Return to Transcripts main page


Is This Marco Rubio's Moment?; Ben Carson Wants to Change Rules for Next Debate. Aired 10-11p ET.

Aired October 29, 2015 - 22:00   ET



[22:00:00] ANDERSON COOPER, AC360 SHOW HOST: We'll be following this throughout the evening as the events warrant it. Thank you very much for joining us. Coming up right now -- we'll be back actually at 11 p.m. Eastern. CNN Tonight with Don Lemon starts right now.

DON LEMON, CNN TONIGHT SHOW HOST: Is time running out for Jeb Bush? Is this Marco Rubio's moment? And why is Ben Carson want to change the rules for the next debate?

This is CNN Tonight. I'm Don Lemon. Those questions and more in the wake of the debate that gave us this bit end to end combat between Rubio and Bush.


MARCO RUBIO, (R) U.S. PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We're running for the same position and someone has convinced you that attacking me is going to help you.


LEMON: It's never a good sign when you find yourself having to tell people this about your campaign.


JEB BUSH, (R) U.S. PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It's not on life support. We have the most money, we have the greatest organization. We're doing fine.


LEMON: If you think Donald Trump is conceding the win, think again.





LEMON: Meanwhile, one viewer on the democratic side was, shall we say, underwhelmed.


HILLARY CLINTON, (D) U.S. PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You would have been better off watching the World Series because the debate, in my view, it was a swing and a mess.


LEMON: Well, let's get right to it now with CNN's Brianna Keilar, also Dylan Byers is here with us. Dylan, I want to start with you because you have some breaking news, as I understand you have some information about an upcoming meeting the campaigns are holding as a result of last night's debate. What do you have?

DYLAN BYERS, CNN SENIOR MEDIA AND POLITICS REPORTER: So, as you know, the republicans, nearly all of them, have been very frustrated with how last night's debate went down. And so now, they're taking the matters into their own hand. And what they're doing is they're going to hold -- representatives from several of the campaigns are going to hold a meeting at 6 p.m. on Sunday night in Washington, D.C., to sort of come up with a way that they can rest more control of the debate process, of the debate formats away from the Republican National Committee, which they've grown very frustrated with.

They think the whole debate process has gotten out of hand under the control of the RNC. They want to bring that back under their control. So, earlier today, members from the Ben Carson, Donald Trump, Bobby Jindal, and Lindsey Graham campaign started talking. And now they brought in representatives and aides from other campaigns, all of them will meet together on Sunday.

LEMON: You said Trump, Graham, who else?

BYERS: Trump, Graham, Carson, and Jindal were the architects of this meeting but they've also brought in other candidates. So, Marco Rubio, Rick Santorum, Carly Fiorina, Rand Paul is tentative, Jeb Bush is tentative.

We spoke to a Chris Christie spokesman who said that they were not part of the discussion which suggests that Christie's campaign will not be there. But the key player who will not be there are representatives from the Republican National Committee.

LEMON: So, the question is, was this part of the reason for Reince Priebus' remarks after the debate last night? Maybe he knew something was brewing because he came out and made this comment about, you know, the questions being too pointed or the questions not being fair. So, what do they want exactly?

BYERS: Right. So, when Reince Priebus first came out and made those remarks, it seems like he was, you know, sort of in the same camp as the republican candidates who had gone out after the CNBC moderators and gone after the mainstream media, generally.

Now it seems like he was sort of preparing for this, you know, backlash from the campaigns which frustrated them. Look, I think -- I think Reince Priebus and the RNC were frustrated with CNBC, but I also think that they're frustrated with the way that this whole process has gone out of control. Because they were trying to rein it in from 2012, and they haven't been able to do that.

LEMON: Do you know what specifics they want? Or that's not out there yet, Dylan?

BYERS: Well, no. I mean, they do have certain points that they want to touch on. They don't want -- they want the whole debate to be more focused on the issues. They want the way the debates are broken up to be sort of more focused and coherent.

They don't want the moderators asking 'gotcha' questions, they don't the moderators trying to pit candidates against one another. And then one things, they want to make sure that they're all getting equal time.

Of course, Jeb Bush's campaign strategists were very upset about the little amount of time that he got in Wednesday night's debate.

LEMON: Yes. It was said that one of his campaign aides or workers were being knocking on the door of the control room last night and, hey, we get more time.


BYERS: That's right.

LEMON: OK. Dylan, stand by. I want to get to CNN's Brianna Keilar now. And speaking of Jeb Bush today, after last night's performance, a lot of people are talking campaign death watch. What's he saying about it?

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: He's saying that's absolutely not the case. In fact, he was asked the question, what do you say to these criticisms that your campaign is on life support? That's when he answered it's not on life support.

But at the same time, Don, he's very aware of, I think some of the disappointment and concern that some of the donors are feeling. In fact, we understand from sources who talked to CNN's John King and Dana Bash that he actually had a donor call today and this wasn't something that he did on the fly.

