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THE SITUATION ROOM
The Obamas Campaign For Hillary Clinton; Clinton and Hillary Attend a Dinner. Aired 5:30-6p ET
Aired October 20, 2016 - 17:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICHELLE OBAMA, UNITED STATES FIRST LADY: Hillary knows that our country is powerful and vibrant and strong, big enough to have a place for all of us. And, that each of us is a precious part of the great American story. Hillary believes in equality, inclusion, liberty and justice for all, that each of us should have that chance to fulfill our potential and build our shared future.
(Chanting & Applause)
M. OBAMA: That is Hillary's vision for America. And, Hillary doesn't just have a powerful vision for this country, she has the policies to actually make that vision a reality.
M. OBAMA: And isn't that what we've been looking for in this election? I mean, I can't tell you how many people have told me that they are desperate to cut through the negativity and the noise and hear what these candidates actually want to do.
Well, let me tell you. Since the day Hillary launched her campaign she has been laying out concrete, detailed policies that will actually make a difference in people's lives. Let me tell you, if you are a young person, worried about affording college, Hillary has a plan to make your education tuition free and to help folks drowning in college debt.
M. OBAMA: Are you a parent who can't take a day off from work to care for a sick child or an aging parent or give birth? Hillary has a plan for paid family leave that will help you.
M. OBAMA: If you are working two, three jobs and still struggling to get by, Hillary has a plan to raise the minimum wage.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WOLF BLITZER, ANCHOR: All right, we're going to continue to monitor Michelle Obama, The First Lady of the United States. She's delivering a very, very powerful speech in favor of Hillary Clinton, really slamming Donald Trump.
Dana Bash and our political panel are here. Dana, this is quite a one- two punch for Hillary Clinton today. The President spoke in Florida just a little while ago. Now she's in Arizona, all of a sudden that's a battleground state. And they're really going after Donald Trump. I guess Hillary Clinton could afford to take the day off from the Campaign trail when she has surrogates like that.
DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: We were all just watching Michelle Obama saying the same thing, wondering where she is, remembering that she has a dinner that Donald Trump is going to attend as well in New York tonight. And, like, sort of, does it matter? No. The answer is no.
In fact, you know, a lot of people who are very big supporters of Hillary Clinton, who I talked to, say, you know what, it's -- it's better sometimes for Barack Obama and Michelle Obama to be out there. They are so good. And they are so fired up, pardon the expression, because this is their legacy. And they're enjoying it. And, because the stakes are high in that they want to have a third democratic term, but not as high because they're not the ones on the ticket. And, to have the Barack Obama speech, President Obama speech, in the battleground of Florida, as you said to send her to Arizona where it was not supposed to be a battleground, says a lot. Especially the day after the last debate.
BLITZER: And Vice President Joe Biden, is in Pennsylvania. Another state obviously they want to win and they want to win it big. Everyone stand by.
We're going to continue our analysis. There's more breaking news coming into "The Situation Room." we'll be right back.
BLITZER: We're awaiting tonight's joint appearance by Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. They'll be together at a catholic church event, The Alfred E. Smith charity dinner in New York City just 24 hours after their very bitter attack filled debate last night.
This afternoon in Florida and Arizona President Obama and the First Lady, they ripped into Trump for his vision for America. We're back with our political experts.
Jamie, I know you've been speaking with a lot of your republican sources today, and many of them are telling you from their republican perspective last night was a disaster. Why?
JAMIE GANGEL, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, what's worse than a train wreck, Wolf? I mean, from their perspective he had this, as we said, very strong 30 minutes, and then it was as if he blew himself up. With the comments about not -- leaving us in suspense over the results of the election, whether he would accept them or not. Nasty woman, bad hombres, his imitation of SNL wrong. It just overshadowed everything else at a time they cannot afford it.
And, these are people by and large who have said they're going to vote for him. And they just feel as if he's taking a couple of quotes -- one said he's the master of self-sabotage. Another said he knocked himself out. And, another said, what's wrong with him? They just can't believe -- it's like Charlie Brown and Lucy and the football. Each time they hope, for 30 minutes they hoped that he was going to have this substantive debate, and then he just explodes.
BLITZER: Sara Murray, you have been covering him on a day-to-day basis now for almost a year and a half. What's the likely impact on his base, his supporters?
SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL REPORTER: Well, look, Donald Trump's base, some of the things he said on the debate stage, calling Hillary Clinton a nasty woman, disagreeing with her like that, his base likes that. Those are applause lines at his rallies.
MURRAY: But, the problem is he already has his base, his base is not going to suddenly defect to Hillary Clinton. And, it does seem like a little bit of a gamble from the campaign to spend so much time and effort sort of hoping that there are these huge numbers of secret Trump voters. That there are these angry white voters who haven't turned out in elections in numbers that are big enough to compensate for the republican women they're losing, for the independents they're losing. Because, there is very little that happened on that debate stage that Donald Trump can point to and say, this is something I did that's going to expand my base of support.
