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Business Jet Went Down in Akron, Ohio; Chris Christie Tops the Undercard Debate; Donald Trump Still Leads the National Poll; Undecided Voters in Iowa; Hillary Clinton Taking Heat; NTSB Joining MetroJet Crash Investigation. Aired 8-9p ET

Aired November 10, 2015 - 20:00   ET


[20:00:00] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Good evening. Thanks for joining us.

There's a big night of politics as the Republican candidates square off once again. Full coverage in a moment. But we are just learning about a plane crashing so we want to begin there tonight.

Federal investigators heading right now to this fiery scene in Akron, Ohio, where a business jet went down a short time ago. That's a small apartment building you see burning. There is lot of questions at this hour including how many people were on board.

Joining us now with late details is CNN aviation correspondent Rene Marsh. So what do we know happened?

RENE MARSH, CNN AVIATION CORRESPONDENT: Well, you see that fireball there. We know that this plane crashed into a residential building while it was approaching the Akron Fulton airport this afternoon.

Now, from the video, you could see it was an overcast day, our CNN weather team says that at the time of the crash, visibility was about a mile and a half with reports of fog. But Anderson, it is too early to know whether weather was a factor or something mechanical. We do know that the NTSB will investigate. I'm told the investigator will be on site later on tonight.

COOPER: Is there any idea about potential casualties?

MARSH: There are some numbers floating out there but nothing official coming from the NTSB at this time. They are still trying to track down information themselves. We know that this twin engine business jet was a ten-seater. But we do not know how many people were on board. We do know though, Anderson, unfortunately, there were no survivors.

COOPER: And was anyone on the ground injured?

MARSH: Well, I mean, when you look at that scene you would think someone may have been hurt in some way, shape or form. But we are told so far that on the ground no one was hurt despite the scene that you're looking at there, all of the fatalities from what we're hearing are all of the individuals who were on board that aircraft. COOPER: All right. Rene, we will continue to follow it throughout

this hour. Thanks very much.

Now, debate night for Republicans in Milwaukee, the first of two heading toward the final moments and big differences this time around, two top tier candidates in the last debate, Chris Christie and Mike Huckabee now are on the undercard. Two others, Lindsey Graham and George Pataki now are out of the debates entirely. One candidate, Jeb Bush, who everybody initially thought would be the man to beat, now struggling against the perception that he's a beaten man. He is in the spotlight tonight so our front-runners, of course, Donald Trump and Ben Carson, so is Marco Rubio who may end up taking fire from all sides later this evening.

First, we want to get some highlights from the very spirited undercard debate.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How do you win a national election when the Democrats are offering free healthcare, a free or subsidized college education and you're the party that is seemingly offering nothing in the way of immediate tangible benefits?

GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Yes, sure. If anybody believes the stuff they heard from the Democratic debate a few weeks ago there's nothing for free. What they forgot to tell you was that they are going to raise their tax rates to 70 or 80 percent in order to provide all of that stuff.

But let me ask the folks at home one very simple question. Do you want to give Washington more control over your life? Do you think they are doing such a great job that now let's have them control what our corporations pay their employees? Let's have them control every aspect of our economy? Is Washington doing that good a job for you right now? And the fact is that if you listen to Hillary Clinton, that she has made it very clear. She believes that she can make decisions for you better than you can make them for yourself.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are Democrats simply putting forward a better national economic message than the one Republicans are offering and what should Republicans do about it?

GOV. BOBBY JINDAL (R), LOUISIANA: No, I think right now there's not much difference between the two parties. The reason we keep losing nationally is we try to be cheaper versions of the Democratic Party.

MIKE HUCKABEE (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Just not accurate to say that nobody else up here has ever cut. I believe every governor has probably had to make tough decisions.

JINDAL: Wait, I want to respond. He criticized something I said. I want to respond to that. Mike, with all due respect I admire your social views, I share many of those views. Your record as governor tells a different story. CHRISTIE: For the people out there right now, I want to guarantee you

one thing real clearly. If you think that Mike Huckabee won't be the kind of president who will cut back spending or Chris Christie or John Kasich, wait until you see what Hillary Clinton will do to this country and how she will drown us in debt. She is the real adversary tonight and we better stay focused as Republicans on her.

JINDAL: If they fooled us once, shame on them. If they fooled us twice, shame on us. Don't let them fool us again.

Chris, look. I'll give you a ribbon for participation and a jukebox. But in the real world, it's about results. It's about actually cutting government spending, not just talking about cutting government spending.

RICK SANTORUM (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This is a legitimate debate between Chris and Bobby. And somebody says we need someone who can win in blue state. Bobby says we need a real principled conservative.

CHRISTIE: Do you remember why we're in the position we are in with China. Because in absolutely weak and feckless foreign policy that was engineered by Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. That's why we're in the position we are in.

