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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
Trump: "Second Amendment People" Could Stop Clinton; Interview with Michael Hayden; NBC/WSJ/Marist Poll: Clinton Leads In Key States; Father of Orlando Shooter At Clinton Rally; Clinton Vs. Trump: Battle Of The Gaffes; Speaker Ryan Tries To Fend Off GOP Challenger. Aired 8- 9p ET
Aired August 9, 2016 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[20:00:06] JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening. John Berman here, in for Anderson.
Tonight, was it something he said? Did Donald Trump today suggest or think out loud or even just joke, joke about someone taking a shot at Hillary Clinton if she becomes president?
You're going to hear what he said today. You'll hear the uproar over it. Our panel will debate it. A former CIA and NSA director will comment on it. You will hear Donald Trump's own late reaction on the controversy, that his remarks, whatever he meant have caused.
First, though, the words themselves and CNN's Sara Murray who joins us from the campaign trail.
Sara, what's the latest?
SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL REPORTER: Well, John, Donald Trump really left it up to his allies to spring to his defense on the Second Amendment controversy he set off Mike Pence at a political rally and defended Donald Trump's comments and right here in North Carolina, Rudy Giuliani defended Donald Trump saying when he talked Second Amendment supporters earlier, he was talking about political power, there was no threat against Hillary Clinton.
As for Trump, he stayed silent on the issue this evening as he tried to get back on message.
MURRAY (voice-over): Donald Trump setting off controversy with another off-hand comment, one some believe amounts to a violent threat against his political opponent.
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: Hillary wants to abolish -- essentially abolish the Second Amendment. If she gets to pick her judges, nothing you can do, folks. Although the Second Amendment people, maybe there is, I don't know.
MURRAY: Trump's suggestion that Second Amendment voters have the power to stop Clinton, instantly raising questions about what the candidate meant, whether he was looking to coalesce gun supporters behind him or if he meant something more nefarious.
The Clinton campaign quickly seizing on Trump's comment as a sign the GOP nominee is inciting violence, saying in a statement, "This is simple -- what Trump is saying is dangerous. A person seeking to be the president of the United States should not suggest violence in any way."
The Trump campaign swiped back, billing the issue as a media-driven controversy and insisting Trump was simply trying to rally gun voters. In a statement, the Trump camp says, "It's called the power of unification -- Second Amendment people have amazing spirit and are tremendously unified which gives them great political power. And this year, they will be voting in record numbers, and it won't be for Hillary Clinton. It will be for Donald Trump."
But Trump's latest off-the-cuff comment on a week when he was striving to stay on message is exactly the sort of flair up giving members of his own party pause.
The latest defector, Senator Susan Collins of Maine who penned an op- ed saying she will not vote for Trump. The GOP senator even telling Jamie Gangel that Trump poses a risk to the nation.
SEN. SUSAN COLLINS (R), MAINE: Donald Trump, in my judgment, would make a perilous world even more dangerous.
MURRAY: Her announcement coming soon after a group of 50 GOP national security officials said they can't back Trump either, arguing he would put at risk our country's national security.
Trump quickly dismissed the snub.
TRUMP: These are 50 people that have been running our country forever, and they said we can't support Donald Trump. The reason they can't, you know why? Because I'm not going to hire these people. I don't want these people.
MURRAY: But as he struggles to keep his party in line and lags in the poll, Trump says the key to the victory is more of the same.
TRUMP: I've always had a good temperament and it's got me here. We've beaten people in the primaries and I certainly don't think it's appropriate to start changing all of a sudden when you've been winning.
MURRAY: As well as finding openings to hammer his Democratic opponent, today mocking Clinton for saying she short-circuited her handling of the e-mail issue.
TRUMP: Could you imagine if I said that I short-circuited? They would be calling for my execution. They'd bring back the electric chair. It's one thing to make bad decisions and it's another thing to be wacky and make bad decisions.
BERMAN: All right. Sara Murray back with us now.
Sara, the initial comments about the Second Amendment and he had a whole rally after that, did Donald Trump make any effort to clarify or clean up those remarks?
MURRAY: No, he really didn't, John. He talked a lot about the Second Amendment, but he did not deal with the controversy specifically. However, he was asked about it in a FOX News interview where he dismissed the notion that he was talking about anything other than political power.
Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Nobody in that room thought anything other than what you just said. This is a political movement. This is a strong, powerful movement, the Second Amendment. You know, Hillary wants to take your guns away. She wants you to leave you unprotected in your home. This is a tremendous political movement.
The NRA, as you know, endorsed me. They're terrific people, Wayne and Chris, and all of the people over there. And, by the way, they've already -- I just saw, they tweeted out basically, they agree 100 percent with what I said, and there could be no other interpretation.
[20:05:04] Even reporters have told me. I mean, give me a break.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MURRAY: Now, John, this is one of the key differences that we're seeing with how the campaign has dealt with this issue versus past controversies, they put out a statement quickly to clarify it. Donald Trump dealt with it in an interview, and he did not mention it on the stump. It's pretty clear the campaign wants to move beyond this and talk about some of the issues they were hoping to focus on this week.
