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Early Start with John Berman and Zoraida Sambolin

Pence Campaign Plane Hits the Skids; Trump Hints at Suit Over Access Hollywood Tape; Clinton's First Rally with Michelle Obama; Rubio Still Backing Trump. Aired 5-5:30a ET

Aired October 28, 2016 - 05:00   ET


[05:00:01] ELIZABETH LANDERS, CNN PRODUCER (via telephone): And Governor Pence came to the back of the plane just to check with the press asking if everybody is OK. We asked him if he was OK he and his family were fine. And he remarked that there was dirt and mud on his window at the front of the plane.


CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Just harrowing. Officials say a special break-away concrete bed at the end of the runway helped stop the plane after it skidded.


PATRICK FOYE, EXEC. DIR. PORT AUTHORITY OF NEW YORK & NEW JERSEY: Runway 22 is a 7,000-foot runway. The plane ended up in the arrester bed at the end of the runway, destroyed about 80 arrester bed blocks and is currently in the grass off the runway.


ROMANS: Terrifying.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Yes. No word on the cause.

Let's talk about what happened last night with someone to shed light on it. Les Abend, a contributing editor for "Flying Magazine", a 777 captain himself.

Les, thanks so much for being with us. Is it just a case of a plane landing on a short runway in the rain?

LES ABEND, CNN AVIATION ANALYST: Well, let's be honest, LaGuardia -- I have been in and out of LaGuardia several times during the course of my career. It is a challenging airport. It's a short runway relative to most major airports. Last night, as we know in the Northeast, we had a very, very nasty cold snap that had some snow associated with it. At that particular time, it was rain.

So, we had a slick runway. You really have to be on your game. I'm not implying the crew did anything wrong. But at this point, the NTSB is investigating it. It appears it

potentially could have landed long. There is a possibility the anti- skid system failed the aircraft.

Thankfully for what you mentioned earlier, the EMAS system that prevented it from going on the Grand Central Parkway. It was a challenging weather situation with lower ceilings and definitely slippery runways.

ROMANS: Les, just saying thankfully it didn't on Grand Central Parkway is how harrowing the LaGuardia Airport can be in the best of times. Tell me a little bit about the system that stops the plane. It's a concrete barrier that's meant to break apart. Tell us a little bit about that.

ABEND: Well, yes, it's more of a -- thankfully, I never had to use that system. But it's a pretty -- it's a pretty robust system. It literally absorbs the shock. It's a more material than just concrete.

But it eventually will slow down the aircraft. It will bring it to an abrupt halt, but not so much like for instance a jersey barrier that you see on the highway. And let's be very thankful for that.

BERMAN: So, Les, some of the most harrowing that I have taken have been campaign planes, you know, flights with candidates. And my sense is that --

ROMANS: Because of the politics or you mean the flying?

BERMAN: No. I think there is pressure to fly the planes when other flights would not be in the air, whether it'd be for the weather or whatnot.

Are there different rules that apply to -- this would be I guess a charter flight or flights carrying VIPs than to other flights?

ABEND: Well, John, there are different rules, but it is more administrative. There shouldn't be any more pressure on crew members than there are with an airplane like I fly. I mean, it's -- you have to live, up to the same standards of the FAA requires to fly the aircraft.

Is there more pressure? Well, you do want -- you are serving one particular customer in this particular circumstance. So, you want to serve that customer well. Unfortunately, they didn't do it in LaGuardia. The experience level should be equal.

I don't know what the background of these pilots are, but that's certainly something that the NTSB investigating.

BERMAN: All right. Good news. Everyone's OK. Les Abend, you are more than okay. Thanks for being with us.

ROMANS: Yes, bright and early on a Friday morning. Thanks, Les.

BERMAN: All right. So, right after this runway incident, Governor Pence tweeted, "So thankful everyone is safe and grateful for the first responders and the concern and prayers of so many. Back on the trail tomorrow."