SANTORUM: You know who I respect in the Democratic Party? You know why I respect them, because they fight! Because they are not willing to back down and they are willing to stand up and fight and win. And so I respect them, because they are willing to take it to us.

[20:05:06] JINDAL: We need a conservative, not a big government Republican in D.C.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let me just say --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Last word briefly.

CHRISTIE: Let me just say this. It is interesting. I complimented Bobby. Imagine how much time he'd want if I actually criticized him.


COOPER: Let's get some quick reaction now from Ana Navarro. She is a Jeb Bush supporter and a close friend of Marco Rubio with more than we can say about Jeb Bush at the moment. Also, senior political reporter Nia-Malika Henderson. Trump supporter and CNN political commentator Jeffrey Lord, political director in the Reagan White House and CNN chief political analyst Gloria Borger.

Ana, what do you make of this? I mean, Chris Christie clearly trying to keep the focus on Hillary Clinton. Bobby Jindal clearly came in with a strategy of hitting back at Chris Christie and even Mike Huckabee's record.

ANA NAVARRO, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Anderson, I just have one thing to say, bring back Lindsey Graham. We just had an entire hour between the most humorless debate between the four. I think I really miss Lindsey's passionate voice on foreign policy and national security, but also his sense of humor and levity. And God knows the Republicans need a little levity right now.

COOPER: Nia, what do you think?

NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER: For Chris Christie, I think, I have always thought that he is the best debater of the field. I think tonight he was able to not only talk about his open record, he was able to turn the focus on Hillary Clinton. But also, he has that great technique of direct to camera, in talking to American, the American people in a very folksy way. I thought he was fantastic tonight. The thing is none of this might matter. Maybe he gets back to the main stage, maybe he doesn't. But it seems like so far he had good debate tonight.

COOPER: It definitely helped him to just be on a stage with three other people. There was more time, more substance and it will be interesting to see if the main debate and we'll be after the debate from 11:00 to 1:00 a.m. this morning discussing what we see in that debate, whether the fact that there's only eight of them now gives the same benefit to some of them on the stage.

HENDERSON: Right. I mean, you hope if you are Jeb Bush, you can get more time, you hope if you're any of the other folks who didn't get enough time or didn't force themselves into the conversation, although, the slimmed down version of the debate make a difference.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Did you just say "only eight of them"?

COOPER: Relatively speaking. Gloria, what do you think?

BORGER: Well, I, you know, I agree with Nia. I thought Christie did a great job. His problem is that he is at five percent in the polls in New Hampshire. What is interesting if you look at Chris Christie's polling now, his favorability is continuing to rise. He is 54 percent favorable. And you saw tonight why. He looked like a middle child, the peacemaker. Wasn't so long ago we thought that Chris Christie was the bully. Do you remember that in this race? Well, that was --

NAVARRO: Chris Christie's real problem is that he at five percent in the polls in New Hampshire. And his polls are going way down in New Jersey. He has something to lose by staying in this race. And he has, at some point, start asking himself the question is it worth it for me. Because, you know, unless Rick Santorum --

COOPER: It is interesting, Jeffrey, though, he really didn't rise to Bobby Jindal attacks. And Bobby Jindal was continually attacking even when Chris Christie would sort of say I have nothing bad to say about Jindal. Let's talk about Hillary Clinton. Bobby Jindal clearly came to this with a strategy - I mean, he was intent on him.

JEFFREY LORD, FORMER REAGAN WHITE HOUSE POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Right. I mean, call me skeptical, but I'm not sure the next president of the United States who is a Republican was on that stage tonight. I just don't. And they keep going down, not up and at a certain point here, you know, the game is going to be called and they're going to be done. That said, I do think that governor Jindal made a point which is a sensitive point for a lot of Republicans, it was reflected in the house situation with speaker Boehner is that he is blaming our problems not just on Democrats and President Obama and Hillary Clinton, he is blaming Republicans and that is a pretty fierce message out there.

COOPER: His message tonight was really it is not enough to just elect a Republican. You have to elect a real conservative.

HENDERSON: Yes. And it was Santorum's argument in 2012 and it worked for a while. He was able to win, you know, almost a double, worked once.

BORGER: A few times.

HENDERSON: Yes. He won a couple of states. But he wasn't able to go beyond that. I mean, this is a debate that has gone back to Ronald Reagan, right, the whole idea of, are you a bold conservative or you, you know, running in pastels.


NAVARRO: Chris Christie is a brilliant tactician and he is a very good debater. And let me tell you something. There is nothing worse than trying to start an argument with somebody and having them flick you off, ignore you like, and that's what he did to Bobby Jindal all night, not even give him the dignity of waging a fight.

BORGER: I think Jindal really understood that this could to be his last stand. And so, he had to give it everything.

LORD: Go for it.

