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AT THIS HOUR WITH BERMAN AND MICHAELA
More Republicans Leaving Trump; Father of Orlando Shooter Sits Behind Clinton at Rally; Clinton Camp Challenges Trump to 3 Debates; Ryan Faces Primary Challenge, Primary Voting Underway; Will Ex-CIA Independent Candidate Impact Rump in Arizona, Utah. Aired 11-11:30a ET
Aired August 9, 2016 - 11:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[11:00:00] COY WIRE, CNN SPORT CORRESPONDENT: The old ketchup packet.
Also a great play along, born in Rio. Actually pronounced dead at the age of 4 for a full minute, but he overcame diversity, a five-time Olympian. He said his team will shock the world -- Carol?
CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: I'm still wondering why he was shaving your head.
Thanks so much, Coy.
Thank you for joining me to day. I'm Carol Costello.
AT THIS HOUR with Berman and Bolduan starts now.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE & CEO, TRUMP ORGANIZATION: She's the candidate of the past. Ours is the campaign of the future.
JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Donald Trump tries to kick-start his campaign but instead gets a kick in the teeth.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Our system has produced a candidate who is fundamentally unfit for office.
BERMAN: Susan Collins, of Maine, says she cannot vote for the party's nominee, citing his constant lack of self-restraint.
HILLARY CLINTON, (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE & FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: Don't be fooled. There is no other Donald Trump. What you see is what you get.
MIKE PENCE, (R), INDIANA GOVERNOR & VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Donald Trump gets it. He has courage. He has candor. And he has the guts to make America great again.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Hello everyone. I'm Kate Bolduan.
BERMAN: She is Kate Bolduan.
BOLDUAN: That's a way to start a Tuesday.
BERMAN: I'm John Berman.
Donald Trump says he wants to build a big tent. Whatever tent the real estate magnate builds, what happens if he can't get any people inside? This morning, more Republicans are fleeing that tent out the back door, or flap, as the case may be. Republican Senator Susan Collins, of Maine, announced she cannot support her party's presidential nominee. She wrote, "He lacks the temperament, self discipline and judgment required to be president."
BERMAN: Senior Republican foreign policy officials are also lining up against Trump now. 50 of these top experts signed a blistering letter saying the GOP candidate is a threat to national security.
CNN's Jason Carroll has the details on that, not looking down at his notes at inappropriate times.
JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Good morning to you. First, we heard from Senator Mark Kirk from Illinois. He was the one who came out in June and said I can't endorse this man for president. Now hearing from Susan Collins on the issue saying that Donald is a person who can't admit when he's wrong, can't apologize when he should apologize. She has come out basically saying, quote, "I've become increasingly dismayed by his constant stream of cruel comments and his inability to admit error or apologize." So this is Susan Collins now coming out saying she cannot endorse Donald Trump.
This coming on the heels, as you mentioned, of that -- those 50 people, national security experts, who have come out basically saying he is the wrong person, does not have the temperament to be president.
So this is turning out to be not the day that Donald Trump thought he would be having, a day after giving his economic speech in Detroit. We were there listening to the speech. The campaign was thinking today the narrative would be about his tax plan and the other plans he laid out during his speech in Detroit. That would not be the case.
We've heard Donald Trump say over and over again that this is a party that is united. Today, it appears as if this is a party still very much divided -- Kate, John?
BERMAN: Jason, thanks so much.
Let's bring in the panel to discuss. Chris Kobach is the secretary of state of Kansas and a Donald Trump supporter; David Gergen, CNN senior political analyst, former adviser to Presidents Nixon, Ford and Reagan; Angela Rye, CNN political commentator and former executive director of the Congressional Black Caucus; and alike Stewart, CNN political commentator and former communications director for the Ted Cruz campaign.
David Gergen, I want to start with you, not because of your age, but your wisdom.
Let's see what's going on with Donald Trump. Susan Collins says she won't vote for him. 50 national security Republicans who have served in administrations over the last 30, 40 years say they won't vote for him. This is unusual, not something I remember seeing in any election in my lifetime.
DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: It's unprecedented. I don't think it has happened in your lifetime, nor mine. The fact is that these are really substantial people, too. Of the 50 national security people. I've worked directly, personally, with about 20 of them, I can tell you, these are substantial people. They're among in best we have in the country. Bob Zellick (ph) commands respect all over the world and others. The fact they come out on this national security issue too hard and saying he's too reckless to be president is damaging. On top of that, Susan Collins commands a lot of respect in Washington as a bridge builder between Republicans and Democrats. She's often the one -- if you're a Democratic president, you can reach out to Susan Collins, would you come on board on this, she's one of the best you can get. She has weight, too. A lot of these people are now saying publicly what they've been saying privately for a while. The events over this last week, after the convention, this worst week he ever had, worst week any campaign has ever had, has brought this continuing flow of bad news for him. I don't think we've seen the end of it.
[11:05:32] BOLDUAN: Alice, David brought up Susan Collins. Ted Cruz publicly came out and said, I am not for Trump, on the stage. He was criticized. He faced backlash for that. What is the risk-reward for someone like Susan Collins coming out new like this?
ALICE STEWART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: A small point of clarification. Ted went on the convention floor and encouraged people to vote their conscience.
BOLDUAN: Code, for not Trump, by the way.
STEWART: I want to make that point quite clear.
Susan Collins is a rather moderate Republican. The fact she is not jumping up to endorse Donald Trump is not a huge surprise. The concern is the language in her op-ed and questioning his judgment and the way he deals with issues and the way he deals with people in terms of pay back. And we're seeing similar language with the 50 GOP foreign policy leaders. And that's the concern. A lot of folks can disagree on his policies and agree with a majority of his policies. But the continued drum beat, questioning his reckless behavior, that's going to cause a concern for people. And it flies in the face of the Trump campaign saying that the party is united. That's something they really need to work on. They want to get back on track and get these poll numbers to tighten up quite a bit.
BERMAN: I'm curious, to Kate's question, alike, is there a risk politically speak? A lot of politicians aren't risk takers. You get the sense they won't flee from Donald Trump if they thought it would hurt them politically.
STEWART: Clearly, Susan Collins doesn't appear to think this is a risk. A lot of these people in Washington, a lot of the folks here will stand on principle. If it's not in heart --
BOLDUAN: What? Really?
STEWART: Absolutely. Believe it or not.
That's the point. They feel more strongly to stand her ground and maybe she feels it will be -- come back against her with her constituents in her district. A lot of folks feel at this time more than ever, it's important to stand your ground on your principle and let your voice be heard. Regardless of the backlash from those in the Trump world and certainly with the RNC, it's worth it to stand your ground.
BOLDUAN: Secretary Kobach, how many defections can you take?
CHRIS KOBACH, KANSAS SECRETARY OF STATE: It depends on who the defections are. As far as the letter from the national security experts, those names are not known to most Americans. The only people who recognize those names are political insiders like us who already made up our mind whom we're voting for. Similarly, the Susan Collins --
BOLDUAN: Some are cabinet secretaries.
KOBACH: I know. But will they recognize the person. Homeland Security secretary was?
GERGEN: They will recognize in Pennsylvania, they will recognize Tom Ridge.
BOLDUAN: Homeland Security secretary.
KOBACH: In Pennsylvania, maybe. But a governor from many years ago, I think these endorsements or non-endorsements have zero effect, especially when they're from people in office so long ago. I don't see that as having a big effect. Among Washington insiders, oh, my goodness, yes, it looks earth shattering. Most voters don't know and don't care. BERMAN: Go ahead, Angela.
ANGELA RYE, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think this is a thing for us to point out, though. I think it is interesting that those who are on the ballot where Donald Trump did particularly well in the primaries, they are supporting Donald Trump. The folks who have no dog in this fight, who are either no longer in an administration or no longer running for re-election this term, they are not supporting Donald Trump. What you normally see on the Hill, as a former Hill staffer, are folks who, all of a sudden, remember their conscience when it's time to go out and retire -- we saw the Republican Congressman Hannah earlier on saying he can't support Donald Trump. You remember your conscience. It's important to note these folks continue have a dog in the fight. There are Trump supporters saying they want positions in the Clinton administration. I don't think that is what it is at all. I think this is folks being in touch with their conscience saying, at some point, partisanship aside, this guy is unfit and unqualified.
