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THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER

Lone Survivor; Donald Trump Leading the Pack; Harper Lee's "Go Set A Watchman" Hits Stores Amid Much Controversy. Aired 4:30-5p ET

Aired July 14, 2015 - 16:30   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


RICK DELUC, STORE OWNER: Clearly rattled and, you know, shaken by the experience. And I think physically the fact she hadn't eaten for two days I think had a lot to do with it as well.

[16:30:07]

DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Authorities say Veatch was traveling with Leland and Sharon Bowman. The trio left Kalispell, Montana, around 1:00 p.m. Saturday en route to Lynden, Washington.

The plane dropped off radar near Omak, Washington, just before 3:30 p.m. Veatch says she reached the nearby community of Mazama after walking along a river for nearly two days and then flagging down a car.

FRANK ROGERS, OKANOGAN COUNTY SHERIFF: I will tell you this, from all of us here, we're just impressed.

LT. COL. JEFFREY LUSTICK, CIVIL AIR PATROL: It is a miracle. It's definitely a miracle that she survived. And we're so happy about it.

SIMON: Veatch's father, David, rushed to her side, snapping these photos from the hospital.

DAVID VEATCH, FATHER: She's pretty banged up.

SIMON: His daughter told him the plane flew out of the clouds and into a mountainside. She tried to help the others on board, but couldn't. She waited for rescuers for about a day.

VEATCH: Right now, I kind of -- I really want to get her into some counseling and let her work through the events. These people were really playing the part of grandparents to her. And that's hitting her really hard.

SIMON: Search teams are taking to the skies, but have yet to locate the wreckage or the Bowmans.

LUSTICK: The pilot was apparently unable to see the ground. And there was an impact with the terrain. There was a crash. After the crash, there was a fire. Now our goal is to locate the crash scene and to find out what happened to the other people on board.

(END VIDEOTAPE) SIMON: And back here at the hospital, you can see some media crews setting up behind me. We are told that an update could be coming shortly. Last time I checked, we were told that hospital crews or doctors and nurses were still observing Autumn and no decision had been made in terms of whether she can go home.

John, we should tell you that this aircraft involved, this is a vintage old aircraft. This is a 1949 Beech A-35 and it's registered to Leland Bowman. We're told that Navy and volunteer aircraft are searching that mountainous terrain trying to see if they can spot any wreckage. But at this point, they haven't seen anything -- John.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: All right, Dan Simon, it's an amazing story. Thanks so much, Dan.

The politics lead, there is a new Republican front-runner, and a new poll just out says Donald Trump is leading the pack. We have a one- on-one interview with the new Republican front-runner at a winery, because this is the race for 2016. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[16:36:30]

BERMAN: Welcome back to THE LEAD, everyone.

The politics lead, and how's this for a lead? Donald Trump is winning. All right, that's imprecise. But he's leading within the margin of error, and that's enough to make heads of comedians and political scientists explode.

A brand-new nationwide poll from Suffolk University and "USA Today" has Donald Trump leading Jeb Bush. Trump is at 17 percent of the vote. Today, the Iran nuclear deal spurring reaction from all the candidates, and that includes the new, yes, Republican front-runner.

Our Dana Bash just returned from Trump's winery in Virginia.

And, Dana, talking to Donald Trump about Iran at a winery, you cross that off your bucket list.

DANA BASH, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I absolutely can.

Obviously, I am used to talking to candidates in the cornfields of Iowa, John, and the mountains of New Hampshire. A sprawling winery next to the candidate's swanky new boutique hotel, that was a first.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BASH (voice-over): Overlooking a winery he owns, Donald Trump trashed President Obama's nuclear deal with Iran.

(on camera): The president said that it's not built on trust; it's built on verification.

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It's not true. It's absolutely not true.

BASH: How do you know that?

TRUMP: They can do whatever they want to do.

Because I know many of the people involved in the negotiation. The Iranians are very good negotiators. The Persians are always great negotiators. They're laughing at us back in Iran.

BASH (voice-over): Trump says he would have made sure Americans held an Iran released as part of the deal.

