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THE SITUATION ROOM
New Polls: Clinton Leading in Pennsylvania, North Carolina; Bill Clinton Calls Obamacare "Craziest Thing" in the World; VP Candidates to Face Off on CNN; Clinton Blasts Trump's Body Shaming; Clinton Holds Press Conference in Pennsylvania. Aired 5-6p ET
Aired October 4, 2016 - 17:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now, running mate rumble. Just hours from now, Tim Kaine, Mike Pence who will make a better case for the top of their ticket at the vice-presidential debate right here on CNN?
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Poll positions. New data coming in and how it could factor into the next Clinton-Trump debate.
BLITZER: And Donald Trump in Arizona right now. Will he fire back at the critics again, including a high school student who called him out today about body image?
COOPER: I'm Anderson Cooper.
BLITZER: And I'm Wolf Blitzer. And you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
Good evening from the campus of Longwood University here in Farmville, Virginia, just west of Richmond, site of the one and only 2016 vice- presidential debate.
I'm in the spin room here, what the university calls Spin Alley. Tonight on CNN, two men, both seasoned debaters and experienced advocates, will take the stage here at the university's Willett Hall, each with a job to do. They'll be making their case for the top of the ticket, perhaps in ways that Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton, for that matter, that they themselves cannot make.
Billions will watching. We've just learned that Trump will be live tweeting during the debate. And with election day fast approaching, what happens here on CNN tonight will factor into how people vote.
We begin, though, in Prescott Valley, Arizona, with CNN's Jason Carroll He's covering the Trump rally that's about to get under way any moment now.
Jason, what can we expect from Trump today over there where you are in Arizona?
JASON CARROLL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, a couple of things, Wolf. We do expect Donald Trump to talk about tonight's debate. That's first.
Second, we also expect him to once again keep up his defense about being the underdog when it comes to his tax controversy. As you know from those rallies yesterday in Colorado, we heard him lay out this new narrative, talking about he did what he did for his company, he did what he did for his family, saying that he's a fighter, he knows the system, and that he knows how to win.
I've been talking to a number of people here at this rally, and basically, Wolf, they say they're in line with what Donald Trump is saying, but many of them are telling me they also wish he would move on from this point, move on to the issues. We'll see if he talks about that later on. He's expected to take the stage now in just about any minute -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Jason, Has the campaign commented on their expectations from Mike Pence at the vice-presidential debate here tonight?
CARROLL: Well, they're already talking up Pence, even before Trump has taken the stage. They've been talking up Pence. They've been saying that they're expecting him to do well, calling him a winner. Donald Trump has been saying that he's been doing a fantastic job.
As you alluded to earlier, Donald Trump also saying that he's going to be live tweeting from Las Vegas. So he'll be watching tonight's debate, as well.
Pence, for his part, has been preparing in what we could say is more of a traditional way. As you know, Donald Trump criticized for not preparing for his debate. But Mike Pence apparently having a stand-in for tonight's moderator, Elaine Quijano. The Trump camp, from what we're hearing, telling CNN that he is very prepared and will hold his own tonight -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Jason Carroll reporting for us. Thank you very much.
I want to go to Jim Acosta, who's got late word on how Mike Pence has been getting ready for tonight. Jim, what can we expect tonight from Governor Pence? What's his objective?
JIM ACOSTA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, his objective tonight, Wolf, is to win. The Trump campaign desperately wants to reset the narrative out there, and a win will do just that. If Mike Pence can deliver that tonight.
I will tell you, I just talked to a top Pence aide in the last several minutes, who said Mike Pence did not do any additional debate prep today, that he feels he's ready to go. He worked out. He spent some time with his family but felt no need to do any additional debate preparations today.
That's basically because he's been doing this, Wolf, since he got the nod as Donald Trump's running mate back in July. That is how long he's been preparing for this debate, as Jason Carroll said. He's taken a more conventional approach, working with Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, playing Tim Kaine behind the scenes and yes, even a top aide, Nick Ayers, playing Elaine Quijano, the moderator in tonight's debate. All that in debate prep.
I will tell you, Wolf, they say he is ready for these attacks on Donald Trump's tax returns. They know that those attacks are coming. I talked with one top aide with Mike Pence who says, yes, he is prepared to handle that. And for good reason. He should be ready to handle other things.
I ran into a top Democratic strategist in just the last several minutes walking up to this live shot who said Mike Pence better be ready tonight. They're going to be coming after him. Tim Kaine is going to be coming after him with everything that they've got. Post- traumatic stress disorder comment that Donald made yesterday when he said that some soldiers coming back from battle zones oversees are perhaps not strong enough or not ready to deal with the effects of moving back into civilian life.
