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THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER
Plane Catches Fire on Tarmac; Debate Winners and Losers; Bush: My Campaign Is Not on Life Support. Aired 4-4:30p ET
Aired October 29, 2015 - 16:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: Will last night turn out to be the last debate for anyone who was on that stage?
THE LEAD starts right now.
Who nailed it? Who face-planted? The answers to both of those questions, according to pundits, may be guys from the state of Florida, Marco Rubio riding high among the critics after a strong GOP debate. Could Jeb Bush be riding off into the sunset?
Plane on fire, terrifying video of a passenger jet spewing thick black smoke just seconds before takeoff, the latest on the injured and just what went wrong.
Plus, guns blazing outside a bar, the exclusive first dramatic look at the surveillance video of a bloody motorcycle gang shoot-out that left nine people dead and nearly 200 in jail.
Good afternoon everyone. Welcome to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.
Kicking off this Thursday with our politics lead. In what many pundits are calling Marco Rubio's big night, the Florida senator and ex-college football player spiked the ball during last night's GOP debate, per headlines and Republican insiders this morning, but the big questions, can Rubio turn what he's got into money, into a top poll ranking, into institutional support, into a real ground game in early states, into an actual thriving and viable presidential campaign that is in gear even when he's not out there charming a cable TV news camera?
I want to get right to CNN's Sunlen Serfaty. She's following Republican candidates on the campaign trail in Colorado.
Sunlen, fascinating last night, all eyes on Jeb Bush and yet it was Rubio who brought the jujitsu, using Jeb's attack against him.
SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Jake. Jeb Bush, he really needed a big debate performance to breathe some life back into his campaign, so he attempted to take down Marco Rubio. It backfired on him and it really turned the night into Marco Rubio's moment.
(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) SERFATY (voice-over): Tonight, new momentum for Marco Rubio.
SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R-FL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We can't afford to have another four years like the last eight years.
SERFATY: His strong debate performance could be a breakout moment for his campaign.
RUBIO: The Democrats have the ultimate super PAC. It's called the mainstream media.
SERFATY: But Rubio today trying to temper the hype.
RUBIO: Well, we feel good about it, as we did with the other two debates. The election wasn't decided last night. We are going to have another debate in 14 days. And that will replace some people's memory of this one.
SERFATY: Some damage control today from the Bush campaign after Rubio had the debate their candidate need.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Marco is obviously a very talented debater. Marco had some good zingers. In the broader debate over who do voters trust to do the job, Marco's been in the Senate for six years and he hasn't done anything.
SERFATY: Other struggling candidates did what they could to break through.
GOV. JOHN KASICH (R-OH), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I want to tell you my great concern is that we are on the verge perhaps of picking someone who cannot do this job.
GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R-NJ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We have $19 trillion in debt. We have people out of work. We have ISIS and al Qaeda attacking us and we're talking about fantasy football?
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
SERFATY: Despite being center stage, the spotlight mostly avoided the front-runners. Donald Trump and Ben Carson seemed to play it safe.
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Such a nasty question, but thank you, Governor.
KASICH: You're welcome.
SERFATY: Both fading into the background at times, providing an opening for another insurgent candidate, Ted Cruz, to stand out by taking on the moderators.
SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: How about talking about the substantive issues people care about?
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
SERFATY: Ben Carson today also taking aim at CNBC.
BEN CARSON (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: What it's turned into is a gotcha. That's silly.
SERFATY: And is trying to organize the other Republican candidates to push for changes to their next big encounter in less than two weeks.
CARSON: Debates are supposed to be established to help the people get to know the candidates and get to know what's behind them.
SERFATY: So, clearly, Ben Carson today here in Colorado really hoping to capitalize on this moment of all this unhappiness over the debate, maybe even show a little leadership also, but, Jake, he did refuse to say whether he would boycott the next debate or not if those changes are not made.
TAPPER: All right, Sunlen Serfaty in Denver, Colorado, thanks so much.
