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Inside Politics

Trump Heads to New Hampshire, Clinton Heads to Iowa; Obama Focuses on Early Voting in Florida. Aired 12-12:30p ET

Aired October 28, 2016 - 12:00   ET


[12:00:00] JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR: Already voting. That makes it for a very busy day on the campaign trail. Donald Trump due in New Hampshire this hour. Hillary Clinton, due soon in Iowa. The running mates also in big battlegrounds. President Obama to again be in Florida to focusing on early voting. And, guess what, he's also in a brand new Hillary Clinton TV ad.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: All the progress we've made these last eight years is on the ballot. Civility is on the ballot. Respect for women is on the ballot. Tolerance is on the ballot. Equality is on the ballot. Send a message by voting for Hillary Clinton!


KING: Plus, hey, why wait? Signs galore of post-election maneuvering, like this. Would Vice President Biden be Hillary Clinton's secretary of state? Is Ted Cruz serious when he says the Senate could refuse to vote on any Clinton Supreme Court nomination? And is there anyone Donald Trump won't threaten to sue?


DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: 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.


KING: An illegal act. Uh-huh.

OK, with us to share their reporting and their insights, Jonathan Martin of "The New York Times," Jackie Kucinich of "The Daily Beast," "The Atlantic's" Molly Ball, and NPR's Domenico Montanaro.

Now, Donald Trump's first stop today will be at a rally in Manchester, New Hampshire. It's one of a long list of battleground states Trump needs to win, but where he trails as we hit the stretch. Last night it was Ohio. Toledo to be exact.


DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: And just thinking to myself right now, we should just cancel the election and just give it to Trump, right? What are we even having it for? What are we having it for? Her policies are so bad. Boy, do we have a big difference.


KING: Oh, but if we cancelled the election, we can't have all of this fun.

He talked about big differences. Here's one big differences that underscores Donald Trump's problems as we approach the final week of campaigning. Reports filed last night show Hillary Clinton's campaign, look at that number, $62 million left in the bank. Donald Trump just shy of $16 million. Although I should say, everybody jump in, that's a huge deficit. It matters in the end. She's got more money. By most accounts, she has a better nuts and bolts operation on the ground. Donald Trump just told Fox News' Bret Baier, for an interview that's going to air tonight, he's going to cut a check, $10 million more today from his own money to put into the campaign. But he's talked about $100 million. That $10 million would get him up to $66 million.

JACKIE KUCINICH, "THE DAILY BEAST": I mean, I don't think he expected to be held accountable for that. That he actually - he just say, yes, $100 million. Sure. And now that his campaign is not - does not have nearly as much money as Hillary Clinton's in the home stretch, you know, people are asking him where that money is.

KING: And it matters.


KING: Money matters in the end for little things and big things, TV ads, but also GO TV calls, get out the vote.

JONATHAN MARTIN, "THE NEW YORK TIMES": Yes. You have to create a serious White House campaign. And to do that you have to have hundreds of millions of dollars. And in every measure he has not done that. It's not a sort of full-fledge modern era campaign for president. It's more of a hybrid campaign and kind of personality promotion type endeavor. But that's the sort of Trump way.

Real fast, John, this question how much he's put in. Yes, he's put in, I guess it's $42 million.

MOLLY BALL, "THE ATLANTIC": $56 million, I believe.

MARTIN: $56 million right now.

BALL: Yes.

MARTIN: OK. But you have to sort of minus the money that he's gotten back in the process.

KUCINICH: Right. Totally.

DOMENICO MONTANARO, NPR: For the plane. MARTIN: From his own properties and his plane. Keep in mind, he is paying himself for the rent of his campaign office in Trump Tower, for the use of his own plane and for all of the events that he has at Trump properties all over the country.

MONTANARO: Plus, he seems like he's hedging his bets a little bit. I mean he doesn't want to have to pour in more money. He said that if he were to lose, this would be the worst thing he's ever done in this life, you know, to have to run and lose. And now he's being pressured to put in even more money into a campaign that maybe isn't going the way he would like.

BALL: Right. Exactly. That money matters in the close race.

KING: Right.

