Return to Transcripts main page

New Day

Trump Fires Embattled Campaign Manager; Senate Rejects Series of Gun Control Measures; Clinton Leads Trump in New CNN National Poll. Aired 6-6:30a ET

Aired June 21, 2016 - 06:00   ET


[05:29:56] CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Now, can Trump reset his campaign just weeks before the convention, and if so, how?

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: All of this as CNN has new national polling out this morning on the 2016 race. How do the two presumptive nominees stack up? And who do Americans think is best to handle the issues after the Orlando terror attack? We have all of that for you this morning. We have this campaign covered for you the only way CNN can, the A team up and at them this Tuesday.

Let's begin with our chief political correspondent, Dana Bash. Dana, what an interview that was?

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Thank you. It was an incredible day. And inside Trump headquarters right now, they're hoping that this is the first day of a new world, one without a volatile person in charge, who sources said spun Trump up on all the wrong things and made it hard to hire staff and build a legitimate general election campaign.


BASH: What happened? Why were you fired?

COREY LEWANDOWSKI, FORMER TRUMP CAMPAIGN MANAGER: You know, I don't know. I don't know the answer to that.

BASH (voice-over): But the answer, according to multiple GOP sources, is Donald Trump's lagging poll numbers, lack of campaign infrastructure, plus heated power struggles, which all led Trump's family to say, enough.

(on camera): Sources who I've talked to and others who I've talked to said that they've described you as a hothead, and that you just didn't treat people right. What do you say to that?

LEWANDOWSKI: Look, I think I'm a very intense person. And my expectation is perfection. Because I think that's what Mr. Trump deserves. I had a nice conversation with Mr. Trump. And I said to him, it's been an honor and a privilege to be part of this. And I mean that from the bottom of my heart.

BASH (voice-over): CNN is told Trump watched Lewandowski's interview as it happened live, a few hours after he was fired. Trump later expressed his appreciation as he talked about moving on.

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESUMPTIVE PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: He's a good man. We've had great success. He's a friend of mine. But I think it's time now for a different kind of a campaign.

BASH: That different kind of campaign is one with Paul Manafort, Lewandowski's nemesis, now firmly at the helm. CNN is told that internally, Manafort's mantra is that Trump must act more presidential, while Lewandowski kept saying, let Trump be Trump.

(on camera): Sources from the -- from in and around the campaign, have told us that they thought that you were feeding Mr. Trump's worst instincts. If there was a plan in place post-primary, now that he's trying to pivot to the general, is in the general, that you would get in the plan with him and undercut that plan and bring out his worst instinct. How do you respond to that?

LEWANDOWSKI: I say, what best interest would I have in doing that?

BASH: The suggestion is that that's who you are.

LEWANDOWSKI: But look, if Donald Trump wins, that's good for Corey Lewandowski and it's good for the country.

BASH (voice-over): Lewandowski made clear to CNN, he supported Trump's controversial response to the Orlando shooting.

TRUMP: And goes boom, boom.

BASH: And disparaging a judge presiding over a fraud case involving Trump University.

TRUMP: This judge is of Mexican heritage, okay? I'm building a wall, okay?

BASH: The question now was whether Trump will tone down his rhetoric with his like-minded campaign manager out. CNN is told it was that plus concerns about anemic fund-raising and basic campaign structure that alarmed Trump's children.

TRUMP: My boy, Eric, and Don, they've been working so hard.


Ivanka and Jared have been amazing.

BASH: And they all played an instrumental role in ousting Lewandowski, especially daughter Ivanka and son-in-law Jared Kushner, a real estate whiz and publisher.

(on camera): Can you tell me about your relationship with him?

LEWANDOWSKI: I've had a great relationship with Jared. He's helped us from the onset of having a better online presence, being aggressive in a good way. He understands a different component than I understand. BASH: CNN is told Kushner will now be even more influential in trying

to right the Trump campaign ship.


Now, Lewandowski was in charge of fund-raising, which is a new phenomenon for Trump who self-funded during the primaries. Still, Trump is way behind his Democratic opponent. Look at these numbers. In the bank, Hillary Clinton has $42 million. Donald Trump $1.3 million. And the Super Pacs, Hillary Clinton has $52 million. Donald Trump, $500,000. That is a stark illustration of one of the main reasons why Republicans are very nervous.

