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RNC Holds Call as Trump Slides in Poll; Speaker Ryan Says He Will No Longer Defend Trump; Tape Fallout Show Trump Trailing in New Poll; Suspicious Activity at North Korean Launch Site; GOP in Turmoil as Trump Trails in New Poll. Aired 5-6 ET

Aired October 10, 2016 - 17:00   ET


[17:00:12] JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: That's it for "THE LEAD." I'm Jake Tapper, turning you over to Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM. Thanks for watching.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Happening now, new low. Donald Trump hits bottom in his debate with Hillary Clinton, and in a new national poll which has him trailing by double digits. Is the Trump campaign in freefall and dragging down the Republican Party with it?

Ryan's revolt. House Speaker Paul Ryan says he will no longer defend Donald Trump and will focus on protecting his party's hold in Congress. Ryan tells Republican lawmakers to head for the exits if they need to.

Expanding the map. Democrats may step up their efforts to capture the House and Senate seats. Sources say there's talk of pouring more resources into the states Democrats never thought they could capture.

And un-predictable. New signs that North Korea's leader is preparing some sort of provocation. Is Kim Jong-un plotting a new rocket launch or some other surprise timed to the U.S. election?

I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

BLITZER: Breaking news. After a shockingly nasty debate, the presidential candidates are back on the campaign trail today, and that presidential campaign has turned into an all-out brawl.

After downplaying the explosive video of his vulgar and sexually aggressive remarks, Trump went all out in last night's debate, aggressively working to keep his base, calling Hillary Clinton the devil and threatening to jail her if he's elected.

Today he's picking up where he left off. But in the process, Trump may have alienated even more mainstream Republicans and independents. In a stunning move, House Speaker Paul Ryan today said he will no longer defend Donald Trump and will focus on protecting the GOP majority in Congress. He told colleagues they must do what's right for them and their districts. Clinton smiled through the debate; and Democrats have reason to keep

smiling. Our CNN/ORC poll showed Clinton won the debate by a large margin. And today, a new national poll shows her leading Trump by 11 points. Clinton is campaigning today in key electoral battlegrounds, hitting back hard at Trump and sources say the newly-emboldened Democrats may take their fight for control of Congress into more states.

I'll speak with a Trump supporter, Congressman Chris Collins. And our correspondents, analysts and guests, they will have full coverage of the day's top stories. But let's begin with the Trump campaign and the Republican Party, both seemingly in meltdown mode. Today, CNN's Sunlen Serfaty is out on the campaign trail in Pennsylvania.

Sunlen, Trump was defiant in the debate. Tell our viewers what he's saying today.

SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, what we're seeing is really Donald Trump lashing out today against Speaker of the House Paul Ryan. He's been, of course, trying to keep his campaign off life-support, but tonight Donald Trump seems to be digging in deeper with many Republicans in taking on this very aggressive, very defiant posture.

This is still very much a campaign and a party in crisis mode.


SERFATY (voice-over): Tonight Donald Trump's scorched earth strategy is threatening to engulf the Republican Party.

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINE: If they want to more release tapes saying inappropriate things, we'll continue talking about Bill and Hillary Clinton doing inappropriate things. There are so many of them.

SERFATY: House Speaker Paul Ryan today holding a conference call with Republican lawmakers, telling them, according to sources on the call, that he will no longer defend Trump and will spend the next month focused on preserving the GOP's congressional majority. Ryan telling members, quote, "You all need to do what's best for you and your district."

Trump firing back today, tweeting, quote, "Paul Ryan should spend more time on balancing the budget, jobs, and illegal immigration and not waste his time on fighting Republican nominee."

The intraparty battle comes as a new NBC/"Wall Street Journal" poll done after the release of the 2005 videotape with Trump making sexually aggressive comments about women, but before Sunday's debate, finds Trump trailing Clinton nationally by double digits.

TRUMP: If you look at Bill Clinton, far worse, mine are words and his was action.

SERFATY: Trump's no-holds-barred debate performance was an attempt to stabilize his candidacy, bringing to the debate women who have accused Bill Clinton of sexual harassment and assault as he tries to move past the videotape controversy.

TRUMP: I apologize to my family. I apologize to the American people. Certainly I'm not proud of it, but this is locker-room talk.