BALL: But from everything that we're seeing in the polls in every battleground states, in the national polls across the country, this ceased to be a close race some time ago and so you could be throwing good money after bad. I mean the reason so many Republican donors who could easily cut those types of checks -


BALL: Haven't been doing it, is because they don't want to make a bad investment either, and that's where the real money deficit comes from. It's not from Donald Trump's failure to contribute. It's from all of the other Republican donors who either don't like what Donald Trump stands for, or don't like the way he's run his campaign, or both.

KING: It's interesting, too, if you look at this report, to your point, none of the Trump children have given to Donald Trump's campaign. Chelsea Clinton has given a check to her mother's campaign. Her campaign chairman, John Podesta. None of the Trump children have written a check to dad's campaign, maybe because they think he's putting his own money in, but I'll just leave it there.

One of the interesting things in the final days is, we talked a lot about, is this the change election? You have an incumbent president. He spent eight years in that building behind us. Normally you have a change environment. But we talked yesterday, the president's approval rating is up above 50 percent, 55 percent in our new poll. And as Donald Trump goes - last night it was in Ohio, today it will be in New Hampshire, he's talking about the economy stinks. He says you need a change because you can't get a job. But the government today reporting that in the last quarter - it's been a sluggish year - but in the last quarter, the economy grew at nearly 3 percent.

[12:05:05] And one of Donald Trump's problems - I want to put this up on the screen, in my view, is when he goes to these battleground states and he tells people things are horrible. Well, voters don't listen to politicians unless it reflects their life. Look at the unemployment rate in Ohio, North Carolina, Florida, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire and Nevada. In all of these states, Donald Trump needs to get to 270. When President Obama came to office, we were in a deep ditch in a recession. The unemployment rate is below 5 percent everywhere except Pennsylvania. He'll be in New Hampshire today, 2.9 percent, it's the lowest unemployment rate in the country. Can you tell people everything stinks?

KUCINICH: You know, he was in Toledo yesterday, and Toledo actually is somewhere where the economy hasn't really bounced back. It has - it's been kind of an economically depressed area. Very blue collar, used to be very Democratic, and has been trending red. So I think one of the things he's doing is he's picking places that haven't necessarily seen the recovery and other parts of the state have. I mean Ohio has a Republican governor who would probably disagree with him very vehemently, but I think that that's one of the ways that he's - his message is resonating. He's talking to people who haven't felt that.

MARTIN: Yes, but the problem with that is that he goes to Loudon County in Virginia.

KUCINICH: Well, yes.

MARTIN: A booming suburb of Washington, D.C., which has done pretty well thanks to the government, and he's talking about closed down factories and coal miners. So let's not give him too much credit.

KUCINICH: That was in August.


KUCINICH: But still.

KING: Right. Right.

MARTIN: He's preaching sort of doom and gloom wherever he goes because he has one message. The closing statement he made at the third and final debate was to excoriate President Obama at a time when the incumbent's number are on the rise and he's over 50 in many polls. There's no strategy here involved.

Look, let's not pretend like there is. He's just saying stuff because the base that he has responds to it very effectively. But it's not a message that's going to capture a majority of voters in this country.

MONTANARO: I mean what's fascinating is he creates this make America great again message, so he has to kind of stick to that.

KING: Right.

MONTANARO: When you look at polling of people saying, you know, do you - do you feel like the country's on the right track? Well, most people say it's not on the right track. Now, who do you blame for that, though? When you look at congressional - the congressional approval ratings and the party approval ratings, far below President Obama's approval ratings. Yes, it's traditionally very difficult to follow a president of your own party, but when the president's approval rating is above 50 percent and you had Donald Trump suddenly change his message in the last couple days and say, don't let anybody tell you America's not great. It is great and the people here are great and believe in its future. It's like this message is counter to everything that he had been running on. And when you have data like that and they know that people don't always feel it because of wage stagnation and the rest, but it's very difficult to swim against the tide of that kind of data and demographic change.

