Return to Transcripts main page


Interview With Texas Congressman Joaquin Castro; Clinton, Sanders Court Millennials in New Hampshire; Inner Turmoil in Trump Campaign?. Aired 6-7p ET

Aired September 28, 2016 - 18:00   ET



WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Pressure to prepare. Some of Donald Trump's aides are said to be voicing disappointment at his debate performance and urging him to practice for the next showdown. But he continues to claim victory and he's launching new attacks on Clinton as he tries to regain his footing. Will Trump rethink his debate strategy?

Election attacks. New information about attempted cyber-attacks on voter registration systems in more than a dozen states. The growing threat is sparking serious concern about possible disruption of the upcoming election. Why are experts increasingly convinced Russia is to blame?

And stunning rebuke. For the first time, Congress overrides a veto by President Obama, clearing the way for families of 9/11 victims to sue Saudi Arabia. The White House calls the overwhelming bipartisan vote in the Senate embarrassing. President Obama calls it a mistake. Will it put American lives at risk overseas?

We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

BLITZER: We're following breaking political news tonight. Some of the biggest guns in the Democratic arsenal are campaigning for Hillary Clinton.

Bernie Sanders joined her at a rally in New Hampshire in an effort to win over millennial voters who backed him, telling them it's imperative they elect Clinton. Also campaigning for Clinton, the first lady, Michelle Obama. She fired up crowds in Pennsylvania, tearing into Donald Trump, painting him as erratic, threatening and cruel, adding -- and I'm quoting her now -- "We need an adult in the White House."

Trump is also on the campaign trail tonight, calling Clinton an insider fighting mostly for herself. Trump says his Democratic rival would -- quote -- "put the Oval Office up for sale given the chance."

Trump is said to be facing growing pressure from some advisers to better prepare for his next debate with Clinton. Also breaking tonight, the FBI director has revealed attempted cyber-

attacks on voter registration systems in more than a dozen states, that in addition to known attacks in Arizona and Illinois, both critical in the upcoming election. U.S. officials are increasingly confident Russian intelligence is behind the online intrusions.

We're covering all of that and much more this hour with our guests, including Congressman Joaquin Castro. He's a member of the House Intelligence and Foreign Affairs Committees. And our correspondents and our expert analysts, they are also standing by.

Let's begin with Hillary Clinton.

Our senior political correspondent, Brianna Keilar, has the very latest.

Brianna, the campaign is dispatching the party's superstars to help her.


Hillary Clinton's daughter, Chelsea, in South Carolina, the first lady in Pennsylvania both on the trail as solo acts today. Running mate Tim Kaine in Virginia getting an endorsement for Clinton from Republican John Warner, a former senator who is held in high regard.

And the man who may hold the key to bringing younger voters Clinton's way by her side today, Bernie Sanders.


KEILAR (voice-over): Hillary Clinton tapping Bernie Sanders' star power yet again in New Hampshire.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I), VERMONT: This election is enormously important for the future of our country. It is imperative that we elect Hillary Clinton as our next president.

KEILAR: She is trying to attract young voters who overwhelmingly voted for Sanders in the primary, pushing her plan for free public college tuition for families earning $125,000 or less per year.

HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I don't know how we got to where we are, but we are going to fix it. This is wrong. It's wrong for students. It's wrong for families, and it's wrong for our country.


KEILAR: But polls show some millennials are looking past Clinton, way past Donald Trump, to third-party candidates Gary Johnson and Jill Stein. A new Bloomberg poll shows Johnson at 11 percent, grabbing support that would normally go to the Democrat in the race. The White House is worried is could endanger President Obama's legacy. MICHELLE OBAMA, FIRST LADY: And if you vote for someone other than

Hillary, or if you don't vote at all, then you are helping to elect Hillary's opponent.

KEILAR: First lady Michelle Obama rallying voters in Pennsylvania, Clinton's Rust Belt firewall, also appearing in a new ad.

M. OBAMA: Hillary will be a president our kids can look up to.

KEILAR: And taking on Trump.

M. OBAMA: Then, of course, there are those who questioned and continue to question for the past eight years whether my husband was even born in this country.


M. OBAMA: And let me say, hurtful, deceitful questions deliberately designed to undermine his presidency, questions that cannot be blamed on others or swept under the rug by an insincere sentence uttered at a press conference.

KEILAR: For a third day, Trump, the former owner of the Miss Universe Pageant, is under fire for how he treated 1996 pageant winner Alicia Machado for gaining weight, making no apologies this week.


DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: She gained a massive amount of weight, and it was -- it was a real problem.

KEILAR: His campaign calls Machado's allegations that Trump called her Miss Piggy and Miss Housekeeping because she is Latina unsubstantiated. But Machado, a Clinton supporter, is standing by her claims about Trump.

ALICIA MACHADO, FORMER MISS UNIVERSE: He was really rude with me. He tried to destroy my self-esteem. And now I am a voice in the Latin community. That is the point. He can say whatever he wants to say.


KEILAR: Now, the Clinton campaign is loving this. They feel like with the Machado story, Trump took the bait on this and it's become a multiday story that hurts him and helps Clinton, much like his public spats with the Khans, that family whose son was killed in Iraq while he served in the U.S. Army, and also, Wolf, Judge Curiel, the judge overseeing a lawsuit involving Trump University who Trump tried to discredit by saying he was "Mexican," even though he's Mexican- American born in Indiana and very esteemed by his colleagues.

BLITZER: Good point. Brianna, thank you very much, Brianna Keilar reporting.

Let's get some more on Donald Trump right now.

CNN's Phil Mattingly is joining us. He's in Iowa.

Phil, Trump just finished a rally there. He made some very pointed attacks against Hillary Clinton. Update our viewers.

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's exactly right, Wolf.

Look, there's a recognition inside Donald Trump's campaign that what happened on Monday during the debate, despite what they're pronouncing publicly, wasn't a positive thing. Part of the remedy, to go right after Hillary Clinton, the type of thing we're going to see repeatedly in the days and weeks ahead.


MATTINGLY (voice-over): Donald Trump back on the campaign trail sharpening his attack on Hillary Clinton.

TRUMP: How many more Clinton scandals can this country take? One after another after another. You know the story, folks. You have seen it for years and years.

MATTINGLY: The Republican nominee trying to regain his footing after a shaky debate performance against the Democratic nominee Monday night.

TRUMP: Hillary Clinton is an insider, fighting for her donors and her insiders, mostly fighting for herself. And if she ever got the chance, she would put the Oval Office up for sale, too, and nobody has any doubt about it.

MATTINGLY: Despite repeated claims of victory via debunked unscientific online polls.

TRUMP: Winning my massive margins in many cases. And one was 80 percent to 20 percent. But I'm winning all of these polls. How many were there, seven or eight or nine, hundreds of thousands of votes, and then I have to sit back and you have to sit back and hear how those polls don't mean anything.


MATTINGLY: Trump is patting himself on the back for going easy on Clinton during the debate, pulling his punch at the last moment about Bill Clinton's infidelities.

TRUMP: For 90 minutes, I watched her very carefully, and I was also holding back. I didn't want to do anything to embarrass her.

MATTINGLY: Trump's son Eric praising his father's approach.

ERIC TRUMP, EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT, TRUMP ORGANIZATION: I think that took a lot of courage in so many regards. And I think he really answered that well and took the high ground.

MATTINGLY: Trump's advisers are quietly delivering the message to him that he didn't have a good night, and privately expressing frustration that Trump missed opportunities to go after Clinton. Moments, they say, were missed because of Trump's belief that he didn't need to rely on traditional debate preparation, something House Speaker Paul Ryan, the GOP's 2012 vice presidential nominee, said today ran contrary to his strategy.

QUESTION: So, you did a vice presidential debate. Did you prepare a lot for that?


REP. PAUL RYAN (R-WI), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: I know where you're going with this one, all right? Yes, I did, David.


QUESTION: Does preparation help?


RYAN: It does, David.

MATTINGLY: But aides also telling CNN that Trump and some in his inner circle believe his approach, off-the-cuff impromptu is exactly what his supporters want.

Trump also being rewarded with his biggest one-day fund-raising haul of his entire campaign Tuesday, his finance director calling the national call day event a -- quote -- "tremendous success."

TRUMP: We had the biggest day we have efficient had because of the success last night of the debate. They raised almost $18 million.


MATTINGLY: Wolf, here in Council Bluffs, there is a clear goal and a clear message, a clear scripted message from Donald Trump: Attack Clinton on her ties to businesses. Attack Clinton on her ties to Wall Street. Go after, as they call it, corruption.

But that didn't mean Donald Trump wasn't willing to stray a little bit, taking really the most blatant shot at what happened to Clinton on September 11, saying -- repeating that she doesn't take the campaign trail as seriously, regularly takes days off, and, as he said, doesn't understand how she can take so many days off and not make it into her car, a not-so-subtle reference to her collapse, the health episode earlier this month -- Wolf.