[22:05:01] He didn't do this on the run. He sat down, one source tells Dana Bash, and made this call very deliberately. A conference call with donors to assure them that his strategy is sound.

He also, we're told, acknowledged that he could have done better. So, he's keenly aware of this. He tried to assure these donors that things are OK. He wasn't necessarily very upbeat.

I think he was somber about it but he was certainly trying to project some cautious confidence that the strategy of his campaign is sound. LEMON: And, Brianna, there is an internal Bush campaign document

leaked to us to U.S. news and world report. It shows that Bush is ready to invest heavily in New Hampshire, $5.6 million in ads after the first of the year. What does he tell you about his strategy?

KEILAR: You know, that's something that's in line with what I'm hearing from Bush backers. And that today, talking to some, they say, look, is this ideal? No. You know, they -- you know, they certainly have their concerns about his debate performance, but they say there are many other debates.

And the important thing isn't necessarily for him to be really popping right now in October or November. The important thing is for him to be popping in January ahead of these key February dates of the Iowa caucuses of the New Hampshire primary.

And they point back to say, 2012, when Newt Gingrich was really flying high, he was outperforming the field and those backing Mitt Romney spent a lot of money on ads, and then Newt Gingrich saw his poll numbers fall. Ultimately, he didn't do very well, as you know.

So, I think they're trying to say, look at the long game here and this document is a signal of that.

LEMON: Yes. To Dylan's breaking news this evening, Brianna, many of the candidates were out today bashing the media and CNBC's handling of the debate. I want you to listen to this.


DONALD TRUMP, (R) U.S. PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Maybe every moderator should show that they vote republican. Because why should we have -- why should we have these people that hate everything we stand for and there, I mean, I won't mention his name, but the questions were so nasty.

BEN CARSON, (R) U.S. PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: And what it's turned into is a 'gotcha. That's silly and that's not really helpful for anybody.

MIKE HUCKABEE, (R) U.S. PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It was just another example last night about how -- I'm not at least going to stand up for these moderators in this debates.

I'm not going to allow them to ask stupid questions and I'm not going to let them continue to have their bias show like it showed last night.


LEMON: Brianna, that may have been the only consensus they came to on the stage last night. And as Dylan is reporting, maybe some of the campaigns are coming too today, even on the campaign trail.

KEILAR: Yes. And, look, there's been a lot of criticism and you've heard that from a number of the candidates. Do keep this in mind to add to what Dylan is saying, Don.

When these candidates are criticizing the media, they are in a very safe space with their constituents. This is something that really works for them. So, just consider that as they are really, as they are certainly hoping that there are going to be changes and it sounds like they're also taking that aim at the RNC on this.

LEMON: All right. Brianna Keilar, Dylan Byers, thanks to both of you. I appreciate that.

I want to turn to turn the new front runner and that is Dr. Ben Carson. His campaign manager Barry Bennett joins me now.

So, Barry, thank you so much for joining us tonight. We've confirmed these report that some of the republican candidates are planning to meet in Washington to strategize how to change the debates and cut the RNC out of the process. Is this an insurgency, and why do you think it's even necessary?

BARRY BENNETT, BEN CARSON'S CAMPAIGN MANAGER: Well, you know, there's a lot of frustration coming out of Boulder. A lot of us were quite angry at how badly it was organized not just the moderators' questions but there were a lot of problems.

And, you know, we're not really interested in letting news media organizations to choose who our republican nominee is. We all have to get together, we all have to worry about the brand of the party and we need to speak to republican primary voters. That's our audience.

LEMON: How are news organizations choosing who the nominee is going to be just after the debate?

BENNETT: Well, if you let, Don, if you let the, you know, anchors ask questions, 'gotcha' questions and they go after Bush and they try to, you know, that kind of stuff, we don't need. We've got plenty of ideas to talk about. We've got plenty of solutions to talk about.

LEMON: OK. Barry, let me ask you this.


LEMON: With all due respect, if one is going to be the President of the United States, you're going to face questions from conservatives, from moderates, from liberals, from everyone.

BENNETT: Absolutely.

LEMON: So, isn't this, don't you think even if it's a 'gotcha' question, I'll give you that. But isn't this, sort of a test of what kind of candidate or what kind of president they will be, how they will in front of the media, how are they going to be in front of foreign leaders, how they are going to answer particular questions?

Not every question, especially when you sit and after you sit in the chair in the Oval Office, it's not going to be an "I Love You" question. BENNETT: Absolutely. Absolutely. I agree with you to that extent. But

this is the republican primary first, right? So, we don't need people who aren't republicans, who, you know, express hostility towards republicans to host our debates. That's crazy.

[22:09:59] LEMON: OK. I'm not sure most people in America will agree with you but I'll give that you.

BENNETT: I mean, I think a lot of republicans do.

LEMON: OK. This is what your candidate had to say about the debate. Take a listen.


CARSON: Specific things we're looking for are, first of all, moderators who are interested in actually getting the facts and not in 'gotcha' questions. And we're looking for an opportunity to actually be able to explain what your program is. What your philosophy for leadership is, and then be questioned about it.


