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Donald Trump Speaks in Florida; New Poll: Clinton 44 Percent, Trump 35 Percent; Johnson 12 Percent; GOP Leaders Frustrated with Trump; McCain's Reelection Race; CNN Libertarian Town Hall Moments Away; What If Trump Quits?; Pence Slams $400 Million Cash Payment To Iran. Aired 8-9p ET

Aired August 3, 2016 - 20:00   ET


[20:00:00] ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: AC360 with Anderson starts now.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: And good evening. Thanks for joining us. We're coming to you tonight from the site of this CNN Libertarian Town Hall.

With us, Former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson, his running mate for Massachusetts Governor William Weld that gets under way at the top of the next hour.

And we begin this hour though with breaking news, for Donald Trump who is speaking right now in Jacksonville and more ammunition for party officials who have been urging him to stay on message and set aside past grievances including his fune (ph) with the Khan family who lost their son in Iraq.

New polling by Fox News showing Donald Trump trailing Hillary Clinton by nine points in a three-way race including Governor Johnson. It also shows a substantial majority, 69 percent calling his response to the Khan family out of bounds. One more item for those urging him to stay on message and today in Daytona Beach, Florida, he certainly did at least for about half an hour and he pivoted bringing up a familiar attack ad relitigating some key moments in it.


DONALD TRUMP, (R) PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: She gets out and she starts asking me all sorts of ridiculous questions and, you know, you could see there was blood coming out of her eyes, uh, blood coming out of her, wherever.


COOPER: Well, that's what he said. Here's how he explained it today.


TRUMP: Hillary's commercials, they're so false. They're so false. Like she's got the one with blood coming out of her eyes and I meant her nose or her ears, or her mouth. But these people are perverted and they think it was another location. Unbelievable. And, you know the truth? I cut it short because I was talking about either taxes or economic development. So I said or whatever.


COOPER: You noticed he said -- he used the word whatever to change the subject when in fact, you just heard him say wherever and all of the rest. Trump also revisited this moment which was also shown in that attack ad.


TRUMP: Right after a couple of good paragraphs, it's -- and it's talking about "Northern New Jersey draws the Probers' Eye" written by a nice reporter. And now the poor guy, you've got to see this guy -- "Oh, I don't know what I said, ah, I don't remember."


COOPER: Trump has maintained that he was not mocking the disability of the reporter and that he did not even know the reporter. The Washington Post Fact Checker gave him Four-Pinocchios on his claim. Here's what he said today in his speech.


TRUMP: So he was graveling at trying to change his story and going, you know, well, maybe, not, and so I'm not doing this, I'm not doing it. But just listen to this -- so I didn't know the reporter but then he came out that the reporter said he knew me, he met me. He met me 1988. He met me. And I know who he was. I didn't know who he was. I didn't. And if I did and he was handicapped, he had a problem with something, and he was handicapped, must be a nice guy. I didn't speak to him.


COOPER: Now, whatever you make of this it's hard to argue. He's entirely letting go of past grievances and staying completely on message. We'll talk about that momentarily with our reporters and political professionals right after we get the very latest on it all tonight from CNN Jim Acosta traveling with the Trump campaign. Jim?

JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: All right, Anderson, you just played a couple of clips there that show that Donald Trump is trying to do some clean up today but that is not all. I could tell you just in the last several minutes here at this rally in Jacksonville Florida, one of the very first things that Donald Trump had to say to this crowd here was that he met with six gold-star families before he came out and began speaking to this crowd.

He talked about how he feels that these families are incredible people. That is, of course, doing some damage control after that very damaging confrontation that he had with the Khan family. Of course, we've been keeping track of the fact that Donald Trump has not apologized to the Khan family since the entire controversy flared up. That might be the closest, he's going to get. And Anderson, he also talked about how he received that Purple Heart from that veteran in Virginia, the campaign event in Virginia. You remember he was criticized for saying at that event that he was easier to get a Purple Heart gifted to him than earning out in combat. Well, at this event here Jacksonville just a few moments ago, he said that that Purple Heart was one of the most beautiful gifts he's ever received.

So, you know, when you talk to people inside the Trump campaign, I just talked to a -- from the voice inside the campaign within the last hour. We are pushing back on this notion that there's any turmoil or disarray inside the campaign. And there's one source I talked to just a while ago called it nonsense.

COOPER: I -- and you also understand, hearing from Trump supporters is getting back on message is going to be -- kind of a work in progress.

ACOSTA: I think that's right, and I think you saw that in vivid detail yesterday when Donald Trump for whatever reason decided to go after the Speaker of the House, Paul Ryan. We have not gotten a sufficient answer from this campaign explaining at all why Donald Trump decided to do that but nobody has spoken out on the record as to why Donald Trump decided to say this openly about his feelings, about the speaker one week before the speaker has this primary battle coming up next week.