BORGER: He had a little over caffeinated.

NAVARRO: Why? I mean, why do you think he would understand that it's his last stand? What does he have to lose?

BORGER: Well, it depends on how much money he has and who his sugar daddy is. I mean, you know, Rick Santorum --

COOPER: Do you see all four on the stage staying through to Iowa, staying though to New Hampshire?

LORD: Maybe. But not beyond that. I don't think.

BORGER: I mean, I take Ana's point, the question is what do you have to lose, right? And Jindal is not running for re-election. So why not say --. And it depends on how much in debt he wants to go.

[20:10:07] HENDERSON: Yes. And he wants to have a place in the party presumably as something as, you know, by identifying with the cause.

(CROSSTALK) NAVARRO: Trying to use this as marketing plan for your next step because you are former governor or former senator or whatever. At some point you have to ask yourself, am I diminishing myself by doing this? I mean, Rick Santorum, you know, OK, he has got a dream one donor and a sweater vest. And we know that with that he can go on for months. He did it in 2012.

LORD: That was the point that I believe James Baker made to George H. W. Bush in about May of 1980, when he won a couple of late primaries in Pennsylvania and possibly Michigan, but he wasn't going to win. And he could have kept going and Jim Baker said to him, if you want any chance of being on this ticket, stop now. Stop now.

BORGER: Here is the potent thing Christie did which was attack Hillary Clinton. We have just seen Republicans attacking each other all the time. Tonight, Christie swatted away Jindal, right, and then turned the focus to Hillary Clinton saying she would be another term of Barack Obama which is a very popular refrain with Republican primary voters. So I think he did himself some good.

COOPER: But there is nobody other than Carly Fiorina who has done from the undercard debate to the main stage. And as you said, the trend now is downward for a lot of these folks.

BORGER: It is. And this is why Christie's strength tonight may help him. But you know, we just don't know whether it's too late. Look, there are months to go. So we don't know. There's a CNN debate in December, which people will be paying attention to, because it's right before Iowa/New Hampshire, you know. We'll see.

NAVARRO: Two things are happening. One is, you know, some of these folks are on a downward trend. But also, the requirements to get into the debate are on an upward trend. You know, we saw the requirements for this debate were different and higher than they have been from the previous three.

BORGER: And maybe they'll start doing it by the states as opposed to national polling.

LORD: Next step from down is out.

COOPER: Is out, yes.

We are going to take a quick break. There is a lot more to come in the hour throughout the evening.

Coming up next, Jeb Bush's challenge winning people over. We have new numbers showing exactly why it is such a challenge for him and what he may try to do tonight to fix that, plus, if possible.

Plus, a key pro-Bush super PAC threatening to spend tens of millions of dollars to go negative on Marco Rubio. We will talk to a top Republican strategist what he thinks of that idea.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [20:16:12] COOPER: The undercard debate has just ended. The main event is yet to come, several main themes there, Donald Trump and Ben Carson jockeying obviously for the lead. Marco Rubio seen by many as the next so-called establishment alternative. Ted Cruz as a potential surprise. Jeb Bush certainly struggling to re-launch yet again his campaign and new polling that could shed light on why he is struggling.

Our chief national correspondent John King has a look by the numbers. He joins us now.

So let's take a look at the national state of play going in to the debate tonight.

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, you could say there's three, maybe four tiers in the Republican race. Let's start with the national average in the polling. This is all 14 candidates. It's a little confusing if you look at the numbers. So let me take it to just the top five.

Carson and Trump at the top of the pack there around 23, 24 percent. Rubio and Cruz, you just mentioned that, you have to call them the second tier. They are at 12, 13 percent in the average of the national polls. This is Jeb Bush down here, a little above six percent. One tier, two tier, three tiers and then there is everybody else. That's a look at the national.

I want to quickly just to show you this. If you look at Iowa, the state that votes first, and again let's focus just on the top five. It is pretty much the same, Trump, Carson, Rubio, Cruz and Jeb Bush. So Iowa essentially nearing a national polls. Iowa votes first in 82 days.

What's interesting going into the debate tonight, the stakes are high. If you look at the next state, New Hampshire, Trump is still all alone. Let me just put up the top five again. Trump is still all alone. Carson, Rubio, Bush down here at the bottom of the pack. So you have tight national race Trump and Carson, a tight Iowa race, Trump and Carson. But New Hampshire, Trump all alone. So in the dynamic tonight, there has been a lot of focus on getting Carson, Trump, Anderson, still a huge, huge, huge factor in this race.

COOPER: And half or more of the Republican electorate says they haven't locked in on a choice yet. So all the candidates there is still an opportunity.