LEMON: OK. So, only conservatives or republicans are able to understand republican candidates. Is that -- are able to question republican candidates?

BENNETT: Only republicans who vote in the republican...


LEMON: And only liberals...

BENNETT: ... primary.

LEMON: ... and only liberals can understand and question liberal candidate?

BENNETT: I'm not going to vote in the democratic primary. I'm going to vote in the republican primary. I don't know what primary you vote in or even if you vote a primary.

LEMON: How do you know the questioners on that stage are liberals? Do you now, have you seen their voting certificate, their voter registration card?

BENNETT: Oh, I think that, you know -- I don't think it take as great deal of research to figure that out.

LEMON: I'm sorry, Barry, I didn't hear you someone was talking tonight.

BENNETT: I don't think it takes a great deal of research to figure that out.

LEMON: OK. So, in order to win, you're going to have to win over some moderates and some liberals as well.

BENNETT: Correct. In the general election? Right. Not in the primary.

LEMON: OK. Let's move on. Last night, Dr. Carson was also asked about his relationship to a dietary supplement maker called Mannatech.

BENNETT: Correct.

LEMON: Does that campaign want to -- does your campaign want to clarify anything about his connection to them?

BENNETT: No. He gave a paid speech to this group, a couple paid speeches. One thing -- one they donated to his charity, one they paid him to the Washington Speaker's Bureau.

That's his entire involvement with this company. He doesn't run the company, he doesn't make decisions for the company, he doesn't publicly endorse the company and he's not a spokesman for the company.

LEMON: OK. Barry Bennett, thank you, sir. I always appreciate you coming on and answering the questions. Thank you.

BENNETT: Thank you.

LEMON: We'll have you back.

When we come right back, I'm going to talk about an odd couple. Why Bill Maher actually agrees with something that Ted Cruz says.

Plus, what maybe a case of political correctness run wild at college student, an Iraq war vet writes an op-ed questioning Black Lives Matter and all hell breaks loose. He's here tonight to tell his story.


LEMON: Welcome back. The GOP candidates hitting the campaign trail following the debate. Donald Trump had a big crowd of supporters today. This is Reno, Nevada, you're looking at.

Joining me now to discuss this is Matt -- Matt -- Mac, excuse me Stipanovich, an adviser to Jeb Bush during his 1994 campaign for governor who help prepare him for debates that year. And Kellyanne Conway is with us as well, president of Keep the Promise, one PAC, which is a supporting Ted Cruz; and Carl Higbie is here, author and former Navy SEAL who is supporting Trump.

So, you saw our breaking news this morning. Several of the republican presidential candidates planning on holding a meeting in Washington. This is on Sunday, this is according to CNN's Dylan Byers, saying that they're trying to rest some of the control of the debates from the Republican National Committee.

Do you think, Carl, do you think that your candidate, Donald Trump, should take part in this meeting?

CARL HIGBIE, AUTHOR & FORMER NAVY SEAL: Absolutely. I mean, Donald is proven time and time again that he can out negotiate anybody. He got them to cut that debate from three and half hours down to two.

You know, this is the guy you want in that room to negotiating what might go down with the next debate.

LEMON: Kellyanne Conway, is this a good idea?

KELLYANNE CONWAY, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Not necessarily. I would just ask Carl, what are you negotiating? What would be the negotiation? You're going to control the content of the questions or scrub the ideological predilections of the moderators?


HIGBIE: How about we scrub questions like Fantasy Football in a national presidential debate? Come on.

CONWAY: Well, that's fine. But how are you going to do that exactly? Are you going to come in with a list of questions that a moderator is not allowed to ask? I mean, you deal with the hand you're dealt.

And your candidate, Donald Trump, is masterful at being able to turn around -- how many times has he been called left for dead, this is the comment that's going to sink him and he's still high up in the polls.

So, I'm not sure that that's a good idea. I think what the focus should be, Don, to answer your core question is, let's make all of these debates, these forms of pure direct democracy, work better for the voters.

Because this allows people to turn on their computers or their TVs and get access to candidates, people who can't write checks for thousands of dollars to go and meet the candidates. This is their opportunity to hear substance. And I think that was the point of Senator Cruz last night. Let's talk about substance.

LEMON: Mac, I see you shaking your head here. Do you think -- I think Jeb Bush is not part of this. He's on the fence. What do you think, is this a good idea?

MAC STIPANOVICH, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Well, I don't speak for Jeb. I don't think it's particularly a good idea. As the lady said you can't, you know, you're not going to get to pick the panelists, you're not going to pick the questions.

I'm not sure doing it online with of all them of America bringing their questions to the table is a particularly good idea, then you would just turn a zoo into a circus. You know, it is what it is and you got to just power your way through it. That's, as someone said earlier in the broadcast, that's part of the testing process.

