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The Feud Between Donald Trump, Jeb Bush Heating up Tonight; Hillary Clinton Faces Congressional Showdown over Benghazi; Biden to Meet with Inner Circle. Aired 10-11:00p ET
Aired October 19, 2015 - 22:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
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[22:00:00] ANDERSON COOPER, AC360 SHOW HOST: ... to earn money.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's very difficult. I know, it's really difficult to a conundrum. And we try to work it out for each individual patient to make it work as well as possible.
But somebody who has life threatening addiction, listen, if that person had cancer, they've manage to find a way to get their cancer treated and not work.
COOPER: All right. Dr. Drew, thanks.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You bet.
COOPER: Well, that does well for us. We'll see you again 11 p.m. Eastern with another edition of 360. CNN Tonight with Don Lemon starts now.
BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN TONIGHT SHOW HOST: Trump versus Bush, but which one? This is CNN Tonight. I'm Brook Baldwin sitting in for my friend, Don Lemon.
The feud between Donald Trump and Jeb Bush heating up tonight. The republican candidates knocking heads over 9/11, and how the George W. Bush White House responded to terror threats in the days before the attacks.
Meanwhile, yes, it's not all Kumbaya on the democrat side. Hillary Clinton, facing a showdown in the House this week on Benghazi, while Vice President Joe Biden meets with his inner circle tonight and gets even closer to jumping in the race. And then, there is the SNL effect.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LARRY DAVID, SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE SHOW HOST: Who do you want as president? One of these Washington insiders or a guy who has one pair of clean underwear that he dries on a radiator?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: Oh, will that help Bernie Sanders? A Saturday Night Live veteran is here to weigh in.
But let's begin with the Trump/Bush feud this evening. Certainly showing no signs of cooling down.
Joining me now, Kurt Eichenwald, senior writer for Newsweek and the author of "500 Days, Secrets, and Lives and the Terror Wars," also with us the New York -- former New York Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik, who was the city's top cop on that day, 9/11, 2001. And CNN presidential historian, Douglas Brinkley.
So, gentlemen, welcome to all of you.
KURT EICHENWALD, NEWSWEEK SENIOR WRITER: Thank you.
BALDWIN: Let's begin first with the back and forth on Twitter, shall we? The war of words, the tweets between Trump and Bush. Two examples just today, Trump tweeted, "Jeb is fighting to defend a catastrophic event. I am fighting to make sure it doesn't happen again. Jeb is too soft. We need tougher and sharper."
Jeb Bush's response, "Donald Trump talks about foreign policy as though, he is still on "The Apprentice."
Commissioner Kerik, you were here in New York on 9/11. You disagree with Donald Trump wholeheartedly on 9/11. Tell me why.
BERNARD KERIK, KERIK GROUP CEO: Well, you know, anybody that says that George Bush didn't do everything in his power to keep us safe in the aftermath of the attack, I would have to disagree with.
You know, I was there from the point that the second plane hit tower two. I was physically standing under the building when it slammed through the building. And I was there for the first three and a half months afterward leading the rescue, the recovery.
And the PD's, the NYPD's investigation in conjunction with the FBI. And I know that the President, President Bush, did everything in his power to make sure that we were safe from that point on. Are there things that could have been done differently prior?
There probably is, but I would to say in this seven and half to eight months that President Bush was in office. I honestly don't think he could have changed anything in that time.
BALDWIN: OK. Kurt, let me just turn to you because it's part of all this, you know, tweets coming from Donald Trump today, actually re- tweeted New York Times op-ed from 2012, in part, this is what you wrote at the time.
"The direct warnings to Mr. Bush about the possibility of an Al Qaeda attack began in the spring of 2001. By May 1st, this Intel intelligence agency the White House of a report that a group of - presently in the United States was planning a terrorist operation."
"Weeks later, on June 22, the Daily Brief reported that Al Qaeda strikes could be imminent. Although intelligence suggest that the timeframe was flexible."
So, European peace, this is based upon, you know, myriad briefings, I know that you read. Just tell me what you learn from those briefings and is there a seedling of truth to any of what Donald Trump is saying today?
EICHENWALD: Well, let me say first that, you know, I really respect Commissioner Kerik and everything he said right now, he accomplished a lot on 9/11. He was there, he was brave.
BALDWIN: I feel a butt coming here.
EICHENWALD: But what he's talking about is what happened after 9/11. And the real questions are what happened before. And the reality is that President Bush, based on the Presidential Daily Briefs that I have read was told more than a dozen times that there was an attack coming, that it was imminent, that there were going to be many casualties, that there were terrorists in the United States, that, I mean, it was -- it was...
BALDWIN: The 9/11 commission report essentially was he shouldn't have been surprised, correct?
EICHENWALD: No. There was no way he could have been surprised. And I think the look that, you know, in that famous video where Andy Cart, the chief of staff, is telling Bush of the attack, I think, you know, I've always thought the look in his eyes was a look of recognition of what he'd been told.
