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Trump Speaks to CNN on State of the Campaign. Aired 1-1:30p ET
Aired October 26, 2016 - 13:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, I'm Wolf Blitzer. It's 11:00 p.m. in Denver, Colorado, 1:00 p.m. here in Washington, D.C., 8:00 p.m. in Moscow. Wherever you're watching from around the world, thanks very much for joining us.
Up first, the battle for the battleground states. The presidential election is less than 13 days away and time is running out for the presidential candidates to make their case to voters.
Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump and their surrogates, they're fanning out across the country today targeting those all-important swing states. Trump has events in North Carolina while Clinton campaigns in Florida.
Take a look at this. We've got some live pictures coming in from Tampa right now. That's the site of Hillary Clinton's next event. Donald Trump took some time away from the campaign trail today to attend a business-related event right here in Washington.
Our Correspondent Sunlen Surfaty is covering the Trump campaign. Phil Mattingly is following the Clinton campaign for us. Sunlen, we heard Trump strike a rather different tone this morning. How would you characterize his bottom-line message?
SUNLEN SURFATY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, it was a much different tone, Wolf. He used much more soaring rhetoric than we typically hear from Donald Trump. It definitely seemed that he tried to go out of his way to bring a more optimistic message. He talked about hope. He talked about dreaming big.
At one point, he asked Americans to dream bold with him, so something that we typically don't hear from Donald Trump out on the campaign trail. And one thing that really struck a lot of us is, at one point, he said point blank, America is great. Its people are great. That, of course, notable, because that is Hillary Clinton's retort to her criticism of Donald Trump's campaign slogan when he says he wants to make America great again.
Here's more of that optimistic tone he brought here today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Let's close the history books on the failures in Washington, and let's open a new chapter of success and prosperity for all of our people. We have a divided nation, a seriously divided nation. All of our people. That is how we will truly make America great again.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SURFATY: Now at times, his speech did delve into some familiar campaign trail rhetoric, of course, although this was billed as not a campaign event but a business event opening his hotel here in Washington, D.C.
Trump talked about how Washington's broken and, notably, he went after his opponent, Hillary Clinton, by name here at this non-campaign event, mentioning her involvement in Obamacare and, of course, the news this week that those premiums will jump up -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Sunlen, a new Bloomberg poll out today takes a look at the presidential race in Florida, critically important battleground state, 29 electoral votes. It shows Trump with a two-point lead right now over Hillary Clinton. Do the Trump folks see that as a sign, their campaign blitz across the state is starting to pay off?
SURFATY: They do. Talking to Trump advisers today, they say that this is a sign of strength and they believe it will get better.
And, notably, they also believe that this poll not only is good for them, but they say it's concerned signs for Hillary Clinton, notably the way that independents broke in this poll. They won independents by a seven-point margin.
And they believe -- especially given this news on Obamacare and the premiums going up next year, they believe that gives them a little chance to gain more voters.
And that's why we'll see Donald Trump as he did here today, as he likely will later today in all of his stops in Florida, bring this up from the stump -- Wolf.
BLITZER: All right, stand by a moment, Sunlen. Phil, Hillary Clinton is zeroing in on swing states herself. What's her strategy and her message with 13 days to go?
PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, and none more so than the state of Florida, Wolf. You mentioned 29 electoral votes. If the Clinton campaign wins Florida, Donald Trump really has no pathway to 270, no opportunity to win. Two events here today, coming back this weekend as well.
The message is this, Wolf. Vote and vote now. Now, that sounds simplistic. But banking early votes, this weekend being the first early voting period in person in this state, it's huge for Democrats as they try and position themselves to win on November 8th.
