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Standing By For Vice Presidential Debate on CNN; New Details on Mike Pence's Debate Strategy. Aired 7-8p ET

Aired October 4, 2016 - 19:00   ET



[19:00:04] ANNOUNCER: Tonight, the vice presidential candidates in a high pressure test.

MIKE PENCE (R), VICE PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: Hillary Clinton will never be elected president.

ANNOUNCER: With a close election on the line.

TIM KAINE (D), VICE PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: Donald Trump wants us to trust him? Are you kidding me?

ANNOUNCER: Senator Tim Kaine and Governor Mike Pence battling for the nation's second highest office and making their case for their campaigns.

PENCE: When Donald Trump becomes the next president of the United States of America, the change will be huge.

KAINE: Hillary is ready. She's ready to fight. And she is ready to lead.

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN's coverage of Kaine versus Pence in their only vice presidential debate just days before their bosses go head to head again.

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: How many more Clinton scandals can this country take?

HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: Trump represents the same rigged system that he claims he's going to change.

ANNOUNCER: Two choices. One state. And America's future up for debate.


ERIN BURNETT, CNN ANCHOR: The vice presidential nominees are getting ready to appear on this stage in a debate that may be all about the candidates who are not here tonight, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. We are coming to you live tonight from the campus of Longwood University in Farmville, Virginia. A major battleground state in the presidential election. Welcome to all. I'm Erin Burnett with a special edition of OUTFRONT

tonight on this debate night in America. Tonight, Tim Kaine and Mike Pence are trying to pass a crucial test. This is their only debate. They want to prove they can handle the most important job of any vice president, of course taking charge if something happens to the commander-in-chief.

Donald Trump will watch tonight's debate on TV at the Trump Hotel in Las Vegas. He has assured everyone he will live tweet during the event. Hillary Clinton says, she will be watching too from her home in Chappaqua, New York. Now the presidential candidates right now are gearing up for their own debate rematch this Sunday. Polls right now showing Clinton getting a bounce from their first round match up. All of this of course with only about a month to go until Election Day.

Now let's go inside the debate hall to Wolf Blitzer. He's there with more on what we can expect tonight. Wolf?

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Erin, the vice presidential candidates getting ready to take the stage about two hours from now. Viewers will see Tim Kaine seated on the left, Mike Pence on the right. They will debate for 90 minutes with no commercial breaks, just as Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump did.

Elaine Quijano with CBS News is the moderator. For our first question will go to Senator Kaine. As we countdown to the start of this debate at Longwood University, we're going to have an exclusive interview with the Vice President Joe Biden. He will tell us what he is expecting tonight from the man who want his job. We'll also talk to the wives of the vice presidential nominees. Tim Kaine's wife Ann. Mike Pence's wife Karen.

Let's bring in Jake Tapper. Jake what are you look for tonight?

JAKE TAPPER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, the candidates don't come onto the stage tonight on equal footing. About a week in change ago, Donald Trump had the momentum but now it is a very different race because of Donald Trump's performance in the last debate, as well as a brouhaha with the former Miss Universe and the questions about his taxes, Donald Trump is playing defense. Hillary Clinton has the momentum. Hillary Clinton is the one who now leads nationally and in key battleground state polls. So the question is, how is that going to affect the dynamic? Mike Pence, arguably with a more difficult job tonight trying to explain things that his running-mate has said and done in the last week that he himself has not -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Very interesting. I want to bring in Dana Bash as well. Stand by Jake. Dana, these two candidates, vice presidential candidates, they have actually both been in politics for a long time but they have never actually met. Hard to believe but that's true. What do you expect tonight?

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, this is no question. This is a proxy war, make no mistake about it. And these guys, the bottom of the ticket. They have only a couple of big nights in the year. Right? They are out on the campaign trail all of the time. But this is one of them. And the expectations are really high that they cannot only deliver the messages of policy of their campaigns but also attack their opponent and also defend their candidate. But there is no question that Mike Pence has the steepest hill to climb because he's got to get in a lot of the things that Donald Trump simply didn't last week when it comes to Hillary Clinton and her record.

BLITZER: And you have covered both of these candidates. You know them well. We're going to have much more coming up. Erin over to you.

BURNETT: All right, Wolf. And we are getting some late word now on the candidate's debate strategies tonight as you can see how high the stakes are.

Let's go to Brianna Keilar. And Brianna, what are you hearing from the Clinton campaign and of course Tim Kaine tonight?

[19:05:04] BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Erin, as one senior campaign source told me, Tim Kaine tonight is prosecuting Donald Trump even more so than Mike Pence. His goal we're told is going to be the drive a wedge between the vice presidential candidate and the presidential candidate trying to force Pence to choose between his own personal credibility and defending his running mate on some on the more controversial positions that he's taken and statements that he's made.

And we do expect Donald Trump's taxes to be a focal point for Tim Kaine. Specifically this "New York Times" report over the weekend that he may have avoided paying taxes for as many as 18 years because of a nearly one billion dollar loss that he claimed in 1995. Key arguments that Kaine may be making tonight. If you do take a billion dollar loss in a year, what kind of businessman are you really? So trying to poke some holes in that. And then also if you are not paying taxes, that you are not supporting the military and veterans, roads and bridges. He's going to try to force Mike Pence to defend Donald Trump and poke some holes in that -- Erin.

BURNETT: All right. Which of course puts Mike Pence in difficult position. He wants to turn the tables and put the spotlight on Hillary Clinton.

Let's go to Jim Acosta now. Jim, what are you hearing from the Trump campaign about Mike Pence's debate strategy? How he's going to respond to what to Brianna was just talking about.