Governor Pence also spoke on the phone with Donald Trump just before Trump took the stage for a rally in northern Ohio.

CNN's Sara Murray with the latest on that.


SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICS REPORTER: Good morning, John and Christine.

While everybody knows the last two weeks of a presidential campaign are particularly stressful, Mike Pence had a very harrowing evening on Thursday night, that's because his campaign plane skidded off the runway at LaGuardia Airport.

Now, even though everyone was fine, the press on board, the candidate, it was still the talk of the evening and Donald Trump even discussed it at his campaign event in Ohio.

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I just spoke to our future vice president. He's okay. You know he was in a big accident with the plane. The plane skidded off the runway and was pretty close to grave, grave danger. But I just spoke to Mike Pence and he's fine.

[05:05:00] Got out. Everybody's fine. Everybody's fine.

MURRAY: Now, despite the setback with the Mike Pence's campaign plane, both Donald Trump and his running mate still have a packed schedule for Friday. Pence is expected to get a new plane and back out in Pennsylvania as well as North Carolina. Donald Trump is headed to Iowa, New Hampshire and Maine.

Back to you, guys.


ROMANS: All right. Sara, thank you.

Also overnight, Donald Trump provided a new aggressive take on that infamous "Access Hollywood" tape where he bragged he would grab women's genitals and get away with it because he is famous. Asked about it by Bill O'Reilly, he didn't deny, he didn't deflect, but suggested he might sue.


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

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

TRUMP: Absolutely. Well, that was a private locker. You know, that was a private dressing room. That was certainly illegally, no question about it.

O'REILLY: Are you going to take action?

TRUMP: Well, you'll see. You'll see.


BERMAN: It was a bus.

In any case, the Trump campaign is denying reports it is trying to suppress minority voter turnout. "Bloomberg Businessweek" is quoting an unnamed senior Trump campaign official saying, quote, "We have three major voter suppression operations under way."

Trump's spokesperson Jason Miller tells CNN that the anonymous quote came from someone who had no idea what they were talking. Jason Miller also says to the contrary, Trump is running to be president of all Americans.

ROMANS: This is something that the First Lady Michelle Obama addressed head on in North Carolina. She campaigned with Hillary Clinton for the first time. And the former first lady was more than happy to have the current first lady's help.


HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Seriously, is there anyone more inspiring than Michelle Obama? Let's be real. As our first African-American first lady, she's faced pressures I never did.


ROMANS: CNN's Jeff Zeleny was at the event and has the latest for us.


JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: John and Christine, Hillary Clinton heading back to Iowa today, returning to the state where she won the Iowa caucuses so many ago. Now, she is trailing Donald Trump ever slightly. But through early voting there, they're trying to get more Democrats out to campaign for her.

She also is receiving the seal of approval from Michelle Obama, appearing with her for the first time side by side during the campaign. Michelle Obama, one first lady to another first lady, told voters why they should pay attention and vote in this race.

MICHELLE OBAMA, U.S. FIRST LADY: Here's where I want to get real. If Hillary doesn't win this election, that will be on us. It will be because we did not stand with her. It will be because we did not vote for her. And that is exactly what her opponent is hoping will happen. That's the strategy, to make this election so dirty and ugly that we don't want any part of it.

ZELENY: Now, with 11 days to go in this election, Hillary Clinton after Iowa will return to Florida for another weekend campaign swing there.

They are trying to make sure that all paths to 270 for Donald Trump are blocked. She clearly has the advantage now, but they want to ward off complacency and ward off being too confident -- John and Christine.


ROMANS: All right, Jeff Zeleny.

New campaign finance figures show the two candidates in very different financial positions heading into the final days of this race. Donald Trump has donated $56.1 million of his own money to his campaign. From October 1st to October 19th, he only added $30,000 to that tally. Now, he has said again and again he will spend upwards of $100 million of his own money. But we won't know for sure until after the election when the next campaign finance report is released.

