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Biden Expected To Decide On Run Very Soon; Majority In Polls Say Biden Should Not Run; Netanyahu Comments On Attacks And Unrest; Netanyahu States Abbas Glorifies Terrorists As Heroes; GOP Race Turning Into Two-Candidate Contest; Democratic Candidate Jim Webb Drops out of Race; Trump, Carson Dominating GOP Field. Aired 1-1:30p ET
Aired October 20, 2015 - 13:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, I'm Wolf Blitzer. It's 1:00 p.m. here in Washington, 6:00 p.m. in London, 8:00 p.m. in Jerusalem. Wherever you're watching from around the world, thanks very much for joining us.
The landscape of the Democratic presidential race has set to change potentially at any moment now. The Vice president, Joe Biden, is mulling his decision whether to run for president, but his comments this morning might be giving an indication of which way he's leaning.
The vice president missed the Democratic debate a week ago. But during an event honoring the former vice president, Walter Mondale, the current V.P. held a debate of his own. Here's a closer look at some of the statements Clinton has made and Vice President Biden's comments from today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Secretary Clinton, how would you not be a third term to President Obama?
HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, there is a lot that I would like to do to build on the successes of President Obama but also as I am laying out to go beyond.
JOE BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: President Obama and I have -- ideologically have had no disagreement. None. I mean zero.
CLINTON: Well, in addition to the NRA, the health insurance companies, the drug companies, the Iranians, probably the Republicans.
BIDEN: I don't think that my chief enemy is the Republican Party. They're -- you know, this is a matter of, you know, making things work.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Then, there's the issue of trust, judgment and Hillary Clinton's time as secretary of state.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) CLINTON: After the election, he asked me to become secretary of state. He valued my judgment and I spent a lot of time with (INAUDIBLE) in the situation room going over some very difficult issues.
BIDEN: He kidded me once and said, look, make up your mind. Do you want -- before I was decided. Do you want -- whether you want to be secretary of state or vice president? And I joke with my wife about it and she said, I know you'd rather be secretary of state, but it would be better for the family if you were vice president. I'm thinking, OK.
But as vice president, I have traveled now over a million, almost 100,000, miles.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: In her book, by the way, Hillary Clinton bragged about her million miles as -- of travel as secretary of state. Now, the vice president, you just heard him say, he's traveled 1,100,000 miles, seemingly up -- one upping her on that minor issue.
Let's bring in our CNN Political Commentator S.E. Cupp. Angela Rye, she's a Political Strategist, former executive director of the Congressional Black Caucus, and our CNN Senior Washington Correspondent Jeff Zeleny.
So, we're reading a lot of tea leaves over here. We're trying to get at a better appreciation. But based on those little comments, it would seem to me, he's increasingly inclined to challenge Hillary Clinton.
JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, no doubt about it. And we saw a preview there of what this campaign would sort of look like. I mean, in this -- it'll be extraordinary if he decides to run, the sitting vice president running against the former secretary of state. I mean, they've run against each other before in 2008. But, of course, everything is so different now. You know, the president picked him to be his vice president.
So, I think that, A, Joe Biden is having a good deal of fun with this. The whole town may be sort of on pins and needles, at least Democrats, certainly a lot of media folks are. But Joe Biden seems to be having a good time. He knows exactly what he's doing there. He was watching that debate. He wants to point out that he would be a different kind of candidate.
Now, everyone we talked to is still saying that if they to Biden, they are left with the impression that he is running. But it's still important to have a caveat here. He's done this before. He's inched closer before and hasn't pulled the trigger. So, we just have to be a little bit -- sort of a wait-and-see for a couple more days.
BLITZER: We'll see what he decides. But, increasingly, based on all the reporting --
BLITZER: -- you're doing, a lot of other reporters are doing, it seems like he's increasingly inclined to throw his hat in the ring.
ZELENY: It does.