BERMAN: All right. Sara Murray, thank you so much.
Let's bring in the panel now. Clinton supporter and former New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski, "New York Times" national political reporter, Alex Burns.
Also with us, conservative Trump critic and Sirius XM radio host Margaret Hoover, Clinton supporter and former Bill Clinton senior White House adviser Richard Socarides and Trump surrogate John Jay LaValle.
Corey Lewandowski, let me start with you. There could be no other interpretation and that's what we heard from Donald Trump.
Well, for several hours after Donald Trump made those statements, including immediately after, there were a lot of other interpretations that a lot of other people watching had, no? COREY LEWANDOWSKI, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Here's what I think.
Again, you know, the media wants to talk about a narrative which isn't there. What he said was, let's make sure that the people who endorsed me which is the NRA and the people who support the second amendment are showing up on election day, because if you look at the context of what this was, it was in the context of appointing a U.S. Supreme Court justice, what he was talking about, and specifically talking about the right for people to keep and bear arms, hinging on who that next president is, who will appoint the Supreme Court justice and he has made the hallmark of his campaign outlining the type of justices who he would appoint ensuring the second amendment was held intact.
BERMAN: Christine Quinn, was that the only interpretation?
CHRISTINE QUINN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, that's not what he said, first of all. So, it's revisionist history, one.
Two, he was talking about in the case, not about voting, about what would happen if and after Hillary was elected. But I think the big -- this comment today fits into a pattern with Donald Trump, of him repeatedly saying things that in the best of all generosity need vast explanation and tea leaf reading, and usually are inflammatory, divisive and reckless. And we see that happening over and over again.
You can insert any number of things he said or done into this conversation tonight, and that really just reaffirms that Donald Trump does not have the temperament or the skill set to be president of the United States. We can't have a president who we have to explain to the world every day what he really meant was this. What he really meant was that.
His comments are -- as Corey has said in the past. He's a straight shooter. He doesn't pull any punches. He decides what's said. He runs this campaign.
Corey would know that better than anybody, and we see that in what he says over and over and over. And this is just another very bad example of that.
LEWANDOWSKI: Look, John, I think if you look back at "The Huffington Post" story that was posted in 2008 about Hillary Clinton and -- let me read you a headline.
Hillary Clinton's assassination gaffe that idea in January, bad idea now --
LEWANDOWSKI: She made the statement about Barack Obama getting out of the race and saying oh, no, RFK was not assassinated until after this nomination --
BERMAN: We have to remember that I'm old enough to remember that Hillary Clinton was severely --
QUINN: And immediately apologized.
LEWANDOWSKI: Where is that as part of the discussion? Where is the discussion point from eight years ago, Hillary Clinton said Barack Obama should -- she should not get out of this race because RFK was assassinated, while Barack Obama was still in this race?
QUINN: Can I say something?
One, what Hillary Clinton said was putting the length of races into a context of anything can happen. Did she phrase that poorly? Absolutely. And what she did right afterward which I can bet dollars to donuts Donald Trump will never do tomorrow, will never do, was apologized for having misphrased it.
And you know what? Admitting you made a mistake is a really good leadership quality, one that Donald Trump doesn't have because he thinks he's perfect because he kind of lives in a fantasy world.
BERMAN: I'm old enough to remember that statement in 2008. I'm also old enough to remember that Hillary Clinton received a lot of criticism for it, like Donald Trump is tonight.
Alex, I'm also old enough to remember yesterday afternoon, when Donald Trump was giving an economics speech where the entire new focus of the campaign was going to be on the economy and people left behind. It's not.
ALEX BURNS, NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER, NEW YORK TIMES: Yes, remarkably, we're not still talking about the estate tax repeal 24 hours later, which is a subject that usually runs out voters. But I think we've seen this pattern replay itself a number of times where the Trump campaign begs him to stay on the prompter to give a speech that is consistent with the message that they believe can win the elections. He gives the speech, Republicans are briefly reassured and then something like this happens.
And even if he is being misinterpreted or he misspoke or didn't intend to convey, or would allow people to convey what a lot of people believe he did convey, this is how candidates always get off message. This is a traditional problem the candidates have who improvised on the stump, and feel like they need to say things to rev up a crowd and that they can't say the same thing over and over again. It's just that with Donald Trump, everything in that area happens on steroid.
BREMAN: So, Margaret, Mike Pence was asked about this in an interview and Mike Pence says he does not think that Donald Trump was trying to incite violence. What's interesting about that is that a number two on the ticket is having to say that the number one on the ticket wasn't trying to incite violence.
What kind of position is Mike Pence in and to what Christine, what Clinton was saying, what kind of position does this put Republicans in who are supporting Donald Trump to have to explain these comments regularly? MARGARET HOOVER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, it's incredibly
painful for Republicans like Paul Ryan and others who are having to explain away the top of the ticket. But let's just be very clear, I mean, Corey said the hallmark of this campaign has been, I don't know, he said something very aspirational. I mean, the hallmark of this campaign has actually been rhetoric that was quite vitriolic. And so, you have to see this against the backdrop of coming out of the convention where chants on the convention floor were lock her up, lock her up, lock her up, people constantly refer to her as a murderer, as a criminal and that, you know, he even offered to pay, as we know, for the legal bills and people who roughed others up at his rallies.
