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U.S. Says Russia Propping Up Assad, Not Fighting ISIS; Battle Brewing over House Speaker Vote; Interview with Ann Romney; Donald Trump Trademarked Slogan in 2012. Aired 11:30-12p ET

Aired October 8, 2015 - 11:30   ET



[11:30:11] JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: New this morning, Syrian officials say they have launched a wide-scale offensive in that country. They claim they're targeting ISIS and other terror groups after days of heavy bombing by Russia, though, there are serious doubts in the U.S. that Russia is doing anything other than prop up Bashar al Assad, and ISIS is a mere afterthought.

Defense Secretary Ash Carter expressed his deep concern this morning.


ASH CARTER, SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: Now, the Russians originally said they were going in to fight ISIL and al Nusra and other terrorist organizations. However, within days of deploying their forces, the Russians began striking targets that are not any of these groups.


KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: And in another development, for the first time, the Pentagon says it had to divert two U.S. military aircraft from their missions over Syria because Russian fighter jets were also in the area. The two countries have not agreed yet on flight safety protocol over Syrian air space.

For more on this, let's get to CNN senior international correspondent, Arwa Damon, from Istanbul, Turkey.

Arwa, what is the real target? What are you hearing?

ARWA DAMON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, first of all, it's quite -- the Syrian forces to advance especially in some key areas where they have been clashing quite fiercely with rebel fighters for quite some time now and in speaking to activists on the ground, they will say not only are the Russians not necessarily just targeting is. According to Turkey, NATO and the U.S., only 10 percent of Russia's strikes are against ISIS positions. People on the ground say these strikes are very indiscriminate and hitting civilian targets. The Syrian civil definition forces also known as the white helmets, they're an independent medical volunteer team, they said they have documented since these Russian strikes began 180 civilian deaths, including two of their own, over 500 wounded. These are casualties, they say, a direct cause of Russian strikes. We cannot independently verify this, of course, but the Kremlin, on the other hand, is boasting of its accuracy, saying at this stage it is not targeting civilian areas or casualties, civilian casualties. When you look at visuals coming out, YouTube video, children covered in dust and blood. One particular image of a child being treated, crying out in pain, screaming for his mother. The doctors could barely keep his calm. It doesn't matter at this stage who is to blame. The most despicable thing of all is this is actually happening. So, while the U.S., Russia, NATO, the Syrian regime, all the other key players talk about strategic moves and military gains on the ground, the reality, what it looks like for the civilians suffering the brunt of this, is told in the images of the dead and the wounded.

BERMAN: We know, Arwa, you've been covering this for the last few years and you've seen that pain firsthand.

Thanks for being with us, Arwa.

Happening now, secret vote. Republicans heading behind closed doors to pick the next speaker of the House. Does anyone have enough votes to win?

BOLDUAN: Plus, Ann Romney is here. Her candid new book about her long-fought battle with M.S. and her candid take on the 2016 race.


[11:38:08] BOLDUAN: We're minutes away from a crucial voter that could shake up the power structure in Washington. The 240-plus Republicans are getting ready to vote on who should replace John Boehner as speaker of the House.

BERMAN: A battle could be brewing as some conservatives look for a way to block Kevin McCarthy, current majority leader. A lot of intrigue right now, even more when it comes to what happens three weeks from now when the full House votes.

We're joined by California Republican Mimi Walters live on Capitol Hill.

Representative, thanks for being with us.

We're mostly happy because everything has been happening behind closed doors.


We haven't been able to see it. You have. What are people saying? More importantly, what are people hearing?

REP. MIMI WALTERS, (R), CALIFORNIA: A lot of interesting dialogue is certainly happening behind closed doors. It's a very exciting time for us. We're about to elect a new speaker. And I am confident that Kevin McCarthy will be our next speaker.

BOLDUAN: You are supporting, obviously, Kevin McCarthy to be the next speaker. How much support do you think he can lose? WALTERS: I think Kevin will ultimately at the end of the day have

unanimous support. This first vote that's going to take place today at 12:00 is the conference vote. And the conference vote, obviously, is the Republicans making our nominee. And I believe he will come out of that meeting with the support he needs to have on the floor on October 29th.

BERMAN: Daniel Webster, running for speaker today. You heard from him, I understand, behind closed doors and to our Dana Bash. He refused to commit to voting for Kevin McCarthy when the vote goes to the full House floor on October 29th. Refused to commit. So, that indicates to me that there very well could be some defectors heading into the end of October.

[11:40:00] WALTERS: Each person has to make up their own mind. Obviously, that's a bit concerning he would not commit. Remember, today is the vote and the actual floor vote will be October 29th. That will give him several weeks to hopefully come around and decide to support the nominee.