Dr. Carson, of course, is the front-runner nationally in the latest "New York Times"/CBS News poll, though his lead over Donald Trump is within the margin of error.
Let's talk about last night's debate with Carson's adviser and business manager, Armstrong Williams.
Sir, thanks so much for being here. Appreciate it.
So, Dr. Carson today calling for a debate format that does not include gotcha questions. What does that mean? What is a gotcha question?
ARMSTRONG WILLIAMS, CARSON BUSINESS MANAGER: Well, you know, when you ask questions, when you're told that debate is about economics and you ask questions about gay marriage, which has nothing to do with the economy, you ask questions about fantasy football that has nothing to do with the economics of this country, you try to pit one candidate against the other, you know, those type of questions, Jake.
TAPPER: Well, one of the big moments, of course, in the debate last night that Dr. Carson objected to had to do with questions about his relationship with Mannatech, a company that does supplements, nutritional supplements. Was that a gotcha question?
WILLIAMS: No. That was a fair question.
TAPPER: That was a fair question?
WILLIAMS: Yes, absolutely.
TAPPER: I want to get back to that in a second. But let ask you just more broadly, what did Dr. Carson want to do last night, and did he achieve it? WILLIAMS: Well, Dr. Carson's -- the format, Jake, doesn't necessarily
play to his strength. So he's not going into the debate trying to be the winner and trying to dominate. That's not who he is, because he's not going to ever be disruptive to the rules. He's not going to ever overtalk the moderator and the other host who is on the panel.
TAPPER: It's not his nature to...
WILLIAMS: No, no. He abides by the rules. The rule says 30 seconds, he respects the rules. The rules say a minute, he respects them. He's not going to do what other candidates who are willing to insert, ignore the rules and guidelines. And it becomes very disruptive. He will never do that.
TAPPER: What do you think his appeal is, beyond obviously his personal charm and his life story? Why do you think Republican voters are responding to him so well?
WILLIAMS: Well, you may find this surprising. I think they feel that the media in some regards is unfair to him, no matter he's the front- runner. He wasn't treated as a front-runner last night at the debate. They tried to ignore him as much as they could because they wanted to highlight the other candidates to give them the momentum to try to close the gap between the two front-runners and the rest of the candidates.
People can see through that. And also Dr. Carson is given such a hard time for the gaffes that he's made. The media and others his don't seem to care about the intent and that he was well-meaning. So people feel that he's honest. They feel that he's sincere, he's trustworthy. And they're willing to give him a pass, because he doesn't have the oratory skills of a Carly Fiorina.
He will never have that. It's impossible. He's a surgeon, he's soft- spoken, he's a doctor, he has a quiet strength. People who know their pediatricians, that's exactly what they want. And just because you're the loudest person in the room doesn't mean that you're going to provide the best leadership. And the American people are willing to say, hey, you don't have to be the best on the debate stage, but when you're in my neighborhood, when you're in my church, when you're at my fair, you connect with me.
And they believe that he's sincere in what he says and they believe that he can make a difference.
TAPPER: Donald Trump obviously feeling the heat from the challenge from Dr. Carson, and even mentioned Dr. Carson's religion, saying Seventh Day Adventist, I don't know about that.
What did you make of that? Did you think that that was unfair? Do you take Trump on his word that he was merely saying he doesn't know anything about it? What did you think?
WILLIAMS: You know, we actually really respect and like Mr. Trump. We think he adds so much value to this debate in terms of issues that would not be discussed. I myself have criticized Mr. Trump when we thought he was being a
bully. But Mr. Trump showed his best Trump last night. We thought he was very respectful for Dr. Carson. He did not seem to show the insecurity and vulnerabilities of being of -- of leading from behind. And so we were surprised. But it was very encouraging for team Carson.
TAPPER: I want to settle this whole thing about Mannatech, because it came up last night and I do want to get some clarification. The question has to do with specifically this company that makes nutritional supplements.
And it's a firm that is now under scrutiny by state and federal officials for allegedly lying about the efficacy of benefits of the products. Here's what Dr. Carson said when he was asked about it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CARSON: Well, that's easy to answer. I didn't have an involvement with them. That is total propaganda, and this is what happens in our society. Total propaganda.
