Return to Transcripts main page

CNN Live Event/Special

Retired Lieutenant General Michael Flynn Speaks at Republican National Convention; Senator Joni Ernst Speaks at Republican National Convention; Aired 11p-12a ET

Aired July 18, 2016 - 23:00   ET


(Chanting Lock Her Up!)

[23:00:02] LT. GEN. MICHAEL FLYNN, RETIRED INTELLIGENCE, U.S. ARMY: That's right. Lock her up. That's right. Lock her up. I'm going to tell you what, it's unbelievable; it's unbelievable.

(Chanting Lock Her Up!)

FLYNN: Yes; I use -- I use #neverHillary; that's what I use. I have called on Hillary Clinton, I have called on Hillary Clinton to drop out of the race because she, she put our nation's security at extremely high risk with her careless use of a private e-mail server.

(Applause and Cheering)

FLYNN: Lock her up. Lock her up.

{Chanting Lock Her Up!)

FLYNN: You guys are good. Damn right; exactly right. There's nothing wrong with that.

(Chanting Lock Her Up!)

FLYNN: And you know why; and you know why? You know why we're saying that? We're saying that because if I, a guy who knows this business, if I did a tenth, a tenth of what she did, I would be in jail today. So -- so, Crooked Hillary Clinton, leave this race now!

(Applause and Chanting Lock Her Up!)

FLYNN: She needs to go. Before -- before I end -- before I end, I will repeat my belief that American exceptionalism is very real. Let -- let us not fear what we know to be true. Let us not fear what we know to be true. Instead, we should always remember that our country, our country, was built upon Judeo-Christian values and principles and instead, and instead, let us remember the sacrifices of those who have gone before us. America is unique. America is the greatest country in the history of the world. So -


FLYNN: You're darn right. So get ready, America; get ready. Now is the time to elect fresh, bold, leadership. (Chanting Trump! Trump!)

FLYNN: Trump! Trump! Trump! Let's go. Come on.

(Chanting Trump! Trump!)

FLYNN: Get it going.

(Chanting Trump! Trump!)

FLYNN: We are just beginning. I promise you, I promise you that Donald Trump, Donald Trump knows that the primary role of the president is to keep us safe.


FLYNN: He recognizes -- he recognizes the threats we face and is not afraid to call them what they are. Donald Trump's leadership, decision-making and problem-solving abilities will restore America's role as the undeniable and unquestioned world leader.


FLYNN: He will lead from the front, not from behind. He will lead with courage, never vacillating when facing our enemies or our competitors; and he knows, he knows that the advantage -- Donald Trump knows that the advantage in life, in business, and in wartime goes to the competitor that does not flinch and does not broadcast his game plan.


[23:05:09] FLYNN: He, Donald Trump, will execute the fundamental tenet of peace through strength and there will be, and there will be no apologies for our American exceptionalism or leadership standing around the world.


FLYNN: So once again, once again, wake up, America. You cannot sit this one out. You cannot sit this election out. Get out of your houses and get out there and vote. And instead, elect Donald Trump as the next president of the United States of America. Thank you very much, and god bless America.

(Cheering and Chanting USA! USA!)

FLYNN: USA! USA! Keep it going.

(Chanting USA! USA!)

WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Retired U.S. Army Lieutenant General Michael Flynn, former Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, saying Hillary Clinton should be in jail. Lock her up! Lock her up! That's right; he said, the second speaker of the night to suggest, Jake, that Hillary Clinton should be in jail, as mother of Benghazi victim, Sean Smith, says "I blame Hillary Clinton for the death of my son; she deserves to be in stripes."

JAKE TAPPER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, in February, General Flynn was on my show. He comes to my show a few times, and he said in February that if he did what Hillary Clinton was accused to have done with her private e-mail server, he would probably be in jail. So for him, I do sense that there is something of a personal identification with the idea of keeping national security secrets under lock and key. But I have to say, just my first reaction to this, knowing the general a little bit is, can you imagine feeling what he feels about Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, as he just enunciated in a very, very strong way, and being President Obama's Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency? I mean, he must have been, like, as tight as a drum locking all that in.

BLITZER: He has made the point repeatedly during all the years he was the head of the DIA, Defense Intelligence, he never had an opportunity to even meet with the President of the United States.

DANA BASH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Which is remarkable, actually, when you think about it.


BASH: But look, just kind of big picture, listening to this, listening to several speeches tonight, of course, Rudy Giuliani was the most rousing, Sean Smith's mother was the most emotional. The very clear thread, and it goes to what Republicans have been telling us for months and months and months, that they believe that their best shot at getting the White House is by making it about Hillary Clinton. That's what happened tonight.