BLITZER: What did he say, Phil, about Christian conservatives in his address there in Council Bluffs?

MATTINGLY: Yes, there was another unscripted moment.

Part of the reason he was in Council Bluffs was to announce his Christian conservative coalition, a council of evangelicals. And you have to note, Wolf, that, unexpectedly, evangelicals played a huge role in Donald Trump's primary success, something that a lot of people predicted would not happen.

Now, at one point, he asked the audience if they were Christian conservatives, could they raise their hands? And the majority of the hundreds of people in the crowd that was behind me raised their hands.

They put their hands down, and Trump said, hey, if you're not, raise your hand. Maybe one or two or three raised their hand. And, Wolf, he said -- asked the crowd if they should keep them, allow them to stay.

Now, he was joking. And he did say that he was willing to allow them to stay at his event, Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, Thanks very much, Phil Mattingly, in Iowa for us.

We have some exclusive breaking news we're following. President Obama reacting to this afternoon's stunning loss at the hands of the U.S. Congress. Huge bipartisan majorities voted this afternoon to override one of his vetoes for the first time in his presidency.

Here's what the president had to say just a little while ago while taping CNN's presidential town hall with our own Jake Tapper.


JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: I want to get back to the men and women, but I have one quick question for you.

Congress has done something today that they have never done to you before. You vetoed a bill that would have allowed 9/11 families to sue Saudi Arabia. They today overrode your veto. That has never happened to you before.


TAPPER: Your reaction?

B. OBAMA: I think it was a mistake. And I understand why it happened. Obviously, all of us still carry the scars and trauma of 9/11, nobody more than this 9/11 generation that's fought on our behalf in the aftermath of 9/11.

And those families deserve support and they deserve resources. That's why we set up a victims compensation fund. And, on average, families received about $2 million each.

But what this legislation did was, it said, if a private citizen believes that having -- being victimized by terrorism that another country didn't do enough to stop one of its citizens, for example, in engaging in terrorism, then they can file a personal lawsuit, a private lawsuit in court.

And the problem with that is that if we eliminate this notion of sovereign immunity, then our men and women in uniform around the world could potentially start seeing ourselves subject to reciprocal laws. And the concern that I have had has nothing to do with Saudi Arabia, per se, or my sympathy for 9/11 families. It has to do with me not wanting a situation in which we're suddenly exposed to liabilities for all of the work that we're doing all around the world, and suddenly finding ourselves subject to the private lawsuits in courts where we don't even know exactly whether they're on the up and up in some cases.

So this is a -- it's a dangerous precedent, and it's an example of why sometimes you have to do what's hard. And, frankly, I wish Congress here had done what's hard.

I didn't expect it, because voting -- if you're perceived as voting against 9/11 families right before an election, not surprisingly, that's a hard vote for people to take. But it would have been the right thing to do.

And I am concerned. And this is not just my concern. General Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs, said this is a bad idea. The secretary of defense said it was a bad idea.

And then we found out some of the people who voted for it said, frankly, we didn't know what was in it and there was no debate of it. And it was basically a political vote.


BLITZER: Don't miss the CNN town hall special later tonight, 9:00 p.m. Eastern and Pacific, only here on CNN, the presidential town hall.

We are going to take a quick break. We're going to get reaction to the breaking news we're following, a key Democratic congressman who voted against the president on this legislation standing by.

Much more right after this.



BLITZER: First lady Michelle Obama back on the campaign trail today for Hillary Clinton, she tore into Donald Trump, without mentioning him by name, the first lady painting Trump as erratic, threatening, and cruel.


M. OBAMA: Each of you could swing an entire precinct and win this election for Hillary just by getting yourselves, your family, your classmates out to vote. That's all you have to do. That's it.


M. OBAMA: You can do it. You have the power. But you can also help swing an entire precinct for Hillary's opponent with a protest vote or by staying home out of frustration, because here's the truth.

Either Hillary Clinton or her opponent will be elected president this year. And if you vote for someone other than Hillary or if you don't vote at all, then you are helping to elect Hillary's opponent. And the stakes are far too high to take that chance.



BLITZER: Strong words from the first lady.

Joining us now, Democratic Congressman Joaquin Castro of Texas. He's a member of the House Intelligence and House Foreign Affairs Committees.

Congressman, thanks for joining us.

REP. JOAQUIN CASTRO (D), TEXAS: Thank you for having me, Wolf.

