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THE SITUATION ROOM
Interview With Florida Congressman Ted Yoho; Trump's Final Sprint; Can GOP Hold Senate?; Clinton Camp Bracing For More Email Fallout; U.N. Fears ISIS Using Human Shields; Third Wave of Cyber- Attacks Taking Down Popular Websites; Trump Changes Tone on Accepting Vote Results; Clinton Camp Bracing for More E-mail Fallout. Aired 6-7p ET
Aired October 21, 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: Tonight, we have a new snapshot of where GOP senators are in the greatest danger right now.
Not buying it. Trump is rejecting polls that show his campaign is struggling, and he is promising he will defeat Hillary Clinton, despite his claim that the election is rigged in her favor. Is Clinton already winning among early voters?
And did ISIS escape? U.S. officials fear terrorist leaders have fled Mosul, as coalition forces battle to retake the Iraqi city. Tonight, ISIS is raising the stakes, apparently using human shields and launching a surprise attack.
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: Breaking news tonight, a huge cyber-attack hits the East Coast and goes global, taking down Twitter, Netflix, Reddit, many other popular Web sites.
We're getting new information about a third attack that is under way. Federal authorities are investigating. So far, there has been no claim of responsibility.
Also this hour, early voting numbers appear to be promising for Hillary Clinton. A CNN analysis finds more than 3.3 million Americans already have cast ballots. Among those early voters, Democrats have improved their position in the swing states of North Carolina and Nevada, and the traditionally red states of Arizona and Utah.
Also tonight, Donald Trump is warning his supporters not to blow it on November 8, but he also says he will be happy with himself -- quote -- "win, lose, or draw."
We're standing by to hear from Donald Trump. He's in the battleground state of Pennsylvania tonight. And I will talk about all of this with Congressman Ted Yoho. He's a member of the Foreign Affairs Committee. He's a top Trump supporter.
Our correspondents, analysts and guests, they will have full coverage of today's top stories.
Up first, let's go to our chief national security correspondent, Jim Sciutto.
Jim, what are you learning about this massive cyber-attack?
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: We're learning now that a third wave of this attack is now under way, this attack growing.
Take a look at this map here. You will see that it started this morning across the Northeastern part of the United States, knocking down many popular Web sites, as well as cloud computing services, slowing many Internet connections to a trickle and then even spreading across the continental United States, and across the Atlantic to Europe.
But look at this tweet that just came out a short time ago, this from the WikiLeaks account, saying, "Mr. Assange is still alive and WikiLeaks is still publishing. We ask supporters to stop taking down the U.S. Internet. You have proved your point."
As you said, Wolf, there is no claim of responsibility yet. Is this is a mysterious hint from WikiLeaks that perhaps his supporters are doing this to send a message? No confirmation from U.S. investigators who are looking into this.
The department of Homeland Security still investigating. U.S. officials with knowledge of the investigation tell me they are looking at all possible causes, including both criminal activity, as well as the possibility of a cyber-attack by a state actor.
One thing is clear. This is almost certainly not a malfunction, but an intentional act. Adam Schiff, ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, he has been briefed on the investigation. He says that U.S. investigators have the forensic capabilities to determine who is behind this attack. He's confident they will do -- and just a short time ago, Wolf, a senior government officer again involved in this investigation tells me that these denial of service attacks today are not catastrophic, though they have resulted in only slowing down Internet access.
Despite that, they're taking these very seriously, and they plan to discover and determine who is behind these attacks -- Wolf.
BLITZER: There's some concern also I hear that this could be a test to see how it goes and a bigger attack potentially could come down the road. Are you hearing that?
SCIUTTO: This is always a concern, because, as you know, there have been a number of cyber-attacks directed at the U.S. election, not only at members of Democratic Party, Democratic Party institutions, but also at state voting systems, state voter registration systems. At least one of those state voter registration systems, they have in
Florida specifically, U.S. investigators have pointed to Russia. As you know, Wolf, these attacks on Democratic Party institutions, the U.S. has also pointed the finger at Russia. No one is doing that with these particular attacks here.
But in light of those attacks on election-related systems, the level of alert right now with the election a little more than two weeks away is very high.
BLITZER: We will stay on top of the breaking news. Jim Sciutto, thank you very, very much.
Let's get to the presidential race right now. We're standing by to hear from Donald Trump. He's in Pennsylvania. He's had a jampacked day of campaigning after his latest confrontation with Hillary Clinton at a charity dinner overnight.
Let's bring in our political reporter, Sara Murray.
Sara, tell our viewers the latest.
SARA MURRAY, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, as Donald Trump was here surrounded by his most faithful supporters for his second stop of the day, he seemed almost baffled that he could potentially be trailing in the polls, potentially lose this whole thing and he made the point over and over again that if they do not show up to vote, this has been a waste of his time.
And at least one thing is clear. Even if he's trailing Hillary Clinton right now, he's certainly trying to outwork her in the final stretch.
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We have a bunch of babies running our country, folks. We have a bunch of losers. They're losers. They're babies.
MURRAY (voice-over): A sharp elbow. Trump is shrugging aside his sagging poll numbers today and vowing to hustle through the final stretch.
TRUMP: Win, lose, or draw, and I'm almost sure, if the people come out, we're going to win, but I will be happy with myself because I always say I don't want to think back, if only I did one more rally, I would have won North Carolina.
MURRAY: The GOP nominee still claiming the election is rigged.
TRUMP: It's a rigged system. It's a rigged system. Don't ever forget it. That's why you got to get out and vote. You got to watch.
MURRAY: Trump's complaints became mere fodder for laugh lines for Hillary Clinton Thursday evening.
HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It's amazing I'm up here after Donald. I didn't think he would be OK with a peaceful transition of power.
MURRAY: That's as the two traded barbs at the annual Al Smith Dinner to benefit Catholic Charities.
TRUMP: The media is even more biased this year than ever before, ever. You want the proof. Michelle Obama gives a speech, and everyone loves it. It was fantastic. They think she's absolutely great. My wife, Melania, gives the exact same speech, and people get on her case.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
MURRAY: The political rivals meeting again face to face less than 24 hours after their contentious final debate, seeming to tolerate each other long enough to dine at the same table.
But at times, Trump's jokes were perhaps too pointed, even drawing boos from the crowd.
TRUMP: Hillary believes that it is vital to deceive the people by having one public policy and a totally different policy in private.
TRUMP: That's OK. I don't know who they are angry at, Hillary, you or I.
TRUMP: For example, here she is tonight in public pretending not to hate Catholics.
MURRAY: With the major political moments, the conventions, the debates behind him, it remains unclear how Trump hopes to turn his fortunes around. And as the GOP nominee relishes in lighter moments at rallies packed with his faithful supporters...
TRUMP: I just got caught in the rain. I'm soaking wet. How does my hair look. Is it OK?
MURRAY: At least one group that is supportive of the GOP, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, is always trying to blunt the effect of a potential Trump defeat on Republicans' efforts to keep their congressional majority. As Trump trails in New Hampshire, the Chamber is airing a new ad to bolster New Hampshire Senator Kelly Ayotte in a tough reelection fight and implicitly acknowledging that Trump's bid for the presidency may fall short.
NARRATOR: America's future is far from certain. But no matter who the next president is, New Hampshire needs a strong voice in the U.S. Senate. That senator, Kelly Ayotte. She works across the aisle to get things done.
MURRAY: Now, those down-ballot concerns of course aren't just playing out in New Hampshire. They're happening right here in Pennsylvania as well. This is where Pat Toomey is locked in a tight race for reelection for his Senate seat.
There are some hopes that by convincing Donald Trump to campaign here over and over again, maybe he can bring up his numbers and hopefully help Pat Toomey cling to victory, even if Donald Trump can't manage to win this state on November 8 -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Sara Murray in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, for us, Sara, thank you.
Let's talk more about the growing fears among Republicans in Congress right now that Donald Trump will drag them down and cost them control of the U.S. Senate.
We're joined by our political director, David Chalian.
David, what is the major concern for Republicans in competitive Senate races right now?
DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: The major concern is Donald Trump. His numbers have been going down. If they go down too far, it becomes difficult for these Republican candidates to overperform enough to also win.
Will they get sucked under the undertow of Donald Trump's numbers? Because their mission right now, Wolf, whether it's Pat Toomey, as Sara Murray just mentioned, or Marco Rubio in Florida or any of these Republican senators, is that they're going to have to perform better than Donald Trump is.
And there's probably some room to do that. They are able to navigate away from him a little bit. But if his numbers go down too much, that becomes difficult. Look at that map, though. These are the battlegrounds of the Senate races. Look at how much overlap there is with the presidential battlegrounds, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Florida, Nevada.
Six of those eight key races are all mirroring presidential battlegrounds. And so while they have want Trump to show up in these states and energize his base, because those Republican candidates for Senate need those voters to come out too, they don't want to be so associated with Trump if he is going to be losing badly.
BLITZER: David, we're also getting a first look at the early voting numbers in several of those key battleground states. What are we seeing?
CHALIAN: Well, we're seeing a little bit of good news here for Hillary Clinton's campaign. Again, in some key battlegrounds, you saw that presidential battleground, for instance, in North Carolina. We're now seeing in ballots being returned that Democrats are holding steady to where they were compared to this point out from the election four years ago in 2012. Republicans are down 14,000 or so in terms of returned ballots already.
We don't know how everyone voted. Those votes don't get counted until Election Day, Wolf, but just looking at the partisan divide in places like Nevada, Utah, Arizona, right now, Democrats are positioned better than they were in 2012 in those states.
BLITZER: All right, David Chalian, thank you very, very much.
Let's get back to the breaking news on that paralyzing cyber-attack here in the United States.
Joining us now is congressman Ted Yoho of Florida. He's a member of the Foreign Affairs Committee. He's a Donald Trump supporter.
Congressman, thanks for joining us.
REP. TED YOHO (R), FLORIDA: Sure, Wolf. Thanks for having me on.
BLITZER: As you know, the Department of homeland security is now looking into this Internet outage that's been going on here in the United States today.
You're on the Foreign Affairs Committee. Could this be a cyber-attack by a foreign entity?
You have got nation states. You have got rogue states. You have got criminal states. You have got the lone wolf out there. The important thing is, and I heard you describe this, and I think you're spot on. This could be testing the waters for something down the road and feeling out how vulnerable the system is.
And I think this is an important thing that you brought up. And the thing I have confidence in, is in our I.T. forensics to be able to find out, track this down fast and either put the safeguards in place or put an end to who is doing this.
BLITZER: As you know, it's coming at the same time that WikiLeaks is releasing thousands, batches and batches of stolen e-mails from Hillary Clinton's campaign chairman. Do you believe Russia is behind that cyber-theft? YOHO: I can't say it's Russia right now.
You know, there's a lot of conjectures out there, but I think we will find who did this. When anybody attacks, they leave a fingerprint, they leave a footprint in there. And I don't want to go into too much of that and play our cards.
But consider it was somebody that hacked into a server. I can't think of a more vulnerable server than the one maybe Mrs. Clinton had in an unsecure location that had top-secret information on it. I think that's very dangerous and that's something that people weigh into this election cycle and people should consider that very strongly when they make a decision who is best to lead this country.
BLITZER: But this cyber-attack was on John Podesta's Gmail account. It had nothing to do with Hillary Clinton's private server. You know that, right?
YOHO: Yes, I know that, but you don't know the legs are or the web that's created from one server to the next.
I don't think the computer scientists know all that, because there is interlocking mechanisms and routing numbers and all that. And so let the I.T. forensics figure out who is doing this. And then let's treat it accordingly.
But, more importantly, let's make sure our safety walls are up there and that we use that. And I think you're going to see people being a lot more diligent on how they use the Internet, because this came in through the back door, through cameras, through smart appliances. And it goes through routing services and, in this case, it went to the Dyn Corporation, which is a DNS, a domain name server.
BLITZER: Yes, this is the outages that are going on today and potentially could be bigger down the road.
Let's get to some other issues while I have you, Congressman. Do you agree with Donald Trump that the current military offensive that the Iraqis, the Kurds, those forces backed by the U.S. have launched now against ISIS to retake the city of Mosul, do you agree with Trump, the timing of this, it was done -- it's being done now to help Hillary Clinton?
YOHO: You know, we are in a political season, and we have seen stuff like this before.
If we look back at the last presidential election and the antics and the things that were done, I don't know. I'm going to defer to the military generals and the people that are in charge of that stuff.
It sure smells that way, and I would hate to think that people in politics that are in charge of politics would use military campaigns for a political tool.
BLITZER: Are you suggesting that Haider al-Abadi, the prime minister of Iraq, or the leaders of Kurdistan, the Peshmerga, who have launched this offensive, they are doing this to try to influence American voters and get Hillary Clinton elected president?
YOHO: No, absolutely not.
BLITZER: But that's the assumption that Trump is making, that the timing of this -- and the timing was done by the Iraqis and the Kurds -- it was being done to help Hillary Clinton.
YOHO: No, I disagree with that. I just don't see that happening.
And if Mr. Trump said that, it could be campaign rhetoric. I have not spoken to their campaign. But I can tell you, where we're at today is due to the policies of this administration -- and you look at the failed state of Libya that was a direct result of Mrs. Clinton pushing very hard with this administration for no-fly zones that led to the failure of the Libyan state and the fall of Gadhafi, that's led to one of the largest recruiting and training centers in the world for ISIS. And that's right there in Libya.
BLITZER: Yes, by the way, he said that, Trump, that in the third -- in the presidential debate this week, when he suggested that the timing of this military offensive to retake Mosul was being done to try to promote Hillary Clinton's campaign. But that's what he said at the debate.
Let's move on and get to some other issues.
BLITZER: Today, he's out there campaigning. He's holding multiple rallies once again. He's very active on the campaign trail today.
But he sounded almost a little concerned when he said he's in this, win, lose, or draw. What does that mean to you when he says win, lose, or draw, because even if there's a draw, it goes to the House of Representatives, as you know, and the House of Representatives will pick the winner?
YOHO: You know, I have heard that. And I don't think it will be a draw. We haven't had that in I don't know -- I can't remember if we have ever had that.
I have met with him, I have talked to him. And he is a tireless campaigner. You look at the campaign that he's run, the amount of rallies he does around the nation multiple times a day, and then you compare that to Mrs. Clinton, who has the president, the first lady, Bill Clinton out there, Chelsea, and the list goes on and on and on, Al Gore, and it just goes on and on.
And Donald Trump is out there, with he and Mike Pence and some surrogates. And I give him just an award for him having the stamina to stay out there. And he's not a quitter. He's a fighter. He's got great vision for this country, and I think you're going to see people come and rally behind him. And the thing that gives me encouragement of him winning this race is, I have had Democrats come up to me who historically vote Democratic, and they have told me that they cannot support Hillary Clinton.
And the reason they can't support Hillary Clinton is because they fear that our Constitution is really at risk, and our constitutional republic, and they know Mr. Trump will be more protective of that than what we have seen out of Mrs. Clinton.
BLITZER: It was a long time ago, 1824, the election of John Quincy Adams. That went to the House of Representatives. He became president of the United States, but a long, long time ago.
Here's the question, though, Congressman. Are you confident Donald Trump, if he loses, will accept the election results?
YOHO: Yes, I'm almost 100 percent sure on that. And I think that's just posturing what he said.
But I would say probably the same thing, because being from Florida, you know what happened with the Bush/Gore race. There were some discrepancies. And so nobody is going to concede until they know factually that the vote went one way or the other. And I think you're going to see Donald Trump win.
BLITZER: Congressman, I want you to stay with us. We have more to discuss, new information coming into THE SITUATION ROOM right now.
We will be right back, more questions when we come back.
BLITZER: We're following the breaking news, a third wave of a cyber-attack, a massive cyber-attack that's taking down Twitter, Netflix, many other popular Web sites in and out throughout the day.
We're back with congressman Ted Yoho. He's a top Donald Trump supporter. He's from the battleground state of Florida.
We are going to have more on that cyber-attack coming up.
But we're also standing by, Congressman, to hear from Trump. He has a rally that is going to begin in Pennsylvania fairly soon. He's campaigning in North Carolina, in Pennsylvania. Shouldn't he be spending more time, you think, in your state of Florida or Ohio, where it's closer right now, perhaps more winnable?
YOHO: You know, he has spent a tremendous amount of time.
I have seen him more in this state, you know, read about him more in our state than I ever have seen any other presidential candidate, more than Hillary Clinton. This goes back to the -- my first election was in '73. And I think he's done a great job. I know Mike Pence has been here.
There's been a lot of surrogates. There's been a lot of rallies held for him. And I don't fault him for going where he thinks he needs to go. They have got a campaign strategy team, and I think they're doing a great job.
BLITZER: You think they're going to win?
YOHO: Gut feeling says yes.
People around me, they have no option. And like I said before when we talked about him, I don't condone what he said, I don't agree with what he said. He's apologized for that. This goes beyond the individual. This goes beyond -- it goes to the platform.
And when we start comparing one to the other, contrasting, whether it's border security, immigration, national security, it's a clear dichotomy. And Mr. Trump supports the ideals that I do, and the people that support me feel the same way.
BLITZER: A key GOP group will soon start running TV ads in New Hampshire asking voters there to reelect the Republican senator as a check and balance for the White House.
The ad doesn't explicitly say Clinton will be president, but it does make it clear the possibility is very real. Here's the question. Has the GOP establishment given up on a Trump victory, they are now devoting all their energies to maintaining Republican majorities in the House and Senate?
YOHO: I don't think so. We have got that narrative. We had that phone call with Paul Ryan.
But I can also say Mr.Ryan, Paul Ryan, said that his goal was to make sure that Hillary Clinton was not the president. And I think, with that kind of support, I think they had a change in strategy. But I think everybody is polling, and they're going to support the candidate at the top of the ticket, and that's Donald Trump.
BLITZER: Congressman Yoho, thanks for joining us.
YOHO: Wolf, I appreciate it, and have a great day.
BLITZER: You too.
Just ahead, more on the breaking news, this massive cyber-attack that's taking out Twitter, other Web sites. What if something like that happened on Election Day? Could it really threaten the integrity of the vote?
We will be right back.
BLITZER: More now on the breaking news. The massive apparent cyber- attack impacting some of the most popular websites right now, including Twitter, Spotify, Netflix, Reddit.
[18:31:04] Jeffrey Toobin, if something like this were to happen, let's say, on election day here in the United States, what could the consequences be for the campaigns, or even for the integrity of the election itself?
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Well, I don't think anyone knows for sure. The one sliver of good news is that voting machines themselves are not connected to the Internet. The machines operate independently. They're not plugged in.
However, the vote counting procedures are often on the web.
And the other point to remember is that we don't have one presidential election in this country. We have 50 different states, all with different systems, many of them with different systems within the state. So the -- it's very hard to project what this would mean, other than it would be -- it would be very bad.
BLITZER: And the District of Columbia, as well. Let's not forget D.C.
All right, Rebecca, after refusing to say whether or not he would accept the results of the election at Wednesday's debate, Trump today acknowledged the possibility that he could lose, saying it might be a win, lose or draw. "If the people come out, we're going to win," he said. That's a direct quote. "I will be happy with myself," he added.
Is this a change in his tone in response to the severe criticism he received after what he said at the debate?
REBECCA BERG, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, it's unclear, Wolf, to me, at least, if this is Trump trying to walk back that remark or if this I Donald Trump just facing the very obvious challenges that he has in winning this race. The math looks very difficult for him right now. And I think if you look at a polling average, you would see that. And Donald Trump certainly, as we know, follows the polls very closely.
So certainly he's at a stage where he's needing emotionally, personally, to confront the possibility that he could lose this election. But in that remark, I'm still not hearing him say that he would concede the election if he does lose. And I think that's an important thing that he's going to need to say at some point to reassure people after what he said in the debate. It's not clear if he will say that, though, now, in the coming weeks or even on election night. We'll have to see.
BLITZER: Mark Preston, Trump holding two rallies in Pennsylvania today, where he's trailing Hillary Clinton by a significant margin, according to the most recent polls there. So here's the question. Is it smart for Trump to focus on say Pennsylvania instead of going to Ohio and Florida, where it's very, very close, he has a real chance of winning in those states?
MARK PRESTON, CNN POLITICS EXECUTIVE EDITOR: It is a difficulty for him. Not only does he have a real chance of winning perhaps in Florida and Ohio, but he needs to win Ohio and Florida. He also needs to win North Carolina, and he needs to win Pennsylvania, as well as perhaps picking up a Michigan or a Wisconsin, as well.
The problem now for him, as well, is that he's losing in Arizona. He is in trouble in Utah. He is put up -- his back is up against the wall in Texas. These are all states right now, Wolf, that should be Republican. He shouldn't even be thinking about these states. But now we're seeing Hillary Clinton going in, specifically into Arizona, spending money and resources.
So right now, I think Trump is probably gambling that Pennsylvania is a better play for him to try to win, given his message on trade, and trying to reach back and build some of the support that has eroded with these white, non-college-educated voters. I mean, that's why he's there.
BLITZER: And even in Georgia, there's a poll showing it's relatively close there.
Ron Brownstein, we're learning more about early voting right now, which is taking place across the nation in several key states. Compared to this time in 2012, Democrats have improved their early voting metrics in several states, including North Carolina, Nevada, Arizona, and Utah; where Republicans have improved their position in some of the Midwestern battleground states of Iowa and Ohio, for example. Is there a demographic trend behind these numbers?
[18:35:05] RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, it's a great question. To some extent, what you see in early voting is a reflection of investment in time and money, of organization.
But yes, this is reflective of what could be one of the most important outcomes of this election, which is that the Sun Belt and the Rust Belt are switching places, to a large extent.
If you go back to 1992, when the Democratic streak of winning the popular vote in five out of six elections began, the Democratic share of the vote in all of the Rust Belt battlegrounds, overall, over those six elections, is higher than their share of the vote in any of the Sun Belt battlegrounds.
But in this campaign, because of the unique nature of the Trump candidacy, where he is so strong on the blue-collar whites, who are prevalent in those Midwestern battlegrounds, and is struggling among minority voters and white-collar whites, who are in many cases are the dominant electorate in many of those Sun Belt battlegrounds, like Virginia and Colorado, you are seeing a big shift.
And states like Virginia and Colorado have moved off the board. North Carolina and Florida and Nevada now, too, are all tilting toward Hillary Clinton. And you're seeing, as you mentioned, other Sun Belt states with the same demographic profile, like Georgia and especially Arizona, come within reach. And this is a big reordering of the Electoral College map.
BLITZER: It certainly is. Jeffrey Toobin, the Clinton campaign released a brand-new ad today, featuring the Gold-Star family that Trump picked a fight with right after they appeared at the Democratic National Convention. Let me play a piece of this new clip now.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KHIZR KHAN, FATHER OF FALLEN SOLDIER: My son was Captain Humayun Khan. He was 27 years old, and he was a Muslim-American. I want to ask, Mr. Trump, would my son have a place in your America?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Very powerful ad. I'm sure you agree. Some have suggested, though, the Clinton campaign wanting to goad Donald Trump into responding, picking another fight. Do you see that?
TOOBIN: Well, that's sort of a win-win situation for the Clinton campaign. It's powerful, even if he doesn't respond. And if he manages -- if he can't restrain himself to attack this Gold-Star family again, that's an additional bonus.
You know, this is an ad that hits many emotional high points. I mean, it's about someone who died in a war. So it's about veterans. It's about patriotism. It's about tolerance. It's about people who are Muslim, who are immigrants. I mean, it is -- it is -- it hits a lot of the themes that Hillary Clinton has been pushing during this campaign, and, you know, it's powerful stuff.
BLITZER: Certainly is. They're going to be running that ad in several of the key battleground states.
Let me take a quick break, resume our political analysis. Much more right after this.
[18:42:29] BLITZER: Hillary Clinton's campaign is bracing for more fallout from stolen e-mails being released by WikiLeaks, including details of strained relations with her husband's vice president, Al Gore. Our senior Washington correspondent, Jeff Zeleny, is covering the Clinton campaign for us.
Jeff, Clinton is focusing in on Ohio today, where she's now running, what, neck and neck with Donald Trump.
JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: She is indeed, Wolf. And Ohio has been one of the most stubborn battlegrounds for Clinton. It's one of those so-called Obama states where the president won twice and she has been struggling.
But advisers to the Clinton campaign say tonight they are increasingly confident about their prospects there, even as they weather one more round of WikiLeaks distractions.
HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: I have now spent 4 1/2 hours on stage with Donald, proving once again I have the stamina to be president.
ZELENY (voice-over): Hillary Clinton back on the campaign trail in Cleveland, her face-to-face showdowns with Donald Trump behind her. After the debate in las Vegas...
CLINTON: When I was in the situation room, monitoring the raid that brought Osama bin Laden to justice, he was hosting "The Celebrity Apprentice."
ZELENY: ... and a charity dinner in New York.
CLINTON: Donald looks at the Statue of Liberty and sees a four. Maybe a five if she loses the torch and tablet and changes her hair.
ZELENY: Clinton is hoping to capitalize on her rising momentum and trying to turn a positive corner.
CLINTON: I know you may still have questions for me. I respect that. I want to answer them. I want to earn your vote. I am reaching out to all Americans: Democrats, Republicans, and independents.
ZELENY: Yet she's hardly resting easy, as her campaign braces for more fallout from e-mails stolen from campaign chair John Podesta.
Another batch today from WikiLeaks, confirming bad blood between Clinton and Al Gore, after he declined to endorse her last fall. Top Clinton aide Huma Abedin writing, "Hard to put on e-mail, but there is no love lost in this relationship." She added later, "No, it's bad."
Clinton aides say that's all in the past, pointing to Gore's appearance last week with Clinton in Miami.
BLITZER: I can't wait to have Al Gore advising me when I am president of the United States.
ZELENY: The e-mails also exposing questions about whether Secretary Clinton would attend a Clinton Foundation summit in Morocco, a month after announcing her bid for the presidency.