[17:05:00] Trump later said he didn't mean any kind of dig or attack on soldiers when he said that, that that was a misunderstanding. But according to this Democratic strategist that, too, is in the arsenal for Tim Kaine tonight, Wolf.
BLITZER: Jim Acosta reporting. Thank you.
A teenager provides the headline tonight for the Clinton campaign. She asked Secretary Clinton a question that goes straight to the challenge that Donald Trump faces in winning more support from women, especially in key states like Pennsylvania, where new polling today shows weakness for Trump.
Let's talk about -- we'll talk about the polling in a little while, but I want to go straight to CNN's Joe Johns. He's outside of Philadelphia for us right now. Joe, how did Hillary Clinton respond to this young woman who asked her about body image?
JOE JOHNS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It was a strong response, Wolf. The women's vote so important in the Clinton calculation this November. It was a forum to talk about women's issues. A 15-year-old, tenth grader from this area, asking Mrs. Clinton a question, the very first question of the forum from Brennan Leach about female body image and Donald Trump's record of evaluating women by their looks, giving Hillary Clinton an opportunity to weigh in. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: My opponent insulted Miss Universe. I mean, how do you get more acclaimed than that? But it wasn't good enough.
So we can't take any of this seriously anymore. We need to laugh at it. We need to refute it. We need to ignore it. And we need to stand up to it. And especially the bullying. There are too many young women online who are being bullied about how they look.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
JOHNS: The questioner, the tenth grader in that situation, Brennan Leach, told me after the event she's always been a political junkie. Her dad's involved in politics in the state. But I asked her how she got that question in. And she said, believe it or not it was random, Wolf.
BLITZER: Very fascinating, Joe. What else did Hillary Clinton have to say at her event today?
JOHNS: It was an interesting event. It was attended by not only Hillary Clinton but also Chelsea Clinton, her daughter. It was moderated by Elizabeth Banks, the actress. And in the audience, among others, Chelsea Clinton's mother-in-law, Marjorie Margolies Mezvinsky, the former congresswoman from here in Pennsylvania.
They talked about a number of the issues Hillary Clinton has hit across the campaign trail. Women's equal pay, for example. The use of guns to commit crimes. Many other issues, including children's health. So a long forum here, and an opportunity for Hillary Clinton to make her case to voters in a state where she's doing quite well in the polls, Wolf.
BLITZER: All right, Joe. Thank you. Joe Johns reporting.
And now to Tim Kaine, Virginia's Tim Kaine, who will be debating on home turf. The White House said President Obama will be watching at least a portion of the debate tonight. He and Senator Kaine, as you might know, they are good friends. Jeff Zeleny has been following debate preps on the Democratic side for us. He's joining us now.
Jeff, what has Tim Kaine been doing today in these final hours before the debate?
JEFF ZELENY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, one thing Senator Kaine has been doing is simply relaxing. One aide said that he has done all the preparations he needs to do and was simply relaxing. He visited a civil rights museum this afternoon here in Farmville, Virginia. His parents are visiting from Kansas City. They were with him. So he's hanging out with family and friends, but he is getting ready for this moment.
Wolf, the Clinton and Kaine campaign know that this moments is absolutely essential. And it's described to me like this. They want to continue the momentum started at that first presidential debate.
And Tim Kaine is going to simply pick up exactly where Hillary Clinton left off and going to prosecute the argument against Mike Pence. So he has been studying up. He actually spent some time in Raleigh, North Carolina, at debate camp. He was reading and watching former debates that Mike Pence had done, as well as really familiarizing himself with Hillary Clinton's record but also with Donald Trump's record, Wolf.
BLITZER: What are you hearing, Jeff, about his specific strategy for tonight?
ZELENY: Wolf, one thing I'm told that Senator Kaine is going to do is make Mike Pence, or try to make Mike Pence own Donald Trump's words. He is going to repeat a litany of what Donald Trump has been saying throughout this campaign and ask Governor Pence if he agrees with it. We know there are several differences between Mike Pence and Donald
Trump. Releasing the tax information, of course, is one of the most obvious. But he is going to press Mike Pence on if he agrees with something that Donald Trump has said specifically.
He also is going to really try and make this more about Donald Trump, a referendum on Donald Trump. Of course, Mike Pence is going to try and make this all a referendum on Hillary Clinton here.
But Wolf, one thing that is different about this vice-presidential debate, after covering several of them. There are no questions in this debate hall if either of the two of them are prepared to be president. Pretty much everyone agrees, at least by most establishment standards, that they are.
So that gives them both time to focus on Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. Without being on stage, they will still be the center of conversation -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Yes, indeed, they certainly will be. Jeff Zeleny, thank you.