[22:05:07] But, you know, it is -- but there is an element here. I am not saying Bush could have stopped 9/11. You know, we don't know. Things were different, would they be the same?
EICHENWALD: The problem Jeb Bush is making and the problem that is made across the board is we are talking about history. And the argument that Jeb Bush is making is making he knew nothing and nothing could have been done.
BALDWIN: Well, let me jump in because we have historian...
EICHENWALD: I think. No, there's nothing -- anything could be done.
BALDWIN: Right. I understand. And, Doug, you know, when you hear people talking about this today, they're jumping in using the examples about FDR and warnings about an attack on Pearl Harbor. Tell me about that argument. Do you buy that?
DOUGLAS BRINKLEY, CNN PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: Look, it's easy to blame presidents for what happens on their watch. And, yes, there was a whole bunch of back door to war theories that FDR was asleep at the wheel. Most of it is nonsense. They're almost all of it is nonsense. I mean,
FDR didn't want to see out fleet bombed and he rallied the country together and won World War II.
I think the argument here is that there, you know, once 9/11 happened, President Bush behaved heroically. The famous bull horn moment, that throwing the ball at Yankee Stadium and pull the country together.
What's being debated by Jeb Bush and Donald Trump are those months leading up to 9/11. And there are memos that say, my, gosh, why didn't the President Bush notice Osama Bin Laden big threat on documents.
But Presidents are very busy and hindsight is very difficult. So, I find it gosh that Donald Trump has pushed this into the election cycle right now. I'm not sure what it's accomplishing.
BALDWIN: You know, part of Trump's argument -- and Commissioner Kerik I want to come back to you. Part of his argument is, listen, he's talked very tough on immigration, right? And he said had there been stiffer immigration policies at the time, you know, he's actually gone as far as saying 9/11 could have been prevented, but when you actually do the digging, you read that all those 9/11 hijackers they were in the U.S. legally. Only two overstayed their visas.
KERIK: Yes. That's right. And you know what, in many ways, both Kurt and Doug are right. The reality is if we looked at memos today in the White House and the chatter today, it's far, far worse than anything President Bush had back then.
You also have to realize, Brook, that this has been going on since '96. Why go around the same time...
BALDWIN: What this?
KERIK: The attacks on this country. President Clinton had the Al Khobar Towers had the Kenya and Tanzania bombings of the embassies, had the USS Cole. There were plenty of warning signs going into 2000 when President Bush was elected.
So, you know, it's nice to look and say, you know, who would have, could have, should have. The reality is, I permanently don't think anybody could have done anything different or would have been able to stop what happened on September 11th.
BALDWIN: Go ahead, Kurt.
EICHENWALD: But, Brooke, you know, one of the things that we -- people are portraying it as if this was part of, you know, a huge slosh of information that was crossing Bush's desk. It wasn't. This was the focus of these multiple briefings.
In fact, everyone knows of the August 6th briefing, because it's the only one the White House released, the Bush White House, where it is a historical assessment of Al Qaeda and it does have the Bin Laden determine to strike you as. But it is historical.
Well, the reason that document exists is because Bush was getting so many briefings that said an attack is coming, an attack is coming, an attack is coming. But he said, I want a historical analysis and that's what came.
BALDWIN: So, and it's important to look back. But hang on, gentlemen, I want to look forward and, Doug, I want to go to you on this. Because obviously, some of these Trump attacks are forcing Jeb Bush to sort of, you know, defend his brother.
But when you look at some of these polls, I mean, let me leave people with this, the opinion of President Gorge W. Bush, this was taken in May, among republicans, 88 percent favorable.
Not to mention -- and listen, I was there at the Reagan Library during that republican debate where, you know, the line, Jeb Bush was saying, my brother kept us safe was a huge, huge applause line. ,
Now granted if you look at the audience. But still, Doug, how does this affect Jeb Bush moving forward?
BRINKLEY: I think Jeb has to square off on Donald Trump and defend his brother like he's doing. I mean, this is the heart and soul of any George W. Bush legacy is he kept the country safe after 9/11.
He created Homeland Security and we didn't have another attack on his watch. Trump is muddying the waters here. And I think if Jeb is very passive towards Donald Trump, it's going to look terrible.
So he has to, I think, ratchet it up even more and have the argument that he's starting to have that Donald Trump knows nothing about foreign policy. We can go back into history and blame every president for anything that happened on their watch. It's not helpful for how we go forward right now.
[22:10:00] And Trump I think is going to alienate some republicans on taking this stance on 9/11, where he doesn't alienate them when he criticizes George W. Bush for the Iraq war.
BALDWIN: All right. Doug Brinkley, Bernard Kerik, and Kurt Eichenwald, thank you all so much.
BRINKLEY: Thank you.
EICHENWALD: Thank you.