I mean, there has been a thematic reinforcement of violence as something that is acceptable from Donald Trump. So, let's call a spade a spade here. I mean, what he said all of those Second Amendment people, the guys behind him in the stands even immediately realized that this was a startling thing that he just said, and that it was essentially inciting violence, inciting an assassination attempt against his rival.
BERMAN: John Jay LaValle, you're nodding your head no.
JOHN JAY LAVALLE, TRUMP SURROGATE: No, no, this is ridiculous. This is a typical Democrat spin. I don't know why -- the media buys into it because you're selling advertising. I get it. I get the business.
HOOVER: For the record --
LAVALLE: Let me finish. Thank you.
HOOVER: I have been a Republican my entire life.
LAVALLE: Yes, I don't know how much so. When I finish --
HOOVER: Only 70 percent of Republicans are in favor of your guy --
LAVALLE: Donald Trump gives a speech, an incredible speech, talking about reform of our economy, the two most important issues to Americans are not what you're talking about tonight. It is our economy and the failing economy and the failed Democrat policies and ISIS, and terrorism, and what are we talking about tonight?
HOOVER: Why are we talking about it? Why?
LAVALLE: There is no reason to talk about it. We need to focus what the American people want to hear about.
HOOVER: Isn't it important what the candidate says?
LAVALLE: It's important that this economy needs to be reformed. It's important that here's 14 million families out of work today than there were seven years ago. It's important that there are $800 million trade deficit in this country.
HOOVER: I would love to talk about the issue and every issue you just mentioned and Republicans would like to talk about.
LAVALLE: Let me say this -- if you want to correct America and you want to correct a lot of our social like unrest that's out there, let's put Americans back to work, because when people have jobs and they can feed their family. You know, home ownership is at its lowest points in the 1950s, this is crazy what's going on in America, and we're talking about comment that's not even true.
HOOVER: Look, here's the thing, I'm with you on every single one of those issues and you and I would much rather talk about those issues than this, the problem is that your guy can't stay focused. He cannot have a good day subsequently and four or five other good days.
LAVALLE: He had a whole day talking about the economy.
BERMAN: Richard Socarides has been sitting here smiling and I'm not sure if that's because he's happy with this scope of the discussion.
RICHARD SOCARIDES, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: I would say that you have right here a great example of the unity in the Republican Party.
SOCARIDES: I mean --
BERMAN: You seem all broken up, Richard, that there are Republicans fighting.
SOCARIDES: The Republicans are fighting with each other because you have a candidate who once again today showed perhaps in the most dramatic way possible how he is temperamentally unfit to be president.
And listen, the fact that were -- the thing that is just amazing to me now is that we're having this discussion. I mean, it is clear to everybody exactly what Donald Trump meant. I mean, he has this way of saying things d then taking them back and saying I was joking, or that's not really what I meant, or there could be -- he says something where there could be two meanings.
But there should be no question in anybody's mind and not in John's nor Corey's exactly what he meant. He meant to say, he meant to suggest what he's obviously suggested to everybody else and then he takes it back.
And this is, you know, a direct appeal to his supporters who may feel this way, and it is very dangerous. It is very dangerous in our politics, and I think we all have a responsibility as people who are involved in the political process, and as people who are in the media to call him out on this. I mean, what is totally unacceptable in our political discourse has become acceptable today.
SOCARIDES: I mean, this is the kind of discourse we have in countries controlled by dictators and countries that have phony elections. We're not having a phony election and we're having an election about the future of our country and he's making these crazy suggestions.
BERMAN: All right. Hang on, guys. I know you all want to jump in and comment on this. We will come back and discuss it much, much more.
Coming up next, a conversation with former NSA and CIA director, Michael Hayden, about these remarks today and why he calls Donald Trump a threat to this country's national security.
And then later, how did this happen? Hillary Clinton speaking about the worst mass shooting in the country's history and there sitting behind her in the red cap, the shooter's father.
[20:15:06] He actually says he was invited. What does the campaign say?
BERMAN: Earlier today, when questioned about his temperament and the doubts it might be raising, Donald Trump said he saw no reason to change. After all, he said, "I'm winning."
Whether he is or isn't remains to be seen. What is plain to see, however, is that his temperament and his statements including the one today about Second Amendment people, have cost him some support. Just yesterday, 50 former senior national security officials who served in the Republican administration said Trump would be a dangerous president.
One of them, former CIA and NSA Director Michael Hayden joins us tonight.
General Hayden, I want to start by getting your reaction to the news this afternoon, a statement from Donald Trump at a rally having to do with the Second Amendment and Hillary Clinton that's getting a lot of attention. Let's listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Hillary wants to abolish -- essentially abolish the Second Amendment. By the way, if she gets to pick -- if she gets to pick her judges, nothing you can do, folks. Although the Second Amendment people, maybe there is, I don't know, but -- but I'll tell you what.