COOPER: Have you ever done those things?

TRUMP: And women have respect for me. And I will tell you -- no, I have not.

SERFATY: Trump's contrition was short-lived, quickly turning his focus to sharply criticizing Clinton.

[17:05:08] TRUMP: She has tremendous hate in her heart. And when she said "deplorables," she meant it.

SERFATY: Even suggesting he would try to imprison his Democratic rival if he was elected next month.

TRUMP: If I win, I am going to instruct my attorney general to get a special prosecutor to look into your situation.

HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: It's just awfully good that someone with the temperament of Donald Trump is not in charge of the law in our country.

TRUMP: Because you'd be in jail.

SERFATY: Despite the concerns by some in the party about Trump's path forward, his running mate, Mike Pence, says he's not jumping ship.

GOV. MIKE PENCE (R-IN), VICE-PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: It's absolutely false to suggest that at any point in time we considered dropping off this ticket.

SERFATY: Even after Trump contradicted gun during the debate on the ticket's stance towards military action in Syria.

TRUMP: He and I haven't spoken, and I disagree.

SERFATY: Pence today saying there was no daylight between the two.

PENCE: I've talked to him about our policy.

Donald Trump has made it clear our policy is safe zones for people suffering in Syria, but also his focus is on destroying ISIS in Syria.


SERFATY: And in a sign of support, Mike Pence returned to the campaign trail today. That was after this weekend he decided that he could not represent Donald Trump at an event on Saturday. Mike Pence telling the North Carolina crowd that he does not condone what Donald Trump said in that videotape, but he does believe in forgiveness -- Wolf. BLITZER: Sunlen Serfaty, thanks very much.

Hillary Clinton is back on the campaign trail after last night's down and dirty debate. She's working to try to get out the vote in key battleground states.

Our senior Washington correspondent, Joe Johns, is joining us live from Detroit.

BLITZER: Joe, Hillary Clinton has some fresh momentum right now. What's the latest?

JOE JOHNS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, she had noisy crowd here at Wayne State University in the Detroit area. The Clinton campaign says the candidate is happy with her performance, happy with the polls that show her up, and also hopeful that she was able to get her key campaign messages at that debate last night, despite what the campaign communications director, Jim Palmieri, calls distractions and even an attempt by Donald Trump to, quote, "intimidate the former secretary state."


JOHNS: Fresh off he contentious second debate, Hillary Clinton takes her campaign to the Motor City to woo blue-collar Michigan voters.

CLINTON: Donald Trump spent his time attacking when he should have been apologizing!

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm a Republican, but this election is so much bigger than party.

JOHNS: Her campaign is appealing not only to loyal Democratic voters but persuadable Republicans in a series of new TV ads featuring GOP voters who are supporting her bid.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: By putting party aside and voting for Hillary Clinton.

JOHNS: A CNN/ORC poll conducted immediately after the debate Sunday night found that 57 percent of those who watched believe Clinton won, compared with 34 percent who said Trump did. The survey, which skews slightly more Democratic, showed Clinton with a 34-point lead among women and an 11-point edge with men.

CLINTON: He needs to take responsibility for his actions and his words.

JOHNS: Clinton began the fiery debate taking aim at Trump's temperament, painting him as unfit for the presidency.

CLINTON: Donald Trump is different. I said starting back in June that he was not fit to be president and commander in chief.

JOHNS: Clinton seizing on the 2005 video of Trump making lewd comments about women to make a broader case about his readiness to become president.

CLINTON: Yes, this is who Donald Trump is. But it's not only women, and it's not only this video that raises questions about his fitness to be our president, because he has also targeted immigrants, African- Americans, Latinos, people with disabilities, POWs, Muslims, and so many others.

JOHNS: But Clinton also facing questions about leaked portions of her paid speeches, in which she said politicians can have different positions in public and in private.

CLINTON: As I recall, that was something I said about Abraham Lincoln. President Lincoln was trying to convince some people; he used some arguments. Convincing other people he used other arguments. That was a great -- I thought a great display of presidential leadership.

JOHNS: Trump quickly pounced on the remark.

TRUMP: She lied. Now she's blaming the lie on the late, great Abraham Lincoln. That's one that I haven't -- OK, honest Abe. Honest Abe never lied. That's the good thing. That's the big difference between Abraham Lincoln and you.

