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Gary Johnson Under Fire; Trump's Trouble With Women; New Jersey Train Accident; 114 Injured in Deadly New Jersey Train Wreck; Libertarian Candidate Stumbles Badly on World Affairs; 114 Injured in Deadly New Jersey Train Wreck; Sources: Bomb Suspect Possibly Took Train to N.Y.; Christie: Not Asked Yet to Help Trump with Debate. Aired 6-7p ET

Aired September 29, 2016 - 18:00   ET

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


[18:00:11]

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now, breaking news: out of control. A commuter train plows into one of the New York area's busiest stations, killing one person, injuring more than 100. The lead car went airborne in the violent crash. The roof of the station collapsed. Why was the train going so fast?

Commuter nightmare. The train crash snarls rail traffic, impacting thousands. And, tonight, we're hearing from survivors of the disaster, describing a frightening and bloody scene of chaos. Who are the heroes that rushed to help before first-responders arrived?

Debate debacle. Donald Trump is said to be infuriated by reports that some of his advisers are urging him to change his debate strategy. The GOP nominee continues to claim he won his first contest with Hillary Clinton, even as aides say he struggled. Is the campaign about to call Chris Christie to the rescue for the next debate?

And you're fired? Donald Trump accused of wanting to let go female employees who he deemed unattractive, this according to "The Los Angeles Times." The paper, citing former workers and court documents, alleges Trump pressured subordinates to value women's looks over their skills. After questions about his treatment of the former beauty queen, does this report show a pattern of discrimination based on looks?

We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

BLITZER: The breaking news tonight: Federal investigators are on the scene of a commuter rail crash that killed one person and injured more than 100 people in New Jersey.

The train was traveling at high rates of speed when it hit the end of the line at the end of the Hoboken terminal. The front car flew off the tracks, and the impact caused the roof to collapse, killing a woman who was standing on the platform. The engineer, among the injured, has now been released from the hospital and is said top cooperating with investigators.

Also breaking, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie speaking out to me about prepping Donald Trump for his next debate. Sources tell CNN some Trump advisers want to give the governor a leading role in getting Trump ready for his next face-off with Hillary Clinton. Christie told me last hour he hasn't been asked, but is willing to help any way he can.

Trump is insisting he won this week's debate and he is said to be angry that some surrogates and his aides disagree.

And the Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson facing new criticism tonight for once again blanking on a question. During a town hall, he was asked to name his favorite foreign leader, but was unable to give an answer. He later said he was having a -- quote -- "Aleppo moment, earlier this month, Johnson, when asked about the brutal assault on the Syrian city of Aleppo, but didn't know what it was.

We're covering all of that, much more this hour with our guests and our correspondents and our expert analysts. They're all standing by.

Let's get straight to New Jersey.

CNN's Jean Casarez is in Hoboken, the scene of the train crash today.

Jean, this was a very violent crash.

JEAN CASAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, it is. It most definitely is.

What we have just learned, the National Transportation Safety Board hasn't yet started their investigation, because they can't. When the train came and blasted through the terminal this morning, the roof of the terminal, or the canopy, fell on the initial train car. There's been water leakage all day. They believe there could be asbestos.

They have to have contractors come in to bring up that canopy, as they call it, so the investigation can begin.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CASAREZ (voice-over): Tonight, investigators are looking for clues as to what caused a New Jersey transit train to plow through a major station concourse during rush hour.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I heard a bomb-like explosion.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It sounded like nails, like, on a chalk board. You know what I mean, and then just followed by a deafening silence.

CASAREZ: A train employee says the train hit a safety bumper and went airborne.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It went up and over the bumper block, through the depot, and came to rest at the wall by the waiting room.

CASAREZ: Officials say one woman, believed to be seen in this video, was killed standing on the platform.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I ended up stepping over a dead woman's body. That bothered me. I backed up and looked. I said, what the? And nothing you can do for her.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It just didn't stop. And just got thrown around. Lights went out. I think the roof caved in on the train.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Everyone that was standing in the vestibules between the first and second car flew over into the first car. And many people were, like, thrown. And there was a lot of blood.

CASAREZ: Train workers and bystanders rushed to the scene to help passengers trapped inside the mangled, severely damaged train cars.

[18:05:03]

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They were kicking out the windows and trying to get off the train.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Someone had -- his eye was gone. And he had only one side and all the blood everywhere.