BLITZER: So, Congressman, how does Hillary Clinton convince these disillusioned voters, many of them young people, to come out for her?

CASTRO: Well, I think she said something striking about a week ago. She said that, for young people, for millennials, the decisions that our government makes now will affect them and their lives for decades to come, longer obviously than any other generation.

And so, for them, it's most important that you have a president who is committed to reducing income inequality, making sure that the pay gap goes away, that we close that, making sure that students can afford to pay for college and then aren't saddled for debt for 20 years after they graduate, and making sure that there are jobs that they can get after they graduate.

And she's committed to doing all those things.

BLITZER: Can Hillary Clinton, Congressman, get out the vote by continuing to attack Donald Trump? Or does she need to pivot to a more positive message about what she's offering?

CASTRO: Well, I think that you have seen do both.

I think you have seen her talk about how she's going to build an infrastructure of opportunity in this country and preserve all of the gains that President Obama has made, but also has rightfully pointed out somebody who would be dangerous if he's allowed to sit in the White House. And that's Donald Trump.

So, I think the combination of things that she's been talking about has been very shrewd.

BLITZER: While most agree that Hillary Clinton won that first presidential debate, Donald Trump was effective in arguing that she's not the candidate of change in this election.

So, how big of a factor in her standing as so-called establishment figure in her troubles with millennial voters specifically?

CASTRO: Well, Wolf, I find that an odd argument, because we have never had a female president of the United States.

There would be no greater change and no greater inspiration for our society right now than for this country to elect the first female president this November. So, I think that Hillary is the change agent. She's the change candidate, and I think she's going to win in November.

BLITZER: She highlighted Trump's treatment of a beauty contestant, Alicia Machado. How effective is that in the eyes of millennial and, for that matter, Hispanic voters?

CASTRO: I think very effective.

That video that was put together that was about a minute or two long, I think they should play that thing over and over. It shows Donald Trump's complete disregard for women, his misogyny, and I think that she was right to talk about it in the debate and also to put the video up.

BLITZER: Senator Sanders, as you know, he was out on the campaign trail with Hillary Clinton today.

Do you believe he's doing enough to get that base -- and he's got a significant base out there from the primary -- excited about her candidacy?

CASTRO: Yes, I do believe that Senator Sanders has gotten out there and rallied the troops, so to speak, especially young people who supported him in large numbers.

The rallies that he's been at and participated in have drawn huge crowds. I think his support has been a very positive and important thing for Secretary Clinton. So, I do think that he's doing his part to make sure that she wins, as he said he would.

BLITZER: Hillary Clinton certainly has the president, the vice president, the first lady, star senators, a lot of other big shots in the Democratic Party on her side. But why do we see -- still see such an enthusiasm gap for her?

CASTRO: Well, I would disagree.

I think that, if you look at the numbers, for example, Latinos are more excited about coming out in this election than they have been in a long time. Right after the debate, for example, there was an incredible spike in people looking for how they could register to vote. There was an incredible spike in Google searches for people trying to figure out how they could contribute, especially to Secretary Clinton.

So I think that, now that we're in this final stretch, after Labor Day, and about six -- five or six weeks until the election, Americans are getting really engaged and we're seeing that enthusiasm. BLITZER: You voted today with a lot of other Democrats to override

President Obama's veto of that legislation that would allow families of 9/11 victims to sue Saudi Arabia. This was a stunning rebuke to the president.

Why was he unable to convince you of his concerns about this bill, that American diplomats, intelligence officials, military personnel will now be endangered in service overseas?

CASTRO: Well, the first thing is that I don't think the Congress meant this, many of us didn't mean it as a personal rebuke to the president. This president is very beloved.

But we did disagree on the policy. And I believe that what it does is, open the door essentially for 9/11 families to sue Saudi Arabia or a government that may have been involved in the 9/11 attacks.


It's not a judgment or a statement about whether they were actually involved, but it simply allows these lawsuits to go forward. And that's why you saw a majority of Congress, including Democrats, support the legislation today.

BLITZER: Because he suggested in this exclusive interview with Jake Tapper on CNN that you guys were simply politically weak, you were afraid to vote the right way before an election.

CASTRO: Well, I disagree. I respectably disagree.

I think this is about doing the right thing for the families. And, look, we don't want to protect governments that may be involved in terrorism. And certainly terrorism that's devastating to American families, we don't want to protect those countries.

So, if they somehow are involved, and that's proven in a court of law, and we have got a fair judicial process here in the United States, if that's proven in a court of law, then they should be held accountable.

