Return to Transcripts main page

At This Hour

Trump Hits 3 States on Trail Today; Rumor Clinton Will Pick Biden As Secretary of State GOP Senator Mocks Democrat's Heritage in Debate; Trump: Just Cancel Election and Give Election to Me; Trump Considers Suing NBC over Leaks Tape. Aired 11-11:30a ET

Aired October 28, 2016 - 11:00   ET


[11:00:00] JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. I'm John Berman.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everybody. I'm Kate Bolduan.

A day of good news for all of you. One, it's Friday. Two, it's the second to last Friday of the 2016 campaign. Three, John Berman can no longer say the word fortnight at least with a straight face.

Donald Trump hitting the campaign trail and hitting the states he really, really, really needs to win and to hit the magic number of 270, starting today with a rally in New Hampshire, then to Maine, then to Iowa.

BERMAN: Hillary Clinton goes to Iowa herself today. Of course, everyone can save a lot of time and money if we just canceled the election and made Donald Trump president as he suggested. More on that later.

But first, let's go to CNN's senior White House correspondent, Jim Acosta. He is following the Trump campaign in Manchester, New Hampshire.

Jim, I know you know this from watching our episode yesterday. It all comes down to New Hampshire.

JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: You know, looking at Donald Trump's path to victory, the electoral map, it really could come down to New Hampshire. There are several states here that are very key to Donald Trump at this point and one of them is New Hampshire. He's going to be here in about an hour and a half from now as part of sort of a New England swing. He's going to be in Maine later on today.

You mentioned a few moments ago that Donald Trump was joking when he said perhaps they should just call off the election and declare Donald Trump the winner. I think that would be the definition of rigged. But you know, he is definitely packing a pretty hefty schedule here in this home stretch. 11 days to go. I think one interesting thing to note, those new FEC numbers that came out late last night showing that he only gave $31,000 to his campaign in the first three weeks of October, so essentially he's promised to give $100 million to his campaign. He's at $56 million so far, so $44 million in these last 11 days. The question is how much good would that do at this point.

I will say that the Trump campaign and the RNC held a joint conference call earlier this morning. They are saying that there is no distance between the Trump campaign and the RNC when it comes to getting out the vote for this campaign. In this final stretch, the campaign is saying they are going to be devoting most of their resources to digital and TV advertising while the RNC will be working on getting out the vote. They say their door-knocking operation is exceeding where things were in 2012. They are preaching a lot of confidence at this point.

The question, though, is going to come down to turnout, getting this campaign to get its volunteers to the polls, just sort of that good old-fashioned politicking that we had questions about during the primaries. We asked those questions during the primaries, is Donald Trump really just a campaign about himself and so forth. But he showed during those primaries that, yes, the big rallies can translate in getting people to the polls and that he can really run up the scoreboard when it comes to election day. Of course, all of that is going to be tested because he does not have a competitor, did not have a challenger like he does right now in Hillary Clinton. But he's going to be out here in about an hour and a half from now.

I think one other big question, does Donald Trump address these latest economic numbers, showing 2.9 percent growth in the third quarter, as he's been saying all along this economy is not doing as well as it should right now. Does he weigh in on those numbers when he comes out here in about 90 minutes from now -- John and Kate?

BERMAN: Those numbers just out. We will talk about them in a minute. A lot better than a lot of economists had predicted.

Jim Acosta, in Manchester, thanks so much.

We are still a month away from Thanksgiving but, this morning, there's a political float so big it won't even fit in the Macy's Parade. Reports that somehow, just appeared out of nowhere that, should she win, Hillary Clinton is considering Joe Biden as secretary of state, the same Joe Biden, who is currently the vice president.

BOLDUAN: CNN global affairs correspondent, Elise Labott, is at the State Department watching all of this.

Elise, talk to us about this float.

ELISE LABOTT, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: If you remember, in 2012, there were these rumors they were going -- that Hillary Clinton, as secretary of state, and Joe Biden were going to switch jobs. You always have this kind of speculation when there comes time to name a cabinet. Certainly, both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are looking to prepare for the inevitability of being president, naming a cabinet, and secretary of state is obviously one that Hillary Clinton's going to be looking at very closely having served in the job.