BALL: Well, and when you talk to voters or when you - when you listen in on focus groups, this kind of thing, what - the difference between now and 2008, or even 2012, is that people still feel like everything's not OK, but they no longer feel desperate enough to take a big chance. And, you know, I think Hillary Clinton anticipated running a much more dicey campaign with regard to her potential predecessor. And it's so telling to see an ad with Barack Obama in it.


BALL: That is not, I think, they expected to be an ad that they would cut at the beginning of the campaign.

KING: Right.

BALL: You saw her positioning herself as different than him, positioning herself as a departure from his administration. The fact that she's able to make the case for straight continuity for literally a third Obama term is really remarkable and it - and it tells you something.

MONTANARO: But her team - her team always - but her team always knew that they had to win that Obama coalition. You know, they knew it was a mistake by Al Gore to distance himself from Bill Clinton when he was fairly popular and it would have been a mistake to distance themselves from President Obama when he won 51 percent of the electorate twice.

MARTIN: Yes. She wanted his voters.

MONTANARO: Yes. Exactly.

MARTIN: I think you're right about that. But I think Molly's right in the sense that at the outset of this campaign, they were planning to -

KING: They were looking for one or two -


BALL: They were going to triangulate, yes, they were going to have to say -

KING: They were looking for one or two places to say -

BALL: More of the good, but less of some other.

KING: We're more of a hawk on foreign policy -


KING: And we're more this than that.

MARTIN: Yes, exactly. KING: Right. Yes.

MARTIN: At that point, don't forget, December of 2014, memorably, there was that dustup because Hillary criticized Obama for saying, don't do stupid stuff, it's not - it's not -

BALL: In "The Atlantic."

MARTIN: It's not a message. In "The Atlantic," the venerable -

KING: All politics is local.

MARTIN: Exactly. And then the Obama folks sort of hit back at her.

KING: Right.

MARTIN: That was all her trying to figure out, how can I create some distance on some things?

KING: Just in case.

BALL: Right.

KING: Sort of adjusting case -

MARTIN: We're a long ways (INAUDIBLE).

KING: The other issue for Trump is now, he's been on prompter the last couple of days as he's moving around these states, mostly even focusing on what his campaign wants him to talk about, drain the swamp in Washington, get you a job, Hillary Clinton is crooked. We'll get to some of the details in a minute.

But then he, as always, he steps in his own way, let me put it that way politely. I know he wants to do media interviews. When you're behind, you want to make yourself more accessible. But he went on Bill O'Reilly last night. Bill O'Reilly asked him again about the "Access Hollywood" tape. Remember, "Access Hollywood," owned by NBC. Donald Trump, on that tape, it's his voice. It's his voice. He's talking about groping women. He's talking about things that are crimes. Here's Donald Trump's take on it last night.


DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: You know, that was a private dressing room. Yes, that was certainly illegal and there's no question about it.

BILL O'REILLY, FOX NEWS: Are you going to take any action after the election against NBC?

[12:10:01] TRUMP: Well, you'll see. You'll see. You're going to see after the election.

O'REILLY: So it's possible you might? TRUMP: But I will - I will - I will tell you, first of all, it

shouldn't have been said. But it was, you know, it was locker room talk and, yes, I mean, you know, we're going to find out soon enough I will tell you.


KING: It's not locker room talk. I'm going to say it every time, it's not locker room talk. But, you know, it's - we'll find out soon enough. Why doesn't he just say, Bill, I don't want to talk about that right now, the American people need jobs. Bill, I won't talk about that right now, we need to talk about, you know, the Clinton corruption or changing Washington. Why can't he discipline himself to just not take the bait?

KUCINICH: Because he needs to save face. It's like reflexive. He can't just - he can't let it go. He feels like he was wronged and he can't let it go.

But you did hear a little bit of Kellyanne interjecting there where he said, it's not excusing what I said.

KING: Right.

KUCINICH: And you heard that and so -

BALL: Yes. I mean this is a relatively disciplined Trump. He didn't - I mean the fact that that was the most newsworthy bit from that interview is relatively thin grill (ph) for the outrages we've come to expect when he's really off the cuff.

KING: Right.