BALDWIN: We'll talk staff numbers, we'll talk money, we'll talk everything in between with you. Stick around in just a couple of minutes here. Meantime though, this brand-new CNN poll puts Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump in a head-to-head match-up, 47 to 42 percent there. The margins get even tighter when third party candidates are factored in.

So, let's go to CNN senior political correspondent, Brianna Keilar, live in Columbus, Ohio. With more, Brianna, hello, my friend. Good morning.


Hillary Clinton will be here at this community center a little later today this morning, as she tries to make the case that Donald Trump is unfit, temperamentally unfit to handle the economy of the United States. You remember a couple of weeks ago, she tried to make this case when it came to Donald Trump dealing with foreign policy, and this was a speech that almost resembled a roast more than a foreign policy speech, so that may be an indication of what we're going to see here today.

[06:05:16] You mentioned those polls. Well, Hillary Clinton is leading overall, both in that head-to-head matchup by four points and by five points when you add in some of those third party candidates. She has a big problem when you look at the economy numbers. She is trailing by eight points when voters are asked, who do you think would handle the economy better? Trump gets 53 points. Hillary Clinton trail -- or 51 points. Hillary Clinton with 43 points.

So this is a big issue for this area that her campaign and voters say is going to be what really motivates them come November. So what are we going to hear today? We're expecting that she will take aim at him, maybe specifically, on some of his ventures, from Trump steaks to Trump University to his casinos. And we're told we by a top aide, should be making the case that Donald Trump will drive the economy over the cliff, into another recession.

CUOMO: All right, Brianna, very interesting. The plan for the economy, is Hillary Clinton really just going to talk about what's wrong with Donald Trump when she's making a plan for the economy? We'll see. Let's talk about that. Also what this poll means in the race. And this huge reset. Let's bring in the all-star panel.

Dana Bash, exclusive interview getter, CNN politics executive editor, Mark Preston, and CNN political commentator and political anchor for Time Warner Cable News, Errol Louis.

All right. So, Dana, when a campaign has trouble, someone must suffer. And it is never the candidate, right? Until the actual Election Day.

BASH: If they lose. If they lose.

CUOMO: So what do you make here of the dynamic about why this was happening? Is this simply the only thing they could do?

BASH: You know, in a lot of campaigns, when somebody is fired, that is the case, that there is a fall guy, not necessarily somebody who should be fired, but they just feel like they need to make a change and there's a shakeup. In this case, it seems to be really pretty directly related to the person who was fired. Corey Lewandowski was somebody who was, you know, kind of along for the ride and signed on very early on, day one, of Trump's campaign, when most people thought it was a joke. And he's stayed on and he kind of rode the wave with Trump, letting Trump be Trump.

And it ended up in an unprecedented win. But now it is a very, very different ball game. So the fact that the combined reasons of him not necessarily being equipped to do a big general election campaign, but also his personality and personnel issues internally, which were very, very volatile, it just made it untenable. And look, if Donald Trump's poll numbers were okay, if he hadn't had the major blunders that have made it impossible for the Republicans to unite over the past few weeks, maybe this would not be -- probably, this would not be where we are.

BALDWIN: So before we get to the moving forward, just still on the how and why, you know, watching the interview with you, you know, he said he didn't know why he was fired, he has no regrets, professionally. But, you know, much attention has been made with this potential rift or competition with Paul Manafort, but so much of this is really about the children. It's about Ivanka Trump. And please feel free to weigh in. Mark Preston, I'm going to turn to you on this one. How involved is Ivanka Trump? Obviously, he is very close to her dad. He clearly listens to her.

MARK PRESTON, CNN POLITICS EXECUTIVE EDITOR: Right. And listen, he's blessed by the fact that he has children that are very smart, very accomplished. Ivanka Trump has really -- will come out of this campaign as really the big winner in the end, because she's been put on this national stage where we are all able to get to understand her. The issue is, they didn't feel that Corey Lewandowski was leading the campaign in the right direction.

BALDWIN: They, the children?

