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ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT
Tonight: Trump Speech On Deck USS Iowa; GOP Candidates Prep For Debate Face Off; Trump and Fiorina Showdown at Tomorrow's Event. Aired 7-8p ET
Aired September 15, 2015 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[19:00:12] JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: OUTFRONT tonight, we are standing by for a major speech by Donald Trump tonight on the deck of the "USS Iowa," Trump expected to detail his National Security plan. We are live in Los Angeles.
Plus, while Trump speaks, his republican opponents are hunkered down preparing for tomorrow night's crucial face-off with the front-runner, that's in less than 24 hours.
And Carly Fiorina, a Trump insult pumped new life into her campaign. Will there be a Trump/Fiorina showdown at the debate? Let's go OUTFRONT.
Good evening, I'm Jim Sciutto in tonight again for Erin Burnett. And OUTFRONT tonight, Donald Trump firing shots across the bow. Trump taking to the deck of the USS Iowa, a storied battleship with distinguished service in both World War II and Korea. His advisors say that he will use this illustrious stage to reveal his national security platform tonight. The audience already gathering aboard the "Iowa" which is moored in Los Angeles. Trump's addressed the only public event today for any of the 16 republican candidates.
The rest of the presidential hopefuls behind closed doors prepping for tomorrow night's critical debate which will be broadcast here on CNN in less than 24 hours. The usual debate prep has the added challenge this time for candidates of how to take on and maybe take some of the spotlight away from the GOP front-runner. The latest poll by "The New York Times" and CBS News shows Trump leading the field with 27 percent of the vote. Ben Carson, close second in 23 percent. The rest of the field falling off into the low single digits. The only opening for Trump's opponents in that poll a full 63 percent of voters, that's nearly two out of three say that their mind is not yet made up.
We begin tonight with Sara Murray in front of the "USS Iowa" in Los Angeles. And Sara, what can we expect to hear tonight? Are we expecting specifics in its national security platform?
SARA MURRAY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Jim, I think that's the big question on the top of everyone's mind, Donald Trump has said regularly in his stump speech that he will make a strong military, that he will be great for veterans. He has not said how he will do any of this. And so, it will be interesting to see tonight if he offers any sort of meat on the bones, any of these policy specifics. But we do know is veterans group that's here, the guys who are running that have been in touch with the Trump campaign and they've been prepping him not just for this speech but also for the debate. And Donald Trump like you said is the only candidate on the stump today and he said he does events like this instead of doing debate prep. This is his debate prep, going out, talking to groups like this, talking to veterans. That's how he shapes his views and that's what prepares him to take the stage -- Jim.
SCIUTTO: And just a remarkable stage as well, Sara Murray right in front of the "USS Iowa" there in Los Angeles. And while Trump is on the move, the other republican candidates as Sara said, they are off the grid preparing to go head-to-head tomorrow night at CNN's debate in Simi Valley, California.
And that is where our Jeff Zeleny is OUTFRONT tonight.
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This is a movement that's happening.
JEFF ZELENY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The Donald Trump movement sweeping the republican presidential race. He's riding a confident wave into the second GOP debate. Tomorrow night on CNN.
TRUMP: We've had a lot of fun, and now it's time to really start. Because this is going to happen. I'm telling you.
ZELENY: Trump and Ben Carson now battling for number one. A new poll today from the "New York Times" and CBS News shows Trump at 27 percent. Carson suddenly close behind at 23 percent. Up from six percent in August. The rest of the field, battling to stay alive. Jeb Bush falling from 13 percent to six. Scott Walker from 10 percent to two percent.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He cut taxes $19 billion.
ZELENY: Today the Bush Super Pac come being to the rescue, or hoping to. Starting a $24 million advertising blitz to tout Bush as a conservative.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Street was floored. The governor was Jeb Bush, proven conservative. Real results.
ZELENY: Republicans say they're looking for an outsider which has given rise to Trump, Carson and Carly Fiorina. But they're torn over whether they want a candidate who burns red hot, like Trump --
TRUMP: I hear they're all going after me. Whatever. Whatever!
ZELENY: Or more humble like the neurosurgeon, Dr. Carson.
DR. BEN CARSON (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It's human nature to think that whatever you do is the greatest thing and provides everybody with their messiah. I don't have that complex, quite frankly. ZELENY: Six weeks after Republicans shared a stage at their first
debate, time is running short, and some candidates are desperate to jump-start their campaigns. They've tried huffing, and puffing. But they haven't blown Trump's house down. Today, the conservative group club for growth launched a $1 million ad campaign in Iowa aimed at Trump.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Trump wants us to think he's Mr. Tell-it-like-it- is. But he has a record, and it's very liberal.