BLITZER: All right; there have now been three veterans now, U.S. Senator Joni Ernst of Iowa; Jason Beardsley of the Concerned Veterans of America, and U.S. Congressman Ryan Zinke of Montana. The three of them are going to speak on issues national security issues and veterans' issues.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Previously recognized by Mrs. Trump, Senator Joni Ernst.

SEN. JONI ERNST (R-IA): Distinguished Delegates, Republicans, and millions of my fellow Americans watching around the country, especially those in Iowa, it's a -


ERNST: Thank you, Iowa. It's an honor to be with you in Cleveland and to be on this stage with fellow Veterans; among them are Special Operations Master Sergeant Jason Beardsley and my colleague, Congressman and Navy S.E.A.L., Ryan Zinke, who you'll hear from shortly.

(Applause) ERNST: I never would have imagined a farm girl like me, from Montgomery County, would have the opportunity to serve as the first woman elected to federal office from Iowa. However, my parents always said to my brother, sister and me, that if we worked hard, anything was possible.

Growing up we didn't have much, but what we didn't have in money, my parents, particularly my mother, made up for with tenacity. She really encouraged us. You never hear her say, no, you can't do this. Instead, if something was challenging, she'd say, Joni, we'll figure out a way.


If this is what you want, let's make it happen. We'll figure it out together. That's a trait I carry with me today. And it's something I teach my own daughter.

In our household and in the homes of many of those in the military, including those up here tonight, giving up, quitting, or accepting failure are not options.


FLYNN: That resilience is not unique to our house. That can-do attitude has served as the foundation of our country for 240 years. It continues tonight here in Ohio, in Iowa, and all around our great nation.

In between my freshman and sophomore years of college, I went on an agricultural exchange to the Soviet Union. At night, the Ukrainians didn't talk about farming; rather, they wanted to know what it was like to

live in a country where they could experience freedom. They wanted to know -


ERNST: Yes, beautiful freedom. They wanted to know about our country, a place where anything was possible. When I came home, I realized it wasn't enough to simply enjoy freedom and liberty; I had to do my part to protect and preserve it. So I joined the military, which is tremendously important institution that defends the freedoms that Americans cherish.


ERNST: Thank you. I've had the great privilege of serving my state and our country while working alongside some of our nation's finest soldiers. For 14 months, I served as a company commander during Operation Iraqi Freedom, where my unit was tasked with running convoys through Kuwait and southern Iraq. Last November, after more than 23 years of service, I retired as a lieutenant colonel in the Iowa Army National Guard.

(Cheering and Applause) ERNST: As I travel across Iowa and around our great country, I hear from folks who are worried America is no longer leading but rather following from behind. Those concerns are echoed by our allies around the world and rightfully so. The question I hear time and time again is, where is America's leadership?

There's a void in the world, a deficit that cannot be filled by others. Our country and the world of which we are a part simply cannot afford four more years of this lack of leadership under Hillary Clinton.


ERNST: Our allies see us shrinking from our place as a leader in the world, as we have failed time and again to address threats. They are looking for American leaders, leaders who are willing to stand up and say, enough is enough.

(Cheering and Applause)

ERNST: Unfortunately, Hillary Clinton cannot be trusted. Her judgment and character are not suited to be sitting in the most powerful office in the world. She has already failed us too many times before. Hillary Clinton has failed to stop the expansion of terrorism.


Her policies in Libya, Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria have created more safe havens for terrorism. Shockingly, she continues to support a policy that brings captured terrorists into our backyards.


ERNST: All of us up here believe that's unacceptable. Unacceptable!

Hillary Clinton has failed to support our allies. Her decision to back the Iran Nuclear Deal puts in peril our longtime friends and allies in the region, especially Israel. They have continued to threaten to destroy Israel, both directly and indirectly, through its terrorist proxies such as Hezbollah. They remain the top sponsor of terrorism which endangers not just Israel, but Europe and the United States.


ERNST: And look, just take a look, folks, at the pathetic track record she and Obama have in the war on ISIS. This Administration has called them "junior varsity adversaries", ignoring some of the best advice they were given. They represent a threat that is not limited to the Middle East and is spreading rapidly. In fact, according to the FBI, ISIS is present in all 50 states. Think about it for a moment. Terrorists from ISIS are in every one of our 50 states.

(Booing) ERNST: They will use -- yes, boo -- they will use whatever weapons they have: guns, trucks, knives, poisons, and bombs to kill innocent people. Under this current Administration's wayward policies, ISIS continues to spread, while the President fails to put forward a comprehensive strategy to defeat and destroy them.


