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Candidates Prepare for Tomorrow Night's Faceoff; Sanders Drawing Massive Crowds; Pres. Obama Admits U.S. Efforts to Train Rebels Didn't Work; Clinton at Union Rally at Trump Hotel; Trump Attacks Democratic Contenders; Will Donald Trump be a Target; Sanders Vs. Clinton: Will the Gloves Come Off; Meet Bernie Sanders' Wife. Aired 9-10p ET

Aired October 12, 2015 - 21:00   ET



[21:00:13] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Thanks very much for joining us another live hour of "360" from here outside the Wynn Hotel in Las Vegas, site of tomorrow night's Democratic Presidential Debate.

Less than 24 hours from now, the five candidates will face off on the debate stage. Hillary Clinton goes into debate certainly with the lead in the polls, Bernie Sanders has been drawing huge crowds wherever he goes and the other three candidates they have suddenly their work cut out for them, Martin O'Malley, Jim Webb, Lincoln Chafee, names that have not been out there on the national stage very much.

Clinton got another boost today from new polls from two key states, Brianna Keilar reports on that.


BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENTS: As democratic presidential contenders get ready for their first debate in Las Vegas, Hillary Clinton is the candidate to beat in two states that could be key to slowing a Bernie Sanders surge.

A new CNN ORC poll of likely Nevada caucus goers shows her besting Sanders by 16 points. The spread is even bigger in South Carolina. Clinton leads Sanders by 31 points and the Vermont senator sees opportunity in this debate to draw contrast with Clinton.

BERNIE SANDERS, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: So I don't get into personal attacks, you know that. But are there difference of opinion that should be discussed? Of course there are, that's what an election is about.

KEILAR: Sunday on NBC, Sanders tried out one of his main debating points, that Clinton is late to positions he always supported like her now opposition to a trade deal she'd backed as secretary of state.

B. SANDERS: So people will have to contrast my consistency am I willing to standup to Wall Street and corporations, big cooperations with the secretary.

KEILAR: Sanders trails Clinton nationally in the polls, but his lead in the all important first primary state of New Hampshire makes him tough competition for Clinton. In 2008, she came from behind to win the New Hampshire primary up to this moment went viral.

HILLARY CLINTON, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: They still want to see us fall backwards.

KEILAR: She spoke about it in the BuzzFeed podcast.

CLINTON: When it was over I just felt drained. I didn't feel anything other than that. I didn't realize it going to be such a big deal to be honest.

KEILAR: Tuesday night, the five democratic contenders will take the stage at the Wynn Hotel in Las Vegas. For the lesser known candidates like former Maryland governor Martin O'Malley, the debate is a chance to find support that is so far eluded them. But one of the biggest potential challengers to Clinton and Sanders won't even be there. Vice President Joe Biden is still weighing whether to run. On CBS, President Obama said he understands why Biden might get in.

BARACK OBAMA, CURRENT UNITED STATES PRESIDENT: Like you're seating right next to the president in every meeting and you know, wrestling with these issues, I'm sure that for him, he is saying themselves, "I could do a really good job."


COOPER: And Brianna joins me now from the debate stage. How are they preparing for the debate and I understand Hillary Clinton has made an unannounced stop tonight right now?

KIELAR: Yeah, that's right. She came in Anderson to Las Vegas making a bit of a splash. She arrived a couple hours ago and her first stop was to go to the Trump Hotel here in Las Vegas where some members of -- where the Culinary Union is actually trying to unionize workers there. So she actually appeared as some of these employees were picketing right there at the hotel that Trump is the -- Donald Trump is the co-owner of. So a way to really I think grab some headlines there. But she's been preparing in earnest now for a few days, she's also been preparing I would say four weeks, we know that as true. But she's been working with a team of litigators who have a lot of experience in debate prep. And what she's really trying to do is cut through some of the politics. This is what a senior aide tells me. So much focus has been on the e-mail controversy, that she's hoping that she can grab the attention of voters and make them focus more on her policy positions.

Bernie Sanders has been taking a little bit of a different tack. It's a little more low key if you listen to what his campaign is saying. They're saying that he's just been going through some research and practicing a little Q&A, but not quite as structured. He really Anderson wants to make voters think that he's very serious that he's mainstream and not allow Hillary Clinton to marginalize him as someone who's politically extreme.

COOPER: All right, Brianna Kielar, thank you very much.

Joining me now is CNN senior political commentator and former Obama senior adviser David Axelrod, also CNN senior political reporter Nia- Malika Henderson, and CNN chief political analyst Gloria Borger. David you have a very interesting op ed on laying out where you believe what each of these candidates needs to do tomorrow night, what about Hillary Clinton?