ZELENY: As most candidates cram for the debate behind closed doors, Trump is delivering another speech tonight. It's on foreign policy. He'll be on deck of the "USS Iowa," a battleship that waged war in the pacific during World War II.
TRUMP: Unless I win, it's been a waste of time for me, folks. I'll be honest with you. Been a total waste of time. I really mean that, too.
[19:05:32] ZELENY: Jim, and tomorrow night Donald Trump will be standing right here center stage in the Reagan Library in front of this Air Force One that Ronald Reagan flew. Of course all republican candidates are trying to slow his rise. Take a look at how closely they'll be standing together. Just a few feet apart. Finally bringing all those long distance barbs face to face as they speak to this intimate small audience here. But it is more than that, Jim. It is also those key early voters in Iowa and New Hampshire, in South Carolina. And of course, those republican contributors who are paying such close attention tomorrow to see if any candidates will break out of this pack -- Jim.
SCIUTTO: Jeff Zeleny in Simi Valley, California. And OUTFRONT now, Ed Brookover, he's a senior strategist for Ben Carson, political commentator Ana Navarro and political commentator Jeffrey Lord. He was a former Reagan White House political director. Jeffrey, I wonder if I begin with you. Donald Trump talking National Security tonight. This is an area where he has shown some weakness. Does he have to get into specifics tonight on his National Security platform?
JEFFREY LORD, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: No. He has to deliver the message. As Reagan's message was peace through strength, Reagan didn't go into 75,000 pages of details. No. All he has to do is deliver his message and his vision on foreign policy and the kind of American foreign policy we should have in general outline form. Absolutely not.
SCIUTTO: He's had problems, let's be honest, delivering that message. Hugh Hewitt who will be at the debate tomorrow asking questions. He has, you'll remember, managed to stump Trump. Have a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HUGH HEWITT, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: Are you familiar with General Soleimani? TRUMP: Yes. But go ahead, give me a little, go ahead, tell me.
HEWITT: He runs the Quds Forces.
TRUMP: Yes. Okay. Right.
HEWITT: Do you expect his behavior --
TRUMP: I think it the Kurds, by the way, have been harshly mistreated by us.
HEWITT: No. Not the Kurds. The Quds Forces. The Iranian Revolutionary Guards Quds Forces.
HEWITT: The bad guys.
HEWITT: Do you expect his behavior to change as a result?
TRUMP: Oh, I thought you said Kurds.
HEWITT: No, Quds.
TRUMP: I'm sorry, I thought you said Kurds.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCIUTTO: Confident that Trump will be ready this time for this stage.
LORD: Sure. Sure. I mean, his disagreement with Hugh and Hugh later said that he thought well maybe he did mishear him on this. But the overall question, the disagreement -- I've written a column on this for conservative review -- there is a disagreement on whether you get into all the details which is what Jimmy Carter did, it was famous for reading the Air Force budget, thousands of pages, or whether you do it like Ronald Reagan, whether it is your judgment and your management and you hire good people but you're the one who makes the judgment. Judgment is the issue here, not all the details. There are plenty of people who will bring you the details. You're the one who has to decide.
SCIUTTO: Ed, Trump has been very specific in his criticism of Ben Carson recently. He called him low energy. He called him in his words an "Okay" doctor. Does Carson fight back? Because so far the only time he's criticized Trump, he actually later apologized for questioning Trump's faith. I wonder if there is a change of tack tomorrow.
ED BROOKOVER, SENIOR STRATEGIST FOR BEN CARSON'S CAMPAIGN: Well, Jim, all along Dr. Carson has been campaigning on his -- I'm sorry, is that for me Jim?
SCIUTTO: That was for you. That was for you. Please go ahead. BROOKOVER: Yes. I think that Dr. Carson's campaign all along has
been about him presenting his values, his views, his thoughts to the American people. And tomorrow night, you can see Dr. Carson continue on that path.
SCIUTTO: And let's talk about another candidate here, Jeb Bush. He is polling according to latest CBS/"New York Times" poll, it's down from 13 percent to six percent. That's more than a -- a drop of more than half. Is tomorrow a make or break moments for Bush, not just for his supporters but also for his fundraisers?
ANA NAVARRO, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Tomorrow is an important day for Jeb Bush. There is going to be an enormous amount of viewers. We've seen that these debates, the last one attracted 24 million, 25 million viewers. It is an important debate for every candidate on that stage. There is a lot of people on that stage who are on the verge of dropping off the main stage. Jeb is not. He's going to be on center stage right next to Donald Trump. But I do think it is an important debate for him. As for everybody else. Jeb though, unlike some others, has got the ability to wait this out. He's got the ability to wait for the field to whittle down. He can play the long game. He put away a lot of acorns to survive the winter. He's got a lot of resources. He's got a very strong structure. And yes, I think he can wait this out.