CASAREZ: New Jersey Governor Chris Christie says the train was traveling at excessive speed.

GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: This train came in at a high rate of speed into the station and crashed through all of the barriers, bringing it right to the interior wall.

CASAREZ: Tonight, investigators focusing on the train engineer who was pulled from the train unresponsive.

BELLA DINH-ZARR, NTSB: The engineer, as you may know, was injured. He's been released from the hospital, and we will be interviewing him.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CASAREZ: And that engineer has been identified as 48-year-old Thomas Gallagher.

Another thing we learned from the National Transportation Safety Board is that the train itself did not have positive train control. What is that? It's a very sophisticated technology that allows a train and the brains of the technology to anticipate an accident and stop that train before it happens.

It could have been invaluable in this situation. Congress originally said all trains have to have them by 2015, an now extension until 2017. And the New Jersey transit train of the morning, Wolf, did not have it.

BLITZER: Jean Casarez in Hoboken with that report, thank you, Jean.

An investigation into the crash now under way with a team from the National Transportation Safety Board on the scene in Hoboken. CNN's Rene Marsh is working that part of the story.

Rene, everything indicates the train was going too fast, didn't slow down at all as it moved toward the terminal.

RENE MARSH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Wolf.

We just heard from the NTSB. They tell us that the speed limit as the train was going into the terminal, this is the terminal here in Hoboken, as the train is arriving here, the speed limit is about 10 miles per hour. Witnesses say they saw it going a lot faster than that.

We know that the NTSB has not been able to get inside of the terminal just because of all the damage. But I can tell you, in speaking with sources, their priorities are two things. They want to get to the train's engineers and they also want to get to the train's recorder, which is located by the engine towards the back of the train.

We did hear in that press conference that they do believe they will be able to access that recorder. And then they will be able to get information about the speed of the train, as well as when the brakes, if at all, if they were applied.

Now, this video is of the train about 45 minutes before the crash. But I want to take you back into this terminal here, this train station here in Hoboken, New Jersey. We do know that this train came in on track number five. We know that for a fact.

We know that the one fatality was this person waiting on the platform as a result of the train continuing on and not stopping. It crashed into that barrier, and we do know that, as you can see, the canopy came crashing down. And that's why investigators weren't allowed to get inside of the building at this point.

But we have been talking so much about this PTC, this positive train control, Wolf. We do know about a system that was indeed in place on this train. While positive train control was not on the tracks, in speaking with a former NTSB train accident investigator, as well one of our producers, Aaron Cooper, speaking with a former train engineer with New Jersey Transit, we know how this train operates.

As these trains are passing the signals on the tracks, if they are going too fast, that signal will cause an alarm inside the cab of the train. At that point, the engineer must react. They must acknowledge that warning sign.

And if that warning alarm is not acknowledged, then the train will automatically slow. But it could be in this instance, Wolf, that track just ran out before the train could actually slow down.

BLITZER: Rene Marsh for us, Rene, thank you very much.

We're following the breaking news, the investigation into this commuter rail crash that killed one person, injured more than 100 people in Hoboken, New Jersey. The mayor of Hoboken of New Jersey, Dawn Zimmer, is joining us right

now.

Mayor, thank you so much for joining us. Once again, our condolences to that -- the family of that woman who was killed in this horrible crash. I understand she was a Hoboken resident. Have you spoken with her family?

DAWN ZIMMER (D), MAYOR OF HOBOKEN, NEW JERSEY: We have not yet. My understanding is, the husband is on his way here, so we have not yet spoken to the family.

BLITZER: But you have spoken with some of the injured, right?

ZIMMER: Yes.

I went over to the hospital care point. I had a number of patients. And I went over to the hospital and talked to some of the victims. You know, basically, I want to say that, you know, obviously, they're traumatized, but I did hear some stories of the commuters really together.

[18:10:03]

Obviously, we really appreciate the first-responders and what they did to help all of the victims. But you also had commuters helping commuters, and one man at the hospital told me about how his fellow commuter, basically when she saw he went down, she went to him. She asked him if he was OK.

And then she got his cell phone and texted and called his family, and stayed with him until he was taken in the ambulance and kept his sister updated and met his sister at the hospital as well. And so it's just a beautiful story of commuters and people just helping each other through this tragedy.