(END VIDEO CLIP) BERMAN: The Second Amendment people, maybe there is.
General Hayden, what did you think when you first heard that?
[20:20:03] GEN. MICHAEL HAYDEN, FORMER CIA & NSA DIRECTOR: John, it was more than a speed bump in my listening to what was going on in the hall.
Look, it's either a very ill-advised attempt at humor touching upon political assassination or the candidate just doesn't understand given American history when it comes to political assassination that this is something that we just don't touch, even when we're pretending that we're trying to be humorous. I made the comment earlier today that if someone outside the hall had said something like that prior to going in and had been overheard by the Secret Service, I think the Secret Service would have grabbed them for questioning.
BERMAN: No, this is the kind of thing the Secret Service takes very seriously right now. Democrats were pouncing on this is saying the Secret Service should investigate, I'm not sure that will happen. But you've worked inside the security establishment and you know people take this very seriously.
HAYDEN: Oh, no, very much so. Look, I mean, you're there, John. You've got a thousand possibilities that could go wrong and frankly, the country expects you to take them all seriously and to work from the ground and that's what the Secret Service would have done.
BERMAN: All right, General. I want to ask you, I supposed this may play into what you've been talking about over the last few days, well, you in particular the last few months, you don't think Donald Trump is fit to be president.
And just yesterday, you and 49 other national security experts, most of whom have worked in Republican administrations, wrote a letter and read in part, "Donald Trump is not qualified to be president and commander-in-chief. Indeed, we are convinced that he would be a dangerous president and would put at risk our country's national security and well-being."
A dangerous president, what exactly do you mean by that?
HAYDEN: Well, John, let's go back to the earlier conversation, the earlier comment by Mr. Trump. In what universe, under what world view would he think that would be an okay thing to say and he's said things like that throughout the campaign. We're not going to just kill terrorists. We're going to kill terrorist's families. We're going to torture.
Again, in what universe under what world view does he think that that's an okay thing for a candidate for the presidency of the United States that that's a good thing and an OK thing for him to blurt out?
But I think we were all hoping that as we move through the process that was then, this is now, there would be a bend towards the center and the candidate would be more fact based, more cautious, more reasonable in his language, and it didn't go that way.
BERMAN: What do you want voters to do about this, General? I mean, it's clear what your feelings are about Donald Trump, but you also said you might not support Hillary Clinton and you might not vote in this election? So, what message do you want to send to voters, what do you want voters to leave this show thinking from you?
HAYDEN: Well, I guess what we're trying to say, John, is that the messaging that's coming out of the Trump campaign when it comes to foreign affairs and security matters is not the kind of messaging that makes any of us comfortable and in fact, we believe it to be very, very dangerous. And if a president Trump would actually govern in any way consistent with the language that candidate Trump has used, I think we're in for a very dark patch for both American and global security.
BERMAN: Would you be more comfortable than Hillary Clinton? Would you be more comfortable --
HAYES: In the narrow lane, John, in the narrow lane for security, I actually think she's got more experience and she's better qualified. Frankly, I think some of the things she said would have me prefer her over the current incumbent. But, John, neither I nor the rest of the nation votes on only national security questions, and therefore, you don't hear me endorsing Secretary Clinton for president.
BERMAN: So, let's talk about how Donald Trump responded to your statement and your letter yesterday.
I want to read you part of what he said. He says, "The names on this letter are the ones the American people should look to for answers on why the world is a mess. These insiders, along with Hillary Clinton, are the owners of the disastrous decisions to invade Iraq."
You were the director of the NSA in the lead-up to the war in Iraq. You've said in an interview earlier this year in fact that the intelligence agency including your own got it wrong when it came to WMDs, and it was a clean swing and miss.
So, does Trump have a point? Are the names on this letter part of the crew that got the United States into trouble over the last 10, 15 years?
HAYDEN: Oh, look, John, we've got a lot to explain about our personal past. By the way, the 50 folks on that letter, there are a range of views with regard to the Iraq war.
But let me go on, John, because Mr. Trump's response kind of proves the point of the letter. He didn't just criticize us for the Iraq war, where we were in government. He also criticized us for the rise of ISIS and for Benghazi. He just lumped them all together.
Now, none of us have been in government for eight years. And so, we had no hand in that whatsoever.
[20:25:02] That gets me back to the lack of precision, and the emotion, perhaps the lack of judgment that seems to have characterized most of Mr. Trump's comments when it comes to international and security affairs.
BERMAN: All right. General Michael Hayden, thanks so much for being with us. I appreciate it.
HAYDEN: Thank you.
BERMAN: Just ahead, new polls from battleground states and you know you're curious. We'll show you the numbers. There are some surprises in there.
Also, does Donald Trump's tone or what he says even matter to his supporters? We'll hear from them to find out next.
BERMAN: To borrow one of Donald Trump's favorite turns of phrase today, many people are saying that he, a presidential nominee, actually suggested a threat of violence against his opponent. Just yesterday, many people may have been wondering if Trump was toning down his act when he delivered a big economics speech.