[19:10:04] SCIUTTO: Jeffrey, last night Trump spoke, we saw the event. We had it live here on CNN. Thousands of cheering supporters in Dallas in that is, what is normally an NBA venue. Tomorrow it is a much smaller audience. It's not going to be thousands. It's going to be a few hundred. We know that he benefits from playing to the crowd. Cheers and the boos. Will a crowd like tomorrows affect his chances of making any real impact, his chances of success?
LORD: No, I don't think so. You know, in "The Apprentice," he didn't have a crowd of thousands either. He does very well with an audience of one, let alone an audience of thousands. So I don't really think that's going to be a problem for him.
SCIUTTO: And let's talk if we can a little bit about Ben Carson. He has struggled with foreign policy questions for instance which we know that Donald Trump is speaking to tonight at the last debate. He cornered about being unfamiliar with Israel's government, Alan Greenspan. With Carson though now closing in on Trump, does he have most to lose, I suppose, if he makes a mistake?
BROOKOVER: Not at all. Dr. Carson has shown that he has the values that the American people are looking for, that they are looking for a new kind of leadership. Because right now Washington is broken and the political class is failing us. When you look at Dr. Carson's experience, whether it's been the 57 countries he's traveled to, the 68 doctorates, his views and values he has about protecting America's National Security, we feel very confident that he'll do well on those issues.
SCIUTTO: Ana, I want to come to you last before we go. When we spoke yesterday you said that if Trump picks a fight, Jeb Bush should fight back. And we've seen some of that recently. Is that in your view the best strategy? Because as we know, Donald Trump likes a fight. He likes a chance to respond. It can be a risky one as well for Jeb Bush.
NAVARRO: Well, I don't know that there is another option, Jim, particularly with this debate setup. When you're going to be a foot and a half, two feet apart, and Jeb is going to be on one side of Donald Trump, Ben Carson is going to be on the other side, if he is insulting you and calling you names while standing a foot and a half from you, how do you not respond? You can't just ignore it. So I think what you've seen from Jeb is that for the, you know, for a long time, certainly at the start, he thought, okay, is this serious? Could this be possible? If you asked me and I've known him for a long time -- Jeb would much rather be talking policy, offering up his agenda and being optimistic on that stage. But if the guy standing two feet from him is going to pick a fight, I think yes, hell, yes, he needs to fight back.
SCIUTTO: And we see this up close, they're going to beat each other looking at that debate stage behind you. Ed Brookover, Ana Navarro, Jeffrey Lord, thanks for joining us again tonight.
And OUTFRONT next, you are looking at the "USS Iowa" in just a little while, Donald Trump will take the stage there. His camp billing his speech as a major address on his National Security strategy.
SCIUTTO: And Carly Fiorina. She took aim at Trump in the first round. Will the two trade blows at tomorrow's debate? We'll be right back.
[19:16:20] SCIUTTO: Eleven candidates will take to the stage at CNN's debate tomorrow night, but one of the biggest showdowns may come down to just two of them -- Donald Trump and Carly Fiorina. They're both political outsiders running on their records in business. He's insulted her looks, she's mocked the size of his ego. Tomorrow they will share a debate stage for the first time. Several candidates have taken swings at Trump but is Fiorina the only one who can land a punch?
Suzanne Malveaux is OUTFRONT.
CARLY FIORINA (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It's not about your title. It's not about your ego.
SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Carly Fiorina who will be the only female candidate on stage is now taking on the front- runner, Donald Trump. This latest hit from a Fiorina Super PAC answering Trump's personal attack.
FIORINA: Look at this face. This is the face of a 61-year-old woman. I am proud of every year and every wrinkle.
MALVEAUX: The comeback following this insult Trump seemed to make about Fiorina's appearance. "Look at that face. Would anyone vote for that? Can you imagine that, the face of our next president?" Trump later tried to clean it up.
TRUMP: I'm talking about her persona. Many of those comments are made as an entertainer.
MALVEAUX: Fiorina's strategy so far -- turn Trump's own words against him.
FIORINA: Donald Trump is an entertainer and so, he says things that are entertaining. I think these are serious times that call for real leadership.
MALVEAUX: The big debate is a potential make-or-break moment for Fiorina who has registered just single digits in the polls. Both Fiorina and Trump, the outside business leaders, are trading insults.
TRUMP: The fact is that Carly Fiorina has had a terrible past. She was fired viciously from Hewlett-Packard.
MALVEAUX: Fighting over their business records.
TRUMP: She was a disastrous CEO.
FIORINA: The face of leadership in our party, the party of women's suffrage.
