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AT THIS HOUR WITH BERMAN AND MICHAELA
Clinton, Trump Final Debate Tonight; Clinton Camp's Brian Fallon Talks Debate, Presidential Race; Rubio's Warning on Hacked Clinton Camp E-mails. Aired 11-11:30a ET
Aired October 19, 2016 - 11:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[11:00:26] KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Oh, la la. I'm Kate Bolduan. Hello.
JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: I'm John Berman.
What day is it?
BOLDUAN: It is debate day in America once again.
BERMAN: How many more are there after this?
BERMAN: So how high are the stakes then?
BOLDUAN: As John Berman would say, wicked high.
BERMAN: That is why we are live here at the University of Las Vegas, where it all begins in just 10 hours. We are surrounded by just a few of our nonpartisan friends here.
BOLDUAN: Completely nonpartisan.
BERMAN: This is the third, last and final debate between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, which means there are no more after this.
BOLDUAN: Which means there's no time like the present to make your case, land your punches and pull off a big "W" before millions of viewers, also known as voters. How is it going to go? Look no further than the campaign as your guide. In short, it could and likely will get nasty.
Let's begin with an inside look inside the debate hall. Sunlen Serfaty has all the details.
Sunlen, give us the low-down. What's going to happen tonight?
SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think right now it is certainly the calm before the storm here inside the debate hall. Each candidate has no doubt been prepping each in their distinctive way for days leading into this big moment, the last and final debate. I do think we will get our first sense of the tone of the night, how this might all go, from that initial moment when both candidates walk out here onstage. Do they shake hands or not? We will see. Certainly it will be indicative of potentially the fight ahead.
Earlier this morning, I spent some time on the debate floor looking at kind of the setup to give you guys an up-close and personal view of how this might all go down.
SERFATY: This is the stage tonight where Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton will both be making their closing arguments. And you see this debate, it returns to the formal podium style that was seen in the first debate. The candidates standing onstage together, about 10 feet apart. Here you have moderator Chris Wallace's chair.
I want to show you the view the candidates will each be seeing from their podium. If you look out here, right on the floor, there's about 300 seats of invited guests in the audience, students in the university, then some stadium seating above.
There will be no commercial breaks. No bathroom breaks. This will be a solid 90 minutes of debate for each of the candidates. We know the segments will be six topics of 15-minute segments. Those topics, debt and entitlement, immigration, the economy, Supreme Court, foreign hot spots, and fitness to be president. Each candidate will have two minutes at the top of those segments to make their statements on that topic, and then it will go to about 15 minutes and discussion. Each and every moment up here on this debate stage so critical for both candidates.
SERFATY: We now know that Secretary Clinton will be kicking off the night tonight. By coin toss, it was decided she will get the first question tonight. And their conditioning will be largely the same we have seen in the past two debates. Clinton will be standing on stage left and Donald Trump will be on stage right.
BERMAN: All right. Sunlen Serfaty for us inside the debate hall. Great to have you with us.
Sunlen, behind us, our panel of undecided voters.
Onstage with us, CNN political commentators and analysts, Mary Katharine Hamm, a senior writer for "The Federalist" and a conservative blogger; Kirsten Powers, a "USA Today" columnist and former Clinton administration official; Andre Bauer, former lieutenant governor of South Carolina and a Donald Trump supporter; and Bakari Sellers, former South Carolina state rep and a Hillary Clinton supporter.
Mary Katharine Ham, we are going to start with you. Finish this sentence for me.
BOLDUAN: You love these.
BERMAN: For tonight -- excuse me. For Donald Trump, tonight will be?
MARY KATHARINE HAM, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: An attempt to marshal all of the late-breaking scandals about Hillary and some of this confirming narrative information from WikiLeaks. I think he has a lot of opportunities here. Some people said, oh, is he going to punch low. He may. He has a lot of opportunity to actually take real issues and go at her with them. But WikiLeaks reveals a lot of things voters already believe about her. There's the breaking FBI pro quo quid thing that was in the FBI documents that he could marshal. The question is whether he can do that. It's always been that when he does it's a little clumsy. If he can land some punches, not a bad idea.
BOLDUAN: Kristen, finish this sentence. For Hillary Clinton, tonight will be?
