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Panel Discusses Trump Victory. Aired 9-10p ET

Aired November 17, 2016 - 21:00   ET


[21:00:00] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening. Tonight, a "360" special report, "Unprecedented: Inside the Trump Campaign".

The 2016 presidential race was certainly epic like nothing we've seen before. A billionaire businessman and former reality T.V. star rocking the political world with his promise to fix Washington.

Tonight, we're going to hear from CNN correspondents who had a front row seat to it all. They were there for every moment that shattered conventional wisdom, from the front lines of the campaign trail, they saw and heard what the rest of us couldn't. Over the next hour, they'll take us inside the battle behind the scenes and beyond the images that made it on air.

First, to set the scene, some of the most unforgettable moments from this extraordinary race.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT-ELECT OF THE UNITED STATES: They're bringing drugs, they're bringing crime, they're rapist and some, I assume, are good people.

MEGYN KELLY, FOX NEWS CHANNEL ANCHOR: You've called women you don't like, fat pigs, dogs, slobs, and disgusting animals. Your Twitter account --

TRUMP: Only Rosie O'Donnell.

It's really going to be a big debate, but I'm always ready.

JIMMY FALLON, HOST, THE TONIGHT SHOW: It's not just big, it's huge.

JEB BUSH, (R) FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It's very high energy, Donald.

TRUMP: A total and complete shut down of Muslims entering the United States.

He referred to my hands, if they're small, something else must be small. I guarantee you there's no problem. I guarantee you.

I am with you. I will fight for you. And I will win for you.

President Barack Obama was born in the United States, period. This was locker room talk. I'm not proud of it. I apologize to my family. I apologize to the American people.

I've just received a call from Secretary Clinton.


ANDERSON: Well, joining me now, five of the intrepid souls who've covered the Trump campaign. Chief political correspondent Dana Bash, senior White House correspondent Jim Acosta, national correspondent Sunlen Serfaty, CNN politics reporter Jeremy Diamond and political reporter Sarah Murray.

Dana, do you think Donald Trump planned to make it all the way to the White House when he first came down that escalator?

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: I don't think that he knew what to expect. But I really genuinely do not think that he had any notion of being the president-elect of the United States of America. That was pretty clear not just when he came down the escalator, but I think if you fast forward to the day that he was actually sitting in the Oval Office with President Obama and the look on his face, I don't know about you, but you spent a lot of time with him. I've never seen somebody look so humble that is known as, you know, to use his words, braggadocios.

COOPER: Well, it's also being I think in the White House --

BASH: Oh, yeah.

COOPER: -- being in the Oval Office.

BASH: Completely. Oh, totally. But this is beyond that.


BASH: This is like, oh, wow, this happened. I didn't expect this to happen, but here we are.

COOPER: Sara, I understand when you first got assigned, you were actually kind of bummed that you got this assignment?

SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL REPORTER: Yeah. I just couldn't believe that I was getting this call from my bosses saying, you know, we need you to now be focusing full time on Donald Trump because it was still a very crowded Republican field. I had sort of his bucket of candidates I was covering and I just thought to myself, this is going to put me so far behind where I need to be to get source on whoever is going to be the Republican nominee.

And at that point, we sort of thought, you know, it would be a matter of weeks until he dropped out of the race or that he would sort of be the flavor through the summer and then he would fall in the polls. And it became increasingly clear that that wasn't going to happen. But, yeah, that's right, I was pretty bummed at the outset because I thought it was just going to be a flash in the pan. COOPER: And in terms of covering Donald Trump, I mean, it was it unlike any experience -- I mean, Jim, unlike --

JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely. My fourth presidential campaign and, you know, as you saw in the opening to this program, I mean, he committed a number of gaffes that would have sank any other presidential candidate and yet he kept on going. I think it just goes to show you what Donald Trump tapped into. He tapped into this anger out there in the voting public that ended up delivering him to the White House.

COOPER: I've always thought he has incredible political antenna, or antenna able to sense a crowd, sense an individual, sense a weakness, sense a strength. But do you think he had it mapped out in his mind when he came down that escalator, you know, I'm going to embrace the anger that's out there? Do you think he knew of it or did he learn about that on the trail?

ACOSTA: I think to some extent yes. I mean, he has been talking about trade issues for a long time, long before his presidential campaign. And as for immigration, I think he realized that there was a section of the conservative base that was going to respond very favorably to these anti-immigrant comments. I mean, calling Mexicans rapists and criminals on the very first day of your campaign, we all thought, well, that's it. Donald Trump is not going to be the Republican nominee and he's not going to be the president.

[21:05:13] But inside the conservative base, he was -- it was not a dog whistle, it was a bull horn.

COOPER: But there were so many of those moments where, you know, early on, you know, a lot of people thought, we all asked you kind of for your pivotal moments. You know, a lot of you picked the moment where he talked about John McCain in less than flattering terms. Let's play what he said.