MALVEAUX: And over leadership skills.
TRUMP: I will be the greatest jobs president that God ever created.
FIORINA: Leadership is not about the size of your office. The size of your airplane. The size of your helicopter.
MALVEAUX: Fiorina was widely declared the winner of the first GOP debate among the second-tier candidates.
FIORINA: I would just ask what are the principles by which he will govern.
MALVEAUX: But her most recent numbers have been disappointing. According to a CNN/ORC poll, she's getting just three percent support among Republicans nationwide. Meanwhile, Trump is leading with 33 percent.
MALVEAUX: After a week of punch and counterpunch for Fiorina, the stakes could not be higher. She and Trump are both going after the critical female vote. And while Trump's overall favorability rating among women nationwide is only 31 percent, the latest CNN/ORC poll shows him gaining among republican women up by 13 points from just last month -- Jim. SCIUTTO: Can she make an impact on the big stage like she did in the
small at the last debate. Suzanne Malveaux in D.C.
And OUTFRONT, CNN political commentator S.E. Cupp and the former president of Trump Communications, that's the company that produced "The Apprentice," Andy Dean.
S.E., if I could start with you. As you heard Suzanne report, Fiorina got a real bump after that last debate. Her number is fading since then. I just wonder, is tomorrow night do or die for her?
S.E. CUPP, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think it is. I've talked to the campaign and they are trying to ignore the hype. But the expectations are high. When you demand to get more attention and to be on the main stage as Carly Fiorina did, and then you get it, well then you have to perform. The good news is she's very quick on her feet. I think you can expect some good one-liners out of her, maybe even a "Look at this face" applause line. I know that she's going to stick with policy but she's also not going to back away if she's hit. The campaign thinks that she's done a very good job dealing with Trump so far. We'll have to see it is a little different when you are in the same room as Donald Trump and he is standing a couple of feet away from you and he is calling you a loser or questioning your record at HP which I expect him to do. So, we'll see. But without a doubt, expectations are high for Carly Fiorina and she has to have a very good night.
SCIUTTO: So Andy, Trump was asked if he's worried about Fiorina and here's his response. Have a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: No, I'm not. I think she's a very nice woman. I'm not at all. I think she'll do well. I asked that she join the debate because I think she should.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCIUTTO: Sounds there, very different certainly from the comments about her face. Is Trump backing off Fiorina and do you expect that tomorrow night?
[19:21:02] ANDY DEAN, TRUMP SUPPORTER: Right. So I think he's realizing that she's polling in the low single digits. She has absolutely no chance. And when the American public looks at her record at Hewlett-Packard where she fired 30,000 people and the stock went down 47 percent under her tenure, she also forced the board to buy her a $30 million golf stream Ford jet while her predecessor used to fly coach. But the most worrying thing about Carly Fiorina were her dealings with Iran through a Hewlett-Packard subsidiary. She sold hundreds of millions of dollars of printer technology to Iran which sparked an SEC investigation. And once the SEC is looking into it, HP stopped the activity. So, she's got a really dirty record, it's pretty frightening.
SCIUTTO: S.E., you just heard Andy there, maybe presaging some of the points that Donald Trump might make tomorrow, particularly the Iran comments.
SCIUTTO: You spoke to the campaign as you said. What is their plan of attack, plan a defense I supposed but also plan of attack against Donald Trump?
CUPP: Yes. I mean for -- if Trump isn't worried that Carly Fiorina could become president, his friends like Andy certainly have studied up on her record. And I, for one, hope that Trump asks her about her time at HP because I've heard her defend it multiple times in interviews and on the stump. Sheep does a great job of talking about how, you have to lay some people off to save the thousands of jobs that she did and the company that she did. So, she's got that down path. And the way her campaign says it is, she gets the best debate preparation of anyone because she takes actual questions, non- screened, from folks on the campaign trail at every event. She's very relaxed. In fact, she plays a lot of solitaire on her iPhone to relax and focus before these big nights. So she's feeling very, very good.
SCIUTTO: Andy --
DEAN: I got to interrupt here.
SCIUTTO: Go ahead. Go ahead.
DEAN: -- for a second. I just don't know how do you spin -- how could Carly Fiorina spin her time at Hewlett Packard? She was there for six years. And the stock was down 47 percent. The board fired her. And if you talk to the people there, you know, her tenure was a disaster. And the proof is in the pudding. When she left the company the day after, the stock went up $3 billion the day that she'd left because investors were so happy to get her out of there. So, how -- if she can spin this, then I will be impress. I want to see it.
SCIUTTO: Do you agree S.E. that that's going to be difficult for her to defend her record as CEO?