BALL: But the fact is, he can't just avoid doing himself any harm if he's going to turn this thing around. He has to become a completely different person and he has to start winning over people who don't like him. And there's - and interviews like that don't do - don't accomplish that.


KING: And sometimes when he speaks, it's clearly a guy who's never run for office before and it's charming in some ways and it's appealing to voters in some ways that he doesn't speak the language of Washington. But sometimes he speaks and it's as if you're saying the 1940s and the 1950s called and they want their candidate back. Here's Donald Trump last night talking about the problems in America's inner cities.


DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: We're going to work on our ghettos, our -- and 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.


KING: We're going to work on our ghettos?

MARTIN: It's like unfrozen - a candidate. It's like he just stepped off the John Lindsay walking through the sort of bombed out south Bronx set from like the mid-60s and he's talking about the cities and it's almost like we're dolling the Kerner (ph) Commission. It's like this is such dated talk. And as somebody pointed out, Donald Trump lives in the inner city himself. I mean -

MONTANARO: Well, Manhattan.

BALL: No, not really. I mean -

KING: He kind of lives up - he lives a little higher than - than us.

MARTIN: He lives in a city, though!

But the point being, American cities have been rejuvenated in the last 20 years. There's all kinds of gentrification. Certainly here in Washington, but also in New York, and every city, and that kind of language is just reflective of a candidate who comes from a very different era.

KUCINICH: And I was -

BALL: And it's also reflective of a candidate's base. I mean I wrote an article this week about how his base is elderly voters. The only age group of the electorate that he ever wins in polls is voter over 65. And for a lot of those people, they have not been near an inner city in the last 30, 40 years.

MARTIN: Not the Whole Foods crowd here?

BALL: They remember the 1950s - or they remember the '60s and '70s when the cities were really scary. So he is speaking as - as the point has been made many times before about his minority outreach, that what he - the people he's really speaking to are the white voters who share those impressions.

KING: (INAUDIBLE), absolutely.

MONTANARO: I would - I would just say, though, this is another example of entry-level Trump. I mean you could go through a whole list of issues. When we think about abortion, when he talked about how women should, you know, potentially go to prisons. You know, that made pro- life advocates nuts because they've spent decades, generations, trying to figure out how to message on some of these more thorny issues. Think about his bad hombres thing that he said at the debate, taco bowls (ph), blow Iranian ships out of the water. I mean these are the kind of things that not only a polished candidate but somebody who reads briefing books, who can figure out what the message is and get onboard with what the usual saleable talking points are and, you know, you can shoot from the hip all you want when you ignore some of that stuff. It's going to hurt you. KING: Right. I want to also just note, before we go to break, that our

K-file (ph) team, which goes through things candidates have said in the past, and, yes, what you've said in the past, you should be held accountable for, Donald Trump who says Hillary Clinton has abandoned African-Americans in this campaign, said in 2011, Hillary Clinton, quote, "did probably as much as anybody for the African-American community."


KING: Trump then. Trump now. It happens.

Next, if there was a campaign award for best supporting surrogate, the vote just might be unanimous.


MICHELLE OBAMA, FIRST LADY: This is truly an unprecedented election. And that's why I'm out here.



[12:18:44] KING: Welcome back to INSIDE POLITICS.

At the big rails, the supporters and the surrogates wind up the crowds and then the candidate comes on to make the closing appeal. It was a little different yesterday in Winston Salem, North Carolina.


HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: But indeed dignity and respect for women and girls is also on the ballot in this election. And I want to thank our first lady for her eloquent, powerful defense of that basic value.


KING: Candidate first? Smartly, and then the closer.


MICHELLE OBAMA, FIRST LADY: Because 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. So when you hear folks talking about a global conspiracy, and saying that this election is rigged, understand that they are trying to get you to stay home. The voters decide our elections. They've always decided. Voters decide who wins and loses, period, end of story.