Up next, as Donald Trump's rally gets underway, Trump just now starting to speak. Anderson and the panel getting ready to weigh in on what Mike Pence and Tim Kaine need to do tonight to help the top of their respective tickets.
We're counting down to the 2016 vice-presidential debate here in Farmville, Virginia. We'll take a quick break. We'll be right back.
[17:15:19] COOPER: Welcome back. Looking there at Donald Trump's event in Arizona. Apparently, some people were just escorted out. Donald Trump still talking.
Also looking at a location in Harrisburg, where we're waiting for a Hillary Clinton press conference to get under way.
Plus, in central Virginia, another historic night just a few hours away. The first and only vice-presidential of the campaign here on CNN getting under way at 9 p.m. Eastern. Mike Pence, Tim Kaine expected to spend most of their time making the case for the men and the woman who chose them.
As for Governor Pence, a big question tonight is whether he'll do more of what he's had to do quite a bit of already of on the trail, explaining some of Donald Trump's remarks. Here's some of what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: ISIS is honoring President Obama. He is the founder of ISIS. I would say the co-founder would be Crooked Hillary Clinton. GOV. MIKE PENCE (R-IN), VICE-PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: I think he was
being very serious. And he was making a point that needs to be made, that there is no question that the failed policies of President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, in the wider Middle East, created a vacuum within Iraq in which ISIS was able to arise.
TRUMP: If you look at his wife, she was standing there. She had nothing to say. She probably -- maybe she wasn't allowed to have anything to say.
PENCE: Captain Khan is an American hero, and we honor him and honor his family, as we do all Gold-Star families.
TRUMP (via phone): I hope he was born in the United States. Because if he wasn't it's the greatest scam in history.
PENCE: Throughout this campaign he hasn't been talking about it. He's been talking about the need to have a stronger America at home and abroad.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: I want to bring in our panel: political analyst and commentator, conservative columnist S.E. Cupp; CNN political analysts Kirsten Powers, David Gergen and Gloria Borger. Kirsten is a "USA Today" columnist. Also, Trump supporter Corey Lewandowski; Mike Rogers, host of CNN'S "DECLASSIFIED," a volunteer advisor to the Trump transition team; plus Clinton supporters Maria Cardona, who was a senior advisor to Secretary Clinton's 2008 campaign; and former Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter, who's also a Clinton supporter.
So Gloria, I mean, Mike Pence has done, you know, an efficient job, a good job, according to his supporters, of explaining Donald Trump, of defending Donald Trump. And do you expect to see that pretty much tonight?
GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes. I think he has to play cleanup a lot. And I think he does it very well, whereas, President Obama needed an anger translator, Donald Trump needs sort of a calm translator. And I think that's what -- that's what Mike Pence will do.
He has to explain Donald Trump without contradicting him. And he has to keep changing the subject to the fact that Donald Trump is the change agent, that he's different from everything we've seen before. He's the anti-politician. Hillary Clinton is the status quo. And I guarantee you he's going to continue making that point over and over again.
COOPER: And David, it seems inevitable tonight. I mean, there's been so many headlines just in the news in the last week and a half. Mike Pence is, again, going to be asked to answer for Donald Trump's late- night tweets, I would imagine. Taxes...
DAVID GERGEN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: He could spend his whole evening defending Donald Trump, but I don't think that's the purpose of him being on stage tonight. I think, if he can, he has to pivot from the kind of defenses that Gloria is talking about to go on offense.
What -- the most important thing he could do tonight is to change the subject of the conversation in the campaign so the campaign can go back on offense. Right now, the momentum is all toward Hillary Clinton. And they've got to change that. That's a tall order to do that, but I think the real question is can he go on offense in this debate tonight?
KIRSTEN POWERS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes, I mean, to a certain extent Tim Kaine needs to do no harm because Hillary is leading and you want to keep that momentum going.
And then, you know, I think on the other side he needs to stem the bleeding and kind of stabilize things.
What's interesting about this is usually look at these debates and to say, would I feel comfortable with this person being president? Instead I think a lot of voters are looking at this, saying, please make me feel comfortable about voting for the person that you're on the ticket with.
So they're both sort of being character witnesses for their respective candidates. Mike Pence was, you know, a conservative Christian, saying to conservatives, this is a good man. At the same time these are both very well-liked people who can say -- you know, be character witnesses and say these are good people to vote for.
COOPER: S.E., certainly, the tax story has put Pence in something of a difficult spot. And I was looking at the latest CNN polling. Seventy-nine percent of Trump supporters say paying taxes is a civic duty.
S.E. CUPP, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Sure. For Mike Pence, he has to be a character witness for this person and give an undecided voter a reason to get off the fence and say, "Look, I'm vouching for him. And if you trust me, if I am sane, if I'm conservative, if I am safe and sober, and I'm vouching for him, whatever you think of his taxes, whatever you think about Miss Universe, your life isn't what you want it to be. I'm here to tell you it's OK to go ahead and vote for Trump."