[20:05:09] But I can talk to you. I can talk to a surrogate inside the campaign who told me that they received talking points earlier today. The talking points were all about turning the page and going after Hillary Clinton. But this one surrogate conceded to me that it is difficult when Donald Trump goes up there and gets off message as he did earlier today trying to relitigate this whole issue with Megyn Kelly.

It just a sign, I think, Anderson that that ad which shows a lot of those clips that you ran earlier in this program is having an impact on this campaign and it's potentially getting under Donald Trump's skin as well, Anderson.

COOPER: All right. Jim Acosta. Jim thanks.

More now on how the campaign in the party is judging today. Dana Bash has been talking to her sources and she joins us now. Growing frustration within the campaign and the GOP about getting Donald Trump back on track, what are you learning, Dana?

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, so far and the night is still young as you were just talking about with Jim, Donald Trump is still speaking in his second rally, but so far there is a very, very small sigh of relief. When I say very small it's because, yes, as Jim was just saying, it is clearly hard for Trump to let go of things that he is now seeing come back at him on the television screen and Hillary Clinton's ads and things that clearly are not playing well with women, the Megyn Kelly issue with disabled people across the country and those who have loved ones who are disabled even though Donald Trump denies that. So those are things that he can't let go.

However, the bar is very low here, but it is a bar that Republicans are looking at him to do which is don't pick unwinnable fights with, let's see, crying babies, gold-star parents or the Republican House Speaker who has been reluctant to support him, but has done so anyway. He has not done that so far.

And more importantly, I think, he did start the rally earlier today and then this one now in Jacksonville talking about Hillary Clinton and why he thinks that she is wrong for the country, that he is -- she would be a third term of Obama which Hillary Clinton has embraced for all the reasons why he thinks that that is not OK. He didn't spend a lot of time on that, but certainly more than he has before.

COOPER: You're also getting pushback from the campaign itself. What did they tell you?

BASH: Well, as we reported here on this program last night I was hearing that there was growing frustration from within the campaign, never mind outside the campaign which I heard a lot about this morning. But most importantly within the campaign including Paul Manafort about the fact that Donald Trump was not controllable and it was hard for him to keep him on message.

I got a call today from -- basically the entire senior staff of the Trump campaign including Paul Manafort to push back on the notion that they're frustrated saying they're not frustrated. Paul Manafort says it's the media in general we're frustrated with not our candidate and then went on to make clear that they hoped and thought that Trump would be more on message about Hillary Clinton today.

So, they are definitely pushing back on that notion. I will say that the people who I talked to last night who were in touch with them stand by that the frustration was real. And again, it's kind of easy to understand given the fact that, you know, they have a strategy, they have something that they think can do well against Hillary Clinton and it's hard to employ that when Donald Trump is making so much news on things that really don't fit the bill in terms of reaching out to voters who are not yet on his side.

COOPER: Right. Dana, thanks very much.

I want to bring in our panel, CNN Political Director David Chalian, Trump supporter and Former South Carolina Lieutenant Governor, Andre Bauer, Conservative Trump Critic, Tara Setmayer, New York One Political Anchor Errol Louis who has covered Donald Trump for many, many years in New York. Also with us, especially in light of this evening's Town Hall, Gary Johnson supporter and Libertarian Republican, Liz Mair joining us from D.C.

David, first of all, these latest Fox polls showing Hillary Clinton picking up a couple more points lead about 10 points in the show?

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Ten points in this poll. Similar to what we showed in our poll earlier this week and we've seen in some other polls. So, if you take all those polls together and you see that she emerged from her convention with a pretty substantial lead, and the big question of course is, can she sustain that if she just experiencing right now a bounce out of her convention. And given how rough these last few days have been for Donald Trump. One might imagine that even if it doesn't sustain forever, she's going to be able to ride this distance from Donald Trump for a little bit.

COOPER: Andre, it seems interesting -- I mean, meeting with gold-star families, focusing on Hillary Clinton and talking about this, you know, the latest news about the $400 million sent to Iran which we're going to be covering later in the broadcast, those are all things in a traditional campaign, probably -- I mean, the meeting with the gold- star families probably would have been done days ago in a traditional campaign. And this latest story on Iran is, you know, is perfectly served up for a Republican candidate, and yet Donald Trump was also today focusing, you know, talking about relitigating the Megyn Kelly thing and the, you know, whether or not he mocked a disabled reporter.

[20:10:05] ANDRE BAUER, TRUMP SUPPORTER: From my perspective, strategically, these are all missed big, big opportunities. I hope that quickly they'll turn the ship around. They've had a bad few days, no question. They have favored Hillary coming out of her convention but they still have time. They just got to get back -- focused on what really gets people excited. And some of these side issues really aren't what unites Republicans, or independents or moderate Democrats to come out to the polls, and he has great softballs, he can knock out of the park if he gets focused on them.