JIM ACOSTA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Erin. Aides to Mike Pence say, he is ready. He is so ready he did not do debate prep earlier today. They say he is prepared for Tim Kaine's attack on Donald Trump's tax records. They say if he's not prepared they shouldn't be in this race. Now, Mike Pence were told, we'll be heading Kaine on his record as a tax racing governor, but also expecting Indiana Governor to focus on Hillary Clinton as well. All through the night from Benghazi to the Clinton Foundation.

And Mike Pence, make no mistake, he has done his homework in contrast to Donald Trump's lack of preparation. Pence has been preparing for weeks if not months and aides says, he's very prepared for tonight. His marching orders and the words from one senior Trump campaign official is quote, "win." Erin, they desperately want to change the narrative of this campaign, they want to get back to winning ways -- Erin.

BURNETT: His stakes are incredibly high tonight. Thank you so much, Jim. And now let's go to Anderson.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: All right. Thanks very much. A critical time for this debate. Michael Smerconish, how, I mean, for Tim Kaine, the Clinton campaign is sort of hitting the Trump campaign from all different directions on a whole variety of topics. I guess my question is which does Tim Kaine pick to go at?

MICHAEL SMERCONISH, CNN ANCHOR, "SMERCONISH": Well, I think the first rule of business for Tim Kaine tonight is the Hippocratic Oath. In fact, maybe it is for both of them.

COOPER: To do no harm.

SMERCONISH: Do no harm. Right. But it would be a memorable debate if one of them makes a major faux pas tonight. The specific answer to your question I think is to focus on the very recent Donald Trump because that is the one who right now I think is in the descent. The Donald Trump who had a poor debate performance and who has this tax issue that just won't go away. So, I think it will be his job to accentuate those negatives.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: You know, what I think Kaine is going to do is prosecute the case against Donald Trump's temperament and against Donald Trump's character and also try and portray Hillary Clinton as a women with a great deal of experience who is likable. And maybe try and flesh that out a little bit more for Hillary Clinton because Tim Kaine is very likable. He is a likable guy and maybe he can be the character witness for her.

COOPER: You know, there was a time when Donald Trump was more on, you know, teleprompter, when Hillary Clinton was making the argument that on judgment that he was unreliable. Where that became a more difficult argument to make. Donald Trump has helped the Clinton campaign over the last couple of weeks.

DAVID AXELROD, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: You know, as we saw during the summer when he had a bad couple of convention weeks and went off the rails for several weeks, he doesn't handle situations well where he's viewed as having lost. And he tends to lash out. And that is what's happened. And now it is up to Mike Pence to be a circuit breaker. You know, I lived -- I don't know if you guys remember. The President didn't have a very good debate. The first debate back in 2012. And Democrats got a little nervous as Democrats want to do.

COOPER: I think freaked out is --

AXELROD: Yes. I'm trying to be kind about it. COOPER: OK. Yes.

BORGER: -- freaked out too.

AXELROD: I was focused. Focused. But Joe Biden really turned in a very strong debate performance. And that steal everyone's nerves. I think Republicans are looking for Mike Pence to do that in this debate and for him to deliver the tax that they wish Donald Trump had delivered in the last debate and didn't.

NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER: Yes. And you know, Benghazi, the Clinton Foundation, all of the e-mail scandals, all of that left untouched in that first debate. I think the trick is going to be he's going to have to find a new way to talk about those issues in some ways. Because I think, you know, a lot of those issues are already baked into the cake. And what you saw I think from Hillary Clinton in that debate last go round, she found a new way to talk about Donald Trump's sexism in the form of Alicia Machado and that was very memorable and it lasted several days after she actually mentioned it. So he is going find another way to do that. Is it new information? Is it a new kind of sound bite or phrase? So, I think it's a challenge for him but he is used to this.

COOPER: Well, I know. These guys are very different than the people they are running with.

BORGER: Right. And, you know, the question for Pence is, does he sort of foreshadow the next debate? Does he start attacking Hillary Clinton and Bill Clinton personally? Because Pence is kind of a low key guy and he can deliver an attack pretty well that way. And I'm wondering whether they are going to turn to him to start that.

[19:10:38] COOPER: Let's go to some of our partisan, Jeffrey Lord, do you think Mike Pence is going to go down that road?

JEFFREY LORD, DONALD TRUMP SUPPORTER: Well, I hate to say this. But I think vice presidential debates, other than the occasional one liner are forgettable.

COOPER: Thanks very much.


LORD: However, however.

COOPER: And we have two more hours.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Except for this time.

LORD: I'll have to say, they get off a good line here or there. But the possibly exception here is that Mike Pence can seriously help Donald Trump with his base. With the Pence base. With evangelicals, social conservatives.

COOPER: Right. Which was the reason he was picked in the first place.

LORD: Exactly. Reassure them that, yes, this is the person that they should be voting for. Which is important because there was a falloff of Mitt Romney of people -- conservatives who felt, believe it or not that there was no difference between --

COOPER: But Kayleigh, do you think they need, I mean, is that they who need reassurance or is that new voters are need to be reached?

KAYLEIGH MCENANY, DONALD TRUMP SUPPORTER: It is both. Because, you know, the CNN poll, you see 90 percent of Republicans for Trump, likewise 90 percent of Democrats support Hillary Clinton.

