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DNC Chairwoman Resigning; Interview with Ben Jealous; Tight Race Between Trump and Clinton; Trump Voices Support for Ousted Ex-FOX News CEO; Aired 5-6p ET

Aired July 24, 2016 - 17:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, AMERICAN JOURNALIST AND TELEVISION NEWS ANCHOR: Breaking news. Stepping down -- the woman in-charge of the Democratic convention here in Philadelphia leaving her role after email surfaced suggesting a plot against Bernie Sanders. But Debbie Wasserman Schultz has not yet left. Will she be here for this convention? Will she have any, any appearance?

Also, explosive accusations as Donald Trump taunt Democrats over the email firestorm, the Clinton campaign now blaming the Russians for the leak in a sinister effort to try to help Donald Trump.

[17:00:07] And dead heat. Why the race between the Trump -- between Trump and Clinton may be closer than ever.

I'm Wolf Blitzer. We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world for CNN's live special coverage from Philadelphia. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

A major earthquake is hitting the top leadership of the Democratic Party right now just a matter of hours before the national convention opens here. The chair of the Democratic National Committee, Florida congresswoman, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, she is out. She's stepping down from that position as soon as the convention is finished.

Pressure on her to resign began building earlier today, snowballed by the hour until a statement from her office confirming her plans to quit. And here's why.

The stack of e-mails collected and made public by the anti-secrecy Web site WikiLeaks. Some of those e-mails suggest that Democratic Party leaders, including Debbie Wasserman Schultz, had already made up their minds about who they wanted to be the party's nominee and were actively working to scuttle Bernie Sanders' campaign.

Here's an example. In one e-mail exchange, not independently verified by CNN, a DNC communications staffer suggested they take issue with the CNN report about a hypothetical Sanders' presidency. Wasserman Schultz blew it off responding, quote, "This is a silly story. He's not going to be the president."

Jeff Zeleny, our senior Washington correspondent, is joining us.

Jeff, there are many other e-mails, very problematic, because the DNC is not supposed to pick sides, is supposed to be neutral before the convention, which these e-mails suggest they didn't abide by those rules. The e-mail leak certainly it's already cost Debbie Wasserman Schultz her job. What are you hearing? How did this all unfold?

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, throughout the day it has been a furious day of backroom meetings and conversations. Democratic Party leaders and the Clinton campaign, even the White House, trying to -- contain the, you know, the uproar really beyond this and trying to get this taken care of before the convention begins tomorrow. And they came to the conclusion the only way that they could sort of move beyond this or try to move beyond this was to have the chairwoman step down.

She's already been on thin ice in recent months, certainly under a lot of fire from the Sanders campaign, making these accusations, but, Wolf, these e-mails brought that all to light, essentially showing, illustrating how she and her aides were siding with the Clinton campaign. So she released this statement just a short time ago. Let's take a look at this, Wolf.

It says this. "Going forward the best way for me to accomplish those goals is to step down as party chair at the end of this convention. As party chair this week, I will open and close the convention and I will address our delegates about the stakes involved in this election."

But, Wolf, that is where it also gets complicated. I'm told that she is insisting on making at least some statement here at the convention, in this convention hall to the delegates. That could come early in the week, likely tomorrow, likely in the form of only a few minutes or so, probably three to five minutes. Both sides, the Clinton campaign and the Sanders supporters, have agreed to that.

Wolf, but that will be a moment to watch should it happen because she's very likely to be treated pretty -- not very friendly to this audience here. Many Sanders supporters do not like how she's handled this. But she's insisting on speaking. So we believe if that goes through, it will happen tomorrow, Wolf.

But beyond that, at the end of this convention on Friday, she will step down as chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee -- Wolf.

BLITZER: A real bombshell on this day before the convention opens.

Jeff Zeleny, thank you very much.

I want to bring in our panel right now. Joining us our chief political correspondent Dana Bash, CNN political director David Chalian. CNN's Sunlen Serfaty and Gloria Borger, our chief political analyst.

Dana, what are you hearing about how this all unfolded? Because it seems to have gone so quickly and presumably the top leadership of the Democratic Party from the president on down, they were all involved.

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jeff Zeleny just reported some of the details and he's been doing excellent reporting on this. It did happen quickly. And it basically was done in an obvious way to try to move this story aside, to get to the big picture, what they want to do here, what they want to talk about, which is unifying the party.