I did a couple of speeches for them. I do speeches for other people. They were paid speeches. It is absolutely absurd to say that I had any kind of a relationship with them.
Do I take the product? Yes. I think it's a good product.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: Now, here is a clip from a promotional video for Mannatech.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CARSON: It attracted me to the point that I actually began using those kind of products. I still use them to this very day. The wonderful thing about a company like Mannatech is that they recognize that when God made us, he gave us the right fuel.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: And Dr. Carson said he wasn't paid for that, but that certainly seems to be a relationship. I have never done a testimonial like that for a product.
WILLIAMS: You know, I always understand that nothing is ever what it appears to be.
The good -- what is good about this is that I actually negotiated the contract...
WILLIAMS: ... as his business manager.
And Dr. Carson was asked to go to Arizona. And there's an e-mail chain -- and I may mess up some of the details -- to be a part of Mannatech. They wanted to tape something for PBS. But they were not sure that it was going to be nationally distributed until Dr. Carson actually did the event in Arizona.
Now, the script that they sent us that Dr. Carson was supposedly going to read from, when he actually got there to Arizona -- I was not with him -- he called. He said: "I'm not going to say this. I'm not comfortable with this. I don't believe in this."
And it created such disarray that -- I think the guy's name was Mr. Taylor (ph). He called me.
I said, look, he's not going to read the script. He thinks he's being taken advantage of. He doesn't want to disappoint the thousands of people that are in the audience. He's going to say what he wants to say. And I got to tell you, once he leaves Phoenix, this relationship is over, because part of the deal was, when we were negotiating, if it went well and PBS decided to distribute this, they would go back in March and tape part two.
There was like third -- part one, part two, part two. So Dr. Carson was never involved in the details. It's something myself and his executive secretary, R.G. Jones, were involved in. And once Dr. Carson realized the details, not us, he said: "I'm not comfortable with this. I can't do it."
TAPPER: But that does seem to suggest there was some relationship -- it's over now -- but there was some relationship at some point.
WILLIAMS: Well, obviously, when the Washington Speakers Bureau book you, Jake, to go and give a speech, sometimes, you may not know all the details, because there are some things that are negotiated that you're unaware of, like the script.
The script that we received was quite different from what was given to Dr. Carson in the prompter. And he just said: "I don't believe this. I'm not going to do it."
That was showing his integrity the fact that he said he wasn't going to -- and when that was over, he made it clear to me: "You need to get me out of this. I'm not going to do this again." And it was over.
TAPPER: Armstrong Williams, thank you so much for your time.
WILLIAMS: Thank you.
TAPPER: Really appreciate your helping to clear that up for us.
Coming up next, Jeb Bush in New Hampshire today after what people say was a whiff on a shot at Marco Rubio, laboring through another debate, he's insisting his campaign is doing just fine, it's not on life support. Should he go all in? Should he fold? More from the campaign trail next.
[16:16:04] TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.
Staying with our politics lead: in last night's Republican debate, Jeb Bush came in dead last, at least if you're judging the candidates on how many minutes they spoke. Many Bush supporters pulled up to their TVs last night looking for proof of life. And based on what we're hearing today, some of them didn't see it.
CNN senior political correspondent Brianna Keilar is in Portsmouth, New Hampshire.
Brianna, in the middle of the debate last night, Bush's campaign manager was seen confronting a CNBC administrator pushing for Jeb Bush to get more time. Now, today, Bush himself says his campaign is doing OK.
BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's right.
And that frustration you saw there, Jake, we also saw a little bit of that from Jeb Bush out here on the campaign trail today. He said that he wished there had been more substantive questions. I think we also saw a humbled Jeb Bush because he said to the crowd here in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, you know, it was an acknowledgment that he didn't perform really well on the debate stage last night.
Even as you have Republicans who long wanted Jeb Bush to be their nominee they're now doubting him, Jeb Bush says he can stay in this. He says he has the money, the organization and perhaps most importantly the heart to see this campaign through.