So political reporting this morning that Joe Biden is the very top of a short list of candidates for secretary of state. Our reporting suggests his name is being bandied about by her transition team as part of a very long list of qualified candidates that could be presented to her for secretary of state. Nothing has been presented to her yet. But that list ranges from Joe Biden to former top State Department officials to possibly even Secretary Kerry himself staying in the job, so not really sure that he's really at the top of that list. I wouldn't put it past Secretary Clinton to name someone out of the box, and certainly Joe Biden would be an unorthodox candidate, but he did serve as chairman of the foreign relations, Senate Foreign Relations Committee, has handled a lot of international issues for the Obama administration. But if you look back, him and Secretary Clinton have disagreed on a lot of foreign policy issues, ranging from Iraq, Afghanistan, now the war in Syria. So it's certainly a lot of fun speculation and his name is being bandied about as someone that could do the job, but not sure he's really the most likely candidate.

[11:05:49] BOLDUAN: That's right.

All right, Elise, great to see you. Thank you so much.

With us to discuss, Mary Katharine Ham, CNN political commentator and senior writer for "The Federalist"; Democratic strategist and Hillary Clinton supporter, Emily Tisch Sussman, and also campaign director for the Center for American Progress Action Fund; John Phillips, a CNN political commentator and Donald Trump supporter; and Alex Burns, CNN political analyst and national political reporter at "The New York Times."

Thanks for being here.

Emily, Elise Labott talking about the Clinton campaign or someone within Clinton-land floating Joe Biden at the top of the list potentially for secretary of state. This smells of deliberate. Hm?

EMILY TISCH SUSSMAN, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST & CAMPAIGN DIRECTOR, CENTER FOR AMERICAN PROGRESS ACTION FUND: Potentially. I think he'll be an excellent choice for her. What I think it shows by her putting the name out there, somebody in Clinton land putting the fame out there, she's serious about governing. If you are just trying to get to election day and just trying to bring people out on the other side to vote against the other candidate or whatever is happening right now, then they wouldn't be talking seriously about somebody to run one of the most major cabinet posts who has a long history working with both sides of the aisle. People really respect Biden within the Senate. He has a very good relationship. I think by putting a pinky toe out there of indicating who she may be potentially looking for, for cabinet post, it shows she's very serious about getting things done and actually working towards solutions.

BERMAN: All right. Alex Burns, very quickly on this subject, I think it's time to move on from this float. Exactly how many voters does this sway?

ALEX BURNS, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I don't know that there are that many. Maybe in Delaware that's a big float. I don't know that there are a lot of people undecided who will say, well, if I could have Joe Biden as secretary of state then I'll vote for Hillary Clinton. Having said that, I think it shows how much this race has moved over

the last two years from if you think back to the beginning of this campaign we all thought that the biggest danger for Hillary Clinton would be getting portrayed as the third term of Barack Obama. The fact that Joe Biden is in the mix for a role like this --


BURNS: -- she's really staked her candidacy on the idea of four more years.

BERMAN: Of course, it only matters if she wins. Right? There's some new polling out today, ABC News, which is doing a daily track -- I'm old enough to remember when ABC News and "The Washington Post" had Hillary Clinton up by 12 points.

BOLDUAN: Earlier this week.

BERMAN: It was Monday. Now it's four.

So, Alex, the question is, how much is their hair on fire over this and how much should it be?

BURNS: In the big picture, Hillary Clinton has had a pretty steady lead in the mid to high single digits. A couple of the poll numbers that had her at 10, 11, 12 point lead, those were eye-popping, and I think probably may have been overstated at the time.

I know talking to the Clinton people from last week, the last couple days, they have always anticipated that this race would tighten, that if we were taking the temperature of the campaign, really at a low point for Donald Trump when Republicans were just deserting his candidacy in droves, Republicans even then had the sense some of those voters would come back into the fold. I don't know -- we still haven't seen a major national poll that shows this even as a toss-up race. I wouldn't necessarily over-read the movement over the last couple days.