But Hillary Clinton, in that first event today, not pulling any punches from Donald Trump as well. Take a listen to this jab.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: And listening to Donald Trump's campaign, I truly doubt that he has ever read the Constitution. Or if he did, back in school, he certainly doesn't remember it. And he doesn't understand it is the most important founding document for the longest lasting, greatest democracy in the history of the world.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[13:05:00] MATTINGLY: Now, Wolf, you talk about battlegrounds. Obviously, you go county by county through this state and try and figure out where things are important. Possibly none more so than Hillsborough County where we will be, where we are right now, where will Hillary Clinton will be in a short period of time.
This is a place that went twice for George W. Bush, twice for President Obama. And while it definitely leans Democratic, they tend to go with the winner. And so, you see a lot focus from the Clinton campaign here right now and just a continued focus, as I noted, throughout the state of Florida -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Phil, thanks very much. Sunlen, thanks to you as well.
I want to bring in a representative of the Trump campaign right now. Sarah Huckabee Sanders is a senior adviser to Donald Trump. She's joining us from New York. Sarah, thanks very much for joining us.
SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, SENIOR ADVISOR, TRUMP CAMPAIGN: You bet, good to be here.
BLITZER: All right, let's start with a snapshot of where the race stands nationally right now. Hillary Clinton has a seven-point lead in our latest CNN poll of polls. It's an average of the five most recent national surveys. Can Donald Trump close that gap with less than two weeks left in the campaign?
HUCKABEE SANDERS: Absolutely. And at the same time, there are several other polls just in the last couple of days that show Donald Trump either ahead or tied.
Look, I think this is an extremely close race and what it comes down to is that 70 percent of Americans want change in this race and in this election cycle.
And there is nobody that represents change greater than Donald Trump and nobody that represents the status quo stronger than Hillary Clinton. If people want to go in, shake up Washington and make things different than the way they are right now, they only have one choice and that's to vote for Donald Trump.
BLITZER: Why was he spending these last few hours here in Washington, D.C. today, because, clearly, the District of Columbia is not a battleground state, a state with only 13 days to go. Does it make look -- make it look like he's putting his business interests ahead of running for president?
HUCKABEE SANDERS: Not at all. I think what he's doing is pointing to a record of success. He actually has one. In contrast, Hillary Clinton doesn't. He was able to go and show what he's done as a businessman. He's created jobs. He's taken an old building that was dilapidated and turned it into something incredible. That's exactly what he wants to come in and do.
And I don't think there's any greater place than to do that than Washington. You've got somebody coming in, showing how they can completely transform something that has been a total mess and a total disaster. You've got to bring somebody in from the outside to change the system that we have.
Hillary Clinton has been part of the problem for the last 30 years. She has no record of success. Donald Trump has actually created jobs and this is a great opportunity to contrast that with Hillary Clinton who's never created any jobs, maybe other than outside of the FBI.
So, I think this was a great move and a great way to show his success story and contrast that to Hillary's record of failure.
BLITZER: During his remarks, Sarah, at the hotel here in Washington today, he said this about the United States government. Listen to this --
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: This is what I want to do for our country, and this is what we're working so hard to do. Right now, just about everything our government touches is broken or they break it. It's always over budget, behind schedule and simply nothing works.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: So, he's saying, basically, he said, simply put, everything our government touches is broken or they break it. Here is the question -- that's not true. The United States military works. The Social Security Administration works. The National Institutes of Health, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
There are major parts of the federal government that do incredibly important and successful work for the American people. I assume you agree?
HUCKABEE SANDERS: Absolutely. I think the bigger point he's trying to make is that everything Hillary Clinton and the Obama administration have done. And I think Obamacare is a perfect example. It's been a complete and utter failure.
And even this week, we're seeing now that premiums are going to increase by 25 percent. It's going to bankrupt our country. It's hurting small businesses. It's hurting families. And for them to ignore that that's a real problem and that some of the biggest policies that they've implemented have been total and utter failures, is just -- they just can't do that.
They can't just ignore the fact that this is a total failure and that's the point he's making. Washington is full of failures. BLITZER: Now, but he said, Sarah --
HUCKABEE SANDERS: Particularly when it comes to Hillary and Obama's policies.