Debbie Wasserman Schultz, as Jeff said, was in meetings with Clinton campaign folks and with other kind of in and around the now leadership of the -- of the presumptive nominee, she will be the nominee, basically saying, look, you got to go.

[17:05:07] Obviously, needless to say, same with team Sanders. They've been saying that publicly for some time. She had been very, very resistant. Very resistant and reluctant to do it. Obviously, she -- this is not the first time it came up that she should step down. But with these e-mails, there was no choice. In fact, one source said to me that what was being communicated to her, either you do this on your own with the statement that you put out or it will done for you.

BLITZER: It's a dramatic moment, Gloria, indeed. Normally a situation like this unfolds the person at the top says, you know, I don't want to do anything that's going to disrupt our convention, for the good of the convention, the good of the party, I'm going to step down.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Look, there's a larger story here, Wolf, about this. And this is about the division in the Democratic Party that Bernie Sanders people are out there, could raise a ruckus. I would assume they would, if she was speaking before the convention. And you know, Bernie Sanders has been very restrained in his statement because he's been saying all along that the Democratic National Committee was rigged against him. They didn't want him to get the nomination. And this just fuels that.

It's too late now, right? So what do they have to do, Wolf? They have to kind of push this aside no matter how much hard work she's done for the party over the past years, and she's done an awful lot, a tremendous amount, but they say, look, you were for Hillary Clinton. These e-mails prove it. And there could be more e-mails coming down the road that will prove it even more. So what do you have to do? You have to sort of cut it off and say, OK, as hard as it is, we've got to move on.

BLITZER: You know, David, as Jeff Zeleny said, even if she just makes a brief statement opening the convention, closing the convention, then formally resigning, you know what the Bernie Sanders crowd reaction is going to be on the floor of that convention.

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: I'm not even sure at this point that the Hillary Clinton people are going to greet her so warmly either. I don't know -- at this point, she has created more of a problem at the opening of this convention than anything else.

Listen, obviously she still has her supporters, but this is, I would say, two months ago, Wolf, we heard rumblings from very senior Democrats that it was very possible that Debbie Wasserman Schultz was not going to make it through all the way through this election season. She does have this primary in Florida for her congressional seat that was getting more competitive, which was going to be a -- sort of an easy way out after the convention.

BLITZER: And Bernie Sanders endorsed her opponent.

BORGER: That's right.

CHALIAN: And Bernie Sanders endorsed her opponent, no doubt. So I don't know that Debbie Wasserman Schultz was long for this world to begin with once the convention concluded. But watching her statement, what she put out today, it is clearly so important to her to still have some role on that stage and yes, I imagine she might get some boos but if the -- if the Clinton folks can contain her enough that it's three minutes and that -- then we don't see Debbie Wasserman Schultz again throughout the convention, I imagine this will be nothing but a small little blip come tomorrow.

BLITZER: How is Donald Trump, Sunlen, responding to all of this?

SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, he's certainly already trying to capitalize on this, to paint this as a convention already in chaos. He just tweeted a moment ago, quote, "I always said that Debbie Wasserman Schultz was overrated. The Dems convention is cracking up. And Bernie Sanders is exhausted. No energy left." He then later went on to tweet, quote, "Today proved what I've always known that RNC chair Reince Priebus is the tough one and the smart one, not Debbie Wasserman Schultz."

And Trump also specifically speaking to what he believes this reveals about the core of Hillary Clinton, someone in his opinion that benefits from a rigged system that plays by her own set of rules. And as we saw with the Tim Kaine pick over the weekend, Trump really trying to use some of that anger, disaffected Sanders supporters, trying to reach out to them. Here's what he said earlier this morning.


DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: He has been gamed. He has been -- it's a rigged system against him. And what happened with the choice of Tim Kaine was a slap in the face to Bernie Sanders and everybody. I was shocked.


SERFATY: And I think this really lets Donald Trump fall into something that is very much his comfort zone, arguing that the system is rigged, and that's an argument that clearly he wants to bring against Hillary Clinton.

BLITZER: Gloria, what does this say about the state of the Democratic Party right now on the eve of the national convention?