Trump also trailed Hillary Clinton in cash on hand. He has $16 million in the bank. Clinton has four times that. Look at the contributions for the election cycle. Clinton now topping $500 million since the start of her campaign. Trump, $200 million.

BERMAN: All right. Just 11 days to go right now. We just got word of what Hillary Clinton will be talking about on the trail when she goes to Iowa. Have you ever been to Iowa?

ROMANS: Hmm, nice little place.

BERMAN: Going to Iowa today with a message. We'll tell you what that is, next.


[05:13:29] BERMAN: All right. Hillary Clinton heading to Iowa today. We're just getting word what the message will be on the trail today. Here's a hint: women.

Joining us to discuss, CNN digital Eugene Scott.

Eugene, thank you for being with us.

She is going to Cedar Rapids and then Des Moines. And with her will be the presidents of Planned Parenthood, NARAL and Emily's List. Look, Hillary Clinton had a rough couple days. Dealing with Bill Clinton Inc., and the foundation fundraising. But she seemed to be trying to shift the message back to women voters and their concerns.

EUGENE SCOTT, CNN POLITICS REPORTER: Very much so. So, this issue with women voters is an issue that has become an issue across party lines. We have seen the last couple of days quite a few conservative women have come out saying we don't know if the Republican Party is the best party for us bed on the issues. I think Hillary Clinton is hitting that in a state like Iowa where she could lose women voters with the hope that they will come on board, the Democratic women who are already supporter her. BERMAN: You heard this message yesterday when she was on stage with Michelle Obama in North Carolina.

Let's listen to how she casts this election.


CLINTON: I wish I didn't have to say this, right? But indeed, dignity and respect for women and girls is also on the ballot in this election.

[05:15:07] And I want to thank our first lady for her eloquent, powerful defense of that basic value.


ROMANS: All right. You will hear more about that today in Iowa. Meantime, yesterday in Toledo, Donald Trump trying to make an appeal to African-American voters that was -- listen. I want to get your response.


TRUMP: We're going to work on our ghettos, our so -- you take a look at what's going on where you have pockets of areas of land, where you have the inner cities and you have so many things, so many problems, so many horrible, horrible problems.


ROMANS: I had to look at that printed out to see what he was trying to say there. He seemed to -- after he said the word ghettos, he seemed to get lost in the message. What did you make of that moment?

SCOTT: I'm not quite sure Donald Trump really is trying to win the black vote. At this point, he's been criticized for not being nuanced in his desire to address very real issues in some urban communities. But he hasn't detailed a plan he solutions to these problems. And, in fact, he characterized them by now that most people have concluded are offensive and disrespectful to black voters.

BERMAN: Let's talk about the money right now. Donald Trump has money in the bank, not as much as Hillary Clinton. But the headline to me is he contributed $30,000 the first two weeks of October. He has put in $56 million. That's a lot.

Look, this guy has put in a lot of his money to this campaign. But he's claimed he's going to put in $100 million or he has put in $100 million. He is just not there yet. And 40 million bucks could make a big difference right now.

SCOTT: Very much, and that's what he would need if he's going to make up the gaps in some of the states he's not doing well. I think there are two points. One, he hasn't put in that much for someone who has the wealth that he has. And two --

ROMANS: What does that say about his own thoughts about the campaign? He's a businessman.

SCOTT: Right. Two, you would think that if he believed he could win, he would invest in what the way he needs to win. I don't know what he is communicating in terms of what his priorities are right now. But it's notable he has not put in the amount of money he said.

ROMANS: His family and team says he is drawing in 15,000 people four times a day. All this free media covering his rallies. That has worked well for him. But clearly, the Republican establishment is asking him to please, please buy some ads, buy more ads.

All right. We'll talk to you in a couple of minutes. Thanks so much, Eugene.