ERNST: Donald Trump will not hesitate to call radical Islamic terrorism by its name --

(Cheers and Applause)

ERNST: -- and he will not hesitate to destroy those that wish to harm our great nation. USA!

(Chanting USA! USA!)

ERNST: God bless you. Yet, Hillary Clinton, Hillary Clinton has failed to protect our national security in other ways. She jeopardized our safety by deciding our laws don't apply to her, setting up her own private e-mail server and then lying, lying to the American people about how it was used.

(Booing; Chanting Lock Her Up!}

ERNST: That's right. (Chuckles) Our men and women of the Armed Services, and let me say this clearly, our men and women of the Armed Services do not fail us. They cannot fail us. The Veterans here with me did not fail us.


[23:20:03] ERNST: They did not fail us. They, too, are individuals of the highest integrity. Our Presidents cannot fail us, either. How can we accept Hillary Clinton when she has failed them; failed us and cannot be trusted? She has proven time and time again that she is entirely unfit to serve as our nation's commander-in-chief.

(Cheering and Applause)

ERNST: For too long, Americans have felt abandoned and their warnings unheard. Donald Trump has heard these voices loud and clear. We cannot afford four more years of the same failed policies.

(Cheering and Applause)

ERNST: If that is not enough, the Veterans Administration has been failing those who have served, alongside those of us here on the stage, with scandal after scandal at the highest levels: inferior care, long wait times, extraordinary inefficiency, and a bureaucracy that has gone wild still continues. We need a commander-in-chief who will stand up to our enemies, support our allies, and have our veterans' backs.

(Applause) ERNST: We need -- thank you. We need a leader who will ensure America remains a strong, stabilizing force around the globe and who will keep us safe here at home.

Our country cannot take another four years like the eight we've just had. It's time to stand up and fight for the security of our children, our grandchildren and ourselves.


ERNST: With Hillary Clinton it's always about her; it should be about you. Donald Trump is focused on you. He gave a voice to a movement of millions of Americans who are tired of politics as usual. I know as president, he will work tirelessly to keep our nation safe. Now is the time to make America safe again.


ERNST: Thank you. Thank you.


ERNST: Thank you, and may god bless all of you, the wonderful state of Iowa, the brave men and women in uniform and these great United States of America. God bless you. God bless you. Thank you.


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Senator Joni Ernst, talking to a greatly reduced crowd, we should say. Seems like a lot of people are starting to filter out. Started to happen probably through -- started after Melania Trump finished speaking, frankly.

We want to show you some of the highlights from tonight. We compiled a compilation of that. We want to show that to you, then we're going to hear from our panel. Let's take a look.


(Queen's "We Are the Champions", plays)

DONALD TRUMP (R) REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It is my great honor to present the next First Lady of the United States, my wife, an amazing mother, an incredible woman, Melania Trump. Thank you very much. Thank you. Thank you.

MELANIA TRUMP, WIFE OF DONALD TRUMP: My husband has been concerned about our country for as long as I have known him.


With all of my heart, I know that he will make a great and lasting difference. Donald has a great and deep and (inaudible) determination and a never-give-up attitude. I have seen him fight for years to get a project done, or even started, and he does not give up. RUDY GIULIANI, FORMER MAYOR, NEW YORK CITY: And we say thank you to every police officer and law enforcement agent who's out tonight protecting us, Black, White, Latino of every race, every color, every creed, every sexual orientation. When they come to save your life, they don't ask if you are black or white. They just come to save you.


PATRICIA SMITH, MOTHER OF SEAN SMITH, BENGHAZI TRAGEDY VICTIM: For all of this loss, for all of this grief, for all of the citizens of the tragedy in Benghazi has brought upon America, I blame Hillary Clinton. I blame Hillary Clinton, personally, for the death of my son, yes, personally.

WILLIE ROBERTSON, CEO, DUCK COMMANDER & TRUMP SUPPORTER: Donald Trump will always, always tell you the truth as he sees it and that's why we can trust him to make America great again as our next president. Thank you. God bless you.


COOPER: Some of the moments that we saw tonight. Andy Dean, you're joining us, Trump supporter. To you, what stood out probably as the highlight, or several of the highlights tonight?

ANDY DEAN, TRUMP SUPPORTER: I thought the good parts, Donald's intro walking in to Queen, you can't go wrong with that. I thought the most heartfelt -

COPER: Even Van Jones, I got to say, was smiling during that.

VAN JONES: it was good.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's how van is always introduced.