BOLDUAN: Kind of a little to your point, Mary Katharine, the Republicans will say this is a little bit if not a lot when you look at the numbers of Republicans coming home. If Republicans are coming home, if this is what this looks like, what's bringing them home?

MARY KATHARINE HAM, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Look, I think it may be just coming down to the wire and getting in the booth and being faced with this decision. By the way, I think the Joe Biden thing is as simple as having Michelle Obama on the trail, hey, you guys don't like me this much, let's talk about someone you do like, Joe Biden. I think it's as simple as that.

Look, I think there is some coming home but when it comes to these individual states like Florida which he really has to win, you look at the numbers like 85 percent of Republicans with him as opposed to '92 with Mitt Romney, there's got to be a lot of movement there. There's got to be a lot of movement in not that much time when, as we have heard over the past couple days, he's not raising that much money or spending that much money or throwing that much of his own money into this race, when he relies on the RNC for "get out the vote." I'm not sure how much of that's going to happen I the last, what, 11 days here.

And voting has actually already started in most major swing states, in almost every state people are voting by mail or voting in early vote locations.


HAM: So how much place does he have to move?

[11:10:05] BERMAN: Sorry to cut you off.


BERMAN: I thought you were done.

John Phillips, Mary Katharine was talking about Republicans coming home, but if they are, they are sort of maybe locking the doors to Donald Trump a little bit, because there are these ads out there now being floated by a Republican super PAC specifically suggesting that Hillary Clinton is going to win and you need to elect this Senator or congressman to stand up. Watch.


ANNOUNCER: No one would give Hillary a blank check to run up trillions in new debts and job-destroying taxes.

ANNOUNCER: One Hillary in Washington would be bad enough. Reject Jason Kander (ph).


BERMAN: It seems mixed messages. Republicans coming home, on the one hand, if you look at the polls, but on the other hand, saying we think Trump's done so we trying to stand up to Hillary Clinton.

JOHN PHILLIPS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, we have seen different dynamics in this race that in 2012 and 2008, where Mitt Romney did very well in the deeply red states. He cleaned Barack Obama's clock in Texas and a lot of the southern states, places like Utah, the Rocky Mountain west, but then lost all of those purple states that are up for grabs this time around. In 2016, Trump is doing much worse than Mitt Romney in places like Utah, Arizona, Texas, although I think he will ultimately end up winning in those states, but has performed much stronger in those purple states, in places like North Carolina, Ohio, Iowa, than Mitt Romney and John McCain. A Republican that's running in a red state, probably a lot more tight this time around than they were in previous years. In purple states, I think the top of the ticket is helping you more than it has in recent elections.

BOLDUAN: What do you make of it? BURNS: I think John has a good point about the shifting geography of

the race. Republicans running for Senate and Congress didn't feel Donald Trump is lifting them up in purple states and --

BOLDUAN: They think he's not, for lack of a better term, tanking the ticket as much as they thought that he would. Remember, those fears were rampant in the primary.

BURNS: Sure. But the hope for Republican House and Senate candidates for awhile now really since the first debate or maybe even since Labor Day has not been that Trump would win this election. Republicans have been very pessimistic about that for months now. It's that he would lose narrowly and narrowly enough so that Republicans, like Pat Toomey running for re-election in Pennsylvania, or the candidates the ads, they would be able to outperform the national ticket and get across the finish line. If Trump loses by four instead of 12 and you have these ads out there telling voters just make sure to get out there and vote for a Republican House and Senate candidates as a check on sort of the best case scenario, that's best case realistic scenario a lot of Republicans have been imaging.

BERMAN: Mary Katharine, you brought up the money. Let's get back to that. Hillary Clinton's got a lot of it and Donald Trump doesn't. Then there's the issue of Donald Trump said he would put $100 million of his own money into the campaign. He hasn't. He's got $56 million. He put $30,000 only in, in the first two weeks of this month. Hillary Clinton actually put more of her own money into her campaign. His kids haven't donated to his campaign. What message does that sound?

HAM: First, to my liberal friends and colleagues, if you wanted money out of politics, who knew Trump was your man.

Look, there's a historic low number of TV ads running, negative ads running on TV because they haven't put that much money into it. This is a very unconventional race.