KING: There is an opportunity. But there is also some evidence that there are some candidates having a harder time than others getting Republican voters to listen. This is from the NBC - I mean, the McClatchy Marist poll that just came out the other day. The red is the more you hear the more you like. Look at this. It is off the chart, 67 percent of Republicans say the more they hear Ben Carson the more they like it, 58 percent the more they hear Marco Rubio the more they like him. Majority say more they hear Ted Cruz the more they like that. Only 44 percent say that about Donald Trump. If you are Jeb Bush in either compact, this is the problem. Only 32 percent of Republicans say the more they hear you and the more they like you.

And come down this in. Nearly six in ten republicans say the more they hear Jeb Bush, the less they like him. Nearly half say the more they hear Donald Trump the less they like him. So if you're Carson, Rubio and Cruz you want to keep the trend going. If you are Trump or Bush, you need to turn it around.

One other way to look at this, Anderson? Who would you definitely not support? Thirty-seven percent of Republicans say they would definitely not support Donald Trump, 32 percent they would definitely not support Jeb Bush. Talk about room to grow, only six percent say that about Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz and only three percent say they would never support Ben Carson.

So these guys have a lot of room to grow. They guys have to turn the general dynamic. This just breaks it down, 43 percent of moderates say they would never support Trump, 42 percent of conservatives, 22 percent of the very conservatives. Again, though, 41 percent of Republicans who say they are very conservative, these are the kind of voters who show up for Republican primaries, very conservatives say they would never support Jeb Bush. He has to change that dynamic if there is going to be a comeback. Trump also needs to open some more minds if he wants to grow, Anderson.

COOPER: It is fascinating looking at the numbers there. John thank you very much.

So back with our panel. We are also adding to it, Stuart Stevens, Mitt Romney's chief strategist during the last campaign and author of "the last season: a father and son and lifetime of college football."

Stuart, what are you expecting tonight on the main stage? I mean, last night at his rally, Donald Trump was very vocal when it came to Ben Carson's personal story, feeding into question that have been out there the past week or so about accuracy. Do you think he was test driving an attack for the debate or do you think he stays away from that tonight?

[20:20:03] STUART STEVENS, FORMER ROMNEY PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN MANAGER: Listen I wouldn't want to be in the business of guessing what Donald Trump is going to do. But if you're trying to win an election for the guy in a gambling business to attack the guy who saves people's lives, it seems pretty sketchy strategy to me.

All these candidates need to talk about what they are going to do to be the president of the United States. I think if you are going to attack someone, or you are Jeb Bush, you need to attack Donald Trump. He is the biggest guy in the room. You get credit if you walk up to the biggest guy in the room and punch him. The problem I think he has, if he goes after Marco Rubio, it's sort of like getting in a wrestling match with your little brother. I just don't think it helps you at best.

COOPER: There's this report - you know, Stuart, if you were Jeb Bush, I mean, you look at those numbers, we just looked at John's report on the numbers, the more people hear of Jeb Bush the less they like him. If that's the case, then if you're Jeb Bush, I mean, not getting an opportunity to talk a lot in the last debate, maybe that wasn't such a bad thing.

STEVENS: No. Listen, you know, when things aren't working in a campaign, nothing works. Then they turn around and they start to work. You saw that with Hillary Clinton. These things can turn on a dime. I think that Jeb Bush could come back here.

Personally, and listen, I was in a campaign where everybody in the world was giving us advice, some of it good, some of it not. But personally, I think that Jeb Bush needs to talk more about the future and less about Florida. He was a fantastic governor of Florida, but I don't think being a fantastic governor of Florida qualifies you to be the next president of the United States. So he needs to I think to offer really specific suggestions, advice, plans, of what he's going to do as president and just talk about that.

COOPER: I want to bring back in -- Stuart, stay with us. I also want to bring in Gloria Borger and Jeffrey and Nia-Malika Henderson and Ana Navarro.

Do you expect, I mean, you know, some people said look, when debates get more into details Donald Trump, Ben Carson kind of fade back a little bit. We have seen that in past debates. Do you expect that to tonight or is this an opportunity with again just the eight people on the stage?

LORD: Coming with the trade proposal, I believe, a fairly detailed trade proposal. So maybe he is going to talk about that tonight. But I have already seen some details of it. So I imagine he could talk about that.

BORGER: You know, the economy is his terra firma. And if you look at polling, Republicans believe he is best able to handle the economy, Trump, not so much with Carson, and I think it's a higher hurdle for Dr. Carson, because he is less comfortable. We are talking about the economy. And I think if I were Carson, that is what I would be talking about or trying to talk about.

HENDERSON: His people have said this is the debate he's been waiting for. He wants to talk about the economy. He wants to talk about the issues. Even they said the same thing before the last debate, and that was about the economy, he didn't come off that credible in terms of detailed plans about his 10 percent or 15 percent tax plan. And so, we will have to see what he is going to do tonight. I think if you're Jeb Bush you probably feel good about what you've seen so far. But as he has always said he's the wonk. He wants to talk policy and go into detail.