JOHNS: While much of the night was filled with sharp attacks, it ended on a higher note, with the candidates being asked to compliment their rival.

CLINTON: I respect his children. His children are incredibly able and devoted, and I think that says a lot about Donald.

[17:10:05] TRUMP: I will say this about Hillary. She doesn't quit; she doesn't give up. I respect that.


JOHNS: And the Clinton campaign saying they would like to get her more talking about what she'd like to do as president as opposed to Donald Trump, which only underscores a problem she's having: that he commands so much media attention, it's sometimes difficult for her to get her message out over the roar. And the concern is that things could get even worse in this last month, because last month's -- last night's debate suggests this could get even dirtier.

Back to you.

BLITZER: All right, Joe Johns reporting for us. Thank you.

Joining us now, Republican Congressman Chris Collins of New York. He was the first member of the Congress to endorse Donald Trump.

Congressman, thanks for joining us.

REP. CHRIS COLLINS (R), NEW YORK: Good to be with you, Wolf.

BLITZER: So Congressman, do you still support Paul Ryan as speaker of the House?

COLLINS: Oh, of course, I do.

Paul Ryan has a very difficult job. It is his job to make sure we maintain our majority in the House, which we're going to do, but the bigger the majority, the better. So nothing has changed over the last few months, where that's Paul Ryan's primary job. It was yesterday; it is today. And it's a true statement: all of us running for reelection have to run our own races. So I really didn't see any controversy or anything new popping up today that was any different than yesterday with Paul Ryan's focus on maintaining our majority in the House, which we're going to do.

BLITZER: That's what he says he's going to do exclusively. He's going to work to try to maintain that Republican majority in the House. But also on that conference call, according to our sources, he made it clear he is not going to defend Donald Trump; he's not going to go work for him. He's not going to do any campaigning for that. Is that appropriate?

COLLINS: Well, I mean, Paul Ryan never has defended Donald Trump. He's focused on maintaining our majority in the House. Again, I don't see that any different than we've had for the last few months. And it's going to be that the movement behind Donald Trump and the grassroots that are as supportive of Donald Trump today, as they were a week ago.

BLITZER: You know -- you know, Congressman, they were going to be campaigning together on Saturday, this past Saturday. Trump was going to go to Wisconsin. Paul Ryan was going to welcome him there. Reince Priebus, also from Wisconsin, the chairman of the Republican Party, was going to be there. The Republican senator, the Republican governor. But they disinvited Trump after that video came out Friday night. So there was going to be an effort by Paul Ryan to go out there publicly and campaign for him. But that's gone away. Are you happy about that?

COLLINS: Well, I will say Saturday was a very raw day, if you will, after that video came out that was disappointing to a lot of us in what he calls locker-room talk. But he has now apologized to America, which he did last night. And so he's moved on to the issues, the difference between his change agenda and Hillary Clinton's status quo agenda and clearly did point out 30 years of words that Hillary Clinton has made on campaign trails but no positive actions to support that.

So I think Donald Trump did an incredibly good job last night pivoting to the difference in his change agenda versus her status quo agenda and pointed out again and again, like in western New York, the jobs that she promised as a U.S. senator that never happened. She's making additional promises now on the campaign trail that, frankly, are not going to happen.

BLITZER: You mentioned Saturday was a pretty brutal day. So many Republican colleagues of yours, other well-known Republicans, like Condoleezza Rice, for example, Senator John McCain, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Congressman Jason Chaffetz. That video came out, and all of a sudden all of them said they could not support, they could not vote for Donald Trump. That was a breaking point for them, and it seems like for a lot of other Republicans, as well. Your reaction to that?

COLLINS: Well, I disagree. I think the majority of our members of Congress are still solidly behind Donald Trump, because we know what this country would look like with four years of Hillary Clinton in office. The Supreme Court is what came up last night, and she did not say for one second she was looking for Supreme Court justices to defend the Constitution. She wants to rewrite Citizens United, wants to take our guns away...

BLITZER: Congressman, what would be your breaking point?