BLITZER: Joaquin Castro, the congressman from Texas, Congressman, thanks for joining us.

CASTRO: Thank you.

BLITZER: We will take another quick break.

We're following the breaking news. Much more right after this.


BLITZER: Today, Hillary Clinton is getting help from two of the most popular people among voters she so desperately needs. Senator Bernie Sanders joined Hillary Clinton for a campaign event aimed at young voters, while first lady Michelle Obama courted women and African- Americans, slamming Donald Trump in the process. [18:31:05] Let's bring in our political experts. We'll start with Gloria Borger. A very important address by the first lady, Michelle Obama, today. She didn't mention Trump by name...


BLITZER: ... but it was obvious who she was referring to. Is this a winning argument to get voters who may be undecided right now, or apathetic about Hillary Clinton, on her side?

BORGER: Yes, I think that temperament argument really, Wolf, is key. Only 31 percent of voters believe that Donald Trump has the appropriate temperament to become president of the United States. I'm presuming some of those voters may be suburban Republican women who are kind of on the fence and trying to decide.

And so playing off of the debate that, you know, it wasn't any coincidence that Michelle Obama was using language like "erratic and threatening" and talking about the birther issue. Because this is not only a way to convince some of those persuadable voters, but it's also a way to motivate the Democratic base at the same time.

BLITZER: Michelle Obama a big help for Hillary Clinton, Brianna. Bernie Sanders also trying to help Hillary Clinton in New Hampshire today, their second joint appearance. He's trying to get some of his young fans out there, and he's got a lot of them, on her side. Can he do it?

KEILAR: You know, he needs to do it. That's for sure. Because she is struggling with younger voters, even though younger voters, the sort of population of this generation, is now larger than it was when President Obama was elected and reelected.

He was polling about 60 percent of this group, and Hillary Clinton is pulling about 40 to 45 percent. So she really has to make up for that, and Wolf, haven't talked to a lot of Bernie Sanders supporters, some of them certainly are never going to support her. They just aren't. But I've spoken to ones who were diehard Bernie Sanders fans, and they actually have come round. Are they terribly excited about it? No. But they definitely say that they're going to vote. They still believe that Bernie Sanders was robbed. But they think that Hillary Clinton is definitely worth their vote, compared to Donald Trump.

Although certainly some could be going to Donald Trump. We'll see how that -- how that sort of floats.

BLITZER: Ron Brownstein, the president, President Obama, he was on the Steve Harvey radio show this morning, and he said -- and I'm quoting him now -- "A vote for a third party candidate who's got no chance to win, that's a vote for Trump."

Democrats are clearly worried...


BLITZER: ... about a third-party take-away, shall we say, from Hillary Clinton.

BROWNSTEIN: Absolutely. And by the way, I don't think that argument is strong enough to turn them. I think saying it's a wasted vote is not necessarily the best way to dissuade millennials.

BLITZER: How do you do it?

BROWNSTEIN: You have to convince them that Gary Johnson doesn't reflect their values on issues like climate and others.

But look, Brianna is absolutely right. Millennials in this election, for the first time ever, will equal Baby Boomers as a share of eligible voters. There are 20 million more millennials registered to vote than four years ago.

But Hillary Clinton is struggling. Seventy-five percent of millennials say they're unfavorable to Donald Trump. She's still only winning about 45 percent of them. And because that defection to the third parties extends across racial lines to younger African-Americans and, in particular, younger Latinos, she's not getting the overall minority numbers that she needs. Usually, Democrats win nonwhite voters by about 60 points. She's only in the 50-point range. So there is a real issue here.

And one last point: it is striking. You know, every day when I see you at 6 p.m., recounting the day, the difference between the Democratic star power and leaders who are willing to go out and campaign for Hillary Clinton; and Donald Trump is pretty much alone besides Rudy Giuliani, Newt Gingrich and Chris Christie. You don't see the Republican leaders rallying around him in the same way. Of course, the Democrats are trying to push Hillary over the finish line.

BLITZER: You mean Paul Ryan, someone like that, is not on the campaign trail?

BROWNSTEIN: Not there.

BLITZER: You know, David Swerdlick, the former governor, former presidential candidate, former head of the Democratic National Committee, Howard Dean, he caused a lot of controversy today with this tweet. I'll put it up on the screen. Quote, "Notice Trump Sniffing all the time. Coke user?" Question mark. Which is obviously a crazy tweet, if you will.