CUPP: Well, look. Yes. I mean Carly's only record, because she's not held political office, is as a CEO. It's fair game. My only point is I've heard her defend it. She does is very well. But the more success she has, either tomorrow night or as the campaign moves forward, the more scrutiny she's going to face. And of course she's going to get those kinds of questions either from the Trump team or journalists. I expect maybe even Jake will bring some of her record up tomorrow night. Again, that's fair game. I just hope that Trump maybe gets a little of the same kind of scrutiny about his positions, his ideas, his sort of, you know, broad philosophy that you can't really pin down. I hope we get to the bottom of Trump's record as well.
SCIUTTO: No question. Fair point that as his standing remains as high as it is, he is going to face similar challenges. Thanks so much to S.E. and Andy. Great to have you on.
OUTFRONT next -- we are standing by for Donald Trump, his campaign says that tonight's speech will focus on his National Security plan. It is going to be onboard the "USS Iowa" which you see there. He has picked this wonderful symbol, powerful symbol of World War II for his stage.
And Jeb Bush. He's tried ignoring Trump. He tried responding politely to him. He's also tried attacking him. What is his plan for tomorrow night's crucial debate?
[19:28:42] SCIUTTO: Welcome back. Tonight, Donald Trump about to board a battleship and reveal his National Security plan to an audience of veterans. You are looking at live pictures of that ship. The "USS Iowa" on the Los Angeles waterfront. Trump set to appear on the deck of the decommissioned war ship to deliver what his campaign is calling a major speech. Republican front-runner has been big on foreign policy talk but, does he actually have a strategy?
SCIUTTO (voice-over): Like many of his views, Donald Trump's foreign policy can be summed up in one short phrase -- get tough on ISIS.
TRUMP: I'd bomb the hell of the oil fields. I didn't get Exxon, I didn't get these great oil companies to go in. They will rebuild them so fast your head will spin.
SCIUTTO: On China.
TRUMP: China's taking our jobs, they're taking our money. Be careful, they'll bring us down. You have to know what you're doing. We have nobody that has a clue.
SCIUTTO: On the Iran nuclear agreement.
TRUMP: The nuclear deal is a disaster. All because we have people in there that are either incompetent or there's something maybe even worse going on. I happen to think they are incompetent.
SCIUTTO: He has to back up his tough talk with an invigorated U.S. military.
TRUMP: I want to build up our military. I want to have such an incredible military that nobody is going to play games with us, nobody is going to mess with us and hopefully we won't ever have to use our military.
SCIUTTO: He's proposed sending U.S. ground troops to fight ISIS. However, many of his bold pronouncements have yet to be backed up by specifics. And when asked who he relies on for military advice, he pointed to the Sunday talk shows.
TRUMP: Well, I watch the shows. I mean I really see a lot of great -- when you watch your show and all of the other shows and you have the generals and you have certain people -- SCIUTTO: Still, beneath the surface, some of his foreign policy
positions are less hard line than they first appear. While many of his opponents vow to tear up the Iran nuclear deal on day one in office, Donald Trump says he'd keep it -- though renegotiate.
TRUMP: I'm really good at looking at a contract and finding things within a contract that are bad. I would police that contract so tough that they don't have a chance, as bad as the contract is. I will be so tough on that contract.
SCIUTTO: And while he vows to stand up to China by, for instance, imposing a 25 percent tariff on Chinese-made goods, he also promises to keep doing business with Beijing.
TRUMP: I'm a free trader. The problem with free trade is you have to have smart leaders on your side. We do not have smart leaders. We do not have good negotiators.
SCIUTTO: OUTFRONT now, former U.S. military attache in Syria, Lieutenant Colonel Rick Francona, and back with me is former White House political director, Jeffrey Lord.
Colonel Francona, great to have you on. I want to ask you, Trump says he wants to bomb the oil fields in Iraq and Syria. He wants to send thousands of U.S. troops to Iraq. You've been on the ground in the region. Is that a credible strategy?
LT. COL. RICK FRANCONA (RET), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: It is not really a strategy. Those are offhand comments of something he wants to do. I think strategy remains the same. Destroy, degrade, defeat ISIS. How we go about that is what is important.
You know, when Trump makes his statements about putting troops on the ground, a lot of military people are wary of that because every time we go over and put troops on the ground, we have to do it the right way. We never seem to have an end game in mind. I haven't heard an end game from Mr. Trump yet.
But he does resonate with a lot of military people when he says he wants to reinvigorate the military. Over the last few years, we have cut muscle from the Defense Department way beyond what we need to be cutting the fat.
So, it goes both ways, Jim.