LEMON: Yes. OK. Well, I think that's what I said. So, let's move on now. Let's talk specifically about the candidates. So, Carl, I know that you think Donald Trump won the debate last night. He's your guy. but some folks are saying that he and Ben Carson faded into the background -- guys like Marco Rubio shined. I mean, were there any missed opportunities there? HIGBIE: I don't think so. I mean, people have been screaming for

months now that Trump needs to act more presidential. And I think last night, what he did was just strip display the greatest amount of presidential charisma that we've seen.

He held back, he only attacked Kasich when Kasich attacked him. He went right after the moderators, he was generally polite. He really took the fight to the people who needed it to be taken to, and he's -- this a show of presidential attitude by him.

LEMON: OK. So, Kellyanne, let's talk about Ted Cruz. He got all the candidates to unite against the moderators even Bill Maher tweeted this, he said, "oh, my God, did I just hear Ted Cruz say something awesome that I agree with? Yes. The media is even stupider than the polls. Who's on first?"

I mean, so, with Bill Maher, who probably disagrees with a lot of most of what Ted Cruz says on just about everything, he's tweeting some support, at least he is getting some welcomed attention, don't you think?

[22:20:06] CONWAY: Yes. Don, and we may use part of that tweet in an upcoming ad, our super PAC. But, anyhow, I think Maher taps into something important here, which is, again, get on with it and talk substance.

I mean, Ted Cruz will be remembered in this debate for really change the entire dynamic and trajectory for, not being impolite to the moderators, but repeating in this audio memory way that he does exactly what was just asked, just given the litany of questions that were just asked of the others and saying can't we talk about substance, and then talking about substance.

So, people may have missed that part. He came out with his flat tax plan today, it's on The Wall Street Journal, as anybody who wants to see it I'm sure it's on their web site.

But I think the point that Bill Maher is making also is that, if you're going to watch this, you want to learn something from them. We just don't want to comment on what people are wearing or saying or who got the advantage and who got the disadvantage.


LEMON: He got that point across last night, Kellyanne, but he used the time who was supposed to be answering a question about something else and he didn't -- and it was about the debt ceiling and he never got to that. The thing...

CONWAY: Oh, we know where he is. He was on the debt ceiling, though, and he's in the Senate right now talking about, he said if you pass this budget deal you're basically became President Obama a dime-and Julian encrusted MX card.

LEMON: OK. So, listen, I have great ratings, I think. My ratings are pretty good, but... CONWAY: You deserve them.

LEMON: ... but 14 million people aren't watching you right now to hear that and they didn't get to hear him say that last night.

CONWAY: Well, actually, the moderators curiously, and I didn't know why this happened, Don, but they want back to him a few minutes later and said, if you'd like someone to answer the question on the debt ceiling question, I know someone something in their ear, please get him to answer the debt ceiling question or give him the opportunity, but he was able to get that out.

And I think what we need are people to -- maybe you can just ignore the question and some of these candidates don't need to show up. Wouldn't that be something?

LEMON: All right.

CONWAY: If a candidate that qualifies actually doesn't show up to one of these debates, and gets all of the press attention, Don, because they go and hold a press conference, write an op-ed, give media avail, coming to a show like yours by themselves, that would be -- but I don't think they will. Because the oxygen...


LEMON: Yes. But I think they should. I think it's interesting because last night I had all of the monitors up and I was watching and I think at one point, Donald Trump was on all three...


LEMON: ... well, like four cable channels.

STIPANOVICH: That's what he does.

LEMON: He was on Fox.


STIPANOVICH: He commands the media.

LEMON: He was on CNBC and I think he may be on MSNBC, all of the same time. Mac, without all of the candidates, I go have to ask this, Jeb Bush spoke the least. His campaign manager actually confronted the CNBC producer to push for Jeb Bush to get more time. He was on the campaign trail and tried to clean it up. Listen.


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.


LEMON: All right. So, he's a doer and he says his campaign -- he actually said the word "terminal" today. My campaign is in terminal. You don't want to be saying that about your campaign.

STIPANOVICH: He wasn't a doer on the stage, though. That's -- let's get that straight. Well, you all hold up here a second. You know, if you were listening to my colleagues here on the show or many of the national pundits today, you'd have to wonder why Jeb hasn't killed himself by now.

You know, he had an exchange with Marco last night, where he came off second best clearly, kind of like when Carly harpooned Trump in the last debate. I think we're overstating the importance of these debates, frankly. If doing a good job would put you on the center podium, Carly would have been there last night, of doing a terrible job, would get you out of the race, and Ben Carson would...


CONWAY: But the other metrics are unfair.


CONWAY: He went through the shocking all...

STIPANOVICH: Well, let me, I mean, it's always, yes, but.

LEMON: Let him finish because we have to go on.

STIPANOVICH: Wait a minute, hold on, hold on.

LEMON: Make your point, please, Mac, because I have got to go.

STIPANOVICH: yes. I mean, you know, it's always Jeb, but because I say, well, all right. So, you know, Ben Carson doesn't hardly say anything.

HIGBIE: But what does Jeb doing there?