COOPER: But we've also seeing a big drop for him in white working class, voters --

MCENANY: Yes. That is true. That's all true. And he needs to shore those voters up. And here is how you do it, there is voter who are really stuck out in my mind last week in the CNN Focus Group. And kind of what she said has been hunting this. She was a young millennial girl and she said, look, I didn't hear from either candidate Monday night who's going to make my life better. And if the Mike Pence can take this dialogue to the issues, that is where Donald Trump wins. He won the first thirty minutes on Monday night's debate because he was talking about the issues. So, if he can elevate the dialogue and make Tim Kaine looks like the negative, vice president pick, I think that can be a big win --

COOPER: Van, what do you think Kaine has to do?

VAN JONES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, first of all, you know, we're in this weird bizarre world where Pence is like a reasonable, moderate person. I mean, this is the guy who, you know, doesn't believe in evolution apparently. Who's been very, very tough on the gay community. I mean, orderly this guy would represent the extreme. But Trump is so transformed this party. That Pence is now, you know, the moderate. Such a strange situation for us to be in. This is a very, very extreme right winger. And guess what?

There is really no reason for Tim Kaine to spend a bunch of time prosecuting him on his record because Trump is such a target rich environment. So you are actually never going to get a chance to hear it. If this guy were president, most people in the country would be appalled to have someone like Kaine as president. We'll never even get to that tonight.

COOPER: Paul, do you agree with that? That Kaine is not going to go after Pence on his record, he's just going to stick to Trump?

PAUL BEGALA, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: That is right. The interesting thing here, this is Dana was a right to call this a proxy war. Right? This is not about Mike Pence. And I know, he used to come on cross- fire, this terrible show I used to host. And he is a good guy. Pleasant. Very conservative. But really his temperament, which is Mr. Trump's biggest flaw, is just wonderful. He is a really nice guy. But the two of them. They have seven things to do. Attack, attack, attack, attack, attack, attack. And each of them will be doing that. I don't think Tim Kaine gives a rip snort about Mike Pence's very conservative record, I don't think that Pence about Kaine's. They are each going to attack the other's boss. And here is the weird thing --


AXELROD: Interesting Paul but you use the word temperament, Paul because that actually could help Donald Trump that might Pence comes across as a temperate person even if his views are extreme. That could actually help Donald Trump.

COOPER: Let Paul finish.

BEGALA: I hope the stats are getting to the principles. Because all you are doing is attacking. What you are not doing is defending the boss. Now, you know, next week when you do it. It won't matter. It is just the two of them. And that is going to be much more exciting frankly. It is. But tonight when you don't defend, I'm going to be happy for both of them. But the boss could be anger. I sat with Bill Clinton and watched Al Gore debate Dan Quayle and Stockdale. And the Governor kept saying, he's not defending me. He's not defending me. Governor, we told him not to. We told him to attack Bush. Not defend you.

COOPER: Why? Because when you are not spending time defending your candidate --

BEGALA: Absolutely.

COOPER: You're losing. You're losing.

BEGALA: But I'm a little curious, I maybe being ungenerous but I think Donald Trump sometimes can be a little self-absorbed. So if in fact Pence does not defend Trump a lot which I would counsel him not to defend Trump. But if he doesn't, I think -- attention in the Trump-Pence family.



BEGALA: I don't think Trump can stand that. I think Trump can't stand if every sentence is not about Donald Trump. So if Mike Pence will spent the whole losing by playing defense, he'll lost with Donald Trump.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Donald Trump wants to win. And I think --

BEGALA: I'm not sure about that. Have you seen him lately?


BEGALA: He's like completely self-destructing.

BORGER: Do you remember Joe Lieberman and Dick Cheney?

LORD: The worst.

[19:15:10] BORGER: Thank you. Because Democrats like you were very upset because Joe Lieberman did not defend. Right?

LORD: Or attack.

BORGER: Or attack.

BEGALA: All he did is try to persuade people what a lovely guy Joe Lieberman is. And he is a lovely guy but that is not your job in a vice presidential debate. It is to tear the stuff -- of the other guy. And Joe just didn't have the heart to do that. And it was terrible. By the way, Cheney did a fine job tearing down Al Gore.

BORGER: Exactly. But Dick Cheney reminds me, just, you know, a little bit of Mike Pence that he's got the same kind of manner, it's quiet, yet he can attack quietly which is why I'm wondering if he's going to --

BEGALA: Pence is always a human being which is different from Cheney --

COOPER: Up next, an exclusive interview with Vice President Joe Biden on tonight's debate and it's very tough response to Donald Trump's news controversy.


[19:20:08] BURNETT: And we are counting you down to the vice presidential debate right here at Longwood University in Virginia. It is less than two hours away. And as we cover this election here at CNN, we are traveling the country talking to voters in battleground states in partnership with Instagram, Facebook and CA technologies. And as part of this, we want to hear from you. So, please post photos on Instagram, tell us who you are voting for. Make sure you use the #my vote.

Your picture could be used in our election coverage. Well now, let's hear from a man who's been in a high pressure debate exactly like the one we saw tonight. The Vice President of the United States Joe Biden talking exclusively with our colleague Chris Cuomo earlier today. Here he is.


CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Polls are tight. There's a suggestion it is even getting tighter. The main points of dispute are the need for change. The questions about trust and the idea of energy. That is what Trump is saying. Those are his advantages. How do you answer those questions here in Florida?

JOE BIDEN (D), VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I bet he couldn't carry his bag 18 holes on one of his own golf courses, speaking of energy. But look, I think the real issues here are, can you imagine any president of the United States saying any of the things that he has said about -- can you imagine a president getting up at 3:30 morning a tweeting vitriol? I really mean this. This goes to this man lacks any sensibilities about the American people. I just don't -- I don't get it. And he is so woefully uninformed on foreign policy it's dangerous.