BLITZER: All right, S.E., let's take a look at this latest poll. We've got a lot of poll numbers, but I'm going to show you this NBC News-"Wall Street Journal" poll of the prospect of a Biden candidacy. This is among Democrats. Do you prefer he not run, 38 percent. Would you like to see him run, 30 percent. No opinion, 31 percent. You see those numbers, what goes through your mind?
S.E. CUPP, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, look, Joe Biden is going to have to compete for voters who have either gotten to the Hillary camp or the Bernie camp and, you know, a small percentage of undecided. And he knows that. That's why he's staking out his territory right now, that he is running against Hillary Clinton primarily. He is going to marry himself to Barack Obama. He's going to be an electable alternative without the baggage.
You also heard in that interview from earlier, he was sort of talking about what he's done as vice president. And one of the things he said he has done is he helped veto or empower President Obama's cabinet.
[13:05:03] So, I -- he's really trying to mill -- make the case that he wasn't just sort of in an irrelevant, you know, figure as vice president while Hillary Clinton was off adventuring overseas. He was really useful and important and sort of making the case that he's in it to get Hillary Clinton supporters or people who want to support Hillary but can't get there.
BLITZER: In all the national polls, Angela, if you take a look, he hasn't announced yet so he's still an outsider, but he comes in third behind Hillary Clinton and Senator Bernie Sanders. He would have a monumental task if he decides to run.
ANGELA RYE, POLITICAL STRATEGIST: I think yes and no. I think one of the more telling figures that we haven't talked as much about is the fact that voters I the Democratic primary who are under 50 still feel fairly unsatisfied with the current slate.
So, there's an opening there. The fact that half of the super delegates in Congress have not yet endorsed Clinton or Bernie Sanders, I think there's an opening there. The fact that there isn't really anyone speaking to blue collar workers, millennials overall, there is an opening there.
And I think the fact that people of color are hoping for another kind of President Obama-like figure, another historic person who could represent that agenda, I think it speaks volumes as well. So, there is an opening.
And, like you said, I think he's taking jabs at what may be his platform and he's testing it out. BLITZER: Yes. The assumption is he's going to run. The question is
when does he make that announcement? It was interesting today and we listened very closely at this event at George Washington University honoring the former vice president, Walter Mondale. Biden seemed to say that he did want the president to give the order to go ahead and kill Bin Laden -- capture or kill Bin Laden, even though all the indications, until now, were Biden was reluctant to do so, including earlier comments by Biden himself and Hillary Clinton herself. This is what he said today.
(BEGN VIDEO CLIP)
BIDEN: Only two people who were definitive and were absolutely certain, Leon Panetta said go and Bob Gates, who has already publicly said this, said don't go. And others were 59-41. Some ended up saying go but it was such a close call. And I joked and I said, you all sound like 17 Larry Summers, an economist, on the one hand and the other hand.
And he said, Joe, what would you do? And there was a third option that I didn't really think we should do. I said, well, I said, I think we should make one more pass with another UAV to see if it's -- if it is him. And the reason I did that is I didn't want to take a position to go if that was not where he was going to go.
So, as we walked out of the room and walked upstairs, I said -- I told him my opinion, that I thought he should go but follow his own instinct.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: So, why is this coming up, all of the sudden, today?
ZELENY: Well, because he has decided to talk about it. I mean, he did not need to go into that lengthy of an answer. And how interesting is that? If you unpack that, there's so much in there. A, he points out that he had the final word with the president, that, you know, when I went upstairs in the residence. So, he made sure that he is the first among equals.
Second, he did not mention someone else who was in the room, Hillary Clinton. And she has talked about and written about in her book that she supported this. So, either, A, he is not being completely honest there or, B, she's not being completely honest saying she supported it initially. Maybe she was leaning toward it.
But he could have mentioned her name there. She was the secretary of state. But he mentioned Leon Panetta and Robert Gates. So, I thought that was interesting.
And he also maybe, you know, changing things just a touch, you know, by saying that he, you know, did not really support making a second fly around. He's talked about that before. He was very worried about this raid. He wanted some more information.