BERMAN: Angela, while we have you, can we ask you about a strange chapter in this campaign that happened overnight. During Hillary Clinton's event in Kissimmee -- which I've been saying wrong for dozens of years --
BERMAN: -- in Florida, Hillary Clinton did an event, and sitting behind her on the stage, that's the father of the Orlando shooter. He says he went to the event. He essentially says he likes Hillary Clinton.
[11:10:01] BOLDUAN: Member of the Democratic Party.
You know from being a political operative, people who sit behind the candidate are often placed there by the campaigns. I don't know if that happened here. I would be shocked if that happened here. Still, a very unusual and perhaps unsettling picture for people in the Orlando area.
RYE: I've never seen that. Just now my stomach dropped when you said that. I would say that this is probably not good staff work on behalf some of the team or volunteers with the campaign. A lot of times they place people based on ensuring there's diverse representation and they don't necessarily go and look up folks' backgrounds. Unfortunately, this is a terrible mistake. Of course, the dad is not at fault. But this is not what you want at this point in an election.
BOLDUAN: Alice, as someone who has been high up in campaigns, and you understand optics, you know kind of how these rallies are kind of setup, did someone screw up here?
STEWART: That is a major advance team failure right there. When you set up an arena like this, there's often, you can have flags in the background, a big tractor in the background, depending on what your message is. But when you have people setting your backdrop, as Angela said, you want to show diversity, show all types of people, men, women, young, old people. For that man to get back there and get past the advanced team's carefully choreographed background is not a good sign. Certainly, not his fault, not Hillary's fault. It brings to mind the tragedy in Orlando and the tragic worst mass shooting we've had since 9/11 in this country. It's something they should not be talking about. The fact that happened, I'm sure someone is sitting down right now and getting a tongue lashing because that's something that should not happen in these kinds of events.
BERMAN: Secretary Kobach, I want to shift gears, again. There are some presidential debates scheduled, three presidential and one vice presidential. Hillary Clinton says she's going to all three. Do you think Donald Trump should say today that I agree to the three debates set out by the Presidential Debate Commission?
KOBACH: I absolutely think he should say he agrees to the three, whether he says it today or whether they have more squabbling about schedules, that may still happen. I think actually the debates are probably going to work in Donald Trump's favor. One of the things that helped him in the Republican primary and caucus process is he's actually interesting to watch. You hang on his every word, in part because you don't know what he's going to say next. We've seen Hillary Clinton speak for decades not we kind of -- she's very predictable. I think the debates probably will work in drum's favor. It's going to be hard for the Clinton team to prepare for them. I think he's absolutely going to accept them and it's probably in his interest to have as many debates as possible.
BOLDUAN: David, John Podesta wrote, "The only issue now is whether or not Donald Trump is going to show up." What would happen if you did not debate him?
GERGEN: Trump needs debates. He needs debates more than she does. He has to find some way to shake up this campaign. I think it's a very smart tactical play by Podesta and the Clinton campaign. She puts him in a position, either he says yes and gives up his point about moving the dates of the debates off the football games and things like that, which is an important point, or he keeps squabbling about the debates and looking like he's trying to avoid it. This is like playing chess or checkers. You set yourself up and you jump and take the piece. That's what they just did.
BERMAN: Go ahead, Alice.
STEWART: I want to remind everyone, he did bow out of a debate in the primary. He did so at his own peril. He bowed out of the debate because he didn't want to talk about the issues. He wanted to instead insult his challengers. I think, in this case, he should accept the debate and not fight about the schedule. In a four-year presidential cycle, there are four general election debates, including the vice presidential, and 1,000 NFL games. You can imagine the struggle for the commission to find dates. He should accept the debates and let's see the two duke it out.
BOLDUAN: Is the Clinton campaign playing games?