BLITZER: -- let me interrupt. Sarah, he said -- he said specifically, and I'm reading exactly what he said. Just about everything our government touches is broken or they break it. That's not true, is it?
HUCKABEE SANDERS: Look, I -- Wolf, I think you're kind of diving in and making a bigger statement out of that than what he's trying to point to. And a lot of what our government does touch we break.
Frankly, what makes America great is not our government. It's our people. And when we get out -- when we get government out of the way and we let people do what they do best, that's create jobs, that's build businesses, that's run their families, that's making education more local, less federalized, we do much better.
[13:10:06] That's the point he's making. And I think that's a really good and strong point, particularly on the hills of one of the greatest failures that we've seen from the Obama and Clinton administration and that is Obamacare.
BLITZER: I'm just sensitive to the point that a lot of federal employees, whether military or civilian, they're always very sensitive when they hear politicians, and Donald Trump is now a politician, blast them as being corrupt or inefficient or broken or whatever. They work really hard for the American people. They're doing their best as you well know. And when they get slammed like that, it's a very sensitive issue.
But let me just wrap it up with one point.
HUCKABEE SANDERS: I just want to be really clear though, Wolf, that he's not slamming the military. There has been no greater advocate in this campaign cycle than Donald Trump for our military, for our veterans. And, frankly, that's one of the reasons he's running is because those people haven't been treated right. Our government has completely failed to take care of our veterans. And to say that they haven't is wrong.
And that's the point he's making. These are people that work hard. These are people that deserve our best. And they haven't gotten it because Obama --
BLITZER: Look, there's a --
HUCKABEE SANDERS: -- and Clinton have completely failed --
BLITZER: -- I don't want to --
HUCKABEE SANDERS: -- and we've got to have somebody come in and fix that. BLITZER: Sarah, you make -- you make -- you make fair points.
There's no doubt about that. But I want him to be precise and not say just about everything our government touches is broken because that is simply not true. A lot of what the U.S. government does, on the military level, the civilian level, is critically important.
One final question, Sarah, before I let you go. Today, for the first time, I heard him say, America is great. He didn't say where -- he also said, we're going to make America great again. But he did say, America is great. Is this a new line that he's putting forward right now? Because it comes in contrast to what he's been saying over the past several months.
HUCKABEE SANDERS: Look, I think Donald Trump has always believed that our country is great. He believes in our people. He's traveled all over the -- from coast to coast and had the opportunity to meet with millions of Americans and seen the greatness in our country.
But, again, it's not in our government. It's no our people. He's already recognized that. But we need to make some major changes, some major shifts. And we have to break up that Washington to Wall Street access of power.
We haven't been focused on protecting America but we've been focused on protecting special interests. That has to change and that's one of the things he wants to do in making America great again. But he's never lost hope and faith in our country and certainly not in its people.
BLITZER: So, America is great right now, right?
HUCKABEE SANDERS: Look, I think there are certainly great parts of America but there are things that we have to do better. Again, we have to go back to where our focus is putting America first. We haven't done that. We've had an administration that's, frankly, apologized for America's successes instead of celebrating them.
We have to go back to a place where that is our mind-set where we're putting our national security first. We're putting our economy first. And we haven't done that over the last eight years. We certainly wouldn't do it with Hillary Clinton.
And that's why we need somebody like Donald Trump who will come in and make that change, shake up Washington, and put our focus on building America up.
BLITZER: Sarah Huckabee Sanders, thanks so much for joining us.
HUCKABEE SANDERS: You bet. Thank you, Wolf.
BLITZER: Coming up, inside the mind of Donald Trump. New revelations about the billionaire in just released audiotapes. What he says about his love for any type of fight.
Plus, swing states showdown, the path to 270 electoral votes has both campaigns look at every scenario. We break it down with our political panel. That's next.
