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THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER

Final Campaign Stretch; Clinton Makes Final Pitch to Rust-Belt Voters; Maher: Liberals "Cried Wolf" With Romney and McCain. Aired 4- 4:30p ET

Aired November 7, 2016 - 16:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[16:00:18]

JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Jake Tapper in Washington, D.C.

Please clap. This is American democracy in action. In a shade under 27 hours, voting in critical battleground states will close, and then all the polls and the controversies and the calamities, October surprises, November surprises, and all the many, many lies, they will all be history, replaced by a new kind of history, either the first woman president or the first president never to have served in the military or public office, a true outsider.

Donald Trump unveiling his closing ad over the weekend. Hillary Clinton releasing hers just hours ago, asking, what kind of America do voters want?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Is America dark and divisive or hopeful and inclusive? Our core values are being tested in this election, but everywhere I go, people are refusing to be defined by fear and division.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: There are almost too many events on the campaign trail to keep track of today, Trump bouncing among five states, Florida, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Michigan, for five separate events, the last one a late-night rally this evening in Grand Rapids.

Clinton is devoting three of her final four campaign stops to shoring up her blue wall in Michigan and in Pennsylvania. President Obama, first lady Obama, former President Clinton behind her on one Philadelphia stage this evening. Does her schedule indicate her campaign is worried they could cede the Keystone State?

CNN will be on the trail for every single second of the final, final sprint.

Let's go right to CNN political director David Chalian, who is over at our magic wall.

David, Trump today reviewed his path today to 270 electoral votes. Here is how he views the race.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We're going to win Michigan. You know what we're going to win? We're going to win Minnesota. We're going to win Minnesota. We're leading big in Ohio. We're leading in Iowa. We're leading in New Hampshire, where I'm going in a little while. We're leading in North Carolina.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: New polls seem to be coming out every hour.

David, give us a little reality check. Trump mentioned Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, Iowa, New Hampshire, North Carolina.

First off, all those states would not be enough. He would still need to win Florida, but put that aside. Where does he stand in those six states?

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Well, let's first remind you where our national poll of polls is right now, 46 percent to 42 percent, a four-point edge for Hillary Clinton averaging all those national polls that came out today.

But you're right. Let's look at some of the states he mentioned. Michigan, just to show you the latest polling out of Michigan, a four- point lead for Hillary Clinton, 42 percent to 38 percent. He also mentioned New Hampshire. Let's take a look at the latest poll in New Hampshire. In fact, we have a poll of polls because a lot of New Hampshire polls came out.

Jake, look at this, 44 percent for Clinton, 41 percent for Trump, a three-point edge for Hillary Clinton in our poll of polls. Let's get that out of there. Let's take a look in North Carolina. He'd also mentioned North Carolina. Let's look at our poll of polls here, 45 percent to 43 percent, a slight Clinton edge.

Now, he could be cherry-picking his polls as to which ones he says that he is taking a look at, but he's not leading in all of these states, as he says, Jake.

TAPPER: Interesting.

Now, Clinton's last stops are in North Carolina, Michigan, and Pennsylvania. Does she need to win all of those states?

CHALIAN: She doesn't, Jake, but let's look at the path to 270 for Hillary Clinton, because, as you noted, is she so concerned about those cracks in the blue wall?

Look what happens if, indeed, her blue wall crumbles. Let's say Hillary Clinton does, indeed, lose Michigan and lose Pennsylvania for a moment. This is our battleground map. They're feeling pretty good about Nevada, so I'm going to give Hillary Clinton Nevada for the purpose of this exercise. And let's say that she even loses North Carolina. I'm going to give that to Donald Trump.

If Hillary Clinton wins Florida and wins New Hampshire, she's at 271 electoral votes and is president of the United States. So, this wall can crack for her, Pennsylvania, Michigan to Trump. If indeed that happened, two of the states that they're both in today, she just needs to make sure that Florida and Nevada and New Hampshire come her way.

She can even afford to lose North Carolina in this scenario.

TAPPER: Interesting. David Chalian, thank you so much.

Hillary Clinton is about to speak at her second stop of the day in Michigan, as she revisits three states she hopes will form a firewall against the Trump train.

CNN senior Washington correspondent Jeff Zeleny is live in the great city of Philadelphia, where Hillary Clinton will speak this evening.

[16:05:02]

Jeff, what is the campaign strategy here? Michigan and Pennsylvania were once considered safe for Clinton.

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: They were, indeed, Jake, and they have voted Democratic, as you well know, for the last six presidential elections.

But a top aide told me earlier today it's an insurance policy. It's the best place to block Donald Trump. So that is what is happening here in the final really 24 hours of this campaign. They're simply trying to block Donald Trump.

Now, if you catch them in an honest moment, Jake, they also are not quite sure about Michigan in particular, because it certainly was a state that Bernie Sanders did very well in the primary campaign. It certainly is more of a state where this populist argument is alive and well here.