PRESTON: They, the children. Okay. And as somebody who is a big Trump supporter said to me yesterday, look, bottom-line is, the kids do watch TV. They do read the newspaper. They have seen the last three weeks fall apart on their father. And can you imagine being a child watching your father on the big national stage, the international stage, falling apart? So, yes, there's no doubt about that. To your point about Paul Manafort, though. You do need to bring in professionals. You need to bring in people who have done this before. You need to have more than $1.3 million in the bank, which is what -- you know, a paltry, at best sum.


PRESTON: You need to have an organization right now. And they do not have a large ground operation to go head-to-head with Hillary Clinton.

CUOMO: Well, let's put up the number. We have a full screen of this, the difference in the size of team. Which is going to be part of function and money, part of planning. This is your money. Right? But if you look at the size of the staff, Clinton's staff is over 650 people. OK? It is ten times the size of Trump's. We'll just keep the money up there, because I guess that's the explanation of it. But take my word for it.


His staff is --

BALDWIN: There you go.

[06:10:16] CUOMO: There you go. Cuomo doesn't lie. Now, Errol, that's the time. That's part a function of money, but it's part not a function of money. Let's not kid ourselves, all right? This is not about Trump's kids. They have no experience in politics. They've never been in a campaign. I've lived through a dozen of them and I'm telling you, the kids don't make the call. You have a situation here where you have to find a reason to change this man, going into the general. Now that is clear. Lewandowski's out, fine. How do they change who Donald Trump is?

BALDWIN: That's a great question.

ERROL LOUIS, POLITICAL ANCHOR, TIME WARNER CABLE NEWS: I don't know if that's really what is behind a lot of those numbers, though. I mean, you know, Paul Manafort was going to do this anyway. We know that the way a campaign works is, they have different phases. You have something who is sort of get you through the liftoff stage, get you through the early primaries. That's who Corey Lewandowski was. Then you got sort of Super Tuesday. It turned into a big regional campaign. Then you have got the convention, who is a whole other specialty. And that's why Paul Manafort was initially brought in, and then you have the last sprint to the finish.

And that in itself is another sort of person. So you've got -- Lewandowski, from what I've heard from Trump's people, is that he was going to get sidelined anyway. They just thought it was going to happen maybe in the convention, after the convention, not quite so suddenly. But as far as building up the staff, I mean, look, this is where not Donald Trump so much himself personally but the fact that he doesn't have a lot of support.

When we have talked over the months and the weeks that he doesn't have senators supporting him, he doesn't have governors supporting him, you know what you get with that? You get staff. You get people who were sort of deputized to you, who were maybe on somebody else's payroll. So that you can actually build out a staff and you can make something happen or you can start to play in all of the different states where Hillary Clinton is already out organizing.

CUOMO: The staff is a big deal, but Dana do me a favor, put that into context with this. When Paul Manafort did his introductory interview to the race, he came here on "NEW DAY" and did the interview. One of the first things he said was, and this man couldn't have more experience, couldn't have more pedigree in the highest levels of this campaign. He says, Trump's got to be Trump. Nobody tells Trump what to do. That's exactly what you need in that campaign, though. So you think Manafort was just playing politics here but behind the scenes, he's dropping the hammer?

BASH: Yes, I do. So, that was the beginning, and now he has more experience internally on what they need to do and the number of things that they need to do. I mean, you know, the list could go through the end -- from here to the end of the table. My understanding --

CUOMO: It's a big table.

BASH: It's a huge --

CUOMO: We had it specially built.

BASH: Yes. For the list? So the thing that I'm told is that Paul Manafort is the guy who keeps saying to Trump, you've got to be more presidential. And it was Corey saying, you know, let Trump be Trump. And he's a thoroughbred, just get on and ride. Which is not really what you always need to do when you have somebody --

CUOMO: It worked, though.

BASH: It worked in the primaries, which is why Corey was so dead set on trying to keep that going, because he saw the instincts that Trump had, and they, for the most part, for the Republican primary electorate, were dead on. The question is --

BALDWIN: -- Judge Curiel writing the numbers --

BASH: The general election is a different situation.

BALDWIN: Yes. Stand by, we're going to talk about some of these numbers and what they do moving forward and the weaknesses for both and what's really hurt them. Partisan gridlock proving to be more powerful than the will of the people. A four gun control bills failing to pass in the Senate on Monday. Now the focus shifts to a fifth plan floated by the Republican Senator from Maine, Susan Collins.