(on camera): You're in the Oval Office, Iran and the specter of them having a nuclear weapon is in front of you, what do you do?

TRUMP: Well, first of all, it wouldn't be that soon. And, second of all, what I would do is, I would have made a deal not from desperation. I would have doubled and tripled up the sanctions and I would have made a much better deal.

BASH (voice-over): A new poll says nearly 40 percent of Republican voters believe Trump is only running for president for the publicity. Trump, who landed here on a helicopter with his name emblazoned on the side, dismissed doing this for the attention.

TRUMP: They think I'm doing it for publicity. The fact is, that was one I was surprised at. I hope that is right, that 40 percent think I'm doing this, because a lot of those people are voters for Trump, but they won't be in the polls if they think I'm doing it for publicity.

Why would I be doing this? I take abuse from everybody and I'm doing this for fun? This isn't fun. I want to make America great again.

BASH: Trump's candidacy is turning the GOP field upside down, his strident tone even drawing new criticism from Jeb Bush.

JEB BUSH (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: He's going to run. That's fine. But I don't want to be associated with the kind of vitriol that he's spewing out these days.

BASH (on camera): They are concerned about the way that you're taking the conversation within the Republican primary process.

TRUMP: Well, I don't know about that. I will be honest with you, I want to save the country. Our country's going to hell. We have a problem. I want to make America great again. And to do that, you have to be bold, you have to be strong, you have to use the same abilities that I use. You need a certain ability. We don't have that in office right now. We have people that are incompetent.

And as far as the Republican Party, they're big people. They can stick up for themselves.

(END VIDEOTAPE) BASH: Now, Trump actually does have data to back up his bravado. Today, a new poll, the one I was referring to, shows his favorability rating among Republicans has jumped from 20 percent to 40 percent. John, that's in less than one month.

BERMAN: That's significant. All right, Dana, hang on for a second.

I want to bring in CNN's chief political analyst, Gloria Borger, to join in this conversation.

And, Gloria, Dana's talking about the polls here. There's the poll that has him as the front-runner. There's a poll showing that the favorability is way up. What is driving these numbers?

GLORIA BORGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Look, I think that what we see in these polls is that he's striking a chord with the self- identified conservatives or very conservative Republican voters. That's the base of the base of the Republican Party, and that he's speaking to them.

[16:40:15]

And you see in this poll here, it's within a margin of error with Jeb Bush. But you see that Trump at least for now is speaking for an awful lot of Republicans. And what Jeb Bush said today is, look, if we just run on anger as a Republican Party, we're not going to win this election. We have to have some positive things to say to American voters, because what Bush is trying to say is that, look, we have got to win independent voters if we want to win the presidency.

And I think Trump does have an appeal to the base electorate in the Republican Party. How long-lived that's going to be remains to be seen.

BERMAN: If he's appealing to that base, the conservative wing of the Republican Party, Dana, which candidates is he drawing from? To whom is he the biggest threat right now?

BASH: That's a great question.

I think the answer to that is still unclear because it's hard to tell mathematically because there are so many candidates, and new ones being added, and because candidates are announcing at different times, they get different bounces and so forth.

But I think, to Gloria's point, the fact that Jeb Bush said what he said today might answer that question. Obviously, he is technically the front-runner. He has the most to lose. But it's not just that. When Trump just came on the scene, remember, he did it, he announced the day after Jeb Bush.

The Bush advisers were apoplectic that we were paying attention to him, frankly, because they said, come on, he is never going to be president. The fact that Jeb Bush is saying what he's saying now -- and I will tell you, just by way of background, the Bush campaign e- mailed out the statement that you saw in my piece to make sure that we all saw it. That's very telling.

(CROSSTALK)

BORGER: I think in terms of the candidates he might be drawing from, just look at the candidates who are sort of supporting what he's saying, for example, on immigration, candidate like Ben Carson, candidate like Ted Cruz.

Those are the people who stand to gain the most should Donald Trump kind of disappear into a ravine at some point. So those are the folks that seem to be supporting him, because they figure that they can pick up his support at some point.

BERMAN: Interesting. Who's Scott Walker? He just got in the race yesterday. And today we're talking about Donald Trump again.