TRUMP: He hit me --


TRUMP: He's not a war hero.

LUNTZ: He's a war hero.

TRUMP: He us a war hero --

LUNTZ: Five and a half years in a Vietnamese prison camp --

TRUMP: He's a war hero because he was captured. I like people that weren't captured, OK, I hate to tell you.


COOPER: I mean, again, anybody else that would have probably eliminated them.

SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: And I think our reporter who was covering that in the room said that there were audible gasps --

BASH: Yes.

SERFATY: -- when he said that. I think that was Mark Preston who is there. And certainly, there were audible gasps throughout many newsrooms and from the other campaigns, seeing someone say something like this, hearing those words, were so significant. And what it did for the next 48 hours is really suck up all of the oxygen in the room. But that was just the first time, the first of many that we would see him do that.

COOPER: But also at that same event which I think was like a faith and values event --

BASH: Right, in Iowa.

COOPER: Right. I remember Erick Erickson afterward writing, he can write off the Evangelical vote, and yet, Erik was wrong.

BASH: It was the first example of many, many, many throughout the entire campaign about of him, as you were saying, Jim, saying something that would kill any other politician. And it just seemed to embolden him.

I had to tell you a quick story about this. I was with Frank Luntz, who was the Republican pollster who did that interview, who asked him the question about John McCain. The day before in Iowa, we were at a Scott Walker event, when Scott Walker was supposed to win Iowa. Remember that? The governor in Wisconsin, he dropped that before too long.

But -- and I remember Luntz saying to me, "I'm going to ask him tomorrow about John McCain. I want to see what he's going to say. I have a feeling that he might say something, you know, about his war records because you never know with Donald Trump." And he got it. He knew that was going to happen.

COOPER: Well, Jeremy, you -- I think it was the Iowa State fair that you sort of cited as the moment when you sort of realized or saw the reception, kind of the rock star reception that Donald Trump was getting?

JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN POLITICS REPORTER: Yeah, I mean, we were walking around the Iowa State fair and you could see these throngs of people and this is at the time where we were trying to figure out, you know, is this just the celebrity appeal? Are people just coming to see Donald Trump as they would to see Beyonce or Jay Z or whoever it maybe or are these people here because they see something in this candidate that perhaps we in the media elite so to speak, don't?

And there was a sign where, you know, I was walking around with him and I had a chance to be really close to him for much of it as he was in the tent eating a pork chop and he would look to me and he would say, Jeremy, have you ever seen a crowd like this? And I was there, this is my first campaign thinking, I have no idea. I don't have any benchmark to compare this to.

And that was kind of one of the struggles for me was kind of figuring out, is this normal, how does this fit into, you know, a normal campaign? But you quickly started to realize, especially those of us who were on the ground in August going into September, October, as there was this talk of is the summer of Trump coming to an end, we saw very much that this was something real, a real phenomenon.

COOPER: Since it was your first campaign, you could honestly tell him, no, I have never seen a crowd like that.

DIAMOND: I just said, well, yes, it certainly seemed like a lot of people, Mr. Trump.

COOPER: There was a moment you were covering the Cruz campaign, when you noticed that the Cruz people started to take Donald Trump seriously.

SERFATY: It wasn't actually in the post-mortem after Cruz dropped out, I was in conservations with top aides, I said, when did you finally take Donald Trump seriously? And they all more or less said the same thing. It was when Donald Trump started talking about a 32- year-old woman who was murdered, Kate Steinle, in San Francisco. And all of a sudden, he started acting like someone -- like a typical candidate who would take -- right. You would take a story, something that's a very poignant sad story and talk about it on the campaign trail, talk about immigration, obviously one of his big issues.

BASH: I remember early on it seems like so long ago, but when Ted Cruz embraced Donald Trump.

COOPER: Right.

BASH: Remember he invited him to a big rally, an anti-Iran nuclear deal rally.


SERFATY: He literally (ph) hugged him.


COOPER: He tweeted out something attacking the media for trying to separate them and that --

BASH: Exactly. Right, right and we did a whole thing about their bromance --

COOPER: Right.

BASH: -- that I actually asked both of them about their bromance and they were kind of gushing about one another. And, you know, sort of privately, Ted Cruz had said to me there at that event, you know what, this is hard, this is hard to run for re-election, it is hard to run for any office. He'd never done it before. So, you know, the closer we are when he drops out, I'll get his supporters.

SERFATY: And they thought that for a long time. And they waited and they waited and they waited and they are really patient until, you know, mid January, he couldn't win anymore. I think the Cruz people were seeing the writing on the wall --

BASH: Exactly.

SERFATY: -- and saying we have to do something. That's when he went nuclear in the debate.

BASH: Exactly. And he was just one of many who did not take him seriously.

COOPER: Yeah, too late. Much more ahead on this unprecedented campaigning, including what a lot of the people at the table called nothing short of stunning. The primary debates and the bare knuckle tactics Donald Trump used during them. First, something you'll see throughout the hour with us, all our reporters, some personal reflections from the campaign trail. Here's what Sara Murray have to say.