NAVARRO: I think one of the things that we have seen so far is in the undercard debate we are seeing big contrast from what we saw moderator wise in the last debate. They have stuff to policy. They have stuff to fix the policy-economy questions, and you didn't see from the candidates on the stage all the whining and moaning that you heard in the last debate because they didn't have eye reason to. So I think you are seeing a different debate tonight than what we saw ten days ago.

COOPER: Stuart, I mean, I have no doubt that the moderators are going to go into this - I mean, very, you know, they are very smart and folks at FOX are very smart, they are going to go into it, wanting to contrast themselves to what happened at the CNBC debate and really, just stick to very detailed economic issues which is what everybody on that stage says they want to see as well.

NAVARRO: Maybe be able to cite the sources for the quotes they use?

STEVENS: The biggest number of all those numbers you put up on the screen before, I think is 26 or 27 percent. That is a number of people in the country that think the country is going in the right direction. That's the key that this entire election is being played in. It's a wrong track election now. And I thought Chris Christie very effectively played to that, contrasting with Hillary Clinton.

Hillary Clinton right now is running in the democratic primary successfully as a third term of Barack Obama. We are yet to see if that is a successful case you can prosecute a year from now. For Republicans, I think you have to really take it back to the economic issues. And this is a great opportunity. People are going to vote based on the economy and in this election.

COOPER: Everybody here agrees.

BORGER: I agree. And if I were Marco Rubio who has had questions about his personal finances and how can you possibly balance a budget get you can't balance the checkbook? I would stick to the economy no matter what anybody was saying to me because I think that that's a line he has to cross and say look, I can handle the federal deficit. I can do that. And Jeb might attack him on that.

[20:25:09] COOPER: Does anybody have to attack tonight? I mean, does -- in order to try to, you know, punch up, get their name out there? Does --?

LORD: Maybe Ted and Marco, keep going - I mean, I think what we are in the process of seeing is this race is coming down to four people and that would be Trump, Carson, Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz, and then we will see how that goes from there. But I think we're slowly evolving into that.

COOPER: And certainly, I mean, Marco Rubio a lot more people have been talking about him of late. What do you think he has to do?

NAVARRO: I think he has, well first he has got high expectations because Marco has been very good in all three previous debates. He is good at debating, he is quick, he is witty, he is humorous, he can turn things around, he can gauge the audience's emotion, so I think he has to deliver another great debate.

And yes, I expect people will be coming at him from all sides. He has been up to now very able to turn some of those arguments around and say hey, I'm your average Joe. I'm everyday America. Everyday America can relate to me and my debts and my finances. He does that very well. Now I do think there is somebody on the staining we haven't mentioned at all who does have to show a pulse who has to show an attack line and that's John Kasich. He is practically disappeared from the radar screen and our mouths.

HENDERSON: And he tried to do that at the last debate going after Donald Trump and Ben Carson.

NAVARRO: He had one very good moment on gay marriage in the first debate. He hasn't really had a stellar moment since then and needs it badly.

COOPER: We got to take a break. I want to thank everybody, Stuart as well. Thank you.

Just ahead the leading Republican candidates have a chance tonight to widen their leads and win over voters undecided. What will evangelical Christians be looking for tonight to help them make up their minds? We'll look into that ahead.



MIKE HUCKABEE: During the recession of 2001 through 2003 when 91 percent of our state budget was basically three things, educate, medicate and incarcerate, we ended up cutting 11 percent out of the state budget through that recession so we didn't have to go in and raise a bunch of taxes and there were people who thought we should. So it's just not accurate to say that nobody else up here has ever cut.

BOBBY JINDAL: I want to respond to that, Mike, with all due respect I admire your social views. I share many of those views. Your record as governor tells a different story. So, wanting to cut is one thing, actually cutting is a different thing. Facts don't lie.


COOPER: That's Bobby Jindal and Mike Huckabee in a sharp exchange in Milwaukee tonight. The leading Republican presidential candidates facing off in their fourth debates. The undercard event wrapped up just a short time ago. Rick Santorum, Bobby Jindal, Chris Christie and Mike Huckabee shared the stage for that. Dana Bash is at the debate venue, joins us now as we await the start of this next debate, the main debate.

Dana, you know, often things play on television different than they play in the room. What is the sense there is about how things went on the undercard?

DANA BASH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, obviously there was a lot of talk of substance, but what you just played I think crystallizes and encapsulates what went on. Which is, you had the two new members of the undercard debate, Chris Christie and Mike Huckabee suddenly the target of the other two, particularly Bobby Jindal, because both of them have governed states, one the governor of New Jersey where they are accused by conservatives of not being conservative enough. Mike Huckabee back when he ran in 2008 had the conservative Club for Growth after him hard for not cutting spending enough when he was governor of Arkansas, and the same is said about Chris e Christie. So that's why you saw Governor Jindal try to use them as a foil, something that we never would see in the main stage debate because they're just not the focus, there are other front-runners, the B front-runners are the focus. But it kind of does symbolize where the Republican Party is, they're trying to say it's not about us, it's about Hillary Clinton, but for Republican primary voters it isn't. It is about the policies and positions of conservatives.

