Return to Transcripts main page

CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL

Discussing Heated Debate Between Vice Presidential Candidates. Aired 10:30-12a ET

Aired October 4, 2016 - 22:30   ET

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


WOLF BLITZER, THE SITUATION ROOM SHOW HOST: And after Tim Kaine and Mike Pence their debate, they're shaking hands. They've been called the nice guys on their respective ticket, but tonight, for the most part, it sure wasn't Mr. Nice guy all the time.

Governor Pence, Senator Kaine really going after each other, talking over each other trying to defend their respective running mates.

Certainly that came through. Jake, this was a lot more heated than a lot of us expected, but do you think either of these guys really got anywhere?

JAKE TAPPER, STATE OF THE UNION SHOW HOST: Three thoughts, Wolf. First of all stylistically, I think it's hard to conclude anything other than the fact that Governor Pence is more polished, he is more accomplished, a debater. Senator Kaine interrupted a lot more. And I think you have to give just on style, not on substance, to Governor Pence.

Second of all, this is a change election, and what Governor Pence was discussing was change and Senator Kaine was in the position of having to defend terrorism strategy, having to defend economic hardship, and I think that put Senator Kaine in a more awkward position.

So again, when it came to the broad-brush strokes of what they were discussing in their overall themes, Governor Pence was talking about change and it's a change election. But there is a big however here.

The big however is this is a change election and the reason that Donald Trump is not up 15 points is because of concerns that voters have about things that he's said and things that he has done.

And Tim Kaine decided to make this strategy, his debate strategy, to talk about Donald Trump and things that Donald Trump has said and done, and over and over Governor Pence refused or declined to defend the things that Kaine, Tim Kaine, quite accurately for the most part said that Donald Trump had said or done.

So, while on the stage, I think you have to give it to Governor Pence. I wonder what the media coverage is going to be like over the next day or two as people go over and over and the people in the media, things that Tim Kaine said, Donald Trump said he said, which he did for the most part, and Mike Pence declined to defend him.

So, I think the night goes to Pence, but I don't know about the week. Wolf?

BLITZER: All right, Jake. Dana, what was your major takeaway?

DANA BASH, CNN'S CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think one man declining to defend Donald Trump is another not taking to debate and that's exactly what Mike Pence tried to avoid over, and over again, not taking the bait, which made him kind of the yin to Donald Trump's yang.

And that was very, very clear. Mike Pence prepared enormously and that came across. He stayed calm. He refused to give in to what Tim Kaine was trying to get him to do. He looked into the camera to try to connect with people at home.

And so, the idea though in the question is will it matter in the end? Will he bring voters along for the Trump-Pence ticket? Maybe just maybe people who are on the fence, maybe people going for Trump to look at Mike Pence and say, well, at least he'll have him around possible.

On the Tim Kaine side of this, at the beginning he was frenetic, interrupted a lot, was clearly on his talking points with Pence called him out on, then he got better.

He got more which comfortable. The question there is whether or not what Kaine was clearly trying to do which is to energize the base, which Hillary Clinton needs desperately. Whether that is going to be successful. That appeared to be no question, his goal is to get people excited again, and even more excited about the Clinton-Kaine ticket.

BLITZER: John King, your takeaway.

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Number one, a lot of things Governor Pence said today are odds with things Donald Trump have said on the campaign trail. So, Governor Pence wasn't always just debating Tim Kaine at times especially how do you talk about Vladimir Putin, what would you do in Syria.

What Governor Pence was saying either was at odds with things that Trump have said or with things that Donald Trump has never said. That he was just saying -- you know, giving much more details and policy that we don't hear from Donald Trump.

[22:39:57] To Jake's point about style, remember a, Governor Pence has been around while Governor Pence does a lot of media interviews. He is also a former talk show host, radio. He has the communication skills.

The biggest incoming for me is one of the reasons Hillary Clinton has moved up on the polls is more enthusiasm among democrats after the first debate.

I do think this will reenergize republicans who are disappointed in Donald Trump's first debate. Much like Joe Biden did after President Obama lost the first debate back in 2012. Joe Biden came in, gave an energetic performance in the case for energy back to the democrats. My other observations, I can't count the number of e-mails I have from

republicans saying, oh, there is a republican in this case, you know because he talked about smaller government.

He talked about less regulation, he talked about shrinking Washington. The things he talks like a conservative. Donald Trump does not communicate like a conservative, a lot of republicans saying, well, we wish that was our candidate.

BLITZER: We got results of a focus group that was watching of undecided voters. We're going to share the results with you, that's coming up. Also an instant poll, people who actually watched the debate we're going to get their sense who won this debate.

In the meantime, let's go back to Jake.

TAPPER: Thanks, Wolf. We have our panel of experts here, and so let's get their immediate reaction to this vice presidential face off. Gloria Borger, what did you think?

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I think Mike Pence is better at attacking Clinton than he is at defending Donald Trump. There were so many times that he was pushed by Tim Kaine, who said it over and over again, "I can't imagine how you can defend Donald Trump."

It was almost the new lockbox of this -- of this debate and Pence didn't. I mean, every time he was sort of pushed, would you defend, would you defend. There were a couple times maybe he did on Russia, but generally, what he did was he tried to flip it.

Because he couldn't defend some of the things that Donald Trump has said and I think they realized in their debate prep, it was clear they were prepared for this, that they weren't going to take the debate.

It's easier to get under Trump's skin than it is to get under Mike Pence's skin. And I think Tim found that tonight because he kept interrupting as Dana was saying. He seemed a little overeager and over prepared at the beginning of the debate, but he kept coming back to this and we'll just have to see if it's effective with our focus groups.

But I think Pence did a very good job given the difficulty he would have answering these Kaine assaults about Donald Trump. But I would also have to say that Kaine, in saying this is what Donald Trump said, and reminding viewers, this is what he said, this is what he said, this is what he said, how you can defend it, and Pence not defending it also made his point.

TAPPER: David?

DAVID AXELROD, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: You know, I think that Tim Kaine was asked to play a role here that he isn't particularly comfortable with. Tim Kaine is a very positive, ebullient character and was asked to be kind of an attack dog here, and I think he wasn't entirely comfortable in that role and the strategy of interrupting I think was probably overdone.

Mike Pence, stylistically, as you point out did very well. But I would point of that, on the substance of some of these issues, yes, I thought that Mike Pence was very muscular in the foreign policy debate, although he seemed to depart from Donald Trump in big ways including his approach to Putin.

There were other issues on guns, on abortion, on immigration in which Kaine did very well and at the end of the debate it was an extraordinary exchange I thought -- or really one of the better exchanges I've seen in debates in which each of them discussed the issue of abortion.

Both men of faith, but Tim Kaine articulated a view that is widely- held view in this country and Mike Pence stuck to his point of view, which will exhilarate his base, but may exacerbate the problem that Trump has with -- particularly with women.

TAPPER: Yes, especially if you're trying to win over women voters in those suburbs outside Philadelphia, for example.

Nia-Malika.

NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER: Yes. Right. And who knows if they stayed watching this that long and count those tails into discussions. I heard a lot from democrats who felt like Kaine did what he needed to do which was be aggressive.

I do think he seemed over prepped in the beginning, and it was almost like a pin was playing sort of, rope-a-dope style where Kaine was sort of, you know, tossing out a lot of lines, and then Pence actually said at one point, there you go again, borrowing of course a line from Ronald Reagan in that point.

But it was clear he had a plan. I mean, it was to talk about Hillary Clinton's record, to talk about Hillary Clinton's plan in detail. I mean, at points he would say, we have a five-point plan, we have two- point plan and then to turn it back to Donald Trump's record, to talk about taxes and to talk about temperament.

So, I think on that he did score for democrats but I do think that Pence did things that Donald Trump didn't do, which was to mention the Clinton Foundation, to kind of reframe the Putin discussion as you talks about.

[22:44:59] And I think he was very reassuring. He was very conversational, he was very calm. And in that way I think a lot of republicans are going to be happy with that display tonight.

I think the question is what happens tomorrow, what does Donald Trump say, whatever kind of gains that had been made tonight, can Donald Trump keep that message that comes out of the night.

TAPPER: Michael Smerconish?

MICHAEL SMERCONISH, THE SMERCONISH SHOW HOST: Pence on points, this was not a knockout. There was nothing that -- I think Tim Kaine did for which he needs to be embarrassed. But I think stylistically, largely for reasons you alluded to, Jake, I'll give it to Governor Pence.

In fact, I'll go this far and say I think that Mike Pence is a general better election candidate than Donald Trump. He has better answers on Russia, better answers on the Clinton Foundation, better answers on the e-mail, and can prevent those issues in a way that can grow the tent and not stay limited just to the base.

One added footnote, I didn't like the pace of the debate. I didn't like the first 30 minutes because they really weren't 10 minute pods. I wish they would have been able to go at it more deeply on some substantive issues and I felt the exact opposite as the evening progressed. But it was Mike Pence's night.

TAPPER: All right. We're going to go to our Pamela Brown now. She is in Richmond, Virginia with a focus group of undecided voters. Pamela, what did they think?