BORGER: Well, look, you know, it's a party that's divided. And the Republican Party's divided, the Democrats' party is divided. You've got two candidates with the highest unfavorables in the history of our country. This is a party that is divided and she -- and Bernie Sanders have reached their arrangement. He will be speaking this week at the -- at the convention. We'll see what kind of applause he gets.

But look, you know, you know, you can't paper over real differences that were fought out day in and day out over the last 12 months.

[17:10:01] BASH: Yes. And it's not just that there are differences. It's that Donald Trump is on to something.


BASH: He understands because his supporters are backing him for a lot of reasons but one main reason is because he says over and over the system is rigged and that he's appealing to people who feel left behind because they just, you know, can't get ahead because of that. Same goes for a lot of Bernie Sanders supporters. And so this coming out in black and white or on e-mail feeds right into that and has not just Bernie Sanders but the people out there who think that the entire institution of politics and government is working against them, this feeds right into that.

CHALIAN: It's not only the rigged system. I spoke to a Bernie Sanders supporter yesterday here in Philadelphia who -- I said, is there any chance that you're going to get on board with Hillary? His response to me was lock her up. He invoked the chant that we heard on the convention floor in Cleveland from Republican.

And I just think that it is not -- this is not an easy party to heal in that way. I don't think we're going to see riots on the convention floor here in Philadelphia, but I do think when you have 43 percent of the party who supported Bernie Sanders not getting the candidate of their choice, it's not like that.

BORGER: This is confirming evidence, right, that they were right all along about the system being rigged against them and it's hard for them to take.

BLITZER: We just got a statement from Senator Bernie Sanders reacting to the resignation of Debbie Wasserman Schultz. Let me read it to our viewers.

"Debbie Wasserman Schultz has made the right decision for the future of the Democratic Party. While she deserves thanks for her years of service, the party now needs new leadership that will open the doors of the party and welcome in working people and young people. The party leadership must also remain impartial in the presidential nominating process, something which did not occur in the 2016 race."

Let me get reaction to the Bernie Sanders statement.

David Chalian, your initial reaction.

CHALIAN: Well, my initial reaction is a lot of these things about opening the party up, welcoming working people and young people in, this is what Bernie Sanders has been saying for months after each one of his victories or defeats, he was on this line about the party throughout the whole nomination season.

But the very last line there, Wolf, that is the most stinging, that you must remain impartial. Something which did not occur in this race. That's what the e-mails gave total proof positive to that scenario that the DNC did not remain --

BLITZER: And he had been making that point for months and months and months that the DNC under Debbie Wasserman Schultz was not impartial.

BASH: He did. He said it privately, he said it publicly. And his voters were listening and his supporters were listening, and they were listening then and they certainly were listening now. And so now at this time, at this point in time when Hillary Clinton is relying on Bernie Sanders to do what she did in 2008, tell her supporters, you know what? We're at the convention. It's time to get behind our nominee, it's going to be harder for him to make that case personally, especially when he puts out an e-mail like that. This could be harder to get his voters' -- supporters to listen to that.

BLITZER: Everyone, stand by. We have a lot more coming into THE SITUATION ROOM. We have also new information as the protesters walk the streets here in Philadelphia. The Sanders campaign is responding to all this news. We'll have live coverage of that.

Plus, is Donald Trump leaving the door open now for the former chief of FOX News to join him out there on the campaign? You're going to hear what Donald Trump is saying about that. And Hillary Clinton's new effort to pick up battleground states. Is her running mate a big key to her strategy?

All this as our special live coverage from Philadelphia continues right here in THE SITUATION ROOM.


[17:18:09] BLITZER: We'll have much more on the breaking news that Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the chair of the Democratic National Committee, is resigning. This on the eve of the start of this Democratic National Convention here in Philadelphia. Much more on that coming up, but there's other related developments unfolding right now including the battle for the critically important battleground state of Ohio.

Donald Trump, a lot of experts suggest has a tough competition there. He won't win, at least according to John Kasich, the governor. The governor and the former presidential candidate is predicting that Trump will not carry Ohio. And no Republican has ever been elected to the White House without carrying Ohio. Kasich wouldn't speak at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland last week. He has not endorsed Donald Trump. Now he's saying publicly that he does not believe Donald Trump can win his state of Ohio in November.