And a reminder to all of you watching -- thank you. Donald Trump will be on CNN's New Day tomorrow morning which starts at 6 a.m. Eastern. Tune in to that.
When we come back tonight, is Joe Biden about to up end this whole race? We'll talk to a man who knows pretty much everything there is to know about running for the White House.
Also, Donald Trump set to host Saturday Night Live, coming up, but it's going to be pretty tough for him to top this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DAVID: We're doomed. We need a revolution! Millions of people on the streets and we've got to do something and we've got to do it now.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: Will he or won't he? Democrats are waiting for Vice President Joe Biden to decide whether or not he will run for president.
Joining me now, David Axelrod, CNN political commentator and a former senior adviser to President Obama. David Axelrod, nice to see you, sir.
DAVID AXELROD, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Hey, Brooke, good to be here.
BALDWIN: Let's begin with Joe Biden. You have said, you know, he has said perhaps that it's in his heart, not, you know, not to run this go around. But as we're reading the tea leaves and hearing all this last- minute reporting, it may be different. Do you still believe that?
[22:15:02] AXELROD: Yes. I wouldn't -- I wouldn't put too much stock into the tea leaves. I think he's going through a genuine process. And I think on the one hand, there are all the reasons why he's like to run for president.
On the other hand, it's his personal knowledge of the kind of toll that those races take on you and your family, he's aware of what he's been through and what his family has been through this year.
And I think he's really weighing those. And I don't sense that the process has moved all that far along here. So, I'm a little -- put me down as a skeptic yet.
BALDWIN: OK. You're still in the skeptic column. We'll look back with you and see what happens over the course of the next couple of days.
In the meantime, as we wait for potential news on that, the state of the democratic race here, as we take at the polls here, this is with or without Joe Biden if he jumps in. And you can see especially how Hillary Clinton would fare without Joe Biden in the race.
I'm wondering, as Joe Biden is mulling all of this, David, how much do you think he is really paying attention to the poll numbers?
AXELROD: You know, he has to look at them and that has to be part of the assessment that he's making. Because I don't think he wants to get in to a race that he doesn't think he can win.
But I think a large part of it is just his feeling that if he runs it, it's going to be because he thinks he will be the president, he's be the best follow on to President Obama. And I think that's really what's driving him.
So I'm not sure the poll numbers are -- he's not living and dying by the poll numbers here.
AXELROD: But if you were giving him advice, if I was his adviser, I'd say these polls are not hugely encouraging. Because Hillary Clinton is hanging on to about 45 percent of the vote.
You see Bernie Sanders at close to 30. That's 75 percent of the vote. Their supporters are pretty firm. So, you know, overcoming those obstacles is a challenge.
BALDWIN: So, Bill Clinton, we just found out today, he will be joining Hillary Clinton in Iowa this weekend.
I was talking to Karen Finny with the campaign earlier today. She said, Brooke, we may be seeing a lot more of Bill Clinton here on the road. How could he help her, how could he hurt her?
AXELROD: I think it's risky to appear with her at events. I've said before, it's hard to shine when you're standing next to the sun. Bill Clinton is a luminescent character. And when you're the candidate, you don't want to be over-shadowed by anyone.
Where Bill Clinton I think could be very useful as a surrogate elsewhere when Hillary is not there. And my sense is that's how he largely will be used.
Now there is a big event in Iowa coming up, which is the J.J. Dinner. And I'm sure that, you know, he will be expected to be there.
But I think generally, I would stay away from joint appearances and double my force by sending him elsewhere.
BALDWIN: I want to also ask you, David, we've been talking tonight about this whole back and forth, the attacking from Donald Trump against Jeb Bush and all on terrorist attacks on 9/11, insults, they're flying.
Do you think that there is any seed of truth in what Donald Trump is saying? Do you see a winner yet in this debate?
AXELROD: Well, I mean, at the very sort of objective level was George Bush President when the 9/11 attack took place, everybody knows that is true, whether it's fair to impute the attack to him is a different question.
The real political question is what is the benefit for Jeb Bush to engage in this debate? Does he gain from it or does he not? I think that Donald Trump very cleverly has involved Jeb Bush in a backward looking debate that underscores the fact that he's kind of a legacy candidate in this race. And I think on balance, Trump is going to benefit from this exchange.
BALDWIN: I had to ask you about this because I know Mitt Romney was with Jake Tapper over the weekend. You recently talked to Mitt Romney, as well. And he had mentioned to Tapper that he's really surprised not many more people are talking about Chris Christie in this whole presidential nomination. What did he tell you?
AXELROD We didn't really talk about Christie. He was very tough on Donald Trump in that interview. And said that he felt that even if Trump weren't the nominee that he may cast a shadow over whoever the nominee is with all this nativism about immigration and some of the other issues that he's raised.
But in terms of Christie, I think Christie is getting some traction, particularly in New Hampshire where he's spending a lot of time. He still yet hasn't had that scrutiny that comes with being elevated into the front ranks.