RYE: No. I don't think some I think it's a good tactical and strategic move. We know --
RYE: But if he can be baited with a tweet, he's going to be baited with a statement. I'll tweet it right after this to see if he's going for it.
BOLDUAN: Shenanigans --
RYE: I said strategic tactical move.
BERMAN: All guys --
BERMAN: -- we will leave on that note.
Thanks so much.
BOLDUAN: Thanks, guys.
Coming up, he's got a tough hill to climb, and by hill, I mean like Everest. A new candidate has jumped into the ring. And does he have a real chance of disrupting Trump's path in at least two states? An interesting story. We'll speak live with the adviser behind this new effort.
[11:15:19] BERMAN: A new bombshell inside the drama at FOX News. There are now reports of audio tapes that could prove accusations against CEO Roger Ailes. This keeps getting curiouser and curiouser.
BOLDUAN: Wisconsin, you are on the clock. Polls are now open with all eyes on the state's first congressional district where House Speaker Paul Ryan is up for re-election, trying to fend off a primary challenge. The outcome could offer some insight into how voters are feeling in that key state heading into the national election in November.
BERMAN: This is a race that drew national attention because Donald Trump at one point tweeted something kind about Ryan's challenger, Paul Nehlen. But now he has endorsed Paul Ryan. CNN's Manu Raju is in Janesville this morning.
Manu, what do you see?
[11:20:00] MANU RAJU, CNN SENOR POLITICAL REPORTER: A steady stream of voters at this polling location. An uptick from past August primaries, we're told by an election official here, who says perhaps this is because of the attention between Ryan and Paul Nehlen. It's an open primary system. That means Democrats and Independents could vote if they choose to vote in the Republican primary. We'll see if that upsets the balance at all. We're not expecting that to be the case. There's no evidence so far to suggest that Paul Ryan is in any serious danger. One reason why is that Trump flap that happened does not seem to have hurt Paul Ryan politically, largely because Donald Trump isn't particularly popular in this district. In fact, in the April presidential primary, Ted Cruz won this district overwhelmingly. So this is typically -- not Donald Trump country. That's one reason why Donald Trump changed his mind and decided to endorse Paul Ryan and one reason Mike Pence will be here campaigning in southern Wisconsin this weekend, realizing this is an important part of the state where they need to get votes, if they want a serious chance of winning.
Yesterday, when Paul Ryan was campaigning, he did not talk to reporters in the last couple days, but he was asked about Donald Trump by a voter and said, well, maybe I'm not so happy you asked me this question about Donald Trump. But he said Donald Trump is a nominee, he won the votes, and there's no way you can challenge that. So not particularly a ringing endorsement from Paul Ryan to Donald Trump but that's the way the relationship has gone -- guys?
BERMAN: Manu Raju for us in Janesville. Keep up posted, Manu.
BOLDUAN: Thank you, Manu.
Let's shift gears back to the presidential race. Leslie Rutledge is a member of the RNC rules committee and the attorney general of the great state of Arkansas.
Attorney General, thank you for joining us.
LESLIE RUTLEDGE, ARKANSAS ATTORNEY GENERAL & FORMER COUNSEL, 2012 REPUBLICAN NATIONAL COMMITTEE: Thank you. I am not a member of the RNC rules committee. I was counsel at the Republican National Committee in the 2012 presidential cycle. Just a little correction before we get going.
BOLDUAN: Love being correct. Thank you for the correction, Attorney General.
RUTLEDGE: Sorry about that.
BOLDUAN: No reason to be sorry.
Evan McMullen has jumped into the race. He's has called Donald Trump since he's jumped into the race, inhuman, weak, and that Donald Trump seeks to divide. What do you say to Evan McMullen? RUTLEDGE: I think Evan McMullen is wrong on a number of issues.
Particularly, he is wrong if he thinks getting on the ballot is easy. RNC as I mentioned. It's an overwhelming task to be on the ballot, to seek the presidency of the United States. I think Evan is a non- factor in this election and, quite frankly, even in this news cycle. The American public has not heard of him very much at all and will not hear of him as we go into November.