BLITZER: Because he needs, Mark Preston, a lot more support than his base. He's got to get those undecided voters, those who are still on the fence. What happened last night, did that work for him?
MARK PRESTON, CNN POLITICS EXECUTIVE EDITOR: No absolutely not. And listen, what everyone has said so far is absolutely spot on. And Republicans are telling me the same thing as well. And, what's interesting about Donald Trump and when he performs at these debates, Wolf, is that he is graded on this big curve.
If he goes out there and doesn't implode like we saw at like, minute 31 last night, then everyone thinks that he was doing a good job. But, last night he was speaking directly to his base. At this point in the campaign, you don't talk to your base anymore. You don't hammer home on Roe v. Wade. You don't bring up Anton Scalia's name time and again. You need to broaden your support.
You know, oftentimes I think, when we're grading Donald Trump, it reminds me of my kids who are playing sports -- kids' sports. Participation trophies. They get a participation trophy for showing up. And that's what's been happening with Donald Trump, Wolf. And I know -- it doesn't (inaudible) -- but the fact of the matter is it is true. And, right now republicans are very concerned with these down- ballot races. Publicly they're not saying it as much, but they are very, very, very concerned.
BASH: And, beyond that is a question of what Donald Trump really needed. Obviously he needed to do well last night, whatever that means. Participation trophy or not. But, he also needed Hillary Clinton to have a bad moment, to have a bad night, and to have sort of an issue where she is trying to play catch-up and she is on defense.
He had opportunities, big-time, last night. Wikileaks is a great example. Chris Wallace asked her a very tough question about Wikileaks, she obviously was prepared for it. She pivoted to Russia and then he took the bait and they started fighting over Putin instead of him saying, wait a minute. Let's not get side-tracked here. Nice try, Secretary Clinton. Let's talk about the fact that x, y, and z on Wikileaks and all of the issues that they were hoping to push her on, on evidence that she is just same old, same old, she is an insider, you know using her power for benefit, all of the things that does help not just with the base but to expand beyond it potentially, to people who are sick of Washington. And that's not just the republican base.
BLITZER: And, what the republicans, Jamie, are also really worried about, these down-ballot races.
Let's take a look at New Hampshire right now, this latest WMUR University of New Hampshire poll. Look at this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Hillary Clinton 48%, Trump, 33%. A 15-point up margin in New Hampshire. And republicans see that, and many of them worried about the House, worried about the Senate, worried about some gubernatorial contests. A lot of them are beginning to freak out a bit.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GANGEL: Right. So, as we all know there are positive coattails and there are negative coattails. And, so, for someone like republican incumbent Senator Kelly Ayotte, she has to worry -- Ayotte, I mispronounced it -- she has to worry when he is dragging her down by 15 points. What is that going to mean for her.
You saw Senator McCain come out today. You have seen Senator Johnson. There are several big GOP people who are watching these internal tracking numbers. They are hoping that a couple of their very strong republican senators will be able to withstand this. But several I spoke to said, we think we may lose the Senate. So there's big concern about it.
BLITZER: We heard Mark Preston, the First Lady in Arizona. Do they really think that's doable, Arizona right now? It hasn't gone for a republican presidential candidate in, what, 20 years?
PRESTON: Right. So Bill -- you know Bill Clinton was the last person to win it. Before that it was Harry Truman. Which just tells you the state of the electorate out there. But, it's an electorate that's changing. We're seeing a lot of Hispanics to move into that state.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PRESTON: Even state republican officials will say that they're afraid of losing Arizona. What the problem in Arizona, I mean is, if -- could John McCain get caught into this Donald Trump slide, as Jamie said.
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PRESTON: Negative coattails. John McCain who, by the way criticized Donald Trump for his comments today about saying he might not accept the election results. But, they're going in with money. We saw Chelsea Clinton out there. We've seen Bernie Sanders out there as well. They think they can make a play.
BLITZER: You know, it's interesting. You cover Donald Trump, it seemed that Hillary Clinton had a strategy to get under his skin and see what happens. For example, the debate was -- seemed to be going relatively smoothly, substantive issues, until she said, when he went to Mexico he choked.
BLITZER: He, couldn't even bring up the idea of a wall with a Mexican president. He has often said some of his political opponents have choked. All of a sudden we see Donald Trump coming out and doing and saying things probably his advisers were cringing over.
MURRAY: Right. Well, Hillary Clinton does this for a reason. And, it's because we've seen, over the last year and a half that Donald Trump doesn't just take an insult and let it fly off his back or roll off his shoulders. He has to respond to something like that. And, while I think he did improve in some ways in this last debate. He was a little bit calmer, for instance, when she attacked the way he built his business and the money he took from his father. He still, for the most part, failed to do what he went out there to do, which was he wanted to prosecute the case on Wikileaks. He wanted to take her to task over the Clinton Foundation. And, he wanted to sort of paint her as the same old politician.