COOPER: It is. I mean, one of the strange irony -- I mean, as a freeform speaker, if you will -- I mean, he could just focus on this exclusively on the Clinton stuff and the Iran stuff exclusively probably to great effect.

TARA SETMAYER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: He could, but he hasn't. And he's had an opportunity since May 2nd, basically, when he became the presumptive nominee to do that, to zero win on Hillary Clinton and just focus on that and hammer away. She is so weak on so many issues and yet he squandered this opportunity over and over and over again.

I think the last week has really been a turning point for a lot of people. The fact that he would stabbed Paul Ryan in the back the way he has by deciding that he doesn't want to endorse him now or he's playing coy with that should have been the reason ...

COOPER: He's a pretty frontal stuff, actually.

SETMAYER: Yeah. It was. I'm being kind. You know, Donald Trump expects everyone to compromise their principles, cast aside our basic Republican principles and accept him for unity, but then as soon as he's challenged he turns around and stabs them in the back. This is outrageous.

So, you go after Paul Ryan, you go after McCain, you go after Kelly Ayotte. It's so important for Republicans to keep the Senate. I think that's more important than anything at the firewall. And here he is jeopardizing that. No wonder you have people like Representative Adam Kinzinger who came out on CNN today and said, "I just can't do it."

COOPER: Errol -- I mean, he did not add any more fuel to the fire against Ryan or McCain today which I guess is, you know, better than adding more fuel to it.

ERROL LOUIS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I'm not entirely sure that this phrase getting off message really applies here, to the extent that the man is the message. This is something we've saying consistently for ...

COOPER: You're saying, in fact, maybe this is the message.

LOUIS: This is the message.

COOPER: I mean, that (inaudible) from Donald Trump ...

LOUIS: This is the message. It's the message at least to his base that I don't care what the consultants say, I don't care what the media says for sure. I don't really care what political propriety would dictate. I'm going to be me. I'm not going to back down. I'm not going to apologize and I think, you know, you hear him say this once in a while, I will fight just as hard for you. And then that sort of seals the deal with his base. The question is should he be trying to rev up the base ...

COOPER: Right.

LOUIS: ... or add to the base or should he be trying to broaden his appeal? All of the consultants are saying broaden your appeal. He is saying, I've got a different plan.

COOPER: Liz Mair -- I mean, you're Republican supporting Gary Johnson, the Libertarian candidate who was going to join me as I said at the top of the next hour along with his running mate, Bill Weld. Have you lost any hope that the GOP can rein Trump in to be more traditional or less more disciplined as a candidate?

LIZ MAIR, SPOKESWOMAN REPUBLICANS FOR JOHNSON-WELD: I lost all hope of that probably seven or eight months ago now, quite candidly. It's amazing to me that anybody is still having a discussion about having some sort of intervention or bringing him back on message.

I think as Errol just said, this is his message. His message is being a loud-mouthed deck basically, and going out there and offending people and then engaging in a bunch of airing of grievances. That's what he does. He doesn't have another message. He doesn't have anything else that he really wants to convey.

The Republican Party has a message but it's not his message and he has no interest in carrying it. And quite frankly, I think what we're going to continue to see throughout this campaign is we're going to continue to see the Republican nominee basically acting as if he's on a suicide mission and aiming to take the whole rest of the party down with him.

COOPER: So, Liz, when conservatives or Trump supporters say, look, a vote for the libertarian ticket is a vote for Hillary Clinton, you say what?

MAIR: I say those people can't do math and they need to go back to first grade. The reality of the situation is at worst, if you vote for Gary Johnson, what you're doing is splitting your vote between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. And I say at worst because I actually feel pretty bad about anything that would amount to splitting my vote between these two people. They are both terrible, terrible people and I don't want either of them to be president.

But the reality of the situation is at least by voting for Gary Johnson, I am able to do something that more or less accordance with my conscience. I can vote for someone that I philosophically more or less agree with. I can vote for somebody that I'm pretty confident. It's not going to end up wearing an orange jump suit at some point in the next 10 years which is a big question with the other two. And I'm pretty confident that I'm not going to be voting for someone who is going to compromise national security which is, again, a real question with these two.

So, at the end of the day, you know, I do think that those are reasons why you're going to see more and more Republicans taking a close look at the Johnson-Weld ticket. Probably starting in -- oh, I don't know, about 45 minutes, the rate that Donald Trump has been going today.

COOPER: Liz Mair, good to have you in the program. I appreciate it. Everyone else, a lot more to talk about as we get ready for tonight's Libertarian Town Hall. Including running mate, Mike Pence breaking with his boss and endorsing Paul Ryan just the day after Donald Trump says he's not ready to.