BERMAN: One of the things -- I talked to Evan last night. I asked if he did call Donald Trump and doesn't think he has the temperament to be president. He was asked out right, are you going to change your temperament to try to improve your standing in the polls. He said, "My temperament has gotten me here," he said. "I don't think it's appropriate to change when you have been winning."
Do you think there's any room for improvement for Donald Trump when it comes to 'personality?
RUTLEDGE: We can all improve our temperament. Certainly, when we look at Secretary Clinton as she was discussing the lies about Director Comey, she said, I short-circuited. Do the American people deserve to have someone short-circuit when they have their hands on the nuclear codes? That's the sort of temperament we've seen out of Secretary Clinton. She has a lot of room for improvement and is, quite frankly, unfit based on her lies on top of lies. So when we talk about temperament, we need to be talking about Hillary Clinton's temperament and lack thereof.
BERMAN: She said she short-circuited her answer, which isn't the answer she gave last week they were completely truthful. She said she short-circuited her answer.
BOLDUAN: But to John's original question, you think Donald Trump has room to improve when it comes to his temperament?
RUTLEDGE: Again, I think we all have room to improve. As we've seen, Donald Trump has gained 14 million votes in the primary. Those are the sort of numbers we should be talking about. Yes, got those as he was talking directly to the American public. He's speaking to Americans across the country. That's how Americans talk. He's never been a politician. He's never run for office, whereas Hillary Clinton has spent years in public service and doing the public a disservice, as such. So he's learning how to be in the public eye as candidate and hopefully as the next president of the United States.
BERMAN: No question he crushes the primary. He did win the primaries. Surprised a lot of people there. As you know, because you've run for office yourself, it's a different electorate than in a general election. Does he need to be more sensitive to that?
[11:25:00] RUTLEDGE: I think Donald Trump needs to continue talking about his economic plan to grow jobs across the country. While he's been growing jobs all these years and has experience doing so, Hillary Clinton has been growing lies and hurting Americans. That's what we need to be focused on. I think we have seen Donald Trump improve as a candidate. Again, it's his first time on this stage. Quite frankly, Americans are sick and tired of this same old same old out of Washington, D.C., and Washington, D.C., insider. Americans don't care about 50 Washington insiders. They care about whether or not they will have a job and whether or not they will be safe. When it comes to jobs and national security, Donald Trump wins every single time against Secretary Clinton.
BOLDUAN: When it comes to the 50 national security experts, as well as Susan Collins, you say American public doesn't care about what they have to say. When it comes down to it in politics, in elections, you know, wouldn't you prefer to have their endorsement if they've all worked in Republican administrations than having them coming out against your candidate?
RUTLEDGE: Well, certainly you would love to have everyone's support. Quite frankly, no candidate will ever have 100 percent support. Who Donald Trump has support of, that's the American worker, the American people across the entire United States. People came out in droves to support them and will do that again in the general. What we're not seeing as reflected in the national polls are the polls that are much closer in swing states. In Ohio and Pennsylvania, across the country people have come o to support Donald Trump and they will continue too so because, quite frankly, again, they care about jobs and security. Hillary Clinton represents dishonesty and the same old, same old in Washington, D.C. Quite frankly, she would be secretary of the same if she was elected president, the same old policies, the same lies, the same failed economics of Barack Obama.
BERMAN: That would involve expanding the government to create a cabinet office or the same. I know you're opposed to big government. I get your point.
Attorney General Leslie Rutledge, great to have you with us. Thanks so much.
RUTLEDGE: Thank you.
BOLDUAN: Thank you so much.
BERMAN: I'm just saying, there's no cabinet Department of the same right now.
BOLDUAN: That is accurate. You're keeping it true.
Coming up, see that guy right behind Hillary Clinton at her rally in Florida? Turns out he is the father of the Orlando nightclub shooter. Why was he there? Did the campaign know about it? We'll be back.
BERMAN: Plus, secrets, spying, payoffs and, quote, "twirling," whatever that means. Brand new accusations against FOX News former CEO, including alleged audio tapes of alleged harassment.