[21:10:05] MURRAY: Any highlight has also come with a lowlight.

TRUMP: Wow. Look at this crowd.

MURRAY: There was a moment in South Carolina where he would call me out in front of a crowd of thousands of people by name.

TRUMP: And then they have some woman, Sara Murray, whoever the hell that is.

MURRAY: And those people would turn around and jeer at me, and my dad would call me and make me promise him that I wasn't walking to my car alone.

TRUMP: This is Sara Murphy reporting for CNN. Mr. Trump made a speech tonight.

MURRAY: It's been a campaign of highs and lows.



COOPER: Welcome back to this special hour of "360", "Unprecedented: Inside the Trump Campaign".

One of the many ways that Donald Trump changed the tone of presidential campaign politics was by coming up with nicknames of people who disagree with him and then repeating them time after time after time. Take a look. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: This guy's a choke artist and this guy's a liar.

Don't worry about it Little Marco.

I've given my answer, Lying Ted.

I'm relaxed. You're the basket case.

Excuse me, one second. I didn't want --

BUSH: No. The simple fact is, Donald, you cannot take --

TRUMP: More energy tonight, I like that.

I never attacked him on his look, and believe me there's plenty of subject matter right there.


COOPER: Back now with CNN reporters who've covered the Trump campaign. I mean, Jim, there's a simplicity to what Donald Trump was doing, and yet kind of a genius behind it as well. It is so simple it all sticks. I mean for a guy who knows branding, you know, it worked.

[21:14:59] ACOSTA: Yeah. After the election, I thought, well, Jeb Bush is not going to be the Secretary of Energy. You know, the name calling, you know, it's one of those things that we all looked at each other and just thought, what the hell is going on, why is this, you know, presidential candidate giving nicknames to his rivals, "Little Marco," Lying Ted," and so forth.

But what happened when you get out on the campaign trail and you talk to people at these rallies, they would pick it up, "Crooked Hillary," "Lying Ted," "Little Marco." And, you know, it is sort of a genius way of branding, instead of branding himself, he was branding his rivals. Rubio and Cruz and Bush did not know what to do with this.

BASH: They didn't know what to do with it.

SERFATY: But it got under their skin.

ACOSTA: Got under their skin.

BASH: Yeah.

SERFATY: Which is what Donald Trump needed at that moment. It got them off of their message. They didn't quite know how to react to it on the campaign trail. When you're talking to candidates and say, you know, this other person Donald Trump is calling you "Lying Ted," how do you respond? I mean, there's almost no response because it's so unprecedented.

BASH: And it was so personal.


BASH: Certainly we've seen personal attacks in politics, I mean, galore. But this took it to another level.

DIAMOND: And there was always the colonel of truth.


COOPER: I think, that's what's so interesting about Donald Trump, is that -- I remember doing a town hall with a number of candidates. Ted Cruz first came out and then Donald Trump came out. And -- what -- the first thing -- I think it was the first thing he said when he sat down was, what about that phony -- with those phony five second pauses.


TRUMP: It's so false. It's -- you know, the whole thing with the five-second intermissions between sentences.


COOPER: I mean, there's many things you could say about Ted Cruz, but the way he talks is a little artificial.

MURRAY: And when you hear him say it over and over again, that, I think, leads into people's psyche more than they realized the notion of "Little Marco" not being quite prepared for the presidency, of "Lying Ted Cruz" being a little too slick and a little too polished, and not necessarily saying what's on his mind. And even if you talk to, you know, Democrats who are despondent right now, they will tell you the notion of "Crooked Hillary" hammering that every single day, that being on --

BASH: Yup.

MURRAY: -- television every single day. That resonated with people even after we saw the various iterations of Jim Comey letters and her no longer, you know, facing potential criminal charges.

ACOSTA: I will say that it did lower the level of discourse of presidential campaigns to an unprecedented level, if you don't mind we're using the branding of the show. And I think the problem is, here on out, is that every candidate can do this now. He's going to create sort of a nation of many me's (ph) running at the city council level all the way up. Who think it's OK to call your rivals "Little Marco" and "Lying Ted Cruz" and "Crooked Hillary" or whatever variation of that is in your jurisdiction. And I don't think that's good for our country.

DIAMOND: The question is, will it work for other people who try to mimic it?

COOPER: Can other people do it?

DIAMOND: Because, you know, one of the things that we learned with Donald Trump, you know, going back to the John McCain thing at the very beginning is that was when we learned that Donald Trump would never back down. He would never apologize for anything, right? Even when he ultimately later on in the campaign would say that he, you know, was sorry for some of the things that he may have said and may have offended -- it was couching it, you know.

COOPER: Right.

DIAMOND: He never back down from anything and will other political candidates be able to withstand the heat and the glare of the media spotlight in the same way that he did.

ACOSTA: Lot of bad pretenders probably.