(END VIDEO CLIP) [12:20:13] KING: Period. End of story. She's not just a good communicator. And I'm sorry if you're a Republican watching and you don't like this, this is not taking sides, she's just a - not just a good commuter, but she's smart. At these events she's talking about early voting. She's saying, leave now to vote. She talks about - she goes back to North Carolina - while she was in North Carolina yesterday, and said, you know, we won North Carolina in 2008 by three votes per precinct or two votes per precinct. We lost it in 2012 by 17 votes per precinct. So it does personalize it and you leave with the impression, oh, actually, maybe I'm not thrilled about Hillary Clinton, but my vote does matter.

MONTANARO: It's also really hard to attack her because she's a first lady who's not looking to run after being in the White House, and she's still very popular and she and President Obama are young enough to be able to campaign vigorously for their preferred candidate. Something you haven't really ever seen before.

KUCINICH: It wasn't really age, though. It had more to do with popularity.

MARTIN: Popularity.

KUCINICH: They're popular now.

MONTANARO: No, but I mean age, sickness, popularity, absolutely. So those are all things - and she does - she is a crystalized (ph) -

KING: Or in Bill Clinton's case, being welcome.


KING: He was still relatively young, he just wasn't welcome back in 2000.


KING: But when you look at this - the early voting part of this, we're going to talk a lot about this in the last 11 days because, yes, we count the votes on November 8th, but the election is actually being won or lost today.

MARTIN: Yes, there is no election day anymore.

KING: It's being won or lost today. President Obama, back in Florida tonight. He was just there the other day, because it's the mother of all toss-up states still on the ballot - on the map with 29 electoral votes.

Look at these numbers so far. This comes from Catalyst (ph), who we're paying to get these numbers. But 12.6 million votes cast so far, 7.2 million of them in battleground states. Florida has the most. I bet that number hits 2 million today. Democrats have an edge compared to 2012 in Colorado, Iowa, North Carolina and Nevada. Republicans have an edge in terms of ballots returned in Arizona, Florida and Utah. Although Democrats would say, we're not as behind in Florida as we were in 2012 and we won Florida in the end. So those numbers, they look better for the Republicans right now, but Democrats say, actually, if you compare it to the last campaign, we're OK here. This is now - 40 percent of Americans, we estimate, will vote early. This is now really the election. And when you have the Clinton campaign that can put the first lady up, put the president up, send Bill Clinton out, send Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren out, and Donald Trump has Mike Pence.

KUCINICH: I mean not to mention, though, that Arizona and Utah were in that list.

KING: Right.

KUCINICH: I mean that's not normal -

KING: Right.

KUCINICH: In the last couple of election cycles. So that in of itself.

KING: Pretty much not in this century.


KUCINICH: Right. Right.

MARTIN: There's no question that the Clinton campaign has been very effectively run, but with, you know, a homage to Chris Rock here, they're doing what they're supposed to do! I mean -

KING: Right.

MARTIN: You're running a functional campaign for the highest office in the land in the world's most powerful country. Of course it's going to be sophisticated and cutting edge and you're going to target voters and, you know, plan your schedule around the early vote start dates.

KING: Right.

MARTIN: That's what you're supposed to do. It's the fact that the other candidate isn't doing these basic things that's so striking.

KING: Right. And -

MONTANARO: And let's put this in context. I mean, you know, Hillary Clinton is doing pretty well in places like Nevada, North Carolina, Florida, where she seems to be ahead in early voting. These are all places that not only does Donald Trump have to compete and do well, he has to win all of them.

KING: Right.

MONTANARO: I mean he has to win Florida, North Carolina, Ohio, Iowa, Nevada, and then pick off, you know, a state that's leaning towards Hillary Clinton.

And, by the way, for this weekend, let's watch in Florida. Even though it's sort of a tie now compared to where it was in 2012, you're going to have the Jennifer Lopez concert in Miami.

KING: Right.

MONTANARO: That is going to be all tied to early voting. And on Sunday you're going to have Souls to the Polls, getting lots of voters out.

KING: Right.

MONTANARO: And Democrats are doing this in North Carolina, by the way, with fewer precincts this time around than they had and maintaining pace.

KING: And you're right -

BALL: Well, the other thing that Hillary Clinton is doing is that she's campaigning in a lot of battleground Senate states.

KING: Right.