JONES: That intro was bold. That was pretty cool. It was cool.

DEAN: I thought the most heartfelt moment actually came from Sean Smith, you know, Benghazi, the mom, it felt very unscripted, very from the heart. I think we need to see a little bit more of that tonight. I think a lot of people were addicted to the teleprompter, which can be a little bit dangerous because the message gets very repetitive and I think that's why, maybe, the crowd is smaller this late --

COOPER: It did seem early on though, I mean, you had Phil Robertson, Marcus Luttrell who went off prompter, --

DEAN: Yes.

COOPER: -- obviously, one or two others early on. I do think that was very effective.

DEAN: That's the Trump thing, right? I mean, straight from the heart; the American people want a no-nonsense, in Cleveland, a plain dealer, if you will, and that's what Trump is all about. So, I think later in the night we got a little bit away from that, and I think that that hurt, but I think the focus on Hillary Clinton was important. I would have liked to seen a little bit more of the specifics.

We know her bad judgment in Benghazi, but maybe - I mean, we've got the American public's attention for three hours. Why not explain a little bit more about, in detail, this e-mail server? Not everybody watched the congressional hearings. Explain exactly what poor judgment she showed by having TSAP e-mails on her server. These are Top Secret Special Access Programs; people's lives are on the line. I'd like to see a little more specifics.

COOPER: We very well might see that in the coming days (inaudible).

Jeffrey, you have, -- clearly for this audience, was a high water mark, Melania Trump, certainly something that was anticipated. Does it go on too long? I mean, they're still -


COOPER: -- making speeches and I've got to say, this room has really cleared out. General Flynn, you know, for all his extraordinary record, went very, very long.

LORD: Gently put, I think they should have -- when the Trumps walked off the stage.

COOPER: That should have been the -

LORD: That was the high point, et cetera. The speeches that have followed, I mean, these are substantive speeches by substantive people. I just think at this stage here, this is just not a helpful thing and I think people start to -

DAVID AXELROD, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: (Inaudible) the late congressman, was the youngest man -- the least senior person on a committee once, and finally got to him to question and he said, everything that needs to be said has been said but not everybody has had a chance to say it. That's what we're experiencing now.

This, to me, -- you know, I thought that there - I actually thought the first half, from the standpoint of the Republican message, was probably very effective, but this thing has gone off the rails, in terms of planning. As someone who's been involved in convention planning, first of all, you go through speeches so that you're not repeating the same points over and over again. Secondly, you end on time. Thirdly, you don't end -- you don't take your most emotional piece and then keep on going. We had Michelle Obama, when I worked for President Obama, then Senator Obama, she came on at 10:30, in both conventions, and after she spoke, the convention ended for the night. and I really don't understand what happened here.

[23:30:05] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: To that point, it was interesting because General Flynn introduced the idea of using the term, you know, "radical Islam" or the specific term he used, when already Rudy Giuliani got the entire, you know, auditorium -


COOPER: -- electrified by saying that exact same thing.

LORD: I mean, David is absolutely right, and I don't know what the story is here, but in past conventions, they had folks who went through these things line by line -

COOPER: Said that's been addressed already.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: I think they mistimed it. They clearly mistimed it. You had a couple guys going on for really too long so they ended on a whimper.

LORD: All of this said --

ANA NAVARRO, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: You guys, you realize they haven't ended, right?

LORD: All of this said I don't know that this makes any difference in terms of how it comes out in the wash. It's just, you know --

VAN JONES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: It makes a difference, though, for -- I'm watching Twitter; I'm watching social media and I'm looking at the difference between the way the Democrats are responding to this and the Republican base. The Republican base loves this stuff and still loves all this stuff; but I think this is actually a -- it's cumulating now a sense of unease in the part of people who are watching this, that there seems to be so much vitriol, so much fearmongering. Really, it's almost -- they erased what they did with Melania, for the people who are watching the whole night.

Melania, I actually was surprised. Democrats -- there were some snarky things about, well, loyalty to the third wife. There's some snarky stuff but in general you saw Democrats giving her a break. Now you're seeing the response to this, there's so much fearmongering, they're doing themselves harm.

COOPER: Ana, from you?

NAVARRO: I'm not sure how engaged the Republican base can be at this hour, because if you know anything about the Republican base, this is way past their bedtime.


NAVARRO: I frankly think --

COOPER: I just want to point out that you are a Republican, just for viewers who think yet another Democrat on this panel.