CUOMO: But they've worked for him, Mr. Vice President. People take it as strength. Speaking the way we do. He doesn't play those games that politicians play and they reward him or at least don't punish him for saying things that you find out of bounds.

BIDEN: Well, I think that they are now starting to focus, Chris. I mean, this is getting deadly earnest now. Every election in the last four presidential election people make up their mind later and later in the process. Granted there's not been a lot of enthusiasm across the board here. And, but now they are beginning to focus and they are getting to see who this guy really is. And I predict to you she will win and she will win clearly.

CUOMO: When you hear about situations where Trump says, he's smart for finding ways to use the tax law as is provided. It bothers you.

BIDEN: It does.

CUOMO: You say that it suggests something that is wrong about his disposition. But other people say, that is what the tax code is about. Is finding ways to pay the least amount possible.

BIDEN: No. I thought it was about making sure you did your part for your country. I grew up in a household and my father used to say -- and they never made any real money. And I'd say, you know, I'm paying this and that in tax, my dad would say, it is a small price to pay. Since when does someone who lives at the top of the world, in a penthouse overlooking the world be in a position where he doesn't feel any obligation at all to pay any federal income tax to support the military, to support education, to support our foreign policy. Since when is that a patriotic thing do? Can you imagine any other president -- any other president suggests to ever say that and be proud of that? I can't fathom it.

CUOMO: Trump is making headlines for saying that those who avoid PTS, post-traumatic stress are strong. Those who succumb to it therefore by implication are weak. He wasn't been insulting, it seemed in the video of it. But it does speak to an ignorance about the issue. What does that statement mean to you?

BIDEN: This is an ignorant man. This guy says things he has no idea. He's not a bad man. But his ignorance is so profound. So profound. Can you imagine, what that means if he believes that and he acts on that. What that means for, you know, I carry a card with me every single day and I hope I have it with me now. It is my schedule here. And on my schedule I have a little box on the schedule. I have my staff contact the Defense Department every morning at 6:00. To tell me exactly how many troops are injured, exactly how many troops are wounded. Because everyone matters. It is not 6700 and some. It is 6,753 deaths. Not fifty. Fifty three.

It's 52,419 wounded and the number of people coming home with unseen injuries, posttraumatic stress and traumatic brain injury is significantly higher. That is why we need another 50,000 nurses right now to take care of these people. What does this say about a guy who doesn't have any notion about that? Come with me at the battle field like I've done. Now over 20 sometimes, in Afghanistan and Iraq. Look at what these kids are going through?

Look at the sacrifices they are making and look at what they go to sleep dreading. I had -- I was asked to present a silver star to a young man who had jumped into a young commander and jumped into a burning Humvee to pull out his buddy after an IED exploded. This kid and the kid died. The commanding general, General Odierno asked me to pin on a silver star when I was there. Do you know what the kid said to me? I don't want it. I don't want it. He did not live, sir. He did not live, sir. That kid probably goes to sleep every night with a nightmare and this guy doesn't understand any of that? How can he not understand that? How can he be so out of touch? He's not a bad guy but how can he be so out of touch and asked to lead this country?

[19:25:55] CUOMO: The debate for the vice president --


CUOMO: What do you want people to remember?

BIDEN: I want them to remember that whomever the vice president they are looking at supporting is someone who has the trust and confidence of the president, their candidate and believes what is their candidate believes. Because it is not -- and no longer is it sufficient for a president being able to handle everything, himself or herself. They need additional help. And one of the great, great gifts that I've had being vice president is that the President's given me major responsibility, turned it over and said just do it. Presidents from now into the future are going to have to do that.

And so if you have a candidate, like I have a feeling -- I don't know -- that Mike Pence is. And I don't know that he really thinks a lot of what Trump is saying makes any sense. What a hell of a way to make a living have to be vice president and have to get up every morning and support someone you don't agree with. Maybe he does. And if he does agree with him, then people can see the difference in policy here. I know Tim Kaine. He's smart as hell. He has significant experience. And I know Hillary. She called me before. She called me and asked my opinion, I know she trusts him and I know he'll be able to fulfill that role.


BURNETT: Great interview there with Joe Biden. And no matter where you stand on this, no matter who you are thinking about voting for, you can't say you weren't moved by that story with the young man with the Silver Star that he just told Chris there. As we get closer to the main event tonight, this crucial debate. We're going to talk about Hillary Clinton's post-debate bounce in our new poll, with the new numbers just out. Could the -- shift again before Election Day as it did in the past 30 days, 34 more to go. Stay with us for more of this special edition of OUTFRONT. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[19:31:38] BURNETT: And as we count you down to tonight's vice presidential debate hear, moments away, we have a new snapshot of the presidential race that we're projecting here on the campus of Longwood University. Hillary Clinton now has a five point lead over Donald Trump in our latest CNN/ORC poll of likely voters nationwide.

Now, she's sharply increased her support among independents, a crucial group since her first debate with Trump. Those so-called undecided. There's also been a significant shift among men. Clinton does trail Trump among likely voters but she was 22 points behind early last month. That is a pretty incredibly about face.

Now, you can track all the data on who's winning and why on the CNN politics app that we built with CA Technologies. But now, let's take a closer look at the state of the race, because we have just over 30 days to go until Election Day.

John King is at the magic wall.

And, you know, one thing, when you think about this, is you think right after the convention, right, Hillary Clinton was so far ahead. A month later, that have flipped to Donald Trump. Now, a month later she's back on top and you have just one month to go.

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Quite a remarkable swing just eight days ago, the day of that Clinton-Trump debate, Erin. And, look, five weeks from now, we'll be waiting for the first polls to close. That's how close we are to Election Day.