COLLINS: My breaking point in supporting Donald Trump, I'm not sure there ever would be, considering Hillary Clinton and her actions, her lies to America. She's never apologized to lying about her e-mails. She's never apologized for lying to the Benghazi families.

BLITZER: So let me just be precise.

COLLINS: She's now lying about her -- WikiLeaks and the issues there.

BLITZER: Congressman, if more tapes come out, very, very raw, vile tapes came out in the coming days, that still wouldn't impact you as far as your support for Trump?

[17:15:05] COLLINS: Well, words are words, and they can be disappointing, and they can be language I would not use, but again, it comes back to words versus actions, and Donald Trump did point that out.

And his change agenda, whether it's our energy policy, Supreme Court, defeating ISIS, you know, making sure that we secure our borders and get our jobs back. That is the America that we have to worry about. It's not words; it's actions, and it's the future of our country. Donald Trump represents that agenda that's going to change the country for the better, working with a Republican House. And it's not Hillary Clinton and her empty rhetoric and her phony feminist agenda that is not reality.

So, no, I'm going to be -- continue to be a very strong Donald Trump supporter, because the future of America is at stake.

BLITZER: All right, Congressman. Stay with us. We have more to discuss. We'll take a quick break. We'll resume our conversation right after this.

(commercial break)

BLITZER: We're back with Chris Collins of New York. He was the first member of the House to support Donald Trump.

Congressman, Trump came into last night's debate reeling from the release of that awful video, with party leaders abandoning him left and right. Instead of showing some real genuine remorse, he proceeded to bring up Bill Clinton's accusers. He threatened to jail Hillary Clinton if he were elected president. He called her the devil. He repeated all those lines, by the way. Today at his rally went even further.

Is it smart for him to take what some call that scorched-earth approach?

COLLINS: Well, the Hillary Clinton campaign has taken a scorched- earth approach, because she really doesn't have a positive message for America, and her actions do speak louder than words. So what you've got here is an outright, you know, brawl. And I think we're going to see it for the next four weeks.

Donald Trump is going to be talking about his agenda of change. Hillary Clinton is -- I don't know if she's going to try to defend the indefensible, whether she's talking about our economy, the unrest in our inner cities, the divisiveness of this nation, the situation in Syria and Iraq.

Last night, she even had the audacity to say she was not in the administration when they drew the red line. Another outright lie. And so, you know, Hillary Clinton should be apologizing to America for, you know, her lies. But as we move forward, I'm afraid we're going to see, you know, a pretty nasty four weeks. And what goes around comes around.

And, you know, Donald Trump is not someone to take anything, you know, laying down, so, you know -- he did apologize. He moved right to his message of change. He contrasted that with Hillary Clinton. I suspect you're going to see that and, you know, some very blunt words.

BLITZER: It's going to be -- yes.

COLLINS: That's how Donald Trump talks to America.

BLITZER: If last night and today is any example, it's going to be brutal.

But you know what? Donald Trump wasn't always like that as far as Hillary Clinton is concerned. I interviewed him back in 1999. Listen to what he said then about Hillary Clinton.


TRUMP: Terrible times. I think she's been through more than any woman should have to bear, everything public. I mean, women go through this on a private basis and can't take it. She's on the front page of every newspaper every week with what went on in Washington. I think she's a wonderful woman.


BLITZER: He also around the same time, he called Bill Clinton a victim. He said that the accusers -- his accusers, in his words, were an unattractive group. He called Paula Jones a loser. What do you make of this reversal? And do you think voters buy this

sudden concern for these women that he's now showing?

COLLINS: Well, I mean, that was then, now is now. And what I would say, you know, some people don't remember I was the one that introduced Hillary Clinton in February of 2001 after she won the Senate race. I was the one that stood with her at my biotechnology company, introduced her to western New York as she started her Senate career.

I've subsequently seen who Hillary Clinton really is. I obviously don't support her at all now. I gave her the benefit of the doubt back in 2001, only to be disappointed with the rhetoric and the words that did not turn into actions.

But that was then. Now is now. And Donald Trump is a private-sector business guy doing business. And as he has said before, he understands, you know, at some point he was supporting Republicans, he was supporting Democrats as a private-sector business guy. You know, I'm not surprised he would say nice things, whether he was biting his tongue as he did or not.