The "Philadelphia Inquirer" quoted Kasich as saying, "Ohio is a snapshot of the country. People in Ohio want to see a positive agenda, a positive way to move forward." That's from John Kasich, the Ohio governor. John King is standing by. We're going to have full analysis of this

and all the other developments. We'll take a quick break. We'll be right back.



BLITZER: Let's get back to the breaking news here at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia. Debbie Wasserman Schultz is out. Out as the leader of the Democratic National Committee, saying she'll resign when this convention is over. It ends Thursday night.

The announcement comes during an embarrassing e-mail scandal that triggered mounting calls for Wasserman Schultz to step down.

I want to go straight to my next guest, Ben Jealous, he's a Bernie Sanders surrogate, former president and CEO of the NAACP, were very active trying to get Bernie Sanders the Democratic nomination. Didn't work out.

What's your reaction to all -- it's huge news, Debbie Wasserman Schultz announces her resignation.

BEN JEALOUS, BERNIE SANDERS SURROGATE: This is great. This is the DNC power tearing off the band-aid and actually doing what needs to be done for us to heal. The reality is a real damage was done to the big part of the base of the party by the DNC being impartial in attacking the Sanders campaign.

[17:25:02] And that happened on her watch. And we needed assurance that they were serious now about unifying. We've gotten that assurance. And so we can begin to really move forward and, frankly, focus on the next 100 days. We have a guy -- I'd say it's a neo- fascist, who is Donald Trump, who is mounting a very serious bid for the U.S. presidency. We have to stop him. We've got a hundred days to do it. This week is the week for us to unify as a party. This is the right way to start the week.

BLITZER: You have not until today officially endorsed Hillary Clinton, have you?

JEALOUS: That's exactly right. Look, Wolf, I was ready -- I was planning on doing it yesterday. So we had to get through platform, we had a unifying platform. We needed to do what we did which was introduce the most progressive platform in history. And then we need a real movement on superdelegates. And you saw that yesterday. But then the whole e-mail scandal broke.

And I was like, I can't just come out right now in the middle of this until they're ready to act and really assure us that they're going to begin cleaning house over there. Debbie being out is a big thing. Donna being in is a bigger thing. Donna is somebody --

BLITZER: We're talking about Donna Brazile, a CNN contributor. She's the vice chair of the Democratic National Committee. It's my understanding she'll be the acting chair.

JEALOUS: She'll be the acting chair. And Donna is somebody who just doesn't really -- she's a no-BS person, let's put it that way. She's remained neutral in this process. She has not endorsed Bernie. And she's the type of person who won't tolerate staff who act in ways that are unprofessional, you know, and do things that we now know that the CEO and the CFO of the DNC have done.

So, no, this is -- this is good. I'm now in a place where I can endorse because we have a great platform. We are making real progress in superdelegates and, yes, finally, we're cleaning house at the DNC.

BLITZER: So you are now officially endorsing Hillary Clinton for president of the United States?

JEALOUS: As of this afternoon, yes. Absolutely. Because we got --

BLITZER: And you want all Bernie Sanders supporters to follow suit?

JEALOUS: Look, people are -- you know, are going to do what they're going to do, but they need to wrestle with their conscience and really ask themselves in this moment when we're facing probably the biggest threat we've ever seen heading towards the White House and Donald Trump mounting a very serious campaign, very narrow gap, do you want to wake up in mid-November with him as president and not have done everything that you could possibly do?

We have the -- we have the Supreme Court, voting rights, you know, big issues with the environment. We have the prospect with Hillary finally getting a $15 minimum wage. Donald Trump doesn't believe there should be a minimum wage.

BLITZER: What was the biggest issue in the e-mails that were leaked that outraged you?

JEALOUS: We're the Democratic Party. We're the party of inclusion, we're the party of tolerance. The decision to attack somebody on their faith is outrageous. And that's why it was so important that this happen right now.

BLITZER: Somebody at the DNC suggested, well, maybe people should start questioning whether Bernie Sanders, who's Jewish, believes in God. That was the issue that outraged you?