Let's look at the CNN electoral map as we have it right now, and we have Hillary Clinton at 272. That is enough to win. The dark blue states solid Democratic. The light blue states leaning Democratic.

If you go back eight days -- eight days ago, Donald Trump was leading in the polls in Nevada. Donald Trump was leading or tie with momentum in Florida. A tie or leading with momentum in North Carolina. And he pulled ahead in Ohio.

And internally at CNN, we were look at polls showing Colorado was close. Maybe we were going to have to put that back in the toss up category. Pennsylvania was getting closer. Maybe we're going to have to put that back in the toss up category. That was eight days ago, where you could see Donald Trump getting to 264 and we were looking at some states saying, wow, he has more possibilities now, more menu items to pick to try to get to 270.

That was then. Let me flip this back, Erin, and take this way and bring it back this way. This is now. In just the past 24 to 72 hours, polls showing it is not Donald Trump but Hillary Clinton leading in Nevada, Hillary Clinton leading in Florida, Hillary Clinton leading in North Carolina. Trump still leads in Ohio.

But look at the map right now. If she could hold the leads in those states, it gets her to 322. What it says that under this map, it's impossible. It's impossible.

Now, it's swung a lot in eight days. It can certainly swing back again. But as you mention, with five weeks to go, tonight is very important for Mike Pence to try to stop this Clinton momentum and then Donald Trump faces an enormous task on Sunday night in the sense that sure, can he wait for the third debate? Can he wait for something else to swing the race? He can.

But if you have to turn a state like Florida where Clinton has a five point lead now? That's is hard. It's a big, diverse state. If you want to make a play, you have to either Pennsylvania, or Virginia or Michigan, some traditionally blue state, it's hard.

One or two states you might be able to Trump but if you are Donald Trump and look at a map like this you would have to change one, two, three and then still look for more? Time is getting very short. The map has swung in Clinton's favor. Donald Trump has a very tough task.

With Mike Pence's help, he hopes tonight, Anderson, to stop the momentum. But, wow, what a difference eight days make.

COOPER: Yes, just incredible.

John King, thanks. We're back with our panel.

I mean, I guess the question is it's swung this much in eight days. Can it swing back? At a certain point, I guess, there is momentum, but could it go backwards?

AXELROD: Well, look, first of all, people are voting right now. We should mention that. Early voting has already begun.

[19:35:01] Forty percent of the country will have voted by the time Election Day rolls around. So, the election is under way.

I have to tell you this though -- my experience in 2012 and 2008 was that the public polls tended to shift much more dramatically than our ole polling did, partly because campaigns have greater resources to poll into polling, have richer data to append to voting lists from which they make these calls.

And we didn't see -- we saw in public polls great shifts in 2012 that didn't show up in our polling. And I suspect that this race is a little bit more stable. It is hard to move big blocks of voters in America today. We have a very polarized country. These candidates have been under scrutiny for a couple years now. I mean, I think people have formed opinions.

So, the notion that we're going to be swinging back and forth between now and November 8, I find it hard to believe. I believe Hillary Clinton probably has a lead now that is not huge but a significant and is going to be hard to dislodge.

BORGER: You know, it seems that her lead has been pretty durable. We don't know whether, you know, out of the convention or -- out of the debate or it went back to kind of where it was, where it had been. And also the question is how many undecided voters are there? Polls show somewhere between --

AXELROD: When you have a 60 percent or above unfavorable as Donald Trump does, 64 in some polls, 65. It's very hard to patch together the kind of votes you need to win.

COOPER: We got to take a break. Coming up: are the vice presidential candidates ready to attack as hard as their running mates did? We'll take you inside their debate prep. We'll also talk to their wives.


[19:40:47] BURNETT: And we are live in Longwood University here in Virginia, counting down to the first and only vice presidential debate tonight. This will be the first time that Mike Pence and Tim Kaine have actually ever met in person, pretty amazing, even though both of them, of course, have been in politics in this country for decades.

We're learning more at this moment about the vice presidential candidates final preparations for tonight's debate. Will they be more or les rehearsed than their running mates? Obviously, a crucial question.

Jim Acosta is with me now.

And, Jim, how did Mike Pence get ready for tonight?

ACOSTA: He is ready, Erin. I'm told by a campaign official that Mike Pence has been practicing for tonight's debate since the Indiana governor got the call from Donald Trump, get this, back in July.

Now, check this out. We want to show you the sharp contrast between Pence's debate prep and Trump's practice sessions. While Trump prepped with no stand-in for Hillary Clinton, instead huddling with advisors, Rudy Giuliani, Chris Christie, Steve Bannon and Kellyanne Conway, Pence has gone the more traditional route.

We do know the sessions took place around a table and that Pence has been prepping for weeks with Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker who played Tim Kaine. And Pence advisor and rising GOP star Nick Ayers played the role of the moderator. Now, other top Pence aides were also in the room.

Pence held these sessions in both Indianapolis and Wisconsin and he sparred so much with the Wisconsin governor, Erin, that one official joked he's glad Pence is not debating Scott Walker. The Indiana governor has also been, quote, "going over binders of material and he's also reviewing his congressional record I'm told knowing full record that Tim Kaine will likely go after the Indiana governor's time in Congress when he was in the Republican leadership.

So, not just what happened in Indianapolis when Mike Pence was in Indianapolis but also when he was a top Republican in Washington, D.C. That is going to be crucial as well, Erin.

BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much, Jim.

And now, let's go to Tim Kaine's debate preparations here in these final moments.