COOPER: Yes. And Dana, what are you looking for tonight for the main debate?

BASH: Well, I think it's just going to be fascinating to see Ben Carson and whether sort of the mellow Ben Carson shows up or whether the guy who we've seen trying to fend off questions about the stories and anecdotes of his personal story whether that guy shows up. And I think a lot of it will have to do with whether or not anybody challenges him on that issue, and, of course, the thing that I'm looking for, something that you were talking about with Ana before the break is the Jeb Bush-Marco Rubio kind of soap opera that has been going on since the last debate. The two of them have such personal connection, so many supporters who are intertwined and to see how they handle one another on the stage tonight.

COOPER:: A lot to look forward to, Dana. And again, we're going to be on after, for two hours after the debate from 11:00 to 1:00 a.m. I hope you join us for that, for full analysis.

Now, some of the people who are watching tonight and will be voting very soon, Randi Kaye is in Marshalltown, Iowa, outside Des Moines, she'll be watching the main debate with a group of evangelical voters, many from the same church. Randi joins us now. What are they looking for tonight, Randi?

RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, they have a lot of questions for these candidates. They wish that they could be near that debate stage to ask them themselves. Many of them here is Marshalltown, Iowa, are undecided. The issues most important to them seem to be the economy, jobs, taxes, immigration, certainly. We have about 20 voters here with us tonight, who are going to be watching the next debate with us. So, let's just talk to a couple of them, and see what the issues are, because I said many of you are undecided, Marcia Fricke joining us here. So, tell me what - are you leaning towards anyone as an undecided voter?

MARCIA FRICKE: I'm looking closely at what Donald Trump and Ben Carson and Ted Cruz interest v to say tonight.


KAYE: What is the issue most important to you that you would be looking at those three?

FRICKE: Well, I would really like to see what they have to say about the industry, the industry that's moved out of the United States, and here in Marshana (ph), Iowa we've had a lot of big manufacturers that parts of them have moved to Mexico and really concerned of how we can get those jobs back.

KAYE: So, I could see why you would be interested in hearing what Donald Trump has to say. But as an evangelical voter is he conservative enough for you?

FRICKE: Well, he's probably, I know he does not line up quite as strictly as an evangelical, as a Christian, as what I would like to see, but I guess I really feel that we've got to get somebody that's going to really get things done.

KAYE: All right, let me bring in Nick Barnes who is also undecided. Nick, tell me what the issue is for you tonight, what are you looking to hear that might help you decide?

NICK BARNES, UNDECIDED IOWA VOTER: Sure, my wife and I are raising three young boys, so most important to us is really a strong economy that our country can maintain and we're in a lot of debt. So, we need to focus on that and also securing our borders. So those are two of the areas that I'm most interested in hearing about tonight.

KAYE: Why are you still undecided?

BARNES: Well, I think there's a lot of good choices to be honest with you. And so, we very lucky to have so many choices, but that makes it a tough decision, obviously. So, hopefully they can narrow that field down tonight.

KAYE: And certainly, as you know here in Iowa, Donald Trump and Ben Carson running neck in neck, if it came down to those two, do you have a favorite?

BARNES: Yeah, I think so. I think over those two more of a Trump supporter. I think Carson hasn't done a great job here in the last couple of days, handling the criticism that's been brought its way. And I think that hurt him a little bit.

KAYE: So, It's not so much that it happened 50 years ago and who is wrong and who is right. It's more just that you don't like how he handled it.

BARNES: Yeah, I think everybody's got some skeletons in the closet. You don't get to this point without maybe stepping on a few feet, but it's how you handle that and I don't think he's done a real good job of that.

KAYE: All right. Well, we'll be watching tonight along with about 20 other voters here along with us. Anderson, back to you.

COOPER: Thank him for letting us tag along with him for the night, and we'll check in with you after the debate. Randi, thanks.

Just ahead, Hillary Clinton under fire tonight after laid off Hewlett- Packard worker told her he'd like to strangle Carly Fiorina. She laughed, and now she's facing backlash from Fiorina's camp and others as well.



COOPER: Welcome back. Hillary Clinton is taking heat tonight for laughing at what a supporter said about Carly Fiorina.

The man was laid off from Hewlett-Packard, he said, when she was CEO of the company. Here is what happened.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And then she laid off over 40,000 people, and she says she's a great CEO. Every time I see her on TV, I want to reach through and strangle her.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You know, I know that doesn't sound very nice, but --

CLINTON: I wouldn't mess with you.



COOPER: Her reaction, Hillary Clinton's reaction, sparked immediate backlash. The RNC blasting Clinton for not condemning the man's remark about strangling his former boss. The Fiorina campaign is already seizing on the moment. Fiorina's deputy campaign manager tweeted this quote, "let's all watch @HillaryClinton's media lapdogs explain why this is okay in three, two, one, #whatbias." Let's bring back the panel. Also joining us is CNN political commentator and Democratic strategist Donna Brazile, who is also vice chair of the DNC voter project. Donna, let's talk about this. I mean, if this was a Republican candidate and somebody said this about Hillary Clinton, the Democrats would be up in arms.

DONNA BRAZILE, CNN COMMENTATOR: If I went through all of my videotapes and everything else I have in my library on Republicans criticizing Hillary Clinton, for her look, her laughter, it would be an endless episode here on "AC 360," and you know I love you and I'll be with you for a couple of hours.


BRAZILE: Whenever you have voters like this gentleman, who is clearly frustrated, who lashes out, who says something that's ridiculous, yes, I mean, candidates have to pause and say, you know what? That's inappropriate. Let's get back to the issues. But it happens all the time. I'm not excusing anybody. But I do believe--

COOPER: You think she should have said that? BRAZILE: Hell, look, when John McCain, John McCain still gets my

number one when he pushed back on some of the craziness of 2008, Obama is a Muslim, Obama is not a Christian. Just a few weeks ago, Carly Fiorina had a chance to do it and she didn't. So it goes on both sides. I don't like to play the both sides issues, but look at what the real issue is here, and the real issue is that women's issues like women candidates deserve respect. Bottom line.

COOPER: You mentioned this Fiorina point, I want to play that just so people know what you're referring to, this is Carly Fiorina on the campaign trail last week, she received criticism previously for.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He doesn't want this country to get ahead. He doesn't. He's a Muslim. He's a black Muslim.

CARLY FIORINA, GOP PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Time to do something different in many ways.



COOPER: So I mean, people pointed to that saying she should have pushed back. But is it equivalent? One is saying something about his beliefs on the president's religion, the other is talking about --


LORD: The point here, this is about political correctness, and far be it for me to defend Donna's friend, Hillary Clinton. But I think this is crazy. You hear the tone of the guy's voice.

COOPER: He was laughing.

LORD: He was laughing. Who not among us has not said at some point out of frustration, I'd like to strangle so and so. It's in the vernacular of America. The problem for Hillary Clinton comes with going after Donald Trump for attacking him in a politically correct fashion, saying when he had the situation with the guy who said the president was a Muslim, and she went after him and with great indignation, and then of course it's her turn, and she just stands there and laughs. It's crazy to be doing this. This is part of the larger problem we have in this country, and that I think is the real issue.

HENDERSON: But I do think Hillary Clinton missed a moment. She's been talking about rising above the pettiness of politics, being a statesman or stateswoman in her case, and I think she could have done that in that moment. She might have lost the room, I think in that moment, even though it was clearly a joke, but I think she would have come out better if she had said something and brushed him back.

NAVARRO: She would have absolutely come out better, and I agree with you. She completely missed the moment to be presidential and rise above it, which is what John McCain did in 2008.


Carly Fiorina missed the same moment. What we saw was that Hillary Clinton's reaction today was to laugh, and Carly Fiorina's was to kind of walk away from the questioner. But at the same time, this is the best thing that can happen to Carly Fiorina.


NAVARRO: This is the first time we've talked about her, and if you take a look, practically the only times we talked about Carly Fiorina in the last month is when her face was being attacked by Donald Trump, her smile was being attacked by people on "The View."


BRAZILE: Donald Trump last night was talking about Ben Carson and this allegation he attempted to hit his mother with a hammer. I'm appalled at the notion that anybody would even raise it in my house, you could not even raise your voice, let alone raise your head at your mother.

LORD: My mother is watching. This is not a good thing.


BRAZILE: We could not even look at her, let alone talk back - (inaudible). But these candidates are engaging voters who are frustrated, who are angry, we see a lot of that on the Republican side, on the Democratic side. I think the candidates need to be aware of it, whether it's joking, in jest, saying well, this is not the right thing to say. It was the moment to say, then, OK, stop. Some people are not as quick as Anderson Cooper on their feet.

NAVARRO: At this point Hillary is the presumptive nominee, right? Unless there's a political -


NAVARRO: That part is true, but unless there is something that changes radically in the next 90 days, she's' going to win. She looks like she's gliding to the nomination. So she has got the chance and the opportunity and the ability to rise above and start being presidential now.

COOPER: Let's look at it, Ana Navarro, appreciate it. Nia Malika Henderson, Jeffrey Lord, Donna Brazile, thank you all. We're going to be covering the debate from 11:00 to 1:00. I hope you join us.