And the New Jersey -- the New Jersey scandals are still something that hangs over him. It's hard for me to see him projecting himself into the front line of candidates.
But I know that Mitt Romney has a relationship with him. He was the key note speaker at the last democratic convention.
AXELROD: So, they have a relationship. What you really see are center right establishment republicans casting about madly looking for someone who can take on Trump, Carson and the sort of outsider populist anti-government wing of the party.
[22:20:07] And they haven't yet lit on the candidate they believe can overcome this outsider movement.
BALDWIN: They haven't yet. All the outsiders still ranking so high. David Axelrod, thank you so much.
AXELROD: Thanks, Brooke.
BALDWIN: Coming up next, tonight, as Joe Biden tries to decide whether or not he will enter the democratic race. How nasty could it go between him and Hillary Clinton? We'll talk about that when we come back.
BALDWIN: Joe Biden is going to need to make a decision really soon. So, which way will he go?
Joining me now, Matt Lewis, columnist for the Daily Beast and author of "Too Dumb to Fail," Harry Enten, senior political analyst at FiveThirtyEight.com. Stuart Stevens, former senior adviser to Mitt Romney and author of "The Last Season," and Gabriel Sherman, national affairs editor of New York Magazine.
Wonderful having you all on tonight. And I want to go rouge for a second, if I may up the top, show of hand, fellas.
[22:25:00] Show off hands who thinks Biden is not going to go for it and run for president? OK. The lone holdout. I feel like this is that says in the script.
And Harry Enten, you're the one that's sitting out there. Go ahead and tell me, Harry, why the lone holdout?
HARRY ENTEN, FIVETHIRTYEIGHT.COM SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Because he hasn't declared yet. If he were to enter the race now, he would be the 11th latest entry for a serious candidate. We've been hearing over and over and over again that he may get in, that he's going to announce that he's going to get in, that he's going to leak that he's going to announce that he's going to get in, and he hasn't done it yet.
So, for me, it's just a matter of he hasn't announced yet, things are getting very light. So, until he actually does it, I'm just going to say, no, he's not going to get in.
BALDWIN: OK. All right. Not buying it yet. Gabe, I want to talk about your piece that he wrote saying, quote, "We're already months into the Biden campaign." Tell me why you think that.
GABRIEL SHERMAN, NEW YORK MAGAZINE NATIONAL AFFAIRS EDITOR: Well, Brooke, I think the whole point is that we're looking at this the wrong way.
SHERMAN: It's not whether Joe Biden will get into the race. It is how. He is clearly already running for president. He is doing all the things that presidential candidates do. He is positioning himself within the Democratic Party, as either the alternative to Bernie Sanders or the alternative to Hillary Clinton.
BALDWIN: So, what's the hold up?
SHERMAN: Well, the holdup is really, you know, what I think is that it's really what's the path? And one clear path is whether Hillary Clinton stumbles. And that is why I think if Biden ultimately becomes an official candidate and not a shadow candidate, it's going to be an incredibly messy race.
Because his campaign will be predicated on the argument that he is more electable than Hillary Clinton. Because on a policy basis, they're basically running in the same lane together. They're center left democrats.
BALDWIN: OK. I want to point out a tweet from one of you. I thought it was pretty clever. The sweet sounds of elevator music. Roll it.
This is what I'm talking about, Harry. So elevator music as we wait for the Biden announcement. You say the Biden camp isn't making much sense because the longer they wait, it hurts his chances of winning.
BALDWIN: Tell me.
ENTEN: The longer you wait -- we can look back over time and see how late entrance do when they enter the race, whether they get polling searches, whether they fall back.
And most candidates who enter this late simply don't get polling searches or at least declare. Obviously, Biden may be , quote and quote, "running right now," but he hasn't officially declared.
And right now, he's third place in Iowa, New Hampshire and nationally. He's over 25 points behind Hillary Clinton. So, he's going to need a large polling surge. And historically, candidates who enter this late simply don't get them.
BALDWIN: Stuart, you have worked with multiple candidates. I wanted to point out a moment during the democratic debate just recently in Las Vegas when Hillary Clinton, when the poll -- you know, when they were asked the enemy the most proud of. And part of her answer was republicans, and now it sounds like perhaps Biden is taking a veiled swiped over that very comment. Hear what he was today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, U.S. VICE PRESIDENT: Darrel Issa, not a republican friend of mine. He's a friend. I don't consider republicans enemies. They're friends. But even Darrel Issa has said, you know, this is the way every government program should be administered.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: So, Stuart, what's the game plan if and when he jumps in, does he go right on the attack?
STUART STEVENS, "THE LAST SEASON" AUTHOR: No, I don't think he'll go right on the attack. I don't think he needs to. He has the highest positives in the race and the lowest unfavorable.