KRISTEN POWERS, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, can I just say, for Trump, it will be his last chance to turn things around.
BOLDUAN: Finish the sentence I gave you.
POWERS: For Hillary, this is her chance to put it away.
[11:05:08] POWERS: She basically right now has Trump on his heels. She's consistently ahead in every poll that is out, and significantly ahead in a way that's at this very hard to turn it around. She can basically put it away tonight if she really kind of obviously doesn't take the bait from him, which she's been very good at sort of staying above the fray. But also making a positive case and using this as an opportunity to talk about sort of her vision for the country and to give people a positive case and a reason to pull the lever for her, not just to vote against Donald Trump.
BERMAN: Andre Bauer, you support Donald Trump and have been willing to give tough love in the sense. You watched him do two debates now. What would you like to see him do differently tonight?
ANDRE BAUER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, number one, I would like for him to be more upbeat. I would like for his look to be a little happier. When he's not on camera -- when they have had the double screen, I want him to be cheerful. I want people to be excited about coming out to vote for him. You see people here are passionate. He has to get take passion there. He's got to hope to keep her base down and not energize them to come out and his base has got to come out in big numbers. And if he continues to talk about the economy, protecting the borders, not being the world peace keeper anymore, and how he can really change the total environment in Washington, that's what excites his base and that's what excites people in the middle that are sick of the status quo.
BOLDUAN: You have liked Hillary Clinton's performances in the past two debates but is there something you would like to see her do differently?
BAKARI SELLERS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I 'm not the only one who liked her debates. Scientific polls show she won both the first and second debate. I think she gave us two different styles. To be completely honest, I don't expect Hillary Clinton to do anything differently in this debate. Hillary Clinton right now, where she's sitting in the polls, has a better chance to win Arizona and Texas than Donald Trump has to win Virginia and --
BOLDUAN: You're saying coast? Coast is not good debate policy.
SELLERS: I'm not saying coast. I want her to be Floyd Mayweather. He's the champ going in. She's going to play a little defense. It's going to look pretty at times. But she's going to be Bobby --
BERMAN: Bakari, Dan Ball is one of my favorite writers for "The Washington Post." He sort of suggests Hillary Clinton may have a higher bar tonight than she's had before. She has to deal with e- mails. Leave that aside for a second. The second thing he says is she has to make an affirmative case without using the word Donald Trump about why she should be president of the United States.
SELLERS: I think she has been doing that. I would love to hear that on tonight's debate stage. I think everybody sitting up here, if we disarm ourselves of any partisanship, we want these candidates to tell us why they should be president of the United States, and what a Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump presidency shall be. But if we are talking about strictly winning or losing, what does Hillary Clinton have to do different or better? Absolutely, nothing. Hillary Clinton needs to come out and be the better debater, which she is. Donald Trump is the kid who scores baskets in his own goal.
BOLDUAN: That's one mental image.
BOLDUAN: Mary Katharine, Jeff Zeleny's reporting this morning is that Hillary Clinton is having to prepare in a different way than she has in the past, prepare for her own words, prepare to talk about the words of her aides, WikiLeaks, e-mails. She has a lot that's come out in the WikiLeaks e-mails that she hasn't had to deal with before. You are not in the business of advice to Hillary Clinton but what do you do about it?
HAM: The upside is she has prepared very well in the past for the things she's done in the past. And she's done them fairly well in the first two debates. She can file that away and add on this other stuff, it is a challenge.
But I wondered, look, Chris Wallace will know the facts of this stuff cold. That's who she needs to worry about. I'm not sure Trump will know them as cold as Chris does. She has to worry about both of them to some degree but the moderator more. I think she can probably defend at least conversantly enough to get past most these things and Trump won't be landing a bunch of punches.
But what Bakari points out -- I will throw in another sports metaphor. A prevent defense doesn't always --
BOLDUAN: You just won him over.
BERMAN: Only thing worse is the four corners. That's a different court all together.
Kirsten, one of the new things about this debate, last debate we had "Access Hollywood," that tape came out. Since that time, since the second debate we have had these women come forward one after the other after the other making a broad range of accusations here. How should Donald Trump or what does he need to do to address that tonight?