On the other side, Tim Kaine has to do the same. These are two deeply disliked running mates that they both have to carry water for tonight. Tim Kaine has to say, "I know you don't love Hillary, but I get you. I understand your problems in the Rust Belt. And if I can vouch for her, then you can vote for her too." It's a tall order for both of them.
COOPER: You know, let's turn to our partisans. Maria, I mean, at the last debate, Hillary Clinton was able to kind of get away without really talking -- she talked about the e-mails very briefly, about Benghazi, about a whole number of things, the FBI report on her. Tim Kaine may be asked, very much, to go into all of that. MARIA CARDONA, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Sure, he may, and if that
happens, then he certainly will be incredibly prepared to answer that question.
But I think that the bar is a little bit higher for Mike Pence, because he does have to start engaging in Trump-splaining. And when you're Trump-splaining, you are not necessarily gathering additional people to your tent, which is what he desperately needs to do.
And so Pence has to change the momentum coming into this debate from the horrible one or two weeks that the Trump campaign has had, starting with the birther issue and to Alicia Machado. Now we have stories about, you know, Trump buying Chinese steel instead of U.S. steel. I think that's going to be an issue that certainly Kaine can bring up when you talk about, you know, the commitment to middle- class, working-class voters and Trump's supposed populism.
So yes, they both have to be character witnesses, I agree, with the top of the ticket. But I think, given the horrible two weeks that the Trump campaign has just had, Pence's goal and his mission is a lot harder tonight.
BLITZER: Corey, do you agree with that, that Pence -- it's Pence's job to try to kind of change the momentum, change the conversation?
COREY LEWANDOWSKI, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: No, I think what Governor Pence is going to do tonight is to remind the American people of two things. You have an opportunity to select an outsider who's going to bring fundamental change to Washington, or you can select career politicians, in Tim Kaine and Hillary Clinton, who have been part of the problem.
And it's very clear: Governor Pence went to Washington, D.C., in the revolution, helped balance the budget, and then left and became a governor to a very successful state, where he's brought jobs and created a good economy. Right?
The difference now is Tim Kaine has no one to blame. Hillary Clinton has no one to blame for the failures of Washington, because they've been part of those failures. For 30 years, Washington, D.C., has failed the American public, and Tim Kaine has to stand up on that record and say why that's been the case.
COOPER: But Chairman Rogers, isn't Pence also a career politician?
MIKE ROGERS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: But he's certainly spent a lot of time at it. But he's wavered from his conservative principles. Not one day ever. I've served -- he was actual -- we came in together in Congress, and I can tell, he has never wavered; and understood that, when his time was done in Congress, it was time for him to move on to do something else, went and applied those principles to Indiana.
And I think there's another missing piece here. Both of these candidates have a higher than normal percentage of their own party not wanting to vote for these candidates. So if Mike Pence is a very skilled orator. He's been at this a long time. So is Kaine. He's done this a lot.
But what you're going to find is they're not just going to appeal to independent voters. They're also going to try to get their numbers up in their base. That, to me, is a very important event -- or function of tonight's event. They're both understudies. This is their opportunity to show, A, they can be president, and B, yes it's OK, if you're in this party, to vote for...
COOPER: Mayor Nutter, if the bar has already been crossed and both can be president, does tonight really matter?
MICHAEL NUTTER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Of course it matters. Because it is about the two principles. And they still have two more debates to go; and there are a lot of issues to be discussed by the two principals.
But there is always the unfortunate reality that one of those individuals, if they're vice president, may have to step into that particular position. So it is important for the American public to see who these folks are.
I would agree with some of the panelists. Governor Pence does have a tough time tonight, defending a racist, xenophobic, misogynist tax dodger. That is a deficit that you start from at the opening bell. That's a tough night.
LEWANDOWSKI: That means that Tim Kaine has to defend a criminal who has consistently not turned over e-mails to the FBI, who basically has said she should be in jail but they don't have enough evidence to prosecute, even though the American people, if this was anybody else, would be prosecuted and sitting in jail right now for leaking classified information.
Tim Kaine should have to stand up and say, "Yes, Hillary Clinton is a criminal. I agree with that, but I'm going to support her anyway."
COOPER: All right. All right.
COOPER: OK, guys.
NUTTER: U.S. attorney's office to...
COOPER: We're going to pick this up again shortly.
First, a reminder: we're also looking ahead to Sunday to the second presidential debate. ABC's Martha Raddatz and I will be moderating. It's a town hall format. Washington University in St. Louis. Coverage begins at 4 p.m. Eastern Time.