CONWAY: But Jeb was supposed to be prohibited front runner.

LEMON: Ben Carson now is a front-runner, though. I've got to run. Thank you, guys.

STIPANOVICH: That's my point. That's my point. Nothing in the debate is affecting Carson status, Trump status or Carly Fiorina.


CONWAY: It affected Marco Rubio's status. The same why people as the winners of the debate.

LEMON: Thank you, guys, very much. Was the debate a game changer for Marco Rubio and will it reshape the race? That's next.


LEMON: Marco Rubio getting praised for a strong performance. Jeb Bush, not so much. Listen to what he said today.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You told donors today on a conference call that you said, you were going to get better at this. What are you going to do to get better at this?

BUSH: Look, we have eight more debates. I'm going to have to do what other candidate which is rudely interrupt, not answer the questions that are asked and hopefully the debate moderators will ask more substantive questions. It's going fine.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are you having fun?

BUSH: Oh, yes. You saw it. I have lots of fun.


LEMON: Joining me now is Robert Costa, a national political reporter for the Washington Post, republican strategist Mercedes Schlapp, and CNN political contributor, Van Jones, who is a former Obama administration officials.

Now that we have those credentials, I mean, do you -- do you feel a little sorry for -- everybody is hitting Jeb Bush. You know, listen, I don't have of course, in the race, but like, oh, poor guy. Van.

VAN JONES, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: Yes, it's terrible. First of all, you know, all of these candidates go through these testing periods. I remember when John Kerry would be written off for dead. You know, Hillary Clinton six weeks ago, she was written off for dead.

They go through to these periods. But it is just horrible to see him pretend, I'm having fun and it looks like he's at a funeral. It's just fine, when you think he's about to cry.

You know, his brother, when the lead part of politician that American history has to come out and help him with his donors. So, listen, I think this is a testing period for him. You're going to see a little bit of his character. Can he push through? It's not over.

But I tell you what, last night he looked like the nerd at a party trying to hang out with the cool kids and failing.

LEMON: Yes, but Robert, could he have a John McCain moment, you know, where all of a sudden one -- one moment -- one minute John McCain is, you know, lugging his own luggage and roller bags through the airport and the next he is a nominee?

[22:00:03] I have spoken with several people close to Governor Bush today, and they said they'd like to see perhaps Mike Murphy, his longtime strategist, come back from the super PAC supporting Bush and help out Bush, maybe narrow the team, helping them out in Miami.

And it is a long race. It's only late October. But he's certainly in a tough position and they wondered did he pick the wrong battle? They thought it was better going after the outsiders, Trump and Carson, than going after his protege, Marco Rubio.

LEMON: Did this debate, Robert, before I get to Mercedes, does this change anything in the race? Because you heard that Mac Stipanovich saying, you know, these debates really don't change anything. Do they change anything, Robert?

COSTA: Certainly it changed the entire dynamic in the 2016 contest because that exchange became Governor Bush and Senator Rubio, became a defining one. Really in that establishment lane there's been an intense competition that is not had an answer for months about who would really be that candidate

Kasich, Bush, Rubio. Now it looks like Rubio has momentum. Trump though, had a solid performance; it shows that he's in it for the long run.

LEMON: OK. Mercedes, I want to ask you, there is a question about -- I'll ask you this until I can find that question. I want to ask you -- I want to ask you about John Harwood tweeting, talking about the debate and how tough it is. He said last night to one of the moderators, he said, "Moderating GOP debate in 2015 enrich my understanding of challenges that Speaker Boehner and at Rep Paul Ryan will face." What's your reaction?

MERCEDES SCHLAPP, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Goodness gracious. First of all, he should not be giving any sort of an opinion. It was a disgrace how they managed this. This is not just, you know, pundits saying this. This is newspapers, the Washington Post mentioned this as well. They just mishandled this debate.

I mean, you got take note here. Remember, who is hosting the next democratic debate? It's MSNBC Rachel Maddow. OK? Right along where the democrats are. I think what's missing -- it would have been much more powerful having a Larry Kudlow there for CNBC, who understands the conservative issues that know how to talk, and to talk the next questions.

And I think that's been the part that's been missing. It's really having those conservative hosts out there that are able to have this discussion because, you're right, it is becoming more about this personality conflict, as opposed to talking about the substance.

And I got to tell you, that was a unifying factor last night on that stage which was...


(AUDIO GAP) Yes. But that -- but don't -- I mean, republicans always, they always blame the media. And I can see Van Jones want to see that.

VAN JONES, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: Yes. SCHLAPP: Well, OK. But do you know that, I mean, like the democrats they're not having a debate with Fox, right? So, why? Why -- so we, that way that your...


JONES: I think you have a hard time, Mercedes, I think you have a very hard time saying that CNBC, which a financial news network is...

LEMON: I don't think they're big fans of Obama administration or CNBC, I really don't.

JONES: Yes, there is no fans.

SCHLAPP: But, Don, I got to say the way they managed calling Donald Trump's campaign a comic campaign and just the way the questions were asked...