All right. Demands for an apology this morning after a U.S. Senate debate. One candidate accused crossing the line. You're going to want to see this moment. That's next.


[05:22:16] ROMANS: All right. Welcome back. Twenty-two minutes past the hour.

Donald Trump is still a problem for Marco Rubio months after Rubio dropped out of the Republican race. The Florida senator is now locked in a tight reelection race while he officially backs Trump. Rubio is not eager to answer questions about his bitter rival as CNN's Manu Raju found out.


MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER: Good morning, John and Christine.

Now, Marco Rubio really in a bind over Donald Trump. Remember that vicious presidential primary where the two engaged in personal and nasty attacks for weeks on end?

Now, Marco Rubio, of course, is supporting Donald Trump for president. Why? Because Rubio is running for re-election in a tight race and he needs Trump's legions of supporters here in this state. But he also needs Donald Trump to do well in the state.

But he also does not want to recant his past criticism, because a lot of voters simply are put off by Donald Trump. So, he is walking this very fine line which is very evident from my exchange with Marco Rubio yesterday.

How confident are you that Donald Trump would be a good commander in chief and keep this country safe? Do you think --

SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R), FLORIDA: Well, I have deep concerns about Hillary Clinton now. She was the secretary of state and policies she supported led to chaos and disaster around the globe. Quite frankly, I don't trust Hillary Clinton with intelligence information and so, presidents certainly handle a lot of intelligence information. RAJU: But would Donald Trump keep the country safe?

RUBIO: Again, the military is what keeps us safe. And we have to rebuild our military. And she is a supporter of the defense cuts and the sequester that will be damaging to our country.

RAJU: Now, Democrats sensing they could have an opportunity here to beat Marco Rubio, as they injecting a last minute infusion of cash to help Democrat Patrick Murphy. That's Marco Rubio's opponent. Murphy has been trailing for some time in this race, but some polls have him down as little as two points.

So, Democrats think maybe there is a chance to knock potential threat possibly against Hillary Clinton come 2020 if they were to put in a lot of money here in the last minute. But guys, still, very difficult to beat Marco Rubio. The state is so expensive and Democrats have a lot of other targets to take back the Senate majority -- John and Christine.


BERMAN: All right. Manu Raju for us in Florida.

There was a wow moment in the Senate debate last night in Illinois. Republican Senator Mark Kirk seemed to mock or at least question the heritage of his Democratic challenger, Congresswoman Tammy Duckworth. Watch this.


REP. TAMMY DUCKWORTH (D), ILLINOIS SENATE CANDIDATE: My family has served this nation in uniform going back to the revolution. I'm a daughter of the American Revolution. I bleed for this nation.

But I still want to be in the Senate when the drums of war sound because people are quick to sound the drums of war and I want to be there to say, this is what it costs. This is what you are asking us to do. And if that's the case, I'll go. Families like mine are the ones that bleed first. But let's make sure the American people understand what we are engaging in and let's hold our allies accountable because we can't do it all.

[05:25:03] MODERATOR: Senator Kirk?

SEN. MARK KIRK (R), ILLINOIS: I have forgotten that your parents came all the way from Thailand to serve George Washington.


BERMAN: So, Tammy Duckworth was born in Thailand. Her mother is of Chinese descent. Her father is a Marine veteran who traces heritage back to the revolution.

ROMANS: The American Revolution.

BERMAN: The American Revolution. That comment a lot of people just look at and go, what was he saying there? What's that just a racial comment there? What's going on?

Tammy Duckworth herself is an army war vet who lost her legs and partial use of her arm in Iraq. She was awarded a Purple Heart.

ROMANS: All right. 25 minutes past the hour. Tense moments for Mike Pence on a rain-soaked runway. A plane carrying the VP nominee and reporters skidding off of runway at LaGuardia, ending just short of the Grand Central Parkway. We're going to talk to a CNN producer, you'll hear from a CNN producer who was on the plane about what happened, next.