Just ahead, what Donald Trump just said about what he expects to see tonight from his rally. Also, we'll hear from one of his national security advisors, Senator Jeff Sessions, what he thinks Mike Pence needs to do tonight to help their ticket.
[17:29:27] BLITZER: Hillary Clinton is speaking to reporters now in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. She's slamming Donald Trump's comments yesterday on veterans with post-traumatic stress. Let's listen in.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) ... country. But can you explain why Donald Trump (UNINTELLIGIBLE) tax burden using legal methods, and wouldn't anyone else have done the same thing?
HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: Well, first of all, let's start with the fact that he lost a billion dollars. This is a man who spends hours every day proclaiming his great business skills and success. He lost a billion dollars. And as I've said repeatedly, that's hard to do when you're running casinos.
[17:30:17] But it demonstrates, I think, unequivocally that he was a failure at business, and he wrecked businesses; and by wrecking his businesses, he wrecked the lives of his workers. He stiffed contractors. And he generally disregarded the well-being of the communities in which he operated.
I have said repeatedly we've got to close all the loopholes that give special tax breaks to the wealthy and corporations. And I will certainly do that.
But there are some very successful business people in America. I was in Omaha some weeks back, and Warren Buffett said, "I'll meet him anywhere, anytime. I'll bring my tax returns. Let him bring his."
But he's unable to put out his tax returns, because there's more in there that demonstrate that he did business in a way that left wreckage behind him and that he lost a billion dollars, which gave him benefits that should not be available to him.
So I'm very clear in my assessment that someone who is claiming to run for president based on his business success should be judged by that business. And I think what we're finding out is deeply troubling.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Secretary Clinton, I met a man today at the rally who said he's a long-time Republican. And I said, "So why are you here?"
And he said, "Well, I'm here, because I'm a long-time Republican who is undecided, and I want to hear what Hillary Clinton has to say." What is your strategy to get the undecideds to go with your campaign?
CLINTON: Well, I'm glad he was here, and I'm glad that you had a chance to talk with him, because we're finding more and more Republicans who are both coming to events and endorsing me, making it clear, as 50 national security experts did, that they cannot vote for Donald Trump. They view him as unqualified and temperamentally unfit to be president and commander in chief.
So we're working as hard as we can during these next 35 years -- 35 years -- 35 days to reach as many undecided voters as possible, including the gentleman that came here today. And when I work the rope line, I have people all the time say, "You
know, I'm making up my mind. After I saw the debate, I want to support you. I want some more information."
I'm feeling very good that, now that Americans are really tuning in and understanding the consequences of this election, we're going to attract more undecided and, yes, even Republicans and certainly independents to our campaign.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (UNINTELLIGIBLE)
CLINTON: I am very confident and excited about Tim Kaine in the debate tonight, because he understands what's at stake in the election. He knows what our policies are, as you've heard me say, Ken. We actually put a book out together to talk about what we want to do to move our country forward.
So he is ready to go toe to toe with Mike Pence on all the issues that matter to Americans. He's ready to take that fight to the Trump/Pence ticket. He has an exemplary record as a mayor, as governor, as senator, to talk about solving problems, meeting challenges head-on. I think America is going to be very impressed and really feel positive about Tim Kaine as our next vice president.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (UNINTELLIGIBLE)
CLINTON: I'm sorry. What?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What about Governor Pence's task at hand?
CLINTON: Well, I am not going to really talk about Governor Pence's task. I think he has a huge burden, defending both his own record and the record of Donald Trump. And we'll see how well he can do that.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hi, Secretary.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Julian Assange this morning said he plans to release documents in the next 35 days that could affect the U.S. election. Are you worried that there's anything could come out that would upend the race? And related to that, there's a report going around that you joked once about Assange, "Can't we just drone the guy?" Did you ever joke about droning him?
CLINTON: I don't know anything about what he's talking about, and I don't recall any joke. It would have been a joke if it had been said, but I don't recall that.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (UNINTELLIGIBLE)
[17:35:22] The second part of the question, former president, Bill Clinton, raised some eyebrows -- thank you -- yesterday when he said that the Affordable Care Act is, quote, "the craziest thing in the world." He tried to clarify today. Do you wish he had used different words? Can you clarify what he meant? And do you worry that it could undercut your argument that you want to build on and expand the Affordable Care Act?
CLINTON: No, I don't. Let me -- Tim and I have been e-mailing back and forth, because I know how intense it is to prepare for a debate, and I am really proud of how seriously he's taken that preparation. So we're going to keep e-mailing. I don't want to interrupt his rhythm by calling. I'll talk to him after it's over.
He sent me a great assessment of my performance in the first debate, which I found right on the mark and very helpful.