Look, I think the biggest thing here is just to look at his where he is in his life. This is his last chance to be president. And the one thing we know is there's some chance he'll be president if he runs. There's zero chance that he'll be president if he doesn't run.
So, why not run? It seems to me it would be pretty clear. Odd things happen in politics and a week is a long time in politics.
BALDWIN: OK. OK.
STEVENS: It takes one good debate and the guy could -- you know, he has the ability to move numbers and win some races, and possibly be the democratic nominee and be President of the United States.
BALDWIN: Somebody tells me, Joe Biden, I could be wrong, is not kicking back and looking back at a ton of poll numbers and watching a lot of cable, although we hope he is, I'm just saying.
Matt, so you found this interesting, you are talking with one of our producers and you actually said that, you see a Biden run as an insurance policy for democrats. And I just wanted to press on what do you mean by that? And why would anyone want to run, blood, sweat and tears to be an insurance policy?
METT LEWIS, "TOO DUMB TO FAIL" AUTHOR: Because I think exactly what Stu said. You get in the race and you never know what might happen. This is a guy who has run for president twice before. He wants to be president. He's a two-term sitting Vice President.
You tell me the last time a sitting vice president was denied their party's nomination. So, he gets in the race and if something happens, if Hillary Clinton stumbles, if she has a horrible debate performance, which is entirely possible. She's definitely capable of having a bad debate performance.
I think we saw, you know, you usually you stumble and then you get better. I think she started off pretty high in that first debate. I don't think that she can outdo it.
God forbid something happens to her or let's just say an indictment. I mean, she's going to go up in front of the Benghazi committee on Friday.
[22:30:02] BALDWIN: Ouch. Right.
LEWIS: Again, this is all hypothetical. But if Biden gets in the race and Hillary stumbles or something happens, he's the guy there.
What they are going to get to, you know, grandfatherly socialist?
BALDWIN: I mean, people really love the Larry David impersonation, gentlemen.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was good.
BALDWIN: It was pretty good. Now I close my eyes when I hear Bernie Sanders and I hear Larry David. Here is the sketch. Let's go there.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LARRY DAVID, SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE SHOW HOST: That's why you have to break up the banks into little pieces and then flush the pieces down the toilet so you can never put the banks back together.
Then you just make the bankers pay for college for everyone. And America is fixed. Hey.
KATE MCKINNON, SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE SHOW CO-HOST: That's good. America, allow me to pop an ice cube in that scalding hot soup he just served you. We do need to fix things, Bernie, but you're promising everyone a golden goose. There is no golden goose. So, America, follow me because I've got some chicken that will due.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: I mean, I was in the studio Saturday night. And when Larry David walked out, as that fifth candidate on the stage, everyone, you know, was ruckus. And so, Gabe, I think Bernie Sanders just got a couple of new young fans. What do you think?
GABRIEL SHERMAN, NEW YORK MAGAZINE NATIONAL AFFAIRS EDITOR: Well, I actually read it the different way. My take away watching that was it was very damaging to Bernie because it was -- for me, it was difficult to know that he was even a parody.
I mean, if you go back to what Tina -- if you go back to what Tina Fey did with Sarah Palin, it was hard to know what was scripted by the SNL writers and what was really something coming out of her mouth. And so, ultimately, I think that sketch helped Joe Biden.
Again, create this idea that there is a path for a Hillary alternative.
BALDWIN: All right. Stay with me, all of you, because we've gone from democrats, we're going to talk republican.
When we come back, is Donald Trump getting under Jeb Bush's skin with his tweets about 9/11 and President George W. Bush?
[22:35:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
BALDWIN: More than any other candidate, Donald Trump shoots from the lip. But is there any issue that's really off limits?
Back with me, I have Matt Lewis, Harry Enten, and Stuart Stevens. So, let's tie it up with this, Matt.
First, it was, you know, you think of the topics that Trump has tackled. You have immigration, women, John McCain, now 9/11, and so we loves his grenades, blows up the political conversation for days and days. You know, he says, I set the agenda for political discussion. Doesn't he kind of have a point?
LEWIS: Yes, he does, absolutely. Look, I think it's amazing that you now have a situation where the leading candidate for the nomination of the Republican Party is attacking the last republican president over an issue that I think been essentially settled in the 2004 election certainly, but amongst republicans.
You know, you may be -- questions George W. Bush on the Iraq War but on 9/11, that seems to be a settled issue. And I think this speaks to some larger things that Trump has gone for him, some weird trends that are happening out there.
There is this celebritization (ph) of politics he's benefiting from. There the what I called the depth of experience that no longer helps you, but actually it hurts you to have experience. And I think that the other thing is the decline of institutions. And
you have the Republican Party, this brand, this institution that, really, is now coming under attack by the presumptive nominee.
BALDWIN: Stuart, I want you to respond to the brand issue with republicans right now.
STUART STEVENS, "THE LAST SEASON" AUTHOR: Oh, listen, I think, you know, I think this is utter madness of Donald Trump. Two people ran for president in 2000. Al Gore and George Bush. So, I think Donald Trump basically is playing for those republicans that wish that Al Gore had been president on 9/11.
I think that's a pretty small group of people. You know, I think Trump just keeps throwing these things out. I think ultimately at a certain point, people become tired of it.
You know, it's -- caster was looking for the Indians, too. At a certain point, you know, when you have this path, it's not one that leads, necessarily, to glory.
BALDWIN: But he is throwing these things out and a lot of these things, these attacks, specifically against Jeb Bush, Harry, you say he is definitely got inside of Jeb Bush's head.
HARRY ENTEN, FIVETHIRTYEIGHT.COM SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: You know, Jeb Bush was supposed to run a joyful campaign. I have to be honest, my father's funeral a month ago was just more joyful than this campaign has been.
I mean, he has just gotten and thrown off his campaign. He is going after Jeb Bush, he isn't staying in his lane. Look at Marco Rubio who has a nice, steady straight line. He's moving up in the polls, compare that to Bush who has been falling down. Even his own home State of Florida is fourth to Donald Trump. Fourth
BALDWIN: I want everyone to take a listen. We've just turned some sound around from Jeb Bush just appearing on Hannity tonight. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEAN HANNITY, THE SEAN HANNITY SHOW HOST: Who would you rather have the finger on the button, Obama, Trump, or Hillary, or the all three scare you?
JEB BUSH, (R) U.S. PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: No, look, I'd rather have the republican nominee. That's who I'd rather have.
BUSH: I'm a loyal republican. I've been that way for a long while.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: I mean, if he were to have a chance to take a direct shot at Trump and he didn't take it just then. He didn't take it just then. Matt, does he need to hold on his self?
STEVENS: He needs to. I think he needs to. I think he was a front- runner. In many ways, people see him as a front-runner because he is a Bush and because, you know, he raised all of that money. I think he needs to take on Trump now.
STEVENS: And, look, the way to take on Donald Trump I think is to go directly to the ridiculousness of the Donald Trump candidacy. This ridiculous candidate for...
BALDWIN: How do you mean, be specific?
STEVENS: Well, is someone who says that he watches knows about foreign policy because he watches shows. He's just an absurd candidate. He's out here questioning the republican nominee -- the republican president on 9/11. It's just -- he has, and then he sort of doesn't want to talk about it. He's a silly person running for president.
LEWIS: I think, you know...
BALDWIN: But, Matt, you wrote an article essentially saying, you know we may have to -- you know, he could be decent.
[22:40:00] LEWIS: Yes, yes. Look, I think that Donald Trump it's not -- Donald Trump isn't just silly. I think he's dangerous. And I think that Jeb Bush is boxed in because he's on is that silly pledge that they all signed to support the republican nominee.
He needs to tear up that pledge. I think Donald Trump is potentially much more dangerous than Hillary Clinton because he's a complete wild card. We have no idea if he's a conservative or a liberal where he stands.
And I think this is like -- remember that time when Tim Pawlenty sits -- he was sort of bad mouthing Mitt Romney on Fox News Sunday. And then they get to the debate and he won't do it?
I think Jeb Bush should have lowered the boom on Donald Trump there. And the fact that he won't do it is self-selective.
BALDWIN: That was the issue at the last debate when Trump brought up Columba and a lot of people said he should have gone farther.
LEWIS: Yes. And maybe that's a self-selective thing. Maybe if you're not going to stand up to him you don't deserve to be president.
BALDWIN: Harry, seven months ago, you wrote an article about Ted Cruz saying he's too extreme and too disliked to win. Your last line when something like, you know, in campaigns since 1980 no candidate hated by the establishment has actually won. But you're not walking that back.
ENTEN: I mean, look, if Donald Trump can rise in the polls and Ben Carson can rise in the polls, why not Ted Cruz? But, you know, if just look at the depth from facets and you look at where Cruz is doing well.
He has a very high net favorability among republicans, bit nationally and Iowa. He has the most cash on hand of any republican. And the Republican Party's voters have gotten more conservative over the years and Ted Cruz matches up very bold with that ideology.
As republican -- as the republican establishment says, hey, wait a minute, we need to stop Trump, they may try not to go back to the other end of Bush. Cruz might be a nice little split right down in the middle for him.
BALDWIN: Stuart, final question -- go ahead, quickly.
STEVENS: For a long time, I thought it would come down to Ted Cruz and whoever was going to win. I don't think Ted Cruz will be the nominee.
BALDWIN: OK. Since I have you, you are seventh generation Mississippian. You have a new book out. It's called "The Last Season." It's about going to Ole Miss Games with your dad.
And so, you know the news this week, school is voting whether to remove the state flag features the Confederate Battle Flag, and its design remove it from campus. What are your thoughts on that?
STEVENS: There was a referendum in the state 12 years so ago, about the State Flag and it passed overwhelmingly to keep the flag. My bet is that would not pass today.
The Town of Oxford itself where the University of Mississippi Ole Miss is voted last week not to show the State Flag. I imagine this will pass tomorrow where the students vote not to show the state flag.
The very popular football coach, Hugh Freeze, has come out and said that we can't change the State Flag. So, I would imagine it will change. Look, Ole Miss is probably the most the most southern university and the most southern state. And its dealt with a lot of these issues.
You got to give him credit, you know, I mean, 10 years ago, Ole Miss came out on the football field with giant Confederate Flag led by Colonel Reid, and they went to a painful process of changing that imagery.
And just think if they hadn't, where they would be now.
STEVENS: And I think that it's -- they're in a much better place now. It's not perfect. I mean, we're certainly not home yet.
BALDWIN: Who really is? What really is?
STEVENS: I'm sorry?
BALDWIN: No, I was just saying no one is perfect. No one has reached where we really need to be. Stuart Stevens...
STEVENS: Yes. No, no. Yes. But it's a place that really has talked a lot about the past...
STEVENS: ... and realizes that I think it has a special obligation to the past to deal with it. And it's confronting it head on.
BALDWIN: Your book is "The Last Season." Thank you so much, sir, for joining me.
STEVENS: Thank you.
BALDWIN: Harry Enten, Matt Lewis, and Gabe Sherman from earlier, I really appreciate all of you tonight. Thank you.
Last night in Washington, D.C., Eddie Murphy picked up an award at the Kennedy Center and finally broke his silence on Bill Cosby. Let's just say Cosby, probably not laughing.
[22:45:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
BALDWIN: America's top black comedian takes on Bill Cosby after decades of silence. I want you to watch what happens, this is last might when Eddie Murphy accepted the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor at the Kennedy Center in Washington.
This was his first stand up bit in 28 years. But Murphy has definitely not lost his edge.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
EDDIE MURPHY, COMEDIAN: He should do one show where he just comes out and talk crazy now. I would like to talk to some of the people who feel that I should give back my...
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: Joining me now, Eric Deggans, an NPR TV critic and author of "Race Baiter, How the Media will Dangerous Words to Divide a Nation," also with us tonight, comedian Gilbert Gottfried, a former SNL cast member, and actor and comedian John Fugelsang.
GILBERT GOTTFRIED, FORMER SNL CAST MEMBER: OK. So, did Eddie Murphy...
BALDWIN: Oh, here we go. I want to get, boom.
GOTTFRIED: Because usually when on CNN, when they have me on CNN, somebody dies.
BALDWIN: Well, good for all of us. Now, what has?
GOTTFRIED: Can I just say I'll miss -- I was shocking dead when Eddie Murphy died last night.
BALDWIN: Are you killing off Eddie Murphy live on CNN?
GOTTFRIED: Yes. He's on his lips. I hope people are watching it now. And it will start trending. So please, go to the internet and announce Eddie Murphy has died.
BALDWIN: Gilbert Gottfried.
GOTTFRIED: Just do that. Do it. Do it for me, please.
BALDWIN: OK. By the way, Eddie Murphy is just fine. SNL, John Fugelsang.
GOTTFRIED: She just can't take it. She's emotional.
BALDWIN: I don't want.
GOTTFRIED: He's dead. He's dead. Go to the internet and tweet Eddie Murphy is dead.
BALDWIN: OK, OK, Gilbert Gottfried. Stand by, stand by, my friend.
BALDWIN: John, would you care to react?
JOHN FUGELSANG, ACTOR & COMEDIAN: I just found out Eddie Murphy was dead from Gilbert.
BALDWIN: Certainly this doesn't. He scooped all of us.
FUGELSANG: I actually know. I'm only here at Gilbert's food taster. I have to tell you, as someone who saw Eddie Murphy live in Madison Square Garden when I was a teenager...
[22:50:08] BALDWIN: Wow.
FUGELSANG: I'm one of those people who has been waiting through Dr. Doolittle sequels for many decades. And back when Gilbert was propping Eddie up in Beverly Hills Cop 2 and I've been waiting for a long time for him to get back to doing standup.
There's a lot of reason to be excited about it. And I think that, you know, he was supposed to host the Oscar's a couple of years ago. We thought we are going to see it then and then he pulled out. He was going to do something at SNL. He hosted.
BALDWIN: At SNL 40.
FUGELSANG: At SNL 40. He did nothing. So, to see him last night, he had to do something. And what's even more telling on AP's red carpet interview, before he said that he's been writing material.
So, I mean, if he wants to go out, I can there is many, many reasons why he should. But it's Eddie Murphy's career. He can do all the children's films if that's what makes him happy.
BALDWIN: Eric, do you, why do you think he took that venue at the Kennedy Center to take on Bill Cosby?