So, again, we appreciate everyone coming together. Our hearts are out there for the family of this one victim, and there are several people that had major surgery today, but we appreciate everything, everyone coming together through this tragedy.

BLITZER: We hope all of them emerge in good shape as well.

Mayor, how is the investigation going?

ZIMMER: Well, the NTSB is now on site.

And so that investigation is starting. They're just getting started. And they just recently came out and gave a briefing. But they're really just getting into -- they're not -- obviously not prepared to give any information on what was the cause, what happened.

And -- but they are giving -- they're all on site right now, NTSB.

BLITZER: As you know, Mayor, there was a similar crash at that same Hoboken station back in 2011. Did the authorities, did everyone learn the proper lessons from that

crash that potentially could have prevented this one?

ZIMMER: Well, that's a difficult -- again, we have to see what the results of the investigation are, but my understanding, as a result of that investigation, is that while it was an issue with the engineer, it was also, if it had the positive train control in that instance, it would have made a difference.

So we will have to wait and see what the results are. It's possible that the results of this show that we should have had positive train control and that could have made a difference, and then my answer to that question would be, no, we didn't learn, and we really need to make the investment.

So, making the investment, it is obviously -- it's been passed by the federal government. It is a requirement. That extension has happened, unfortunately. And we need to make sure that that technology is installed in all of our trains. So, I will be continuing to advocate for that.

BLITZER: Yes. That technology is there. It's just got to be implemented.

ZIMMER: But, again, at this point -- right.

But, again, at this point, until they do the full investigation, we can't say exactly what was the cause.

BLITZER: How is your community, especially the commuters, coping with this?

ZIMMER: Have I spoken with commuters?

BLITZER: How is your community, especially the commuters, coping with this tragedy?

ZIMMER: Well, I think those who were impacted -- like I said, I went to the hospital and spoke with some of them.

It was traumatic, anyone that obviously was in the train, in the area. And I think it's traumatic for all of the commuters feeling like, I could have been on the train, I could have been in the train terminal. It's very upsetting to everyone and everyone wants to understand what has happened.

And everyone is working to make sure that the victims are taken care of and make sure that this is safer going forward. But, yes, the big concern in Hoboken was also the PATH. And so I do appreciate the work of the Port Authority working to make sure that they can get the PATH up and running. It's operational.

So, Hoboken residents rely on that PATH. And when it was down for several months during Sandy, that was a crisis for our community. So I am relieved that they were able to get the PATH operational. And now I know that they are -- it's a balancing act, but obviously they're going to do everything to get the heavy rail operational as quickly as possible.

BLITZER: Dawn Zimmer is the mayor of Hoboken.

Mayor, good luck to you and good luck to everyone in Hoboken. Hopefully, we will get some answers fairly soon in this investigation. Thank you so much for joining us.

ZIMMER: All right, thank you.

BLITZER: And stay with us. We're continuing to follow the breaking news, more information coming in.

We will be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[18:18:34]

BLITZER: We're following breaking news.

A commuter train failed to stop and ran into the terminal in Hoboken, New Jersey; 114 people were injured. One person waiting in the terminal on a platform is dead. Investigators, they are on the scene right now.

Let's get some more.

The Hoboken City Councilman Michael DeFusco is joining us.

Councilman, thanks for joining us.

What are you hearing from passengers on this train about the crash?

MICHAEL DEFUSCO, HOBOKEN CITY COUNCILMAN: Listen, Wolf, thank you for having me.

Today in Hoboken, it was a scary day for everybody. Our Mile Square City is a stone's throw away from the banks of Manhattan, so there's a lot of people that work in my district in the city that are commuting back and forth to the city.

And, you know, the word on the street pretty quickly was that there was a massive attack and we weren't sure if it were terrorism or what. But, you know, it was a scary morning here in Hoboken.

BLITZER: But there's no indication there was terrorism or anything along those lines, right?

DEFUSCO: Well, listen, there's state and federal investigators going on. The rumors on the street were what they were.

I'm just happy that our first-responders were on the ground within moments, neighboring municipalities and cities were here to support us and that the city came together, as we have after Hurricane Sandy and other incidents, to really unify us as a neighborhood as the Mile Square City. BLITZER: How are the area hospitals handling the injuries? How

serious are the injuries?

[18:20:01]

DEFUSCO: Yes, listen, there's over 100, as you have reported, injuries, one reported fatality.

