. Hillary Clinton is going to focus on things that people want to talk about. Like student debt.

TAPPER: Let me bring in Kaleigh.

MCENANY: I just think, Hilary, it's rich to hear the Clinton campaign saying they want to talk about issues when this week they brought up the meme of a frog. Last week, they brought up Skittles. They do not -- they're not signaling to voters they want to talk about issues. They have run a campaign that has gone into the gutter.

It's been about maligning Donald Trump. Don't vote for me because I have a positive vision, because I don't. It's don't vote for Donald Trump is that risky and just that bad. That's been the message of the campaign.

ROSEN: No, Hillary Clinton has talked about the risk of Donald Trump with his finger on the nuclear button, not about anything else. If Donald Trump keeps wanting to go out there and threaten Hillary Clinton by bringing up her husband's past affairs, you're damn right she and her team are going to fight back.

TAPPER: All right. Mary Katharine, Kayleigh, Hilary, thank you so much. We appreciate it.

Be sure to tune into CNN next Tuesday for the next 2016 matchup vice presidential candidates. Tim Kaine and Mike Pence facing off in their first and only debate before the election, coverage starts right here on THE LEAD.

Coming up, first, he showed some big-time ignorance to the crisis in Syria, now he cannot name a world leader he admires. Why is Gary Johnson still running for president?

Plus, growing concern about Russia's interest in the presidential election. Why are they reportedly hacking into state voter registration sites?

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HARBALL HOST: Who's your favorite foreign leader?

GARY JOHNSON, LIBERTARIAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Who's my favorite -

MATTHEWS: And name just anywhere in the continent, anyone in the continents, any country, name one foreign leader that you respect and look up to? Anybody.

JOHNSON: I'm with Shimon Peres.

MATTHEWS: No, no. OK. Gary, I'm talking about living. Go ahead. You got to do this. Anywhere, any continent, Canada, Mexico, Europe, over there, Asia, South America, Africa - name a foreign leader that you respect.

JOHNSON: I guess I'm having an Aleppo moment.

[16:48:04] JAKE TAPPER, CNN THE LEAD HOST: Oh, Governor Johnson. Welcome back to THE LEAD. The libertarian presidential candidate doing more to harm the cause of marijuana legalization than every Cheech & Chong movie combined. This latest gaffe demonstrating what many believe is a stunning lack of basic knowledge, disqualifying him from the highest office in the land. Now, before you dismiss his candidacy as irrelevant, take a look at the CNN poll out of Colorado, a state Hillary Clinton likely needs to - or needs to win in order to win the White House. In a four-way matchup, Trump tops Clinton 42 to 41 with Johnson getting 13 percent of likely voters. When Trump and Clinton go head to head, Clinton is up. This is all within the margin of error, but it is very clear that Gary Johnson's presence could tip the scales for one mayor - major party candidate over another. Joining me now is CNN's Suzanne Malveaux. Suzanne, it's sort of a simple question. He knows he can't win. Is he taking this seriously at all? And why is he running?

[16:48:54] SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: You know, a lot of people to shaking-my-head moment here. But Gary Johnson is running because he still has support, essentially. He got this endorsement from the Detroit News today. This is the first time in its 143-year history that that paper has not chosen a republican. So, people who cannot stomach Trump or Clinton are swinging his way. And some, especially those younger voters believe in his platform, so they and are willing to overlook these stunning gaffes.

When Libertarian Nominee Gary Johnson was asked to name any foreign leader he admired, he drew a blank.

MATTHEWS: Who's your favorite foreign leader?

JOHNSON: Who's my favorite -

MATTHEWS: And name just anywhere in the continent, anyone in the continents, any country, name one foreign leader that you respect and look up to? Anybody.

JOHNSON: I guess I'm having an Aleppo moment in the former President of Mexico.

MATTHEWS: But I'm giving you the whole world.

JOHNSON: I know. I know. I know.

MALVEAUX: Running mate Bill Weld tried to rescue him.

JOHNSON: I'm having a brain - I'm having a brain freeze.

MATTHEWS: Well, name anybody.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: OK. Who's your favorite foreign leader? Get him off the hook.

MALVEAUX: Johnson's campaign manager responding to the moment in a Facebook post, writing, "This is gotchaism at its finest." Johnson later tweeted out a new spin on it saying, "It's been almost 24 hours and I still can't come up with a foreign leader I look up to." This latest stumble comes a month after this. Johnson's original Aleppo moment.

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

JOHNSON: About?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Aleppo.

JOHNSON: And what is Aleppo?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're kidding.

JOHNSON: No.

MALVEAUX: The slip prompted some to say Johnson had disqualified himself from becoming president.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think it's a disqualifying statement, frankly.

JOHNSON: And fair enough. And fair enough. Yeah.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm going to ask you to shake up.

JOHNSON: (INAUDIBLE)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So, will you get out of the race now?

JOHNSON: No.

MALVEAUX: And even on domestic policy, Johnson has gotten his facts confused. In response to the New York and New Jersey bombings and the stabbings at a mall in Minnesota.

JOHNSON: Well, first of all, just grateful that nobody got hurt.