SERFATY: And to answer that too, what we heard constantly, especially in the early days coming from voters, what attracted them to come out and see Donald Trump at a rally and really give them a chance as a potential president is that he was authentic. He was uniquely himself for good or for bad. And I'm not sure that would work in the model of someone else because it's Donald Trump, the authentic man. No one else is like him. And that appeals --

COOPER: Well, there was also, of course, I mean, another pivotal moment, something you pointed out too was the Muslim ban, which he announced at a press conference. So, let's watch that.


TRUMP: Donald J. Trump is calling for a total and complete shut down of Muslims entering the United States until our country's representatives can figure out what the hell is going on.


COOPER: And yet again, I mean, that was a moment when many people thought he's gone too far.

BASH: Including and especially people in his own party. That was one of the first major schisms that he had with Republican leaders in Congress especially, Republicans across the country. Never mind the Democrats, this is people in his own party who thought, this is not America. In fact, Paul Ryan said, that's not being conservative, that's not what being a conservative is. You can't single out an entire religion and say that you can't come to this country. It's just not who we are.

DIAMOND: You know, I remember being on the ground that day, and I went and I interviewed his supporters and I said, what do you think about this idea of Donald Trump banning Muslims, all Muslims from the United States? And one after the other after the other thought it was a good idea. One of them called Islam a blood cult not a religion. I will never forget that day because, to me, it was so shocking to see a presidential candidate who could very well go on to win several primaries who knew he would win the Republican nomination and later the presidency, talk about banning people based solely on their religion. [21:20:05] And I think a week later, we saw a poll that said 60

percent of Republicans agreed with that. And that's when you realize really that the media's belief and the understanding of the Republican base was very off.

MURRAY: And I also think this now gets to the question of what we get as Donald Trump president-elect and Donald Trump president because in his mind that may have been a starting point for a policy, that may have been the beginning of a negotiation of how you begin to secure our boarders in his view. But to a lot of his supporters, to a lot of people who are true Donald Trump believers they believe him when he talks about an entire religion being banned from this country or suggest that this entire religion is dangerous, and I think that that is one of the things that, you know, maybe even Donald Trump himself doesn't fully understand.

COOPER: There was that other interview he did with Jake Tapper in which Jake asked him about support of someone like David Duke. Let's take a look.


TRUMP: I don't know anything about David Duke, OK? I don't know anything about what you're even talking about with white supremacy or white supremacists. So, I don't know. I mean, I don't know did he endorse me or what's going on? Because, you know, I know nothing about David Duke.


COOPER: It's not as if this was the first time he ever heard of David Duke.

ACOSTA: Right. And it is one of those moments -- that should be as one of the four or five near fatal moments of this campaign, not knowing or claiming to not to know who David Duke was, just sounded like a lie. I mean, it just flat out, sounded like a lie.

And to not take that opportunity at that very moment to say, not only do I condemn David Duke, but I condemn white supremacists and my belief system is nowhere near their belief system, to me, it was a total miss. And it sent a message, I think, inside the Republican Party that there was something to be nervous about. But at the same time, and we've been talking about this over and over throughout the course of this campaign.

This alt-right movement, it's not a dog whistle, it's a bull horn. He was saying to this segment of the conservative base of the Republican party, I will go this far, but I won't go all the way over here and condemn this movement. It was a -- it was just a real miss for him.

BASH: One of the things that somebody close to him said to me once, which actually made so much sense is that he's in a bubble. I mean, a lot of politicians are, but he's in a bubble because he is also Donald Trump, the celebrity who became a politician. And one of his only ways to sort of have contact with the outside world was his Twitter feed. And what I mean by that is, not just what he would send out, but what he would take in, reading that people who were tweeting at him. And so those are the kinds of things that he was getting. Other things as well, but he got a lot of that. So given that that -- that became his reality, what he was reading on his Twitter feed.

DIAMOND: And you go on the ground then you see these people who are tweeting as well.

BASH: Exactly.

DIAMOND: You know, it's not -- these aren't just people who hide behind a computer screen. Donald Trump brought these people out in a lot of ways. You know, you would go to rallies -- there was a rally early in the campaign where a Black Lives Matter protester was shoved, kicked, and tacked essentially to the ground and I witnessed it personally, and you saw Donald Trump later say, well, maybe he should have been roughed up.

You know, when Melania Trump was -- a reporter, a Jewish reporter wrote about her, she was attacked with anti-Semitic threats and Donald Trump would not tell his supporters to back off. You know, it was just these instances one after the other where Donald Trump would not encourage or endorse necessarily these people who are coming from the alt-right or from, you know, frankly white supremacist circles. But he would tacitly lend his approval through his silence.

COOPER: And yet, as president-elect, just on "60 Minutes" the other day, he seems to have gone further than he did during the campaign and sort of telling supporters not to, you know, do things that are inappropriate.