I was at the hospital visiting some folks earlier today. And they're substantial. Our area hospitals are capable. The doctors, the physicians, the support staff are doing fantastic work. Obviously, they're hard at work as we speak. And my thoughts and prayers are with the community that was affected.

BLITZER: Tell us about the Hoboken train station. How busy is it during that 8:30 a.m. morning commute, for example?

DEFUSCO: Yes, listen, Wolf, it is the large train station in the state of New Jersey. It's the second largest transportation hub, second only to Newark International Airport.

So to say that this is just a train station is an understatement. This is a vital part of our community; 60,000 people cross through there daily. We have ferries, we have light rail, we have commuter rail, and we have what's called the PATH train that -- it's a subway that takes our community members to the city every day.

So this is a vibrant place. This is a place where people are checking their e-mails, where people are reading newspapers. And the last thing that anyone expected on this busy fall morning was for a passenger train to come colliding with our station.

So, it should also be noted that this is a classic Beaux-Arts building, built in 1907, famous for its architecture. And it was a true loss to our community to have something like this happen.

BLITZER: As you know, the same train station saw a similar crash back in 2011. Could positive train control or automatic braking system have prevented both of these crashes?

DEFUSCO: Well, listen, I certainly think so.

I defer to the state and federal investigators again in terms of what their findings are. You know, what the error here was, we can't really comment on it right now. But, again, I think that New Jersey Transit does a phenomenal job. They're a world-class operation. And I know that the findings from this investigation will certainly lead towards some sort of, you know, fixes for the future of our safety.

BLITZER: Good luck, Councilman Michael DeFusco. Good luck to you and good luck to all the folks there in Hoboken. Thanks for joining us.

DEFUSCO: Thank you for having me, Wolf.

BLITZER: We're staying with the breaking news. We will go back live to Hoboken for the latest on the investigation into this train disaster. That's next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[18:27:02]

BLITZER: The breaking news this hour, that commuter train that plowed into one of the New York area's busiest stations, the terminal in Hoboken, New Jersey. One person was killed, more than 100 people injured when the first car went airborne and the roof of the station collapsed.

CNN's Brian Todd is in Hoboken for us.

Brian, the investigation is now under way. What are you learning?

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, tonight, we can identify the deceased victim in this crash. She's 34-year-old Fabiola Bittar de Kroon, a resident of Hoboken, New Jersey.

Officials say she was standing on the platform at the time the train struck it. She was killed by debris. Fabiola Bittar de Kroon, 34 years old, is identified as the deceased victim.

And the key questions tonight, Wolf, center around the event recorders. Officials say there's an event recorder in the controlling car, which is in the front of the train, and one in the locomotive, which is in the back of the train. Have they been able to pull those event recorders?

Those are key, Wolf, because they measure speed, braking activity, throttle positions, that key information. A short time ago, Bella Dinh-Zarr -- she is the vice chairman of the NTSB -- she spoke about that, as to whether they have been able to recover both of those recorders.

Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DINH-ZARR: We are going to be pulling that event recorder from the locomotive, which it is safe to do at this point.

So, once we pull that, we will have more information about the speed and braking and other issues. There's also an event recorder in the cab car, the controlling car. And we will be getting that as soon as we can access that.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

TODD: But Ms. Dinh-Zarr did say that as far as that event recorder in the cab car is concerned, as of a short time ago, when she spoke to us, she said it was too dangerous to get to that cab car.

Right now, part of the structure of the station is still sitting on top of that cab car. She says there's been water leaking all day in that area, too. So, right now, the structural integrity of that canopy area, the above-ground portion of the train where the New Jersey transit trains run, is still not structurally sound, still dangerous for investigators to go in there.

So they have not been able to pull that event recorder from the cab car yet. And, again, these are crucial, Wolf. These are outward- facing cameras that can measure speed, braking activities, throttle position, and the like.

They are going to be able to get the one from the locomotive, because the locomotive is kind of out of the danger zone as far as where the canopy is sitting. They can get to that. They should be able to get to that soon.

Also, Wolf, tonight, they have not yet, the NTSB at least, has not yet interviewed the engineer. He has been released from the hospital. The NTSB, according to the vice chairman, has not yet interviewed him. They want to talk to him as soon as possible, Wolf.

BLITZER: Certainly do. All right, Brian, thank you very much, Brian Todd reporting.