JEALOUS: I mean, think about the outrage we had over the use of the Star of David a couple of weeks ago, and some Trump, you know, thing against Hillary, a Trump meme against Hillary. This is worse than that. And so that's why we needed to see real action. So good, you know, now we can move on, we can come together, we can go out there, we can say, you know, look, Tim -- you know, Tim Kaine, here's somebody who has been a civil rights lawyer, somebody who speaks Spanish, somebody who, you know, led a majority of black city in a southern state as well as an important southern swing state. The way we make use of somebody that and play to his strength is we begin to really invest in turning out --

BLITZER: Like the Tim Kaine vice presidential pick?

JEALOUS: The black and brown votes. Yes, look, what I'm willing to say is he has some real strengths that we can play to. Let's go play to his strengths. Let's turn out the black and brown votes.

BLITZER: When you say the DNC needs to clean house, Debbie Wasserman Schultz will resign after the convention is over. You want others to resign as well?

JEALOUS: Look, you know, I said -- and I don't see a reason to dwell on it. But I've been pretty clear, Wolf, that any CEO, any CFO who acted the way that they did in these e-mails need to accept responsibility and move on. Again their boss, stepping down is a sign that things are -- are moving forward. I will be very surprised if we don't see Donna come in and clean house.

BLITZER: One final question before I let you go. If she opens the convention with the gavel, just makes a brief appearance, closes the convention with a gavel, is there still that possibility what will happen on the convention floor?

JEALOUS: I mean, look, I think some people will probably boo her. I think most people, including myself, will know that she's on her way out and try to give her her moment to just say good-bye in her way.

BLITZER: And that will be that. Ben Jealous, thanks very much for joining us.

JEALOUS: All right. Thank you.

BLITZER: Don't leave yet.

I want to go straight to John King. Look, we've got a new look right now at how Hillary and Donald Trump are matching up in this key battleground state of Ohio.

John, what are you learning?

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, as you know, Governor John Kasich, the Republican governor of Ohio, has said in recent days, has been quoted as saying Donald Trump doesn't have a prayer in Ohio.

[17:30:03] Now Governor Kasich -- this is the 2012 map. I just want to bring this up and show it to you. Ohio at the moment, a one-point Clinton edge if you average out. Real Clear Politics does this in all state polling. That's a dead heat. That's a dead heat in a very key state.

And, Wolf, it also tells you that look at these other battleground states, Virginia she's up five, Florida is a tie. Pennsylvania, she's up only three. Nevada is a tie. Colorado, she's up about eight. And this is -- remember before these polls were taken before the Republican convention. I've talked to people in each of these states in the past few days who think Trump -- that the race has moved Trump's way in the past week or two. So Governor Kasich may say she can't win Ohio, but if you look at the

polling now, and if you talk to people in these states at this moment, this is an incredibly competitive race and you'd have to say most people in these swing states think momentum Trump -- Wolf.

BLITZER: What's Hillary Clinton's biggest hurdle, John, in defending her electoral college footprint?

KING: Let's switch maps and take a look at this right here and let me move to this one right here right now. This is how CNN calls the race right now. If these states are dark red, they're solid Republican. If they're light red, they're lean Republican. Same for the blue. Dark blue, solid Democrat, light blue lean Democrat.

Here's where we have the race right now. 236 for Clinton, 191 for Trump. So a clear advantage for Secretary Clinton. You were just talking to Ben Jealous, Wolf, about the Tim Kaine pick. Let me show you this. With the map like this, if Hillary Clinton could take Tim Kaine's state of Virginia right there, and if Tim Kaine -- they did this unveiling in Florida, right, with his Spanish language skills, Florida, if nothing else changed and they just won Virginia and Florida, game over. Hillary Clinton to 278.

That is why -- one reason Tim Kaine was picked and one reason you have to say the map favors Secretary Clinton right now because to catch up in this advantage, Donald Trump would have to win in Pennsylvania. It's been a long time since a Republican won. Republicans always have to win Ohio. He would have to start picking -- but if you look at this right now, if you're going to focus on two or three states, watch Virginia, watch Florida, watch Pennsylvania to tell you a lot about the next hundred days.

BLITZER: John King over at the magic wall with the electoral map. John, thanks very much.

In a new interview, President Obama says that Trump's policies betray what America stands for. So is President Obama setting the tone for what we can expect to hear at this Democratic National Convention?

Stay with us. This is CNN's special live coverage.