The real question is whether any of this even matters to his supporters who have stuck by him through it all.
Gary Tuchman reports.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Trump! Trump! Trump!
GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Which Donald Trump do these supporters want to see?
(on camera): Do you want to see the teleprompter Trump or the off- the-cuff Trump?
[20:30:03] BENJAMIN SMITH, TRUMP SUPPORTER: Honestly, for me, personally, it would have to be off-the-cuff Trump.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I like the off-the-cuff Trump.
TOM WHITE, TRUMP SUPPORTER: I don't want him to get soft. I don't want him to get presidential soft, you know. I want him to be the same guy he's been because that's what got everybody riled up.
TUCHMAN: Trump did not disappoint those supporters, going off-script for much of this rally in Wilmington, North Carolina, but he once again sparked controversy, this one fast and furious even by Trump standers. Listen to what he says. Is it a threat or not?
TRUMP: Hillary wants to abolish, essentially abolish, the Second Amendment. By the way, and if she gets to pick -- if she gets to pick her judges, nothing you can do, folks. Although the Second Amendment people, maybe there is, I don't know. TUCHMAN: Some people in the audience seem surprised by what Trump said like the man in the red on the right side of the screen behind him, but most at the rally either didn't seem to reacts or hear the comment in question. This Trump supporter heard it, but took it as innocuous.
KEVIN THOMAS, TRUMP SUPPORTER: You can kind of skew it in your way or another way or my way and somebody else's way, but I think it was just political banter that both of them, you know, will do.
TUCHMAN: Do you think its overstating it to say that it could have been considered a threat to Hillary Clinton?
THOMAS: Was it a call to arms? No, I don't think anybody took it that way.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Trump baby.
TUCHMAN: What about somebody at the rally who doesn't support Trump, at least yet anyway? Nick Carter says he's an undecided voter.
NICK CARTER, UNDECIDED VOTER: It seems like it was a joke. He likes to make a lot of jokes. He seems like an entertainer at times when he talks, so I'm going to say it was a joke.
TUCHMAN: Donald Trump has proven to be a master of getting attention for decades for good and for bad.
SHERI URQUHART, TRUMP SUPPORTER: He speaks his mind and that's what we expect from him. I don't think that will be the Trump that will be the president of the United States, though.
TUCHMAN: But do you think he needs to turn into that Trump to get to be president?
URQUHART: I believe he will.
TUCHMAN: When do you think that will happen?
URQUHART: Pretty soon.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BERMAN: All right, Gary joins us now. Gary, did you hear from any supporters today who said they were concerned with Trump's statements today?
TUCHMAN: John, it wasn't easy to find anyone who was concerned with the comments, but I did talk to a group of women who were upset about the comments but not because they thought Donald Trump threatened Hillary Clinton, instead they thought it was a joke and they thought it was bad joke and they thought it ruined the chance of attracting more undecided voters into the Trump camp.
I should mention, John, that there was no teleprompter use today, but Donald Trump did have notes, he referred to the notes and looked at the notes sometimes and read from them, things about Hillary Clinton and things about financial figures, but when he uttered the statement about the Second Amendments and about Hillary Clinton, he wasn't using notes. He was speaking off-the-cuff. John.
BERMAN: All right, Gary Tuchman for us, thank you so much. We have some new polls out tonight that show the state of the race in key battleground state. The new NBC News/Wall Street Journal/Marist Poll shows Donald Trump trailing Hillary Clinton by four points in Iowa. Hillary Clinton's ahead by five in Ohio, 43 to 38, Hillary Clinton leading by 11 in Pennsylvania, 48 to 37.
Back now with the panel. John, let me start with you, you heard in Gary's piece from Trump supporters who not unlike you are very supportive of much of what Donald Trump says. I bet, you (inaudible) nearly all of what Donald Trump says. Then you look at the polls, you show Pennsylvania trailing by 11 points, that's got to be a concern, if he's doing everything right in your mind and still trailing in a state that he needs like Pennsylvania by 11, is that a problem?
JOHN JAY LAVALLE, TRUMP SUPPORTER: No, first of all, these polls, you look at the methodology, the way they're polling. I mean some of these polls are polling 26 percent Republican when there's going to be clearly a greater turnout than 26 percent Republicans. One of the problems we have nowadays is there are far too many polls, there isn't some tiny constant methodology ...
BERMAN: John, I was talking about -- I'm old enough to remember.
LAVALLE: Let me say this ...
BERMAN: I'm old enough to remember the primaries that Donald Trump talked about the polls every day.
LAVALLE: Where I'm trying to go is, Donald Trump is the first candidate for president in modern history that's talking to the average American person and he's speaking in their language. How many times have you heard your friends say after some politician gives a speech saying, "What did he or she say?" And they tell you they're lowering your taxes, but your taxes are always going up.