But today is the day that matters, and Hillary Clinton's actions, certainly, since she was a U.S. senator and subsequently secretary of state, which have been one failure, one bad judgment call after another...

BLITZER: All right.

COLLINS: ... which has led us to where ISIS is today and so forth. You know, today is the day that matters, Wolf.

BLITZER: I'll just point out -- I'll just point out, Congressman, I remember that interview back in 1999. He was effusive. Very warm, very outgoing in his praise of Hillary Clinton at the time. And I assume he was very, very sincere back in 1999 in going out and saying all those nice things about her and her husband. But let's leave it on that note.

COLLINS: Well, you know, I think we should remember that she said very nice things about Donald Trump as well.

BLITZER: She and her husband went to his wedding, as a lot of us remember, as well.

COLLINS: That's correct. So another time.

BLITZER: So they -- they used to have a good relationship. Now they clearly don't, although they didn't shake hands at the beginning of that debate last night, but they did shake hand at the very end.

Congressman, thanks for joining us.

COLLINS: Always good to be with you, Wolf.

BLITZER: Coming up: the campaign trail is winding through the battleground states today, but the path to 270 electoral votes is not getting any easier for Donald Trump.

[17:25:10] And there are new indications right now that Kim Jong-un is planning some sort of provocation. Will he launch a new rocket ahead of the U.S. election?

Stay with us. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.


BLITZER: We're following the breaking news. CNN has learned members of the Republican National Committee, they're holding a conference call right now to discuss Donald Trump. It comes as a new national poll shows Trump now trailing Hillary Clinton by 11 points.

Let's bring in our political experts.

[17:30:02] Dana, first of all, there's this call going on. Speaker Ryan had his own call with Republicans today. This is not necessarily all that pretty for the Republicans.

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Right. And what is happening now is we talked over the weekend about the fact that the Republican Party was on pause, trying to see what happens at the debate. The debate has happened, so now everybody is assessing.

The call going on now is with the Republican National Committee chair, Reince Priebus, and his committeemen, people who are appointed to be on the Republican National Committee from all over the country. The headline from that call, I'm told by a source on it, is nothing is changing. We were reporting yesterday that it was very possible that the RNC, which is doing most of the funding and the grassroots get- out-the-vote operation for the Trump campaign, could pull the plug. They're not going to do that. That's the message that Reince Priebus is currently sending to his members right now.

He's saying that nothing is going to change with regard to the relationship with the campaign, that Trump's apology was heartfelt, and the Trump campaign and the RCN are in full coordination and will continue to be.

So that's going on now. That's kind of the -- you know, all systems are go with regard to the Republican National Committee, but that comes just hours after the House speaker had a conference call with his rank-and file saying something quite different. The message that he sent was everybody can do what they need to do. "I'm not going to defend him. I'm not going to unendorse him, but I'm not going to defend Donald Trump. We need to do what we need to do to preserve the majorities in the House, and you all need to do what you need to do to preserve your own seats."

BLITZER: But does that position that Paul Ryan, David Chalian, really make sense? Because he says he's still endorsing him, still going to vote for him, but he's not going to do anything to try to help him? He's going to focus all of his energies exclusively on getting Republicans elected in the House of Representatives. There seems to be a contradiction there. DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: He's trying to have it both

ways. Right? He's trying to rebuke the presidential nominee that he thinks is on the wrong course, give open -- opening to his members who are in competitive districts that they can follow this path, as well; let me show you the way.

And yet, he doesn't want to completely offend what is the life force, the energy in the party right now, are the core Trump supporters. And so for so many of Paul Ryan's members, they need those Trump supporters to show up in big numbers to maintain their majority.

So he's trying to have it both ways, which is not a really strong position for a leader to try to do, but it, I think, exemplifies the bind that the Republican Party is in right now.

BASH: No question.

CHALIAN: It is the very thing, Wolf. We saw the establishment Republicans throughout the entire nomination season -- New Hampshire, Iowa, all the way through the primaries -- twist themselves into knots as they worried that Donald Trump may be the nominee, and he kept rolling through. And this is what they were worried about. They were envisioning this very moment of him going scorched earth like this and just giving up on trying to win voters in the middle of the country.

BLITZER: So Mark Preston, does Paul Ryan want Donald Trump to be president?