Let's get some more on the breaking news.

CNN's Rene Marsh is back with us, along with the former managing director of the National Transportation Safety Board Peter Goelz. He's a CNN analyst. And rail expert Larry Mann, he was the principal author of the Federal Railroad Safety Act of 1970.

All right, so, Peter, you're a former NTSB managing director.

What are the investigators on the scene looking for, first and foremost?

[18:30:06] PETER GOELZ, CNN ANALYST: Well, they're going to try and get the physical evidence. They want the recorders, and they want to check the braking action of the train. They want to check the rail. They want to eliminate the easy issues. Probably not rail. They're going to check the braking, see if that's working. They want to get the recorders, and then they're going to zero in, in the coming two or three days on what's critical.

BLITZER: How long will it take, Rene, for them to get that recorder, which has presumably a lot of valuable information on it?

RENE MARSH, CNN TRANSPORTATION CORRESPONDENT: Well, the good news is we heard the NTSB say that there is -- the locomotive is accessible to them, so they will be able to pull out that recorder that's in the back of the train.

It's going to be critical, because the way the NTSB works is, essentially, they need all the puzzle pieces. They need to lay it out on the table, and they need to begin to piece it all together.

And so what they will know for a fact once they get that recorder is how fast was this train going? Did the engineer at any point step on the brakes? Did he touch any of the controls? And if so, what controls and when did he do it? Did he do it too late? All of those answers will be answered, questions will be answered when they have that recorder.

BLITZER: So Larry, what type of failures -- and you've studied this over many years -- what type of failures potentially could have caused this train to not stop, to simply go full speed ahead into this terminal?

LARRY MANN, PRINCIPAL AUTHOR, 1970 FEDERAL RAILROAD SAFETY ACT: Well, it appears that there was incapacitation of the employee, the engineer. And we've learned over many accidents, that had there been two persons in the locomotive, these accidents would have been prevented. Particularly the recent one in -- near Philadelphia, Chatsworth a few years ago. Had there been two engineers in the locomotive, those million-dollar -- multimillion-dollar accidents would not have occurred.

BLITZER: What do you think? Would you agree with that?

GOELZ: Well, I think there's some evidence that says yes. There's some evidence that says no. The FRA has not moved on that in years. And I think this accident will bring it to the fore again.

But, you know, it's just -- it's too soon to say whether the engineer was -- was incapacitated. Looks like it, perhaps.

BLITZER: We don't know.

GOELZ: We don't know.

BLITZER: It could be a mechanical failure. It could be human failure. It could be maybe a combination both, too.

SCHIAVO: Right. There's never one factor, either, that leads to it. It's usually a course of events. So it could be that, perhaps if he's distracted, that you know, perhaps he reacted in the wrong way. We just don't know. I do agree with Peter.

BLITZER: That so-called positive train control system, which is an automatic braking system, could it potentially have saved lives?

GOELZ: It depends on how it was set up in this situation. You know, entering the rail system, the yard, it could have slowed the train down. But once it's in the yard, PTC really doesn't apply, because the speed limit is 10 miles an hour or less. There's lots of different engines running on the tracks. Many of them are not set up for PTC. But leading up into the yard, it might have been able to play a role.

BLITZER: Larry, how safe or unsafe is the rail system, the transportation system in the United States right now?

MANN: Well, beginning in the -- 1970 when I was initially involved in rail safety legislation and regulation, there were multiple, multiple deaths, injuries, derailments. Trains were sitting on the tracks, not moving, and derailed. In today's climate, it has improved significantly.

But as to positive train control, which is a big issue here, neither the Federal Railroad Administration nor Congress has mandated positive train control in the terminals nor in the yards. And moreover, the federal railroad regulation on positive train control will cover only 25 percent of the entire rail system. So we've got a significant amount of rail system where we don't have that protection.

BLITZER: All right. Guys, stay with us. Stand by.

We're getting some other breaking news coming into THE SITUATION ROOM right now, this time in the investigation into those New York and New Jersey terror bombings. I want to go straight to our CNN justice correspondent, Evan Perez.

Evan, you're getting new information from your sources. What are you learning?

EVAN PEREZ, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Wolf.

Investigators have found surveillance video from Penn Station on the night of the bombing in Manhattan that officials now believe shows the accused bomber, Ahmad Rahami, arriving on a New Jersey Transit train on Track 9 around 6 p.m.