Now, with respect to the Affordable Care Act, I've been saying we've got to fix what's broken and keep what works. And that's exactly what we're going to do.
I am committed to making sure that people retain coverage that they can afford. And that is going to require taking on premium costs and deductible costs and prescription drug costs. And, you know, it is challenging to try to make sure that this important step toward providing insurance for every American is fixed and not repealed, which is the Republican position.
So it's a little challenging when you've got somebody like Donald Trump talking about doing away with the Affordable Care Act, turning our health insurance system back over to insurance companies, which would not just -- I want to stress this, because I'm not sure every one of your readers or viewers really understands.
What that means is not just that the 20, 21 million people on the exchanges would lose their coverage. If you repeal the Affordable Care Act, that means every American who is insured through your employer will all of a sudden go back to the days when insurance companies could deny you health care because of preexisting conditions, where you would have lifetime limits, where young people would not be able to afford coverage, whereas now they can stay on their parents' policies until the age of 26. All that and more is part of the Affordable Care Act.
So this is a really big deal, because it affects, you know, about 195 million to 200 million Americans. And so people need to really pay attention when Trump says he's going to get rid of it and turn it back to the insurance companies.
And then one of the strangest things he has said -- and there's a long litany of those -- but one of them is how he wants to let insurance companies sell across state lines. In fact, he told an interview about a year ago, "Hey, I don't care if China sells us our insurance policies." I mean, imagine getting approval for your drug by calling Beijing. I mean, there is just so much that he doesn't either understand or care about.
So yes, we're going to -- we're going to tackle it. We're going to fix it. And it won't be easy, but it's a heck of a lot better than starting from scratch, which is what, unfortunately, the Republicans want us to do.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (UNINTELLIGIBLE)
CLINTON: I think he made it clear what he was saying.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: ... about preparing for a debate.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Can you tell us a little bit about what you learned from your first debate with Donald Trump and how you'll prepare for the next one?
CLINTON: Well, I learned that preparation is important, which is something that I've known, because I've done a lot of debates going back to my Senate years.
And I learned, too, that it's important to keep in mind what your objectives are and what you're trying to demonstrate to the tens of millions of people who are watching.
This will be different because this is a town-hall format. And so it takes a different kind of approach. You're dealing with people who I think are undecided voters who will be selected by the networks to be there. And so it's important that you listen to their questions and try your best to answer them.
So I'm going to, you know, do everything I can to get prepared and be ready on Sunday night.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thanks very much, folks.
CLINTON: OK. Thank you all very much.
Where is Jennifer? Where's Jennifer? Did Jennifer leave?
Thank you all.
BLITZER: Hillary Clinton in Pennsylvania hitting Donald Trump on his remarks yesterday about veterans with post-traumatic stress, among other issues. Here, by the way, is what Trump said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
[17:40:08] DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: When you talk about the mental health problems, when people come back from war and combat and they see things that maybe a lot of the folks in this room have seen many times over; and you're strong, and you can handle it. But a lot of people can't handle it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Here's what Secretary Clinton's reaction to Trump's remarks -- here's what she just said. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CLINTON: Good afternoon. I want to say a few words about one of several campaign developments of the last day. Yesterday Donald Trump was asked a question about post-traumatic stress, traumatic brain injury and other challenges facing many of our troops. And part of his response was that post-traumatic stress happens to troops who, quote, "can't handle it." He said, if you're strong, you can handle it.
Many people are now standing up and speaking out against Trump, because post-traumatic stress is not something that strong people can handle and weak people can't. Some of the strongest men and women any of us will ever meet have experienced post-traumatic stress.
Donald Trump's comments are not just ignorant, they're harmful, because they give voice to the stigma that has led generations of veterans to hide their struggles instead of getting life-saving help.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Strong words from the secretary -- former secretary of state.
Joining us now Senator Jeff Sessions. He's a key member of Donald Trump's national security advisory committee.
Senator, thanks very much for coming in.
SEN. JEFF SESSIONS (R), ALABAMA: Thank you.
BLITZER: Let me get your quick reaction...
BLITZER: ... to what Hillary Clinton just said. You support Donald Trump.
SESSIONS: Absolutely. I was there. I heard this exchange. He expressed great sympathy for people who are hurting. The questioner had raised that issue, and the questioner is outraged that it's been misinterpreted by this group.
From the day one in his campaign, Donald Trump has talked about rebuilding our commitment to veterans and fixing the broken veterans' care -- healthcare system. I don't think he's hardly given a speech that he hasn't led with that issue.
And so for Hillary Clinton, who's allowed her own State Department people to be attacked at night without a response in Benghazi, and producing a failed foreign policy that's created chaos, refugees and death throughout the Middle East, I think that's a very inappropriate comment.