MARK PRESTON, CNN POLITICS EXECUTIVE EDITOR: Well, he certainly wants Donald Trump to be president more than he wants to see Hillary Clinton to be president, but I think that he sees the political reality that he has members, House Republicans, that are in jeopardy if they connect themselves to Donald Trump.

Now, right now they have a very large lead in the House of Representatives. That's why when we talked about majorities and the Senate being very much on the edge for control for Democrats, but the House not being so, Paul Ryan is trying to shore up the support, trying to shore up the flank on the House side so that he makes sure that he has a majority heading into next year.

But I do think we need to emphasize this. Paul Ryan's first goal, his first job is to make sure there is a House majority. His goal is not necessarily to try to elect Donald Trump. So in many ways when we saw Donald Trump come out today and be critical of Paul Ryan and Paul Ryan stepping back and not taking the bait, that was very smart of him. Because the fact of the matter is, to engage in a fight with the Republican nominee, especially when it's Donald Trump, Wolf, not a good idea.

BLITZER: There is a fight going on, Brianna, right now between Paul Ryan and Donald Trump. Trump tweeted this after the word came out of what Paul Ryan was saying in that conference call with Republicans in the House. This is from Trump.

"Paul Ryan should spend more time on balancing the budget, jobs and illegal immigration and not waste his time on fighting Republican nominee."

This is pretty extraordinary. The top Republican in the House, in the Congress, is right now in a feud with the Republican nominee.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right. I think Paul Ryan would like to spend more time on balancing the budget. That would be his preference. You know, that's what he's sort of all about and what he's in this to do.

But I think when you look at that tweet, it to me it just is another data point on the reshaping of the American political system or the political parties as we know it. And we've seen now -- we sort of -- we're getting a better sense now than we did in years past of sort of where this is going. I don't think we exactly know, but you look back to 2009. David and I were talking about this, the protests at the Democratic town hall. We covered those, you know. We went out where you had a lot of people protesting what was going on in Obamacare.

[17:35:11] The 2012 autopsy for Republicans, that they said, "Oh, yes, we have this prescription," and they couldn't go anywhere with it. There was no way to implement it.

So you're seeing the Republican Party being reshaped in all of these things. This argument, it's a symptom of that.

BLITZER: Everybody stay with us. Stand by. In a moment I want all of your take -- takes on the viewers who are deeper into this debate and the increasingly vicious personal attacks which both candidates are repeating at their rallies today.


BLITZER: On the campaign trail this afternoon, both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton tore into each other, using language that echoes the deeply personal attacks we saw in last night's debate.


DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: Bernie Sanders, between super delegates and Deborah Wasserman Schultz, he never had a chance; and I was so surprised to see him sign on with the devil.

HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINE: It's just awfully good that someone with the temperament of Donald Trump is not in charge of the law in our country.

TRUMP: Because you'd be in jail.

Believe me, she has tremendous hate in her heart. And when she said deplorables, she meant it.


BLITZER: All right, Dana. So we just saw the very tough words. We see this new national poll that came out today from "The Wall Street Journal"/NBC News. Eleven-point lead nationally for Hillary Clinton right now. That poll was taken before the debate last night after the videotape came out Friday. So who's going to get a bounce, do you think, from this debate?

BASH: My prediction, which is always dangerous in politics in general, but especially in 2016, is that since he didn't, in the words of several Republicans I talked to, fully full-on melt down, then he won't bottom out even more. Likely, if he did a lot worse last night, it could have gotten a lot worse. The 11-point lead could ultimately, in post-debate polls look like an even bigger gulf, which is kind of hard to imagine.

I really don't know if he brought back support. I think he probably just stopped the bleeding.

BLITZER: What does this 11-point lead, David Chalian, tell us?

CHALIAN: Well, it tells us -- if you're down to 35 percent, you're starting to go lose some of your base, as well. And his base is probably closer to 40 percent. So when you see him go down to 35 percent, that's why the debate performance was so important for him last night, to put a floor underneath that. Because he clearly was in a downward spiral.

But that's all I think that debate probably did. We'll see. You saw our post-debate poll of debate watchers, thought that Hillary Clinton won that debate. So I think that if he stopped the slide with his own supporters, that gets him back to normal. But normal for Donald Trump, remember, is around 42 percent. That's not a winning number.