Now, the suspect is seen in the video carrying a backpack and two rolling duffel bags. And investigators now believe that Rahami was carrying the pipe bombs that were later found in Elizabeth, New Jersey, in that backpack, and they also believe that the duffel bags contained the pressure bombs. As you remember, the -- one of the pressure bombs exploded on 23rd Street in Manhattan, about 2 1/2 hours after this. And the other bomb was found unexploded on 27th Street.

[18:35:18] Now, this is important new information, Wolf, because the court papers that were filed and the charges against Rahami mentioned a car registered to members of the Rahami family entering Manhattan through the Lincoln Tunnel around 6:30 p.m. that night. Now, this information means that Rahami was not in that car when it entered Manhattan.

Investigators are working to determine exactly who was in that car and if there's any connection to the bombing plot. Now, records show that the car left Manhattan around 11:30 p.m. that night. The question is, was Rahami in that car? The investigators are urgently trying to figure that out, Wolf.

BLITZER: They're trying to get more information, understandably so.

Evan Perez, good reporting, thank you very, very much.

And there's more breaking news coming into THE SITUATION ROOM. We're continuing to follow the deadly train accident in New Jersey that injured more than 100 people.

And there's breaking political news we're following, as well. Is the Trump campaign calling in Chris Christie to help Donald Trump prepare for the next presidential debate? I'll tell you what the New Jersey governor told me. That's next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[18:40:48] BLITZER: We're continuing to monitor the breaking news as rush-hour commuters try to get home after today's deadly train crash in New Jersey. We're standing by for updates from investigators.

But there's also breaking news in the presidential race. Sources now telling CNN some of Donald Trump's advisers are considering putting Chris Christie in charge of debate preparations following what was widely seen as Trump's loss to Hillary Clinton in their first face- off.

But the New Jersey governor told me last hour he has not been asked to take that role, although he says he's willing to help Donald Trump and the campaign in any way he possibly can.

Our national correspondent, Jason Carroll, is joining us now with more.

Jason, the campaign seems torn over debate preparation.

JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Very much so. Donald Trump, for his part, saying at the rally here today, that he feels as though that the debate was rigged.

As for that Chris Christie interview, he also said that he felt as though Donald Trump did well. He says he'll do even better during the next go-around.

Trump, for his part, simply saying that he feels as though he is upset over some of the things that those in his campaign are saying about his performance.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CARROLL (voice-over): Publicly, Donald Trump continues to push the idea he won Monday night's debate against Hillary Clinton.

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: Every single online poll said we won, which is great.

CARROLL: But privately, Trump is angry his aides and advisers are telling reporters he struggled in the first debate. In a conference call with surrogates Wednesday, aides making clear the GOP nominee is upset by reports that advisers encouraged him to change his approach before his next face-off with Clinton. His team also stressed to supporters they should energetically defend his debate performance.

A Trump campaign spokesman calls the description of the call completely false.

Yet CNN has learned some campaign advisers are weighing an overhaul of how to prepare Trump for the second debate. On option on the table, giving Chris Christie a leading role in readying Trump. GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: Everybody in the world who

watches it thinks they can do it better. I invite any of them to get up on stage and try to do it and see how they do.

CARROLL: This as Trump seeks to rebound from the debate. Trump is sharpening his attacks on Hillary Clinton.

TRUMP: The Clintons are the sordid past. We will be the very bright and clean future.

CARROLL: But Trump is still unable to shake comments he made about former Miss Universe Alicia Machado's weight.

TRUMP (via phone): She gained a massive amount of weight, and it was -- it was a real problem.

CARROLL: "The New Yorker" taking a satirical jab at the candidate with its latest cover, showing a plump Trump and labeling him "Miss Congeniality."

That as Trump refuses to back down from his criticism of Machado.

TRUMP (on camera): I saved her job, because they wanted to fire her for putting on so much weight, and it is a beauty contest.

CARROLL: 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.

REP. BRUCE BABIN (R), TEXAS: 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 scandals as a way 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 weighed in about that lawsuit out of Southern California, saying the allegations in the lawsuit are meritless.

[18:45:05] 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" -- Wolf.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Jason Carroll, reporting for us -- thanks very much, Jason, for that report.

Let's bring in our political experts.