BOLDUAN: When John Boehner announced he was going to be stepping aside and he's going to be resigning, he said this in part, one of the reasons why he was doing it. Because he felt a prolonged leadership turmoil would do irreparable harm to the institution. Right now, you've got some would describe a little chaos within the Republican caucus there as you work to decide who to back and who to support. You've also got as many as 40 some conservatives saying they don't want it to be Kevin McCarthy. So, how is that any better?

WALTERS: Well, I've known Kevin McCarthy for over a decade. I served with him in the California state assembly. He was actually my leader in the state assembly. Kevin McCarthy is very good at developing relationships. And I know that Kevin will have their support at the end of the day. He's been here for eight years and he's had a chance to develop relationships with many of those members of the Freedom Caucus. I do believe he will ultimately have their support.

BERMAN: Three weeks to make it happen.

Representative Mimi Walters, thanks for being with us. Appreciate it.

WALTERS: Thanks for having me.

BOLDUAN: Thanks, Congresswoman.

Ahead for us, Ann Romney describes running for the White House as the greatest game of gotcha anyone could imagine. We'll talk to Ann Romney about the battle for the White House and also her very personal battle with M.S. She really lays it out there in a new book, just out.

Plus, hats, T-shirts, coffee mugs and more, "Make America great again." It is Trump's slogan. He wants to own it. The whole thing. He trademarked the phrase. You'll be surprised when he applied for that trademark. That's ahead.


[11:46:24] BERMAN: "Running for president is the greatest game of gotcha as anyone could personally imagine," words from Ann Romney. Her husband, Mitt Romney, you might have heard of him, he ran for president twice.

BOLDUAN: Now that they're not running, she's writing about the greatest challenge they have faced, not politics, her battle with M.S. She has written an incredibly personal memoir entitled "In This Together."

Ann Romney is joining us now to discuss.

Mrs. Romney joins us now.


BOLDUAN: Thank you

BOLDUAN: We've seen reporting in "Politico" that I want to ask you about. You told at a party for a launch of -- for the launch of your book, you had told a group of supporters that you could see yourself endorsing a candidate if you and probably -- you and Mr. Romney saw another candidate you thought of unelectable gang steam and getting the likely nomination. Who are you talking about there? Who's unelectable in the field that you see?

ROMNEY: Well, you know, there's a lot of ups and downs, a lot of things happen in this process, as we well know because this was going on in our cycle as well, where people would be at the top of the polls and then they would -- it would -- basically it was the flavor of the month and it would switch about every month. So you never quite know where this is all going to end up. It is a roller coaster. And this cycle, in particular, is very different. I frankly can't see anyone can make any predictions because every time you make a prediction, they're proven wrong. It's definitely hard to figure out what is going on right now.

BERMAN: That's certainly true. I've thought many things and been wrong about al of them, particularly about one candidate in that election so far and that candidate's name is Donald Trump. That's who I was wondering if you were talking about. I was there four years ago when Governor Romney was at Trump tower meeting with Donald Trump to win his support. I wonder if you can think back to that time and tell us what your impressions were of him then four years ago when he endorsed Governor Romney and if it's changed now. Is he still the same guy that was supportive of you all on the campaign trail four years ago?

ROMNEY: Well, you know, we know Donald and, frankly, I will say that it's an amazing thing that's happening with him in the race. A lot more people are paying attention. A lot more people have been brought into the discussion. And I look at that as a very positive thing. I think that's a very good thing. I also think what is happening, and I should say on the Republican side and the Democratic side, is that there is so much turmoil happening, and I believe the reason is, is the American people are fed up with Washington. They're fed up with feeling as though are disenfranchised from the system and that political interests and whatever else is making Washington work, and that they have stopped listening to the American people. And I think there's a lot of truth to that. And I think there's a lot of reason why there's so much frustration out there and why we see what's happening right now with people outside what you would think of the normal system is bubbling up. And I see it on the Democratic side as well with the support that Bernie Sanders is getting. Certainly he is not in what you would -- we would have ever considered would be the mainstream and yet he's doing so well. And so I think we all have to look at that and say, something is going on out there. And what that something is, is real. It's real. I think it's -- people are very frustrated that Washington is broken, that the American people are not -- their interests are not being put in front of special interests.

[11:50:17] BOLDUAN: I want to turn to the book, your book. This is a personal look at your diagnosis and long-fought battle with multiple sclerosis. And you said in an interview that you wanted to be very candid. You thought you were being candid and the publishers told you they wanted you to put even more into the book, so you went back at it once again. What was the hardest thing for you to put in that book?