BLITZER: Hold on for a minute. We're going to get back to the race for the White House. But I want to go to Jerusalem right now. The Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, is meeting with the U.N. secretary general, Ban Ki Moon. They're talking about the latest state of terror attacks inside Israel. Listen to this.
BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, PRIME MINISTER, ISRAEL (live): Israel vigorously protects the holy sites of (INAUDIBLE.) We keep the status quo. The Palestinians, by contrast, are the ones who violate the status quo. Palestinians have brought explosives into Al Aqsa mosque, that's a violation of the status quo. They tried violently to prevent Jews and Christians from visiting the temple mount. That's another violation of the status quo.
And Mr. Secretary, they worked to convince UNESCO to deny the Jewish people's historic connection to the western wall. These are the real threats to the status quo. I believe it's time to tell the truth about the causes of Palestinian terrorism. It's not the settlements. It's not the peace process. It's the desire to destroy the state of Israel, pure and simple.
President Abbas, unfortunately, has been fanning the flames. He said on September 16th, just a few days ago, that he welcomes, quote, "every drop of blood spilled in Jerusalem." That's a quote.
[13:10:09] President Abbas has not condemned a single one of the 30 terrorist attacks on Israelis over to the last month. And he continues to glorify terrorists as heroes. In the face of this terrorism, Israel is acting as any democracy would to defend its citizens. We are not, I repeat, we are not using excessive force.
Now, if the international community truly wants to help end the bloodshed and the violence, I believe it must affirm Israel's proven commitment on the status quo on the temple mount. It must support Israel's right to self-defense and it must hold President Abbas accountable for his dangerous words. Mr. Secretary, these are pressing subjects. I look forward to discussing them with you, how we can restore calm and reconciliation and security. That is important and that is the order of the day. I welcome you here in Jerusalem. I look forward to our discussions.
BAN KI MOON, SECRETARY GENERAL, UNITED NATIONS: OK. Thank you.
BLITZER: All right. So, there you have the prime minister of Israel making another statement, calling for some sort of calm over there. But it doesn't look like much is happening. Ban Ki Moon, the U.N. Secretary-General, he's there now on the scene. He's going to try to do his best to end the violence that's been going on now for about two weeks, maybe as much as a month.
The secretary of state of the United States, John Kerry, also planning to meet separately with the prime minister, Netanyahu, and the Palestinian authority, President Mahmoud Abbas. Ban Ki Moon will be meeting with the Palestinian authority president as well. Let's hope that there can be some calm coming out of all of this. We'll stay on top of this. We'll check in with our correspondent later this hour.
But there's much more news that's also developing right now. The race for the GOP nomination, the Republican presidential nomination looking more and more like a two-man competition, at least for right now. A brand new CNN poll shows a very tightening race between Donald Trump and Ben Carson. But it's not looking good for several other candidates. We'll share the numbers with you when we come back.
And while Democrats wait to see if Vice President Joe Biden will get into the race, that party is losing another candidate this hour. We'll tell you what's going on when we come back.
[13:16:38] BLITZER: We have a key race alert to share with you. This story just breaking. Jim Webb ending his campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination. The former senator from Virginia spoke just moments ago right here in Washington.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JIM WEBB (D), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'm going hear this, so let me be the first to say it, I fully accept that my views on many issues are not compatible with the power structure and the nominating base of the Democratic party. That party is filled with millions of dedicated, hardworking Americans. But its hierarchy is not comfortable with many of the policies that I have laid forth and, frankly, I'm not that comfortable with many of theirs. For this reason, I'm withdrawing for any consideration of being the Democratic Party's nominee for the presidency.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Webb says what he does next depends on the support he receives over the next few days and weeks. He was never able to get much traction in the race for the Democratic presidential nomination. In the most recent CNN/ORC poll, Webb received no more than 2 percent.
CNN's Brianna Keilar is joining us now.
So, Brianna, the speculation was, he's dropping out as a potential Democratic presidential nominee, but he's leaving open the option of running as a third party or independent. What are you hearing?
BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's what he basically said was that, I'm not going away and that he's keeping his options open and that he's going to be gauging a desire from people on sort of across the political spectrum to see if they want him to launch a third party bid. And Jim Webb was always, Wolf, as you know, kind of a long shot candidate. And even the way that he launched his campaign, it was July 2nd, he did it with a blog post. It was right before a long holiday weekend. Not a lot of people were paying attention. He didn't do it with much fanfare.
And he also politically, when you look at where he stands on policies, he -- he's -- he's pretty independent. On one hand he brought this anti-Iraq War issue to the table, which contrasted him with Hillary Clinton. And then, on the other hand, during the fallout of the Charleston shooting about the confederate flag, he actually expressed support for keeping it up. He's also comfortable and wants to talk a lot about income inequality, but struggles on the issue of Black Lives Matter. So he's someone with a myriad of issues that are not in line with the Democratic Party, and he's also expressed a lot of frustration when it comes to the support that he's gotten from the party, or as he would say it, Wolf, that he's not gotten.
BLITZER: And he complained, obviously, about the time of time he thought he got in that last Democratic presidential debate. So Jim Webb is out. We're still waiting to see whether Joe Biden is in. We're getting more information on that by the minute.
Up next, we turn to the Republicans after last week's CNN GOP debate, Carly Fiorina surged -- last months, she surged in the polls, but that bump clearly has now fizzled and her campaign could be in trouble. We're going to talk about that, new poll numbers, a whole lot more when we come back.
[13:23:52] BLITZER: New numbers out today show Donald Trump and Ben Carson dominating the race for the Republican presidential nomination. The new CNN/ORC poll shows Trump with 27 percent, and Carson at 22 percent. That means almost 50 percent of Republican voters pick either Trump or Carson as their choice for the party's nominee. On CNN's "New Day," our Alisyn Camerota asked Trump about the possibility of teaming up with Carson.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ALISYN CAMEROTA, ANCHOR, CNN'S "NEW DAY": Can you imagine a Trump/Carson ticket.
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, I like him. He likes me. I mean I -- stranger things have happened, that I can tell you, but it's too early to think about that. It's -- it certainly is interesting. So many people have suggested it because we seem to be doing awfully well.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Let's bring in our chief political correspondent Dana Bash.
What do these poll numbers, Dana, say about the Republican -- the overall Republican field given the strong domination by these two candidates?
DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: You know, it's interesting, the headline is that Republican voters are pretty happy with their field. I mean they certainly have a lot to choose from. But take a look at these numbers. When asked about whether they are enthusiastic or extremely enthusiastic, 68 percent of Republicans say they're very enthusiastic and 58 percent of Democrats. So that is good news for Republicans overall because you need enthusiasm to get people excited about actually going to the polls. And then, satisfaction, 75 percent of Republican voters say that they are satisfied with the Republican field. So that's also a pretty good sign when it comes to the, you know, kind of desire the go out and do it.
[13:25:23] But one thing I also want to mention in addition to this, if you kind of break down the actual candidates, the ones who are on top. We talked about Trump and Carson, they also have a pretty good sense of enthusiasm. Thirty percent, for example, of Trump's supporters say they're very enthusiastic. And just to give you a contrast, only 3 percent of Jeb Bush's supporters, people who are his voters, say they're enthusiastic about him.
BLITZER: Carly Fiorina's numbers in this brand new CNN poll, not very good right now.
BASH: It's shockingly bad considering where we were just a month ago. In just one month, she has fallen 11 points. If you look at her numbers, she's down to 4 percent, 4 percent. And just last month she was at 15 percent. Again, if you look inside the poll, it's kind of not great news across the board. Women, she's the only Republican female candidate, she's down 11 points with women, 12 points with men, 18 points with independents, 15 points with conservatives. So she's really taken a hit among pretty much all Republican voters in this poll.
BLITZER: Stay with us, Dana. I want to bring back our CNN political commentator S.E. Cupp, and the political strategist Angela Rye, the former executive director of the Congressional Black Caucus.