So the idea that the president went to Michigan and Secretary Clinton went to Michigan, is in Michigan, that is a sign that they are slightly more concerned about that. But, Jake, added together those are 36 electoral votes. If they win them, then it's hard for Donald Trump to get his path to 270.

TAPPER: Jeff, in these events that she's holding, how much is she focusing on Donald Trump vs. how much is she talking about herself and what she would want to do for voters?

ZELENY: Jake, she is turning the corner certainly more day by day, and we're definitely hearing it today in Pittsburgh and as her speeches come along, trying to give a more forward-looking argument here, not trying to take down and disqualify Donald Trump as much.

Of course, that's thrown in. They're still trying to draw this distinction here. You can almost feel a shift in their closing message, certainly in their advertising, but also in what she is saying, Jake, trying to close on a slightly more upbeat note in a campaign that has been anything but -- Jake.

TAPPER: All right, Jeff Zeleny, thanks.

CNN senior political correspondent Brianna Keilar is live with the Clinton campaign in Allendale right now, where Clinton is about to take the stage.

Brianna, tell us what you have been noticing as you have been talking to campaign officials.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, we are now on her second of four events, and I think talking to them, Jake, one of the things we have noticed is just how spent they are, one, but, two, that they are quietly optimistic -- kind of cautiously optimistic about the prospects tomorrow.

And it's really largely in part because they put in a lot of the ground game, the work, that they now are relying on what has really been a behemoth of a get-out-the-vote operation, a finely tuned machine that the Clinton campaign has put together. But, certainly, this is something where, you know, as Jeff was speaking to, Hillary Clinton has been trying to pivot to a more positive message certainly.

And she has a couple positive ads out now here in the close, but it's just been such a nasty, brutal campaign that it's also been difficult to do that. And really one of her lines that has gotten especially we noticed at the last stop in Pittsburgh, that's gotten so much applause and response is when she talks about Donald Trump being temperamentally and experientially unfit.

That's something that her crowds are certainly eating up. And we expect they will here in the Grand Rapids area when she takes the stage.

TAPPER: All right, Brianna Keilar, thank you so much.

Joining me is Kristina Schake. She's deputy communications director for the Clinton campaign.

Kristina, thanks so much for joining us. Appreciate it.

KRISTINA SCHAKE, DEPUTY COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR, CLINTON CAMPAIGN: Great to be here, Jake.

TAPPER: The last time Michigan or Pennsylvania went Republican in a presidential race was 1988. Why is Hillary Clinton, do you think, having such a hard time sealing the deal in those two traditionally blue states?

SCHAKE: Well, as you said in your reporting, as Jeff noted, this was a state that she lost in the primary, And so she's taking it very, very seriously. We understand the makeup of the state may more benefit Trump in this

election, but we're not taking it for granted. And we feel actually really confident. We have built a great ground game in Michigan. And, as you said, we have got President Obama there. Hillary is there today, as is Chelsea Clinton. We're fighting really hard for every vote.

And, as you know, Jake, it's a game day state. There isn't as much early voting in Michigan. It all comes down to tomorrow and we're just out there working to get every vote we can to bring that state home.

TAPPER: Right, but Kristina, like three weeks ago your campaign was talking about going into Arizona, going into Missouri, going into Georgia, and now it seems like you're playing defense in Pennsylvania and Michigan.

SCHAKE: You know, it doesn't feel that way to us.

You know, the way we worked the schedule for Hillary was very strategic. We focused on the early states, places actually like Arizona, when she took the trip there, where people were voting early. Michigan was not that state.

People are voting on Election Day. So, we really wanted her and our other amazing surrogates to spend the time there closer to Election Day, when it was actually more valuable to have her in the state. So it was really strategic how we spent the time. We feel confident about Michigan. We have built a great team there, and we really feel like we're going to win it.

But we also like states like that where we can make Trump play defense.

[16:10:01]

TAPPER: At a campaign rally in Ames, Iowa over the weekend, a student who was introducing Bernie Sanders to campaign for Hillary Clinton said that Hillary Clinton is trapped in the world of elite. He said there's no point in voting for the lesser of two evils, referring to Hillary Clinton. He had to be taken off stage by a Clinton campaign official of Iowa.

Are you worried about millennials who supported Sanders and are reluctant to support Clinton? They see her as part of the problem.

SCHAKE: You know, we actually are not worried about that, Jake.

We are so pleased with the support that Senator Sanders has given to Hillary throughout this campaign. He's really been one of our champions out there on the trail. And I think one of the interesting stories that's going to come out of tomorrow is the Hillary coalition, the broad and diverse coalition that came together to elect the first woman president of the United States, we hope. We're not taking anything for granted, but we hope tomorrow. And we think millennials are going to be a really important part of that. You know, one of the under-reported things about 2008 and 2012 was that President Obama actually lost white millennials. He won millennials overall because it's such a diverse generation.