BLITZER: But Senator, you will agree that his words could have been phrased better, that the way they came out made it sound like he was saying that the strong veterans are not going to get involved in -- even if they have post-traumatic, they won't commit suicide; the weak ones will. He could have phrased it better.
SESSIONS: Well, look. He was expressing sympathy and concern and promising to fix the broken veterans' healthcare system. And I think he made that very clear.
She, as she typically does, takes it out of context, the slick politician that she is, and tries to suggest that this man, who's greatly committed to fixing V.A., is somehow wrong.
BLITZER: Some veterans groups...
SESSIONS: She's been in government.
BLITZER: Not just her. Some veterans groups are condemning what he said, as well.
SESSIONS: Look, Donald Trump is going fix the veterans system. She's been in power; Barack Obama has been in power. She's an extension of that government. And they haven't done anything to fix this problem yet. It's time for a real leader to take charge.
BLITZER: Very quickly, what she said about the Affordable Care Act. You want to do away with it, eliminate those 20 million people or 21 million people who now have insurance in the United States, eliminate the possibility that young people can't stay on their parents' programs? You heard what she just said.
SESSIONS: That's incorrect. What Donald Trump has said is this program is not working. The American people opposed it at the beginning when it passed. They punished senators and congressmen who voted for it. The polling numbers show they still don't believe it. We've seen 20 and 30 percent.
BLITZER: So what are you going to do?
SESSIONS: I'm going to explain it.
BLITZER: Because the preexisting conditions element is a very important element. There are millions of Americans, they want to be able to get insurance and not have caps.
SESSIONS: The preexisting condition element is a part of all the Republican plans, virtually, that I know of. So what we're talking about is we need to repeal this plan and immediately begin to work on a better program.
We've had 20, 30 percent premium increases, huge increases to thousands of dollars for deductibles. Millions of Americans are getting hammered. The system is not working. And she would veto the legislation that would fix it, and Donald Trump will sign it and fix it.
We've got to get this done. It's hammering middle-class America. BLITZER: Very quickly, because I know you've got to run. These
latest polls in key battleground states, Trump is in trouble right now. Take a look at Pennsylvania, a state he really wants to win. There's a new Monmouth University poll that just came out: Clinton 50 percent, Trump 40 percent. That's a ten-point advantage.
[17:45:00] An Elon University poll in North Carolina, a state he really wants as well, 45 for Clinton, 39 for Trump, a six-point advantage. Without those states, do you see a pathway for him to get elected?
SEN. JEFF SESSIONS, CHAIRMAN, TRUMP'S NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISORY COMMITTEE: He is going to need to carry key states, swing states. He is leading in a lot of the states, leading in Ohio, leading in North Carolina or neck-and-neck.
BLITZER: Not in this poll, he's not doing well.
SESSIONS: Well, he's been leading in --
BLITZER: In this poll in North Carolina, he --
SESSIONS: Well, you're finding the bad ones.
BLITZER: No, this one just came out today.
SESSIONS: The "Los Angeles Times" poll has him up nationwide, so does --
BLITZER: But that's an internet poll.
SESSIONS: Rasmussen has --
BLITZER: It doesn't have the scientific requirements that CNN and other major news organizations appreciate.
SESSIONS: They have a new version of trying to assess voter intensity, and it will remains to be seen. I'm just --
BLITZER: But it's important the national polls are -- the polls in key battleground states like Pennsylvania and North Carolina --
SESSIONS: Well, I'm just trying to push back a little bit, Wolf.
BLITZER: No, I understand.
SESSIONS: I'm just trying to say to you that it's not all over. There are polls that --
BLITZER: I'm not saying it's over. There are five weeks from today. And just as --
SESSIONS: But you keep interrupting.
BLITZER: Just as it can change from the past week or two, it can change in the next week or two -- SESSIONS: Yes. Yes.
BLITZER: -- if he does really well, for example, in Sunday night's debate.
SESSIONS: Look, that is right. The polls have been going up and down throughout this election. And media's spin and activity does impact those polls, but ultimately the choice will be who is going to make my future better, who is going to protect the national security of the United States, who is going to create economic growth in the country.
And I just think a lot of -- I think you find the bad polls and emphasize them too much is unfortunate. I think that sends a bad message because other polls show this is a neck-and-neck race and it could go either way. And if you want to bet on it, you can call London and send money on it.
BLITZER: I am not a better.
SESSIONS: I am not either.
BLITZER: And, Senator --
SESSIONS: Thank you.
BLITZER: -- thanks very much for coming in.
SESSIONS: Very good. Thank you.
BLITZER: We will be watching this debate tonight, and I know you're looking forward to it.