Donald Trump did nothing last night to improve his chances of victory. That is the problem with the debate last night.

BASH: He just improved...

BLITZER: As you know, Brianna, though, the Clinton campaign now apparently expanding its efforts, going into some states to try to help some down-ballot Senate races, House races. They're moving very quickly in this run.

BASH: That's right. And it tells you a lot about where they are in confidence coming out of the "Access Hollywood" tape and also coming out of this debate, that they are going -- looking more at battleground states. They will say when you ask them, "Do you think you have this wrapped up," they'll say, "A month is a lot of time." And they're just sort of afraid, I think, because some things have gone against conventional expectation during this election.

But that's it -- it is a lot of time. And things can change, right? One thing happens -- we've had all these leaked documents. You just never know. Everything is sort of shocking and yet not surprising at all.

But I think what they're seeing now as they spend all of their -- I think actually, yes. I think they think that she has, really, a much better shot now. They're feeling confident about it. But what they've been focused on before is getting her into the White House and realizing she might be in the White House with the Republican Senate and the Republican House. And now they're thinking, "Oh, my goodness. All these people who have hitched their carts to Donald Trump's horse, we are going after them."

I talked to one aide who said, "We have our eyes on McCain, Ayotte, Heck, Portman. We are going to go to town on these folks. They cannot -- we're not going to let them uncouple themselves from Donald Trump." So they're really seeing that.

BLITZER: Mark Preston, Trump's path to 270 electoral votes seems to be rather difficult right now. What does it mean, all of these late- breaking developments, for this battleground map?

PRESTON: Well, mathematically, I mean, to David's point, he hasn't grown his base. He needed to grow his base. By the way, as does Hillary Clinton. She needs to hold her lead and continue to grow it to solidify it.

Here's where the problem is for Donald Trump right now. For him to win the presidency, according to the CNN projections right now, he has to win the state of Florida, the state of Ohio and the state of North Carolina. All very expensive to advertise in, OK, in order to get your message out, whether it's going to be a positive message or whether it's a slash-and-burn message against Hillary Clinton, you need to do that.

In addition to that, you need to take away a Democratic state right now from Hillary Clinton. That's the state of Pennsylvania. Or you need to take away the state of -- there's one more...

BASH: Michigan.

PRESTON: Virginia or Michigan. OK, Virginia or Michigan. Two other ones, which gets him over 270.

Here's the problem with that, though, Wolf. That means that he has momentum going behind him, and he doesn't have momentum going behind him. He actually is receding right now.

[17:45:00] So his biggest problem right now is White college-educated voters and women voters. Specifically, let's look at the one state, of Pennsylvania, the suburbs of Philadelphia right now where he had a shot to pick up some ground there.

And quite frankly, what he did with bringing in the women last night into the audience, some of the things he has said, the Alicia Machado situation, the video tape -- oh, and by the way, he just said in the last hour, if they put out more video tapes about me, I'm going to continue to go after them, which leads us to believe that there are more video tapes out there.

BASH: Yes.

BLITZER: Yes, I suspect there are as well. There's one more debate, Dana, as we know in Las Vegas coming up. But only four weeks from tomorrow until this election and a lot of people are voting right now, so there's not a whole lot of time.

BASH: Not a whole lot of time at all. And the open question is whether there is another potential game changer, whether it's a video tape, you know, some kind of other October surprise because I think we've seen the mother of all October surprises with this tape. And the question is whether that happens to alter anything into the next debate. Otherwise, if that doesn't, I don't see how it changes anything.

CHALIAN: According to the estimates of the campaigns, nearly 40 percent of the electorate will cast their ballots before November 8th.

BLITZER: Early voting that's going on all over the country right now. Guys, stay with us.

Coming up, there's some suspicious new activity pointing to a new provocation by North Korea's Kim Jong-un. We're watching dangers.

New moves also by Vladimir Putin. Are the U.S. and Russia right now on the brink of a new cold war?


[17:50:59] BLITZER: We're keeping our eyes, right now, on some ominous developments in North Korea where there are new signs Kim Jong-un is about to order another dangerous military provocation.

Brian Todd is here. Brian, what does it look like the North Korean leader is up to this time?