BALL: She - I was with her last weekend and she went to Pennsylvania and she campaigned with Katie McGinty. And she went to North Carolina and she campaigned with Deborah Ross. She went to New Hampshire, she campaigned with Maggie Hassan. So she is targeting the states where she can now hopefully, for the Democrats, lift up the bottom of the ticket because at this point there are so many targets for the Democrats and there are so few for Donald Trump that they can afford to focus their attention down the ballot, try to convince those Democratic voters, maybe crossover voters, that they need to vote Democratic up and down the ballot.

KING: And you mentioned the Democratic Senate candidates. They're with Hillary Clinton when she does these events. Whereas, Donald Trump in New Hampshire today, Kelly Ayotte is probably in Vermont. When Donald Trump goes to Pennsylvania, Pat Toomey runs to Ohio. When in was in North Carolina, Richard Burr was nowhere to be found. That is a problem, too, for the Republicans, won't stand with Donald Trump. They will stand with Hillary Clinton.

I want to ask this question, though. Hillary Clinton, right now, they think they have momentum. They have their surrogates out on the trail. They think they're doing well in early voting. But, if you go to WikiLeaks or if you listen to Donald Trump on the campaign trail, they're talking of late about Bill Clinton Inc. and all this concern inside the Clinton campaign. Not just out in Republican land. Her own campaign staff saying, oh, some of this doesn't look good. Some of this look like, yes, the Clintons Foundation is a charity, yes, it does wonderful things and the Clinton Foundation does do important and wonderful thing around the world, but is he making a boatload of money off this personally on the side? Are his staff members make a boatload of money off this personally on the side? Donald Trump puts it this way.

[12:25:12] (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: If the Clintons were willing to play this fast and loose with their enterprise when they weren't in the White House, just imagine what they'll do given the chance to, once again, control the Oval Office. And we've had enough. Honestly, I think we've had enough of the Clintons, in all fairness.


MARTIN: It's a really effective line.

KING: Voters -


KING: Voters decide if we've had enough of the Clintons. Voters get to decide that. But to Trump's point about, will they do this again, will they do this again, that, I think, is a perfectly fair question. Can she get to Election Day without taking questions about this? She did - they say the Russians hacked these e-mails. We're not going to talk about it. This is a foreign state actor meddling and that's a very important issue, but so are what these e-mails tell us. Can she get to Election Day without having a news conference or doing a few interviews and addressing these - these are serious issues about, A, what happened, and, B, what if you were president? What are you going to do to guarantee this doesn't happen again?

MARTIN: She ought to be held accountable for it and she ought to answer for it. A different question as to whether she's going to before Election Day, but she certainly should. These e-mails are exactly the kinds of thing that people have concerns over when it comes to the Clintons and how they sort of mix their political and personal and -

KUCINICH: They don't play by the same rules.

MARTIN: And charitable endeavors. And if you have a Republican candidate for president who could prosecute the case and didn't have, you know, a sort of O'Hare-type level of his own baggage coming through, it would be, I think, a really tough story for her in the final weeks of the campaign. That memo alone from Doug Band, just imagine if you had a Republican candidate who could just hammer that thing, it would be a very different story now.

MONTANARO: If he were able to say she's status quo and stick to a status quo message and people have had enough of the Clintons to take half of what Barbara Bush had said, you know, enough of the Bushs and the Clintons. But if you were able to hammer that message and make something effective on change, he hasn't been able to do that. He hasn't been able to make that kind of case. And it's been really difficult.

But I think it does tell you something about how Hillary Clinton would govern. I mean there's so many, you know, you can pretty much be assured that ambassadors are still going to be the people who are given - given donations or given plum posts. She's going to want a zone of privacy, like we saw why she set up this e-mail server in the first place.

You know, there are still those questions of Hillary Clinton's forthrightness that, you know, her campaign and the people around her very much knew in the beginning, and something that the WikiLeaks e- mail certainly tell us.

KING: Well, I hope and think that trying to hold her accountable for what happened in the past, hopefully she gets a lesson about the future. We'll talk more about this as we move on.

But as promised, the Trump campaign is changing the way we look at the electoral map, but most of these changes, it turns out, not to Trump's liking.