S.E., how worried are sort of establishment Republicans right now, and you speak to them all the time, that Donald Trump or Ben Carson might be the party nominee?
S.E. CUPP, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Worried. Worried. You know it's -- I think they keep reminding themselves that while 25 percent is -- seems to be Trump's ceiling right now, the good news is, 75 percent of Republican voters are choosing someone else. It's damaging when you combine both Trump and Carson's approval, because then you're really only talking about 50 percent of the party that's not with one of those two people. But I think everyone is expecting at some point for this implosion that may never come. I mean if you don't implode when you call into question the heroinism of P.O.W.s, or you blame George Bush for the collapse of the Twin Towers, I'm not sure when it's going to come. So the bad news for Trump and Carson is, you can't go into a GOP -- a general election with only 25 percent of the Republican base behind you and expect to win in a general. You just can't. So that's not great news. I mean Donald Trump and Ben Carson can boast all they want about their great poll numbers, but they are unelectable unless they add new voters over the next couple of months.
BLITZER: Angela, as we know, Donald Trump has been very consistent in saying President George W. Bush's decision to invade Iraq in 2003 was a major blunder, that it has been a disaster for the U.S., but a couple weeks or so ago, he seemed to suggest the decision to go into Afghanistan was also a mistake. And -- but today he took a different stance. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CAMEROTA: Let me just read to you what you said on October 6th about Afghanistan, you said, "we made a terrible mistake getting involved there in the first place."
TRUMP: No, we made a -- no, no.
CAMEROTA: "We had real brilliant thinkers that didn't know what the hell they were doing and it's a mess."
TRUMP: We made a mistake going into Iraq. I've never said we made a mistake going into Afghanistan.
CAMEROTA: This -- our question was about Afghanistan. That day, on October 6th (ph), it was about Afghanistan.
TRUMP: Oh, OK, I never said that. Well, OK, it wouldn't matter. I never said it. Afghanistan is a different kettle. Afghanistan is next to Pakistan. It's an entry in. You have to be careful with the nuclear weapons. It's all about the nuclear weapons.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: So, Angela, you know, he says stuff and normal pundits out there, analysts, they say, well, that's going to hurt him. But none of this stuff seems to hurt him. He's going up, up and up.
ANGELA RYE, POLITICAL STRATEGIST: That's right. But one thing that I started calling him, I just took somebody else's nickname and gave it to Donald Trump. He is the new Teflon Don. There is nothing that sticks to this guy. Anybody that comes after him gets cut down. Their poll numbers are hit. The fact that he could argue, right, and there is -- there is sound, there is, you know, a clear transcript that he --
BASH: She gave -- she gave him his own quote.
RYE: Right, she read it back to him. The fact that he could say that's not what I said or that's not what I meant and it works with his base of supporters is amazing to me. Like it really is miraculous.
I think the other thing is, he should take stock in the fact that the president has just announced that he's got to keep numbers consistent in Afghanistan for some time. I think him saying that maybe we shouldn't be there would actually resonate with the supporters that he already has.
BLITZER: Well, he did say to keep the numbers at about 5,000, which is what the president wants to keep it, 2017, down from 10,000 right now, 10,000 through much -- most of 2016. So he's basically saying, he doesn't like the fact that they have to stay there, but they're there, they might as well stay, otherwise the whole place will collapse.
RYE: Which surprises me. I'm surprised he hasn't pulled that back and said, I don't support anything this president does.
BLITZER: Well, he cites the fact that Afghanistan is next door to Pakistan --
RYE: Right. I get it.
BLITZER: Which has a nuclear arsenal.
RYE: Which correctly (ph) shows he's also brushing up on his foreign policy these days.
[13:30:00] BLITZER: Yes, Dana, let's talk a little bit more about the uproar that has developed the past few days between Donald Trump and Jeb Bush about whether or not the former president, George W. Bush, could have done more to prevent 9/11.