BLITZER: But is this something that Hillary Clinton should denounce right now? Along the lines of, you know, the criticism that Trump has gotten for not immediately denouncing people, you know, for crazy birther theories and all that.

[18:35:13] SWERDLICK: Yes, she should, and I think especially in the wake of winning the debate on Monday night, she can afford to be the bigger person and seem magnanimous.

Look, Twitter is a free fire zone. Donald Trump gives at least as good as he gets on Twitter. Right?

But the idea of a former party chair, former governor, someone who's a physician, as you said, Wolf, making this tweet about him being coked out without any evidence, you know, just based on some sniffles on TV, it's inexcusable. And Howard Dean should apologize.

BLITZER: But Hillary Clinton's campaign, as far as I know, Gloria, at least as of this moment, has not come out and denounced Howard Dean's tweet.

BORGER: Well, you know, if she's asked about it, she should denounce it. And she should say it's ridiculous. I mean, Howard Dean doesn't work for her campaign. I think it's foolish. I think it's stupid. I think it's ridiculous. And I don't -- I think it should be denounced by anybody who can.

And if she's asked about it, I guarantee you -- well, I don't know for a fact, but I would presume that she would denounce it. And somebody will pull her aside and get to her, and she can do it. I'm not quite sure how she would raise it in a stump speech, but if asked, she can answer.

BLITZER: And Howard Dean, the former Democratic National Committee chairman, as far as we know, neither Hillary Clinton or the campaign has yet denounced that tweet.

Just ahead, some Trump advisers are said to be urging him to better prepare for the next debate, others saying to be himself. Who will he listen to? We'll be right back.


[18:41:24] BLITZER: As we look ahead to the next presidential debate, we're getting new information from inside the Trump campaign right now.

Let's bring back our political analysts. Gloria, what are you hearing from your sources inside the campaign, what they're saying about his debate performance?

BORGER: Well, there was a conference call today with Trump surrogates. And I'm told by a source with knowledge of this call that it was an animated call, Wolf.

And in it, the -- team Trump made it clear that they want their surrogates to talk up this debate, that they have a candidate who is apparently pretty upset that his own folks are going out there and saying that he didn't nail it. And that they have a candidate who's clearly unhappy with the stories that we see circulating today about his less-than-stellar performance.

And I think what you're going to see from Donald Trump going forward is a candidate, as we saw last night and today, who's going much more into attack mode against Hillary Clinton. And I think that's the way they want their surrogates to be at this point, Wolf. BLITZER: And this whole issue of going after Alicia Machado, a former

Miss Universe, Hillary Clinton brought it up that Donald Trump called her "Miss Piggy," "Miss Housekeeping." And then just yesterday, on FOX News, Machado, he said Machado had gained a massive amount of weight.

He's already struggling with women, with Latinos out there. How is this going to play?

BORGER: Well, I don't think -- look, I don't think it helps him with suburban women. I mean, women don't like people who call women names. And so I think, you know, that's kind of going down a rabbit hole.

But I think what we see coming out of Donald Trump now is that he is going to take on Hillary Clinton and try and turn it on her as he did not do at the last debate, and he refrained from doing that, as he told Dana Bash.

So I think what we might see is him taking on Hillary Clinton and say, "OK, you think you're great for women. You protected your husband, and you called women names with whom he was involved." And so, you know, this could -- this could really get even dirtier and nastier.

BLITZER: Yes, because he did say, Brianna, Trump, he sort of patted himself on the back for bringing up Bill Clinton's marital infidelities.

But his deputy campaign manager, David Bossie, said this morning that Hillary Clinton was an enabler of her husband's infidelities. And Rudy Giuliani, another Trump supporter, said Hillary Clinton is too stupid to be president if she didn't know about the affairs.

This seems to be off message right now.

KEILAR: Off message, yes, and Republicans certainly think that. They think he should just be pushing her on issues. She's status quo; she's not a change candidate.

But I think it's also baffling, because it opens her up to be a sympathetic figure. I mean, we saw how high her approval ratings were after all of this went down and then she was running for the Senate. They were sky high.

And it opens Donald Trump up to so much criticism. And let's not even -- I mean, let's talk about Rudy Giuliani. They have six marriages between the two of them. Infidelities widely reported. It just seems -- it just seems sort of interesting. Who's counting, yes, as Gloria says. It just seems interesting that he or Rudy Giuliani would even want to go there, especially when it wasn't, you know, Hillary Clinton's infidelities.

BLITZER: Do you think he's going go there?