SCIUTTO: Jeffrey, in addition to those criticisms, the questions about how these positions would fit into a broader strategy, you remember the comment, he said he learns about his military strategy, in effect, by watching television. There is a new ad out today from former Governor Bobby Jindal, one of his opponents. Have a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: You get a lot of your military analysis from watching television.
TRUMP: I watch all of the shows. I really find it to be a fascinating subject. I see a lot of good things by watching your show and other shows.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCIUTTO: It's a biting ad, to say the least. That's politics. But the fact is his foreign policy proposals to date short on specifics. Do you expect to hear those specifics tonight? Does he need to present them tonight?
JEFFREY LORD, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I don't know that he'll do all kinds of specifics. I honestly don't know. I have no concern here about his taking a different view on things. The colonel was just describing a situation which to me resonates, since we're here at the Reagan library, Ronald Reagan's approach to national security policy when he became president.
Arms control was very much in vogue at the time. He believed in a whole other approach, the peace through strength. He wanted to end the Cold War. They thought he was crazy. He went forward with the strategy defense initiative.
All sorts of people thought that was terrible. That wound up breaking the back of the Soviet Union and winning the Cold War. So, you know, we do have this civilian command of the military and national security, and Donald Trump, like any other president, new president, would come in with his own set of ideas and certainly listen to reasonable opposition and then make his decision.
SCIUTTO: But, Jeffrey, I have to ask you -- those positions you describe of Ronald Reagan, they fit under a broad strategy, Cold War strategy. Have you heard a strategy from Donald Trump? Because to this point, what many say is you've heard applause lines. You haven't heard a strategy.
LORD: Right. Right. Well, I am assuming from what's being described that we're going to hear some version of that tonight. It will be very interesting to see. I honestly have to tell you, I don't know.
SCIUTTO: Colonel Francona, part of this -- if not strategy, part of the platform to this point is that he would reinvigorate the U.S. military, says it would be the strongest military in the world. People would know it. Today it is already the strongest military in the world, it certainly has its problems.
In your view, is there something there that needs to be fixed and the key question is, how do you pay for it in light of the military's sequestration, the already-existing budget issues?
FRANCONA: You just hit it right there. Who's going to pay for all this?
[19:35:00] We do need to reinvigorate the U.S. military. We cannot keep these cuts. Sequestration is killing the Department of Defense. We are already beyond where we should cutting the U.S. Army by 40,000 troops.
So, I would like to hear we're not only going to do it but how we're going to do it. It's very important that the veterans and the military hear this because right now, you hear words like we're going to have victory after victory. You can't do that unless you reinvigorate the military.
But we want to make sure that we do this in a serious manner. And victory after victory, we want to make sure that the new president is not going to be deploying troops willy-nilly anywhere in the world. There has to be a strategy and we have to adhere to it.
LORD: You know, he's a very --
SCIUTTO: Go ahead, Jeffrey.
LORD: He is a very careful executive, Jim. I mean he's a very careful executive. He built this enormous business precisely on the same principle that Ronald Reagan ran the government. He had good people that gave him the details and he had the judgment.
As I said earlier, that's what this is all about. He certainly I think would agree with colonel about, you know, rebuilding the military. I mean that is one of his prime positions, without doubt.
SCIUTTO: And that will be one of the questions, can he translate that business success into governing. That's one thing he'll have to answer to voters. Jeffrey Lord, Colonel Francona, great to have you on.
And OUTFRONT next, Jeb Bush still struggling for an answer to Trump's relentless attacks. Could tomorrow's CNN debate be Bush's last chance to turn the tide?
And this is the USS Iowa. She saw service in both World War II and Korea. And shortly, Donald Trump will take the stage there where his campaign says he will lay out his national security plan.
[19:40:39] SCIUTTO: And welcome back.
Donald Trump about to roll out his national security plan on board this battleship, the USS Iowa. And while Trump will be in front of the cameras, one of his main rivals, Jeb Bush, is behind closed doors, preparing for tomorrow night's debate.
Tom Foreman is OUTFRONT.
TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: With a friendly smile, a steady demeanor and a deep political resume, Jeb Bush has worked himself to third place and falling in the Republican pack.
JEB BUSH (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Thank you all. I'm offering something different -- leadership, ideas, and a proven conservative record.
FOREMAN: Maybe it's because conservatives have not yet embraced him. Maybe it is because GOP voters are strongly liking outsiders. But mostly, it's this guy.
TRUMP: And we're really killing it. We are killing it.
FOREMAN: From the moment Donald Trump entered the race, he has battered Bush's too nice, too boring, too soft to lead.
TRUMP: I don't want to see he's a stiff because that's too rude. And then they will say I'm not a nice person. But, you know, can you imagine him negotiating against China?
BUSH: We're going to win when we unite people with a hopeful optimistic message.