DAVID AXELROD, FORMER OBAMA SENIOR ADVISER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well look, she is a good debater. We were in 25 debates with her in 2007, 2008. She's commanding, she's crisp, she has a fluency in policy, but what she really needs to do is connect with people. She needs to be real, she needs to give people a sense to believe that all this policy papers add up to something in terms of her belief about where the country can go.

COOPER: Can she be real? I mean, that was one of the criticisms often, you know, made of, you know, we're holding a focus group about how she needs to be more real and just be real.

[21:05:02] AXELROD: Yes, well I think that's right, but you know, we saw two -- I've said this before, we saw two Hillary Clintons in the last campaign, the one before she lost the Iowa caucuses when she was the frontrunner, very cautious, very unrevealing.

And the second one who -- and that began with that event in New Hampshire where she was much more connecting with people, more vulnerable, more revealing of herself. The question is can she be a comfortable frontrunner.

COOPER: What about Bernie Sanders, what do you think he needs to do?

AXELROD: I think he has the easiest test to be honest with you because so many democrats haven't yet heard directly from him and so this is a chance to -- for him to amplify his message on a much larger stage.

COOPER: Nia, the lesser candidates, you know, O'Malley, Chafee, Webb, (inaudible) of known on a national stage, it's a big opportunity for them.

NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER: It is. I mean, they don't have anything to lose going into this. I think Martin O'Malley is something that like 3 or 2 percent in the polls, Jim Webb of the same place.

Also they've got to really answer the question why are they here and who they are, right ? And I think for somebody like Martin O'Malley, he has been going after Hillary Clinton, but it might make more sense for him to go after Bernie Sanders, right? I think he hasn't quite decided is he playing in the establishment lane or is he trying to stay in sort of the more progressive lanes. So I think he's got to decide that. If you're Jim Webb, Jim Webb has come out and really critiqued the Democratic Party. He says that it is left working class white men behind, right? He has talked about white working class men as the whipping post of the Democratic Party. So this is something that he should talk about. I think if that's sort of his identity and sort of reason for being in this race, then you might expect it to come up tomorrow night.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: You know, I think these guys are the wild cards here and they could go after Hillary Clinton because Bernie Sanders won't and it would be an opportunity for her I would think to kind of show her humanity. Remember when President Obama, then candidate Obama said to Hillary Clinton, you are likable enough.

AXELROD: Remember it very well, it's a disaster.

BORGER: It's a disaster. That was a huge problem when...

AXELROD: And she handled it well.


BORGER: And she handled it well. She said, "You hurt my feeling," remember that? And every woman can kind of relate to that and I think there is a -- you know, you have to be very delicate there and she can turn it around.

AXELROD: One thing we should stress is everybody is talking about the polls and Hillary Clinton's problems, but they're generally talking about general election polls she's still very, very popular among democrats.

COOPER: Usually popular. I mean, you look at -- there was that Quinnipiac polls which nationally, there was -- I think it was 69 percent of the people don't trust her but that's really because republicans (inaudible) among democrats, I think it was like over 70 percent or so do.

AXELROD: So going after her is a dangerous proposition and I think O'Malley has to think about that. They all had to think about that and his comparative advantage may be generational. You've got a 74- year-old senator in Bernie Sanders, you got Hillary Clinton who'd be 69 when she became president, tied with Ronald Regan for the oldest entering president and here's a kind of a newer generation guy and we'll see if he plays that card tomorrow night.

BORGER: I think what Sanders is going to do is talk about a lifetime of devotion to certain issues that now the Democratic Party has caught up with him. Talk about his consistency, so it doesn't have to attack her frontally but he can...



BORGER: ...the back door.

COOPER: It's something -- look, she has changed positions, a number of positions recently to come closer to where Bernie Sanders is.

AXELROD: At warp speed.

HENDERSON: Yeah, yeah.

AXELROD: And (inaudible) that if you flop over on the right side, then people will tolerate flip-flops. But it does set Sanders up for that I've been there before, because the real question isn't where you've been, it's where you're going and can you be trusted to keep these positions once you become president and that's the argument that Bernie Sanders makes. I've always been there and I always will.

HENDERSON: Yeah, and I think before this debate, he very much wanted to talk about the Iraq war vote and it's also something of the Lincoln Chafee when he announced he wanted to talk about that too.

COOPER: Keep the faith too.

HENDERSON: Yeah, he...


COOPER: Believe me, I'm aware. I think everybody who's in the debate.

HENDERSON: Yeah, yeah.

AXELRODL I hope they have nametags.

BORGER: Who are they and what are their (inaudible).


COOPER: And there's going to be enough time for everybody I think. But it is interesting when you look at Bernie Sanders I mean obviously doing very well in Iowa, doing very well in New Hampshire, South Carolina then support among African-Americans is almost nonexisting in South Carolina.