ROMNEY: Maybe some people would be surprised at what was hard and not hard. Honestly, just going back to that really dark place where I was, was important for me. That was hard. That was hard to go back there and relive how I felt and how hopeless I thought my life was and how I have never had another good day. The other really important thing I wanted to communicate is what happens when you are diagnosed with something as serious as I was diagnosed with and how devastating it was to me. I had no energy to do anything. I was a very active person and ran everything and was really running the show with the family and everything else and on boards and serving here and there and I was so active. And then all of a sudden I couldn't even take care of myself. And what happened was my identity got stripped from me, and it brought me -- I should say it crushed me, it humbled me and it also at the same time ended up being my greatest teacher in retrospect and perspective as I look back. By being stripped of everything, you have to ask really important questions, who am I? What's important in life? And mitt was really wonderful during this time because he would say I don't love you because you do this. I love you because of who you are. And so, you know, that, to me, is one of the tougher things that you go through with something like this. It's a very humbling thing that happens, and how you put your life back together after that and I hope that I have and I give hope to people to say I've been there, I know how hard it is, but there's light at the end of the tunnel, take my hand and I'll take you through it because I've been there. And then let me do something about it, too, because I'm frustrated that there's not treatment for ALS. I'm frustrated about Alzheimer's and how devastating it is to families and those that are going through it. So the Ann Romney Center for Neurologic Disease is going to find answers to those problems. We are going to find treatments and cures. And in our lifetime the neurosciences are going to make brews that are going to be exciting and wonderful. We, in the year 2017, we, from our lab, we will be having for the first time a treatment with human trials for ALS. And we hope in the year 2017 for the first time we will have a nasal vaccine for Alzheimer's. So exciting things are coming, and we are motivated. And I want to say the proceeds -- my proceeds from this book go directly to research and will go directly to finding treatments and cures for these devastating illnesses that affect 50 million people worldwide.

BERMAN: Ann Romney, I know your work on this has inspired a whole lot of people, so thank you for that.

Also we wanted to thank you for your last book "The Romney Family Cookbook." We are proud owners, separately, of that. The recipes are phenomenal. The meatloaf and chicken are some of the only thing my kid eats.

BOLDUAN: My 1-year-old daughter is a fan of the Fluffernutter sandwich. So you've got us there.


ROMNEY: I have to say -- no, wait. This is the funniest thing. A little girl came through the book signing for me and she said, "I am so upset Mitt Romney isn't president. I could be eating peanut butter and fluff sandwiches if he was president. Instead, I have to eat Michelle Obama's food." And I thought that was pretty funny.


BOLDUAN: You have to love the children's perspective.

Mrs. Romney, It's great to see you. Thank you.


BOLDUAN: Wonderful to end on that note.

And I remember, the proceeds from her last book also went to research.

BERMAN: The Fluffernutter makes me think Mitt Romney is running again.

BOLDUAN: You never say never. I'm just saying.

Coming up for us, more on our breaking news. An American hero, one of the guys who took down a gunman onboard a train in Paris -- you'll remember this, you remember him -- he's been stabbed. What happened to Spencer Stone? We're getting new details into what happened coming up next.


[11:54:04] BERMAN: "Make America great again" is Donald Trump's slogan. And now a trademark.

Brian Stelter, here to explain in 40 seconds or less.

BRIAN STELTER, CNN SENIOR MEDIA CORRESPONDENT & CNN HOST, RELIABLE SOURCES: The most surprising story of the day, Donald Trump filed a trademark in November of 2012.

BOLDUAN: Wait a second. Say that again?

STELTER: Who knew? That's days after the presidential election last time. It only got approved in July. Now his lawyers are using it. On websites where you can buy those hats, they received a letter from the Trump lawyers. They said not so much. Trump's lawyer telling "CNN Money" it's about protecting our brand.

Here is the thing. The trademark only covers political action committee services. It doesn't actually cover T-shirts or hats. For now, at least, it seems some people can continue to wear those red trucker hats and even come up with their own quotes on top.

BERMAN: A revenue stream not open to Donald Trump for now.

STELTER: For now.

BOLDUAN: Now we know he knew he was running in 2012.

STELTER: It's interesting, isn't it?

BOLDUAN: Just saying.

Thanks for joining us. Thanks, Brian.

Thanks for joining us AT THIS HOUR. I'm Kate Bolduan.

BERMAN: "Legal View" with Ashleigh Banfield starts right now.

ASHLEIGH BANFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. I'm Ashleigh Banfield.