(CROSSTALK)

BORGER: Yes, he's leading in Iowa, though, yes.

BERMAN: True. Very true. Thanks so much, guys.

The pop lead, it is Harper Lee's second novel in 55 years. But could there be a third or even a fourth? One person close to the legendary writer says there are two more books out there, and we're even getting a description.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BERMAN: Welcome back to THE LEAD. I'm John Berman in for Jake Tapper. In our Pop Lead today, the wait is over. "Go Set A Watchman," the recently discovered Harper Lee manuscript is available today as an actual book.

Fifty five years after the publication of "To Kill A Mockingbird," the new book raising questions about the classic characters found in "Mockingbird," particularly Atticus Finch.

"Go Set A Watchman" has renewed interest and scrutiny in the famously reclusive author as well. CNN's correspondent, Ed Lavandera in Lee's hometown, Monroeville, Alabama. Hi, Ed.

ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, John. You know, no one here in Harper Lee's hometown ever expected to read another word that Harper Lee had written. They never expected to have a book like this in their hands.

We learned today from one friend close to her that there might be some more writings still out there.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

LAVANDERA (voice-over): The frenzy over Harper Lee's novel "Go Set A Watchman" started with a midnight party in the writer's hometown of Monroeville, Alabama. Sher Caldwell is an English schoolteacher who drove nine hours from Kentucky to be here. She's mystified by the transformation of Atticus Finch in the "Watchman" novel, the beloved character who's now a racist.

CHER CALDWELL, TEACHER: He represents everything good in the moral compass of the book. And if I'm wrong, it's embarrassing.

LAVANDERA: As thousands have flocked to Lee's hometown, the reclusive writer who is known around here simply as Nell spent the day in this assisted living center, security guards on the front porch keeping reporters and others away.

Wayne Flynt is a dear friend of Harper Lee. He says the writer struggles to hear and see and describes her life as boring. But Flynt says she's OK with that.

WAYNE FLYNT, HARPER LEE FRIEND: She is an American enigma because in an age of narcissism and celebrity culture and paparazzi, Nell Harper Lee comes from the inside out and therefore she can live there in some kind of contentment, some kind of peace with herself.

LAVANDERA: For decades, Harper Lee vowed never to publish another book, content with one masterpiece. That's why there are many who believe the elderly writer has been manipulated by someone into releasing this book.

Marja Mills wrote the book "The Mockingbird Next Door" and spent nearly two years with Harper Lee and her sister, Alice, who died last November.

MARJA MILLS, AUTHOR, "THE MOCKINGBIRD NEXT DOOR": Alice was not only her big sister but her protector, her adviser. She said, you know, Harper will sign anything put in front of her by someone in whom she has confidence.

LAVANDERA: And now there's a sense that even more Harper Lee books could emerge. Lee's lawyer suggests there could be a third book and Wayne Flynt says he knows there's a fourth book, a fictional, non- fiction tale of an Alabama preacher accused of murdering four family members. Flynt says Lee wrote the book in the 1970s written in the style of Truman Capote's "In Cold Blood."

FLYNT: Her sister said it was better than "To Kill A Mockingbird" and better than "In Cold Blood."

LAVANDERA (on camera): You know you're just like teasing the whole world.

FLYNT: I know.

[16:50:07] LAVANDERA (voice-over): Wayne flint says no one knows where the manuscript is and if it will ever be published, another wrinkle to the legend of Monroeville's beloved "Mockingbird."

(END VIDEOTAPE) LAVANDERA: And John, you know, throughout the day here in Monroeville, Alabama, thousands of people coming through wanting the novel here in Monroeville. Here at the courthouse that was the actual setting, the inspiration for the courthouse images that were in the movie "To Kill A Mockingbird."

That was duplicated from this very courthouse here so people taking walking tours, getting a sense of all of this surrounding this town that inspired Harper Lee -- John.