Brianna, what are you learning about Tim Kaine? And you're going to hear about Mike Pence not doing it the Trump way. What did Tim Kaine do?

KEILAR: Well, we know Tim Kaine and his team have been pretty tight- lipped about the way he's been preparing but he's been preparing not from here, in his hometown of Richmond, Virginia, as well as in Raleigh, North Carolina, a chance to get away and prepare intensely.

But he too, Erin, has been sitting at a table, as we'll see him tonight, sitting with Mike Pence and the moderator during this debate. And playing Mike Pence in these preparations is Bob Barnett, Washington super lawyer and agent who's spent ten cycles now helping candidates prepare for debates. Most recently, he played Bernie Sanders in debate preparation opposite Hillary Clinton in the primaries and Tim Kaine has described Barnett as, quote, "extremely tough" in these preparations.

Also helping Tim Kaine out, Karen Dunn and Ron Klain who been helping Hillary Clinton out. They have been leading her debate preparations so that's taken a bit pause while they help out Tim Kaine and really helping him in a kind of debate that even he says is a little different than he's used to. He's debated but he's normally been asking voters to support him, to vote for him. Now, he has to sell voters on Hillary Clinton's vision for the country, Erin.

BURNETT: All right. Brianna, thank you.

So, the vice presidential candidates, you know, as you hear about the specifics for this debate have been preparing for weeks and weeks, but really for months and all comes down to how tonight plays out. This is their one and only debate.

I'm joined now by our distinguished political panel. So, let's get straight to it. Mike Pence and Tim Kaine have built their reputations on being the nice guy, in both cases. And tonight, well, they are going to have to have moments where they are simply not so nice.

Here is how they tested the waters on the campaign trail.


GOV. MIKE PENCE (R), VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Since I've been governor of the state of Indiana, unemployment has been cut almost in half and it doubled under Tim Kaine.

SEN. TIM KAINE (D), VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This is somebody who has said LGBT people would bring about a societal collapse. That's just not right, folks. Just not right.

PENCE: You know, it does seem to me he's just a pretty good match for Hillary Clinton. I mean, if you want more taxes, more spending, more regulation, more government and fewer jobs, just vote for the Clinton/Kaine ticket. KAINE: Now add to it this latest thing, which is almost surreal, which is Donald Trump and Mike Pence's unusual fascination with Vladimir Putin.

[19:45:08] I mean, this is almost nightmare scenario.


BURNETT: All right. Andre and Hilary, let me start with you. What does Mike Pence need do tonight? Everyone agrees he has a steeper hill to climb.

ANDRE BAUER, DONALD TRUMP SUPPORTER: Mike Pence is going to come out looking like a president, talking like a president, he's qualified by no question to be a president, as is Tim Kaine.

But what he's got to do is he's got to convince the American people that he's a genuine, authentic individual who doesn't speak Washingtonian. He doesn't have the slick phrases that people that usually run for president but he's authentic and he can get the job done and he's a businessman.

And so, he's not going to be what people are normally used to. But more than ever, our country needs a change agent, someone who can come in and turn our economy around and Trump is that guy.

BURNETT: What do you do if asked about Tim Kaine about Donald Trump's comments about a beauty queen being fat or other things like that? That isn't a scenario where he's comfortable, OK, does he defend it?

BAUER: Somewhat he defends it, but he deflects it too. He's got to talk about Donald Trump's strong suits are and that's business, turning the economy around, being an outsider, coming to Washington as a change agent and not get drilled down and do what Donald did and talk about those issues.

Those aren't the issues that win the votes. He needs to deflect them. He needs to move onto the stock suit of the campaign why the people elect him as the party nominee.

BURNETT: OK. So, Hilary, does Tim Kaine try to force Mike Pence to defend these things, some of the indefensibles or does retry to go after more substantive issues?

HILARY ROSEN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, there's no question he's going to try and tie Pence with Donald Trump. And, you know, look, Pence is a skilled politician, he's not Donald Trump. He's not a change agent. He's been in office for 30 years.

And as a politician, he's a little better at deflecting and moving on to not answering questions he doesn't want to answer.

Tim Kaine and Mike Pence both have been in public office for a long time. They have records. And so, you would see Tim Kaine do more on substance I think tonight than we saw perhaps in the presidential debate, because whether it is appealing to women with Pence's attacks on Planned Parenthood or on climate change or other issues that you will see Tim Kaine holding Mike Pence in the Donald Trump ticket to -- with their feet to the fire in a way that appeals to those centrist voters, because much of the country is center-left of Donald Trump and Mike Pence on those issues. This is a big opportunity.

The other thing that's worth noting though is that this is their shot. This is the biggest audience these two guys are ever going to have to be seen as potential presidents.


ROSEN: And they're both going to have to rise to that occasion. I think you will see Tim Kaine really ready for that.

The one other thing I would say is, I've been thinking that the unspoken issue tonight is that Tim Kaine is out there saying, I am a white guy comfortable with Hillary Clinton as my leader. And that is kind of an important thing. He's going to be out there promoting Hillary Clinton in a way that a lot of men have not been doing.

BURNETT: That's an interesting point.

ROSEN: And give an extra level of comfort I think to voters on that score.

BURNETT: It will be interesting to see how the women issue goes. Of course, there's a female moderator here. Recently Mike Pence was telling me his views on child care have changed over the years. So, he's trying to temper that. We'll see how that plays out.

But tonight really is, Jamie, the curtain raiser -- the curtain raiser for round two. Round two and Donald Trump desperately needs to go very differently than round one.

Your reporting shows that there is a lot of focus at the very highest levels of the GOP on this.

