Return to Transcripts main page
THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER
Iowa Pitches; Jailbreak; Trump Surging; Conservative Group Launches "Attack" Ad Against Sanders; Cleveland Cops Fired After 137 Shots Fired in Chase. Aired 4-4:30p ET
Aired January 26, 2016 - 16:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Ted Cruz warns Republicans, if Trump wins in Iowa, he will be unstoppable. I'm sure the Donald might agree.
THE LEAD starts right now.
Brand-new polls showing Donald Trump out to his largest lead, doubling Ted Cruz nationwide, as the race in the Hawkeye State comes down to the wire.
More dangerous than ISIS, a new report saying a terrorist group with al Qaeda ties could be working on another 9/11, while the U.S. puts all its focus on destroying ISIS.
Plus, possibly armed, definitely dangerous, one of them now being compared to Hannibal Lecter, the manhunt for three inmates after a shocking jailbreak. Did they have help on the inside?
Good afternoon, everyone. Welcome to THE lead. I'm Jake Tapper.
We are going to start with our politics lead. With just six days left until the Iowa caucuses, Donald Trump and Ted Cruz cranking up their war of words as they battle for top billing in the first voting state, going after conservatives and evangelical voters with a religious fervor.
Today, Trump trotted out an endorsement from evangelical heavyweight Jerry Falwell Jr. of Liberty University, and late word this afternoon that controversial border county Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Arizona is headed to Iowa right now to endorse Mr. Trump.
CNN has both sides of the race covered in Iowa and beyond.
But, first, let's start with CNN political reporter Sara Murray, who is in Marshalltown, Iowa, covering Trump.
Sara, Trump bringing out some big vouchers today.
SARA MURRAY, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Jake.
Donald Trump is rolling out the heavy artillery. Over the past week, Ted Cruz has hit him on values, he has hit him on immigration, so what does Donald Trump do? He rolls out an endorsement from immigration hard-liner Sheriff Joe Arpaio. And he also picked up that endorsement from Jerry Falwell Jr., something that could give him a boost here in Iowa with its heavy evangelical population.
Of course, all of this happening as Ted Cruz warns Iowa could be the last chance to head off Donald Trump.
SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This being effectively a two-man race between me and Donald.
MURRAY (voice-over): Ted Cruz firing off a warning in a closed-door meeting with pastors: If he doesn't stop Donald Trump, no one will.
CRUZ: It's an absolute dead heat. And if Donald wins Iowa, if he went on to win New Hampshire as well, there's a very good chance he could be unstoppable and be our nominee.
MURRAY: Cruz using Trump's words against him in a new campaign ad, as he tries to blunt Trump's momentum in Iowa.
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I am pro-choice in every respect.
NARRATOR: And what does Trump think about Iowa?
TRUMP: How stupid are the people of Iowa?
MURRAY: While Trump insists his views have changed.
TRUMP: I'm pro-life 100 percent. He knows it. Everybody knows it.
MURRAY: And dismisses Cruz's latest round of ads as lies.
TRUMP: He really does lie. He's so nervous -- hey, George, I saw him the other day, he's so nervous, he's such a mess. His polls have gone down like I would never seen polls gone down.
MURRAY: Trump is hammering home his own attacks, raising questions about Cruz's eligibility to be president, telling CNN's Wolf Blitzer:
TRUMP: Well, look, I don't want to knock anybody, but he's got a lot of problems. He's got a problem with his Canadian birth. He was born in Canada. It's a real question.
MURRAY: And even beginning to refer to Cruz as the Canadian.
TRUMP: The Canadian, the man from Canada.
MURRAY: And Cruz isn't the only one Trump's taking shots at.
TRUMP: Megyn Kelly's really biased against me. She knows that, I know that, everybody knows that. Do you really think she can be fair at a debate?
Thank you, everybody.
MURRAY: A new CNN/ORC poll shows Trump with a wide lead nationwide, drawing 41 percent of support from Republican voters to Cruz's 19 percent.