BERMAN: It is a remarkable event and surprisingly contentious. Ed Lavandera in Alabama, thanks so much. Why would Harper Lee want to put out a new book after 55 years? People who know the reclusive writer personally have their suspicions about all this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[16:55:13]

BERMAN: Welcome back to "THE LEAD." I'm John Berman in for Jake Tapper. More on our Pop Lead, Harper Lee's second book, "Go Set A Watchman," came out today. Fifty five years after the Pulitzer Prize- winning "To Kill A Mockingbird" blazed into the American literary scene and gave a Scouted Gem and Atticus.

The new book which is set after "Mockingbird" but written before is raising new questions about these characters, especially Atticus. For more now on Harper Lee and "Go Set A Watchman," I'm joined by Charles Shields, author of the biography "Mockingbird, A Portrait Of Harper Lee" and Mary Murphy, director of the documentary "From Mockingbird To Watchman" and she met with Harper Lee like a week and a half ago.

Mary, I'll start with you here. I have to know, what's her state of mind in general and what's her state of mind regarding the release of this book and the controversy surrounding it?

MARY MURPHY, DIRECTOR, "HARPER LEE: FROM MOCKINGBIRD TO WATCHMAN": Well, I can only tell you what I observed. I was there filming and recording an event in which the publishers, both British and American, presented Harper Lee with spanking new copies of her new novel.

And she expressed thanks and it was a little presentation. And surprisingly, I was able to sit down and ask her a question. And so I said, did you ever think you would see this published? And she said, of course, I did, don't be silly.

BERMAN: Wow. That answers the question at least that, you know, she knows what's going on and she at least according to her conversation with you supports it.

MURPHY: Yes. And all the statements she's released and all the statements from her friends and people around her say she's quite delighted at this development.

BERMAN: All right, well, I'm excited to have both of you here because both of you somehow has read this book, which has been out for like three hours right now. Charles, let me throw this to you. Having now read the whole book -- yes, I'm jealous -- what surprised you the most?

CHARLES SHIELDS, AUTHOR, "MOCKINGBIRD: A PORTRAIT OF HARPER LEE": Well, let's get it right out there. The book has no literary merit. It's loosely constructed. It's discursive. It's vulgar in places and it exposes the author.

There's much too much of Harper Lee's personal feeling in this book. It's an artless book and it does nothing for her legacy. The only value in this book is that it reopened some very painful conversations about racism and segregation.

Yes, people are upset about this Atticus Finch. But he's very, very typical of a lot of southern males in the mid-20th Century. So accept it. This is the way things were and for a lot of people, it continues to be that, particularly for people who see words like diversity and multiculturalism as fighting words.

We're not over this by any stretch of the imagination, but as a novel, no merit.

BERMAN: I can't believe you're sugar-coating your opinion so much, Charles. Mary, Charles essentially says the book stinks, to sum up what he just said. He says it's no good.

MURPHY: Everyone's going to have their own opinion about this. I just think the book has value. You get to see the colonels of "To Kill A Mockingbird." Harper Lee herself has called the parent of "To Kill A Mockingbird." Is it the perfection that's "To Kill A Mockingbird?" No. It's an unedited manuscript. Everybody needs an editor and this one surely does, too.

BERMAN: I need both of you to help me heal here. Do we now take this as a singular linear account of the life of Atticus Finch, that he went from perfect father and hero and fair object of dignity to a racist by the time he grew up or are these two separate books about two separate people in two separate realities? Charles, you first.

SHIELDS: You've got it reversed. "Go Set A Watchman" was written in the late 1950s and went through the hands of a very experienced liberal editor in New York. It was reworked and Atticus bodies forth as a hero and a very strong protagonist whose moral centeredness makes him a colossus in that book. What we are getting now is an Atticus Finch who is very typical of his day.

BERMAN: Mary, last word?

MURPHY: Mr. Shields is right. That kind of white southern man absolutely was the normal in the mid-'50s in Alabama and, remember, this is a state that wanted to close their public schools rather than integrate them. So he is a typical white southerner and the story is the story of a child who comes home and confronts beliefs that she doesn't like.

BERMAN: I want Atticus to be atypical. Mary, Charles, thank you so much. That's all for THE LEAD. I'm John Berman. Now over to Wolf Blitzer in "THE SITUATION ROOM."