JAMIE GANGEL, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: So, these are GOP establishment, long time leaders who know about debates who are backing Donald Trump. And they feel that debate number two for Trump cannot be anything like debate number one. They want him to be more disciplined. They want him to practice.

One said to me he has to stop going down rabbit holes. He has to stop chasing the rabbits. . He has to learn to answer a question with two sentences. And guess what, pivot to where he wants to go. Can't take the bait.

They all also set the following. They are not sure he's capable of doing it. And one of the things we just found out a few hours ago is that Donald Trump announced he is live tweeting tonight's debate. So, he may be overshadowing and stealing the show tonight before we even get.

BURNETT: Which, John, is a crucial point. By the way, this is a man who banned the word "pivot". One of his closest advisors told me, he came in and said, you can't say the word "pivot" or he'll kick you out of his office.

KING: All three of Donald Trump's campaign managers and the turnovers came pretty quickly have promised those leaders of the party, from Reince Priebus who's here tonight, to the Speaker of the House Paul Ryan.

[19:50:03] BURNETT: Yes.

KING: To the Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, and Trump has promised them himself. I get it. I'm the nominee. I'll be responsible. I understand this is not just about me. I can affect House and Senate careers, House and Senate candidacies. I can affect the image of the party for decades to come.

He's told them that repeatedly. He's told them he wouldn't tweet overnight. He's told them he would focus on the issues.

Just moments ago at the campaign rally I believe is in Arizona, he's blaming Hillary Clinton for the fact he didn't close the tax loopholes he took advantage of when he filed no taxes. So, he's still going down the rabbit hole.

He's Donald Trump, and anyone who expects him to change is not paying attention to the election.

And to that point, to Jamie's point about how critical tonight is for Mike Pence but importantly Sunday night for Donald Trump, is that the Democrats have a high ground now. We went to the polling just a few minutes ago.


KING: When you have the high ground, you can -- what do we need to keep this? What do we need to win? They are winning if the election were today.

It is a very different psychology and different tactics in a debate where you can focus solely on your strength and blocking -- and essentially take the "Game of Thrones". They are the high ground. They have the catapults. They are throwing the rocks down at the guys trying to get up the hill. That's a huge advantage and it's a lot of pressure on Mike Pence.

BAUER: Well, the election really already started because of early voting.

BURNETT: Yes, right.

ROSEN: Key point is these guys can't make mistakes. But that's a big piece for both of them.

BURNETT: Right. That you have to walk out of tonight without making mistakes.

ROSEN: No mistakes. BURNETT: What about the live tweeting tonight though, Mark? I mean,

this is an issue, because here's the thing, you've got Mike Pence out trying do a clean up as some would say, certainly show a softer and gentler, more palatable side of Trump to those independent voters, and here you got Donald Trump live tweeting.

MARK PRESTON, CNN POLITICS EXECUTIVE EDITOR: Well, if he's already stealing the spotlight now from Mike Pence before Mike Pence has actually taken the stage.

So, tonight, we talk about the two screen experience. You will be on and you'll be watching on CNN and then you'll also be looking at Twitter and quite frankly you're going to probably be looking at Twitter more than your screen at times waiting to see what Donald Trump says.

So not only has Donald Trump stole the spotlight from Mike Pence tonight, he stole the spotlight when he announced Mike Pence, on the day he announced him as his nominee. Two different announcements rollouts. You had Tim Kaine announced by Hillary Clinton. She stood in the back and gave the stage to Tim Kaine. And he did a magnificent job.

Mike Pence was off in the wings. Donald Trump did a big line up about himself, brought Mike Pence on. And then when Mike Pence turned to see if Donald Trump was going to be here, he had a way for him to walk back up. So, if you're Mike Pence, look, personally, I would be very mad.

BURNETT: And now you have -- you have -- you know, you talk about the rally today. He also talked about -- Bill Clinton talked about Obamacare today. And Clinton said it was one of the craziest things in the world. Certainly not helpful for Hillary Clinton.

But Donald Trump's response was, oh, Clinton must have gone through hell with his wife over that, there have been many nights when he's gone through hell with Hillary, again trying to take it down the personal path

KING: Instead of staying on the policy path that I told you so, the Republican Party before me has told you so. This plan is a disaster and Bill Clinton agrees with us.

Take the policy argument instead of taking it down the rabbit hole. But Trump is Trump. This is the way -- he's a street brawler. This is what he likes.

He's also never done this before. And so, we've given him grace at certain during the campaign saying, you know, he's going to learn. Learn about the country, learn about running for president. But we're 35 days out now.

Just one quick point on the Twitter. I'm told they plan to have his team around him tonight as he does that.

(LAUGHTER) BURNETT: So he doesn't get to hold the twice? He gets to dictate-

KING: He says he's going for a snack or the bathroom, somebody follows him.

BURNETT: And, Mark, what are you hearing about his own preparation here? He's going watch tonight and see Mike Pence and his preparation which has bee so different and so traditional and his performance will be very different in terms of substance and policy.

PRESTON: Going to be a totally different format too because he's now going to be taking questions from people in the audience, you know, and it will be difficult -- it will be the town hall which Anderson Cooper will co-moderate.

Listen for Donald Trump, I don't expect him to be doing a lot of homework. As John says, this is Donald Trump. He's not going to change. He thinks what got him here is going to get him there. So that is going to happen.

BURNETT: So, there is no stand-in, there's no -- nothing --

PRESTON: Not that we're hearing, I mean, at this point.

But here's the thing about Donald Trump, he's going to have to connect with the voters in the room which will then show that he can connect with the vote owners the screen because it is the TV screen that is most important because that is where you're going to get the 60, 70, 80 million people watching. But you need to be able to connect with people in the room.