And we're right there are purple states that throw the map into question, and that's part of the unconventional race. But the problem for Republicans has been for several cycles the map is tough for them. It is still tough and he has to not just win the red states that Mitt Romney and McCain won, but turn some of the other states. There's promise for doing that but you have to run an almost perfect game. And to let the bottom fall out of fundraising when you rely on the RNC to do your "get out the vote" because you don't have a conventional operation, that's a problem. You can't run a perfect game that way for the next 11 days.

BOLDUAN: Taking it a step further, not only an almost perfect game. You have to run a perfect game in order to run the path he has before him right now.

BERMAN: You have to play the game. Sometimes to play the game it takes money, right? You have to be willing to spend it.

BOLDUAN: You always get the last word.

BERMAN: You're right. I'm sorry. I retract my comment.


BERMAN: Stick around. A lot more to discuss about money, about other things and also this. The lawyer who represented Al Gore in 2000 is saying to Donald Trump, save your breath, challenging an election is near impossible. He will explain live.

BOLDUAN: Plus, the headline you don't want coming out of a Senate debate, a racially charged attack. That's what Republican Senator Mark Kirk is up against today after this.


REP. TAMMY DUCKWORTH, (D), ILLINOIS & ILLINOIS SENATE CANDIDATE: Families like mine are the ones that bleed first.

[11:14:44] SEN. MARK KIRK, (R), ILLINOIS: I had forgotten that your parents came all the way from Thailand to serve George Washington.



BERMAN: In a political year chock-full of "wow" moments, this one might qualify as a double wow. Maybe even a holy wow. Last night, during a Senate debate in Illinois, Republican Senator Mark Kirk seemed to question, even mock the ancestry of his Democratic challenger, Congresswoman Tammy Duckworth.


DUCKWORTH: My family has served this nation in uniform going back to the revolution. I'm a daughter of the American Revolution. I have bled for this nation.

KIRK: I had forgotten that your parents came all the way from Thailand to serve George Washington.


BERMAN: All right. Tammy Duckworth was born in Thailand. Her mother is of Chinese heritage. Her father is a Marine veteran who traces his ancestors back to the American Revolution.

BOLDUAN: Duckworth herself is Iraq war veteran and Purple Heart recipient. She lost both of her legs when the helicopter she was copiloting was hit during the Iraq War.

So the big question here, is Donald Trump's campaign and the top of the ticket coming to the defense of this down-ballot Republican? Not so much. His campaign manager, Kellyanne Conway, tweeted this: "The same Mark Kirk that unendorsed his party's presidential nominee and called him out in paid ads? Got you. Good luck." That's from Kellyanne Conway.

Let's bring back the panel.

Emily Tisch Sussman, you see this, you think what?

[11:19:56] TISCH SUSSMAN: That it added a very strange dynamic in the presidential and down-ballot where it seems OK to be questioning people's military service across the board. We saw it with the Khans with Trump. This is the second time it happened in the Kirk/Duckworth race. Very strange dynamic. It's also happening in Missouri in the Senate race there.

I think of the dynamic between Conway and Kirk, what we are seeing right now, is when voters in swing states, who have these Senate races up for grabs as well, are trying to figure out how to balance, do they show up for Trump or, if not, do they show up for the Republican Senatorial candidate. And basically, what we are seeing right now is that voters who are unsure, Republicans voters that are unsure, feel like anything the Republican does is a political tactic. If they endorse or un-endorse, they are doing it for politics. That's what they have to balance.

BERMAN: John Phillips, I had to watch it a few times because I could not believe it the first time I saw it. I'm not sure it really had to do as much with military service as just a statement that was practically flat-out racist. I'm not even sure it has to do with Republican, Democrat, or anything other than just it was crazy. Your thoughts?

PHILLIPS: Yeah. Illinois is a special case. These are two of the only politicians in that state that I can think of that have never had to prove themselves in the prison yard. So the fact that he said something spicy at a debate, I still think keeps him head and shoulders above most of his colleagues there.

We have seen very strange things in a lot of Senate debates that have gone on that have been largely ignored because the presidential race has sucked up all the air in the room. Here in California, Loretta Sanchez did a dab at her debate with Kamela Harris, which was certainly reported in California but didn't get much attention elsewhere.