BROWNSTEIN: Look, I think there's a fundamental misreading of his situation if he does go there. Donald Trump's problem is that he is stuck in the low 40s. He has trouble getting above the low 40s in any poll. The reason he's stuck in the low 40s is because he's underperforming among college-educated white voters, who have broken for every Republican nominee in the history of polling since 1952.

[18:45:07] He is at best even unusually behind. Why is he having trouble with them? The principal reason is 60 percent of them say he's unqualified to be president. In a poll today by a terrific new Republican firm Echelon Insights, a Republican firm, two sharp young operatives, 64 percent of college whites said Hillary Clinton was more qualified in the debate, only 36 percent said Donald Trump.

It is hard to see how kind of going into this road would resolve doubt -- would convince voters who said he doesn't have the temperament or qualifications for president. If he goes out and starts bashing Hillary Clinton over Bill Clinton's behavior 20 years ago, it's really hard to see how that makes it better, it probably makes it worse.

BLITZER: Let's talk about these unscientific Internet surveys that Donald Trump keeps pointing to, to show that he won the debate. FOX News sent a memo out to its own reporters and editors there, telling the anchors stop using these debunked surveys, because these surveys are not scientific. They allow people, for example, to vote 100 times if they want, and a lot of people do that to try to raise the score, if you will.

How can Trump's advisers convince him to come into the next debate better prepared?

DAVID SWERDLICK, THE WASHINGTON POST: In terms of those unscientific polls --

BLITZER: Not polls, these are surveys.

SWERDLICK: Surveys, excuse me. It goes to Gloria's reporting, right, this idea that Trump only wants his surrogates to go out there with good news, news that shows he won, both in their talking points and wanting to promote these numbers, even though you have like the CNN/ORC poll that shows 2-1 that Clinton won the debate.

In terms of what his advisers can tell him, look, the campaign started turning and he tightened up the real polls when Kellyanne Conway took over. She's got to somehow get to him and say, look, everything you do from here on out is not in service of scoring points against Hillary Clinton or embarrassing Hillary Clinton. It's in service of winning the election. There are only 40 days left.

BLITZER: Gloria, listen to Donald Trump today in Iowa. He wants once again raised the issue, going after Hillary Clinton's health. Listen to this.


DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You see all the days off that Hillary takes? Day off, day off, day off. All those days offs, and then she can't even make it to her car. Isn't it tough?

(END VIDEO CLIP) BLITZER: All those days off, she was clearly preparing for that first presidential debate. Is this a smart strategy on his part?

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: You know, if you look at the polling, wolf, she does have a liability when it comes to her health. And that's -- you know, that's undeniable. Only 36 percent according to a recent poll have confidence in her health, 51 percent believe that Donald Trump is healthy.

Having said that, I mean, they understand there's kind of a spot there for them to mine. But having said that, she pounded him for pretty much, you know, an hour out of a 90-minute debate, that the 80 million people watched in the country. And so I think the doubts about that could start to recede as she continues to be out there.

Again, as you point out, she prepared for the debate, and his problem was that he didn't. And I think it showed. So I get what he's doing. I'm not so sure how far he's going get with it.


BROWNSTEIN: As Dan Balz put it in "The Washington Post" yesterday, he was like a sprinter trying to run a marathon. I mean, having an answer about stamina, she had stamina in the debate.

BORGER: Right, exactly.

BLITZER: Brianna, I want to play very quickly, this is what Donald Trump said today about people who aren't Christian conservatives.


TRUMP: Raise your hand if you're not a Christian conservative, I want to see this, right. There's a couple people. I think we'll keep them, right? Should we keep them in the room, yes? I think so.


BLITZER: So, is he staying with his script?

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: I think we saw him get off his script during the debate, right? At first, he seemed to be sticking to it. He seemed to have some restraint and then he sort of went completely off of it.

He clearly thinks that's here he does his best and we're seeing him do that on the stump as well. He's losing some of that restraint that served him well, and I don't know why, because it didn't serve him well during the debate. And when he was sticking to script, he was doing better.


All right. Guys, stand by for a moment. Everyone, stay with us.

We're getting breaking news into THE SITUATION ROOM. New details about attempted cyberattacks on U.S. elections that are upcoming. The FBI now revealing some very disturbing information.


[18:54:15] BLITZER: There are serious new concerns tonight about cyberattacks targeting the upcoming U.S. election.

Our justice correspondent Pamela Brown is working the story for us.

Pamela, the head of the FBI has revealed some very disturbing new information.