Donald Trump in past town halls has done OK but it hasn't been a great fit for him.

ROSEN: You know, his best -- his best education may actually be to watch Mike Pence tonight, because my prediction is going to be that Pence is going to do well.

BURNETT: And not tweet.

ROSEN: And not tweet.

BURNETT: Just watch.


BURNETT: Stay away from Twitter.

ROSEN: Because my guess is Pence is going to be doing a good job. He's going to be prosecutorial. I think he's going to be aggressive. I think he's going to be substantive. I think Tim Kaine is going to parry it effectively.

I think we're going to see a debate tonight between grown-ups who, you know, are sort of worthy of that stage in essence and Donald Trump will do well to actually follow his VP choice for once. BURNETT: All right. Thanks very much to all.

And now, let's send it back inside to Wolf.

[19:55:02] WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Erin, thank you.

As we get ready for the have vice presidential candidates to debate right behind me, we're going hear from their wives, first.

Let's go to CNN's Jeff Zeleny's wife Anne Holton -- Jeff.

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: And we're here with Senator Tim Kaine's wife Anne Holton.

Anne, so we're here in Virginia, the big debate. How has Senator Kaine been preparing for tonight?

ANNE HOLTON, TIM KAINE'S WIFE: He's been working hard and, you know, doing the things you would think he's doing. But mainly I'm trying to get him to relax. Be pumped up.

ZELENY: How does he like to relax?

HOLTON: Music. He loves to make other people listen to his tunes. He loves to play. He loves to sing.

ZELENY: So, when you say play, he plays the harmonica. Anything else?

HOLTON: Absolutely. You know, he's been teaching himself how to play an auto harp but you couldn't say he plays it yet.


But in terms of the debate itself what has he been getting ready for? Has he been studying Secretary Clinton's positions or more of Governor Pence's positions?

HOLTON: You know, I'm really not privy to it. I've been out on the campaign trail and he's been huddled up with his debate team. So I couldn't tell you if I tried.

ZELENY: The country is about to get to know Senator Kaine in an even bigger way tonight. What is one thing you hope that they know about him and learn about him tonight?

HOLTON: Well, I think they will learn he and I are both passionate supports are of Secretary Clinton's. Hillary is the only person in this race who's immediately qualified to be president. And I think you will hear how strongly he feels about that and that he's ready to be a strong man supporting a strong woman at the top of the ticket.

ZELENY: Interesting. A strong man supporting a strong woman. She would be the first woman president obviously. What do you think about him working for her? HOLTON: Yes, that is kind of one of the exciting things about this

race for him and me both, is that, as he says, he's had strong women, including myself thank you very much, supporting him throughout his many political roles, and now, it's a chance to do turnaround. And he relishes the opportunity to be in the supportive role.

ZELENY: Is he watching that first debate I'm guessing at Hofstra between Secretary Clinton and Donald Trump?

HOLTON: Oh, absolutely. I think everybody in the nation was watching it, as they should. It was an important milestone in the campaign.

ZELENY: Does that raise the stakes or the pressure for him do you think to keep this momentum moving?

HOLTON: I think there is a little competitive spirit between him and Hillary, you know. He wrote -- communicated with he soon after the debate telling her how well she thought she had done and saying you raised the bar for me and, yes, I think he's trying to help meet that bar.

ZELENY: Has she offered any advice?

HOLTON: Be yourself.

ZELENY: So, who is that yourself?

HOLTON: Tim is a really authentic guy who's upbeat on America. This optimism is very deep in his soul and feels that we really are -- the stronger together thing is not just a motto. It really is a fundamental philosophy and approach to life.

ZELENY: Anne Holton, thank you very much for joining us. Good luck tonight.

HOLTON: It's great to be with you.

ZELENY: Back to you, guys.

BLITZER: All right. Thanks very much, Anne Holton and Jeff Zeleny.

We're going to be speaking to Mike Pence's wife Karen coming up as well. We're showing you live pictures. Yes, I think that is Mike Pence walking in right now, coming in.

This is going to be a moment that everyone is going to remember, this moment when these two vice presidential candidates go face to face.

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: And a moment that his aides really have been saying explicitly he's been preparing for since the call that he got from Donald Trump saying that he's going to be the running mate.

BLITZER: It is going to be a moment where they will both have an opportunity to really make the case for the presidential nominees. BASH: Right. There is no question about that. And I thought that

was one of the interesting things that Anne Holton, the wife of Tim Kaine just told our Jeff Zeleny, that that is the case they are going to make. But specifically, he's going to focus on the fact that she's a strong woman and he's okay with that being her number two or her deputy.

BLITZER: The data debate is only an hour away. Our special coverage continues with a special "AC360".


COOPER: And welcome. We are about an hour away from seeing the vice presidential candidate step up on that stage in Longwood University in Virginia, in what is likely to be a proxy battle between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.

Welcome to our viewers in the United States and watching around the world. I'm Anderson Cooper with a special edition of "360" on this debate night in America.

Tonight voters are getting their only chance to compare Tim Kaine and Mike Pence side by side to see if they are prepared to step into the role of president if necessary. But the vice presidential nominees may wind up spending more time about Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump than themselves. Their most important and difficult challenge, promote and defend their running mates.

What happens in the coming hours will set the stage for the second Clinton-Trump debate only five days from now, a pivotal moment in the campaign, with Hillary Clinton gaining new momentum and Trump on the defensive after their first face off last week.

Now, let's go inside the debate hall. Wolf Blitzer is there with more and what to expect tonight -- Wolf.