BOLDUAN: It did on social media. I will tell you that much. Strange things happen at debates I guess we can say.

There has been a lot of lighting of the hair on fire, I think you said you were lighting it --


BERMAN: It's still on fire.

BOLDUAN: I'm going to put it out in just a second.

Does that fit into that category? This is Donald Trump speaking to a crowd about canceling the election. Watch this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) TRUMP: We should just cancel the election and just give it to Trump, right?


DONALD TRUMP, (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: What do we even have -- what are we having it for?


TRUMP: Her policies are so bad. Boy, do we have a big difference.


BOLDUAN: For Donald Trump as -- no shocker here -- has said a lot of things a lot of people, their eyes are popping out of their heads. This one was a joke. I think at some point, we should be able to say he told a joke and he's allowed to tell a joke.

BURNS: Sure. When you look at the things that Trump has said about the last couple weeks, talking of rigged elections, urging supporters to go into urban areas and monitor you know who at the polls.

BERMAN: That was no joke.

BURNS: That was not joke. This is the kind of thing you can imagine maybe not the most conventional candidate saying, but certainly somebody within the mainstream of American sort of political theater saying. I think a lot of people at this point are so desensitized to some of the not-red-card level stuff Trump says, but certainly the yellow-card-level stuff he says. This probably falls into that category.

BERMAN: Excellent stalker reference there, Alex Burns.

BOLDUAN: Thank you very much.

Mary Katharine, try this on for size. Donald Trump floated another idea last night at an interview on FOX News. The idea of suing NBC over the "Access Hollywood" tape that leaked out. Watch this.


TRUMP: These stories were fabricated. They are total lies.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ABC NEWS ANCHOR: You are going to go through with the lawsuit?

TRUMP: We'll find out. Let's see what happens with the election. We are going to find out.


BOLDUAN: At the same time, this also comes as it seems that Donald Trump is now wavering on what he promised, that he was going to sue all the women accusing him of sexual misconduct. This happened during an interview with George Stephanopoulos. Watch this.


TRUMP: I think it was very negative. It was locker room talk. The microphone was not supposed to be on. Not that I make that as an excuse for myself, but certainly an illegal act that was NBC. It was not supposed to be on.

BILL O'REILLY, FOX NEWS HOST, O'REILLY: You think it was illegal what they did putting that tape out?

TRUMP: Oh, absolutely. No, that was a private locker -- that was a private dressing room. Yeah, that was --


O'REILLY: Are you going to take action after the election against NBC?

TRUMP: You'll see. You'll see.


BOLDUAN: Wrong order, but you get the point.

Mary Katharine, we all know that he is litigious. That's something folks have known about Donald Trump. But what is this getting him in the final days? I'm not going to sue them, I am going to sue them. What does it matter?

HAM: That's the kind of thing he cares about. That's what he wants to talk about. He brings it up of his own volition when giving a policy speech because those are the things he cares about, as opposed to policy or actually the election at hand. I'm not sure it does him any good, but I'm not sure he cares. He is a candidate who does not keep his eye on the ball. He doesn't stay in the strike zone. He keeps fighting these old fights, right. I think that's just who he is. And his base enjoys it and they like the fight that they see there. But it does not actually get you more votes outside your base on Election Day, which is what you need to be doing 11 days out.


[11:25:23] BERMAN: Who thinks he will actually sue any of the people he just threatened to sue?

Let the record show not a single hand was raised.

Mary Katharine, John Phillips and Alex --


BERMAN: -- thank you all.

Mary Katharine, have a great race. Run fast.

BOLDUAN: Good luck.

HAM: Thanks so much. Thanks for your support.

BOLDUAN: We're with you.

Coming up for us, Donald Trump says he will accept the results of the election if he likes the results. Up next, a lawyer who worked on Bush v Gore tells us what Trump's challenges would look like and what the chances are it would succeed.

BERMAN: Plus, there's a lot of talk about Donald Trump being a drag on Republican candidates around the country, but what about Hillary Clinton? How do Democrats feel about her? We will put that to the test coming up.