FOREMAN: Bush has pushed back suggesting before, during and after the first debate that Trump is a side show threatening to split the party.
BUSH: Look, he is who he is. He likes to disparage people.
FOREMAN: And Trump has responded to each gentle jab with a roundhouse hook.
TRUMP: He's a very low-energy kind of guy and he had to do something.
FOREMAN: So, with this next debate looming, Bush's latest ad is a full-on attack titled "The Real Donald Trump."
TRUMP: You'd be shocked if I said that in many cases I probably identify more as a Democrat.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Then why are you a Republican?
TRUMP: I have no idea.
FOREMAN: Still, almost one-third of Republicans thought Bush would get the nomination as late as July. Now it's down and Trump keeps climbing.
BUSH: I think he believes that he can insult his way to the presidency and I don't think history's a really good guide for that. I think he needs to begin to say what his vision is for the future.
FOREMAN: In short, Bush is like a boxer who thinks he is pick his opponent apart. And Trump is like a brawler who never gives him that chance. And as we head into this crucial second debate, Jim, the brawler is ahead on points.
SCIUTTO: Who lands those punches tomorrow. Tom Foreman in Washington.
OUTFRONT now, Michael Smerconish, he is host of "SMERCONISH" here on CNN.
So, Michael, what is Jeb Bush's strategy to turn it around tomorrow night?
MICHAEL SMERCONISH, HOST, "SMERCONISH": I think most importantly he can't take any crap from Donald Trump. I think he's been flat-footed for far too long in terms of fashioning his response to Trump. But, Jim, if he should knock Trump out tomorrow night with some great sound bite, I don't think he'll be the beneficiary. I think the beneficiary will be Ben Carson and Carly Fiorina, because I've been saying for quite some time, there are two debates playing themselves out on this stage.
And Jeb right now is facing a threat right now from other establishment candidates who might surpass him in the polls. And if that happens he'll have a money issue. You know, he's raised $100 million for that super PAC. $100 million doesn't get you all the way home in a race this long and this expensive.
So, his fear has got to be that the financial spigot will be turned off if he can't show some life tomorrow night.
SCIUTTO: And where do that money go if the donors get scared after his performance tomorrow night?
SMERCONISH: Those donors don't go to Donald Trump. Those donors don't go to Ben Carson and they don't go to Carly Fiorina. I think that they go to a John Kasich. I think they go to Marco Rubio. They might even go to a Chris Christie, because I think you got two different clusters of on this debate stage, and you've also got a third category of individuals who really don't fit into either the establishment class or into the maverick class.
And I'm thinking of someone like Ted Cruz who holds an office, but you really don't perceive him to be part of the Washington establishment. So, watch the clusters tomorrow night. That's what I'm saying.
SCIUTTO: Michael Smerconish in Simi Valley, thanks a lot.
And OUTFRONT next, you are looking at live pictures of the deck of the USS Iowa. Donald Trump about to take one of the biggest stages yet, that is coming right after this.
[19:48:57] SCIUTTO: Donald Trump is about to speak on the battleship USS Iowa. The Iowa, a long illustrious history, it operated on the Atlantic and Pacific during World War II, saw action in the Korean War and was reactivated for service in the mid-1980s.
Presidents Franklin Roosevelt, Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush all went aboard the Iowa. On a personal note, my father served onboard as well as Lieutenant J.G. at the end of the Korean War. Tonight Donald Trump has chosen the Iowa, which also happens to bear the name of the first caucus state, as the venue to deliver what his camp is calling a major national security speech. Earlier, I spoke to Joel Arends. He is chairman of the Veterans for a Strong America. The group holding the event. I began by asking him if he was insulted by Trump comparing his time at a military style prep school to time in uniform.
JOEL ARENDS, CHAIRMAN, VETERANS FOR A STRONG AMERICA: Look, Donald Trump is a plain-spoken, authentic, brash, strong personality. Most people understand what he's saying when he says, hey, look, I was in a military prep school. I understand what goes on in the military.
I don't find it offensive. It's not like the guy claimed to be a Navy S.E.A.L. or something. But what's more offensive out there is not only members of the military getting pink slips while they're in combat, but 250,000 veterans who died while waiting for care from the current administration, the current VA. That's more insulting than these off-the-cuff remarks that we hear from Donald Trump. So we're worried about the substance, we're worried about whether government can deliver for the veterans. We're looking for a presidential candidate, what we want to hear from Donald Trump tonight is whether or not he's going to live up to President Lincoln's promise to take care of the veterans when they come back from battle.
SCIUTTO: I wonder as you stand there in front of the USS Iowa, that is an illustrious platform. It fought in World War II. It fought in the Korean War. It was brought out of mothballs, used again in the '80s. My father served on board that ship. Do you think that Donald Trump the candidate has earned that platform?