JONES: Let me say a couple things.

SCHLAPP: ... the research was they actually had wrong research.

JONES: I have great sympathy before you on this, Mercedes.

LEMON: Let her finish.

JONES: I have great -- listen, I have great research -- I have sympathy before you on this because I've seen some tough questions come our way as well.

The problem I have with what they did at CNBC is that they did put themselves in a position where the conservatives can just attack the media and rev up their base. And I do agree that it would have been much better if they had taken some of those questions. However, none of those 'gotcha' questions.


SCHLAPP: Put Larry Kudlow in there. This would not have happened.

JONES: What? I agree.

LEMON: Mercedes, I think Van is right. There were some 'gotcha' questions in there. And then some -- I was like, where did that question, where did that came from.

JONES: Yes. That's true.

LEMON: But I stick my point, let me finish, I stick by the point that I made in the first block here of our show, that that's part of the challenge when you're running for president.


JONES: That's part of the game.

SCHLAPP: Now you got to...

LEMON: Is how you answer every single question.

SCHLAPP: That's right. That's right. But at the same time, you also have to realize in the same way that the democrats have set it up, where they are only doing MSNBC, you know, certain networks in deciding, well, let's exclude Fox, for example, and, you know, you have the moderator, the next moderator is very liberal, he's out there.


LEMON: So, is Debbie Wasserman Schultz doing a better job of protecting her candidacy than Reince Priebus is?

SCHLAPP: You're going to have to need to ask Reince Priebus that question.

LEMON: Well, Robert, I'll ask you that.

COSTA: It's a real problem for the Republican National Committee because they wanted to change the amount of debates going in to this cycle. But in doing so, they also seeded some of the power they have normally had over the process to the television networks.

What we're seeing unfold right now is a brewing, simmering frustration and that's been going on for months. Among this campaign who believe the networks have too much power to choose the moderators, decide the formats. That's why they're all going to try to huddle in Washington on Sunday, to try to bring the power back to the campaign.

LEMON: Yes. All right. Thank...


JONES: I think that makes a perfectly good sense. I just want to say one thing.

LEMON: Quickly, Van.

JONES: To compare MSNBC -- to compare MSNBC to CNBC, I just don't think it's not fair to them. Honestly, CNBC is straight down the middle on most of this stuff and is tough on Obama.


[22:35:03] SCHLAPP: Well, the moderators surely didn't do a good job.

JONES: I let you talk. I let you talk. I'll let you talk. OK. So, they've been straight. But I just don't think it's fair to say that CNBC is in the same category as Fox, which is very partisan or MSNBC is very partisan and I think beating up on the refs, sometimes you're not winning the game. I don't think they're winning over the American public with this sort of why... (CROSSTALK)

LEMON: You guys...

SCHLAPP: Well, they're winning the republican base over this because they're angry. They are angry with how the mainstream media have treated republicans.

LEMON: ... you guys don't have the chance to disagree and agree another time. Thank you. It's not just the republicans who can be a little sensitive about being questioned. And liberals can, too. We'll get into that when we come back.


LEMON: A college sophomore, an Iraq war vet, writes an op-ed for his school paper questioning Black Lives Matter and that set off a firestorm of political correctness at Western University.

That student is Bryan Stascavage and he joins me now. Also with me now is CNN contributor Bakari Sellers, a former member of the South Carolina House of Representatives.

I'm s happy to have you, guys, here and have this conversation with you. Brian, you wrote a conservative op-ed for your college newspaper at Western University, which is a very liberal campus. So, tell us what happened after that.

[22:40:07] BRYAN STASCAVAGE, WROTE COLLEGE OP-ED QUESTIONING BLACK LIVES MATTER: Immediately or a day after the article was published, there was a negative flashback against the paper, students were call in for it to be recycled.

There was very hastening thing, very environmental way to protest. And after a few days of getting yelled at and called racist on campus, the college president, Michael Roff, put out a blog post in which he defended my right to bring in dissenting opinion, and since then the atmosphere on campus really has turned around.

Thanks, to the media and also to students on campus realizing the real issues.

LEMON: Yes. And so, and then, so, the students really voted to cut some of the funding for the paper which allowed you to write that editorial, correct, since then?

STASCAVAGE: Yes. The student government did vote to as a statement saying that they intended to cut the funding, but any cuts that they would effect wouldn't happen until 2016.


STASCAVAGE: But that is a small group on campus, so.

LEMON: So, you're a bit of a non-traditional student, a little older. You got a scholarship they offer at Wesley and for veterans. And you knew that the school was pretty liberal, but you saw that as a good thing.

And here's what you said, you told The Washington Post this becaue I ask you why you choose that, because you could have chosen another more conservative university. You said, "I knew that if I remain in my echo chamber of modern conservatives I would experience -- I wouldn't experience any growth."

"I thought, if I am around people with extremely liberal ideas I'll constantly challenge -- I'll be constantly challenge and countered and my views will either change or become sharpened."