CNN's Manu Raju is live in Washington with more on that. Manu, good morning.

MANU RAJU, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Brooke. Now, this plan by Susan Collins is aimed at splitting the difference between a Democratic bill that failed yesterday and a Republican plan. This plan is to prevent suspected terrorists from getting firearms and give people denied a sale a right to appeal. Now, the NRA has not endorsed the plan, but one veteran Republican, Lindsey Graham, told me yesterday, he's getting behind it.


SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: I think it's the sweet spot, substantively and politically. We limit the list of the no-fly list and to the secondary screening list. We're talking about hundreds of Americans, not thousands. And if you're on that list, there's a reason you're on it. And, so, hopefully we can find a compromise that will get 60 votes. But the NRA is not on board with us.

RAJU: No, you know, that's okay.


RAJU: Now, it's unclear when this will get a vote. But top senators in both parties actually were downright skeptical about the plan yesterday. So actually its prospects appear grim at best. And in the aftermath of the failed gun votes yesterday, the rhetoric grew even nastier. Senator Elizabeth Warren citing her colleague, Chris Murphy's comments, tweeting, Chris Murphy said it right. The Senate GOP have decided to sell weapons to ISIS. Now, this comes as a new CNN/ORC poll shows 55 percent favoring stricter gun laws, compared to 45 percent who don't, and that's the highest update since after the 2012 shootings in Newtown, Connecticut -- Chris.

[06:15:15] CUOMO: All right, Manu, but there's some kind of disconnect, isn't there? Because we've had this conversation so many times. We'll get inside that legislative battle a little bit more, but we are going to keep focused on why we just saw this huge change inside the Trump campaign. And we have a new national poll that tells a big part of this story. What's the spread between Clinton and Trump and why? And this new factor, a third-party candidate may well have an effect on the race. We're going to talk about the issues, the numbers, and you're going to know more in just a second.


[06:19:44] BALDWIN: All right. New numbers for you this morning. How's that coffee taste?

CUOMO: It's not coffee.

BALDWIN: I don't want to know what that is, actually. Moving on, Hillary Clinton up five points against Donald Trump in a new CNN poll just out this morning. There is more to this poll, including good news for Donald Trump on the issues most important to American voters. So, let's bring them all back in. Mark Preston, Errol Louis and Dana Bash, beginning with the spread that you mentioned earlier, the new CNN/ORC numbers here.

You know, if you were to choose between Clinton or Trump for president, 47 percent would choose Clinton over 42 percent choosing Trump. My question to you, Dana Bash, do you think that is because of Trump's comments on the Judge and missteps of which there have been many, or is Clinton just stronger?

BASH: Clinton is clearly stronger at this point. I actually think that maybe a way to look at it is given all that we are talking about, why isn't she further.


BASH: And so I also think that that speaks to some or a lot of the frustration among Republicans, because they believe they are running against a very weak candidate. And that Donald Trump and his campaign continuously misses the point and is allowing her, as you said earlier, to define him. But also to set the narrative and the conversation in the race, about what she wants to talk about, as opposed to what Republicans want to talk about. Which is, all the reasons why they think she should not be president.

BALDWIN: So why isn't she doing better?

BASH: Because I think that this is a fundamentally split country. And I think that she -- and if you look kind of deeper at the questions of popularity and favorability, they both have major issues and major weak spots on those questions.

CUOMO: I mean, I think there's absolutely no question about it, Preston. I mean, it's surprising that with everything that she has going for her, we showed you the numbers before, the money, ten times the staff, the pedigree, the reputation, this is a battle of less worse. It just is. Everybody tells you the same thing. You guys all hear this all the time from people on the street.


CUOMO: Forty seven-forty two and it's because of the negatives between the both of them. Are you surprised by these numbers? And what do you think winds ends up being a catalyst coming out of them?

PRESTON: Right. So, huge negatives for both of them right now. A race to the bottom in many ways.

CUOMO: We've never had candidates --

PRESTON: The voters at this point with these high of negatives.

BALDWIN: So high. Right.



PRESTON: And the voters aren't necessarily excited by either candidate. Here's what it is. When we talk about staff, you know, our viewers might say, why are they talking about staff? Why does that matter? Donald Trump can write himself a check. And he only has $1 million in the bank. Here's the issue. You need staff to knock on doors, to make the phone calls, to try to volunteer on behalf of the candidate. Right, if you look at the numbers right now, it's only a five-point spread and Donald Trump should be very happy about that, with but this poll is just a snapshot in time for this moment.

The staff, the money, all that plays in down the road. That is only an advantage to Hillary Clinton. But the most important thing I think out of this poll is the messaging that we've seen. And two numbers that pop out, one is who's temperamentally better suited to be in the White House. Right now, Hillary Clinton has a huge lead over Donald Trump when it comes to that issue. And that's why she keeps on criticizing him on that. But on the other side, who's more honest and trustworthy? Well, guess what, Donald Trump bests Hillary Clinton by eight points on that. So, their messaging, if you listen to them, is working.

CUOMO: Smack Preston down with these --

BALDWIN: I will. Let me go there right there with you.

So where Trump is doing really, really well are two areas in which Americans really, really care, terrorism and economy, right? So we have numbers and you can see exactly how people feel, who would handle the economy better, up 51 percent for Trump, and then also on terrorism, a slightly smaller margin there but still Trump favorable. We know Hillary Clinton has this, you know, economy speech later this morning, the all-important state of Ohio. Can she appeal to the middle class?

PRESTON: Well, she has to. And another good thing that has come out of this poll is that she does better than Donald Trump on a couple of key issues, immigration, no big surprise. But on trade, and he has been trying to hit her very hard on trade and his path to victory, if you talk to some of his advisers is through Pennsylvania and Ohio and Wisconsin, and what have you. But if she's going to do better on trade, on that issue, which we've seen in this poll, that is, that's a big warning sign for Donald Trump.

[06:24:15] CUOMO: Errol, when you look at this. He's ahead on terror and economics, why? A little bit business background, but also people are unhappy. You know, that's what it is. She's the status quo in the minds of a lot of voters, he is different in the minds of a lot of voters. So how does that play into your reckoning of a third party? You know what I mean, if that's the state of play, we're really angry, we're really frustrated, we want something different, is there viability? There are the numbers up on the screen right now.

LOUIS: Well, there's viability if they make economics their selling point. I interviewed Bill well just the other day and there was very little said about that, frankly. I mean, there was a lot of talk about getting a thousand agents and let's go find ISIS and let's talk about foreign policy. Very little about how do you revive the economy. And something else that's worth talking about is, we were all in Tampa four years ago, where the Republicans tried to make the case that the economy is sluggish, the economy could be better, we have to do X, Y, and Z. And in the end, the public didn't buy it. I mean, the economy, while faltering, while sluggish, while not what people hoped it would be is not crashing and burning. And the polls all show it.

CUOMO: Then why is Trump up, healthy, 51-43 over here on it?

LOUIS: Well, you know, there's healthy, and then there's "We've got to throw the incumbent" if you want to see Clinton as sort of an incumbent, a continuation of the current administration. To throw the bums out, so let's make a fundamental change. I don't know if the numbers support people feeling in a very strong way that we're completely on the wrong track and everything has to change. The approval ratings for the President suggest that. People are not all that unhappy.

BALDWIN: Still, 16 percent, looking at that, you ad those two different independent, you know, candidates and, it's not nothing.

CUOMO: Sure, you've got Johnson, the former New Mexico governor, who's with Bill well now at top of the libertarian ticket. And a lot of you were looking at the screen and say, who's right behind him?

BALDWIN: Jill Stein? What?

CUOMO: Jill Stein. She's the green party candidate.


CUOMO: And also, you have 16 percent there. That's obviously a piece that's significant. We're going to talk about that even more. Why? Well, because so many of you keep saying, if there were anybody else, I wish there were somebody else. Well, there are else.

BALDWIN: There are.

CUOMO: You just saw two of them. And tomorrow night we're going to have the CNN libertarian town hall. You'll get to meet who governors Johnson and Weld are and were and are promising to be now. It's going to be live, tomorrow night, 9:00 Eastern, only on CNN.

BALDWIN: Okay. Perfect. Thank you all very much. Appreciate it.

It is a sight you never want to see at a birthday party. A bounce house, here we go again, goes airborne. So close to power lines. Wait until you see where it ended up. That is next.