POWERS: I honestly don't think there's anything he can do to address it because, first of all, his position has been don't believe anything that anybody says unless they're saying it about Bill Clinton. And you know, he's claimed there are no witnesses, and now that witnesses have come forward, I think he will continue to claim that none of this happened. What can he say?
BERMAN: Do you think he will be as combative?
POWERS: I don't know why he would stop being combative. We have all been waiting for this person to show up and be presidential and it hasn't happened in the first two debates, so I don't know why it would happen tonight.
I think for Hillary Clinton, she doesn't want to because he will come back with attacks on her husband and that isn't a place she really wants to be spending her time in the debate.
[11:10:14] BOLDUAN: Andre, "The New York Times" is reporting that Trump is preparing to bring up Hillary Clinton's health. This is not uncommon for him to bring up in rallies, not uncommon for him to bring up I interviews or they even cut a TV ad about it. But he hasn't brought up her health issues in a debate setting before. Do you like that idea?
BAUER: I don't. I think there's too many other things to score, on the WikiLeaks, on where he takes the vision of the country, how bad the system's broken in Washington, even within his own party, and how he's really fighting the entire system. And if you want substantive change, you will need that. I don't think the health issue moves a lot of voters.
BERMAN: Bakari, They're trying to wrap me. I will get in trouble. So you have to be quick on the answer.
The James O'Keefe video, which shows Democratic activists, operatives, talking about maybe inciting violence at Trump rallies, does Hillary Clinton need to separate herself and disavow that tonight?
SELLERS: If the question is asked, of course, you disavow yourself from any violence or inciting of violence that goes on in rallies. That's what you do.
Hillary Clinton tonight, beating on that point, will be very presidential. That is what separates the two candidates. One has the temperament, one is presidential, the other is Donald Trump.
BOLDUAN: Moving definition of what is presidential these days.
BERMAN: Thank you all.
BOLDUAN: Guys, great to see you.
Last minute negotiations between the campaigns and the debate commission all about the very top of the show, before the debate even begins. What is going on here? The Clinton campaign is joining us next.
BERMAN: Then, what is the one thing that Donald Trump can say on that stage tonight to change the trajectory of the race? We will ask one of the world's most decorated Republican debate coaches coming up.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
[11:15:43] DONALD TRUMP, (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This is our final shot, folks.
HILLARY CLINTON, (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: They are going to use a scorched-earth strategy.
TRUMP: She deleted the e-mails. She has to go to jail.
CLINTON: He has attacked immigrants, African-Americans, Latinos, people with disabilities.
TRUMP: I'm the only one that can fix this mess, folks.
CLINTON: It takes a lot of gall to criticize a country you won't lift a finger to support.
TRUMP: It is time to drain the damn swamp.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BERMAN: Welcome back. We are live on the campus of UNLV, home of the Running Rebels, home of the third and final presidential debate. What does team Clinton have up its sleeve?
BOLDUAN: We just happen to have a key member of that team here with us right now to spill the beans. Let's bring in Hillary Clinton's campaign press secretary, Brian Fallon.
Brian, our nonpartisan team back here.
BRIAN FALLON, PRESS SECRETARY, HILLARY CLINTON PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN: Very spirited crowd.
BOLDUAN: Beyond that, should Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump shake hands at the top of the debate?
FALLON: I don't know. That's going to be an organic moment that will play out. It didn't happen at the beginning of the second debate but then they did shake hands at the end. I think in general she's going to be focused on her game plan going into tonight's debate, which is to, again, try to use this forum where you speak to a mass audience to communicate her positive vision and really start to make the closing argent only three weeks out. We have a new ad on television, and the sound, the audio from it, the narration of it actually is sound from the second debate. We really feel these debates are a real opportunity to drive a positive message even if he's going to go scorched earth.
BERMAN: That's not a tough question. A positive message would be shaking hands before the debate. You can agree --
BOLDUAN: Start off on a high note.
BERMAN: -- if two candidates do that, right?
FALLON: I will leave it to them. It will play out on the stage.