That is one of the smartest things, in my estimation, that I've ever heard, and I think that's how it should be for everyone. So, what is -- what was the problem with that?

STASCAVAGE: Well, students weren't looking to engage, they were just looking to try to silence me, which really shocked me. I thought that when I wrote it I thought it get about a dozen to a dozen and a half critiques, but instead, students weren't even trying to do that. Instead, they were just, you know, saying, don't ever publish again, which was not good.

LEMON: Bakari, have we become so politically correct that is it even possible to have productive conversations anymore?

BAKARI SELLERS, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, I actually read Bryan's op-ed piece and I mean, I found it offensive and I found it based on false premises and false facts. But, I mean, he does have a right to write that op-ed piece. Even more importantly, what you do with offensive speech is you don't shut it down. You don't stop the dialogue that antidote is more free speech.

And so, I hope that people understand that a dialogue is necessary. We have to have this dialogue back and forth. So, as Bryan said, he can become sharper maybe his views change but that is what our country is built on that free speech.

And some people do abuse that notion. Don't get me wrong. Some people are racist and burgeoning races and I'm not calling Bryan that by any stretch. And sometimes people step over that line.

I didn't find Bryan article to be that way in any fashion, I just thought it was offensive and wrong. But, you know, we do have a problem with political correctness here.

And my only problem on these colleges and universities that you have to have is the free flow of information. That's why I applaud the Liberty University for having Bernie Sanders on campus, or Howard University, a historical black college for having Rand Paul on campus. Bob Jones University even invited me to speak, but we have to have this free flow of communication.

LEMON: Bryan, do you want to respond to that?

STASCAVAGE: Absolutely. People have disagreed with the article left and right and up and down, and that's perfectly fine. The reason I wrote it was to start a conversation. And if that conversation is that I was wrong, then that's an opinion. And that's perfectly valid.

And surprisingly, behind the scenes of all these craziness, I have gotten a lot of good critics and I have learned a lot more about the movement and the issues behind it.

LEMON: Like what? What have you learned?

STASCAVAGE: Well, I've learned that -- that it is unfair to put these -- this movement next to the violence so closely because the moderate portion of the movement does have a good message.

I still do believe that the leadership does need to create some distance, you know, as my time as an Intel analyst, I study movements for a living. And one of the quickest ways to lose popular support is to not have control over your moral extreme elements. But that being said, you know, the movement should succeed and should get its more moderate ideas through and passed.

LEMON: Bakari, you heard the republican candidates who are up on the stage last night. They were, you know, you know, they're saying, hey, listen to me, we were -- they felt sort of railroaded by the moderators last night.

But do you think are progressives becoming too politically correct, or too intolerant or maybe more intolerant than conservatives in some ways?

[22:44:59] SELLERS: Not at all. I mean, I think as a totality as an entire country, and I actually find it ironic that we're having a discussion about political correctness with the Don Lemon.

LEMON: I don't believe in political correctness, so you know that.

SELLERS: Because you definitely do not...


SELLERS: ... believe in political correctness, but I don't -- I think it's a notion that we have to look at as an entire country. But we know one thing is for certain. We know that there aren't many republicans on that stage that are politically correct.

I mean, the one who I hope is not in the next debate who I don't think is going to make the next debate, Governor Chris Christie, is probably one of the more offensive, least politically correct people I've ever met, or, yes, met and actually been able to watch politics throughout the country.

But I think Bryan is right. I mean, in the second paragraph of Bryan's article he lumped Black Lives Matter with police violence or not police violence per se, but the death of police officers, which I just thought was false and unfair.

But now that we're having this dialogues back and forth and he's learning more about the movement maybe we're able to change some minds and change some hearts.

LEMON: Yes. That's how -- that's why we're going to do this if he gives his views and then you respond to them. By the way, you can be politically incorrect, as they say, and not be offensive as well. The two are -- you don't have to be both. OK. Thank you, guys. I appreciate it.

SELLERS: Don, Don, before we go, Don, I just want to thank Bryan for his service to our country in protecting our freedoms like that of having the freedom to -- of the press and everything else. So, thank you so much, Bryan, for your service.

STASCAVAGE: It's my pleasure.

LEMON: Yes. Bryan, thanks for coming on and keep us updated. I appreciate you, guys.

Coming up, no charges filed against a police officer who shot and killed a 19-year-old in the Hardy's parking lot. The whole thing caught on dash cam video. We're going to talk to the young man's parents. That's next.


LEMON: A South Carolina police lieutenant won't face charges after he shot and killed unarmed 19-year-old, Zachary Hammond in the parking lot of Hardy's. That was in July.

A South Carolina police lieutenant won't face charges after he shot and killed unarmed 19-year-old, Zachary Hammond in the parking lot of Hardy's. That was in July. There it is right there during a drug investigation that was targeting Zachary's date, not him.

Joining me now is Paul or Paul and Angie Hammond, Zachary's parents. Also with us is Eric Bland, the Hammond's family attorney.