[17:36:59] BLITZER: President Obama sending what could be a new tone at the Democratic National Convention telling CBS News that some of Donald Trump's ideas threaten the very fabric of America.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If we start engaging in the kinds of proposals that we've heard from Mr. Trump or some of his surrogates like Mr. Gingrich where we start suggesting that we would apply religious tests to who could come in here, that we are screening Muslim Americans differently than we would others, then we are betraying that very thing that makes America exceptional.


BLITZER: Let's bring in our CNN panel of CNN political contributors. Angela Rye, a former executive director of the Congressional Black Caucus, Scottie Nell Hughes, a Trump supporter, Amanda Carpenter, the former communications director for Senator Ted Cruz, and the journalist and author Carl Bernstein.

So, Carl, will President Obama be taking a more assertive attack role, do you believe, in the coming weeks and months going after Donald Trump?

CARL BERNSTEIN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I know so. I've called this election the Gettysburg of the cultural wars in the White House and Hillary Clinton. They know that they could lose this thing. And what is at stake is this dark view of America, the president is absolutely convinced that if Trump wins, that the future of the United States and our relationship to the rest of the world is at stake.

And he's right. And there is going to be a unified convention because of that. And what we're seeing here is all the firemen have been called in. Michael Bloomberg has been enlisted. He's no great fan of Hillary Clinton. He's been enlisted to come to this convention and speak to say exactly what the president has said. We're going to hear that as the message from all of the speakers, Bernie Sanders is on.

This is kind of a silk purse out of a sow's ear that has been made of the Debbie Wasserman Schultz situation. There is unity as a result of exactly what the president is talking about. They know that this is going to be a hard fought election. They could lose everything unless they go after him like this because the danger is real.

BLITZER: Scottie, you're a Donald Trump supporter. Does that scare you, the unity of these very high-profile Democrats including Michael Bloomberg, the former mayor of New York, announcing he's going to actually come here and endorse Hillary Clinton?

SCOTTIE NELL HUGHES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, it would scare me if it was true. And it might have been true up until today and the events of today I think have changed the tone of the Democratic Party and this entire convention. It's going to sit there and be overshadowing every event as all networks are going to be talking about it.

And I have to say, the caution here is right after the speech, Donald Trump's speech, CNN did a snap poll. 75 percent had a more positive outlook about a Trump presidency after that. 76 percent were more likely to vote for Trump. So everything can change in a day and change in a news cycle. And those thoughts you have, I have that exact same feeling if Hillary Clinton is the one that's in the White House.

BLITZER: That was a poll of people who actually watched the Republican convention and more Republicans clearly were watching than Democrats. A lot of Democrats didn't want to watch it.

[17:40:04] Amanda, let me play a little clip. This is Hillary Clinton and Tim Kaine. They did their first joint interview on "60 Minutes." Watch this.


SCOTT PELLEY, CBS' "60 MINUTES": He calls you "Crooked Hillary." What do you call him?

HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESUMPTIVE PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: I don't call him anything. And I'm not going to engage in that kind of insult fest that he seems to thrive on. So whatever he says about me, he's perfectly free to use up his own air time and his own space to do.

I'm going to talk about what he's done, how he has hurt people in business time after time after time.

SEN. TIM KAINE (D), PRESUMPTIVE VICE PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: She's done a good job of letting, you know, the water go off her back on this. That's not the way I feel. When I see this, you know, "Crooked Hillary" or I see the lock her up, it's just ridiculous. It is ridiculous. It is beneath the character of the kind of dialogue we should have because we've got real serious problems to solve. And look, most of us stop the name calling thing about fifth grade.


BLITZER: What's your reaction, Amanda, to that assessment?

AMANDA CARPENTER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think it'd be really interesting to watch throughout the week how the Democrats handled the balance of attacking Trump and putting up Hillary Clinton's favorability. But outside of that, I think we have to recognize the fact that this convention has been rocked by rogue actors. Hillary Clinton is a former secretary of state who is knowledgeable in cyber security issues should be able to speak to this because both candidates I see being very reactive to outside events.

In order to be a positive leader you have to be able to take control of the narrative and push forward an agenda. I haven't seen that from either candidate yet.

BLITZER: Is the Democratic Party united now that Hillary Clinton -- I mean, I'm anxious, I just want to get your reaction to the Tim Kaine selection as her vice presidential running mate.