BASH: Yeah, and, you know, there are people around him -- not many, but there are people who are, you know, becoming more of the sort of -- more establishment that will support the president-elect eventually the president who think it's time for him to do a lot more than just look into a camera and say, stop it, to actually say, to use the bully pulpit and say, we're all Americans, enough already.

COOPER: There's a lot more ahead. More memorable moments from our reporters who are on the frontlines covering the Trump campaign. Here's one from Dana.


BASH: To me, the best moments on the campaign trail is when you get to see a candidate in a way that really surprises you.

TRUMP: I had a good father but I learned a lot. He said -- and he would go like this with his hand. He said, you've got to take the lumps out.

BASH: When I asked Trump about that, he didn't necessarily get emotional, but it was clear he was getting really introspective. Talk to me about something that your father used to say to you.

TRUMP: Yeah.

BASH: Are you taking the lumps out.

TRUMP: I think so. I feel very good about the campaign. I feel very good about the way it's going.

BASH: You don't think of Donald Trump as being introspective, you don't think of him as taking a moment to reminisce about what his parents used to tell him when he was little and how that might apply now. But he did.

TRUMP: And I learned from my father because he was a great teacher. I learned, take the lumps out.





ACOSTA: For me, the most memorable moment of the campaign happened back in May. We were at Trump Tower gathered for a press conference that was going to be about Donald Trump's charitable efforts for veterans' causes and he immediately lashed out at the news media.

TRUMP: I've watched you on television, you're a real beauty.

ACOSTA: It was the beginning of Donald Trump's intimidation of the news media that we saw throughout the course of the campaign. He called us the disgusting news media, the dishonest media. And what that did was it turned his crowds against us.

People would chant CNN sucks. And instead of Donald Trump saying, no, no, no, don't do that, he would pause and let it continue. Really, any presidential candidate now can lash out at us in front of crowds and get away with it. And I think all of it traces back to that press conference back in May.


COOPER: Well, shortly before that press conference, Donald Trump clinched the number of delegates needed for the GOP presidential nomination and he started to criticize a federal judge who he didn't think would be fair to him in the civil fraud lawsuits against Trump University because of his Mexican heritage. Listen.


TRUMP: I have a judge who is a hater of Donald Trump, a hater. He's a hater. His name is Gonzalo Curiel. And he is not doing the right thing. So what happens is, the judge who happens to be -- we believe Mexican, which is great, I think that's fine, you know what, I think the Mexicans are going to end up loving Donald Trump when I give all these jobs, OK?


COOPER: And the judge of course is American. Back now with the CNN reporters who covered the campaign. What's so interesting about that, I mean, there's many things, interesting about it, but it happened at a time when he had just clinched the number of delegates needed to win the nomination.

ACOSTA: Right.

COOPER: Which is a huge story for him, and yet he sort of go -- would go off on these sidetracks.

SERFATY: That was the exact moment he should have been trying to unite the Republican Party. You had Paul Ryan, I think, at that moment said this is the textbook definition of racism. And responding to that, it almost seemed that Donald Trump did not -- was not aware of the situation he was in, the, you know, the title he was holding as the nominee of the party. And didn't have a responsibility to make sure he tempers his words in anyway. It showed us that he's not going to change as the nominee.

BASH: Yeah, and also it's an example that we now know as students, especially you guys, of Donald Trump, that when it's his business and his reputation in his business, that he feels is under attack, he can't -- that's when he really can't help himself.

And that's from people close to him, I remember real time, we're saying, that's what that was about. He felt like this judge was being unfair to him, sullying his name, which was Trump University, and Trump of course is on all of the things that he owns and licenses. But -- and he felt like he wasn't getting a fair shake and that's why -- and that's when he lashes out, and lashes out, that was exhibit a in incredibly inappropriate ways.

COOPER: This is a man who was used to a particular type of coverage given his status in New York, given the realms he moved in. I mean, you know, objective coverage of Donald Trump back when he was a social figure wasn't really something that anyone really cared about, it was just, you're covering Donald Trump, but when you're running for president, you know, reporters care about trying to be -- at least here, as objective as possible, that doesn't mean being friendly at times.

MURRAY: And that gets to what you were talking about, but Donald Trump has very specific criticisms when he is angry about something you have done. It's not just, I think you're very unfair to me. I think you're very unfair to me because you didn't show the line of people waiting to buy my book, which was a complaint to me early on. And it's like, well, that has nothing to do with the rally that you were at or with running for president or with the state of your support in Iowa or even how -- what you said was factual or not. But he had a specific idea in his mind that you should be covering the line of people waiting to buy his book and that was one of the complaints.

ACOSTA: That reminds me of one of my favorite Donald Trump gems, which is, they never show the crowds. The cameras, they never show the crowds.


TRUMP: They never show crowds like that, look at that, it goes all the way back. They never show crowds.


ACOSTA: That camera that he's referring to is the camera that's supposed to be on the candidate for the duration of the speech.

BASH: It's required.