NAVARRO: I think I might be the only Hispanic Republican in this house tonight. I think we saw a lot of things today. What we didn't see was diversity. It is very disappointing to me they couldn't find one Hispanic to speak on the opening night of the Republican Convention. To their credit, they did have an Italian to be confused with a Hispanic. He's good enough, and good looking enough to maybe claim him as Hispanic, and I think he played a Hispanic on TV once, but, you know, it would be nice if they would think of the fact that in places like Florida, they need to win that state and they need to appeal to Hispanics.

JONES: Trending right now: "RNC So White"; trending right now.

NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I reached out to the campaign and asked them why not end on Melania and Donald Trump? They said they thought it was better to end hard and have more, sort of, attack sound bites for the morning shows. That's clearly what they're doing.

I do think a missed opportunity in not putting Joni Ernst in sort of the first half of the show. You know, there was a lot of anger, lot of male kind of testosterone and venting, I thought, in that first half hour or two hours or so. I think she was sort of Midwestern nice and she was female. I thought she could have been switched out.

ANDERSON: John King?

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: You have to make choices. People who have done this before, you have to make choices about what you're going to do. The theme they wanted to do, "Make America Safe Again." Well that include a lot of harshness, a lot of darkness, a lot of things are bad, things are horrible. There are a lot of veteran Republicans, and let's be honest, these are people who are mostly not with Donald Trump, they're not fans of Donald Trump, who understand that because of the breaking news, because of current events, why you would put that first; but they're thinking maybe by the time you get closer to November, you wish that tomorrow night's theme, "making America work again," very little talk of the economy and jobs today. Very little upbeat talk about what Donald Trump would do as president; and without a doubt, the Trump team will tell you their number one priority, make people like Donald Trump more.

Melania Trump was fabulous tonight. Whatever your politics, we don't know much about her. We haven't heard from her in three months. She's been quiet on the campaign trail. It was riveting, but why not end there?

DAVID AXELROD, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: She was a pleasing presence in a kind of angry white guy sandwich.

BORGER: Yes, but, you know, I was at lunch today with Paul Ryan, who has not been a huge fan of Donald Trump's. He said to me his one worry was the Party will be too divisive, right, that this - but what people will take away is a Party that's divisive. When you look at tonight, the sort of Richard Nixon 1968 model of law and order and America's unsafe, this is a dangerous world, we're all worried about our safety domestically as well as abroad, I think that that was what this was about tonight with a little bit of Melania in there saying, he is compassionate, as well, to kind of balance that out, but this was their clear theme tonight.

COOPER: I want to go down to the floor. Our Sara Murray is standing by with some news; Sara? SARA MURRAY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Anderson.


Donald Trump can just not stay away from his own convention. We're hearing that even though he's going to go back to New York, he's going to be in New York tomorrow, he will be back in Cleveland on Wednesday. We're expecting him to show up here, not here at his convention, but rather elsewhere in Cleveland, to hold an event for supporters, for his family members. This will not be a big rally; this will be more of a smaller event, to really thank the people who have helped him get this far.

We're also expecting him to show up on stage before he introduces Mike Pence, maybe gave a little wave. With Donald Trump, you never know if he'll say a couple words, so that's always a possibility. Then, of course, he'll be back here on Thursday to give his own speech and then take a tour of the que. We may be getting many days of Donald Trump, a very unconventional candidate taking a very unconventional approach to his own convention, Anderson.

COOPER: Sara Murray, thank you very much. One of the things, actually, earlier, Donald Trump actually called in, I think, to Bill O'Reilly's show on FOX, while speakers were on the stage at his own convention. I don't think a candidate's ever done that before.


KING: Counter-programming your over convention at a moment that I think the Trump Campaign did want people to see, the testimony of the Benghazi --

COOPER: Right; it was during the mother's speech.

KING: And so I'm going to speculate. I don't know if there's any data on this, that more Republicans watch FOX News, sometimes; I'm just making a guess there. For Donald Trump to call in at that moment, it's an interesting moment; but to Sarah's point, there's no question, he wants to be unconventional. He wants to pop up. He likes to be the attention, but he also showed remarkable discipline there. Even his own staff, during the day, was saying we don't know what he's going to say when he walks out there. We want to be short. We want it to be sweet. We just want that moment, the entrance; but they didn't know if he'd stick to it, and he did.

COOPOER: David, as someone who's planned these things before, is there a concern if you have the candidate too present throughout the week that it doesn't build up a certain energy and excitement to when they finally come out?

