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THE SITUATION ROOM
Interview With Former Michigan Congressman Pete Hoekstra; President and First Lady Stump for Hillary; Will Trump Accept Election Defeat? WikiLeaks Releases Stolen Obama Emails; North Korea Missile Launch Apparently Fails; U.S. Service Member Killed in Action in Northern Iraq; Philippines President Announces Split with U.S. Aired 6-7p ET
Aired October 20, 2016 - 18:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Can they contain the fireworks we saw on stage?
One-two punch. The president and first lady ramp up their criticism of Donald Trump in back-to-back campaign appearances on behalf of Hillary Clinton -- this hour, the Obamas on the campaign trail and on the offensive.
Putin's puppet. Just hours after Trump and Clinton sparred over the Kremlin leader's influence, there's new evidence of Russia's link to a politically charged cyber-attack. We will have the alarming details. Could your e-mail be vulnerable to foreign hackers?
And failure to launch. North Korea tests its missile power again, as the U.S. and South Korea takes new steps to counter Kim Jong-un's nuclear threats.
We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
BLITZER: Let's get to the breaking news tonight. We're standing by to see Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton once again in the same room, under pressure to be civil tonight, just hours after their fiery final debate.
The presidential candidates, who refused to even shake hands, will both speak at a charity dinner in New York City this evening.
Tonight, Trump is also defending his most stunning remark during the debate, his refusal to promise that he will accept the results of the election. At a rally in Ohio, Trump vowed to reserve his right to challenge the vote if it's questionable. After days of warning of a rigged election, Trump says he will accept the outcome only if it's clear or if he wins.
President Obama is warning that Trump's talk of election fraud without any evidence is dangerous. The president campaign for Clinton a short while ago in Miami, just before Michelle Obama appeared in Phoenix. She told Clinton supporters that Trump's vision is grounded in what she called hopelessness and despair.
Also tonight, new condemnation of North Korea for firing another missile, as Kim Jong-un works to develop nuclear weapons that could potentially reach the United States. U.S. officials say the launch appears to have failed, but the Obama administration is racing to deploy a missile defense system in South Korea as soon as possible.
I will talk with a top Trump adviser, the former House Intelligence Committee Chairman Pete Hoekstra. And our correspondents and analysts, they are also standing by as we cover the day's top stories.
First, let's go to CNN national correspondent Jason Carroll. He's in Ohio, where Trump campaigned today.
Jason, Trump is under lots of fire right now from members of both parties for refusing to commit to accept the election results.
What is the latest?
JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Right, Wolf, Donald Trump under fire from members of his own party again. He's got his surrogates out there trying to clarify his position again. Trump, for his part, making his position quite clear.
CARROLL (voice-over): Donald Trump is making a new commitment today about the results of November's presidential election.
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I will totally accept the results of this great and historic presidential election...
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
TRUMP: ... if I win.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
CARROLL: That pledge comes as Trump has raised unfounded concerns about widespread voter fraud.
TRUMP: We want fairness in the election.
CARROLL: Campaigning today in Ohio, Trump said he would accept the result, if it was clear.
TRUMP: Of course, I would accept a clear election result, but I would also reserve my right to contest or file a legal challenge in the case of a questionable result.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
CARROLL: The GOP nominee's comments come hours after he refused to say whether he would respect the verdict from voters on November 8. CHRIS WALLACE, MODERATOR: Not saying that you're necessarily going to
be the loser or the winner, but that the loser concedes to the winner and that the country comes together in part for the good of the country. Are you saying you're not prepared now to commit to that principle?
TRUMP: What I'm saying is that I will tell you at the time. I will keep you in suspense.
CARROLL: Trump's campaign manager trying to clarify those comments.
CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Saying, I won't accept it, I won't accept it if I don't win. Fundamentally, that's what he said. We have never heard it before.
KELLYANNE CONWAY, TRUMP CAMPAIGN MANAGER: Chris, he did not say that. Chris, he did not say -- excuse me. He did not say, I won't accept it if I don't win. He said, let's see what happens, meaning let's see how close it is.
CARROLL: Trump's debate performance seen as more disciplined than his previous two meetings with Hillary Clinton, but still, at times, relying on personal attacks, interrupting Clinton during her response to a question about Social Security.
HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: My Social Security payroll contribution will go up, as will Donald's, assuming he can't figure out how to get out of it. But what we want to do is to replenish the Social Security Trust Fund...
TRUMP: Such a nasty woman.
CARROLL: Comments that could hurt Trump's efforts to chip away at Clinton's advantage among women in the polls, as Trump continues to face the fallout from accusations of sexual misconduct, Trump denying the allegations again Wednesday night and suggesting, without proof, that Clinton and her campaign might be behind them.
TRUMP: Because those stories are all totally false, I have to say that. And I didn't even apologize to my wife, who's sitting right here, because I didn't do anything.
I think they want either fame or her campaign did it. And I think it's her campaign.
CARROLL: And Mike Pence, who previously said that he would accept the election result, now falling in line with what Trump is saying, saying at a rally a little earlier today that he reserves the right to contest what he calls a questionable result -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Jason Carroll in Delaware, Ohio, for us, thank you. We will soon see Hillary Clinton for the first time today as she
attends that charity dinner in New York City with Donald Trump. Her top surrogates have been out in force on the campaign trail for her today, spreading her message, including the president and the first lady.
Our senior political correspondent, Brianna Keilar, is in New York for us.
Brianna, President Obama spoke in Miami, had very sharp words for Trump about his claims of a rigged election. Tell our viewers what he said.
BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right. He sure did, Wolf, loud and clear heard from the bully pulpit in Miami, as President Obama campaigned for Hillary Clinton. And he did seize on those comments that you just saw in Jason's story, Donald Trump not committing to conceding the election or conceding a loss should he lose on Election Day, and then today saying that he would accept the result if he won.
Here's what President Obama said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This is more than just the usual, standard lie, because when you suggest rigging or fraud without a shred of evidence, when last night at the debate Trump becomes the first major party nominee in American history to suggest that he will not concede, despite losing the vote, and then says today that he will accept the results if he wins, that is -- that is not a joking matter.
No, no, I want everybody to pay attention here. That is dangerous, because when you try to sow the seeds of doubt in people's minds about the legitimacy of our elections, that undermines our democracy.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KEILAR: And, Wolf, this is something that Democrats are largely seeing and the campaign is largely seeing as a fatal mistake by Donald Trump just a few weeks out from Election Day.
They certainly see it as a political gift to them, but they're also genuinely concerned from some of the rhetoric that they have heard from Donald Trump last night at the debate and, as you heard today, President Obama outlining that.
BLITZER: Brianna, we also heard from the first lady, Michelle Obama, in Arizona just a little while ago. She's also a powerful, very powerful critic of Trump. Tell us about that.
KEILAR: Yes, she could be one of the most powerful surrogates for Hillary Clinton because of her reach with the Obama coalition and certainly with women. So she actually was lobbing a criticism at Donald Trump, one that at
times has been lobbed at Hillary Clinton, that he's rich and out of touch with the middle class. But she also basically said that he's racist, he's sexist and he's prejudiced against all kinds of different people. Here's what she said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICHELLE OBAMA, FIRST LADY: Maybe it's easy for him to mock people with disabilities because he's unable to see their strength and their contributions.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
M. OBAMA: Maybe that's why he demeans and humiliates women, as if we're objects meant solely for pleasure and entertainment, rather than human beings worthy of love and respect.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
M. OBAMA: He just doesn't understand us. Maybe that's why he calls communities like the one where I was raised hell, because he can't see all of the decent, hardworking folks like my parents who took those extra shifts, paid their bills on time, folks who are raising amazing families, sending kids to college.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
M. OBAMA: Maybe, maybe he doesn't believe that people like us really exist, because he doesn't see our shared humanity.
And it is becoming increasingly clear that, to him, most of America is them. But here's the thing. Look at us.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
M. OBAMA: Just look at us. We all know better. We all know better. Whether we're Democrats, Republicans, or independents, it does not matter. We all understand that an attack on any one of us is an attack on all of us.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KEILAR: As noteworthy as what the first lady, Michelle Obama, said there, Wolf, is where she was saying it. She's in Arizona.
That is a state that has been reliably red for many cycles. The last time it went for a Democrat was 1996, when Bill Clinton won the state. The polls are tight there. Hillary Clinton and her campaign are seeing opportunity, and so they dispatched Michelle Obama there today. Chelsea Clinton was there yesterday. Bernie Sanders was there on Tuesday, as they hope certainly with their appeal to Hispanic voters that they're seeing in their favor, that perhaps they can win that state. BLITZER: Perhaps. We shall see very, very soon. All right, Brianna,
thank you very much.
Let's bring in a top Trump adviser right now.
Pete Hoekstra is a former U.S. congressman, former chairman of the House Intelligence Committee.
Congressman, thanks very much for joining us.
PETE HOEKSTRA (R), FORMER U.S. CONGRESSMAN: It's good to be with you. Thank you, Wolf.
BLITZER: All right, so you heard Donald Trump today come out and actually he sort of joked, he had a big smile on his face about accepting the results of the election, saying he pledges he will accept the results if he wins.
But is this really a joking matter?
HOEKSTRA: Well, I think it's not a joking matter, what happens in the elections.
We need to have fair elections. And so making sure that we do everything as we move forward to have a fair process that gets us to Election Day and through Election Day is absolutely critical. The only candidate that I know out there today who has actually not accepted the results of an election is Hillary Clinton.
It appears that she says President Bush, he was selected, he was not elected to office. That doesn't sound like a candidate who can get in debate and with -- it's phony, saying, I'm appalled, when she was using that kind of language after the 2000 election.
You know, you have got to cover both sides of this.
BLITZER: Well, I think what she was referring to is that, yes, President Bush was elected. The Supreme Court came down. Bush v. Gore, we all remember that. I was in Tallahassee covering that.
I think what she's suggesting, though, is that Al Gore did get 500,000 more votes nationally than Bush did, but he wound up, because of Florida, he got more Electoral College votes. We don't have to go through all of that one more time.
But let's talk about right now. A lot of people heard what Trump said last night when Chris Wallace asked him flatly, are you ready to accept the results of the election? He said, I will let you know, I will keep you in suspense.
And almost everyone, historians and a lot of Republicans, your old friend John McCain, they couldn't believe that. They were really upset. And I assume you were as well.
HOEKSTRA: No, I wasn't. I come out of the business world. And as you're going through this
process, I think Donald Trump has every right to say, regardless -- in regards to what happens with the media over the next 19 days, what happens on Election Day, and that as we finish election night, and it's a clear and a fair process, I expect that he will accept the results.
If there's questions about the process leading up to it, there may be -- he has a right to have reservations about where we move. I think that this is something that clearly the media has taken it. They're saying this is a story. Actually, I think the more important stories are the things like you saw today, your reporting, North Korea launches another ballistic missile, what's happened in Asia, what's happened in the Middle East, what's happened with Russia, what's happened with the economy.
These are the kind of issues that I wish the American people, I wish the media was talking about, because these are the issues that make a difference to the American people.
BLITZER: You know, some of his I guess critics are suggesting that he's making some self-inflicted wounds, and they're raising the question of whether he really, really wants to be president.
Are you certain? And you have met with him now several times. You're one of his advisers. Are you certain he really wants to be president?
HOEKSTRA: Oh, absolutely. He's got a vision.
He wants to bring prosperity to all the American people. You don't run for president and invest all the time and energy, the personal capital into running for public office, especially at this level, if you don't want to be president.
He's tapped into some real frustrations from the American people. Americans are frustrated. Washington, D.C., is the only city in 30 years that has never had a recession. Washington, D.C., is the only city that goes and allows parts of the country that says, you know, here's a set of laws, we don't really care whether you apply them or not to citizens, when we allow things like sanctuary cities.
These are things that the American people are frustrated about. These are things that they care about. And these are the things that they want changed with a new president.
BLITZER: Congressman, are Donald Trump's repeated assertions that the election could be rigged a threat to what we call those down-ballot Republicans right now? Because, as you know, there are plenty of Republican senators in very competitive race in key swing states like Pennsylvania and Ohio.
Trump loses in those states, but those Republican candidates win, is Trump calling their victories into question as well?
HOEKSTRA: No, I don't think he's calling their victory or their defeat.
Each of these candidates will have to make a decision themselves as to what happened into their area where they're being elected from, whether that was a fair election or not and whether the process leading up to that was a fair process or not.
No, I don't think he's calling any of those into question. All Mr. Trump said last night was, I reserve the right to hold -- to validate that election until after the election. He didn't say anything more. He didn't say anything less.
BLITZER: Let me just correct you, Congressman. He said that today. He didn't say that in the debate last night. In the debate last night, he says, I want to keep you in suspense.
He didn't raise that other point that you're making. He did today, but he didn't last night.
Let me ask you this, because you're a co-chair of Trump' campaign in your home state of Michigan. You know Trump. You know him as -- the course of this campaign. On election night, let's say Donald Trump loses by a decisive margin, who is going to go tell him to concede?
HOEKSTRA: Well, I don't think anybody will go tell Mr. Trump to go concede.
I think what we will do is, he will look at the results and if he sees that it's an overwhelming defeat for Mr. Trump, he will make that decision himself. If he sees that it's an overwhelming victory for himself, he will expect Hillary Clinton to go make that speech.
BLITZER: Are you confident that, if he loses, let's say, decisively and his aides, his top advisers, say, you have to concede, you have to do it in a gracious way, like other candidates, like John McCain did it, like Mitt Romney did it, for example, are you confident he will listen to them?
HOEKSTRA: I have been with Mr. Trump on a few occasions. I find him to be the ultimate professional. He asks a lot of good questions. He's very decisive. He knows where he wants to go.
But, ultimately, he's a man of character with extreme professionalism. He will do the right thing on election night.
BLITZER: All right, that's encouraging to hear that.
We will see if he wins or he loses, obviously still, what, 18, 19 days to go.
I need you to stand by. We're going to continue our conversation. We will have a few more questions for you right after this.
BLITZER: Tonight, President Obama is asking Republicans if they're OK with Donald Trump's so-called bromance with Vladimir Putin.
We're back with Trump national security adviser the former House Intelligence Committee Chairman Pete Hoekstra.
Congressman, Trump strongly implied last night that he doesn't trust the assessment of 17 military and civilian intelligence agencies here in the United States who have said that the Russian government is behind the hacks on the Democratic Party.
You're the former chairman of the Intelligence Committee. Is Trump wrong to question this assessment of the intelligence community?
HOEKSTRA: No, he's not wrong at all.
I think one of the things that has to happen is -- and I have gone back and read the statement. The statement came from the director of national intelligence and it came from, I believe, the secretary of homeland security. It didn't come from all 17 agencies.
The other key thing here is that it says the hackings have all the markings of what the Russians would do, and it is very -- it's not very specific as to whether it comes from -- directly from the Russian government or whether it comes from some other agency or some other entity in Russia.
So, there's still a lot of uncertainty exactly who is doing this and who is directing it.
BLITZER: But you know the director of national intelligence, not the director of the CIA, who only represents the CIA, the director of national intelligence, you know, represents all of the civilian and military intelligence agencies in the United States, he speaks for all of them, and there are, what, 17 of them.
And, you know, they came out. Like I said, they're not very specific. They said it has the markings of the Russians. This intel community, it has proven to be politicized. We know what has come out of the Middle East where a number of people at the lower levels have said this is the information that we were feeding into Washington, and then when we listen to the DNI or we listen to the CIA director talk about some of these issues, it doesn't match the intelligence that we are feeding in.
So that's a question mark. We know that the information that was coming from Secretary Clinton and from President Obama when it was in regards to Benghazi or when they were talking about ISIS as the J.V. team, that came out of the intelligence community. Those two areas proved to be very, very wrong.
So, yes, I think Donald Trump has the -- has a legitimate right to have skepticism about the claims that are being made at this time.
BLITZER: Let's talk about the hacking of John Podesta, who is the Hillary Clinton campaign chairman, of his e-mail.
I want you to take a look, because it looked like it was hacked pretty easily. It was accessed through what seems to be a standard phishing e-mail sent to his Gmail account telling him to change his password.
Is this a method that you have seen in your time when you served on the Intelligence Committee?
HOEKSTRA: Oh, I think it's very consistent with what we have seen.
But I think that the Russians, the Chinese, the Iranians, and others have much more sophisticated tools to go into Mr. Podesta's e-mail, to go into your e-mail, to go into my e-mails and those types of things.
Wolf, this is the new -- excuse me -- this is the new battleground of the future. The rules are very, very loose as to what countries can and cannot do. And I think, as Michael Hayden, the former director of the CIA, has recently said, this is something that all countries are engaged in, including the United States of America.
BLITZER: All right. We're going leave it on that note.
Pete Hoekstra is the former chairman of the House Intelligence Committee.
Congressman, thanks for joining us.
HOEKSTRA: Thank you, Wolf.
BLITZER: Just ahead, we will have the latest on North Korea's newest missile test, what it means for Kim Jong-un's nuclear threats against the United States.
We're also standing by for what is sure to be a tense and fascinating moment, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton dining together tonight just hours after their fiery debate.
BLITZER: Let's get some more on tonight's breaking news. Donald Trump stoking the firestorm he set off at the debate last night when he refused to commit to accepting the election outcome. Now Trump is saying he'll accept the result if he wins. Those three words: if he wins. "If I win," that's the way he phrased it.
[18:31:52] Gloria and our political panel is here. He refused to commit last night, although today he went a little bit further saying if it's a questionable result, he'll ask for some -- a challenge, if you will. But listen to what Trump said in May of this year, because it's significant.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: You've been hearing me say it's a rigged system, but now I don't say it anymore because I won. OK? So, you know, now I don't care. I don't care. And the only way I won was I won by such big margins, because it is a rigged system. But the only way you can do it, it's like a boxer, you've got to knock them out. Then you can't worry about the judges. But -- but it's true.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: All right. So what does that tell us about Trump's world view?
GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I think the world view is, when you're doing well, you don't complain. And when you're not doing well and there's a possibility you're going to lose, you have to blame it somewhere else, because you can never blame yourself or blame your campaign. And so you blame the system.
I mean, he said it quite honestly there, and let me tell you the timing of that. That was on May 5. He had won Indiana, and Reince Priebus had tweeted, "OK, Donald Trump is our nominee, so everybody get over it. This is our nominee."
BLITZER: Kasich and Cruz were not happy with that.
BORGER: Were not happy with that. And so this is Donald Trump saying "OK, I won. I'm not going to complain about the rigged election anymore."
BLITZER: He's put Donald Trump, Jackie, in a bit of an awkward -- Donald Trump has put Paul Ryan into an awkward position right now.
JACKIE KUCINICH, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: That headline could go pretty much any day of this campaign at this point. But yes, certainly, particularly because of what he said last night about not conceding or potentially not accepting the results of the election.
What do you say when you're Paul Ryan? Because there's only one right answer to that question: "Yes, of course I do."
So you've seen some senators, you've seen Lindsey Graham, John McCain, Senator Sasse, some senators coming out and condemning this. You have to wonder how far behind Paul Ryan is. They're probably waiting to see if it dies down.
Because Trump tried to clarify today. He joked about it, which wasn't very funny. And seemed to give us a little wiggle room, saying what his surrogates were saying last night that, if it's certified, he's going to be fine with it. But you know, we'll have to see if Paul Ryan decides to engage on this.
BLITZER: It's not just Paul Ryan; it's other Republican leaders, as well.
David Swerdlick, a recent Bloomberg poll -- and I'll put the numbers up on the screen -- shows that more Republicans believe Trump better reflects the views of the party than Paul Ryan does. Which person's views better match your own: Donald Trump 51 percent, Paul Ryan 33 percent. So maybe Trump does appreciate that. DAVID SWERDLICK, ASSISTANT EDITOR, "THE WASHINGTON POST": And Trump
has capitalized on this. I think it's only been recently that this has really broken bad for Paul Ryan in terms of poll numbers, in terms of how people are responding to him in his district.
But look: he's in a tough position as a speaker of the House, trying to hold the party together. I think that's why he sort of tacitly endorsed Ryan. But at the same time, he's -- he's living with a choice he made. Right? He could have disowned Trump when Mitt Romney did back in March. Now he's got -- now he's sort of stuck with him.
The poll, I think, is just one poll, Wolf. But at the same time, Trump has a point here. He does, in a way, speak for that hard core 30 or 35 percent of the Republican base in a way that Ryan doesn't. Ryan is a true establishmentarian.
[18:35:11] BLITZER: Julia Ioffe, you spent last night with a group of Republicans in a small town in North Carolina, which of course, is a very important swing state. What was their reaction to the debate and Trump's claim that this election is rigged?
JULIA IOFFE, CONTRIBUTING WRITER, "POLITICO" MAGAZINE: So I wanted to see if they -- if this idea was getting any traction with them, and it was. But what surprised me was they thought Chris Wallace, a FOX News anchor, was in the tank for Hillary Clinton. And that FOX News was in the tank for Hillary Clinton.
It was interesting how much they've become just about Donald Trump and not about the Republican Party. And I was watching at the offices of the Cabarrus County GOP with the head of the GOP in that county. And these people, I think, were more for Trump than the GOP. And that was really striking. And there was nothing that Trump could say or do that they didn't like. There was nothing Hillary could say that they would like.
And Chris -- I mean, somebody stormed out five minutes into the debate, because she felt Chris Wallace was already, at that point, mistreating Donald Trump and not giving him enough time.
BLITZER: For what it's worth, I thought Chris Wallace did an excellent job moderating that debate. Not an easy assignment for any journalist, but he came through in a very excellent way.
Everyone, stay put. Don't go far away. Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton together tonight at a charity event just 24 hours after their bitter final debate. So what will happen? We're standing by.
[18:41:22] BLITZER: The first lady, Michelle Obama, has just finished a very passionate speech, praising Hillary Clinton and denouncing Donald Trump in a red state the Democrats are now working to try to turn blue.
Gloria, we're talking about Arizona. That's a state that, until recently, the Democrats really didn't have much hope for. But now they think it is definitely in play.
BORGER: Let's do a little Arizona history here, just to give you a sense of the import of this. Hillary right now is up five points in Arizona. Could go either way. Romney won Arizona and lost the election, but won Arizona by nine points.
In 15 of the last 16 presidential elections, Arizona has been won by Republicans. The only one who didn't -- this is a quiz -- the only one who didn't, who won was a Democrat was Bill Clinton in 1996. So it's kind of stunning, actually, that Arizona is in play. And we know why that is. Hispanic voters, obviously.
But if Donald Trump has to turn some blue states red, he's -- or keep all the Romney states, this isn't a way to do it. As I said, Romney won it by -- by a large margin.
BLITZER: He definitely needs Ohio. That's a key state. He was ahead in Ohio, according to the polls, just a week or two ago. But take a look at this: Suffolk University poll out of Ohio, Hillary Clinton 45 percent, Donald Trump 45 percent. If he loses Ohio -- Hillary Clinton can afford to lose Ohio and still become president. He can't lose Ohio and become president.
KUCINICH: Well, right. His message is resonating in parts of Ohio, particularly the blue-collar and steelworkers and tradesmen. That's really who he's talking to.
But the story here is gender gap. He lost women again in Ohio. And more men are now voting for Donald Trump, but these comments through September, it's really starting to sink in and hurt him.
BLITZER: That same poll, by the way, the Suffolk University poll in Ohio, David Swerdlick, on the Senate contest, the Republican Rob Portman 46 percent, the Democrat only 31 percent. So while it's 45-45 in the presidential contest, the Republican Senate candidate is doing pretty well.
SWERDLICK: Yes. And Senator Portman is a well-respected guy across a wide range of the spectrum, even though he's definitely an establishment guy.
I think in Ohio, he's going to be doing fine. I also think Trump -- I still think Trump might pull something off in Ohio.
But if you look at Arizona and Ohio, it's kind of like what our colleague, Ron Brownstein, wrote about a few weeks ago: the Rust Belt and the Sun Belt are starting to shift, in terms of which goes red and which goes blue.
BORGER: If you're Rob Portman and you're winning your race, and perhaps Donald Trump will lose or contest or whatever in that state, how do you feel if Donald Trump is saying, "Well, this may not be legitimate"?
BLITZER: It's rigged.
BORGER: It's rigged. But you're winning.
BLITZER: But the Republican Senate candidate...
BLITZER: ... wins.
BORGER: You're a Republican Senate candidate. You're winning.
IOFFE: And what happens in Arizona if it goes for Hillary, what happens -- sorry, for Hillary Clinton. What happens to John McCain, who made a gamble very early on in his re-election campaign by hitching his wagon to Trump?
KUCINICH: But he's unhitched it recently.
KUCINICH: He sawed that hitch.
IOFFE: Right. But I think that might be -- you know, he kind of was on the wrong side the fence at the wrong time, like each time. What happens to the Senate veteran if Arizona breaks for Clinton?
BLITZER: I want to play, Julia, because you're an expert on Russia. I want to play this exchange. Russia came up in the debate last night, the cyber-attacks on U.S. institutions, Democratic Party institutions specifically. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: From everything I see has no respect for this person.
CLINTON: Well, that's because he'd rather have a puppet as president in the United States.
TRUMP: No puppet. No puppet.
CLINTON: And it's pretty clear --
TRUMP: You're the puppet!
CLINTON: It's pretty clear you won't admit --
TRUMP: No, you're the puppet.
CLINTON: -- that the Russians have engaged in cyberattacks against the United States of America, that you encouraged espionage against our people.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: So what's your te on this -- on what the president called this bromance between Donald Trump and Putin?
IOFFE: Well, as effective as Donald Trump's "I'm rubber, you're glue" defense was, you had Pete Hoekstra saying the evidence is inconclusive. But, actually, if you look at the statement put out by U.S. intelligence agencies, they're actually quite clear what they have evidence and don't have evidence on.
They're quite clear that they're very sure that the Russians were behind the DNC hack, and that they passed it to WikiLeaks. They were less sure that the Russians are hacking voter registrations and voting machines, but they're sure they're coming from a Russian company, they just don't know the tie to the Russian government.
That said, as soon as it became clear that Donald Trump was the front runner in the Republican primary, Kremlin TV, which is an accurate reflection of the Kremlin line, it is a mode of propaganda, over 90 percent of Russians use it as their main source of information, has been pulling very, very heavily for Trump, saying he's in favor of a healthy isolationism, which, of course, plays well with Russia, because Russia wants expand. And if the U.S. contracts, there's more room for Russia to expand. They've been bashing Hillary Clinton the whole entire time, saying that if she's in power, she's going to start a war with Russia.
Now, you have TV channel and a media organization associated with the Russian defense ministry saying we're actually building several dozens of nuclear bunkers that would fit the entire population of Moscow in preparation for Hillary Clinton's presidency, because she will start a nuclear war with us.
So, if that's not -- if that's not the Kremlin kind of being very clear about who they want to win in this presidential election, I don't know what is.
BLITZER: What's also embarrassing, Gloria, today is that President Obama's e-mail, when he was the elected -- about to be elected president of the United States, John Podesta was his transition coordinator, his adviser, all of a sudden, WikiLeaks leaks some of those Obama e-mails today. How embarrassing, how awkward is that?
BORGER: Well, it is. It's embarrassing. It's awkward. He wasn't president yet.
But again, you have to look at the political motivation of all of this. I think we would be foolish to believe that these leaks aren't politically timed, politically motivated, and you have all these intelligence agencies, more than a dozen, saying look, this is a Russian hack, period, aimed to influence our election. That is a big story.
I will say that last night in the debate, Hillary Clinton got asked a question on WikiLeaks, which she did not answer by the way, and deflected it into this question of the Russian hack. I think it's a legitimate issue to discuss, particularly since Donald Trump does not seem to be willing to.
BLITZER: Very quickly, Julia.
IOFFE: And you're never seeing WikiLeaks that could be harmful to the other side.
BORGER: And you know they have it.
IOFFE: Or they don't have it because the Russians don't care enough to have it.
That said, Julian Assange has portrayed himself as this beacon of transparency and accountability for government. He has shown himself in the last year to be a -- essentially an agent of the Russian state. Because if he were to do just one leak of, let's say, Ivanka Trump's e-mails, he would look more transparent, or more evenhanded, he could continue leaking these Clinton e-mails. But he hasn't done that. It's very clear whose camp he is in and who's feeding him the information.
BLITZER: All right, guys. Everybody, stay with us. Don't go too far away. We're going to continue our analysis.
Also we're getting new information here in THE SITUATION ROOM about North Korea's failed missile launch. We're now learning the test was set up for a very important visitor.
[18:53:51] BLITZER: We're following another missile launch by North Korea. This one an apparent failure.
Our Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr is working the story for us.
Barbara, this was the second North Korean launch in recent days. What are we learning?
BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, this is really fascinating. North Korea tried again to launch a mobile missile, failing against for the second time this month. The reason, of course, a mobile ballistic missile so concerning in wartime, it can move around very easily.