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, tonight, these new satellite pictures from the monitoring group, 38 North, show signs that Kim Jong-un's regime may be preparing for another rocket launch. You've got activity near the launch pad here. You've got vehicles next to important fuel buildings here.

Now, this kind of activity has been seen before just ahead of rocket launches by the regime. And what worries the U.S. and its allies is that North Korea's rocket launches often mean they're making advances in their missile capability.


TODD (voice-over): Tonight, tensions between Kim Jong-un and his enemies are ramping up. Intelligence agencies from Seoul to Washington watching to see if North Korea's combustible ruler is preparing for a provocation, sometime around America's election.

Tonight, the monitoring group, 38 North, has new satellite pictures of the Sohae Satellite Launching Station in North Korea, pictures which indicate something could be brewing.

JOEL WIT, CO-FOUNDER, 38 NORTH: What we're seeing now is activity near here. We see crates on the launch pad, and we see activity here near the fuel oxidizer bunker. There are some vehicles out front. And so this could mean that the North is getting ready to launch a rocket.

TODD (voice-over): Sohae is a recently upgraded rocket station, the place where North Korea launched a satellite in February. And other rocket tests and more.

WIT: The North Koreans are developing a larger space launch vehicle, which the technology in that vehicle could be used for an intercontinental ballistic missile.

TODD (voice-over): Those are long-range missiles North Korea is believed to be developing, which could soon have the capability to strike the U.S. with a nuclear warhead. A U.S. intelligence official tells CNN Kim Jong-un could launch more missile tests in the coming weeks.

Kim's aggression prompting the U.S. to make its own statement, these B-1 bombers over South Korea. And U.S. And South Korean forces are stepping up military drills like the ones seen here. Tonight, they're conducting anti-submarine drills together off the coast of South Korea, possibly in response to Kim's submarine launched missile tests in August.

Off Alaska, American and South Korean forces are simulating attacks on nuclear facilities. And recently, South Korea's Defense Minister said his country has elite troops on standby to assassinate Kim Jong-un if South Korea feels threatened by North Korea's nuclear weapons, but analysts say the North Koreans are better trained for that kind of mission.

GORDON CHANG, COLUMNIST, THE DAILY BEAST: They have not been operating in North Korea, as far as we know, for decades, and so they don't have the practical experience. The North Korean Special Operation Forces have operated in South Korea recently and are probably more capable than their South Korean counterparts.

TODD (voice-over): North Korean Special Forces have launched several commando raids inside South Korea and made multiple attempts to assassinate South Korean presidents in years past.


TODD: And Kim's regime has responded to the South Korean threat to target Kim, saying that if that happens, North Korea is going to reduce the South Korean capital, Seoul, to ashes and that they'll wipe the U.S. territory of Guam from the face to have earth. Wolf.

BLITZER: Brian, it wasn't long ago the North Korea held its own drills to practice attacking the South Korean President, right?

TODD: That's right. Kim Jong-un's forces, back in April, Wolf, they constructed a mockup of the so-called Blue House. That is South Korea's equivalent of the White House. They held assault drills on that mockup, and South Korean forces had to step up security around President Park Geun-hye.

She is, of course, used to all of these because her own father, Park Chung-hee, survived an assassination attempt by a North Korean agent in 1974 when he was president. But his wife, the current South Korean's President mother, she was killed in that attack. This South Korean President has a lot of experience with Kim Jong-un and his family targeting them.

BLITZER: These are all very, very ominous moves. All right, Brian. Thank you very much.

[17:55:02] Coming up, Donald Trump hits a new low in his debate with Hillary Clinton and in a new national poll where he trails now by double digits. Is the Trump campaign in free fall and dragging down the GOP with it?

And growing tensions between the U.S. and Russia as Moscow makes a series of aggressive military moves. Is Vladimir Putin also making moves to interfere with the U.S. election?


[17:59:51] BLITZER: Happening now. Breaking news. Downward spiral. Donald Trump is now trailing Hillary Clinton by double digits in new national poll that has just come out, his numbers plummeting in the wake of that video tape in which he boasts about groping women. Can his campaign recover?

Friends like these. House Speaker Paul Ryan tells fellow Republicans he will no longer defend Donald Trump.