AXELROD: You know, I'm less concerned about that as long as he's not making speeches. You know, we beamed Barack Obama into the convention from various locations as he made his way to the convention because it was exciting to people to see him. He came on after -- he was beamed in from Kansas City after Michelle Obama gave her speech in 2008, and the kids were on stage with her and he was waving to them; it was a touching moment. So I think there are theatrics that you can pull off here.

If Donald Trump is as disciplined as he was tonight and comes out, does what he did and if he's just giving people a taste, that's one thing; but, you know, if he does a Mike Pence type deal, all bets are off.

COOPER: The other question is, you know, there was a lot of talk would Melania Trump sort of try to humanize Donald Trump in a way that we hadn't seen before? One of the things Paul Manafort said to me last night, and has said to others is, by the end of the week, we want people to know the Donald Trump they haven't seen, the Donald Trump who is, you know, in private time with his family, things like that. So I guess the question is, will his kids be trying to give, kind of fill in some of the details of -

LORD: I'm sure they will.

COOPER: -- with stories that we haven't heard?

LORD: I wouldn't limit this just to family. I mean, Rudy Giuliani is a longtime friend. I think helped him a great deal, talking about the fact that he gives money to charities, anonymously, and all of this sort of thing. I mean, I think that was very helpful because he came from -- it came from a friend who's not a family member, who's had a lot of experience with him and whom everybody knows.

BORGER: I think what the kids do, and I've talked to them, as have you, is talk about the values of Donald Trump rather than stories, per se, because when you talk to them about growing up Trump, they'll tell you about coming over to the office and being invited by their dad to the office all the time while he was working, and so it was a different kind of childhood. But what they will talk about and speak to is the importance of family, as Melania did tonight, and that the fact that he always had time for them, even if it was on his turf, he always said, okay, come over, this is important, no matter what he was doing, he would stop doing it. So that's the part of Trump that we haven't seen. But as for these anecdotes and stories about Donald Trump, this and -- I mean, you're smiling, but there aren't that many of them.


COOPER: One at a time. One at a time.

NAVARRO: I think it might have been a -- I think it might have been a mistake to have Melania on today when the theme was "keep America safe." because she needed to have some sort of reason of what was going on before and after her and it was all gloom and doom; the Martians are coming; it's Independence Day; get under your mattress because the world is coming to an end. So it is very hard, within that context, for her to be the snuggly bear, warm and fuzzy person giving anecdotes.

I almost think it would have made more sense to have a day that was all about humanizing Donald Trump and having the American people get to know him better. [23:40:10]

We don't know Donald Trump much better after tonight than we did before tonight. Really, the only insight that came about him was from Rudy Giuliani.

COOPER: Andy, you were going to --

ANDY DEAN, TRUMP SUPPORTER: I was going to say to Gloria's point of mushy Donald Trump, I mean, you know, I think his kids will do a good job of that, especially Ivanka, who really humanizes him; but I think with Donald in this election, people know Donald Trump. They've known him; he's had 99-percent name recognition. I think it's a little different. I think Mike Pence has a big job on Wednesday for the American people to get to know him. Donald Trump is running on a law and order candidacy, both domestically and internationally.

COOPER: You now, not being tough but being tough.

DEAN: Being tough, right, so you don't want to come off too soft. You want to come off as a human being, not a robot, but he wants to come off tough. I think law and order tonight, David Clarke, Blue Lives Matter, is going to be a huge theme and then, internationally, I think when we start talking about Benghazi, when he talks about Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton and their failure in the Middle East.

I think internationally and domestically, he's the law and order candidate. So God forbid if there's more and more security problems like tonight there was another terror attack in Germany, this is becoming almost a daily incident. If that starts to happen over the next couple months, if people want law and order, Donald Trump needs to prepare himself to be that law and order president, a war president.

AXELROD: I've been thinking about this and I think the question is how this cuts because we do have these recurrent incidents and do people turn to the strong man, the Trump character, or do they recoil because they feel he's not temperamentally suited for the job that these are serious times? I honestly don't know the answer to that. I think it's going to be one of the interesting questions of this election.

DEAN: I think the answer is they will seek Trump because people, when it comes to danger, they want simplicity. Donald Trump talks very simple. We will destroy ISIS; we will crush them. Barack Obama is very academic, one could say, in he refuses to say radical Islamic terror. When people want to win a war, they want destruction and Donald Trump will deliver that and I mean that with all seriousness. They want to destroy ISIS. Raqqah is still standing. Why is Raqqah standing? He will destroy it.

COOPER: It was interesting, though, to hear a number of the speakers tonight talk about people's feelings, like people fear crime, people feel things are more dangerous than ever before. I mean, you can argue stats, actually crime is down, you know, nationwide. It's been going down ever since Rudy Giuliani was mayor, it's been on a downward -- and yet we heard time and time again people feel this way.