ERIC DEGGANS, NPR TV CRITIC: Well, I agree with John. I'm hoping it's because he's preparing to show us all some new stand up material and go out on the road. Because I'm one of those folks who, you know, watch the standup specials and bought the albums and went to the concert size, the stadium size venues when he was doing standup.
And no one has done it better or done it bigger than Eddie Murphy. One of the things that sort of occurred to me, he said in an interview that he didn't impersonate Bill Cosby during the SNL 40 anniversary because he didn't want that moment to be about that.
And some people sort of said, maybe he was being little too precious about this and maybe, you know, as a comic, your job is to get out there and go for the jugular. And so, to see him now willing to joke about Bill Cosby the way that he has, maybe there's a sense that he's willing to let go of some of the stuff that's kept him from going back out on the stand up tour before now.
And he'll go out and be that funny amazing comic that we know he can be, and then, he has been before and then we hope he will be again.
BALDWIN: Well, you know, when I look at YouTube, you comedians, I mean, you know how to go for the jugular. And I find it interesting though, you have all these women stories of all these, you know, accusers, Bill Cosby accusers who have come forward for years.
But it took a comedian; it took comedy to make this story to make the public really pay attention. What do you make of that?
FUGELSANG: I make of that that we live in what is called the rape culture, where women can come out and tell the same story many, many, many times...
BALDWIN: And nobody listen.
FUGELSANG: ... and nobody listens. And it took Hannibal Buress having a set that went viral on YouTube before people started really talking about it.
And you know, to me, the positive side of this is it's never been harder to interfering with a woman or a child than it is now. Because people won't be victims, they choose to be survivors and they talk about it.
FUGELSANG: And they talk about the last shame there is. And you know, keep in mind, Eddie Murphy did not come down on one side or the other of this controversy in the appearance last night. He actually skated the line really well.
BALDWIN: Go ahead, Eric. I'm listening.
DEGGANS: Yes. I was going to say, we have a whole generation of comedy fans who did not grow up with Bill Cosby as the father figure that, you know, some of us of a certain age did.
You know, people who are fans of comedy who are Hannibal Buress' age or younger, they know Bill Cosby as the guy who's telling them to pull up their pants and scolding them for the rap music that they listen to and telling them that those of them who are poor are poor because they have failed.
And so, I think there was a whole generation of comedy fans who were ready to hear these women in a way that people who were blinded by Cosby celebrity and knew him in a different way were not yet ready to hear.
BALDWIN: No. It's a great point. You think of so many people not seeing him as Dr. Huxtable.
Let me switch gears with all of you. Let's talk about sketch, the opening sketch over the weekend, Saturday Night Live. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DAVID: I don't have a super PAC. I don't even have a backpack. I carry my stuff around loose in my arms like a professional.
DAVID: You know, between classes. I own one pair of underwear, that's it. Some of these billionaires, they've got three, four pairs. And I don't have a dryer. I have to put my clothes on the radiator.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: So, this is Larry David impersonating Bernie Sanders on Saturday. As an SNL guy, what did you think?
GOTTFRIED: Yes. Always, Larry David dead too. Please go to the internet and say Larry David dead. OK. Here. You can save time. Say Eddie Murphy and Larry David...
FUGELSANG: And I heard it on CNN, Gil. Tell them that. GOTTFRIED: You heard it on CNN.
BALDWIN: Oh, my.
FUGELSANG: We've gone rogue. We've got rouge.
GOTTFRIED: Larry David and Eddie Murphy are both dead.
BALDWIN: This is live TV, people, live TV.
GOTTFRIED: Do it right now. Damn you.
BALDWIN: This is from Gilbert Gottfried.
GOTTFRIED: Make some use of the internet and let the public know.
GOTTFRIED: That Eddie Murphy and Larry David are dead. OK.
[22:54:59] BALDWIN: OK. I think he's OK. That's my addendum do that.
FUGELSANG: Well, Bernie.
BALDWIN: You actually don't think it's going to do Bernie Sanders favors.
FUGELSANG: No. I mean, I think it was hilarious sketch but Bernie is a Hillary guy. And you know, I would have liked to have seen a sketch that didn't totally make Bernie's position out to be a joke because I think that his voice is very scary to the two-party system and that's what the democracy system needs.
That's says, it's not set in their life job to do humor that's the funniest for the little guy if their job to do the funniest sketch possible, and I would have paid Larry David anything to do the Bernie Sanders' impression and it was a riot.
BALDWIN: All right. John, and Eric, and Gilbert, with all your news that you have broken this evening, I mean, it's been phenomenal. It's been a night I will always remember.
GOTTFRIED: Yes. Larry David and Eddie Murphy are both dead. Go to the internet and tweet it right now.
BALDWIN: We'll be right back.
GOTTFRIED: America needs to know.
BALDWIN: We'll be right back.
[23:00:02] BALDWIN: That is it for us tonight. Thank you so much for watching. We'll see you back here tomorrow. AC360 starts right now.