We asked you guys if we can show that video in the introduction because we didn't want to be rude or insulting and you said, or insensitive and you said you want people to see, to know what happened to your son to see all of it, Angie, correct?

ANGIE HAMMOND, ZACHARY HAMMOND'S MOTHER: Well, yes, I don't want to see it, frankly, but I feel it's necessary to show it to people exactly what did happened so that they get understanding, I guess.

LEMON: And again, we're sorry for your loss. How are you guys doing today?

A. HAMMOND: We're coping. We're doing OK.

LEMON: Paul, what do you...


PAUL HAMMOND, ZACHARY HAMMOND'S FATHER: It's been a hard three months. LEMON: Were you surprised at this decision, Paul? No charges?

P. HAMMOND: Generally, from what you see in across the nation and in South Carolina, no, I really was not surprised. I think we see it way too much.

LEMON: And Angie?

A. HAMMOND: No, really I wasn't. It needs to change, but I wasn't surprised.

LEMON: You sort of expected this. I know it doesn't make it any easier but you expected it?



LEMON: So, Eric, Lieutenant Mark Tiller has stood by his claim that he acted in self-defense today. We saw that video of the incident. You don't think that that's what we see, do you?

ERIC BLAND, HAMMOND'S FAMILY ATTORNEY; Oh, absolutely not. He put himself in harm's way and now he's claiming that it was in self- defense. It's clear that the car was not ever directed towards him and was arcing to leave the parking lot. There's no criminal justice academy or police department that would teach an officer to do what Lieutenant Tiller did.

He came in, and he didn't identify himself as police. He didn't show his badge, he drew his gun and he immediately telegraphed what he was going to do when he said, I will blow your f and a. And he used profanity, which showed his intent that he was going to shoot this unarmed young teen.

A crime did not even occur and he used deadly force. It would be akin, Don, to me starting a fire, then I put it out and I get to call myself a hero. Lieutenant Tiller murdered Zachary Hammond and, quite frankly, I was surprised that there wasn't a criminal charge after I saw the video because it's just clear, there's just no just cause for what he did.

LEMON: So, you're saying -- you're saying his behavior was excessive, I mean, bad words, that they don't mean that you're going to kill someone but the entirety of his actions, his speech, and what he did, do you think that was excessive of course.

And to the officer approached your son's car with his gun drawn. Zachary was unarmed.

A. HAMMOND: Exactly.

LEMON: He didn't hear the officer's warning to stop that show his hands, instead he drove off. Why do you think he drove off? Do you think he was in fear?

A. HAMMOND: I think he was scared.

P. HAMMOND: I might.

A. HAMMOND: I mean -- sorry.

LEMON: Continue, Angie.

A. HAMMOND: I do think he was scared. You know, Tiller wasn't even in a regular police uniform. He was in a camo (ph) or a, you know, army green jump suit. So, -- and didn't even identify himself. So, all Zach knew probably was that someone was running up to the car with their guns drawn and I'm sure he was scared.

LEMON: He was just scared. Eric, you wanted to jump in. What did you want to say?

BLAND: Yes. I mean, he just -- whether Zachary felt that it was a police officer or not, you can't use excessive deadly force in that situation and Lieutenant Tiller didn't tell him, hey, keep your hands up, don't put your hands down. He said, stop, stop, I will blow your f and head off.

So, that's telling him that he is going to shoot him for a crime that never have been committed. It was supposed to be a drug transaction where they were going to do a drug buy from the passenger. They never let that even materialize.

So, Zachary's life was taken over a potential $60 drug transaction that he was not even involved with. It's outrageous.

[22:54:56] LEMON: Eric, I want to ask you about one of the -- one factor here that seems to have been Zachary's text messages between May 29th and July 26th, the date that this took place. There's talk about selling drugs and being an outlaw. How significant do you think those were in the decision?

BLAND: I think it probably played a role in the solicitor's mind in saying that am I going to take down a police officer for someone like Zachary. But those text messages would have never been admitted in court. Because Lieutenant Tiller didn't know who Zachary Hammond was.

So, his actions have to be judged. In any charges that are brought against him, it's the actor who you have to judge. Not the victim. I mean, it's simply like a rape case.

In this situation, they are blaming the -- they are trying to blame the victim. They didn't know who Zachary was. So, whatever Zachary may have done or didn't do beforehand is irrelevant. And it's complete -- it's white noise and it should never should have been disclosed.

LEMON: Paul and Angie, I have to ask you, do you think some justice will come of this? Because as you know, the Justice Department is continuing the civil rights investigation.

A. HAMMOND: I hope so. I hope so.

P. HAMMOND: We're very hopeful that the Federal Justice they will do something.


LEMON: Eric, Paul, and Angie, thank you so much.

BLAND: Thank you.

P. HAMMOMD: Thank you.

LEMON: Thank you.

A. HAMMOND: Thanks.

LEMON: That's it for us tonight. I'll see you right back here tomorrow night at 9. AC360 starts in just a moment.