But, in Iowa, it's a tossup. A new Quinnipiac University poll puts Trump at 31 percent and Cruz at 29 percent. While Trump and Cruz lock horns, Marco Rubio at 13 percent in Iowa, is looking to capitalize.
SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R-FL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Donald is not running as a conservative. In fairness, he's never said he is. Donald Trump is running as a populist.
MURRAY: Taking swipes at Trump and Cruz, while casting himself as the field's true conservative.
RUBIO: Time and again, I think you have seen Ted as a very calculated political operative. He says one thing in one place and then does something very differently.
MURRAY: Now, Jake, we're expecting to see Sheriff Joe Arpaio here in Marshalltown with Donald Trump in just a couple of hours. Trump is going to hold a campaign rally and take questions from reporters, so still a lot to come here today -- Jake.
TAPPER: All right, Sara Murray in Marshalltown, Iowa, thanks so much.
Let's turn to the Democrats now. Can Hillary Clinton avert another disaster in the state that slingshotted Barack Obama ultimately into the Oval Office?
At our special town hall last night, Hillary Clinton did what she's done the whole campaign. She touted her experience, making clear that she's been around the block and around the globe and is ready on day one to take the big job. Her chief rival, Senator Bernie Sanders, has his retort to Clinton's long resume ready. Experience is important, he said, but it is not the only thing.
CNN senior Washington correspondent Jeff Zeleny is with Senator Sanders in Saint Paul, Minnesota, today.
And, Jeff, some Democrats have wondered if Clinton has the fire in the belly, but many observers last night said she had it then.
JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jake, I think she had it in spades last night. She was in command, she was confident, and she was coming face-to-face with some of those voters who have just not signed on to her campaign yet.
But through the course of the whole evening, she tried to show why she's a proven fighter. Senator Sanders of course didn't back down, but she definitely won some points. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)
ZELENY (voice-over): Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton back on the campaign trail today, a bounce in their step and a reality check for the six-day sprint to the Iowa caucuses. Sanders, after reveling in comparisons to Barack Obama's victory eight years ago, tempering expectations today.
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (VT-I), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Obama in 2008 ran a campaign which is really going to stay in the history books. Do I think in this campaign that we are going to match that? I would love to see us do that. I hope we can. Frankly, I don't think we can.
ZELENY: Looming over the race is President Obama and Clinton holding him tight at last night's CNN town hall meeting after Sanders raised questions about her judgment and vote for the Iraq War.
HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think the American public has seen me exercising judgment in a lot of other ways. I went to work for President Obama and he ended up asking me to be secretary of state. It was because he trusted my judgment.
ZELENY: An air of confidence from Clinton face-to-face with a young Sanders supporter.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And I don't see the same enthusiasm from younger people for you.
CLINTON: I have been on the front lines of change and progress since I was your age. And you have to have somebody who is a proven, proven fighter, somebody who has taken them on and won and kept going and will do that as president.
ZELENY: It's the same argument she's making in a new ad.
CLINTON: I have spent my life fighting for children, families, and our country, and I'm not stopping now.
ZELENY: A sharper tone from Sanders, taking Clinton to task on her record.
SANDERS: I led the effort against Wall Street deregulation. See where Hillary Clinton was on this issue. Why did it take Hillary Clinton such a long time before she came into opposition to the Keystone pipeline?
ZELENY: It's a deadlocked race heading toward an uncertain finish, with Clinton trying to win over Sanders supporters, offering praise when asked to watch one of his commercials.
CLINTON: I think that's great. I think that's fabulous. I loved it.
ZELENY: Sanders struck a serious tone as he watched a Clinton spot.
NARRATOR: The presidency is the toughest job in the world, and she's the one leader who has what it takes to get every part of the job done.
ZELENY: He sprang out of his chair to answer CNN's Chris Cuomo.
SANDERS: This calls for a standing-up response. Yes, I do think I have the background and the judgment to take this very, very difficult job of being president of the United States.
ZELENY: So, Jake, at this point in a campaign, with six days to go until the Iowa caucuses start this process, the best thing do is watch what the candidates are saying and doing.
She was optimistic last night. What is Bernie Sanders doing? He's here in Minnesota, the site of the Minnesota caucuses on Super Tuesday, not putting all of his eggs in the Iowa basket -- Jake.
TAPPER: Very interesting. Jeff Zeleny in Minnesota, thanks so much.
Joining me now, Kellyanne Conway, the head of Keep the Promise, a super PAC supporting Ted Cruz. Also with us, Lisa Caputo, who served as press secretary for Hillary Clinton when she was first lady.
Kellyanne, let me start with you.
Ted Cruz telling the group of evangelical voters if Trump wins Iowa, basically, there might not be any stopping him. Do you agree?
KELLYANNE CONWAY, PRESIDENT & CEO, THE POLLING COMPANY: I do agree.
But I think the reason Senator Cruz said that, Jake, is to show people, if you're just having fun, if you're being entertained, if this has been great, you're part of a movement, think thrice before you actually convert yourself as a Trump rally enthusiast into a Trump voter at the caucuses, showing them that Iowa could be the firewall.
I think that no one's unstoppable for the following reason. There are a number of contests in quick succession. You have four just in the month of February, certainly. There are a mix of two caucuses and two primary states. People will go right from Iowa to compete in New Hampshire, including Senator Cruz, which is unusual for a conservative to go from Iowa right to New Hampshire. Sometimes, they just went to go straight to South Carolina.
We're built for the long-haul long ball. And I think that because these are proportional delegation states, everybody will come out of Iowa with something and you don't get to winner take all until after March 15.
Lisa, let me ask you, we saw Hillary Clinton giving a passionate performance at the CNN town hall last night. It's often said that she really -- she didn't take the threat of Bernie Sanders seriously enough until it was a little late in the game. Obviously, we don't know yet if it's too late, certainly probably not. But do you think that they waited too long before they started going after Sanders?
LISA CAPUTO, FORMER PRESS SECRETARY FOR HILLARY CLINTON: I think that the campaign -- both campaigns, the Sanders and the Clinton campaign, have tried to run a positive campaign and not go on the negative or go on the attack, and I think that's true to her values most certainly.
And they didn't want to go out on an offensive attack against Bernie Sanders. And I think, you know, it's been reported there's been some regret about that. And that's why you have seen her come out, you know, quite aggressively. I think last night she was in firm command. It was one of the best performances I have seen her...
TAPPER: But very positive about Bernie Sanders.
CAPUTO: Very. She likes Bernie Sanders.
TAPPER: Well, but, also, it said to me that maybe she felt a little bit more comfortable about her position in Iowa than maybe a week ago she would have been.
CAPUTO: I think she's comfortable with the experience that she has, which is immeasurably greater than his experience to be commander in chief. There's just no question about it. Her experience stands on its own in terms of the facts.
So, when she talked about, you know, you campaign on poetry and you govern in prose, quoting Mario Cuomo, it was very much what she was demonstrating last night.
CAPUTO: When you think about every piece of her record that she ticked through, whether it was, as a U.S. senator, working across the aisle with Republicans who co-sponsored almost every piece of legislation she brought forth, or as first lady, when I worked for her, working with Tom DeLay and others.
TAPPER: On adoption issues.
CAPUTO: Correct, and children's health insurance. It's -- she's proven she can govern and bring people together and govern from the middle.
TAPPER: Kellyanne, let me ask you about the state of the race in Iowa right now, because obviously Cruz really needs to win Iowa. I'm not saying it's make or break, but it would be great for him and it would be a hit for him if he doesn't, because he was ahead in the polls there.
You run the super PAC. One of the ads that you're running, and it dovetails with plenty of Cruz ads, is taking on Donald Trump for New York values. Who are you going after? Conservatives who might not know that Donald Trump used to be a lot more liberal on these issues or evangelicals? Who is the target? CONWAY: We actually don't use those words in our super PAC ad.
But we have taken him on in three different ways yesterday and today, Jake. One is showing him telling Tim Russert that he would not ban partial-birth abortion, which a majority of pro-choice Americans say is a bridge too far. People say I'm pro-choice, but I'm not pro-that, eighth month, ninth month. It shouldn't take people 15 years to figure out that eighth- and ninth-month abortion is a matter of conscience and principle, not a matter of position on abortion.
Nation two, we took him on today on something called Trumpcare, because we have a clip of Hillary Clinton back in the day saying we need universal health care and that she's saying it now. And then Barack -- first it was Hillarycare. Then there's Obamacare. You have President Obama saying we need universal health care.
And then you have Trump saying we need universal health care. And the reporter says to him, well, who's going to pay for it? He said the government will pay for it. I know it's a very un-Republican thing. Obamacare was the issue that helped Republicans win everything in 2010 and 2014.
They couldn't use it in 2012 because they nominated Romneycare, which gave political cover and the inspirational blueprint to Obamacare. We're just trying to show him in his own words. We have no actors, no paid actors ridiculing him. And I would note for you, Jake, that the attacks that Mr. Trump is leveling at Senator Cruz and others seem personal. Ours are philosophical.
CONWAY: Ours are philosophical. They're not personal.
TAPPER: All right, Lisa Caputo, Kellyanne Conway, thank you so much. Appreciate it.
Staying with our politics lead, a shadowy group is now attacking Bernie Sanders in Iowa, attacking him for taking on Wall Street, attacking him for standing up to insurance companies. No, these aren't the worst examples of going negative in political history. One of the best ad makers in the business will explain what this ad is trying to do right after this.
[16:18:12] TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.
More now on our politics lead: Hillary Clinton quoted liberal legend former New York Governor Mario Cuomo at the CNN special town hall, trying to cut to the heart of what she sees as fundamental difference between her and Senator Bernie Sanders. Quote, "You campaign in poetry," she said, "you govern in prose."
But there's one staple of the campaign that blends art and science into 30-second chunks of sensory overload. I'm talking about the TV ads, of course. Former ad guru and so much more for President Obama, David Axelrod, joins me now.
David, let's dive right in. Republicans have repeatedly gone after Secretary of State Clinton the trail and on the airwaves. Now, there's something interesting, a conservative group founded by a big Wall Street donor, Joe Ricketts, is "targeting", and I'm saying with air quotes, they're targeting Senator Bernie Sanders in a new ad. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
AD NARRATOR: Bernie is doubling down with Medicare for all, which is basically single payer, government-sponsored health care. No big insurance companies, just more government spending, paid for by raising taxes on Wall Street, big business and the super rich.
Senator Bernie Sanders, too liberal for Iowa.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: I mean, it's a joke, this is supposed to be an attack ad, but really what it's doing is trying to convince liberals to support Sanders.
DAVID AXELROD, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes, listen, you know, the Ricketts family, one of the things they do is they own the Chicago Cubs. And you'd have to call this ad a curveball because the intent is not to hurt Bernie Sanders but to drive liberals in his direction and perhaps push him over the finish line in Iowa.
I think it's a judgment that he somehow would be more vulnerable in the general election than Hillary. So, they want to at least -- or at least lengthen her race with Sanders.
[16:20:03] So, really funny, interesting ad because it's an attack ad that isn't an attack ad.
TAPPER: Right. Democrats did a similar thing. Claire McCaskill kind of helping out the candidates she thought would be easiest to beat, Todd Akin, in the Senate race there.
But let's talk about the candidates putting up their closing messages on the airwaves. Here's a brand-new spot from Hillary Clinton airing there in Iowa as of this morning. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: No matter where they're born, no matter to whom they are born, our children's future is shaped, both by the values of their parents and the policies of their nation. It's time to protect the next generation. Fill the lives of our children with possibility and hope.
(END VIDEO CLIP) TAPPER: So, walk through Hillary Clinton through different decades advocating for liberal causes. Obviously, a response to the Sanders campaign trying to paint her as a Johnny-come-lately to progressive issues.
AXELROD: I think that's part of it. It's also an ad that I think targeted to older women who are a big target for her in these caucuses. Obviously, the invocation of children is a very powerful symbol there. So, I think it does multiple things but it really is with a constituency in mind.
TAPPER: Also, the Republican race, looks a lot nastier on the air waves than the Democratic one. Take a look at this new spot from the Cruz campaign going after Donald Trump.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: My views are a little bit different than if I lived in Iowa.
AD NARRATOR: They are different. Like on abortion.
INTERVIEWER: Would President Trump ban partial birth abortion?
TRUMP: Look, I'm pro-choice in every respect.
AD NARRATOR: And what does Trump think about Iowa?
TRUMP: How stupid are the people of Iowa?
AD NARRATOR: Donald Trump, New York values, not ours.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: What do you think, David?
AXELROD: Well, you look at the polling right now, Ted Cruz is not ahead among evangelicals in the numbers that he was hoping for and he -- and Donald Trump is doing surprisingly well there, given his profile. So, this is an attempt to wretch those evangelical voters away from Trump in the final days of this campaign -- absolutely essential to the Cruz strategy.
TAPPER: All right. David Axelrod, thanks so much.
AXELROD: Good to see you.
TAPPER: As the world worries about ISIS, there could be a bigger threat. New warning about a terrorist group that could carry out 9/11-style attack, next.
Plus, a 20-mile police chase ending with officers firing 137 bullets into a car killing two people. We're just now getting new details. A major update on that story and what's going to happen to those police officers.
[16:26:54] TAPPER: We're back with some breaking news in the national lead today.
The Cleveland Police Department is now talking about its decision to fire six officers who have been involved in a deadly police chase.
The chase was in 2012. It spanned 20 miles. Tim Russell was the driver. Melissa Williams was in the passenger seat.
Apparently, their car backfired, officers mistook it for a gunshot, began chasing them. Ultimately, the police officers fired 137 shots, 49 of them by Officer Michael Brelo, who stood on the hood and fired 15 rounds. He was acquitted of manslaughter last spring.
So, why take action against the others now?
Let's bring in CNN's Miguel Marquez.
Miguel, Cleveland's police union just wrapped up a news conference. What do they have to say?
MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: They gave the results of a two-year investigation. They broke things down into two different pieces, the pursuit and the shooting.
With regard to pursuit, this is a wide-ranking investigation, very complicated story. Twelve supervisors were faced administrative charges and 74 officers total, just the pursuit side, faced administrative charges.
In the shooting side, Officer Brelo was the only officer that you mentioned in the lead, was the only officer that was ever indicted on manslaughter charges, he was acquitted. But 13 officers are facing administrative charges. Six of them were fired.
The union says that the officials who did this investigation sought the answer that they got, the firings, and that all of these officers will get their job back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STEVEN LOOMIS, PRESIDENT, CLEVELAND POLICE PATROLMEN'S ASSOCIATION: This is what's called result-paced investigation. Somebody somewhere said, hey, get me to this point. Every single one of them is going to get their jobs back. And you guys out there, the taxpayers of the city are paying back pay and everything else that's going to be associated with that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MARQUEZ: Now, with regard to the shootings, the individuals who were not fired, face suspension between 21 and 30 days. For the pursuit side of it, the individuals who -- one supervisor who was fired, everybody else is getting demotions, suspensions, letters of reinstruction or letters of reprimand, just a massive investigation, and coming down very hard against many, many officers in the Cleveland police force.
TAPPER: All right. Miguel Marquez, thank you so much for bringing us up to date with that story.
ISIS expanding its reach in Europe, adding new training site and developing counterfeit passports. That story next.