[18:45:01] The email suggests her appearance was in exchange for a $12 million contribution from the king of Morocco. Again, Abedin writing, "It would break a lot of china now to back out when we had so many opportunities to do it in the past few months. She created this mess and she knows it."
In the end, Clinton did not go.
The Clinton campaign hoping to drown out these distractions with a powerful new television ad. It features Khizr Khan, the Gold Star father who spoke at the Democratic convention about his son, a Muslim- American who died serving in Iraq.
KHIZR KHAN, GOLD STAR FATHER: I want to ask Mr. Trump, would my son have a place in your America?
ZELENY: All this as more than 3.3 million Americans have already voted. According to an analysis by CNN and Catalyst, which shows Democrats improving their positions in North Carolina, Nevada, Arizona, and even Utah, compared to this point in 2012 -- Democrats in an all-out push to the finish. In Florida, former President Bill Clinton lamenting the bitter campaign.
BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT: There's been a lot of acid poured down the throats of American citizens.
ZELENY: And in Pennsylvania, Vice President Biden doing it the old school way.
JOSEPH BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The press always asked me, don't I wish I were debating me. No, I wish we were in high school so I could take him behind the gym. That's what I wish.
ZELENY: Now, Vice President Biden is heading to Ohio on Monday. The state and its 18 electoral votes are at the center of the Democratic strategy to block Donald Trump. For her part, Hillary Clinton is hitting the road aggressively, after the big goal, trying to win control of the Senate -- Wolf.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: All right. Jeff, thank you. Jeff Zeleny reporting for us.
Ron Brownstein, a recent poll of New Hampshire illustrates the challenges many down ballot Republicans face with Trump at the top of the ticket. Take a look at the presidential race. We'll put the numbers up there.
Right now, look at this, Hillary Clinton at 48 percent in New Hampshire, Donald Trump 33 percent.
Now take a look at the race for the U.S. Senate. Kelly Ayotte doing better than Trump, but still trailing by a significant amount, by eight points.
Will enough voters split their ticket to save her seat against Maggie Hassan?
RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: It has to reverse recent history for that to happen. The most important number in is if you look inside the poll, nearly 85 percent of the people who are voting for Clinton say they are also voting for Hassan. And nearly 85 percent of the people who are voting for Trump say they are also voting for Ayotte.
That, Wolf, is the pattern we saw in 2012, in virtually every competitive race, 85 percent or more of the Obama voters also voted Democratic, 85 percent or more of the Romney voters also voted Republican. That so problematic for Republicans, because they're defending so many seats in states where Trump is struggling the most. That includes Wisconsin, Illinois, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, North Carolina to a lesser extent.
And what that means, if the correlation holds, to the lines, the parallels that we saw in 2012, to the level we saw with 2012, it will be very hard for the Republican Senate nominees to get enough split ticket voting to overcome the hole that Donald Trump is now facing, particularly in those first four states, which are the most blue on the list.
BLITZER: Good point.
Rebecca Berg, there's a new ad in New Hampshire in support of Kelly Ayotte, who's in this tough fight as we mentioned against her Democratic opponent, the Governor Maggie Hassan. The ad is funded by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. I want to play a little clip to it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
AD NARRATOR: America's future is far from certain. But no matter who the next president is, New Hampshire needs a strong voice in the U.S. Senate. That senator, Kelly Ayotte. She works across the aisle to get things done.
Maggie Hassan's record, Hassan voted over 100 times for more taxes and fees. Just imagine what she'd do unchecked in Washington with a new president.
Maggie Hassan, too risky for New Hampshire.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: All right. The ad doesn't explicitly say Hillary Clinton is likely to win the White House, but it's pretty clear they believe saving the Senate should be the party's top priority would suggest that, doesn't it?
REBECCA BERG, NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER, REAL CLEAR POLITICS: Well, certainly, Wolf. And the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is not a huge fan of Donald Trump either, we should note, because they are a very pro- trade organization, and Donald Trump, one of his priorities, has been taking on trade and attacking trade deals like the Trans Pacific Partnership and like NAFTA.
So, they have a reason to be a little bit uncomfortable with whoever does win the White House. But this is a message we have actually been hearing or quite a while from many of the front line Senate candidates.
I was up in Pennsylvania more than a month ago, and Pat Toomey, the Republican candidate there, was using language very much like this actually, on the stump. And so, I think we're going to be hearing that a lot more in the coming weeks, obviously putting this out on television gives it a sort of megaphone, reaches a much larger audience than just the candidates themselves using this language on the campaign trail.
[18:50:10] And I think we're going to hearing lot of the Republican candidates stressing that they will be an independent voice.