ARENDS: I think anyone running for office who has that First Amendment right can walk on that platform and tell the American people what they stand for, Jim. I think Donald Trump certainly, the American people so far think he has earned it with the kind of support that he has in the polls. And it's because he's plain, he's authentic, he's outspoken about these issues. You know, for so long, Jim, we've had people who have held previous elected office, and what do we get? We get three decades now of problems with the V.A., and so previously elected officials are not fixing these chronic government problems that we face. You look at the kind of success that Donald Trump has had in business. He's been able to produce results.
SCIUTTO: Let's get, if we can, to some of the policy. You said this is part of his appeal there. Trump has said, has proposed sending 25,000 troops on the ground in Iraq and Syria to fight ISIS. You did your time there, and that's a credit to you. Would you support that decision, sending U.S. troops back into ground combat in Iraq and Syria?
ARENDS: Well, it would have to be a very measured decision. We'd want to hear from all the experts. But I think at the end of the day, in order to beat back ISIS from the vacuum that was created when President Obama removed troops from Iraq, and I think that's undisputed, is that we're going to have to put boots back on the ground. I mean, that's not an easy decision to make again, but what we have to look at is whether or not ISIS is an existential threat to this country. It's certainly a threat to the Middle East. It is certainly a threat to thousands of Christians who are being beheaded, little children are being beheaded. ISIS, they are a gruesome, horrific organization, and if it takes American military personnel to intervene in order to stop that kind of humanitarian crisis from happening, we certainly need to give great thought to it.
SCIUTTO: Joel Arends, thanks for your service to the military and thanks for taking the time tonight.
ARENDS: Thank you, Jim.
SCIUTTO: Outfront next, Jeanne Moos with memorable moments from debates past.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. LLOYD BENTSEN, D-TEXAS: Jack Kennedy was a friend of mine. Senator, you're no Jack Kennedy.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCIUTTO: You're looking at a live picture of the stage for the second Republican debate, now just 24 hours away. We look back at some of the most memorable moments in debate history, which are often also the most awkward. Here's Jeanne Moos.
JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We tend to watch debates --
SARAH PALIN, VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Can I call you Joe?
MOOS: Hoping to see a train wreck. Instead we're left with memorable moments. Sarah Palin winking.
PALIN: How long have I been at this, like five weeks?
MOOS: Ronald Reagan demanding the sound system not be turned off.
RONALD REAGAN, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I am paying for this microphone.
MOOS: A line he picked up --
SPENCER TRACY, ACTOR: Don't you shut me off! I am paying for this broadcast!
MOOS: -- from Spencer Tracy in the movie "State of the Union." TV magnifies everything from the sweat, glistening on Nixon's chin, that he had to wipe off, to Al Gore's exaggerated -- GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: That's what a governor gets
MOOS: Exasperated sighs.
BUSH: There's differences.
MOOS: Resuscitated by SNL.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Rome came to life in "Gladiator."
MOOS: What was I going to say, again? Oh, yes, there were unforgettable forgetful moments.
RICK PERRY, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Commerce, Education, and the -- what's the third one there? Let's see.
MOOS: Rick Perry's oops moment.
MOOS: And Arizona Governor Jan Brewer's brain freeze.
GOV. JAN BREWER, R-ARIZONA: We could possibly do --
MOOS: And this was just her opening statement. You know what a televised debate isn't the time for? Checking the time, as President George Bush did.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How has national debt --
MOOS: Debates are a time for memorable zingers.
BENTSEN: Senator, you're no Jack Kennedy.
MOOS: And one-liners. For instance, from a relatively unknown candidate for vice president.
JAMES STOCKDALE, VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Who am I? Why am I here?
MOOS: And whatever you do, candidates, don't invade your opponents' personal space. As Hillary's Senate rival once did.
CLINTON: What you --
RICK LAZIO, SENATORIAL CANDIDATE: Go ahead, sign it right now.
CLINTON: We'll shake on this, Rick.
LAZIO: No, no, I want your signature.
MOOS: Or when Al Gore crept up on George Bush.
BUSH: But can you get things done? And I believe I can.
MOOS: There's nothing like debatable behavior to liven up a debate.
BUSH: There's differences.
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You're likable enough, Hillary.
CLINTON: Thank you.
MOOS: Jeanne Moos, CNN.
TINA FEY, SNL: Are we not doing the talent portion?
MOOS: New York.
SCIUTTO: Thank you for joining us tonight. I'm Jim Sciutto. Be sure to watch the Republican presidential debate tomorrow night at 6:00 p.m. Eastern, that is right here on CNN. And right now, "AC 360" starts right here.