Donald Trump talks straight and he's talking in a language that is not common to this world that we're living in right now. It's the right world. This is what America needs, straight talk. And he may joke around every now and again, but when the man gives an economic policy speech and it is detailed and he's prior criticized for not being detailed now it is, and it lays out there and it shows that he could get this economy back on track, that he could put Americans back to work, that he will put America first both here and abroad and that we're talking about if you can categorize it as a joke, I didn't see it the way you saw it. And there's all different people -- and all of those people that you just showed, they didn't see it that way, either, so what audience are we playing to?
[20:35:00] The average American loves what they're hearing and they will come out and vote. BERMAN: There's a lot in your statement right there, it wasn't really answering my question, which was if Trump is being Trump, Corey Lewandowski, let Trump be Trump is a statement I know you know well, you lived by it when you were the campaign manager or something, you know, we are told you supported there, let Trump be Trump and worth while the primaries, you cleaned up in the primaries, is it all you need in the general election?
COREY LEWANDOWSKI, FMR. TRUMP CAMPAIGN MANAGER: Look, there is 14 million votes in the primary again what was supposed to be the greatest political field ever assembled, former relatives of presidents, governors, senators, you know, business executives. Donald Trump who had no elected experience went there and struck a cord with the American people who said we want a fundamental change in Washington.
BERMAN: He struck a cord in the Republican primary.
LEWANDOWSKI: That same fundamental change is still needed in Washington. Now, do you have to grow? Of course, you have to grow, but the basic premise, if you look at the polling data which indicates are you happy with the congressional approval ratings? 11 percent of Americans think Congress is actually doing a good job.
So when you want to put a fundamental change candidate in place, the only person that actually going to go to Washington and fundamentally change the way Washington operates is an outsider with no experience running for elected office so they don't -- not bought and paid for by the Washington special and just -- and can go and do it right for the American people, that is what the American people now want.
CHRISTINE QUINN, CNN, POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: That's a whole lot of rhetoric and spin that doesn't speak to the fact that if you look at all of the polls and again, as we said before by you, John, Donald Trump was the first one to hype the polls when he was doing well and yes, he won a specific small segment of the far right of one party which is now what you need.
LEWANDOWSK: Who cleaned up in the primary ...
QUINN: Again, Corey, no one interrupts you.
QUINN: He is now running in a general election and has to reach beyond his base. I don't disagree that the solid part of his base probably no matter what he does he probably stay there. But that's not enough to win the general election. And I -- he should take the advice of the last woman we heard on Gary's piece where she said he's missing opportunities to get independent voters and he's going to continue to miss them because he is himself and that is someone who is not fit to be president and has no real interest in reaching out to independent voters at all. He shows over and over again, whether it's attacking a judge of Mexican origin, what he said today his attacks on women, his attacks on the Muslims, he's not fit to be president, period.
BERMAN: Alex, jump in here.
ALEX BURNS, "NEW YORK TIMES" NATIONAL POLTICAL REPORTER: Yeah, I mean, John, I think the biggest number to pay attention to in that poll is down nine points in Pennsylvania, this is a state that Trump has said he has to win or his campaign believes he has to win.
BERMAN: It's 11 ...
BURNS: Oh, it's nine or 11, and the pretty consistent trend is that it's hovering around a 10-point lead and that Hillary Clinton is close to 50 percent and that's because while he is resonating with a big slice of the electorate in these rust belt states like Pennsylvania, he is turning off his moderates, suburban Republicans, a better educated Republicans, especially Republican women who see him say things like what he said today and they just can't get the rest of the way there.
BERMAN: Susan Collins.
BURNS: Yeah, exactly. And frankly, I talked to plenty of Trump supporters or half like a plenty of Trump voters over the months, going back to the primary who say, "I like that he says what he means, I wish he would tone it down a bit."
LEWANDOWSKI: But John, don't forget, he has not spent one dime on television advertising to the general at this point. Hillary Clinton has spent tens of millions of dollars to change the electorate. There's 91 days to go in this campaign ...
BERMAN: I'm not a strategist.
BERMAN: You might want to start thinking about spending.
MARGARET HOOVER, REPUBLICAN CONSULTANT: And he's also gotten close to $3 billion in free air time from the media, so I mean that must be factored in.
Look, there -- we consistently go back to this, oh, what the Americans -- he's speaking to the American people. Look, Donald Trump won and I just have to say this every time, a plurality of Republican primary voters, not the majority of the Republican primary electorate.
However, John points out something really important and Republicans can't lose the lesson. There is a voting bloc in the Republican Party base that Republican policies have not spoken to and has been left behind. That faction of voters has to be understood and the Republican Party has to learn to incorporate them and win them if there is going to be a Republican Party in the future.
BERMAN: And he's been talking to those voters. He's trying to do that. It was part of the economic speech in Michigan. Richard Socarides, I know you look at these polls and be like glass half full or glass completely full, but in the glass is half empty, Iowa, you know, he's just a four. There's a four poll in Quinnipiac where -- is essentially tied right now. Given that I know you think Donald Trump has had the worst week imaginable in the history of all campaign, I'm projecting what you probably think right now, how is it that Hillary Clinton isn't leading by more than four in Iowa, more but -- more than one in Florida?