PAMELA BROWN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. I'm here with 28 undecided voters here at the University of Richmond and I want to go ahead and get the response here who was the clear winner? Tim Kaine, raise your hand if you think Tim Kaine was the clear winner.

All right. Mike Pence, raise your hand if you think he was, and raise your hand if you don't think there was a clear winner. All right. So as you see, Jake, this group right here thinks that Tim Kaine was the winner tonight.

Coming up, we're going to talk about why they think that and some more reactions to the moments during the debate. Back to you.

TAPPER: All right, Pamela, thanks so much. We should remind our viewers not to say that Tim Kaine didn't have a good night in the view of those individuals, but Tim Kaine was the former mayor of Richmond and also was a governor of Richmond and he is currently a senator -- governor of Virginia and he is currently a senator from Virginia. So, many of those people probably voted for him before.

Gloria Borger, your reaction?

BORGER: Well, look, I think -- I agree with you. I think that however, when you look at this debate, where you -- you know, Tim Kaine did a good job for democratic voters. I don't think there's anything that Tim Kaine did that's going to dissuade anyone from voting for Hillary Clinton.

And he took the case to Mike Pence. Mike Pence did not defend Donald Trump as robustly on lots of things as he, you know, as he could have done.

However, Pence was smooth, Pence was -- you could not ruffle Pence at all, and Pence was conservative. And if you were conservative and you were watching this debate you're saying to yourself, why haven't I heard Donald Trump talk about life this way, the issue of abortion? Why haven't I heard Donald Trump talk about Putin, or Russia this way?

Why haven't I heard Donald Trump talk about the Middle East in fact this way? So, I think that their -- that Pence may have helped Trump to a degree, by helping him sort of broaden his base a little bit with those sort of doubting conservatives.

AXELROD: Yes. But here's the problem. These debates are not tag team affairs. It's not like Donald Trump can tag Mike Pence on Sunday and ask him to tumble onto the stage there and take over for him if he -- if he starts to -- if he starts to flank.

And many of the things Pence said in this debate will be subject to fact checking because the Gulf between what he said and what Donald Trump said is really enormous. And I think that Pence at the end of the day, we may look back at this and say Mike Pence served himself better than he served Donald Trump.

BORGER: Exactly. I agree with you on that. I agree with you, because he didn't go out of his way to defend Donald Trump when he couldn't. He just turned the topic to Hillary Clinton, whom he could attack and that was their clear strategy going in and I think he executed it, you know.

HENDERSON: Yes. Or he shook his head or he denied sometimes of what...

BORGER: He denied Putin.

HENDERSON: ... or he denied that Donald Trump had said those things in some instances, and I think the record will reflect that Kaine was accurate in some of the things that he described Donald Trump as saying.

SMERCONISH: Yes. Abortion at the top of the list. I mean, maybe I'll be second guess, but I have a pretty distinct recollection of Donald Trump absolutely entertaining the notion that women would be punished...

BORGER: Right.

SMERCONISH: ... if in fact they had abortions. And that was something that when it came to Pence, he said, well, that's not just what he said. We're going to find out by morning I'm sure.

TAPPER: Although Tim Kaine did keep insisting and then finally Pence said, well, he's not a seasoned polished politician like and you Hillary Clinton.

AXELROD: Should you be a polished politician to know what your issue is on an issue like abortion? I thought that was a terrible answer for Pence to offer. I think on that one, you know, there were times when I thought he had Kaine on the run in this debate, on that one, I thought he lost in that exchange in a way that was really significant.

[22:49:57] TAPPER: So, if you think they both did well for their respective bases, Tim Kaine reassured democrats prosecuted Donald Trump, Mike Pence...

BORGER: Right.

TAPPER: ... making a strong case for conservatism, perhaps stronger than Donald Trump is able to make as a recent convert to conservatism. What about the undecided voters? What about the 10 to 15 percent of the voters who don't really have an allegiance?

BORGER: Well, you know, I'm not sure that this moves the needle particularly. I think you've got the debate coming up on Sunday night, all eyes are on the two candidates and so, as we were saying before the debate, vice presidential debates generally don't move the needle.

I think that's probably the case tonight. However, if you were looking for some reassurance, if you're one of those republican women who out -- in the suburbs of Philadelphia, who are looking for some reassurance that there is somebody who is more temperate than Donald Trump on the ticket, maybe you got that kind of reassurance in tone and style from Mike Pence who was -- who was very cool tonight.

And maybe, I just -- you know, we just have no way of knowing.

SMERCONISH: Jake, can I say one final word. The most important part of the audience tonight is one person Donald Trump. One person. Was he watching carefully the way Mike Pence prosecuted the case for their ticket, because frankly, this is I think the path that Trump needs to take come Sunday night in St. Louis.

TAPPER: Just to ignore the criticisms and then go on and make his case.

SMERCONISH: To be unflappable, to let things, to just shrug things off even frankly, if they were accurate when they were said, but to maintain composure.

AXELROD: Just remember, Sunday night is a completely different event.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's a town hall.

AXELROD: It's a town hall. And the real test for Donald Trump is can he do it. He hasn't really done, which is relate to the person standing in front of him in a way that, you know, connotes connection.

(CROSSTALK)

SMERCONISH: Which I mean it's a challenge for Hillary Clinton.

(CROSSTALK)

AXELROD: She is very good at town halls.

TAPPER: Let's go over to the commentators here. Jeffrey Lord, a Trump supporter, what did you think?

JEFFREY LORD, FORMER REAGAN WHITE HOUSE POLITICAL DIRECTOR: I thought Mike Pence was terrific. I think it was a real home run for him. Here is the thing. Stylistically, and you hit on this right off the bat, I was amazed at Senator Kaine. I mean, you watch his features, his facial expressions and all of this sort of thing.

I mean, this is exactly the part of the problem that Hillary Clinton has, that the Democratic Party has had in modern times, which is to say being condescending, arrogant, filled with a sense of moral and intellectual superiority, and what was so great about it that was Pence just very calmly challenged him.

And when he comes out, when he, Kaine, comes out with all his business about race and the other things, he turns right around him and says, you know, you're trying to run this campaign on insults and you're accusing us of insults. He went right after him.

One other point, when they were talking about Donald Trump being a fire president instead of...

(CROSSTALK)

TAPPER: You're fired, instead of you're hired.

LORD: Right. We had a report earlier today on the V.A. in Phoenix, which we now have a report from the inspector general that says the place is still a mess.

TAPPER: Yes.

LORD: Nothing has been done, those people would have been fired years ago if Donald Trump were president of the United States. And it should be.

(CROSSTALK)

TAPPER: Van Jones, I want to get your response.

VAN JONES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: There are two sins in communicating with people. There's small sin and there's big sin. The small sin is to interrupt all the time, and Kaine was guilty of that sin. But that's a small sin compared to the larger sin, which is to just lie. And what happened was you saw in real time essentially Pence invent a running mate and he just lied about, you know, what this guy stood for.

The guy that Pence has as a running mate might get a bunch of votes. That guy's just not Donald Trump. And so, I think the fact-checking avalanche is about to fall on the head of Mike Pence to erase a lot of his gains tonight.

KAYLEIGH MCENANY, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: No. Let's be very clear here, OK.

(CROSSTALK)

JONES: I can go through the lies if you want me to.

MCENANY: It's ironic to hear the Clinton campaign talked about lying when you have a candidate who has lied and changed her story on e- mails many times. Let's also be very clear, Mike Pence was the undisputed winner tonight. And polls will 100 percent confirm that, mark my word.

JONES: If you don't tell the truth you can win the debate.

MCENANY: One of the most emblematic responses I think tonight is we saw insults on the part of Kaine, versus solutions on the part of Pence. When they were asked about terrorism after saying three that the terrorist threat have left in, Kaine went on to talk about Miss Universe, NATO comments and Putin.

While, you know what Pence did? He took the opportunity to name a soldier, thank him for his service and say his sacrifices has been undermined by Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State.

That was emblematic. You had impulse versus solutions and personalizing this in a very real way.

JONES: (Inaudible) for 12 hours. I'll be out to unpack what (Inaudible) Paul?

PAUL BEGALA, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: I'm not as a debate coach. Let me talk as a strategist, these two came in with fundamentally different strategies. Tim Kaine came in and he is going to prosecute Donald Trump even at the cost of his likability.

[22:55:01] Tim was -- I've known him since he's a mayor of Richmond, one of the most likeable politicians I've ever known. Yes, he did. He interrupted. He pressed maybe too aggressively for some but he did wanted to put Trump on trial because he wants Hillary to win the election in 2016.

I saw -- I saw Mike Pence who is also a very good guy, he's running in 2020. He put Trump under the bus. This is about Mike Pence running the primaries in 2020.

MCENANY: Twenty-twenty for after Trump.

BEGALA: He had -- he had. Excuse me for talking while you're interrupting.

He had a strategy to promote himself at the expense of Donald Trump. It was remarkable. He went after Hillary some. I got that. He didn't defend Trump. I can even excuse that. If you are really prosecuting Hillary.