In fact, tonight, we're learning of previously unknown attempted probes in voter databases in more than a dozen states, and U.S. officials are growing increasingly confident Russia intelligence is behind the recent hacks aimed to influence the U.S. election process.


BROWN (voice-over): Tonight, FBI Director James Comey is revealing investigators have discovered more attempts to breach voter registration sites beyond the previously known hacks in Arizona and Illinois.

JAMES COMEY, FBI DIRECTOR: There have been a variety of scanning activities, which is a preamble for potential some attempted intrusions activities, as well as some attempted intrusions at voter registration databases beyond those we knew about in July and August.

[18:55:11] We're urging the states just to make sure the dead bolts are thrown and the locks are on.

BROWN: The revelation comes as investigators are confident Russia is behind several recent cyberattacks to influence the U.S. elections. CNN has learned U.S. investigators now believe Guccifer 2.0 is a Russian intelligence operation disguised as a group of rogue hackers which targeted the Democratic National Committee.

COMEY: Obviously, as you know, we're doing an awful lot of work to our counterintelligence investigators to understand just what mischief is Russia up to in connection with our election.

BROWN: CIA Director John Brennan tells CNN's Erin Burnett, U.S. officials fear more hacked information will be leaked to influence the election.

JOHN BRENNAN, CIA DIRECTOR: If there are actors or countries that have particular objectives either to discredit or to help to burnish the credentials of individual candidates, I am concerned that they are going to use this time to release that information.

BROWN: While U.S. intelligence officials are hesitant to publicly blame Russia, top Democratic leaders on Capitol Hill are issuing a stern warning, saying in this statement, "We believe that orders for the Russian intelligence agencies to conduct such actions could come only from very senior levels of the Russian government. We call on President Putin to immediately order a halt to this activity.


BROWN: And tonight, Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson says U.S. officials are not concerned that hackers can change the ballot count because of how decentralized the system is and Russia has denied any involvement in these hacks -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Pamela Brown, thanks very much.

Erin Burnett, by the way, will have a lot more on all of this right at the top of hour. The CIA Director John Brennan is among her guests.

New tonight: The Pentagon is announcing hundreds more troops have been cleared to deploy to Iraq, to help with the fight against ISIS. And now, Russia says it's ready to resume Syria peace talks.

Our Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr is joining us.

Barbara, what are you picking up?

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, I think it's fair to say the U.S. might accept the Russian offer to resume peace talks if Moscow shows this time it's really serious. But for now, the horror in Aleppo goes on. The violence is unending.


STARR (voice-over): For the people of Aleppo, hope is fading by the day. Ghostly searches for survivors, by volunteers known as the White Helmets are nonstop. Two more hospitals in eastern Aleppo have been bombed out of service. Bakeries have been hit. A major water plant bombed.

More than a million people have little water. A quarter million desperate for food. Everything people here need to try to stay alive is under assault from the Assad regime, backed by Russia.

BAN KI-MOON, U.N. SECRETARY-GENERAL: Those using ever more destructive weapons know exactly what they are doing. They know they are committing war crimes.

STARR: A strong warning for Russia from the State Department podium.

If Moscow doesn't back off from the killing and becomes a greater threat of opposition groups --

JOHN KIRBY, STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESMAN: Russia will continue to send troops home in body bags.

STARR: Over 200 air strikes hit Aleppo in a recent two day period, killing more than 100 according to an emergency medical service.

BAN KI-MOON: Imagine a slaughter house. This is worse. Even a slaughter house is more humane. STARR: Obama administration officials are discussing what to do, but

there is no appetite for U.S. military intervention. Secretary of State John Kerry who has preached diplomacy told Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov Wednesday, the U.S. might stop talking to Moscow unless there is a ceasefire.

KIRBY: There are other options that don't revolve around the act of diplomacy.

STARR: In the absence of a cease fire, humanitarian aid cannot get through. If U.S. war planes try to airdrop humanitarian supplies or stop the Russian and Syrian bombing, the U.S. faces the risk of a shoot down.

A senior U.S. official tells CNN the administration now may tell its allies it's OK to supply the rebels with ground weapon, additional munitions and mortars. The U.S. still does not want them to supply anti-aircraft missiles for fear those could fall into the hands of terrorists.


STARR: Director John Brennan said today that Syria may be the most vexing problem he's seen in 36 years -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Barbara Starr at the Pentagon, thanks for that report.

That's it for me. Thanks very much for watching.

"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts rights now.