But there's more to this whole story, because U.S. intelligence satellites monitoring the activity saw developments at the site. They saw arrangements being made for an apparent important visitor to show up. Grandstands, parade seats, tents being put up, all indications according to U.S. and South Korean officials that maybe Kim Jong-un himself was going to show up for this launch. We do not know if he was actually there.
But all the preparations indicated they were going to expect a very important visitor for what turned out to be a failed launch. All of this coming as the U.S. increasingly concerned Kim Jong-un could try a destabilizing action before inauguration -- Wolf.
BLITZER: And, Barbara, we're also just learning that a U.S. service member was killed in northern Iraq today.
[18:55:05] What's the latest information you are learning about that? STARR: This happened north of Mosul. We are told a U.S. service
member killed in action when the vehicle this person was in hit an IED.
This is a very typical ISIS tactic of course up in this whole northern Iraq area. They are lacing the area with IEDs, bombs and booby traps as U.S. military advisory teams work with local Kurdish and Iraqi forces to begin that approach to Mosul by all accounts. That is what happened today.
Very, very difficult. Very difficult news for another U.S. military family, Wolf.
BLITZER: Certainly is. Barbara, thanks very much -- Barbara Starr at the Pentagon.
We're also following truly stunning developments in a critical U.S. alliance. The president of the Philippines has announced what he calls a separation from the United States.
Our chief national security correspondent Jim Sciutto is working the story for us.
Jim, this is highlighting a serious problem for the United States right now.
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, no question. Arguably one of the closest U.S. allies in the world here in the Philippines, going into the camp, it appears during this visit in Beijing of one of America's greatest rivals, and that is China.
I caution our viewers here that some of the sound they will hear from the Philippine president could be offensive.
SCIUTTO (voice-over): The Philippines combative President Rodrigo Duterte was given a full state welcome to Beijing, complete with military honors. And he came prepared to return the favor and then some -- disavowing his country's 70-year military diplomatic and economic alliance with the U.S. to the benefit of America's growing Asian rival, China.
PRES. RODRIGO DUTERTE, PHILIPPINES: In this venue, I announce my separation from the United States. Both in military, not maybe social, both in military, but economics also.
SCIUTTO: Duterte then added his hopes for another new friend, Russia.
DUTERTE: America has lost me. And maybe I will also go to Russia to talk to Putin and tell him that there are three of us against the world, China, Philippines and Russia.
SCIUTTO: The Obama administration is still struggling to respond to what can only be described as a ground-breaking split with one of America's closest allies in the world. JOHN KIRBY, STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESMAN: It is inexplicably at odds
with the close relationship we have with the Filipino people. We are going to be seeking an explanation of exactly what the president meant when he talked about separation from the U.S. It's not clear to us exactly what that means.
SCIUTTO: Tensions have been rising in the Philippines. An anti- American protest outside the U.S. embassy in manila got bloody yesterday when a police van repeatedly plowed into the crowd.
And this all couldn't be at a worse time as the U.S. faces off against China over its massive territorial claims in the South China Sea. A conflict in which the Philippines and U.S. had stood shoulder to shoulder until it appears now.
Duterte disavowal of Washington has at times been deeply personal. In September, when asked about Mr. Obama's criticism of his violent crackdown on drug crime, Duterte called the sitting American president this --
DUTERTE (through translator): Son of a bitch, I will swear at you.
SCIUTTO: He later apologized.
Soon after announced he was canceling military exercises and other cooperation with the U.S. This after the U.S. has recently ties at Manila's request to fend off Chinese territorial claims in areas the Philippines claims as its own.
SCIUTTO: Administration officials tell me that the U.S. has still not received any requests through official channels from the Philippines, Wolf. But those public statements in Beijing next to the Chinese president, they speak volumes.
BLITZER: They certainly do. Very, very disturbing development. Jim Sciutto reporting that historic alliance between the United States and Philippines now in deep, deep trouble.
I want to show you some live pictures from New York. We're standing by pretty soon the two candidates we saw on the debate stage last night, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, they are going to be jointly appearing at this Catholic charity event, the Alfred E. Smith Dinner.
It's a very important dinner held every four years or so in New York. The candidates always appear. They make fun of each other in good spirits. We'll see if that happens tonight.
CNN will have live coverage coming up later tonight.$, you will want to see that. An important event in New York City.
That's it for me. Thanks very much for watching. I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM.
"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.