ACOSTA: There are other news cameras all around that one full camera, or whatever you want to call it.

BASH: But they didn't allow a cuts camera, right? I mean, they didn't allow --

MURRAY: But they were like a normal campaign, you just explained what a cuts camera is, would have a separate raised platform where you could get shots of the crowd. And it allows you begin a did angle of the candidate, but also to see the crowd in a way where you can actually show people's faces, show them reacting. In the pas, people have set up ladders and trackers so you can actually be above the crowd and --

BASH: The campaigns have.

MURRAY: Yeah, the campaigns have. So you can show the entire scope of the crowd. The Trump campaign only did this if they were bringing in their own ad makers to show an event. They never did it so that the journalists who are actually at the event could get this kind of shots that you would get in a normal presidential campaign.

COOPER: There was also that extraordinary moment during the Republican convention with Ted Cruz speaking and the big question was whether or not he was going to give his endorsement to Donald Trump. Let's just play some of that.


TED CRUZ, (R) FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Stand and speak and vote your conscience, vote for candidates up and down the ticket who you trust to defend our freedom and to be faithful to the constitution.


COOPER: And that incredible moment where -- but first of all, the crowd is actually realizing he's not endorsing, and then Donald Trump comes in to basically try to steal -- and successfully kind of steal the light away from Ted Cruz. MURRAY: Yeah, so, you know, Donald Trump seem very cool and calm when he came down and waved, but I'm told by people who are with him that he was livid with Ted Cruz and then said, watch this, and then marched down there to sort of give his waive. And it was amazing to watch the way the energy in this convention changed day to day, because Monday there was a floor revolt. Tuesday there was this failed effort to get Ted Cruz's name into nomination. But by Tuesday night, Donald Trump was the Republican nominee, you know, the delegates had voted. And by Wednesday, it felt like a party. People were ready to sort of swallow the pill, get over it, Donald Trump's the nominee, let's enjoy these last couple days. And Ted Cruz missed that environment.

[21:35:07] BASH: Yeah. But -- you're exactly right, but that particular moment, I remember I was standing with the Texas delegation kind of watching them, watch their senator. And then I could see the Texas delegation wasn't that far from where the VIP section was where Donald Trump came down and you could see -- I recognized some of his security guards and I thought, is he coming in right now? And we walked over there, and you're right, you could feel the energy in the room literally shift. It was palpable from the podium to where Donald Trump was, and it was such a moment to witness and to feel because you knew that he understands the power of his celebrity. And he knew that all he had to do was walk in and it would change everything.

COOPER: There were also so many stories that sort of ate up a week here or there of the campaign, I think of Mr. Khan speaking at the Democratic convention. And then a story which would have perhaps gone away, I mean, the Democrats would have continued to try to carry it forward as Hillary Clinton did. Donald Trump made the story worse by his response to it. For a guy who's so sort of in tuned and instinctual, it really did continue this story in a negative way.

BASH: Again, he couldn't help himself. He's very instinctual about other people's sort of pluses and minuses, and where their weaknesses is -- are, but maybe not so much about his own. Or that he knows and it's just -- there's not much he can do, the fact that he went after this Gold Star family, and specifically about his wife. The mother, whether or not she wasn't saying anything because she isn't allowed to because of her religion, I mean, that just is like a five alarm fire right there, I mean, so many of his issues.

But, you know, one thing is -- I remember talking to a good friend of him -- of his sort of again real time. And he would say, you know, I know, I know, I know I shouldn't do this, and it wasn't even so much that he couldn't help himself, is that he genuinely also thought that that's what the people wanted. They wanted him to continue to do things that nobody expected.

COOPER: Yeah. Plenty more ahead, including the moments that made three general election debates unlike any that came before. As well as the October surprises that led to perhaps the biggest surprise in American political history.


[21:41:15] COOPER: Welcome back to this special hour of "360". We're taking a look at the Trump campaign with the people who covered it. The presidential debates between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton were often explosive with the first face-off attracting 84 million viewers. The most watched ever. Take a look at some of the debate highlights.


TRUMP: Secretary Clinton, but you were totally out of control. I said, "There's a person with a temperament that's got a problem."

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Secretary Clinton.


TRUMP: I have tremendous respect for women.

COOPER: Have you ever done those things?

TRUMP: And women have respect for me. And I will tell you, no I have not.

CHRIS WALLACE: Are you saying you're not prepared now to commit to that principle?

TRUMP: What I'm saying is that I will tell you at the time. I'll keep you in suspense.


COOPER: And back with the CNN reporters who covered the Trump campaign. I mean, by most polls, Hillary Clinton again if you believe any of these polls, Hillary Clinton won those debates, although Donald Trump liked to point to online polls which said that he won. Do you think the debates mattered in the end?

ACOSTA: I think they mattered. I mean, I think that for a while there, I mean, Hillary Clinton was on a role. I mean, they had just come out of the "Access Hollywood" controversy and then went into these debates and Donald Trump --

COOPER: Right, that was right -- the "Access Hollywood" was right before the second debate.