SESSIONS: It's going to be exciting.
BLITZER: Thank you.
SESSIONS: Mike Pence is fabulous.
BLITZER: Jeff Sessions, thanks very much.
The Clinton campaign is hoping to build on its gains in several new swing state polls. I talked to the Democratic National Committee Interim Chair Donna Brazile about her expectations for tonight's debate. That and a lot more coming up.
[17:52:04] BLITZER: We're live here at Longwood University in Virginia. Just hours from now, here on CNN, the vice presidential candidates, Tim Kaine and Mike Pence, they will face off in their first and only debate. Team Clinton is heading into tonight's face- off with new momentum based on new polling in some key swing states and nationally as well. Donna Brazile is the interim chair of the Democratic National
Committee. She is with us right now. Donna, thanks very much for joining us.
DONNA BRAZILE, INTERIM CHAIRWOMAN, DEMOCRATIC NATIONAL COMMITTEE: Always good to see, Wolf.
BLITZER: As you know, the former president, Bill Clinton, he caused a stir today when he said this. Listen to what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: But the people who are getting killed in this deal are small business people and individuals who made just a little too much to get any of these subsidies. Why? Because they're not organized. They don't have any bargaining power with insurance companies, and they're getting whacked.
So you've got this crazy system where all of a sudden, 25 million more people have health care, and then the people who are out there busting it, sometimes 60 hours a week, wind up with their premiums doubled and their coverage cut in half. It is the craziest thing in the world.
BLITZER: That's what he said about the Affordable Care Act, Obamacare as you will. It's a crazy system. It's the craziest thing in the world. Can you imagine five weeks to the day before the election, the most important legacy issue of President Obama, Obamacare, Affordable Care Act, the former president says it's a crazy system, the craziest thing in the world?
BRAZILE: You know, President Obama just recently said that there is room for improvement in the Obamacare.
BLITZER: He didn't say it was crazy system.
BRAZILE: Well, look, Bill Clinton has been a champion of health care. Bill Clinton, along with Hillary Clinton, has worked -- they have worked hard to insure millions of Americans. So that's what she did, as not just first lady, United States senator, fight for children's health care.
So look, what I heard Bill Clinton say today, what's said, there is room for improvement. I think every American agree that there is room for improvement. There's the --
BLITZER: So why didn't he just say there is room for improvement?
BRAZILE: You know --
BLITZER: Why did he have to say it's the craziest system in the world?
BRAZILE: You know what, this is a former president of the United States who I highly respect, and what Bill Clinton was saying, because I'm a small business owner, what he is saying is what President Obama said. He said, look, if you're a small business owner, you don't qualify for subsidies. You don't have an opportunity to qualify for Medicaid. There is an area there that we need to improve. That's what Bill Clinton was saying.
We also have to improve the marketplace, that we give people more options. But overall, this is a successful program because 20 million Americans have health insurance. No American is denied because of pre-existing conditions. As a woman, I'm paying the same amount of money as you, although I don't look as good as you.
BLITZER: You look great.
BRAZILE: Thank you.
BLITZER: And I know you're enjoying your new job.
BRAZILE: Of course.
BLITZER: And even the White House today, by the way, they said, of course -- Josh Earnest, the White House press --
BLITZER: -- when they said, don't you think the President could have phrased it -- the former president could have phrased it differently?
BRAZILE: You know, I admire bill Clinton. I admire his tenacity, but more importantly, Bill Clinton has been a champion of health care.
BLITZER: The Republicans are already using these remarks as you know.
BRAZILE: Well, the Republicans want to repeal. They want to take away the rights of 20 million Americans to have access to health care. And their position is one of repeal --
BLITZER: Give me your --
BRAZILE: -- but Donald Trump said something terrific and, you know, we don't know what that means.
[17:55:11] BLITZER: Give me your prediction for tonight.
BRAZILE: I'm excited. Tim Kaine is a great friend. We're going to build upon the momentum that Hillary Clinton set last week when she talked about how to create jobs, how to improve our economy, how to keep America safe and secure.
Tim Kaine understands that this debate tonight is to talk to those Americans who are still undecided. That's his role, to make sure that those Americans who are infrequent voters, they know what Hillary Clinton's plans are for the future.
BLITZER: Donna Brazile, thanks very much for coming.
BRAZILE: Always a pleasure to see you, Wolf.
BLITZER: We'll talk to you later.
BRAZILE: Grandfather Wolf.
BLITZER: You look great.
BLITZER: Thank you very much. A lot more ahead, right at the top of the hour, how Tim Kaine and Mike Pence have been prepping for tonight's debate. Can Governor Pence change the momentum for his ticket, or will Senator Kaine strike another blow for Team Clinton? Stay with us.