JONES: (Inaudible) this is basically a fact-free night. For instance, you would think that the United States Government is not droning and bombing the heck out of ISIS. I mean, ISIS losing territory by the miles. I mean, it's unbelievable. They've knocked out, like, half of the leadership or more. That's never talked about. So the Democrats, I think, have failed to let the American people know how aggressively ISIS is being contained. Part of what you're seeing now, because they're losing land and territory, they're doing these -- reverting back to al-Qaeda type tactics.

Democrats have been having very tough times because you are correct, there is a fear. there is a sense that things are out of control. What they can't let the Republicans get away with it is saying, well, we're going to do something about it but never say what because it's very hard to say what more you could do against is than what's being done right now.

NAVARRO: What you heard tonight is a continuation of what we heard for the last year from Donald Trump. This is what got him here, tapping into the angst and to the frustration and to the fears of the American people of the Republican base. The question is, did he grow that base at all tonight? And I think that the answer to that is no. I think you saw the same Donald Trump that got him here, I think his formula is let's not fix what's not broken.

AXELROD: Well, you know, the thing about this process is it gets more difficult as the stages go on. He's going to have to go into presidential debates that may be the most watched debates that we've seen in a very long time; and to Van's point, he's not going to be able to issue tough bromides. He's going to be asked how; how would you have stopped the incident in Nice; how would you have stopped these other incidents, lone wolf or small cells that result as Van says from ISIS wanting to strike out because they're losing ground? He's going to have to answer those questions. If he can't answer those questions, I don't think he's going to resolve people's concerns.

LORD: The problem, though, David, he's going to be there opposite Hillary Clinton who has a very long record and talks about her experience and for a lot of people, that experience has not paid off. That, you know, one mistake after another has been made. So I understand what you're saying, but

I really think that you're --

AXELROD: I'm making a clinical point which is the world -- the eyes of the country are going to be on him and she is very fluent in these issues.


The flip side of what you're saying is she's very comfortable dealing with these issues. She's very comfortable debating.

COOPER: Although I'll just argue, just to play devil's advocate here, a lot of, -- you know, Donald Trump can say, well, -- I'm just thinking specifically to the Nice attacks. On that night, he called in to Bill O'Reilly, so did Secretary Clinton. She also called into my program. Donald Trump said when O'Reilly kind of prompted him, I would go to Congress for a declaration of war, --

LORD: Right.

COOPER: And then O'Reilly said, well also, what specifically would you do? He talked about the borders and not allowing in Syrian refugees. Again, not necessarily specific about Nice.

AXELROD: I don't know how that would have stopped Nice.

COOPER: No, right; it wouldn't have, but Secretary Clinton's answer was, when I prompted her about a declaration of war, she said, we'll we're already -- we are at war. It's a different kind of war; she talked about an intelligence surge -


BORGER: Right.

COOPER: -- which I'm not quite sure what that is, and using NATO.

AXELROD: They're both actually -

BORGER: He answered your question, but she didn't.

AXELROD: Yes; and I think that she's going to have to be better prepared as well, not to get balled up in these kinds of bureaucratic answers to questions.

COOPER: Right, because people sitting at home, oh, okay, declaration of war sounds more definitive than working with our NATO partners.

LORD: I was listening to your interview with her that night and I thought, that's a word salad. I mean, it's a word salad. What does it mean? I mean, intelligence surge and all this stuff. This is the way people talk in government in Washington D.C.

(Cross Talk)

LORD: She's not communicating - she's not communicating to the American people.

COOPER: We've got to take a quick break. Coming up, Donald Trump Jr. talks to CNN about his dad and the convention kickoff. Plus, a "Reality Check" on some of the night's toughest attacks on Hillary Clinton. We'll be right back.



WOLF BLITZER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The Republican National Convention, it's getting pretty empty right now. They've gaveled it to a close for the night. They'll be continuing tomorrow, Day Two. Welcome back.

Just a few moments ago, Mark Preston, our CNN Politics Executive Editor, caught up with Donald Trump, Jr., and had this exchange.


MARK PRESTON, EXECUTIVE EDITOR, CNN POLITICS: Hey, Don, how do you think things went tonight; how did Melania do?

DONALD TRUMP JR., ELDEST SON OF DONALD TRUMP: I think she did amazingly. I mean, and that's not an easy thing to get up and do. So I think she did incredible; really proud to be there and part of the process and, you know, just as proud Americans, parents. I'm one of five, -- I'm a father of, and to see the lifestyle, what's going on in this country right now is really sad. I think we want to make sure that this country is better when we leave it than the way we got it and my father can do it.