ANGELA RYE, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, here's the good news for Tim Kaine. A lot of people, he had it right, who is Tim? So right he gets to invent or reinvent himself because a lot of people don't know his history as a Richmond mayor or as the governor of Virginia or even as the DNC chair. They don't know that side of Tim Kaine and so many others don't know him as senator. So he has quite a bit of ground to make up in terms of people knowing who he is but also discovering who he is but also discovering who he is. He just decided to change course on TPP and no longer support that.

He's been offering clarifying remarks about his position on abortion that is a personal decision. He's been touting his conservative Catholic beliefs. So he's got some ground to make up. I don't know what that's going to do for Bernie supporters especially with this e- mail fallout but we'll see.

BLITZER: And, Carl, you mentioned the former mayor of New York, Michael Bloomberg, endorsing Hillary Clinton. With independents, is that going to be significant in bringing more of those independents, undecideds over to Hillary Clinton?

BERNSTEIN: Well, guns, as you know is one of his big issues. But he has credibility. He has credibility because he comes from the Republican Party. He was once a Democrat. But what all of this also reflects is realization in the White House among the Democrats that Hillary Clinton is a weak candidate, that she is not where she is expected to be, that the e-mail server thing has hurt her terribly. She's been shown to have lied. Comey, the FBI director, has baked this perception of her. But the bigger issues surround Donald Trump and that enables this coalition now to come together and that's where we're heading.

BLITZER: Scottie, Donald Trump is a billionaire. Clearly he's a billionaire. But you know what, Michael Bloomberg is a billionaire, even a bigger billionaire than Donald Trump. You look at Forbes and their net worth. How worried are you that this Michael Bloomberg endorsement of Hillary Clinton could take some of those independents and bring them over to Hillary Clinton?

HUGHES: Obviously there's a little bit of worry. But I don't think it's that much to be concerned about. You know, Michael Bloomberg has been rumored that he was going to run from president and I think enough polls came out that showed he would take away votes from Hillary Clinton. I think that was one of the reasons why.

He's been more a part of her views than he has been a part of ours for a long time. And everybody remembers, he's extremely progressive on a lot of social agendas. And anybody that takes away the big gulp, that does not go over very well in places like the south that actually enjoyed good things like that.

So I'm not that worried about it. And you know what, we had General Michael Flynn, a Democrat, speak from our stage so I think this is, you know, it's amazing how much these two conventions are paralleling each other.

BLITZER: We'll see what unfolds in the coming days. Guys, thanks very much.

Roger Ailes is out at FOX News. So will Donald Trump tap him to advise his campaign? And what the Republican nominee is saying about his good friend. That and a lot more coming up.


[17:48:58] BLITZER: He ran one of the most successful media operations in America, but now Roger Ailes is out at FOX News over sexual harassment allegations. Is it possible, though, that the former presidential adviser, could join Donald Trump's campaign? The nominee himself refused to confirm or deny rumors that Ailes may be coming on board. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: It's very sad because he's a very good person. I've always found him to be just a very, very good person. And by the way, a very, very talented person. Look what he's done. So I feel very badly. But a lot of people think he's going to run my campaign.


TRUMP: My campaign is doing pretty well.


BLITZER: Joining us now our CNN political commentator and Donald Trump supporter John Philips and former CNN analyst, Jeff Greenfield. He's now a PBS special correspondent.

You think that Donald Trump would actually bring him into the campaign? I mean, he's a brilliant guy, Roger Ailes, by all accounts. He worked in the Republican Party politics before he started FOX News. What do you think?

JEFF GREENFIELD, FORMER CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Having left CNN, I no longer have to speculate about things I can't answer.

[17:50:02] But what could he do for Donald Trump? Donald Trump doesn't listen to very many people. But Roger Ailes has made billions of dollars, and unlike Trump, there is no question about that. If the Trump campaign wanted to see their candidate do something that he was disinclined, for instance, a little mea culpa, a little less narcissism, one of the few people I think could tell him that and on those terms would be somebody like Roger Ailes.

So, now, do you want to publicly bring on to a campaign that has some problems with women, a guy who has just resigned because of charges of sexual harassment? Maybe not.

BLITZER: Probably not as a public adviser. Behind the scenes, though, John, what do you think?