Dana Bash, so this reporting that some of his advisers want Chris Christie to take over, take charge of debate preparation, I asked Chris Christie about it last hour. He said, "Nothing's been asked of me," but he said he'll do whatever he can to help Donald Trump.

What are you hearing?

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Right. I was told and Gloria Borger was reporting as well today that this is part of the discussion about an overhaul in general. And to me, it just sort of -- you look at the big picture, what has been going on since Monday, is people who are close to Donald Trump want Donald Trump to win and to do better, but can't get through to him, are using sort of the media to try to get their message across to him and to try to change things up in the campaign. And I think that probably, frankly, this is one of those cases.

Chris Christie is somebody who is very OK with telling Trump things that other people close to Trump won't say. He's very blunt with him in private, has been for a long time. It's the benefit of the two of them knowing each other for a long time. And Christie has debated recently, debated Donald Trump in the primaries.

So, he has recent experience and he did pretty well. He basically pummeled Marco Rubio in the last debate that Rubio -- one of the last debates that Rubio had and he never really recovered.

So, the goal at this point is, inside Trump world to try however they can to get Trump's attention. But unfortunately, some of it has backfired, because now he's angry that his people are saying he didn't do well, when all he's trying to do is convince the world that he did do well.

BLITZER: That's what he's trying to do.

But, David Swerdlick, if Donald Trump can't take advice or hear bad news from his closest aides without getting upset, how does he function effectively, for example, as president of the United States?

DAVID SWERDLICK, THE WASHINGTON POST: I don't think he does, Wolf. And, first of all, if this is another overhaul -- I mean, there's only a few weeks left. This would be overhaul three or four. There's not enough time left I don't think to really do that effectively.

To your question, Wolf, you know, Trump has campaigned now on this idea that he's high level, he will bring in the right advisers, listen to them and make the right decisions. But if the reporting on this is right, I mean, there's no way he's following that template. He's trying to make all the decisions and be the expert himself. It's not effective.

BLITZER: You saw this report also, Rebecca, that in "The Los Angeles Times," they discovered court documents which former Trump organization employees said, in sworn depositions, declarations, that Trump pressured managers to fire female employees who are not, quote, "pretty enough", as well as employees who were overweight.

What's going to be the reaction to that?

REBECCA BERG, NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER, REAL CLEAR POLITICS : Well, it was some really thorough reporting by Matt Pierce at "The Los Angeles Times" and really because these were sworn states, sort of indisputable. It comes at a really inopportune time for Donald Trump, needless to say, because this is -- as Clinton and her campaign are trying to really sharpen and drive this point home that he's been not only unfair to women, but really quite terrible in the past to many women in his life, making really harsh statements about them, their appearances.

And this just feeds into that narrative further. And this suspect purely academic, because during the debate, because an NBC News poll found after watching, 27 percent of likely women voters said that the debate made them think worse of Trump. While a third said it improved their estimation of Clinton. That actually matters on Election Day.

BLITZER: Yes. It comes on the heels of what we learned about what he said about Miss Universe who gained a few pounds, as well. The allegation, he called her Miss Piggy.

All right. Stand by, we're following breaking news here on THE SITUATION ROOM. We'll have the latest on a deadly train cash at one of the New York area's busiest train station.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[18:53:42] BLITZER: We're continuing to monitor the breaking news. Investigators are hoping to recover the first of two data recorders from today's deadly train crash in New Jersey. The crash injured 114 people, killed one person on the platform of the Hoboken train terminal.

We're also following important developments of the presidential race, including a new self-made problem for the libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson.

Our national correspondent Suzanne Malveaux is joining us.

Suzanne, Gary Johnson has been having some problems with some very basic world affairs questions. What's the latest? SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It's true. Despite a

series of stunning gaffes, there are supporters who are for now willing to overlook them. We have a new CNN/ORC poll showing the state of Colorado essential for Hillary Clinton to win, with Gary Johnson in the race, Trump leads Clinton 42 percent to 41 percent, with Johnson getting 13 percent support.

So, Johnson now is becoming a potential game changer.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MALVEAUX (voice-over): When libertarian nominee Gary Johnson was asked to name any foreign leader he admired, he drew a blank.

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: Who is your favorite foreign leader?

GARY JOHNSON, LIBERTARIAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Who is my favorite --

MATTHEWS: Just name any one of 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 to whole world.