But, we didn't hear him go to any of the lines that he has been testing recently. The drain the swamp in Washington. We didn't hear him talking about term limits. He still fell for the bait on too many occasions. And, he's going to continue doing that on the campaign trail. I think we're seeing that with the women who are coming out making accusations against Donald Trump. He's going to keep responding at these rallies to each one of those women.
BASH: Right, and in case it's not obvious, it was completely by design, starting with the first debate. After the first debate I had somebody admit to me that they were reading some of the unsolicited notes that they were getting from psychologists, psychiatrists, people who did business with him, to learn how to get under his skin.
BLITZER: Guys, stay with us because there is a lot more coming up. Donald Trump says he'll accept the election results, if he wins.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BLITZER: How dangerous are his latest comments?
And Ivanka Trump is back on the campaign trail defending her father, but can she save her own brand? Stay with us, you're in "The Situation Room."
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Ivanka Trump is in Wisconsin today. Even though she's campaigning for her father she is rejecting a common political term for her role.
Brian Todd has taken a closer look at her place in this campaign. Brian, tell us a bit more.
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, Ivanka Trump seems to be rejecting a couple of different common terms for her role. She doesn't seem to like the words "surrogate" or "adviser." But, whatever you call Ivanka Trump, there is no doubting her crucial role in this campaign tonight, in public and behind the scenes.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TODD (voice-over): Ivanka Trump, counted on by her father to rescue her with women voters in the campaign's final weeks. Donald Trump's soon to be 35-year-old daughter says she's not the campaign mastermind, isn't even an adviser. But there's another term she likes even less.
IVANKA TRUMP, DONALD TRUMP'S DAUGHTER: I hate the word surrogate. No, I'm not a surrogate, I'm a daughter.
TODD: But, she's acted as perhaps her father's most effective spokesperson. Today alone two public events in Wisconsin.
TRUMP: Being a stay at home parent is hard work, and I know because there are Monday mornings where I'm leaving my house really excited to get out of there.
TODD: But this daughter of a billionaire who works for her father is far from the average stay at home mom. Still, it's Ivanka Trump who's come out and answered the week's most controversial question faced by the campaign.
I. TRUMP: I believe he'll accept the outcome either way.
TODD: Something her father still hasn't committed to.
D. TRUMPP: I will totally accept the results of this great and historic presidential election, if I win! [ applause ]
TODD: Can we see her declaration that he'll accept the results as a message coming from her father through her.
A. B. STODDARD, ASSOCIATE EDITOR & COLUMNIST, REAL CLEAR POLITICS: I think Republicans can hope that Ivanka Trump is telegraphing Donald Trump's intention to accept the outcome of the election. But from his rhetoric, both in the debate and at his rallies, it doesn't sound that way. And, they've known in the past that at times he listens to no one.
TODD: There's another controversy which Ivanka Trump has clearly not been out in front of. It took her more than a week to comment on her father's crude remarks on the Access Hollywood tape.
I. TRUMP: I did find it to be offensive.
TODD: She said that's not consistent with the language she's heard from him. But, Ivanka Trump has also not addressed the recent accusations of sexual misconduct against her father, now leveled by at least ten different women. Donald Trump denies any wrongdoing, but the only time we heard his daughter talk about that alleged behavior was to CBS News after a separate accusation back in May.
I. TRUMP: He's not a groper. It's not who he is.
STODDARD: Ivanka Trump and others don't know if there are more accusations coming. So you don't see them saying that these stories are fictionalized, just like her father keeps saying they are, because we don't know what's coming.
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TRUMP: Now, we pressed the Trump campaign several times today for a response from Ivanka Trump to those accusations of sexual misconduct against her father. They did not respond to our inquiries us on that. And they didn't respond when we asked them if she is speaking on his behalf when she says her father will accept the election results either way. Wolf.
BLITZER: Brian, also tonight, Donald Trump seems to be counting on at least one other woman in his family to help rescue him with women voters, and this is someone we haven't heard much from yet.
TODD: That's right. Her name is Lara Trump Wolf. She is the wife of Trump's eldest son, Eric Trump. And she's apparently is now making the rounds on T.V. Lara Trump spoke to CNN's Brooke Baldwin earlier today and said her father-in-law has always been respectful of women, that he's "championed women." That he's hired more female than male executives in the Trump organization. He's trying to pull all the women in his family into this narrative, Wolf. It may just be too late.
BLITZER: All right, Brian. Thanks very much. Brian Todd reporting.
Coming up, after refusing to say he'll honor the election results, Donald Trump now says he'll accept the outcome, if he wins. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: That may be a joke, but hardly anyone is laughing right now as fallout continues from his debate night shocker.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Happening now. Sore loser.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Donald Trump stands by his refusal for certain to say that he'll accept the outcome of the election. The backlash growing after the debate bombshell. Tonight, Trump is about to be face-to-face with Hillary Clinton again. Can they contain the fireworks we saw on stage?
One-two-punch, the President and First Lady wrap up their criticism of Donald Trump in back to back campaign appearances on behalf of Hillary Clinton.