RICHARD SOCARIDES, CLINTON SUPPORTER: Well, let me say a couple of things. First of all, I think the worst is yet to come because I think he will become more unhinged and we will see more things like what we saw today. So, I don't think it's the worst week. I think the worst week is yet to come.
But I do think that the election will be close. I think the country is closely divided between Democrats and Republicans.
[20:40:02] And I think that unless Mr. Trump goes completely off the rails, which is very possible, I think the election will continue to be close, and I think that Democrats cannot take these poll numbers for granted because I think that we have to -- if, you know, if we want to prevent Donald Trump from being elected president, we want to see Hillary Clinton president, we have to do everything we need to do. But more and more, I think people will see him -- and I also, you know, I like ...
BERMAN: Hang on. Hang on. You want to save one thought to the next panel because we have a lot more time left.
SOCARIDES: John said something I agree with, so I want to ...
BERMAN: Good, we'll talk about that next. One of the things, Richard Socarides just saying, the Clinton campaign needs to keep their foot on the gas playing the state free football here, why then was the father of the Orlando shooter on stage right behind Hillary Clinton at a Florida rally? How does this happen? We'll talk about that next.
BERMAN: Donald Trump's issue today is saying "Second Amendment people might be able to do something about Hillary Clinton," that is what he said on stage. Hillary Clinton's issue, meanwhile, was someone who was sitting behind her on stage.
Brian Todd reports.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BRIAN TODD: A rally where she needed to connect with voters in the most important battleground state of them all.
HILLARY CLINTON, (D) PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: Whoa, this is fabulous. Thank you. TODD: A raucous crowd in Kissimmee, Florida, just a 30-minute drive from the spot where 49 people were killed in the worst mass shooting in American history. Hillary Clinton begins the rally by thanking the Orlando police and city leaders for their response to the Pulse nightclub massacre.
[20:45:02] CLINTON: And I know how many people, family members, loved ones and friends are still grieving.
TODD: But as she says that, sitting just behind here in the red cap with a large mustache, the father of the Orlando shooter, one supporter in the backdrop the campaign never expect it.
SEDDIQUE MIR MATEEN, FATHER OF ORLANDO SHOOTER: Clinton is good for United States versus Donald Trump.
TODD: The father spoke to CNN affiliate WPTV about why he showed up.
MATEEN: It's a Democratic Party so everybody can join.
TODD: The father showed a banner supporting Hillary Clinton, for among other things, her position on gun control.
This is a man who once touted himself as a candidate for president of Afghanistan, and in the week after the Orlando massacre held rambling, incoherent news conferences.
MATEEN: I didn't know what I was saying.
TODD: The optic of a terrorist's father so prominent at a Clinton event is irresistible for Trump supporters.
KATRINA PIERSON, NATIONAL SPOKESWOMAN, TRUMP CAMPAIGN: This was a slap in the face of the gay community who are actual targets of that terrorist attack, so not only should she apologize, but she should absolutely denounce.
TODD: The father says he was invited to the Clinton rally. Hillary Clinton's people say not by them. A campaign aide telling CNN this was an open-door event for the public and, "the campaign was unaware of his attendance until after the event." But this unforced error by the Clinton campaign in a key battleground state has even supporters saying they need to do some damage control.
PAUL BEGALA, ADVISER TO PRO-HILLARY SUPER PAC: They need to go to battle stations here. They need to disavow this guy, and they need to fire the advance person.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TODD: A key questions tonight, are the people seated behind the candidates at these events vetted for those placements? Well, Dan Marika, a CNN reporter who is embedded with the Clinton campaign, she tells us that very often at these events an advance person, usually a young person, goes through the crowd and picks people out to go on stage. Dan says that often those people are VIPs familiar to the campaign or they could be people simply selected for diversity in age or race. John?
BERMAN: All right. Brian Todd, thanks so much.
Back now with the panel. Alex, you know, I've covered a lot of campaigns as have you, people who sit behind the candidate, often, and not always, but often they are hand picked by the campaign to sit up there.
That's a terrible picture. You know, in the Florida area when you're talking about the worst mass shooting in history, tough for the campaign.
BURNS: No. You would think that if there was one guy in Florida you're going to make sure was nowhere near your event, this would be the guy, right? So, it's pretty hard to step on this particular needle in this particular haystack and yet somehow it happened.
I do think that, you know, the Clinton campaign has also created an environment where it's fair to -- or they've certainly exploited an environment where it's fair to go after your opponent for people who they maybe loosely associated with, right?
Democrats have had a lot of fun with tying Donald Trump to various outlandish characters who have shown up at his events and so, you know, now you're dealing with the turnabout of that.
BERMAN: Christine Quinn, you heard Paul Begala right there say that essentially head needs to roll, they need to go to death con, you know, one on this. What do you think the campaign needs to do?
QUINNN: I mean, look, obviously, that's the last person that Hillary Clinton would ever want sitting behind her.
BERMAN: She hasn't said that, I don't think exactly.