PRESTON: What do you think the high point was for Melania's speech tonight?

TRUMP, JR: I think she hit all sorts of notes. I mean, talked about my father as a man, as a human, as a husband, as a father. I think that's different. I think that's a side people don't often see of him, and so I think that's incredible.

PRESTON: What speech tonight really caught you? What really lit things on fire?

TRUMP, JR.: Rudy Giuliani did a great job. Sheriff Clarke did a great job. I'm friends with Mark Geist, you know. I know the story. I've sat around with him as a buddy, you know, hearing the story about Benghazi. So, you know, when you see that you realize what this is all about and I'm just excited to go tomorrow.

PRESTON: Terrific.

TRUMP, JR.: Thank you very much, guys.

PRESTON: Thanks so much.

TRUMP, JR.: You're welcome.

PRESTON: Appreciate it.


BLITZER: We're going to hear a lot more from Donald Trump's children over the next three nights of this convention. Tom foreman is with us right now. You've been doing a Reality Check on the references to Benghazi, and we heard a lot of them tonight.

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: As you know, Wolf, we've been hearing a lot about them for many months from the Republicans. Tonight, it was a major theme here. We heard speaker after speaker raise this idea that they should be talking about this more, and what they had to say was that on the issue of Benghazi, you need to listen to them, particularly the mother of one of these four victims. Listen.


PATRICIA SMITH, MOTHER OF SEAN SMITH, BENGHAZI ATTACK VICTIM: I blame Hillary Clinton personally for the death of my son.

MARK GEIST, SECURITY TEAM, BENGHAZI ANNEX: Had she done her job that night, -- had she done her job that night, we wouldn't have had to compromise the annex. Ty, Glenn, Sean, and Ambassador Stevens would be alive today.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And even before the final American deaths occurred, Secretary Clinton sent out a statement blaming it on a spontaneous protest about a video, while privately telling others it was a terrorist attack.


FOREMAN: So is Hillary Clinton to blame for all of this? there have been nine separate investigations into the Benghazi attacks: seven of them nonpartisan, one by the Republicans, one by the State Department itself. Not a single one of these has drawn a direct line of responsibility to Secretary Clinton. Yes, there were problems in the State Department. Yes,

there were concerns about security there. Yes, some things were not handled properly. But she says she never directly saw those concerns, and of these nine investigations, again, not one of them said that she directly bore blame for this. You can say she came to take the blame as the head of the agency, but these investigations said no. So our first verdict is false; no, it wasn't her fault.

Beyond that though, the question how she handled it afterwards, this question whether she blamed it on a video tape or was that some attempt to hide the fact that it was a terrorist attack. She said she made some statements in the fog of the moment, didn't know what she was saying. We have competing accounts from people who heard the same conversations, saying different things. The bottom line is people will say what they say. So that part of it is simply complicated.

It is a big issue, as you know, wolf, for many, many Republicans out there. It will remain a big issue; but on those basic claims, was it her fault? No, it was not. There's no proof of it at this point. It may come, but not yet.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I mean, I think the larger argument, I think, is that she was head of the State Department and the security was inadequate.

FOREMAN: And that's a complaint you could make; in the same sense you could keep tracing it up the line. You could take it to the President and say he was the President; he was in charge of her at the State Department; he should have known. These investigations did not find enough of a chain to make that link.

[23:55:01] TAPPER: One other follow, which is, Libya was her baby, right? I

mean, she and Susan Rice, the National Security Adviser, they were the ones pushing President Obama to get involved, along with France and England. So should she not have paid more attention, perhaps to Libya, even when it comes to security on the ground?

FOREMAN: Well, I think there are plenty of people, probably on the democratic side, who will privately say this was not a finest moment, this wasn't a great handling of things -

DANA BASH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: They say it publicly.

FOREMAN: -- of things in a beautiful way; right? But this was, -- again, the question is, can you blame somebody for this actual, terrible event, four people dying? Again, all these investigations have said no.

BLITZER: We're going to be doing more of these Reality Checks down the road. All right, thanks. Still ahead, as I said, we'll be having more Reality Checks on some of the toughest speeches of the night, and an interview, also, with Senator Joni Ernst, one of the night's headliners. Much more right after this.


COOPER: And welcome back. You see a pretty empty hall here at the Republican National Convention, the first night over. I want to show you, in case you haven't watched the entire production so far this evening, some of the key moments from tonight. Let's take a look.