ACOSTA: He was a wounded animal in those debates. And I think that, you know, this was going to be a close election no matter what happened. And in the very final stretch of this campaign, you know, I think the FBI, you know, document -- a letter that went to Congress saying we're relooking at this investigation, I mean, I think that was a key -- it was the super storm sandy of this presidential campaign. That super storm and the 2012 race might have helped Barack Obama just a little bit here and there. And I think this helped Donald Trump in the end. I think no question, Hillary Clinton won those debates. But, you know, Donald Trump was able to get into this final stretch and essentially have faith bail him out.

COOPER: Well, let's play Donald Trump talking about that Comey letter, actually, after it came out. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: The system is rigged. But with what I've just announced previously, it might not be as rigged as I thought, right? Right? The FBI -- I think they're going to right the ship, folks. I think they're going to right the ship.


COOPER: Going back to the debates. I mean, the debates in the primary season, it certainly had a big impact on the rise of Donald Trump. Do you think these three debates mattered? I mean the same question I asked Jim.

BASH: You know, I think it's too early to really know the answer to that. My initial reaction given the outcome of the election is no. Is no, because at the end of the day his message of us versus them, as you were saying, and more importantly, the substance of what he had been talking about, I'm going to make it better again, the trade deals are bad, you've lost your job because they don't know what they're doing in Washington, look at me, I'm successful, I can make things better, I'm not like them. That won the day, especially --

COOPER: Will also change. The whole notion of change.

BASH: Change, especially -- against somebody name is Clinton, who -- and by the way, who had, you know, a federal FBI investigation and who by the way, had an e-mail server problem, and by the way, somebody who he called "Crooked Hillary."

MURRAY: And I also think that when we were in the midst of these debates, and immediately following them, those looked like the last big moments of the campaign, those were the biggest moments of the biggest audience. And your question to him about whether he had ever engaged in this kind of behavior that he talks about on the "Access Holliwood" tape then prompted something like a dozen women to come out and say that they were the victims of unwanted sexual advances against who is now the president-elect.

[21:45:02] Now, eventually that was a story that somehow became second to the Comey letter which is stunning to think about just all of the twists and turns in this campaign. And I do think that voters were able to move past it, and even women who were concerned about that for a while, this letter sort of renewed their concerns about Hillary Clinton.

ACOSTA: I think another key moment for the debates, and I almost forgot about this was when he suggested that it was smart that he didn't pay any federal income taxes. I remember he came into the spin room after that debate in Hofstra and I think you and I, Dana, both asked him, well, are you paying any federal income taxes? And it was shortly after that that the "New York Times" obtained that tax return from 18 years ago, I'm not sure, because he took such a huge loss --

COOPER: Right. ACOSTA: -- in his casino business, he was able to avoid paying taxes for 18 years. This is a guy who became president without producing his tax returns, who said, I think just recently that he's still under audit, and so therefore, we're not going to see those tax returns any time soon. What's in those taxes -- what is the IRS finding?

MURRAY: They haven't released tax returns for -- in years where we knew the audits were complete.

ACOSTA: Right.

MURRAY: There were opportunities --

COOPER: Right, 2004 to 2001.

MURRAY: Right. There were opportunities for transparency, and they were betting on the fact that voters wouldn't care, and they appear to be correct.

COOPER: They were right. When we come back, Donald Trump's election night promise to unite the country, especially in line of everything else he has said during the campaign. And first, Sunlen's most memorable moment from the campaign trail.


SERFATY: I was in Lisbon, Maine in late October covering a Trump rally and this was really the height of when Trump was railing against the media.

TRUMP: These folks right back here. The corrupt media.

SERFATY: And in the women's room, a Trump supporter came up and approach me and she said, I want you to know something, I don't like how he calls you guys out from the podium, it makes me feel really comfortable as a supporter. I said, why do you support him then? She says, I think that he's playing a role. I don't think he actually means what he says.

TRUMP: We're going to build the wall and Mexico's going to pay for the wall.

SERFATY: It really did teach me a valuable lesson that many Trump supporters were really able to compartmentalize their feelings about his rhetoric throughout the campaign. And I do think we saw that reflected in election day results.

TRUMP: God bless you, Maine. God bless you.



[21:50:54] COOPER: Well, everything we've seen in the special hour of "360" through the eyes of the men and women covering, it is been leading up to the moment that few saw coming when Donald Trump stepped in front of the cameras and spoke for the first time as president- elect.


TRUMP: To all Republicans and Democrats and independents across this nation, I say it is time for us to come together as one united people. It's time. I pledge to every citizen of our land that I will be president for all Americans.


COOPER: Well, that is the pledge he made. The question now and for years to come is what happens next.

Back with the panel. That night, I mean, an extraordinary night, do you think -- did the campaign itself -- I mean, there's been reporting that the internals on the campaign, their own internal polls, the day of the election showed he wasn't going to win.