BERMAN: Along those lines, there is reporting this morning the Clinton campaign talked to the debate commission to change the choreography about the family members, how they enter the hall, so they don't have to shake hands. Bill Clinton doesn't have to shake hands with Melania Trump. The reporting is because he wanted to avoid awkward confrontations, maybe with more people who accused Bill Clinton of past indiscretions, the people who Trump brought last time. Is that true?
FALLON: We have the highest respect for Donald Trump's family. As much as we disagree with him as a candidate, I think we have nothing but respect for his wife and children.
But just think of what happened at the start of that second debate. The Trump campaign actually acknowledged that in the closing minutes, before that debate started, they tried to give a back seat to his family members and actually bump them from the debate stage in favor of people that they wanted to use to execute a stunt. The debate commission stood up and said that was not going to happen, that was not appropriate. Then they complained about it afterwards, the Trump campaign.
So I think going into this debate --
FALLON: Going into this debate, I don't think we wanted any protocols or etiquette of the debate to facilitate a stunt move by the Trump campaign. We know that he's going low. We know he's practicing a scorched-earth policy in these closing weeks. He's capable of anything. We will be ready for it. I don't think the debate rules should facilitate that.
BOLDUAN: Did the campaign have any knowledge of Democratic groups coordinating in any way with protesters to incite violence at Trump rallies?
FALLON: We absolutely condemn any efforts to stoke violence or unrest at Trump events. In fact, if you think back to the convention, we actually deliberately publicly urged progressives not to show up and protest outside the convention just out of an abundance of caution. We did not want to play into any scenes of unrest outside the hall. We urged everybody to go out, organize and register voters. We have been very strict and disciplined about not trying to encourage that. I think the appropriate action has been taken in light of the videos that have surfaced and the DNC has condemned it. The contractor is no longer being retained --
BOLDUAN: No knowledge by the campaign of this?
BERMAN: No connection to the people involved?
FALLON: Look, the individual is someone contracted with the DNC. But appropriate action has been taken.
Again, I think you also need to remember the source of this video. James O'Keefe is a convicted criminal, has an ideological agenda and, in the past, has selectively edited material.
BERMAN: That said, there was action taken that you do agree with?
FALLON: Right. Because even just the possibility of this stuff being broached is inappropriate.
BERMAN: Ed Rollins, who ran Ronald Reagan's 1984 campaign and is involved with the Donald Trump super PAC right now, he has said essentially it would take a miracle for Donald Trump to win right now. You think it would take a miracle?
[11:20:09] FALLON: There's no question his campaign is in a downward spiral. I think since the second debate, seen our numbers rise in all key battleground states, and so I think if the race ended today, we would be in a very good place. But we know the race will not end today. We have three weeks to go. I expect a tightening to happen. But that's why we need to work hard in the closing weeks.
And we also need to make a positive closing argument. Hillary Clinton has been very disciplined about not just wanting to make the case against Donald Trump but give people a thing to vote for. That's important when it comes to governing after the election. That's what she will do tonight.
BOLDUAN: Brian, if she performs so well tonight, why do you expect the polls to tighten?
FALLON: Because I think, in the end, a lot of consolidation will occur. We are still a very polarized nation. This race has had swings up and down. That's why we can't take anything for granted and we are working so hard to register people before the deadlines and turn out voters in the states that have early voting.
BERMAN: Does Hillary Clinton support term limits for members of Congress?
FALLON: This is a stunt.
FALLON: Donald Trump -- because in the past, Donald Trump himself has opposed term limits. Number two, he's doing this on the heels of facing so many stories about Republican members of Congress defecting from him. This is not so much a policy rollout --
BOLDUAN: But a lot -- a lot --
BERMAN: But he's not the first person to bring it up.
BERMAN: Does Hillary Clinton support term limits?
FALLON: I think what we would support doing, in terms of trying to, quote, unquote, "drain the swamp" and get rid of the special interests in Washington, D.C., is campaign finance reform. She's said in the first 30 days of her administration, top priority of hers will be to introduce a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United, get special interest money, anonymous money out of political system. That will do more than term limits to help clean up our elections.
BOLDUAN: Right now, the Hillary Clinton campaign has no position on the concept of term limits for members of Congress?
FALLON: She has not taken a position in support of them in the past. As president, she will prioritize campaign finance reform.