HENDERSON: Yeah right, 7 %.

COOPER: Right, and Hillary Clinton has huge support among African- Americans?

HENDERSON: And she's I think playing a smarter strategy if you look all what -- she did recently, what she talked to BuzzFeed these two African-American women who have a podcast, I don't think Bernie Sanders has figured out his strategy yet in terms of how to reach African-American voters. And particularly when you're looking at African-American voters, the most important people in that voting block is African-American women and that's why you sort of heard when Dona Brazil was talking about Hillary Clinton, she called her a sister. She feels like she could (inaudible) with African-American women.

BORGER: Also he hasn't talk about immigration laws and here we are in Nevada Hillary Clinton doing very well, wonderful.

[21:10:04] COOPER: Yeah. A big issue here. Great to have all of you. We'll see what happens.

Up next, Bernie Sanders continue to draw huge crowds wherever he goes. We'll take a look at the support for Sanders. Randi Kaye went to his rally in Boulder, Colorado over the weekend to talk with some of the many thousands of people who were there. We'll hear from them ahead.


COOPER: Looking back, Bernie Sanders is trailing Hillary Clinton in the polls leading up to tomorrow night's debate. But if you go to one of his rallies, there's no denying the huge enthusiasm and support in huge numbers for him.

Just this past weekend, tens of thousands of people came to hear him speak in Arizona and Colorado. Our Randi Kaye went to Boulder for his event Saturday and talked to a number of his supporters. Here's the report.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Feel the Bern! Feel the Bern!

RANDI KAYE, CNN ANCHOR: Under the hot sun in Boulder, Colorado, thousands turn out to cheer on Senator Bernie Sanders.

B. SANDERS: You're looking at the only non-billionaire major candidate for president who does not have a Super PAC.

KAYE: What do you like most about his message?

ELIZABETH HOWER, BERNIE SANDERS SUPPORTER: I believe that he really does have everybody's best interest in mind. He is not swayed by big corporations. He -- you know, I've enjoyed while -- seeing the t- shirts here today that on the back say, Not For Sale and I believe that he really isn't for sale.

KAYE: For this group, transparency is key.

[21:15:01] OTTO HANSON, BERNIE SANDERS SUPPORTER: Bernie has been so good about making sure that people know where his money is coming from, and making sure that we know who is accountable to.

KAYE: His supporters affectionately call him Bernie. They like his stance on climate change, his support of free public university education and that he's fighting to close the gap between rich and poor.

LIZ MARSIS, BERNIE SANDERS SUPPORTER: The inequality that we have was laughed at. When I was a child, it was the only thing that you would have maybe in a small in those days third world country. KAYE: What supporters here seem to like most about Bernie Sanders is his populous message that the government belongs to all people, not just the one percenter that Sanders like to say. Supporters here see this as a chance for a revolution and they want Sanders leading the way. The fact that Sanders is a self-described democratic socialist earns him points among this group.

JONATHAN SAMUELS, BERNIE SANDERS SUPPORTER: When I was a democratic socialist before it was cool. I just want to say that on tape.

KAYE: So you're OK with him being a democratic socialist.

SAMUELS: Absolutely.

KAYE: In a young crowd that is mostly white, this woman stands out, one of only a handful of African-American supporters here.

DARIKA SIEGEL, BERNIE SANDERS SUPPORTER: I don't know if his name is really out there in the black population. Maybe he just needs to go in the lower income, Detroit or like, you know, just talk to the colleges and things like that.

KAYE: The latest CNN polling from South Carolina shows 59 percent of black voters backing Hillary Clinton, just four percent for Sanders.

Some black voters have said they're not hearing enough from him about police brutality and racial injustice.

JORDAN REINDI, BERNIE SANDERS SUPPORTER: I heard more from Bernie about police brutality than any other candidate ever, yeah. Racial injustice, he's been doing it since the '60s.

KAYE: A reference to Sanders's record on civil rights. In the '60s, he took part in the march on Washington. What's clear here is that when it comes to Bernie Sanders' supporters, not everyone fits the mold. A lot of them are very young.

GREG DYE, BERNIE SANDERS SUPPORTER: Well, we're older than dirt.

KAYE: And you're supporting him?

DYE: Yes, we are, yes.

B. SANDERS: I ask you today to join the political revolution. Let's transform America, thank you.


COOPER: And Randi joins us now. Randi, I'm wondering, did you talk to Bernie Sanders supporters about Hillary Clinton? How did they feel about her? Would they switch support obviously to Clinton if he wasn't the candidate?

KAYE: That was one of key questions, Anderson. I asked them would you vote for Hillary Clinton if she was the nominee and he wasn't and a couple of them said, yes. Of course, they would support whoever the nominee is for the Democratic Party, but most of them Anderson said, they would absolutely not vote for Hillary Clinton. They just don't feel that she has the fresh perspective, the honesty or the integrity that they believe Washington need.