ACOSTA: I had a senior advisor come up to me -- came up to me. I did not ask the question, and said, "It's going to take a miracle for us to win." They did not think they were going to win but the thing that stands out to me, I was in Pennsylvania the Sunday night before the election and -- at the Pittsburgh Airport, and there was a line that zigzagged for like a mile and a half outside at this airport hangar and a Pennsylvania operative there for the Trump campaign was saying to me, how does this look like a losing campaign?

BASH: Yeah.

ACOSTA: And I said, you know, it doesn't look like a losing campaign.

And, Anderson, the thing that I'll come back to you time and again as a lesson I take from this election, when I've looked around Trump rallies and saw those folks, Manhattan billionaire up on the stage behind the podium, all these folks in flannel shirts, blue jeans, work boots and I would think to myself, my, God, these are Democrats.

BASH: There's bunch of Democrats.

ACOSTA: These are Democrats. What are they doing at a Trump rally? He totally, totally stole away a segment of -- and stole is the wrong word. He went out there and grabbed a segment of the Democratic Party that should have been supporting Hillary Clinton that they completely abandoned, completely surrendered in the course of those campaigns.

MURRAY: And he said he would do that.

ACOSTA: Right. He said that.

MURRAY: He said that he would make inroads in these blue states with exactly these kind of voters and he went out and did it and he went to places that we thought were crazy like Wisconsin and Michigan and Pennsylvania, where Republicans who worked in those states told me there's no chance Donald Trump --

BASH: Right. MURRAY: -- is going to win these states.

ACOSTA: And not as turned off by the cultural stuff that the media always held (ph) on to.

COOPER: I'm wondering -- I mean, you've covered him so much. I -- when people ask me, you know, friends, whatever I run into, what's -- you know, what's he like, what it's like interviewing him? I would say I enjoy interviewing him, like I -- first of all, you can ask him pretty much any question, and he'll answer it. I mean, he'll weigh in on something --

BASH That's the problem.

COOPER: To his -- I mean I was to say it's to his credit because --

BASH: That's a politician. For us, it's good.

COOPER: It's refreshing at least to have somebody --

DIAMOND: When you talk about the public versus the private Donald Trump, I don't know that all of us know the private Donald Trump completely because he did not spend a lot of time with reporters especially those of us who traveled on the press plane chasing him around the country.

COOPER: And even men who work in his campaign, my sense was don't really know much about the private Donald Trump.

DIAMOND: Yeah, but one of the things is, you know, there was a press conference in the spring where I asked him a question about trade and I asked him, you know, you want to erect these tariffs on other countries, what do you say to the American consumer who's going to see their goods rise by 30, 35 percent? And he told me, Jeremy, nobody listens to you. Nobody listens to you, sit down.

And a few days later we were at a debate and it was a CNN debate in Miami, actually and I was in -- you know, the area where Donald Trump was and I went up to him and I said hello. He said, oh, Jeremy, good to see you. Meet my wife, Melania. You know, it was as if nothing had happened and that's where you realize that so much of this is a strategy, a way to try and gain more favorable coverage, and those of us who covered him since the beginning knew for a long time that it wasn't --

COOPER: It's the art of the deal. I mean the art of deal. That spells it all out.

MURRAY: But I do think you make a good point when like everyone says, you know, you've covered this candidate forever, or you've gotten -- like tell us what the real Donald Trump is like. And the real Donald Trump and maybe this is part of the reason he was able to sort of resonate so much with some these voters.

[21:55:08] The real Donald Trump is a private guy who likes to be at home and likes to have a cheeseburger for dinner and likes to spend time with his family. And yes, he probably watching too much T.V. and yes, he probably reads too many Twitter mentions, but he really has kept the life that is in many ways insulated from his top aides.

ACOSTA: The thing that I come back to is at the very end of the campaign, you know, the people asked us, well, how much time did you spend with him, what was he like? The final night of the campaign both -- this is coming out of Michigan, Grand Rapids, Michigan, his last rally, our plane, the pres plane, his plane, Trump Force One, parked right next to each other, they did not take the time to take that picture with the press that follows him every day of the campaign and something that candidates do traditionally going back, I don't know how long. We had to take that picture with the cardboard cutout of Donald Trump.

COOPER: Is that right, really?

ACOSTA: That is it -- right and that's the picture right there.

That's just goes to show you, that's what we're dealing with during this campaign, Anderson.

COOPER: It's going to be a fascinating four or --


COOPER: -- eight years. We'll see.


COOPER: Thank you all. Appreciate it. Sara, Jeremy, Sunlen, thank you. Jim, Dana, thanks very much. Great work.

CNN has been working for two years behind the scenes of this campaign to produce a book titled, "Unprecedented: The Election That Changed Everything". It's available for pre-order in stores next month.

Thanks for watching this special of "360", "Unprecedented: Inside the Trump Campaign". Good night.