MALVEAUX: 29 people were injured in the bombings, 9 in the stabbings. Johnson later tweeted he misspoke. And then there was this bizarre moment in an interview with MSNBC. JOHNSON: And (INAUDIBLE) standing up there for the whole debate and not say anything and (INAUDIBLE)

MALVEAUX: Meanwhile, Johnson is polling at eight percent in CNN's Poll of Polls, and even higher in some key swing states. He's especially doing well with millennials, a critical voting bloc that Clinton campaign desperately needs.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If you vote for someone other than Hillary or if you don't vote at all, then you are helping to elect Hillary's opponent. And the stakes are far too high to take that chance.

MALVEAUX: None of the polls show Johnson achieving the threshold of support needed to become eligible for the presidential debates. And some wonder, with these gaffes, now how would he perform in front of an audience of potentially 80 million viewers, but his campaign are continuing to fight for a place on the stage. They tell me that tomorrow they plan to protest the commission on presidential debates at the DC office.

TAPPER: All right. Suzanne Malveaux, thank you so much. Hackers going after the voter registration sites of more than a dozen states. U.S. investigators believe Russia is responsible, and they fear more attacks are on the way. What does Russia really want here?

(END VIDEOTAPE)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

[16:53:59] TAPPER: Let's go live to Chicago where Hillary Clinton is taking reporters' questions in Midway Airport.

HILLARY CLINTON, U.S. DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Before they cast their votes early or on November 8th. So we will continue to highlight the differences and talk about what we want to do that's going to make life better for the families of America.

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right here with the cameras.

CLINTON: All right. And I'm sorry guys. I'm working on a feature.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So you talk a lot about the middleclass, you have throughout the campaign, I'm hoping that you can help define it for me. And I'm thinking both, like, numerically, where is the -- in terms of policy, tax policy, where do you put the middleclass? And then, also philosophically, what is the middleclass to you, what does it mean?

CLINTON: Well, the middleclass is the social and economic engine of our country. It is in so many ways a reflection of the success of the United States from the very beginning, to create greater economic opportunity for people willing to work for it. And it has been one of the premier historic accomplishments of our country going back decades, if not longer. And the middleclass is a hard-to-define economic target. The way I talk about it is to say, we know what the median income in America is. But if you're living in high-cost areas, if you have kids you're trying to educate and send to college, if you face healthcare costs that are beyond the average, staying in and progressing up in the middleclass takes more money in some parts of America than it does in (INAUDIBLE) so my pledge has been, that I will not raise taxes on the middleclass, and I have defined it as I will not raise taxes on anyone making less than $250,000 a year, because in high-cost places in America, that is a -- in many ways, a cut-off that makes sense. It's something that President Obama had adhered to. It's something my husband adhered to. Because when you look at the information and across the country, I mean, housing is so much more expensive in lots of places than other places. And you understand why we've set it at that. So, the middleclass is both real and aspirational, and I want to make sure that it remains strong and it gives people a sense of security and confidence and optimism about their futures.

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Madam Secretary, how worried are you about third-party candidates in general, Gary Johnson in particular? Could he be a spoiler, and would he be qualified in your view to be president at all?

CLINTON: Well, look, I am just going to keep running my campaign and do everything I can to encourage people to actually get out and vote. I think either Donald Trump or I will be the President of the United States. And so, people have to look carefully in making their decision about who to vote for, because it will be either him or me, and I am going to do everything I can to make sure it's me.

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Secretary Clinton, so Donald Trump today -

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You've got a number of Republican endorsements, but polls show the Republican voters are still solid behind Trump - are still behind Trump solidly as Democrats are behind you. Are you disappointed you have not gotten as much Republican voters support?

CLINTON: I am thrilled of the amount of Republican voter support I've gotten. I really am. And from people who understand the stakes in this election and are real thought leaders with a lot of experience, so the 50 national security professionals who came out and said they could not support Donald Trump some months ago, I think spoke volumes about his lack of fitness and qualifications for the job. Business leaders from Mike Bloomberg to Meg Whitman and so many others who understand what it will take to have a competitive economy that works for everybody, not just those at the top, they've been on the front lines. And we have an increasing number of people who actually been Republican office holders, one current one as you know, Congressman Hanna from New York, to then yesterday, senator -- former Senator Warner from Virginia, who I had the great honor of working with when he chaired the Armed Services Committee. So, I'm really honored and proud to have the level of support and the message that it sends by people who understand what the next president is going to be facing and have said Donald Trump should not be anywhere near the Oval Office.

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- your flight.

CLINTON: Oh, is this your first flight?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is my first flight. Yes.

CLINTON: Welcome aboard.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you very much. Very happy to be here. I appreciate it. Secretary Clinton, the Trump campaign is signalling that they are poised to get personal about your husband's past, about your past. How will you respond at the debates and what's your response today?

CLINTON: He can run his campaign however he chooses. That's up to him. I'm going to keep talking about the stakes in this election. I'm going to keep talking about my agenda that will, I believe, increase growth, make it fairer, have it be lasting, deal with the real problems that families are confronting. What I want to do to keep America safe, and to provide the kind of steady, strong leadership that the country needs, and to bring people together, which is going to be one of the highest priorities that I will have when I'm fortunate enough to be elected president, if that's what turns out. So, you know, I'm not going to comment on how he runs his campaign. You'll be able to see, we have two more debates, what he says and what I say.

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Actually, I wanted to ask you a few follow-up questions. (INAUDIBLE) go to Florida very late tonight, tomorrow, do you think that Donald Trump Cuba story resonates in particular in Florida? And you're not a huge fan of continuing the embargo, so like, who cares or he would have been (INAUDIBLE)

CLINTON: Well, you know - look, he have wars in our country --