And here's the thing Anderson, we know that Hillary Clinton has been tracking left, that may not help her on some of these issues with Bernie Sanders supporters because some of them told me that they think he's too far left and he needs to move back towards the center a little bit. So, it's not going to win her any fans among those supporters, Anderson.

COOPER: All right Randi, thanks.

Joining me now is former Michigan Governor, Jennifer Granholm who is senior advisor of the pro-Clinton supe rPAC, Correct the Record, also joining me again, CNN senior political reporter Nia-Malika Henderson and CNN Chief political analyst Gloria Borger.

Governor Granholm, as a Clinton supporter, do you worry when you hear -- I mean, you see the enthusiasm out there for Bernie Sanders? I mean, these huge crowds that have turned out tomorrow on that stage in terms of Senator Clinton, or Secretary Clinton and Sanders going after each other, can she afford to alienate that kind of enthusiasm, that kind of support?



GRANHOLM: She really will want to be able to welcome them and invite them and assuming that she gets the nomination. But I think so much of that huge crowd buildup has to do with people feeling angry about inequality and about lack of jobs, particularly the young people who are saying where's our middle class and upper middle class and where's, you know, with the global economy world this job is going.

To me, the republicans have done an unbelievable job about taking her away from being able to talk about those policies. So tomorrow, Anderson, when you have them on the stage, I am so excited to hear actual substance from the candidates about this. If you ask Hue does a poll every year about the number one issue that Americans believe is the most important for politicians to address, it is always jobs and the economy, specific policies to be able to fix what those crowds, what anybody in America wants to see happen. That's what I would love to be hearing tomorrow night is address those concerns.

COOPER: And yeah, I mean, we talked about this a little bit before the break though, but again, would you come down to the racial makeup of Sanders supporters and his lack of support among African-Americans in South Carolina and some of these very important states, once you get out of New Hampshire and Iowa, his support among African- Americans, I mean it completely drops off.

[21:20:06] HENDERSON: It's true, when he's trying to do something about this, he talked to Ebony Magazine for instance, he rolled out an endorsement from Keith Ellison. He's added lines to his speech about criminal justice disparities. But I talked to a black pollsters and black strategists and they are surprised that he's waited so late, for instance, they haven't really gotten any outreach from him so they're really surprised that here is a guy, who has put together a really great campaign so far. But he's a bit of a Johnny-come-lately to -- in many ways, one of the most important voting blocks.

If you look at the way Hillary Clinton was able to win or able to do fairly well last time, she did well with Hispanic voters, Obama did well with African-American voters, Bernie Sanders is doing well with...

COOPER: When you look at a candidate who has walked the walk, I mean he has going back to the University of Chicago when he was an undergraduate there, he did the first sit-in at the University of Chicago I think it was for desegregation of housing. So it's got to feel odd for him, this guy who...


COOPER: ...from the earliest days of his activism was focused on issues important to the country and to African-Americans.

BORGER: So you just told Bernie Sanders story better than he tells it. He doesn't like to talk about himself that way and I think part of the thing he's got to do tomorrow night is to talk about his history when it comes to civil rights for example because there is a real rich history there that people just don't know about and, you know, he was an original member of the Civil Rights Movement.

COOPER: Governor, do you see those candidate -- those, you know, a number of people say Randi Kaye, if he's not the nominee, I'm not going to vote for Clinton. Do you buy that or do you believe when...

GRANHOLM: Maybe they won't vote at all -- maybe they wouldn't be voting anyway, but absolutely, I mean you've seen her popularity among democrats. She's either the first or second choice of, you know, the vast, vast majority. But for her, I mean, she's got specific policies to deal with the issues of, you know, mass incarceration, gun violence, urban renewal, urban jobs. I mean, you know, I haven't heard with his -- and I'm sure he's probably got them but for him tomorrow he...


GRANHOLM: It's an opportunity not to look back.


GRANHOLM: But to also say this is what I'm going to do going forward.

COOPER: Yeah, it's a great to have you all here. Governor, thank you so much.

GRANHOLM: Yes, great to be here.

COOPER: I appreciate it.

GRANHOLM: Exciting. Come on, Anderson.

COOPER: Nia-Malika Henderson, Gloria Borger as well.

Could Hillary Clinton's efforts to establish herself as a military hawk hurt her? And why the Syria crisis may be her biggest challenge as a candidate?


[21:26:40] COOPER: Welcome back. In an interview that aired on "60 Minutes" last night, President Obama was pressed about the U.S. militaries unsuccessful efforts to train the so-called moderate opposition of Syria and he admitted the program has been (inaudible). Listen.