QUINN: Well, I mean, it goes without saying and she should say that, but it goes to that saying in my opinion. You know, these events -- I've been to too many of them, right? They're open. People can come in. Sometimes people get picked to sit in certain spots. Other times people get there early and just sit down and are not moving.
So, I think that kind of assumption that everyone was picked to be in their seat is simply not true. Does this require the campaign to take a look at how they're advancing events, how they're picking who sits where? Yes, but let's be very, very clear here.
The person in this race who has made clear and strong statements against the kind of gun violence we saw there is Hillary Clinton. The only person in the race who has gone to pulse, who has participated in vigils about this and things of that nature is Hillary Clinton. And for the Trump spokesperson to say she has to apologize to the LGBT community is the height of ridiculousness.
HOOVER: I mean, as somebody who has been a staff runner for incumbent presidentials campaign, you know, I worked for George W. Bush when he was running for re-election. This is -- I mean, this is unconscionable. This is incredibly sloppy, sloppy staff work.
Every single person who appeared behind the president or the vice president when they give a speech or when they were at a rally was vetted by multiple people on the campaign staff. And so, this to me represents, actually what is frankly a real failure on behalf of the Clinton campaign and frankly, a lack of planning and staffing, which was quite surprising for somebody so sophisticated who have been in the public ride for 25 years and who knows how to run national campaigns.
I think what it tells us is they're not as prepared, I think behind the scenes as they pretend to be or as we think they would be, and I mean, it is really quite surprising.
BERMAN: They need a more forceful response, do you think?
HOOVER: I mean, Hillary Clinton should come out and make a statement immediately. This is the difference in this year's campaign. This is an unforced error which would capture a news cycle for multiple days if it were any other year, but because it's Donald Trump who constantly is creating unforced share on himself that are far greater in magnitude in terms of the things that take up oxygen and to process news cycle, you know, she can correct this and move on and this won't probably be a hit that damages her in the long run.
[20:50:00] BERMAN: All right, stick around guys. A lot more to talk about. When we come back, we will speak about how the Trump campaign has and hasn't take advantage of all of this. That's next.
BERMAN: All right, two candidates, two controversies. Hillary Clinton campaigning in Florida today, now she is facing questions about why the father of the Orlando shooter was sitting at her rally behind her onstage. And, Donald Trump saying, "Second Amendment people could stop Secretary Clinton if she becomes president and is picking judges."
Back now with the panel. Corey Lewandowski, you have run a campaign, Donald Trump's campaign up until fairly recently. I'm curious, you still are in touch with the Trump campaign. The Trump campaign hasn't really said anything about the Orlando shooter's father at the Hillary Clinton event. I didn't hear it from Donald Trump into events today. I haven't seen any official statements on it. Do you happen to know why?
LEWANDOWSKI: Look, I haven't talked to the campaign about this issue but the real question is why hasn't Hillary Clinton come out and completely disavowed this person coming to her rally, saying there's no place for him or, you know, his son committed the biggest atrocity of gun violence in the history of our country.
[20:55:10] He went on and claimed that he was running for president of Afghanistan.
BERMAN: The father did. LEWANDOWSKI: The father did. You know, he, you know, the guy's clearly not sane in any way, shape or form. Says he's invited to the campaign rally by someone. Who, we don't know. Hillary Clinton clearly knows he's been there. This has been -- the story has now been going for more than 24 hours. Not once at any time did she or anyone from the campaign say this person should not have been there.
And look, here's what I know because I've been involved in these campaign rallies. Those people who are sitting behind the candidate are hand-selected specifically. And I agree with Paul Begala, someone should be fired over this, there's no question about it. This is something that should never take place. And if it were the Trump campaign I was running at, I would absolutely fire the director of advance. That's their responsibility.
BERMAN: Richard, you have been here, why hasn't answered -- the first part of Corey's question was why hasn't Hillary Clinton just said this guy shouldn't have been at her rally?
SOCANDES: All right. So, I too have worked on national campaigns and organized events and I've also been on the White House staff where I have organized events. And so, I think what this really speaks to is, you know, this gentleman does seem like he's perhaps a little unstable from some of his comments. And I think this is perhaps more of a security issue than anything else. I mean how the Secret Service let someone not only just sit in the field of vision, but be at a rally like this is a little disturbing. So, I think this is perhaps more of a security ...
SOCANDES: Let me say, look, she -- her campaign put out a statement and said this guy was not invited by them. I mean, I don't know what more you want her to do. I mean she -- this is not an affront to anybody. I mean her record on LGBT rights issues is clear. She went to the site of the Orlando shooting to pay her respects. She met with the families. Donald Trump didn't go and meet ...
LEWANDOWSKI: Richard, I agree with you. She has the worst record for the Second Amendment of any candidate on this race.
BERMAN: All right, guys, guys. We're going to take a break. We're going to come back. We have a whole other hour. There's a lot more to discuss in the next hour of "360".
All sorts of people weighing in on this and what Donald Trump said. And just minutes away now, we have a poll closing, Wisconsin. America's top ranking Republican in a primary battle right now. So can House Speaker Paul Ryan survive? And if so, by how much? You're going to find out when "360" continues.