JOHNSON: I know, I know.

MALVEAUX: Running mate Bill Weld tried to rescue him.

[18:55:01] JOHNSON: I'm having a brain --

BILL WELD, LIBERTARIAN VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Fox.

MATTHEWS: Who is 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 gotcha-ism in 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 month after this. Johnson's original Aleppo moment.

MIKE BARNICLE, MSNBC: What would you do, if you were elected, about Aleppo?

JOHNSON: About --

BARNICLE: Aleppo.

JOHNSON: And what is Aleppo?

BARNICLE: You're kidding.

JOHNSON: No.

MALVEAUX: The slip say somebody saying he disqualified himself from becoming president.

JOY BEHAR, "THE VIEW" HOST: I think it's a disqualifying statement, frankly.

JOHNSON: And fair enough. And fair enough. Yes.

BEHAR: OK.

(CROSSTALK)

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

JOHNSON: No.

(LAUGHTER)

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 in a mall in Minnesota --

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

MALVEAUX: Twenty-nine people were injured in the bombings, nine in the stabbings. Johnson later tweeted he misspoke.

And then there was this bizarre moment in an interview with MSNBC.

JOHNSON: (INAUDIBLE) the whole debate and not say anything (INAUDIBLE).

MALVEAUX: Despite all that, a new endorsement tonight for Johnson from "The Detroit News". It's the first time in its 143-year history that the paper has not chosen a Republican. But this year, they say they couldn't bring themselves to endorse Donald Trump, urging voters to instead cast a conscience vote for Gary Johnson.

Meanwhile, Johnson is polling at 8 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 the Clinton campaign desperately needs.

MICHELLE OBAMA, FIRST LADY: 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.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MALVEAUX: The polls show Johnson achieving the threshold of needed to become eligible for the presidential debates and some wonder with these gaps, how he would perform in front of an audience of potentially 80 million viewers. But his campaign continues to fight or a place on the stage. They tell me that tomorrow, they plan to protest the Commission of Presidential Debates at the D.C. office, Wolf.

BLITZER: Thanks very much, Suzanne Malveaux, reporting.

Let's get back to the panel. Dana, a lot of people think this is a disqualifying gaffe for Johnson. What do you think?

BASH: Yes. I mean, if it were one, maybe it was excusable that it was a moment but they went on and on. And what is so frustrating and frankly terrifying to a lot of people inside Clinton world is that as Suzanne was saying, he is taking considerable number of votes, at least in the polls and even anecdotally I was in North Carolina doing a story on millennial voters from that important group. Because millennial voters in particular, they don't like Donald Trump, many of them. And they don't love Hillary Clinton. And they are looking for another place to go.

And Gary Johnson and to a lesser extent Jill Stein is that place. So, if he weren't in the race, the Clinton campaign firmly believes they would be further ahead and there's data to prove it.

BLITZER: Rebecca, what's your reaction to all of this.

BERG: I agree with Dana completely. This is a major concern for Hillary Clinton's campaign right now and that is why you have seen Michelle Obama out there at university campuses telling millennial voters, young voters that if you do not vote, and if you vote for Gary Johnson you are essentially helping to elect Donald Trump.

But it's not clear that that's going to be a motivator enough for a lot of millennial voters. There isn't a lot of evidence to me they understand the potential consequences of sort of a protest vote. There was a great piece in the "New York Times" where the reporter asked one such voter who's planning to vote for Gary Johnson and he was afraid of a Ralph Nader effect which potentially cost Al Gore the presidency in 2000, and this particular voter said, Ralph, who?

BLITZER: Yes.

Nader got 90,000 votes in Florida back in 2000. Al Gore lost the state by a little more than 500 votes, and a lot of people think the Green Party voters for Nader are what cost Al Gore the presidency.

SWERDLICK: Yes. I mean, that was the difference in that race. And then history was vastly different as result of the Bush/Gore election. No question about it. This would not be the year to be a spoiler.

BLITZER: Should Hillary Clinton go after Gary Johnson directly?

SWERDLICK: I don't think so. First of all, to Governor Johnson, if he's listening, the correct answer is Prime Minister Teresa May. She's new in her role and Great Britain is our closest ally.

BLITZER: Good advice from David Swerdlick. All right, guys. We'll leave it on that important note. Thanks very much for joining us. I'm Wolf Blitzer.

"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.