[13:17:24] ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
BLITZER: We've got some breaking news. Donald Trump speaking to CNN's Dana Bash just a few moment ago at his business event, opening his hotel officially here in Washington, D.C. Dana's joining us right now.
So, Dana, what did he say?
DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it was a brief one-on-one discussion with him about why he is here, not on the campaign trail, and how he could potentially take advantage of some of the polls looking better for him, especially in the key state of Florida. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BASH: First I want to ask you about your event here. There's new audiotape of you talking about the fact that you really have relied on your popularity and the fact that people come to your events and that helps you with free advertising. Is that what this was about?
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: No, not at all. This was just under budget, ahead of schedule. That's what this is. Under budget, ahead of schedule. We built a hotel that is going to be one of the great hotels of the world. Just opened today. It officially opens today. And we built it for less money than was anticipated and we built it ahead of schedule by over a year. And if the country would do that, we would have a country that would be in much better shape than its -- you know, highways, they build highways for double and triple the costs. They build hospitals --
BASH: And so to people who say you're taking time out of swing states to go do this, you say?
TRUMP: I say the following. You have been covering me for the last -- long time. I did yesterday eight stops and three major speeches. And I've been doing this for weeks straight. I left here -- I left there for an hour and a half. I'm going to North Carolina right now. Then I'm going to Florida. I'm going up to New Hampshire. For you to ask me that question is actually very insulting because Hillary Clinton does one stop and then she goes home and sleeps and yet you'll ask me that question. I think it's a very rude question, to be honest with you.
And what I do is, I want to back my children. My children work very hard, Ivanka in particular. And at the opens of the hotel, I want to back my children. Very important to me.
So we had a ribbon cutting, which was very quick. And I stopped in D.C. But the real key to this is, I want the American people to understand that this is under budget, ahead of schedule and we need that for the United States.
BASH: And I -- just so you know, I've been reporting on the fact that you're going to North Carolina for a couple of stops straight from here.
But my next question is, there's a new poll in Florida that has you up a couple of points. Other swing states have you really in the hunt. Given that, are you prepared to write a check --
BASH: To help yourself get over the finish line? And if so, how big? And I'm talking about advertising.
[13:20:07] TRUMP: Let me just tell you that we have -- I'll have over $100 million in the campaign. Hillary Clinton has nothing in the campaign. She's all special interests, and donors, and they give her the money, then she will do whatever they tell her to do. But I will have over $100 million in the campaign and I'm prepared to go much more than that.
Now, here's the question. New polls are coming out. We're leading in Florida. We're doing great in North Carolina. We're doing great in Pennsylvania. We're doing great all over. We're doing really well in New Hampshire. Ohio, as you know, and Iowa are doing fantastically well. I'm telling you, CNN doesn't say it, but I think we're going to win.
BASH: So, but to do that, you have a pretty big bank account.
TRUMP: I do.
BASH: You can -- and time is running out. The clock's ticking.
TRUMP: That's right.
BASH: Will you write a check and --
TRUMP: I've already done it. I've already written a number of them.
BASH: But I mean specifically -- specifically to get up on the air --
BASH: To combat the ads that you say Hillary Clinton is running against you.
TRUMP: In fact, well, in Florida, she has 50-1 against me. Fifty. You were the one that reported that.
BASH: But you -- but you have the means to combat that.
TRUMP: (INAUDIBLE) in the meantime. Sure I do. But in the meantime, 50-1 and I'm leading. How would you like to have spent -- you know, in the old days you'd get credit if you would spend less money and have victory. That would be a good thing. Today you -- they want you to spend money. I'll have over $100 million. I'm willing to spend much more than that if I have to. I'm seeing just great signs.
You know, one of the other things we're seeing in Florida, we're seeing it in other places, the lines going into voting booths, going into voting areas are unbelievable. I mean in Florida yesterday we passed four of them, the lines were three and four blocks long. Those are not her voters, because her voters have no enthusiasm whatsoever.
BASH: Can you just be specific? How much are you willing to --
TRUMP: No, I wouldn't -- I wouldn't --
BASH: Put down in order to put up new ads?
TRUMP: No, I've already -- I will have over $100 million in and I'm willing to invest more than that.
BASH: Like, how much?
TRUMP: Don't -- don't -- just -- let's go for your next question, Dana.
BASH: OK. Well, my last question, because I'm getting the hook over here, is, in this speech here, you talked about the fact that this is the second best piece of real estate on Pennsylvania Avenue. In 14 days, are you hoping that you're going to be spending after that more time here or down the street?
TRUMP: Well, look, I just hope that -- you know, I built a great company. This is truly a great company with some of the great assets of the world, not only in our country, but in other countries. And I predicted Brexit. You were one of the people that asked me about Brexit. And I said it's going to happen. And I'm not even saying this is Brexit, but I think the result is going to be the same if not more so.
We are going to have, I think, a tremendous victory. People don't want four more years of Obama. They don't want Hillary with all of the corruption and all of the problems. And you see all of these WikiLeaks coming out and they're a disaster. And when you see John Podesta, who I think is terrible the way he speaks about her, but that she has bad instincts. John Podesta saying that the person he works for has bad instincts? I think it's terrible.
But so many other things even worse than that are out. It's about their honesty and their dishonesty. I really think that we're going to have a tremendous victory. And you know what, if I didn't think that, I wouldn't say it. I'd say, well, we're going to be fighting hard.
Now, we will be fighting hard, but I believe we're winning. I actually think we're winning. I don't even think it's a question of, we're going to try and win. You start looking at the polls, what's happening. And, more importantly, start looking at all the people going to vote and sending in their ballots. We're way ahead on virtually every state, every area, and I think we're going to have a great victory.
BASH: Thank you, Mr. Trump.
TRUMP: Thank you. BASH: Thank you for your time.
TRUMP: Thank you very much.
BASH: I appreciate it. Thank you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BASH: Now, Wolf, one of the reasons why I was pressing him on the question of money is because what I'm hearing from some Republicans, particularly those who are working with the party, is that they had hoped that Mr. Trump, who obviously has had a very unconventional fundraising apparatus because he was a self-funder in the primaries, and then in the general election he was raising money in conjunction with the party, whether he would at least now, at the very end, especially as I said to him in those states where he does seem to be doing better, take out his checkbook and fund his campaign advertising in order to combat the ads that we have seen on the air, and he talks about and complains about from Hillary Clinton. And so that was that line of questioning.
BLITZER: I'm sure he was happy with that new Bloomberg poll in Florida which shows him right now up by two points in that key battleground state.
BLITZER: Desperately needs to win Florida if he has any chance at all of becoming president of the United States. But he keeps talking about the polls were wrong in Britain with Brexit and in the end we know what happened with Brexit. He thinks the polls are wrong here as well. And he's going to stun the world by winning the presidency on November 8th. Is that what I'm hearing from him in this little interview you did with him?
BASH: That's certainly the -- what he was suggesting, that he feels confident he's going to win despite the polls. But you know who this goes, Wolf, when the polls are great for him, he talks about them extensively, like the poll you just discussed that's out this morning in Florida. When the polls are bad he says that they're going to beat the polls because the polls aren't worth looking at.
[13:25:04] So it is the absolute glass half full, glass half empty scenario when you're talking about Donald Trump and the polls. But I think the takeaway that you mentioned is key, which is, he sounds and seems more upbeat. He's trying to convey that and trying to convey that he's going to surprise people. And at this point, he understands that given the narrative of how this campaign is going, it would be a very big surprise if he pulls it out in the end.
BLITZER: Dana, great work grabbing him. It's the first time I think he's spoken to CNN in quite a while.
We're going to have full analysis of what we just heard, all of the other breaking political news today. Dana, stay with us. Our political panel is with us as well. We'll take a quick break. We'll be right back.