But instead, he had these lovely parts where he kept talking about the conservative philosophy of limited government and that was great. But it was great because we never hear it from Trump. But we hear it from Pence because Pence is running in 2020. I'm telling you, he's throwing Trump under the bus...

(CROSSTALK)

TAPPER: So, you raise an interesting point because obviously that was Senator Kaine strategy to prosecute Donald Trump and to keep on bringing up things that Trump has said over the last year and change and ask him -- ask Governor Pence to defend him and Governor Pence would either not defend him, thrown him under the bus was your interpretation, or pivot to an issue he wanted to talk about the other interpretation. And then they amassed and this came towards the end of the debate.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KAINE: Six times tonight I have said to Governor Pence I can't imagine how you can defend your running mate's position on one issue after the next. And in all six cases he's refuse to defend his running mate...

PENCE: Well, let's not -- don't out words in my mouth.

QUIJANO: OK. All right.

PENCE: Now he's got to that and you've got give me time.

KAINE: And yet, he's asking everybody to vote for somebody that he cannot defend, and I just think that should be underlined.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: That is kind of true.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No.

LORD: Look, right there.

TAPPER: It's not true?

LORD: Right there -- right there was a lie.

MCENANY: Apparently, he's very bad at math. I sat there and I heard Mike Pence defend Donald Trump on taxes, defend him on his first initial foray into the campaign when he made the comment about Mexican immigrants, taken out of context. I heard him defend him on Putin. I heard him defend time and time again. Just because Tim Kaine can't do math, and wants to say that, doesn't make it true.

(CROSSTALK)

LORD: The constant repetition.

BORGER: He didn't defend him on the John McCain line, he didn't defend him on Miss Universe, on the tweets, et cetera. I mean, he didn't...

(CROSSTALK)

LORD: The constant -- the constant repetition that Donald Trump hates Mexicans is an untrue.

MCENANY: Untrue. LORD: It's an untruth, and he has repeated it. Tim Kaine repeated

that repeatedly tonight and there is not a word of truth to it, not one.

JONES: But hold on a second. I mean, just you have to give me this one. I mean, we disagree on everything, but you have to -- you have to give me something.

LORD: So, you found the one thing I'm supposed to agree on?

JONES: I'm hoping. I'm hoping. He did say that Donald Trump didn't say things that Donald Trump in fact said. You heard that.

LORD: I heard him say that.

JONES: Yes. OK. So, you agree with me that part of his great mastery was that he just lied about the rhetorical record of Donald Trump. He said over and over again that Donald Trump said things that in fact Donald Trump said. And there will be an avalanche of...

(CROSSTALK)

LORD: I thought you were talking about Tim Kaine.

JONEs: Oh, God. I'm never going to get anything with this guy.

BEGALA: I come back to it. Part of the job of the running mate is take on water yourself in order to hit the other side. Tim did that a lot tonight. Governor Pence did not, in fact, he promoted himself at the expense of Donald Trump and that is -- I'll tell you -- I'll tell you Donald Trump is not happy with this debate, I promise you.

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Political agitation.

BEGALA: No, I'm just being an honest analyst. I think Mike is a good guy, but he's clearly announce for 2020 and he's given up on 2016.

MCENANY: But Paul, you know what? Did you know why we feel that way? Because what we saw Mike Pence do was elevate this campaign rhetoric to a higher level. He talked about issues. The American voters won tonight because they talk about issues.

BEGALA: Four years from now, that's how high it is.

MCENANY: He will be rewarded for that. The Trump campaign will be rewarded for that.

JONES: Let me chime in for a second. He did that. He does -- there's one thing I want to say, if you are someone who's concerned about Pence, you're breathing a sigh of relief because he was not prosecuted on his own record.

A couple things, this abortion thing came up and he talked about his faith and he talked about the need for adoptions. That we don't want to have abortions, we should have adoptions.

This is the man who says that lesbians and gays should not be able to adopt children. That is a horrible position to take. He dodged a bullet on that tonight. This is somebody who says that gays should have conversion therapy.

This is somebody who says that if someone -- if a woman goes to a hospital and needs an emergency abortion, she should be left to die. There's a lot of -- so listen, to the extent that he is running, to the extent that he did not defend Donald Trump, he also got away with a lot tonight.

And I tell you what, it is very, very important, I think, for us to recognize that the republicans think this is a moderate guy, this Republican Party has gone further off the trails more than I ever thought.

MCENANY: The Clinton campaign has succeeded or tried they think they have succeeded and caricaturing Trump into being someone who is not. I understand that they're now trying to do this to Mike Pence, but I can tell you anyone...

(CROSSTALK)

JONES: Is it true or not, true or false?

MCENANY: ... anyone who watched that debate tonight did not see a man that is hateful. They saw a man who is kind...

(CROSSTALK)

[22:59:59] JONES: I didn't say he was hateful.

MCENANY: ... they saw a man who is caring. They saw a man who is smart, and you should be assuage by the way that he is on the ticket that Donald Trump who says, look, Caitlin Jenner is welcome to come on my bathroom in the Trump Tower anytime.

AXELROD: Kayleigh, I think -- I think the thing that you are going to face tomorrow is not that people were trying to depict Donald Trump is not upset that Mike Pence was trying to depict Donald Trump as he's not and he's figured it. You can be confronted on things like the legion of Putin admiring quotes of Trump's that bear no relationship to Mike Pence's position as he articulated. And there are a series of things like that. I mean, that may be -- that may have been a good strategy. It might not have been a good strategy, but it's an undeniable strategy.

JEFFREY LORD, TRUMP SUPPORTER: But, Axe, the problem is she was secretary of state. She was the secretary of the Russian reset. Anything to do with whatever --

AXELROD: That's a different point. No, no, that's a different point.

LORD: But he is there and whatever you want to say about him, pro, con, or indifferent. AXELROD: You know, you --

LORD: He's there because of her.

AXELROD: But every indication has been -- and we'll see, you know, that of Vladimir Putin has been much more receptive to the notion of Donald Trump than the notion of Hillary Clinton. Why is that?

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Right, and --

AXELROD: Why is that? Why has he been so warm in his comments about Donald Trump? Why is Donald Trump so warm in his comments about him?

LORD: Because he's from the KGB and he really wants her elected.

BORGER: And can I -- and I can just say on the issue of -- on the issue of Putin, Pence told Dana Bash, I think it's inarguable that Vladimir Putin has been a stronger leader in his country than Barack Obama has been in this country.

VAN JONES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: And then denied it.

BORGER: And then he denied it.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: Well, he denied saying -- he denied saying -- denied saying better, and what he said stronger.

BORGER: It's stronger.

TAPPER: That's -- I mean that's the -- it's semantic debate that went on.

PAUL BEGALA, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: This -- I was following on Twitter during the debate, actually as Governor Pence was saying that Donald Trump is not running an insult driven campaign.

BORGER: Right.

BEGALA: Trump was tweeting insults, saying that Tim Kaine looked like a villain out of Batman. That's just perfect.

TAPPER: Well, just to be fair, it was a re-tweet but let me go to --

(LAUGHTER)

TAPPER: Let me go to Wolf Blitzer.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: All right. Jake, I want to get specifically to that one exchange that Mike Pence had with Tim Kaine on this whole issue, who's stronger, who's a better lead. Would it President Obama, would it be Vladimir Putin?

Here's what Tim Kaine said in this exchange with Governor Pence.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. TIM KAINE (D), VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Governor Pence said, inarguably Vladimir Putin is a better leader than President Obama.

GOV. MIKE PENCE (R), VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You -- that is absolutely -- inaccurate.

KAINE: And I just think a guy --

PENCE: I said he's a stronger -- he's been stronger on the world stage.

KAINE: No, you said leader, and if -- and I'll just say this, Governor.

PENCE: You just said better.

KAINE: If you -- if you mistake leadership for dictatorship, and you can't tell the difference, a country that's running its economy into the ground, persecuting journalists.

PENCE: Yes, here we go. This is the grade school thing again? Right. This is great.

(CROSSTALK)

KAINE: If you can't tell the difference, you shouldn't be commander- in-chief.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: All right. We checked. We did some checking. It wasn't very hard. Dana Bash did have an interview with Governor Pence out at the Ronald Reagan Museum in California. Here's what Governor Pence said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PENCE: I think it's inarguable that Vladimir Putin has been a stronger leader in his country than Barack Obama has been in this country, and that's going to change the day that Donald Trump becomes president of the United States of America.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: All right. Dana, you had that exchange with him and he elaborated at the time, as well.

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right. And just going back to what happened tonight, Tim Kaine did suggest that Mike Pence said that he -- that Vladimir Putin was a better leader. He said stronger. And there is -- there is a difference. But at the time, during that interview at the Reagan Library, I pressed Pence about the fact that Vladimir Putin doesn't have the kind of democracy that Barack Obama has with the Congress and checks and balances, and, you know, the basic democracy, and people who can push back on him unlike Vladimir Putin.