BERMAN: Brian Fallon, great to have you with us. Thank you so much.
FALLON: Thank you for having me.
BOLDUAN: Good luck tonight, Brian. Thank you.
FALLON: OK. BERMAN: "So today it is the Democrats, tomorrow, it could be us" --
that's the message from Senator Marco Rubio of Florida to his own party. What he doesn't want the Republicans to talk about? That's a head.
BOLDUAN: Plus, a wowser morning wakeup call. A new poll out of traditionally red Arizona showing some major tints of blue right now. Are we seeing a new battleground? We'll be right back.
[11:26:00] BOLDUAN: We have planes flying overhead. We have passion standing behind us. We are live at UNLV for the big third debate here.
That drip, drip, drip that you heard this morning, that is not just the coffee machine, my friends. It's yet another batch of recently hacked Hillary Clinton e-mails -- Hillary Clinton campaign e-mails being put out by WikiLeaks. But Republican Senator Marco Rubio has a very stern warning for his party and Donald Trump on this. Don't capitalize off of e-mails stolen by foreign actors. Why? These are his words, "Today it is the Democrats. Tomorrow it could be us."
BERMAN: This, after Marco Rubio flat-out rejected Donald Trump's claims of a rigged election.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. MARCO RUBIO, (R), FLORIDA: We have 67 counties in this state, each of which conducts their own elections. I promise you there is not a 67-county conspiracy to rig this election. There's no evidence behind any of this. So this should not continue to be said. And do I believe people should have confidence? Yes.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BERMAN: Here to discuss now, CNN political commentator, Donald Trump supporter Scottie Nell Hughes; David Brock, the founder of Correct the Record and Media Matters, a Hillary Clinton supporter; behavior and psychological expert, and Trump supporter, Gina Loudon; and Bakari Sellers, former South Carolina state rep and a Hillary Clinton supporter.
Scottie Nell Hughes, Marco Rubio has a lot of advice. WikiLeaks, don't touch it. What's it like to get advice from Marco Rubio right now?
SCOTTIE NELL HUGHES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think Marco Rubio needs to be advising his own campaign at this moment. Let's remember, he was the golden child. He should be right now the republic presidential nominee. He was at the top of the ticket coming out of 2012 and then he decided to go with this Gang of Eight immigration bill. He should have probably listened to his own advice and tried to pick and choose which battles you will fight. He's had a tough race right now in Florida. He should be concentrating on that. I think this is why you are seeing this type of talk here. But, once again, when you see Republican Senators and Congressmen go
against Donald Trump and the amount of great enthusiasm that his supporters are carrying, it doesn't look well for the establishment Republicans.
BERMAN: Sounds like a threat.
BOLDUAN: But what about the message he has, no one should be celebrating if foreign actors are the ones hacking e-mails and putting them out? Why celebrate? Because in his words, it's the Democrats today, it's us tomorrow.
HUGHES: Absolutely. I don't think Mr. Trump or anybody, the Republicans are celebrating he was hacked into. What we are showing --
BOLDUAN: Aren't they?
HUGHES: No. Actually, someone breaking in, absolutely not. Mr. Trump has been against that over and over.
HUGHES: Well, he's condemned that over and over, Bakari.
But what he has said is that doesn't mean we don't have the skeletons that needed to come out of the depths of the coffins of the Democratic party, have been finally brought to light thanks to WikiLeaks.
BERMAN: David Brock, I have a feeling in a million, billion years, if the shoe were on the other foot, you wouldn't lay off the WikiLeaks. If there are WikiLeaks e-mails hacked about Republicans, about Donald Trump, you would be spinning them right now.
DAVID BROCK, FOUNDER, CORRECT THE RECORD SUPER PAC & FOUNDER, MEDIA MATTERS: I would like to think we wouldn't be doing that because I don't think we would approve of a foreign government trying to subvert our electoral process. Two, we try to stick to the facts. It's not known which of these e-mails are real, which may be somewhat --
BERMAN: They haven't denied the existence of any of them. None of them have they said this wasn't true at all. That isn't really the issue here.
BROCK: I think that's part of the issue. There have been a few that haven't been recognized.
But the main issue is that Donald Trump has been encouraging --