Whether it can work, though -- I mean, Ron raised the issue of split ticket voting and how rare it is and how difficult it is for these Republican candidates.
BLITZER: Mark Preston, Donald Trump clearly hurting a bunch of those down ballot Republicans. But there are some bright spots for the party. Take a look at the Senate race in Ohio, where Republican Senator Rob Portman, he's ahead, look at this, by 15 points over Ted Strickland despite the race being a toss up on the presidential level.
So, how is Portman so far ahead when others down ballot right now are struggling?
MARK PRESTON, CNN POLITICS EXECUTIVE EDITOR: Well, a couple of things. One is Rob Portman is known very well in the state of Ohio. He served in the House of Representatives for 12 years. He was in the Bush administration as head of OMB. He's a very likable figure. He has worked across party lines.
And he's also from the part of the state of Ohio that is very conservative. So when you see some conservatives that are pulling off, that are backing Trump but are not so enamored with their Republican nominee, in Portman, he comes Cincinnati. That is a Republican stronghold in the state of Ohio.
So, he is doing well down there as well. Rob Portman as you said is this bright spot in what is becoming a very cloudy day for Republicans down ballot right now. But he's also run a very strong campaign against a Democrat who's not run a very great campaign in Portman. Several years out built a ground operation that really is second to none.
He's done a very good job getting his organization strong and ready to get to the polls.
BLITZER: And very quickly, Jeffrey Toobin, Democrats pretty optimistic about maybe getting the majority in the Senate. What about the House?
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Very -- still very tough there. You're talking about gaining 30 seats. It is very likely that the Democrats will receive more votes for the House of Representatives from -- more individual votes but still have the minority. Which just shows how important districting is and gerrymandering is that the Democrats can very likely get more votes than the Republicans for the House of Representatives but not capture the majority of seats.
BLITZER: Yes. Good point.
All right. Guys, stay with us.
Just ahead disturbing new battle to get ISIS out of Iraq's second largest city. Are terrorists using hundreds of families right now as human shields?
[18:56:57] BLITZER: The United Nations says ISIS may be using hundreds of families as human shields in their Iraqi stronghold of Mosul, which is now the target of a massive military offensive to drive the terrorists out.
Our Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr has more.
Barbara, ISIS still launching attacks even while it's under attack in Mosul.
BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely, Wolf. It now looks like some ISIS leaders actually have escaped Mosul even as the group has launched attacks in a very surprising place.
STARR (voice-over): Gunfire erupted on the streets of the Iraqi city of Kirkuk after ISIS militant launched a surprised attack.
Video captured the terrorists entering at night, ongoing clashes reported.
ISIS's sudden attack into Kirkuk some 100 miles southeast of Mosul is seen by U.S. military officials as an ISIS attempt to divert Iraqi forces from the larger fight to retake Mosul.
Kirkuk is a city of strategic significance because of its large oil reserves.
LT. GEN. STEPHEN TOWNSEND, COMMANDER, COMBINED JOINT TASK FORCE, OPERATION INHERENT RESOLVE: They are a very resilient and challenging foe. They are very adaptable, very creative, cunning.
STARR: The first U.S. service member to be killed in the Mosul operation died after his vehicle hit an IED.
Up to 200 U.S. troops are in and around Mosul, advising Iraqi and Kurdish forces.
They are confronting initial rings of bombs and booby traps outside the city.
ISIS posting new video of clashes, it's weapons defenses are even greater inside Mosul, U.S. officials say.
The top U.S. commander telling the BBC, ISIS must be stopped.
TOWNSEND: They saw people's heads off on TV. They drown people on video it. They burn people alive in cages. They crucify people. And then they drive over people on the street with bulldozers.
Are they using human shields in there? Yes, they're probably using human shields in there.
STARR: The U.S. believes some ISIS leaders have already escaped Mosul. Remaining are about 3,000 to 4,000 fighters, about 1,000 are hard core foreign fighters in a city of 1 million.
The U.S. is trying to get a better fix on the strength of the dissident movement inside the city, and whether those foreign fighters inside Mosul will fight to the death.
STARR: And late today, the Iraqi prime minister ordered more of his troops to the city of Kirkuk to try to get a handle on the security situation there -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Very disturbing development in Kirkuk. As you point out, the oil fields are there and a lot of concern what the ISIS terrorists could do to those fields.
Thanks so much, Barbara Starr, for that report.
That's it for me. Thanks very much for watching. I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM.
"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.