STEVE KROFT, "60 MINUTES" HOST: I mean, if you expect 5,000 and you get five, it shows that somebody, some place along the line made some sort of a serious miscalculation.

OBAMA: You know, the -- Steve, let me say this.

KROFT: It's an embarrassment.

OBAMA: Look, there is no doubt that it did not work.

KROFT: But you said yourself you never believed in this.

OBAMA: Well, but Steve, what I have also said is, is that surprisingly enough, it turns out that in a situation that is as volatile with as many players as there are inside of Syria, there aren't any silver bullets.


COOPER: The crisis in Syria is a critical foreign policy question that all the candidates are facing. Hillary Clinton though is the only one who served in President Obama's cabinet obviously. Her experience as Secretary of State may be a double-edge sword for her establishing here foreign credential, her foreign policy credentials in one sense but also opening her up to criticism.

Joining me again, senior political commentator and former Obama's senior adviser David Axelrod and also with us Michael Smerconish host of CNN's, "Smerconish".

It can't be a double-edge sword for Hillary Clinton. I mean, she does in some ways have to set her apart, set herself apart from President Obama. But obviously he's incredibly popular among the democrats and she can't do that too much she was the Secretary of State.

AXELROD: Listen, I think the near term challenge for her is whether her opponents try and distinguish themselves from her on some of these issues because she has tried to be more aggressive, maybe a little bit more interventionist on some of these issues than the president. But I'm not sure that's where the Democratic Party is. You heard Martin O'Malley on Sunday on one of the Sunday shows taking her on, on this. I suspect you may see some of this tomorrow night.

COOPER: And we heard that Bernie Sanders reminding people just again on Sunday, I believe it was on Meet the Press about his vote against the war in Iraq, which obviously Secretary Clinton voted to support.

AXELROD: Yeah. No, I think that in the near term as I said in these primaries, I think that this could become a larger issue as the candidates are looking for ways to distinguish themselves from Hillary in this race.

COOPER: Yeah, Michael when you look at her record against Bernie Sanders and some of the other on the stage, she is far more hawkish you would think.

MICHAEL SMERCONISH, CNN HOST, SMERCONISH: No doubt. In fact, I would go so far as to say that I think that she could find a home on the GOP stage when you take a look at some of the policies...

AXELROD: Pretty crowded, man.

SMERCONISH: When you look at some of the policies that she's advocated on foreign policy, it's always been one of aggression, relative to Syria, relative to Libya. You could say well, she supports the Iran deal but she does it with caveats. I think she's taken a giant step closer to Netanyahu in the last two weeks. There's a reason why she was always such a good friend of John McCain in the United States Senate. She's very hawkish, I think.

COOPER: Which may play well in a general election, but in a primary battle, not so much.

AXELROD: It may play well in a general election. I think the country itself has shifted on some of these issues, but I think that what it does do is it helps answer in some people's minds the commander-in- chief question, you know, there may be an innate bias about a woman president. I don't think there's that question about her as to whether she would be willing to take action. The question may be, should we at points when she's willing to take action.

COOPER: And yet, Bernie Sanders, do you hear as much from him on the campaign trail? I mean, when you think of him, you don't necessarily think of foreign policy.

[21:30:03] AXELROD: No, and I don't think his accentuated foreign policy. His message is solidly an economic message.

Foreign policy is sort of an afterthought and he was on a podcast that I haven't I asked him about foreign policy and whether he felt prepared to be commander-in-chief and honestly, he didn't seem that comfortable answering those questions and he went right back to why he opposed intervention in most case. SMERCONISH: I think part of the reason for his appeal was that issues

have finally caught up to him, Anderson. Things that he's been discussing for years whether it's minimum wage or inequality among Americans and in terms of earnings all of a sudden now the country is focused.

You look at that "New York Times" story this weekend about how less than 400 families in the United States have contributed about 50 percent of all of the 2016 presidential donations that's right up his ally. I expect him to tee that up tomorrow night if you give him the chance.

COOPER: Well, there's a lot to tee up. Michael Smerconish, thank you very, David Axelrod as well.

Up next, the Donald Trump factor, he's bipartisan when it comes to slamming other candidates, certainly the question is, should the democrats bring up his name during tomorrow night's debate and should they go on the attack? Details ahead/


[21:35:05] COOPER: Hey, welcome back.

Tomorrow night here in Las Vegas, it is the democrats' turn on the debate stage for the republican frontrunner looms large his name towering over on the Vegas trip, of course. Trump hasn't held back when it comes to attacking his opponents and outside Trump's hotel here in Vegas tonight, Hillary Clinton hit back joining hundreds of union members protesting outside the hotel. Clinton said some people find Trump entertaining, but it's not entertaining to insult immigrants and women. As for Trump, he's just a smattering of what he has said about some of the democrats who will be debating tomorrow night.


DONALD TRUMP, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I can tell you this, if that were a republican that did what she did with the e-mails, they would have been in jail 12 months ago.

I don't want to run against Bernie, he's too easy, right? Bernie? Some people say communists, some people say socialist, I don't know. I've always wanted to run against a socialist/perhaps communist, right?

When O'Malley made the statement black lives and he said white lives matter, all lives matter, and he was...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Then he apologized.

TRUMP: And then, he apologized like a little baby, like a disgusting little weak pathetic baby and that's the problem with the country.

(END VIDEO CLIP) COOPER: With me again, CNN political commentator and contributing editor for Atlantic Media, Peter Beinart, CNN senior political reporter Nia-Mallika Hendersonm, and democratic strategist Donna Brazile, Vice Chair of the DNC Voter Project.

It's interesting, Nia, I mean Donald Trump really is certainly going to be the elephant in the room and I wonder if the candidates themselves are going to bring him up because obviously, Hillary Clinton has tried to link Donald Trump as the face of the GOP essentially.

HENDERSON: That's right. And some of her best lines have been about Donald Trump. She said it used to be the party of Lincoln and now it's the party of Trump. So I think, you know, his hotel is going to be looming over this debate tomorrow in his presence, as well. And I think they'll take shots at him because in some ways, it might be better to take shots at Donald Trump in sort of the larger republican field than take shots at each other.

DONNA BRAZILE, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: It's been a circus, Anderson. I mean, you got to make fun of the fact that here you have a party that cannot even coalesce to pick a speaker of the house. And the leader of the Republican Party now, at least the presidential candidate is pulling the field so far out of the mainstream on immigration reform, of course, among other issues. He's not only making ridiculous comments about women, but he has been just antagonistic toward all American.

So, yes, Donald Trump will have the extra seat on the stage. You can wave at him, he'll wave back I'm sure. And if he comes in as you know, he will brag about his hotel size, and the fact that the democrats are holding in this small arena because it's bigger place across the field. Donald Trump will be on the table and guess what? They might make him a part of the menu.

COOPER: Do you -- Peter, I mean isn't there a danger in some -- particularly for some of these candidates who are not as well-known in using their own time to talk about Donald Trump as opposed to trying to explain to the American people who they are.

PETER BEINART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Right, people like Jim Webb, Lincoln Chafee, they don't really have time for this. They have to introduce themselves and maybe taking shots at Hillary Clinton. I think the person who has the -- the best reason for going after Trump is Hillary Clinton. She's already start doing it as you saw and that's because they've kind of puts her, establishes her as the De Facto nominee. It's almost like she's already competing in the general election and creates a kind of a stature gap between her and the other candidates.

COOPER: Donna, do you think Hillary Clinton spends a lot of time just trying to get her policies across? Is this a chance to reintroduce herself apart from, you know, questions about e-mails and Benghazi if -- that others may have about her?

BRAZILE: This is her opportunity to talk to the American people. She said months ago, I want to have a conversation. I want to make this campaign about you. Well tomorrow night, she can make it about us and not her e-mails, not her server, not her husband, not President Obama, not Donald Trump and I think you know what, she's going to come to this debate. And I haven't talked to her and I'm neutral. She going to come to this debate fired up, ready to go and guess what? All of those guys, including the guys who are not showing up, they better be ready for Hillary.


BRAZILE: Anderson, you better get ready.

COOPER: All right.

BRAZILE: Because you know, you ever heard that song "Light my fire?

COOPER: Ah-huh.

BRAZILE: She's going to light your fire.

COOPER: All right?

BRAZILE: Oh, yeah.

HENDERSON. And I think it's also...

COOPER: I don't even know what that means.


COOPER: I like the way you say it.

BRAZILE: Yeah, yeah.

COOPER: I like the way you say it.

HENDERSON. I think it's also a chance for her to continue the Hillary we've seen. The Hillary we've seen on "SNL", Hillary we've seen on "Ellen" Hillary we've seen it's been a little bit more funny and personable. So, I think she'll try to do that. I mean, the danger there is when you're trying to be personable and warm and funny, you seem stilted and stiff. So but I think she's going to go for that Hillary.

BEINART: Right. And in a way, some ways her biggest opponent is actually the guy who's not on the stage, Joe Biden. I mean because whether Biden gets into this race or not will make a big difference. I think if he gets in, it's harder for her.

[21:40:03] He takes more voters from her and leaves Sanders to have the left kind of base on his side. So, if she has a really strong performance, who know maybe that hasn't impact on this decision making.

COOPER: Donna, does Joe Biden entering the race, does it take support away from Hillary Clinton? Does it hurt Bernie Sanders or does it or -- and/or does it make Hillary Clinton a better candidate?

BRAZILE: Well, you know, I'm going to take the step, one more fighter on the field to beat these republicans, to ensure we continue to have growth and prosperity, it doesn't matter if Joe Biden runs. I like Joe Biden. I'm not endorsing Joe Biden. If he decides to run, he's going to make a big difference but he needs to answer the question, why is he running? And then, I think Hillary Clinton and the rest of the candidates will even be better because Joe Biden knows his facts.

HENDERSON: Yeah, he's got a deadline, October 29th. I think he's -- if he's going to run, he has to get on the ballot in Georgia. So the clock is ticking and I imagine he's been talking with his family and doing his due diligence.

BRAZILE: Halloween.


BRAZILE: It's coming, it's gone.

Henderson: Yeah.

BRAZILE: Get your broom.


BRAZILE: Get your broom.

COOPER: We'll have to leave it here.


COOPER: We'll see if you think it's a party after it's said and done. Peter Beinart, thank you. Nia-Mallika Henderson, Donna Brazile.

Coming up next tonight, would the candidates previous debate performances and other campaigns may tell us about what we can expect tomorrow night. Remember, there was a long record here, there's a lot of video. We'll show it to you ahead.


[21:45:37] COOPER: As we said, the democratic candidates are now down to the final hours of debate preparation. No matter how much they practice and prepare those, some moments tomorrow night will be impossible to anticipate. Remember this exchange from the 2008 democratic debate.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My question to you is simply this, what can you say to the voters of New Hampshire on this stage tonight who see a resume and like it but are hesitating on the likeability issue where they seem to like Barrack Obama more?

CLINTON: Well, that hurts my feelings. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm sorry, senator. I'm sorry.

CLINTON: But I'll try to go on. He's very likable. I agree with that. I don't think I'm that bad.

OBAMA: You're likable enough, Hillary.

CLINTON: Thank you so much. I appreciate that.


COOPER: Joining me now, Former New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson. Also Neera Tanden, former democratic policy director for the 2008 Obama-Biden campaign and Greg Guma, author of "The People's Republic: Vermont and Sanders Revolution".

Governor Richardson, I mean it's interesting to replay that moment. We were just talking to David Axelrod who was saying that was a disaster several days for the Obama campaign at that point that then Senator Obama came off seeming snide and cruel in a way that they been had to spend days trying to kind of get over.

BILL RICHARDSON, (D) 2008 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, I think that Hillary Clinton, I debated her in that same stage. She's a very good debater. She's got the policy points.

But I think where she comes and needs to advance in a positive way is on this likeability issue that she has passion, that she has feelings. I mean, too many people see her as a former secretary of state, former senator, you know, a little on the steep side. But in reality when you get to talk to her, she's a good campaigner, she's issue oriented, she's personable and she came through very personable in that exchange, I remember it. And I thought that that was going to be decisive and that she would win that debate and that she did go on and win New Hampshire after that.

COOPER: Neera, I mean, you managed all of Hillary Clinton's debates in the 2008 campaign. How does she prepare? How does she like to prepare? Does she spend a lot of time studying, holding mock debates because we understand she is been holdings to mock debates with some trial attorneys?

NEERA TANDEN, FORMER DOMESTIC POLICY DIR. OBAMA-BIDEN 2008: Yes, she likes to prepare but, you know, I mean, she's well studied in the issue, she's put out a lot of proposals on college and how to raise wages in the country. It's not that these are new issues for her by any stretch. So she likes to get comfortable with what the stage will be like.

But, you know, the reality of a debate is that, the beauty of it really is that you can't test everything out. It's really free form there and people see the candidates for who they are after answering questions, they're accountable to the people about what they are going to do. They don't' -- they can't really -- you know, they can't mock everything. You can't test every proposition. It really is who you are and I think people get a good sense of the candidates and they got a good sense of Hillary in 2008.

COOPER: Greg, years ago when Bernie Sander was running for governor of Vermont, you actually helped his opponent by playing Sanders in a mock debate. You've obviously studied and a debater. How is he?

GREG GUMA, AUTHOR, "THE PEOPLE'S REPUBLIC: VERMONT AND THE SERVICE REVOLUTION: He's an excellent debater. And although I've played him against an opponent, I had supported him more than I've opposed him.

He can be pretty aggressive and although he doesn't get personal, a lot of his focus is on drawing distinctions, showing how he's different than everyone else on the stage and he's been doing that since the '70s. His message has remained the same. His performance skills on television and as a political actor have improved and he's been campaigning in 20 elections over the last 43, 44 years.

COOPER: Governor Richardson, there was a moment in the debate in October of 2007, you actually came to Hillary Clinton's defense and I just want to play that moment.


RICHARDSON: You know what I'm hearing here, I'm hearing this holier than now attitude towards Senator Clinton, that it's bothering me because it's pretty close to personal attacks that we don't need.


[21:50:13] COOPER: Governor, in that moment, I mean, how can the rest of the field handled that challenge tomorrow trying to, you know, score points against Hillary Clinton as some of these candidates clearly need to do without looking like a personal attack?

RICHARDSON: Well, I think that's going to be a challenge for Bernie Sanders and Martin O'Malley that they not look overly negative, that their campaign isn't to destroy Hillary Clinton. I think it's important that they -- this is their first time on the national stage for both of them. So they have to project new policies, a positive image, but at the same time, you know, you have to draw distinctions.

And the only thing I would say differently than what is being said is that I think Hillary Clinton too doesn't necessarily have to take the gloves off with Bernie Sanders, but has to show contrast that she is a policy-oriented, former senator, former secretary of state that has some new policies that can work and that Bernie Sanders, although he's the toast of the town and very strong, progressive face, the reality is that a lot of his proposals are probably not going to be effective in the Congress. They probably are not doable in the sense that it's policy. I think Hillary has to show that she can get things done and Bernie Sanders, for all his good policies and progressive face, does not have a record of passing legislation. And I think voters are going to like that.

COOPER: And -- but Neera, and the trick on doing that is doing that without alienating, you know, being overly aggressive against Bernie Sanders and alienating a lot of, you know, his very enthusiastic supporters.

TANDEN: Yeah. I mean I would say there's a big difference between democrats and republicans when it comes to debates. The stomach democrats have for attacks and counterattacks and assaults between candidates is very different from republicans.

So, you know, I mean, it's like one can be more like gladiator, the other is much more like chess. It really is. People reward disagreements on policy. They tend to criticize and become repelled by overly personal attacks. And so I think it's fine for Hillary, and she should. She has views of what -- how she would govern. They're different than Senator Sanders. These are people known each other for a long time though and respected each other for a long time.

So I think that she may well draw serious contrast about policy, but she's not going to attack. I doubt she'll -- very much she'll attack anyone unless she's attacked first.

COOPER: And we're certainly hearing that from the Sanders campaign as well. Governor Richardson, I appreciate it, Neera Tanden and Greg Guma as well. Thank you.

Up next, going to meet Bernie Sanders' biggest supporter, his wife. She plays a crucial role in the campaign, or so perhaps than the other candidates as well. Be right back.


[21:57:23] COOPER: As the candidates get ready to take the stage tomorrow night, right now, we got to look at Bernie Sanders's closest advisor, his wife. She's included in senior staff meetings and is helping her husband get ready for the debate, we understand. Sunlen Serfaty reports.


SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Jane Sanders' campaign job is unofficial, but her role is critical.

JANE SANDERS, WIFE OF BERNIE SANDERS: Anything that Bernie needs, basically throughout his career, he'll pull me in and say, I need this new area that I need some research on or I need you to go change my airline tickets because I'm running late for...

SERFATY: Influence extends well beyond just support. It's unusually focused on substance.

J. SANDERS: I've always been very interested in policy and always doing a lot of research and thinking and writing and so we have a -- we have that kind of a relationship where we really discuss things. I offer advice all the time on almost anything. And he'll say, "OK, good, good," and then I'll know when he goes up to give a speech or he's going to debate whether or not he agreed or not.

SERFATY: She actively participates in internal meetings, hashing out policy positions, giving him political advice in the toughest moments. SERFATY: When Black Lives Matter protesters took over at Sanders'

campaign event in August, it was Jane who stepped up on stage, whispered in his ear, directing him how to diffuse the moment. And it's on message when asked about her potential future as first lady.

You are vying in a way for the same job as Bill Clinton.

J. SANDERS: I think they're also tremendous. They've done a lot in terms of public service. I think what we're trying to do is move the country in a more progressive way.

SERFATY: Their love story has roots in politics.

B. SANDERS: Jane and I have been married for 27 years. All right. I don't know how she did it. I really don't. Tough lady.

SERFATY: They first met in 1981 in Burlington, Vermont at his victory rally the night he won his mayoral race. She, nine years his junior, was an activist involved in local politics. He hired her in his office and they fell in love. Seven years later, they were married with four children all from each of their previous marriages. They now have seven grandchildren. Over the years, she's remained engaged in policy, focusing on education, working in his congressional office at times and was a former president at Burlington College.

J. SANDERS: I have a background that really is very people-oriented. What I bring always is the human factor.

SERFATY: Sunlen Serfaty, CNN, Washington.


COOPER: Certainly a lot of factors are going to be on display tomorrow night. I hope you join us for the first CNN Democratic Presidential Debate starting at 8:30 tomorrow. Right now, "CNN TONIGHT" with Don Lemon starts now.