We also have more in this hour, breaking news. NTSB investigators are going to join the investigation to what brought down Metrojet 9268, and U.S. officials now believe they know what kind of explosives was used and how it was detonated. Details on that in a moment.


COOPER: More breaking news tonight, the Egyptian government says it will allow NTSB investigators to take part in the Metrojet 9268 investigation. This would make them the first American investigators to be directly involved. Also tonight U.S. officials believe they now know what kind of explosive was used to take down the Airbus, as well as how it got on board and how it was detonated. Our chief national security correspondent Jim Sciutto joins us with the latest. What are you hearing from U.S. officials?

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, what they're doing now is building a more detailed working theory. This is without the hard forensic evidence you normally have with an investigation like this, access to the wreckage, to the bodies, the voice recorder, but U.S. intelligence officials more convinced that a bomb with a timer may have taken this plane down, that it was more than likely snuck on board by someone with access to that plane rather than a passenger, and based on a flash caught by a U.S. satellite as well as photos of the wreckage and other clues, that a military grade explosive, something like a c4 would be needed to cause a blast like this. To be clear, this is far from a conclusion or a final assessment, but they are trying to piece together the pieces of this puzzle from afar here.

COOPER: Do we know what steps the Egyptian government, Egyptian security took immediately after the crash?

SCIUTTO: They say they took serious steps immediately after the crash, that they interviewed and investigated every person who had access to this aircraft before that flight, including all the staff from SS Air, that is the company that serviced and catered the plane, this according to a Sharm el Sheikh airport employee familiar with security operations there. Egyptian officials say they also took control of all the cameras, all the sensors and related information at that air force even before announcing the crash that had taken place, but they have not made any arrests from the interviews or from that video footage they've watched.

COOPER: And this news that the NTSB will be able to join the investigation, do you have, know more details about this?

SCIUTTO: This is potentially a big deal. Our Rene Marsh first reported this, that Egypt has accepted a long-standing offer from the NTSB to travel to Egypt, to visit that crash scene and take part in the investigation. This could be key, because it gives you what U.S. intelligence has been lacking so far, that is access to forensic evidence, access that could allow for a more definitive judgment. For instance, if you're talking about a bomb, if you could test the wreckage for explosives residue, that will give you the answer. Was it a bomb and what kind of bomb was used. That's the step needed to be taken now so that U.S. intelligence can give a definitive answer on what happened here.

COOPER: Jim, I appreciate the details, Jim Sciutto. Up next, we'll check in with a group of voters in South Carolina and find out what they want to hear from the candidates tonight in Milwaukee. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)


COOPER: As we cover tonight's Republican debate, we'll be talking with voters the way we did in Iowa a moment ago and watching the debate with them. Another important state early in the process obviously is South Carolina. Gary Tuchman is there with a group of voters in Mt. Pleasant, not far from Charleston. Gary.

GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, a debate can be a party. Just ask these South Carolinians in this room, right?

[ cheers and applause ]

This is the Cinebar multiplex in Mt. Pleasant, South Carolina, this is Charleston County, South Carolina. The Charleston County Republican Party has invited all these people, there are supposed to be 115 people there, but there are too many, so they are filling this room and they are filling another theater in this multiplex to watch the debate, and we want to get an idea right now before the debate starts who they're supporting at this point before they hear what the candidates have to -- hold on, everybody, we need order in this place. We need order.

I'll ask you in alphabetical order, the people who are in this debate, first of all, who is supporting Bush?

[ cheers and applause ]

Who is supporting Carson?

[ cheers and applause ]

Who is supporting Cruz?

[ cheers and applause ]

Fiorina? No Fiorina.


[ cheers and applause ] .




[ cheers and applause ]


[ cheers and applause] TUCHMAN: So you've seen the initial reaction. What we'll see after

the debates are over, we'll see people who change their minds, and this is not scientific, but there's a large number of people, Anderson, and we'll get a good idea when we come back in the 11:00 p.m. Eastern time hour, if any of the people here at this debate party, which has pizza and lots of drinks, if they've changed their mind. Back to you.

COOPER: Actually, can you do a quick show of hands how many are undecided?

TUCHMAN: Anderson asked, how many are undecided?

[ cheers and applause ]

As you see, Anderson, these will be the people we'll be talking to also, the undecideds, and there are quite a few here of them also.

COOPER: No doubt. I hope they get some popcorn in the theater. Gary, thanks very much. That does it for us. We of course are going to be back at 11:00 p.m. Eastern after the Fox Business News debate. We'll be on from 11:00 to 1:00 a.m. I hope you join us for two hours of analysis. Special coverage of the GOP debate from Milwaukee. The CNN special report, "The Great Prison Escape," starts now.