KEILAR (voice-over): Jeb Bush is back on the trail today, trying to connect with New Hampshire voters.
JEB BUSH (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It's about fixing problems. It's about solving problems. It's about bringing people together, rather than tearing them apart. It's not about the big personalities on the stage. It's not about performance. It's about leadership. And the leader today in this country needs to be a unifier.
KEILAR: This after critics, including many Republicans, are panning his third debate performance.
BUSH: I'm running with heart. I'm not a performer. If they're looking for an entertainer in chief, I'm probably not the guy.
KEILAR: Bush struggled to make a mark and gave Marco Rubio a huge opening.
BUSH: Marco, when you signed up for this, this was a six-year term and you should be showing up to work. I mean, literally the Senate is it like a French workweek? You get three days where you have to show up? You can campaign. Or just resign and let someone else take the job.
SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R-FL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I don't remember you ever complaining about John McCain's vote record. The only reason you're doing it now is because we're running for the same position and someone has convinced you that attacking me is going to help you.
KEILAR: An exchange that must have stung even more coming from a man Bush mentored and helped get elected in the Senate.
BUSH: The most principled centered leader I know, Marco Rubio.
KEILAR: But five years and a presidential campaign later --
BUSH: His record of attendance was low prior to his announcement of his campaign. And I just think that's wrong.
KEILAR: Bush, the once presumed front runner who's raised $25 million for his campaign and is backed by a super PAC that's hauled in more than $100 million has had to cut payroll costs by 40 percent, and has dropped sharply in the polls.
BUSH: It's not on life support. We have the most money. We have the greatest organization. We're doing fine.
KEILAR: Now, political observers are widely concluding that Bush's presidential prospects are doomed even as he tries to project confidence that he can make a comeback.
BUSH: Look, there are two types of politicians. There are the talkers and there are the doers. I wish I could talk as well as some of the people on the stage, the big personalities on the stage. But I'm a doer.
KEILAR: Now, talking to Republicans who back Jeb Bush, they say this is why you can't write him off. He has campaign -- or he has money in reserves unlike any other campaign. Between his campaign and also between the super PAC that's backing him they've raked in $800 million.
But certainly I think there's an acknowledgment, Jake, that money isn't really enough and ultimately, he's going to have to have this breakthrough moment, something that really pushes him ahead of the pack. So, even those supporting him say he needs to make that happen but don't count him out yet.
TAPPER: Brianna Keilar, thanks so much.
Here now to break down the winners and losers of last night's Republican debate, CNN political commentators Amanda Carpenter and Ana Navarro.
Ana, Jeb Bush said it's about leadership, not debate performance.
[16:20:01] He said there are talkers and there are doers. But let's be honest, communication is a big part of the job, rallying
the country to your side, rallying Congress to do what you want. It seems a little empty to dismiss debates as just performance.
ANA NAVARRO, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I agree with you. I think he needs to stop doing that. I think he needs to acknowledge that performance is part of the job description, embrace it and figure out how to tackle it.
The Jeb Bush I know and I've known him for over 25 years was an incredibly strong and inspiring governor. That's the guy I want to show up on that debate stage.
So, this idea that, you know, performing that entertaining is somehow selling out on your principles and your convictions and not being authentic is just false. It is part of the job description, particularly in 2015. You can't party like it's 1999. There's social media. There's blogs. There's Vines. There's Snapchat. There's all sorts of things which make debate performances that much more significant.
And they're being watched. Even that debate from hell last night, you know, badly moderated was watched by 14 million people, which is a huge number.
AMANDA CARPENTER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes. At one point --
TAPPER: I'm not going to the moderation of it. But, Amanda, what do you think about the Bush campaign at this point? You're someone who's plugged in. You've worked for Ted Cruz in the past. Do you think it's over for him?
Personally, I think it's very premature. He's got a lot of money in the bank. He's still a very accomplished governor.