We actually think Hillary has a real shot at winning white millennials tomorrow and winning millennials in an overwhelming number that's going to make up her coalition of African-Americans, Latinos, suburban moms, college-educated voters and millennials that are going to put her over the top.

TAPPER: Clinton said today that she has some work to do to bring the country together if she wins. If she wins, how is she going to reach out to the Trump supporters? How is she going to reach out to the white working-class voters who do not support her, some of whom she said were in a basket of deplorables? What's the plan there?

SCHAKE: Well, as you know, Jake, throughout Hillary's life, she's always made it clear that she's willing to work with anybody who wants to make progress for America's families.

That's something she's done as a first lady, as a senator, as secretary of state. And every major accomplishment of her life from getting children's health insurance to getting health insurance and coverage for National Guard members to improving our foster care system, she's done with people across the aisle, people who have challenged her and haven't always been her biggest fans.

She will always reach out and do the work with anybody who wants to make progress. And we would see her do that as president too.

TAPPER: All right. Kristina Schake, I'm going to cut it off there, so we can listen in to your candidate in Allendale, Michigan.

Hillary Clinton just took the stage. Thanks for joining us.

Let's listen to Hillary -- listen in to Hillary Clinton in Michigan.

(JOINED IN PROGRESS)

CLINTON: It is great to be back in the Western Michigan. Thank you!

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

CLINTON: Are there any Lakers here?

Oh, my gosh, I am so thrilled to be here. I want to thank the president of this great university, Tom Haas, the faculty, the staff, the students.

I want to thank Brandon Dillon, the chair of the Michigan Democratic Party.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

CLINTON: And I especially really want to thank you for sending Debbie Stabenow to the United States Senate.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

CLINTON: Now, I have also the great personal experience and privilege of having worked with Debbie, gotten to know her, become a friend of hers.

And I am so excited...

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

CLINTON: I'm so excited at the possibility that I will be able to work with her again.

But I want you to know this. And I really, really hope you will tell folks, because there is no more dedicated, effective member of the United States Senate than Debbie Stabenow.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

CLINTON: She fights for -- she fights for all of you every day, but she does it with that smile that never leaves her face.

And she brings people together who are on opposite sides of issues because she just keeps talking. And don't we need more of that in Washington, where people actually talk and listen to each other?

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

CLINTON: So, it's wonderful to be with all of you and to be introduced by Debbie.

Are you ready to vote tomorrow, Michigan?

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

CLINTON: Are you ready to help get your friends to vote tomorrow?

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

CLINTON: Well, that is clearly the right answer, because we have a really important election tomorrow.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

[16:15:02] Now, the choice in this election could not be clearer, and I know that for many people, you've gone back and forth, you've thought about what to do, and I really respect that. But let me say this, let me say this, this is basically between division and unity in our country. It's between strong and steady leadership or a loose cannon who could put everything at risk. It is between an economy that works for everyone or one that is even more stacked for those at the top.

And I want each and every one of you to be thinking through about all the issues you care about because although my name and my opponent's name will be on the ballot, those issues and those values are on the ballot as well. And as you think about what you care about and what you want your future to look like, you have to recognize this is a consequential election.

You know, I have been privileged to know a lot of our presidents over the past decades and people who ran for president. I was privilege to know, as a college student, Gerald Ford.

(APPLAUSE)

In fact, I had an internship with the House Republican Conference Committee which he headed after my junior year in college. So when I say I've gotten to know a lot of our presidents and people who have run for president, it goes back a ways.

And here is what I want you to understand, I didn't agree with everything they did or said. Even the Democrats, we had differences in politics and policies and sometimes on principle. But I never doubted, I never doubted that they were fit to serve as our president and commander in chief.

(APPLAUSE)

That's why, that's why this election is so different, and it's why so the many Republicans have spoken out to endorse me and support me and who have taken very courageous stands against the nominee of their own part party. Because they believe that we must put country ahead of party when it comes to this election.

(APPLAUSE)

You know, I was at Kent State in Ohio last week, and I was introduced by a gentleman by the name of Bruce Blair (ph), and Mr. Blair had served in the Air Force. He was a young officer assigned to be what was called a launch officer. That meant he served his time every day sitting in a bunker where the controls for launching nuclear weapons were housed, and his job, imagine the responsibility, a young Air Force officer in his 20s waiting to hear whether or not an order is given for him to launch nuclear weapons.

And Bruce Blair explained that there is no appeal from a president's order to do that. The joint chiefs of our military forces can't say no, don't do it. There's no veto from Congress or anyone else, and the time between the order being given and the actual launch is four minutes.

So, after watching this election, Mr. Blair began contacting others who had served in this incredibly responsible position to share his concerns about what he was hearing and seeing, and several dozen of them -- I'd never met him before -- several dozen of them wrote a letter explaining why they could never support Donald Trump to be our commander in chief and --

(APPLAUSE)

[16:20:07] The awesome responsibility that is housed in one person is something I want you to think about between now and the time you vote, because I will pledge to you that I will exercise the greatest care and responsibility in all of the powers invested in office of the presidency.

(APPLAUSE)

I also --

(CHANTING)

JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: We're going to dip out of Secretary Clinton trying to rally voters in Allendale, Michigan, in that crucial state. President Obama too is speaking in key states throughout the day, including Michigan as well as New Hampshire and Pennsylvania later this evening.

Let's talk now from Durham, New Hampshire, where the president is about to take the stage, with White House communications director Jen Psaki.

Jen, thanks so much for joining us.

JEN PSAKI, WHITE HOUSE COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR: Hi, Jake. My pleasure. It's a rowdy crowd here.

TAPPER: What does it say about the state of the race that the Clinton campaign thought Michigan and Pennsylvania are where the president's support is most necessary the day before the election? That seems to be -- I wouldn't say necessarily the word "desperate" but Michigan and Pennsylvania are pretty blue states generally.

PSAKI: Well, Jake, Michigan, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire are three states that the president won twice, both times he ran for election. They're also states that don't have early vote, which means that tomorrow is game day for voters in all of these states and the president is going to remind people what's at stake, that tomorrow they need to get up early, they need to put warm coats on, they need to get out to the polls. And so, that's why it was pivotal he came to these three states the day before the election.

TAPPER: Let me ask you a more philosophical question, Jen. We're nearing the end of the Obama presidency, and it's quite obvious that white working class voters seem to feel abandoned in large numbers by Washington, D.C. In any way, do you see the fact that so many of them and a constituency that used to be a Democratic constituency years ago, the fact that they have turned away and they are looking towards Donald Trump, is that in any way a failure of President Obama and the Democratic Party?

PSAKI: Well, I think, Jake, we're going to wait until the election results come in tomorrow to see how everything shakes out. There's no question that this country has been through a brutal election, one that's been kind of shaded by dark and gloomy predictions of where the country is going and we're going to need to do a lot of work. The president is going to need to do a lot of work to bring the country together. But the fact is the president did better in 2012 working class voters than people thought he would. He's also still appeals to white working class voters today. We need to take a close look at who we are as a country once this election is over and figure out how we come together in the weeks and months ahead, and that's going to be a big journey for everyone.

TAPPER: President Obama appeared on "Real Time with Bill Maher" over the weekend. I want you to take a listen to this from a different part of the same show. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BILL MAHER, TV HOST: I know liberals made a big mistake because we attacked your boy Bush like he was the end of the world and he wasn't. And Mitt Romney, we attacked that way. I gave Obama a million dollars because I was so afraid of Mitt Romney. Mitt Romney wouldn't have changed my life that much or yours --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, absolutely.

MAHER: Or John McCain. They were honorable men who we disagreed with and we should have kept it that way. So, we cried wolf and that was wrong. But this is real.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yeah.

MAHER: This is going to be way different.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: Jen, in any way, do you agree with Bill Maher that Democrats in some way paved the way for Donald Trump by painting previous Republican nominees as scary extremists when they were not?

PSAKI: I don't think the blame belongs on Democrats, no. I think there's going to be a lot of post-analysis of how we got to this point, how Republican voters nominated Donald Trump, and kind of what the outcome of this election will be. It's going to be a good marking point for Republicans to take a look at who they are, Democrats to take a look at how we can work together and work across party lines.

But I think one of the things that I have been reflecting on over the past couple of weeks and many people have is the letter that President Bush wrote to President Clinton when they transitioned power, and that is I think something people should take a look at because it's a good model for what needs to happen in periods of time post-election after things have been hard fought, after there have been blood, sweat, and tears, but it's a time for the country to come together, and that's what we're going to fully be looking at in the weeks and months ahead.

[16:25:05] TAPPER: And President Obama will write a similar letter no matter who wins tomorrow?

PSAKI: I think President Obama has long reflected on, he's talked publicly about his place in history and the fact that passing on the presidency is like a passing of a baton. We all know he hopes that's Hillary Clinton and he's working his heart out to make sure that's the case, but he absolutely believes in the transition of power, the peaceful transition power, and he certainly will abide by that.

TAPPER: I'm going to take that as a yes. Jen Psaki, thank you so much. Appreciate it.

PSAKI: Thanks, Jake. Great to be here.

TAPPER: We're just minutes from President Obama taking the stage in New Hampshire. . There are just four electoral votes up for grabs in the Granite State, but they could be four decisive votes tomorrow, depending on how close it is, both campaigns know it. We'll go there live right after this very quick break. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)