JOHN PHILIPS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think that very well could happen. The "Hollywood Reporter," among other papers, has suggested that's the case. And I think that Jeff is absolutely right. Some newspapers have suggested that's the case. Help from Roger Ailes might get Donald Trump to stay on message. He wrote a book called "You are the Message." And throughout his career Roger Ailes has been very good at changing the storyline. He was helping George W. Bush out in 1988 when Bob Dole just creamed him in the state of Iowa. He turned it around, turned the message when H.W. was accused of being a wimp, and he turned him into an aggressive guy, going after Bob Dole very successfully, won New Hampshire, then went on to win that election.

Same thing happened in 2004 when George W. Bush got in trouble for saying, all right, mission accomplished. They thought he was weak on the war on terror, they thought he was weak on prosecuting the war on Iraq, and then Roger Ailes and FOX News came out with the swift boats and they stayed on message and it worked. Donald Trump could use a dose of that right now.

BLITZER: You heard Donald Trump just say in this interview he's doing really well, and you know what, he is doing really well. He got the Republican nomination. He beat 16 other well-known governors, senators. He is the Republican presidential nominee, and if you take a look at these battleground states, his polls, it's neck and neck.

GREENFIELD: But one other -- it's ironic in a way that one of the things that could hurt Donald Trump is that very record. Having said, look, I did all these without your help, what do I need your help now? A general election as past nominees could tell you is a different terrain. And I think -- even for Trump, the idea that you can now execute right through between, like, a 28 million vote primary and a $135 million general election, if there is somebody who he should listen to, if, in fact, even some of his supporters say, you know, every once in a while you kind of go off the rails.

In Ailes' language, we can't use it on the air. We would say to him in effect, hey, cut the nonsense. I have a feeling Trump might listen.

BLITZER: He might listen to someone like Roger because you know -- and Jeff knows this well. It used to be the old axiom that Republican candidates when they're running for the nomination, they run to the right. Once they get the nomination, they run back to the center. You see Donald Trump doing that?

PHILIPS: Right, and I think if Ailes is an adviser to Trump, he's going to get one of those collars that you put on dogs that when they bark and it zaps them. Any time he talks about the Kennedy assassination, it'll zap him and he gets back on message. But how Shakespearean would it be if Ailes is the adviser that helps him pull this thing out because they have a common enemy in Megyn Kelly.

Megyn Kelly, of course, was the first FOX personality that Donald Trump feuded with. And now it's reported that she may have been one of the women that cooperated with the investigation that pushed Roger Ailes out of FOX. If they could -- if he can win the election for Donald Trump, what an ultimate period at the end of the sentence.

GREENFIELD: We should -- whatever you think of FOX News, we should at least acknowledge this. Here is a company that was started owned by a man of extraordinarily militant firm, right-wing views, run by a guy who for 20 years a Republican political operative making no secret of it. And they were able to execute a slogan, "Fair and Balanced."

Now if you could pull that off, you know, moving Donald Trump to a position where people are not actually questioning whether, you know, he is as stable as you want in a man with nuclear codes, maybe that's not such a big stretch.

BLITZER: What should Donald Trump do this week to counterprogram, if you will, this Democratic convention?

PHILIPS: Shut up.

BLITZER: Really?

PHILIPS: Shut up. Let them have their drama play out on live television. They just lost Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the chair of the party. The Bernie people may go nuts. Who knows what's going to happen here. The party is in complete disarray. If someone is committing suicide, don't commit homicide.

GREENFIELD: And that's advice that 99.9 percent of candidates would take but you're back in the other one-tenth of a percent.


BLITZER: You don't think -- you don't think Donald Trump is going to shut up this week.

GREENFIELD: No. I mean, of course. Think of how he's behaved the last 35 years. It's in his DNA to hear all this and say, maybe I should do that. Nah.

PHILIPS: I'm telling you, we need that collar, Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, guys. Thanks very, very much. Always good to welcome you back to CNN, even for a brief appearance.

GREENFIELD: Yes. Brief and worth every penny you're paying me.

BLITZER: Thank you.

Coming up, we're following the breaking news. That bombshell ahead of the Democratic National Convention after e-mails surfaced suggesting the system really was rigged in Hillary Clinton's favor.

[17:55:03] Now the DNC chief is stepping down. What this could mean for the convention.


ANNOUNCER: This is CNN Breaking News.

BLITZER: We're following breaking news.