CARPENTER: Well, at this point, maybe it's because Halloween is coming I feel like we're witnessing the walking Jeb. I mean, look at what Brianna said in the prepackage we were talking about where she says everyone acknowledges he has the most money, the most consultants, the most infrastructure, but somehow they are not translating all that manpower into a good candidate.
And it may be because Jeb I think he's getting bad advice. Whoever told him to go on that stage and attack Marco Rubio, it was almost a prewritten plan -- you must do this. And he did it and executed so poorly. He had bad line.
So, at some point, Jeb needs to take control of his campaign and figure out what his message is and what he's going to be about.
NAVARRO: Let me answer your question about whether I think Jeb is in a death spiral and the answer is flat no. Not only does he have the best team on the ground, not only is he rolling out policy, not only does he -- he also has the heart. He's one of the most fiercely competitive people I know, which is why it is incomprehensible to me that people ask me, does he have the heart? How is it that this man who I know to be a fierce competitor to have his heart in this full fledge is something not communicating that? And they have got 12 days, Jake, before the next debate.
TAPPER: FOX Business.
NAVARRO: They have got to tackle it. And he's got to slay this dragon dead.
TAPPER: Amanda, Ted Cruz for whom you used to work, other pundits say he had a strong night as well, especially his rant against the media. I guess the big question for Ted Cruz, can he turn this appeal to the Republican base broader? What's his ticket to appealing to suburban moms?
TAPPER: How does he do that?
CARPENTER: I mean, look at the hostility towards Washington right now goes across all party lines. There's nobody that has taken on the Washington machine, they call it the Washington cartel, as much in the last two years as Senator Ted Cruz.
I think he speaks to all people, Republican, Democrat, libertarian, progressive, whatever who are fed up with the way Washington does business. But more than that, aside from just anger at Washington, there's a whole side to him as a person, as a dad as someone who's gone through adversity in his life, and as a self-made man that people haven't had the chance to hear because he's been so embroiled in these policy battles.
And once he starts to, you know, unveil that side of him, people are going to be very surprised at the softer side of Ted Cruz.
NAVARRO: He needs to figure out how to speak to people like me. I've met him several times. Frankly the only thing I like about him is that he smokes Cuban cigars.
But I see him as an obstructionist. I see him as somebody that has not gotten anything done in the Senate other than promote his own persona as an obstructionist in the party.
So if he is going to grow the tent, he's got to figure out how he's going to deal with folks like Ana Navarro who see him that way.
TAPPER: One other question -- I know it's packed with liberals, but "The New York Times" editorial board calling on New Jersey Governor Chris Christie to drop out. They write, quote, "New Jersey is in real trouble and the governor is off pursuing a presidential run that's turned out to be noting more than a vanity project", according to the editorial.
Again, I know it's the "New York Times" editorial board but do they have a point?
CARPENTER: I think a lot of candidates need to drop out, starting with every person in the undercard debate. I mean, we've gone through several debates. People in the undercard who can't break above 1 percent in the polling, it's time to bid their candidacy adieu.
TAPPER: Really? In October?
CARPENTER: I think so. I mean, I give a lot of credit to retrospect to Governors Walker and Perry who dropped out when they really could have stayed in the race a lot longer for the good of the party, because they realize that the field needs to winnow.
[16:25:02] NAVARRO: Yes. But walker and Perry had something to lose. One had just finished being governor and the other one was a sitting governor.
Chris Christie has something to lose because his numbers in New Jersey are plummeting.
Some of the other guys in this under card debate, all they need is a plane ticket and sweater vest to show up to a debate. And so, it's very hard to make the argument that they should drop out.
TAPPER: Don't knock sweater vests.
Ana Navarro, Amanda Carpenter, thanks so much.
NAVARRO: I'm from Miami. I don't own any.
TAPPER: In our national lead, fire and smoke pouring out of a passenger plane seconds before takeoff. Several injuries reported. Why didn't the pilots know something was wrong?
Plus, bikers running and ducking, some pulling guns, returning fire during a shootout at a popular bar. That video is coming up.
TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD.