Return to Transcripts main page
THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER
Indiana Voting In Primary Today; Official: Navy SEAL Killed By 100 ISIS Fighters; First Exit Poll Results Minutes Away. Aired 4:30-5p ET
Aired May 3, 2016 - 16:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Welcome back to THE LEAD.
The Hoosiers are now heading back to the polls. For Democrats, it's a tight race in Indiana. Both Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders have canvassed the state, shaking hands, shoring up support.
And, tonight, the Clinton campaign telling CNN that they're downplaying a possible victory tonight, though they are looking ahead, focusing on the upcoming competitions, including West Virginia, where Clinton's arrival was met with mixed reviews, including this candid and rare moment where she was confronted by a coal worker over comments that she had made at a CNN town hall in Ohio.
Here's the original comment followed by the exchange.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'm the only candidate which has a policy about how to bring economic opportunity using clean, renewable energy as the key into coal country, because we're going to put a lot of coal miners and coal companies out of business.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I want to know how you can say you're going put a lot of coal miners out of jobs, and then come in here and tell us how you're going to be our friend, because those people out there don't see you as a friend.
CLINTON: I know that, Bo.
And, you know, I'm -- I don't know how to explain it, other than what I said was totally out of context from what I meant, because I have been talking about helping coal country for a very long time. And I did put out a plan last summer. And it was a misstatement.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: I have never heard that before, Donna Brazile.
Let's bring back our panel, out of context from what I meant, which I suppose means I misspoke. DONNA BRAZILE, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: No, sometimes, you say I'm
going to score three points, and you end up scoring two. But what she said at --
TAPPER: That was -- that was not -- that didn't go in the bucket. That didn't go in the ring, as Mr. Cruz would say.
BRAZILE: Well, of course, but she knows how to play hoops, because she is doing right now is that she's looping around coal country.
BRAZILE: She's gone to Appalachia.
And here's what she's saying. She wants to help create an economy where coal workers and others can transition, you know, to what I call renewable and other sources of energy. That's the plan that she put out last summer. That's what she's doing in coal country today.
She's stopping in three different places, not just for votes, but I do believe that she has to explain what is her plan for industries like the coal companies to transition into 21st century jobs. That's what she's saying: We're not going to forget you.
TAPPER: David, what was your take on it? You worked in the Clinton White House, and there was some tension with West Virginia at the time as well.
DAVID GERGEN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Sure, absolutely.
And Donna is right. Look, her plan to have clean energy will put coal miners out of work. And it's a good thing she went in there, and sort of said, like, I didn't fully explain it well. But her problem is that the government and politicians keep promising this and they don't deliver.
We have time after time when workers have been thrown out of jobs because of trade, because of environmental regulations and for a variety of reasons, and we promise them all this transition aid, and you will get good jobs. And guess what? It doesn't happen. It hasn't happened.
TAPPER: Why doesn't -- why doesn't it happen, Nia-Malika?
Does -- the plant, the green energy jobs are in the San Francisco area and not in coal country.
NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes.
I mean, in some ways, you saw President Obama in 2008 and 2012 campaign on the same thing, going to factory towns in Indiana, and promising to bring in -- you know, the factories were gone, and promising to build factories that would build windmills, for instance.
And even with the stimulus package, a lot of promises around there about transitioning to green energy, and it just doesn't happen. There's red tape obviously at the local level, the state level and at the federal level. So, it's -- this is -- I think this is a problem.
And I think it also gets to Donald Trump, this idea that he's going to bring all of these jobs back. That's what candidates have been promising for years and years and years, that they're going to be able to reverse outsourcing.
TAPPER: But, John, let me go to you, because let's look -- take a look at the relationship the Clintons have had with West Virginia before now.
In 1992, Bill Clinton won the state, 48 percent of the vote. In 1996, he did even better, 52 percent of the vote. In the 2008 primary, Clinton leaned Obama's clock, 67 percent of the vote in the West Virginia primary.
And yet they're downplaying expectations in the West Virginia primary, which is, I believe, next week, because of these remarks and others.
JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Right, because of these remarks, but because -- also because of demographics.
We have had a flip from 2008. She also won Indiana. I think it was the closest state between Clinton and Obama. She won with just over 50 percent. He had 49 percent, because, in the 2008 campaign, she was winning small-town, white, rural voters against the African-American candidate, Barack Obama.
In this campaign, Senator Sanders has tended to win in small rural towns against white working-class voters. And to the point -- it links back to the same thing. When I covered the Clinton White House, he took a bus tour through this part of the country. It was a poverty tour, coal communities, and he promised to help them.
Part of it is a role of government, getting Democrats, Republicans, Washington, mayors, governors to agree on this. Part of it is delivery. And this is why Bernie Sanders had appeal, though. He's very clear about this. He says, I will tax Wall Street and send the money to help poor people, whereas other candidates kind of fudge about it. Sanders has been clear about what he wants to do, not that he could ever get it passed, but he's been very clear about it. And that's one of the reasons he has appeal.
GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, nobody's passed a budget.
And if you want money for retraining people and you want money for new jobs, you have got to have money to do it. And Congress hasn't passed a budget in how many years? I don't know, 10 years, whatever. So, there's no money to do it.
And you can make all the promises you want. Bernie Sanders is the only one who says, OK, I'm not going take this from the budget. I'm going to actually tax people to do it.
TAPPER: Although you could argue that he's more aggressive as an environmentalist than she is, though.
BORGER: He is. He is more -- but -- so, if he were being honest, he would say, OK, I'm going to take away some jobs, but I'm going to tax the rich people on Wall Street, so I'm going to create different and new jobs for you, and I'm not going to depend on government and passing a budget to get it done.
TAPPER: All right.
Coming up next, breaking news, some stunning new information about how ISIS forces broke through the front lines to kill a Navy SEAL in Iraq. Our report is next.
And we're moments away from the first exit polls that CNN will be able to report. Do not go away. We will be right back.
TAPPER: We have some Breaking news now.
We're learning some new details about that Navy SEAL killed by ISIS in Iraq. A U.S. defense official telling CNN that the SEAL died in a -- quote -- "coordinated and complex attack by approximately 100 ISIS fighters."
The SEAL is the third U.S. combat casualty since the U.S. redeployed forces to Iraq in the summer of 2014.
CNN Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr has the latest on the story.
Barbara, what more can you tell us about this incident?
BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Jake, here's what we know about what happened on the ground earlier today, about 100 ISIS fighters punching through Peshmerga lines, using vehicles, suicide car bombs, even bulldozers to punch through some checkpoints and get to a Peshmerga camp, where these Navy SEALs were temporarily located as military advisers.
They punch through. A firefight breaks out, the SEAL killed in that deadly action. There is no indication yet that the SEAL was deliberately and uniquely targeted by ISIS, but 100 ISIS fighters coming upon these Peshmerga forces.
What is so critical right now is getting these Peshmerga forces ready and move their front lines forward towards Mosul, Iraq, a target that the U.S. really wants the Peshmerga to get to. But the big question now is, what does this tell us about the strength of ISIS in this part of Northern Iraq? What does it tell us about the difficulty of the Peshmerga in defending their territory, Jake?
TAPPER: And, Barbara, the Obama administration says that U.S. forces are in Iraq to fight ISIS in a -- what they call an advise-and-assist capacity.
The Pentagon just announced an additional 217 U.S. troops going to Iraq. What is the long-term strategy? And at what point do we acknowledge that we have combat troops there, boots on the ground?
STARR: I'll tell you, Jake, I don't know a person in uniform that doesn't already say we are in combat in the U.S. military.
They are sending more. Whether you call them advise-and-assist, whether you call them trainers, this is very dangerous territory. And the U.S. military openly acknowledges that. What they are trying to do on the Iraq side of the border, get the Peshmerga and the Iraqi government forces ready to take Mosul, and on the Syrian side of the border get the Peshmerga ready to retake Raqqa, a very tall order -- Jake.
TAPPER: I know you have been saying that, Barbara. And I know uniformed troops say that. I guess I meant by what do -- when do we start calling them boots on the ground? I guess I meant, when does the Obama administration acknowledge that we have boots on the ground?
Thank you so much, Barbara Starr, at the Pentagon.
Let's bring back our panel.
Jeffrey, let's play a clip here. The U.S. strategy to defeat ISIS, it's sure to be a top general election issue, right? I want to play a little clip of Donald Trump and a little clip of Hillary Clinton reacting to Donald Trump.
JEFFREY LORD, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: OK.
TAPPER: Let's play the tape.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: There's ISIS. I have a simple message for them. Their days are numbered. I won't tell them where and I won't tell them how.
CLINTON: His idea that he -- quote -- "has a secret plan" to get rid of ISIS and he's not going to tell anybody, I found it disturbing.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: Now, without referencing Richard Nixon's secret plan to end the Vietnam War, since I know you --
(CROSSTALK) LORD: That's good. That's very good.
TAPPER: Since I know you love the historical allusions --
LORD: Right. Let me scratch that off.
TAPPER: Doesn't he need to be more specific at some point?
LORD: To some degree. And I'm sure he will be as time moves on.
Look, you are about communicating a message here in a campaign. People are not -- voters out there are not interested in, as we are all, 5,000-point white papers. They want to know, what is the message
His message is, I'm coming after them, I will do it, and I will say I will do it, however I do it, in an unpredictable fashion. That's the message. He delivers it. And she rebuts it in her fashion.
She is more inclined to the long position papers, et cetera. That's the difference. And I think that's one of the reasons why he is where he is.
BRAZILE: But I think you have to have some broad view of how you're going to maintain the U.S. coalition, how we're going to ensure that Turkey and other -- and others are carrying out their part of the deal, how we're going to make the Iraqi government more functional, so that they can also contain ISIS.
So, I really do believe that you need a white paper or some 37,000, whatever, perspective, because the American people want to know, exactly what is the plan to defeat them? The president has been asking Congress to authorize the agreement, the forces agreement, and they haven't done so.
So, yes, we do need a plan. We just can't have hot rhetoric.
AMANDA CARPENTER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: This is why it's incumbent on the presidential candidates to talk intelligently about this.
[16:45:02] One of the reasons the plan hasn't been authorized is because no one really understands what it would be. How can you allocate funds without having a clear plan to go and defeat ISIS?
So somewhere along the way someone has to come up with a plan to do just that because the Mid-East policy, it's been weighing so heavily on voters' minds so long. We've bogged down in the Middle East.
We are told the Iraq war is over and now slowly, silently more troops are being sent there, American troops are being killed and somehow we're not at war? We really need to get our hands around this.
KAYLEIGH MCENANY, DONALD TRUMP SUPPORTER: I think Jeffrey's correct, though, that Donald Trump will bring out more of what his policy position is. But what we do have a problem in this country where we send troops and go out and we have a press conference about it and we announce these things.
And ISIS is watching and they're watching when we tip our hand and show what we're going to do next. Donald Trump has a point. He will give more specifics, but it's absolutely correct that the message is what's important.
People are tired of politically correct wars. They are tired of a president who refuses to utter the line Islamic terrorism. That's what is happening here. Donald Trump will say it and say it boldly and that's what the American people like.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: All right, David, who has actually worked in the White House when force has been authorized. What do you make of the debate and how do you think is going to shape up in November?
DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: I think Donald Trump is continuing to win votes because he appears strong. People are looking for a strong man right now. It's also true it's been a long tradition in the American foreign policy, first you commit the nation and then commit the troops.
That means you got to go -- that was the main lesson out of the Vietnam War. We go back to the secret plan that never existed. That's why people are objecting to this. If you're using force go to the country and explain why, what your objectives and what is your exit strategy?
TAPPER: You know, it's interesting, at the same time voters want strength they also don't want to be bogged down in another war in the Middle East.
BORGER: Right. You know, if you look at polling, people are ambivalent in just the way you describe. And the polling is, we don't want to get bogged down in another war, but we need to destroy ISIS and we'll do what it takes.
KING: Trump gets that, Trump gets it. It's one of the seeming contradictions I don't mean to say this like aha contradiction, but his speech, on ISIS he wants to sound tougher, more decisive than President Obama and Hillary Clinton.
And then he says I'll be reluctant to commit U.S. troops overseas. I'll be very reluctant to do that. He's trying to take a step back, been more almost Rand Paul.
TAPPER: We are going to come back, Nia-Malika, when we come back from the break. But be sure to download the new CNN politics app for the latest data behind the race for 2016 as we are counting down for the close of polls in Indiana just a little bit more than an hour from now.
Coming up next, what to look for tonight and the first exit poll results just minutes away. Stay with us.
TAPPER: Welcome back to a special Election Day edition of THE LEAD. We are moments away from the first poll results from the exit polls in the make or break Indiana primary.
Donald Trump says it's all over tonight if he wins. In just a few hours, we'll find out if Trump does come out on top. Let's get some closing thoughts from our panel. Nia-Malika, let's me start with you.
HENDERSON: I think the thing to look for, after tonight, if Trump wins, as polls suggest that he will, is the Republican establishment finally looks at the scoreboard and accepts what they see.
So far, you've had such ambivalence privately sort of acceptance. No public acceptance. I think that's telling if you start to see elected officials, Republican elected officials come out, sort of endorse Trump. We haven't seen that yet. This is a decisive night and tell us what the road forward will be.
TAPPER: Although, John McCain's former chief of staff, Mark Salter today --
HENDERSON: Or the opposite, yes. Maybe the opposite happens.
TAPPER: He's no fan of her. David?
GERGEN: I thought we'd be looking whether Trump is going to win big tonight. That will be the second thing to look for. How much is his victory tainted by the smear of Ted Cruz's father? It was one of the lowest blows I can remember in modern politics. It straight out of Joe McCarthy's play book. I think it's going to come back to haunt him?
TAPPER: How do you think it's going to come back to haunt him, though? We've been seeing comments like this for months.
GERGEN: This was so personal and so far below the belt. I think will are a lot of people might say I will support you, Donald, but you got to clean up your act. We can't go on with this even -- this is the most serious office in the world and you either be an adult and we'll go with you or be a child and we're going have these temper tantrums, which have no place in our politics.
TAPPER: John King?
KING: To David's point, as we speak there's a lot of incoming through Paul Manafort mostly in the Trump campaign saying that if he wins tonight, if he wins decisively tonight, speak to the country about the general election, speak to the country about Hillary Clinton, speak to the Republican Party about unity.
That's what they want from Donald Trump. They want him to stand, like Secretary Clinton did last week, say I'm the presumptive nominee, and speak to the country about the general election. Will he do that? TAPPER: Gloria.
BORGER: Lyin' Ted Cruz and Hillary Clinton and we're going to have to see if the never Trump movement now kind of shuts down and becomes the probably Trump movement and start spending its money on those down ballot races so they can save some Senate and House candidates.
TAPPER: Interesting. Kayleigh?
MCENANY: The two recent polls show Trump winning by 15 to 17 points. I'm looking to see if perhaps he can reach the 50 percent line, which would be remarkable. He outperforms in the previous six states. He outperforms tonight, we are looking at a presumptive nominee.
SCIUTTO: You've always got the data. Amanda?
CARPENTER: Trump's advisers may want them to talk about party unity, but that would require Donald Trump unwinding everything he said all week. In numerous interviews, yes, it would be nice if the party is united, but I don't need to do it. I don't need endorsements from people who haven't supported me, and so I think Trump has laid out his spot and he is willing to win without major people in the party.
LORD: Two things, margin, how far over 50 percent does he get and then secondly these endorsements, I mean, the establishment is starting to weaken. They have to play old fashion human nature if they want to be with the winner and we'll see how many of them start to turn.
TAPPER: Last but not least.
[16:55:01] BRAZILE: We're in the homestretch so there is no question tonight is very important for both candidates. Secretary Clinton needs to continue to accumulate delegates. She can see the finish line. Bernie Sanders has to continue to find those superdelegates who are not committed so that he can close it up.
TAPPER: All right, great panel. Thank you so much. The first exit polls from Indiana minutes away. We are going to take a quick break. We'll be right back.
TAPPER: Thanks so much for joining us. That's it for THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper. I will be back in one hour, 6:00 Eastern, for more of our special coverage of the Indiana primary. I turn you over to Wolf Blitzer and Anderson Cooper in "THE SITUATION ROOM."