And Pence kind of demurred on that. So there's no question that Tim Kaine was trying to invoke what Donald Trump said, change his words just little bit.

BLITZER: John King, you know, what was your reaction to that exchange?

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, there's no question. They -- remember when he was in the Congress, Mike Pence was a hawk. Mike Pence is a traditional conservative who -- he invoked the name of the Ronald Reagan in the conversation with you, goes back to the old Soviet Union days and views Putin sort of in the same way, and there's no question that Donald Trump's language is very different.

As in part of this because he's not a politician and part of it is because he has said some things that are very favorable about Vladimir Putin and it's clear that this is one of the issues where definitely in style and in their tone of their conversations, Mike Pence and Donald Trump don't communicate about this the same way. That's just a fact.

BLITZER: We have a special guest. Eric Trump is joining us here, fresh out of this debate. I want to get to some of that in a moment. But we did see -- we did see Governor Pence on the phone right after this debate. Was he talking with your dad?

ERIC TRUMP, DONALD TRUMP'S SON: You know, I don't know. I actually I came back here so I would imagine so.

[23:05:02] I think my father would be incredibly proud of his performance tonight. I certainly was, and as a family member sitting in the front row. I think he hit it out of the park. He was poised, he was articulate. He was strong. He wasn't interrupting every single sentence like we saw from the other side. He wasn't using the same rehearsed sound bites time and time again, which you saw.

I thought Governor Pence was amazing. I really think he represented the family and I think he represented the party incredibly, incredibly well tonight.

BLITZER: And at one -- your quick reaction in the interview with Dana, Pence did say it, I think it's inarguable that Vladimir Putin has been a stronger leader in his country than Barack Obama has been in this country. You saw that exchange that the two vice presidential candidates had. I want to get your reaction.

TRUMP: Yes, my reaction is simple. All right. Our president goes over to China two weeks ago. China didn't even bring a staircase up to Air Force One. It was interesting. Governor Pence was giving that interview in front of Air Force One, right? China didn't even bring a staircase up to Air Force One, no red carpet, no marching band, no dignitaries, nothing. Our president came out through the service entrance of the plane.

That's what other world leaders think of our country. That's what other world leaders think of our president. We've lost respect. And my father will restore respect and Mike Pence will restore respect, and I think the comment was very, very valid. BLITZER: Dana.

BASH: Governor Pence was asked many, many times to defend and explain some of the things that your father has said and he sidestepped and avoided a lot of those opportunities to do that. Now some would say that he didn't take the bait like frankly your father did last week, but on the other hand he also decided not to defend your father in some of the things he said. Were you -- as Donald Trump's son, were you disappointed? Would you have liked Mike Pence to defend him more?

TRUMP: This is playbook 101 for the Clinton campaign. It's been their entire life, right? Distract, distract, distract. The reality is Hillary Clinton has been a politician longer than I've been alive if you can believe it. If you look at her track record, whether it'd be Syria, Libya, the higher Middle East, Iraq, ISIS, the Russian reset, if you go back to her time as a senator where she says she was going to create 200,000 jobs in upstate New York, and you know, what's the net effect of that was? That by the time she left the Senate, New York state and upstate New York had lost an additional 8,000 jobs. Right?

You look at the Clinton Foundation, and the wreck that it is. It might be one of the greatest Ponzi schemes in history. You look at the e-mail controversy. You look at the --

BASH: Eric, you're doing what your father didn't do with his pivot to what --

TRUMP: No, no, no.

BASH: To what Clinton did or didn't do. But my question to you --

TRUMP: No, respectfully she should be prosecuted on the case. Right? It's -- I hear this garbage, Trump has business interests in Russia. Trump has this, Trump has that.

BASH: But he was -- but Mike Pence was specifically asked to defend your father. And he declined to do so.

TRUMP: I think -- I think Mike did an amazing job tonight. I think the governor did an absolutely amazing job, not only defending but also putting the argument back on them because, you know what, as secretary of state, as senator of New York, right, she has done an absolutely terrible job and it's cost our nation trillions of dollars. It's cost our nation thousands of thousands of lives.

BASH: But there's a lot of talk tonight about federal incomes taxes. Can you just put this to rest? Has your father paid federal income taxes?

TRUMP: We pay a tremendous amount of taxes and beyond --

BASH: Federal income taxes.

TRUMP: And beyond -- yes. And beyond --

BASH: Yes?

TRUMP: And beyond taxes we also employ tens and tens and tens of thousands of people. The difference between my father and Hillary Clinton is Hillary Clinton has lived off of the government her entire life. She's never created --

BASH: Eric, my question, though, is has he paid federal income taxes over the last 18 years? Yes or no?

TRUMP: Of course, yes, absolutely. My father pays a tremendous amount of tax and we as a company pay a tremendous amount of tax. We as a company also hire a tremendous amount of people which leads to people being able to provide for their families, people being able to care of their families, people being able to educate their children. If you look at Hillary Clinton, on the other hand, she has never signed the front of a check once. She's never balanced --

BASH: So if we see your father's income taxes, it will show that he has paid federal income taxes?

TRUMP: There's no question about it. We pay tremendous taxes as a company.

BASH: Will we see it?

TRUMP: Listen, when the audit is over, my father will release them. You heard that.

BASH: Have you seen his tax return?

TRUMP: And quite frankly, when is she going to release the hundreds of speeches that she gave to special interest? When is she going to release the hundreds of speeches that she gave to Wall Street? Where are those speeches? Why won't she release them? When is she going to release the 33,000 e-mails --

BASH: Have you seen his federal income taxes?

TRUMP: That she -- that she deleted after quite frankly lying to the Department of Justice, lying to the FBI, and also lying to Congress.

BASH: Eric, I'm pretty impressed actually because you haven't been --

KING: You should show up at debate prep.

BASH: Exactly. You haven't been in politics that long and you're doing the pivot quite well. If you can just put a button on this, have you seen your father's income taxes?

TRUMP: Yes, I don't study our tax returns. That's why you --

BASH: No. But have you seen them? I mean --

TRUMP: Of course you see tax returns.

BASH: No. Have you seen your father's tax returns to make you confident?

TRUMP: I'm answering the question. Of course I've seen my father's tax returns.

BASH: Has he paid federal taxes?

TRUMP: My father pays a tremendous amount of tax.

[23:10:01] As a company, we pay a tremendous amount of taxes, and goes so far beyond federal income taxes. How about real estate taxes? How about employment taxes? How about sales taxes? How about every other type of tax that goes into that?

We pay a tremendous amount of tax as a company that. That is very, very, very different than Hillary Clinton who's lived off the government for the last 40 years.

BLITZER: John King has a question but, very quickly, why not release the income tax returns that are no longer under audit?

TRUMP: Listen, my father said when the audits are over, he will release the taxes. My father has also said, hey, listen, Hillary Clinton, why don't you release the 30,000 e-mails you deleted, and why don't you release your speech transcripts, and when you do I'll release my tax returns? And this is a whole distraction. I mean, this is --

BLITZER: 2002 to 2008 are no longer under audit.

TRUMP: I don't know if that's true.

BLITZER: That's what the -- the attorney Morgan Lewis for the law firm for the -- for Donald Trump has said --

(CROSSTALK)

TRUMP: That quite frankly -- you know something I don't.

BLITZER: Will they lease the public letter, Morgan Lewis, that's the major law firm.

TRUMP: Why don't you -- why don't you look at the actual financial disclosure, the hundreds of pages he put out. My father has an amazing company. And he's built an amazing company. We have some of the best hotels in the world. Hey, you know some of the parties. You've seen them be built over, you know, the last decade or two decades. He has an amazing company. He's built a tremendous company. He has employed thousands and thousands of people and is very, very different than somebody who's lived their entire existence profiting off of the government.

The one question I'd have for you, guys, is Hillary went from being dead broke when she left the White House -- Hillary and Bill, to being worth a quarter of a billion dollars, and the question I have for the three of you is what product has she ever sold? What is she selling that she went from nothing to a quarter billion dollars in a 15-year period of time? And we all know the answer to that. And that --

KING: We don't -- we don't answer for Hillary Clinton. Her campaign does. But I urge you to show up at your father's debate practice because you do have a skill set here. And frankly, I think a lot of people think he could have -- if he had done some in of this --

(CROSSTALK)

TRUMP: I like the three on one. At least we're having a little bit of fun tonight. Right?

KING: So you're sitting in the front row for the debate. They're here with the Pence family to represent your dad, to represent the campaign, when Tim Kaine was not just prosecuting your father. In trying to make his case about your father, saying your father would have a conflict of interest as president, or at least he might until we see the taxes, your name came up, and your brother's. Let's listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KAINE: The Trump Organization is an octopus-like organization with tentacles all over the world whose conflict of interest could only be known if Donald Trump would release his tax returns. He's refused to do it. His sons have said that the organization has a lot of business dealings in Russia, and remember the Trump Organization is not a non- profit. It's putting money into Donald Trump's pockets and into the pockets of his children, whereas the Clinton Foundation is non-profit and no Clinton family member draws any salary.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: I want you to respond, if you can, please, be as specific as you can about the company's dealings in Russia and specifically to the point Russian banks or any Russian inventors do you owe money to people in Russia?

TRUMP: It's such a nonsense sound bite. And I listened to this nonsense about tentacles, you know. We've built an amazing company. America should be proud of people who build great companies. That's what America is all about. It's about building and it's about success and it's about jobs, it's about creating the American dream, right? Henry Ford and -- I mean that's what America is about. We should be proud of that. So talk about tentacles all over the world. We have no assets in Russia. That was a nonsense statement.

KING: Any debts?

TRUMP: We have no assets in Russia. We have no debt in Russia. I haven't been to Russia in, what, six, seven years off the top of my head, five, six, seven years. I mean, it's nonsense. I think we held Miss Universe in Russia one year. I think that's the extent of our business dealings. We have no hotels, we have no assets, we have residential buildings. We don't have properties in Russia.

So to come out here, that's -- and I think that's what the American people are fed up with. It's these sound bites, it's these lies, it's the disingenuous nature of it, it's referring to a great company that employs thousands of hardworking Americas as a company that's nefarious, that has tentacles all over the place.

KING: Do you understand the power, though, if then your father did release his taxes, then laid them out there, and say, to your point, here's the papers, they're lying, they're making this up, it doesn't exist? So why wouldn't he do it?

TRUMP: Tax returns won't show so many of those things anyway. I mean, that's the interesting --

KING: They're trying to make the point that there are loans or --

TRUMP: If you want to know if we have assets in Russia, go look to see if our name is on a building, go look to see if we own any property there. We're a real estate company. We're a bricks and mortar company. Go see if we have anything in Russia.

The reality is we don't. I mean, we just don't. But it doesn't matter. Look at -- look at the Clinton Foundation just for a second, right. The U.S. government sold 28 percent of the uranium stockpile, the material used to make nuclear weapons to Russia. Two weeks later, the Clinton Foundation gets $145 million from the Russian business people who put that deal together. Bill Clinton has been to Moscow a number of times.

[23:15:03] He's been paid $500,000 to give speeches on so many occasions in Russia. I mean, her ties to Russia are deep. There's no question about it. Anybody who's ever looked at the Clinton Foundation knows that their ties to Russia are incredibly substantial. We have nothing in Russia. This is pure garbage.

BLITZER: Final question. How is your father preparing for the second presidential debate Sunday night?

TRUMP: Yes. Well, he's preparing and he's surrounding himself with great people. And my father should be himself. And he's not going to be the staged candidate that I think you saw tonight. I mean, how many times were the same catchy little sound bites thrown over and over and over? You know he had memorized those sound bites. You know they were on a flash cards somewhere and they were being practiced in front of a mirror.

BASH: You're talking about Tim Kaine, not Mike Pence, right?

TRUMP: There's no question.

BASH: Tim Kaine.

TRUMP: Tim Kaine. And that's not who my father is. My father speaks from the heart, and I think you saw Mike Pence speak from the heart, and I'm so proud of what my father has accomplished. He's done an unbelievable job and we're going to win. We are going to win come November 8th. There's just no question about it.

BLITZER: Eric, thanks so much for joining us.

TRUMP: You're welcome.

BLITZER: Eric Trump.

TRUMP: Thank you.

BLITZER: Appreciate it.

Jeff Zeleny, you've got a special guest, as well.

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: I do, Wolf. I'm here with the chair of the Clinton campaign, John Podesta.

John, did you think that Senator Kaine came across as the more likable candidate tonight?

JOHN PODESTA, CLINTON CAMPAIGN CHAIR: Look, I think he was the aggressor tonight and I think that he did a great job both in explaining what he and Hillary wanted to do for the American people, how to build an economy that is going to work for the middle class, work for everyone not just people at the top. He was strong on reproductive choice. And I think that he challenged Governor Pence to defend the kind of hateful campaign that Donald Trump has run and time and again, Governor Pence took a -- took a dive.

ZELENY: And you said, though, that he didn't have a smooth performance. Do you believe that Governor Pence was simply not taking the bait that Senator Kaine was throwing out?

PODESTA: No, I think he -- he essentially had made a decision that he would not try to defend the top of the ticket, that he was going to move away from Donald Trump that -- that, you know, when faced with the things that Donald Trump has said, not unfair characterizations, not made-up facts as Pence threw at Tim with respect to Hillary, but just the things he said he decided he wouldn't defend him. He's sort of made a soft attempt to try to defend his business practice and couldn't defend at all his decision not to release his tax returns.

ZELENY: Looking ahead this Sunday, do you think that Donald Trump has lowered his own bar for his own performance?

PODESTA: Well, look, I think it's a tough format for Donald Trump because he's going to have to look real voters in the eye. Answer their questions. Hillary has been doing that from the beginning of this campaign and really the beginning of her career. She's always been about helping children and families. The way you do that is you listen to people, you understand what their problems are and you try relate to them.

Donald Trump I think has really -- never really done that much in his life and he certainly hasn't dome that much in this campaign so I think it's a challenging format. Now, you know, given the reviews that he got on the first debate, I guess the press will probably set that bar very low for him. ZELENY: Your campaign has moved forward this week and gained some

ground that it's lost after the convention. You get so much information and data and analytics. What is one piece of information that still gnaws at you that you would like to correct or fix in this coming four weeks?

PODESTA: Look, I think we still have to and will spend our time doing what Hillary did today, in suburban Philadelphia, which talked directly to voters about what she wants to do, that's why she did the children and families town hall with Chelsea. That's why she talked about equal pay, that's why she talked about anti-bullying, that's why she talked about raising the minimum wage, having affordable childcare.

Those are the real problems facing families in America. She's got ideas and plans to -- about what to do about that and she's got a proven track record of always fighting for kids, always fighting for families. That's what we've got to do. And to seal the deal we know we still have work to do. We're obviously working on the ground to get our vote out, but we also have to keep talking to the American people about their future. That's what this campaign is all about. Their future.

ZELENY: Of course you worked for Bill Clinton for a long time, as well. What was he talking about in Flint, Michigan, and where you disappointed by his comments about Obamacare?

PODESTA: Well, look, I think if you'd look at the entire context, what he said was Obamacare has been a success because it's expanded health insurance for 20 million people. It's done so much other good things like ending the ban on -- of insurance companies' ability to deny coverage for preexisting conditions, stopping discrimination against women, providing --

ZELENY: He called it crazy.

PODESTA: What he was saying was that there was a feature of the law that meant that if you got subsidies, you were doing OK, if you were just above that you were having trouble, but right from the beginning -- and I think President Obama talks about the fact that we need to improve things, we need to make it easier for small business to buy insurance for their employees.

[23:20:12] We need to make sure that people in that -- in that economic bracket that he was talking about can afford the insurance they need to give tax credits to people so they're out-of-pocket expenses aren't too big and that we need to lower the price of prescription drugs. So he was colorful and I probably would have chosen different words but I think what he was saying is there's still -- the law has been a success, but there's still more to do.

ZELENY: Final thing here. If she has a strong debate performance on Sunday, Secretary Clinton, can she put this election away?

PODESTA: We will never say that until the last poll closes. We're going to work -- you know, there's early voting going on, more and more of it will come online, our team is out, we've built very strong organizations really across the country in all 50 states.

ZELENY: But not yet on Sunday?

PODESTA: Talk to me on November 8th around 10:00 at night.

ZELENY: All right. John, thank you very much.

PODESTA: Thanks.

ZELENY: Wolf, back to you.

BLITZER: All right, Jeff. Thanks very much.

We're also waiting -- we're going to get the results from a focus group of undecided voters who have assembled. They've watched the debate. We're going to get that. We also have an exclusive CNN instant poll, people all over the country who watched -- who watched this debate. We're going to find out who they thought won this debate. In the meantime let's go back to Jake.

TAPPER: Thanks, Wolf. I'm here with our elite panelists, and Gloria Borger, let me ask you. There is the debate. There is the 90 minutes of debate and then there is the spin afterwards, the media coverage afterwards, the "Saturday Night Live" mockery afterwards. You gave the debate to Pence. You said generally you thought he had a better debate. But --

BORGER: Yes.

TAPPER: What about the "Post"? What about the spin and the coverage and the "SNL"?

BORGER: As we were talking about earlier, he was unflappable, and he defended himself --

TAPPER: Pence?

BORGER: -- more than Donald Trump. Pence. But I think in the aftermath there's going to be an awful lot of fact-checking that goes on here, particularly on the question of Putin, and Russia, and he didn't really answer the question on immigration because the question that Elaine Quijano posed was, what do you say to those who haven't committed crimes? And he didn't really -- he said well, we'll get to that later. He didn't -- he didn't have an answer for that question, and I think that, as Paul was pointing out, I think that Pence did a very good job for himself and had a clear strategy, which was, you know, don't take these insults and defend them, just turn it to Hillary Clinton.

And Kaine's strategy was attack Trump and then attack Pence for defending Trump, but Pence never defended Trump, so it was a little bit more difficult for him to do. So we had the "Saturday Night Live." I think he'll have another lockbox moment as had you with Al Gore, with the question if, I can't imagine how you can defend that, which he said repeatedly on purpose, as you pointed out, and you know, I -- that's why I think in the end, that this probably isn't going to change that many minds. I mean, you know, Pence is like the high school principal sometimes and Kaine looked like the eager -- the eager student and so they are just two different guys who were defending two very different people.

AXELROD: What Pence didn't look like was Donald Trump.

BORGER: Right. Exactly.

AXELROD: And so I think --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He looked like a conservative.

AXELROD: And ultimately Donald Trump is the candidate. So the question is what happens Sunday night when Donald Trump returns to the stage.

BORGER: Right. Exactly.

AXELROD: And is he this candidate that we saw tonight or is he the Donald Trump we've seen on the stage for the last year? It would be -- it would be interesting if he changed, but there's no indication that -- he's gotten here by being who he is. And he's not going to change now and a lot of the stuff that -- that Pence laid down there is not basic Donald Trump stuff.

(CROSSTALK)

TAPPER: To you, Van.

BORGER: Not at all.

JONES: You know, it's -- you know, one thing I thought that was very interesting, though, they came in at it in different ways. On the criminal justice stuff, they actually wound up kind of agreeing. And I just want to point out, this is a very unusual development in American politics. In 2012, the Democratic Party had not one line about criminal justice reform in its platform. This is halfway through the Obama administration, not one word, and now four years later, you can have two people who disagree about everything and yet on criminal justice -- I just think it's an important moment to those of us who've been dealing with this issue for 20, 30 years, this massive expansion of presence, screaming in the wilderness.

You're now at a place where both political parties at least want to talk about it. The difference was, how much are you willing to admit that race is a part of it?

[23:25:03] MCENANY: But I do think that's where records matter. You have Hillary Clinton who called groups of people super predators who passed a crime bill under Bill Clinton, his tutelage, that incriminated and incarcerated swaths of the African-American community.

TAPPER: Hillary Clinton didn't pass that crime bill.

MCENANY: Compare that -- TAPPER: Bill Clinton.

MCENANY: That was her husband and she supported it and in fact demonized those very people who are now in prison calling them super predators. Meanwhile --

(CROSSTALK)

MCENANY: Meanwhile --

JONES: Which she has apologized. Trump hasn't apologized for anything yet.

MCENANY: OK. Fine. So fine because she didn't have the right judgment on that. Meanwhile, you have Mike Pence who passed criminal justice reform in the state of Indiana.

JONES: You know what's interesting about that?

MCENANY: Who was on the right side voting in Congress to pass federal criminal justice reform.

JONES: You know --

MCENANY: He had the judgment when Hillary Clinton didn't and by the way, Donald Trump had the judgment to pick Mike Pence and he will have the judgment to appoint people.

JONES: I'm so glad you brought that up.

MCENANY: All his administration that are like Mike Pence and are brilliant and --

(CROSSTALK)

JONES: And I -- I certainly hope not since it's Mike Pence, by the way, who wants women who have miscarriages to be forced to pay for the funerals of their fetuses. But we can talk about that later. But even on criminal justice, you know, this is real stuff. Even in criminal justice, he did pass a bill and then he turned right around and increased the punishment for people who are addicted to heroin, which is the opposition of the direction we should be going. So I do want to point out, we are actually having an honest conversation about the best way to fix the system. That is a victory for those young people who have been protesting all year long.

(CROSSTALK)

TAPPER: There were two moments when I thought it was really good dialogue. One, as David pointed out, was when they talked about abortion and their disagreement on abortion but it was a civil conversation. And the other one, as you point out, Van, when they were talking about criminal justice and community policing and the steps that could go forward.

But, Jeffrey, let me ask you about the next debate with Donald Trump. LORD: Right.

TAPPER: Do you accept the premise that he had a bad first debate ?

LORD: No.

TAPPER: You do not?

LORD: No, I did not.

TAPPER: So if you think if he shows up as he did in the first debate that will be another win?

LORD: No. Look, you can keep going through different debate cycles and act differently if you will in different debates. Ronald Reagan had what was generally considered to be in the day a lousy first debate. President Obama was considered to have one, but they showed up. Their style didn't change dramatically. It's just that they were more forthright in going after opponents and that sort of thing.

BORGER: He's going to prepare.

LORD: And -- I mean, I think Donald Trump was -- I mean, that first hour -- first half hour in particular I thought he was really great. I mean, here's, Jake, I think one of the problems that the country has in terms of how they view this. They look at these events and then they see the media portrayal of the event and they think they're being told Donald Trump lost the debate or whatever --

TAPPER: Well, you have the reverse -- you have the reverse going on tonight with people saying that Mike Pence won.

JONES: Except our focus group actually pointed out that --

MCENANY: They were a Virginia focus group.

(CROSSTALK)

LORD: They were all Virginians.

JONES: Whatever.

TAPPER: But if you could -- well, you said there's no constructive criticism, there's no advice you would give to Donald Trump for the second debate?

LORD: It's a different kind of debate.

TAPPER: Right. Because it's a town hall.

LORD: Right. Right. I mean, so, you've got to adapt to that. I mean, I think we all remember the Bill Clinton-George H.W. Bush and the good thing for Clinton was he got up out of his chair and went and looked the woman right in the eye and, you know, just sort of telegraph the "I feel your pain" business. And the problem for President Bush was he looked at his watch. TAPPER: Yes.

LORD: But, you know, this debate will be entirely different and structured entirely different way. And out of the --

JONES: Jeffrey, you are the only --

(CROSSTALK)

JONES: You are the only human being on planet earth who thinks that Donald Trump doesn't need to do anything different in the debate.

MCENANY: No, there's two of us. There's two of us. No, there's two of us.

(LAUGHTER)

BEGALA: Yes. Yes, let Trump be Trump. Don't -- stop this, Van, stop. Listen to Jeffrey and Kayleigh. Donald, don't listen to Van.

LORD: I want to go back to something that Gloria said.

BEGALA: Be your bullying obnoxious self.

LORD: Senator Kaine laid -- talked about the Bush tax cuts and said they were responsible for the greatest recession, whatever, since the Great Depression. It was not the Bush tax cuts. It was Fannie Mae and Freddie Mack and decades of Democratic policy that began with President Clinton's housing policy in the 1990s.

(CROSSTALK)

BEGALA: And Chester A. Arthur, too. But can I get back to the debate?

(LAUGHTER)

BEGALA: It was a remarkable moment when Tim Kaine hammered Vladimir Putin, calling him a small, weak bully -- wait, no, that was Mike Pence. I've never seen anything like it. Donald Trump has gone out of his way to praise Putin, and gotten a lot of criticism for it. He's been strong in his fidelity to his pal, President Putin of Russia. Even though he is a dictator.

Pence was attacking that position remarkably. I've never seen anything like that. This is not some minor, like, side issue.

JONES: Totally.

AXELROD: Hence the point of view was that we should be more confrontational, wherever it goes, Donald Trump says wouldn't it be great if we got along better with Russia? That's his position. Bare and completely different --

(CROSSTALK)

LORD: -- policy for decades and decades and decades.

BEGALA: But it's amazing.

[23:30:03] JONES: But it's a split. I mean, in other words, here's the thing. Who -- if you are Pence, and you get to make up your running mate, you get to make up your facts, you get to make up -- you get to deny quotes that are obvious and already all over Twitter, you can have a great debate. I mean, you know, that's wonderful. But the reality is, you have a major problem in this party.

TAPPER: Kayleigh, do you see --

MCENANY: He's not denied -- denied about Mike Pence hands down won this debate.

TAPPER: OK, but --

MCENANY: It's very clear.

TAPPER: Do you see a factual discrepancy between what Mike Pence said about Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump's position?

MCENANY: Not at all. Not at all. What Mike Pence said tonight is, look, you had administration that just walked away from Russia, you want a strong leader who can deal with Russia. We have to have Russia as a partner to some extent. Certainly in Syria. That being said, he pinned the blame for Russia's actions going into Crimea.

JONES: And none of that --

(CROSSTALK)

AXELROD: You know, he also put the blame on the Obama administration for Russia going into Georgia which happened under the last administration.

MCENANY: The Obama administration extended -- Hillary -- well, let's be clear.

AXELROD: Wait, Kayleigh. Kayleigh. Kayleigh.

MCENANY: Hillary Clinton extended a reset button to Russia --

AXELROD: I'm asking a question now. I'm asking you a question.

MCENANY: And encourage Russia to --

AXELROD: I'm asking a question.

MCENANY: Sure.

AXELROD: Who was president when Russia went into Georgia?

MCENANY: Who was president --

AXELROD: No, I'm asking you question. MCENANY: -- when Russia annexed Crimea?

AXELROD: I am asking you a question.

MCENANY: And I'm asking a question back.

AXELROD: So you're not answering the question.

(CROSSTALK)

TAPPER: George W. Bush and Barack Obama.

AXELROD: All right. So you're answering the question.

TAPPER: George W. Bush and Barack Obama.

BEGALA: You're right.

AXELROD: OK. Fine.

MCENANY: Who extended agreement --

AXELROD: But tonight Mike Pence said that it was the Obama administration that was in charge when they went to Russia.

MCENANY: Who extended a reset button to Russia, shook hands --

BEGALA: I just want to analyze the debate.

MCENANY: Right before Russia went in and annexed Crimea? That would be Hillary Clinton whose judgment once again failed. It's foreign policy, not criminal justice, that once again failed.

BEGALA: What would have happened if George H.W. Bush had said, you know, the Soviet Union is not such an evil empire, they're kind of nice people? You'd have schism in the Republican Party between the presidential candidate and vice presidential candidate. That's what we saw tonight on one of the most important foreign policy issues facing America.

(CROSSTALK)

BEGALA: It was astonishing.

BORGER: I think what we saw tonight and we've been talking about this, is that if Mike Pence were running for president of the United States --

BEGALA: And he is --

LORD: Which if that's true is a testament to Donald Trump's good just putting him on the ticket.

BORGER: He would be pro-trade, he would be anti-Putin, and he would support George W. Bush's decision on Iraq. And I think those are three things that Mike Pence has clearly distanced himself from his presidential candidate on and he wasn't going to let a debate get in the way of that.

TAPPER: Do you think it's right, Mike?

MICHAEL SMERCONISH, CNN ANCHOR, "SMERCONISH": I think it's right. And I made a list. I think that the loser of tonight's debate or losers were Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, Scott Walker, Bobby Jindal and all the other who see themselves as the rightful heir to the throne of Ronald Reagan.

Can I look forward to the next debate? Because it will be the first debate that takes place since the "New York Times" revelation relative to Donald Trump and the taxes. And I think something significant happened here tonight when Eric Trump was interviewed by Dana, and then by Wolf. When Wolf was pushing him relative to the return of the taxes that we haven't seen, he said something similar but he went a step further, I believe, than his father did, initially in the first debate, which was to say, well, if she'll release those 30,000 e-mails then my father would release the taxes, which to me shows it's a negotiation, and it's not about the audit, because if there were 30,000 e-mails still in existence that she could produce, then what happened to that whole argument that said, I'd love to show you my tax returns, but my tax accountant won't let me do it. And I think when people seize that and realize it they're going to see through it.

TAPPER: But hasn't Trump said something similar?

SMERCONISH: Very similar in the first debate. And I think he said it more clearly tonight.

AXELROD: I also think there was a significant moment in the debate on this particular issue when Kaine said to Pence, you had to submit your tax returns to Donald Trump before he could make you the nominee for vice president. Why shouldn't the American people get to see Donald Trump's income tax returns before they make him president? I suspect that that line registered with people because it just makes commence sense.

TAPPER: Do you rink that that's possible at all, Jeffrey? I mean, do you think it's possible, that voters who -- I mean, polls indicate that a majority of voters want Donald Trump to release his tax returns.

LORD: I do not believe that this is a voting issue for a lot of -- I mean, if that's what you're voting on, you're not going to vote for Donald Trump anyway.

TAPPER: No, but doesn't -- I agree with you that nobody will vote yes or no because of that issue, but does it maybe feed into the trust issue, which might be a voting issue?

LORD: I mean, maybe the media will try and make it feed in there, but I honestly don't think so. I mean, the whole tax thing -- I mean, first of all, I've said for months he should never release his taxes. I went back and looked today, Nixon didn't release his taxes when he was running for president. It was after he was president.

JONES: Yes. And that worked out.

TAPPER: He didn't in '72.

JONES: And you see how that worked out.

TAPPER: He didn't in '68, but he did in '72 when he was under audit.

BORGER: He was under audit.

[23:35:01] TAPPER: He was under audit in '72. You know what, let's do a fact check on that. We're going to take a very quick break.

Coming up, who won tonight's debate? We'll reveal the first results from our instant poll of debate watchers back right after this. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Who won this vice presidential debate? I want to go to David Chalian.

David, we've got the results from our exclusive CNN-ORC instant poll. People who were actually watching this debate. Share the numbers with us.

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: That's right, Wolf. Remember this is a poll among debate watchers. This isn't a national poll among all voters. And among debate watchers tonight, it was slightly Democratic advantage in the audience, slightly more Democrats than Republicans were watching tonight. And take a look who they think won.

Mike Pence, 48 percent say he won the debate, to Tim Kaine, at 42 percent, and as you know, Wolf, this is a game of -- expectations, so look at this, did Tim Kaine do better or worse than you expected, 43 percent say he did worse, 38 percent say he did better.

How about Mike Pence? What did he do in terms of the battle of expectations? 67 percent of debate watchers said he did better than they expected tonight, 14 percent said worse.

Remember, we're showing Pence won, Pence beat the expectations game, and the audience of debate watchers was actually skewed a little more Democratic, so certainly put the W in the Trump-Pence column tonight.

BLITZER: Good news for Donald Trump. He likes these poll numbers. I am sure.

David, stand by. Dana, your reaction to these numbers?

BASH: That this is great news for Mike Pence, but the open question is what does it mean for the guy who really matters at the top of the ticket, and that's Donald Trump, whether or not the fact that people seem to have liked Mike Pence and more importantly, as David pointed out, that he exceeded viewers' expectations. Is he going to translate it all to Trump? That's an open question, historically the answer is no.

BLITZER: What do you think?

KING: It's an interesting conversation going on in the conservative media, a lot of them not fans of Donald Trump, saying that a win for Pence, which I think this was, is not necessarily a win for Trump in the sense that it shows how Pence was a better debater than the man atop the ticket, and there are also -- like this is conservative saying, you know, you may think Tim Kaine was annoying to keep repeating and quoting all those things Donald Trump said, but whatever number of people were watching kept hearing Tim Kaine repeating all those things that Donald Trump has said.

I want to give you one insight from somebody inside Trump world, who is in the inner circle in Trump world, who said that he does not think this is going to go down terribly well with Donald Trump even through the Trump campaign is rushing out statements that all conservatives across the country praising Mike Pence. They say Donald Trump is watching the reviews, and he's hearing Mike Pence won, but he didn't defend Donald Trump, and that Hillary Clinton and Mike Pence are better debaters than Donald Trump. Some people think that might not sit well with the boss.

[23:40:04] BLITZER: Because he did have a lot of opportunities to go ahead and defend Donald Trump.

BASH: Yes.

BLITZER: And on several points he was pretty silent.

BASH: Absolutely, which is why one of our first questions to Eric Trump who was sitting here was, how did you feel about the fact that Mike Pence didn't take the bait, but he certainly didn't defend your father.

KING: Right.

BASH: You know, as the debate started to go on, I started to communicate with people in Trump world saying, how long until the people who prepared Mike Pence, which was a lot of prep work, are going to be flown to Trump Tower to try to convince the guy at the top of the ticket that this is how you prepare for a debate. You do it with -- you know, actual mock debates, with somebody playing the opponent, playing the moderator, which is what Mike Pence did very aggressively. But the open question is, even if that happened, would it matter because Donald Trump is a very, very different person than Mike Pence.

KING: Two other very quick points. Number one, Donald Trump said he was going to be live tweeting. There was a lot of anxiety in the Republican circles when Donald Trump said he was going to live tweet during the debate. Essentially this was the staff -- the communications staff, they were tweeting press releases, instant reactions to things, and a few comments by Donald Trump by how he thought Mike Pence was doing a good job. But if you look at the tweets tonight versus the tweets over the past, say, 10 years of Donald Trump's life, pretty straight forward in mainstream.

Another point to the conversation everyone is having, look, Mike Pence's tone is very different when it comes to Vladimir Putin, and Russia, than Donald Trump, and I just -- reminded as Jeffrey and other panel with Jake were talking about, remember at the Republican convention, the Trump forces pulled from the platform tough language on Russia. The traditional hawks in the Republican Party wanted tough language against Vladimir Putin and Russia. And it was the Trump campaign that pulled that language. So now you hear Mike Pence saying he's a bully. We have to stand up tough to him. Well, that was not Trump's tone at his own convention and that's not his tone when he talks about some of that.

BLITZER: We're getting some reality checks coming in to CNN. Jim Sciutto has been watching this.

Jim, what do you have?

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Well, the topic that we've talked about a lot tonight, Russia. What exactly have Trump and Pence said about their support for him and their leaders, let's have a listen to Tim Kaine tonight.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PENCE: The newly emboldened the aggression of Russia, whether it was in Ukraine or now their heavy handed approach.

KAINE: You guys love Russia. You both have said --

PENCE: Their heavy handed approach.

KAINE: You both have said Vladimir Putin --

(CROSSTALK)

PENCE: Well, hang on a second.

ELAINE QUIJANO, DEBATE MODERATOR: Gentlemen, we're going to get to Russia in just a moment. But I do want to get back to the question.

PENCE: In the midst -- Elaine, thank you. Thank you, Senator, I'll --

(CROSSTALK)

KAINE: These guys have praised Vladimir Putin as a great leader. How can they defend that?

QUIJANO: Yes, and we will get to that, Senator.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCIUTTO: You heard that there, the claim, Senator Kaine, attacking both Trump and his running mate Pence for their praise of Vladimir Putin, so let's look at what Trump and Pence have said. Let's start with the Republican nominee at the Commander-in-Chief Forum just last month. Trump said that Putin has, quote, "very strong control" over his country. He went on, let's have a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: He is really very much of a leader. I mean, you can say, oh, isn't that a terrible thing? The man has very strong control over a country.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCIUTTO: Now Pence denied tonight that he praised Vladimir Putin. The fact is he's made similar comments and more than once about Putin's leadership in Russia when backing up his running mate's comments. Have a listen to Mike Pence.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PENCE: I think it's inarguable that Vladimir Putin has been a stronger leader in his country than Barack Obama has been in this country.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCIUTTO: So the verdict here, and this is a pretty straight-forward one, because remember the claim from Senator Kaine was simply that Pence and Trump had praised Vladimir Putin. We heard it and it was more than those times you heard tonight. We rate this one as true.

BLITZER: Jim Sciutto, thank you. Tom Foreman, you've been doing a reality check, as well. What are you learning?

Tom foreman, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, you know, one of Kaine's basic claims here is that Trump campaign has no facts. All they have is an insult-driven campaign.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KAINE: These guys say all Mexicans are bad. And with respect to --

PENCE: That's absolutely false.

KAINE: And with respect to refugees, we want to keep people out if they're dangerous. Donald Trump said keep them out if they're Muslim.

PENCE: Absolutely --

KAINE: Mike Pence put a program in place to keep them out if they're from Syria.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

FOREMAN: Is this really true? All Mexicans are bad? That's what he said about Donald Trump. Did Donald Trump say that? Certainly Donald Trump disparaged a lot of Mexican citizens saying they're rapists, drug dealers, that sort of thing. Never said all of them are bad. That part is false.

What about the other claim here? The idea that you should keep them out if they're dangerous or they're Muslim. Yes, Donald Trump did make those claims. That part is true. And what about the idea that Mike Pence wants to stop Syrian refugees from coming to his state of Indiana? Yes, he's fought very hard to make that happen. The courts recently slapped him down on that. That claim is also true, but now listen to how Pence went right back at Kaine.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PENCE: Ours is an insult-driven campaign? I mean, to be honest with you, if Donald Trump had said all the things that you've said he'd said in the way you said he'd said them, he still wouldn't have a fraction of the insults that Hillary Clinton leveled when she said that half of our supporters were a basket of deplorables.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

[23:45:09] FOREMAN: So did she really say that? Yes, she did use the word "deplorable." She tried to explain later saying she's talking about people who are bigots and racists, and xenophobes, and that she overreached or over generalized a bit by saying half of the people out there. But the bottom line is she did use this word. That's what she said. His claim is true and Kaine tried in another part to say, well, you know, she really sort of disavowed that and walked back. She may have qualified it, but she never took it back. The word hangs out there. His claims on that front is absolutely false.

BLITZER: All right, Tom Foreman. Thank you. By the way for more reality checks go to CNN.com/realitycheck.

Coming up we're going to hear more from our focus group of undecided Virginia voters. We're going to get their reaction to key moments in tonight's debate. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: As we showed you earlier, a majority of our focus group of undecided voters said Tim Kaine won the debate. We're going to go show you a key moment right now that these voters in Virginia said was important for them. Keep your eye on the bottom of the screen. Men's responses are in green, women in yellow. When the lines go up, that means they liked what they heard. If they lines go down, they didn't like a candidate's answer.

Here's Tim Kaine talking about his faith and the death penalty.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

[23:50:04] KAINE: It was very, very difficult to allow executions to go forward, but in circumstances where I didn't feel like there was a case for clemency, I told Virginia voters I would uphold the law, and I did.

That was a real struggle. But I think it is really, really important that those of us who have deep faith lives don't feel that we can just substitute our own views for everybody else in the society, regardless of their views.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: Let's get right to Pamela Brown. She's in Richmond, Virginia, for us.

Pamela, so what did these voters like about this answer?

PAMELA BROWN, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, I'll tell you, Wolf, this group of 28 undecided voters here at the University of Richmond was looking for substance tonight and the majority of them say that they found that with Tim Kaine there in his answer about religion and other issues throughout the night.

So let's find out from the undecided voters. I want to ask you, what was it that you liked about Tim Kaine's performance tonight?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Get a different plan, and he was a very systematic in addressing those issues.

BROWN: In what way do you think he articulated that plan that you haven't really heard before?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, I guess compared to Hillary, one, he had a plan, and for the various attacks that came against him he always counted. And was very decisive in his responses.

BROWN: So I want to actually on that note ask you, do you feel like Tim Kaine laid out plans better than the presidential candidate Hillary Clinton on the ticket?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, he did a better job at laying out the plans, enumerating but I wasn't really thrilled.

BROWN: Yes. And let me ask you, did it change your attitude at all about Hillary Clinton? Because you also thought Tim Kaine won tonight. Did it change your view of her at all as the presidential candidate?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, I do think that Tim Kaine won tonight just because of his presentation of policy and lack thereof from Mike Pence, but I don't think it changed my view of Hillary Clinton so much, but it did embolden my view of how I see Tim Kaine and it strengthened their ticket for me, but he's his own individual and I was looking to see how he presented himself and how he could take over as president should the need ever arise.

BROWN: And you felt like he did that tonight?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And I felt like he did that partially.

BROWN: Partially.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Looking for a little bit more. BROWN: OK. All right.

So, Wolf, on that note you just heard the reasons why they felt Tim Kaine won on substance. Now demeanor is a different issue. In fact the majority of the independent voters here felt like Mike Pence had the better demeanor -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Yes, a lot of these voters also liked Mike Pence as well as you point out, Pamela. Here's a moment they liked from Pence.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PENCE: Donald Trump has filed over 100 pages of financial disclosure, which is what the law requires.

KAINE: But he said he would release his tax returns.

PENCE: The American people can review that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: So, Pamela, what did they like about that specific clip?

BROWN: Well, let's go straight to those who actually thought Mike Pence won tonight and had the good demeanor. I want to ask you back here because you felt like Mike Pence was more presidential tonight than Tim Kaine right?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right.

BROWN: And how so?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I just feel like he had more measured responses. He wasn't the one sort of, like, forcing and -- forcing his way into the conversation. I feel like he just had a lot more respect for the process and he seemed a lot more measured and a lot more thoughtful than Tim Kaine. And while I think Tim Kaine probably did -- I liked that he laid stuff out, I just think Pence came across as more relaxed and more honest.

BROWN: How about you?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: As far as what he won?

BROWN: About -- yes, Pence and his demeanor tonight.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I felt that he was -- his responses were more measured. I felt like when he was asked the questions he did pause. And to me that's -- he's being reflective before he answers the questions. And I did feel that he laid out some policy points that were specific to the questions posed to him.

BROWN: OK. So you all thought that he had a better demeanor. How many of you all thought that Tim Kaine was too much of an attack dog? Raise your hand. All right. So even though a majority of you think that Tim Kaine won tonight, you didn't like his demeanor necessarily. Show of hands if you would like the vice presidential candidates to

actually be at the top of the ticket after watching this debate tonight? Show of hands. All right. So there you see it, pretty incredible here, Wolf. All of them would rather that the vice presidential candidates to be at top of the ticket.

Coming up, we're going to tell you whether tonight's debate influenced these undecided voters' vote come November. Back to you.

BLITZER: All right. Pamela, good work. Thank you.

Coming up another reality check of what the vice presidential candidate said tonight. And who better defendant his running mate. We're going to reveal the results, more results from our instant poll of debate watchers. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[23:53:56] BLITZER: The one and only vice presidential debate is now history. We're getting more results from CNN's exclusive instant poll.

David Chalian, he's got more numbers for us. What are you seeing?

CHALIAN: I do indeed, Wolf. Let's start again with that top line number, who won the debate? Among debate watchers in our instant poll, Mike Pence edges out Tim Kaine, 48 percent to 42 percent. That doesn't mean that Tim Kaine didn't score some points, though.

We asked who better defended their running mate? This was a Kaine category. 58 percent said Kaine better defended Clinton, 35 percent said Pence better defended Trump.

How about who spent more time attacking his opponent? Kaine was clearly on the attack in the mind of debate watchers. 76 percent said he spent more time attacking his opponent, only 14 percent said that about Pence.

How about the issues? Who had a better understanding of the issues? 48 percent of debate watchers said Tim Kaine did. 41 percent said Mike Pence did. And finally who was more likeable in this debate? 53 percent of debate watchers said Mike Pence was more likeable, 37 percent said that about Tim Kaine -- Wolf.

BLITZER: It's interesting, you know, Dana, because Governor Pence seemed a little bit calmer than Tim Kaine did.

BASH: A lot calmer.