[20:15:06] Plus John McCain's take on being the other guy along with speaker Ryan who Trump is not endorsing. And later, how Trump is blasting the deal that sent $400 million in cash on a plane to Iran.


COOPER: About 40 minutes or so until the CNN Libertarian Town Hall. More now on the turbulence inside the GOP and the Trump campaign. Nearly Trump running mate, Mike Pence, is breaking with Donald Trump. He says with Trump's blessing endorsing House Speaker, Paul Ryan.


GOV. MIKE PENCE (R-IN), VICE PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: I strongly support Paul Ryan, strongly endorse his re-election. He's a long-time friend. He is a strong conservative leader. I believe we need Paul Ryan in leadership in the Congress of the United States.


COOPER: Trump, of course, I remember made a point yesterday of not endorsing him or Senator John McCain. Our Gary Tuchman caught up with Senator McCain and has this report.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Right away, John McCain made it clear he preferred not to talk about issues involving Donald Trump.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN, (R) ARIZONA: Before you go any further I have said everything that I want to say.

TUCHMAN: But there were certainly questions to ask Arizona Senior Senator after Trump said he would not support McCain in his primary raise later this month.

And Mr. Trump said yesterday he will not support you. My question is, if presidential election were today, would vote for Donald Trump for president?

MCCAIN: I have said that I would support the nominee of the party. And let me just say to you, that is the last time. If I change my view or my position, then you will be among the first to know, OK?

[20:20:06] TUCHMAN: Donald Trump has not treated John McCain with a lot of respect during this campaign. This past summer Trump said the former Vietnam POW was not a hero.

TRUMP: I like people that weren't captured, OK?

TUCHMAN: Many Republicans denounced Trump at the time for saying that and many of them are not supporting Trump, but John McCain, the Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee is not one of them, at least yet.

Are you comfortable with Donald Trump possibly having control of the nuclear arsenal?

MCCAIN: I -- anyone that the people of this country choose to be the commander in chief and the president of the United States, therefore, can lead this country and will lead in a responsible fashion, anyone who is elected president fairly of this country and that's the way that our democratic system works. That's the way our government works.

The American people select the next president of the United States knowing full well what the role of the commander-in-chief is. Therefore, I have the utmost respect for the verdict of the people.


COOPER: And Gary joins us from Chandler, Arizona. Did McCain have anything else have to say or anything else to say about the fact that Governor Pence and Trump don't always seem to be on the same page as we saw with Pence's endorsement of Ryan?

TUCHMAN: Well, you can see Anderson, presidential politics was not John McCain's favorite subject today.

COOPER: Yeah, clearly. TUCHMAN: We did ask him about Trump and Pence -- yeah, very much so. We did ask him about both the candidates. He said it's not his job to critique Trump and Pence. He did say, however, that it's his job to focus on the state of Arizona which is not an unusual thing for a senator or a congressman or a governor to say when they are running for re-election.

I think it is important to tie (ph) though, Anderson, while he said nothing negative anything about Donald Trump today to us. He also did not say anything positive.

COOPER: Gary, appreciate it. Thanks very much. Back with the panel. I mean, David, it's so interesting because when Donald Trump has continually gone after John McCain on the things John McCain is perhaps best known for -- I mean, his, you know, heroic service turning to be an amore is, you know, being held as a POW. And yet John -- I mean, I'm just -- how is it that John McCain can continue to say he will -- is it just politics?

CHALIAN: It is, because John McCain needs Donald Trump's base of support to help him win this election ...

COOPER: Right.

CHALIAN: ... for re-election ...

COOPER: But he's got a primary coming up for the ...

CHALIAN: He got a primary first but he needs it also in the fall. He needs that core base of support that his -- that are fans of Donald Trump. That's going to be part of John McCain's winning coalitions. He doesn't want to do anything to necessarily offend them.

Now, you saw that Mike Pence came out to endorse Paul Ryan today. I don't if know that that will happen with John McCain also but you sort of see Mike Pence now playing the yin to Donald Trump's yang and doing sort of clean up. What he meant to say was -- that sort of -- it seems to be Mike Pence's job these days on the campaign trail.

COOPER: If Donald Trump continues to have the kind of week that he had, Andre -- I mean, you're a supporter of Donald Trump, does that give cover to more Republicans to back away from him or -- yeah, does it give cover for more Republicans, do you think? Or do you think you're going to see more Republicans starting to back away?

BAUER: If he continues and the media has pounded on him somewhat ...

COOPER: It's been a tough week.

BAUER: ... he's taken a lot of hits. You know, the more hits you take, the easier it is for someone to get off the train. If he rebounds quickly and asserts himself as a real leader, it probably diffuses the last few days of bad days. But you can't continue like downward slope without pumping the brakes every now and then.

COOPER: Do you think McCain is going to stand by his endorsement of Trump? I mean, at this point ...

BAUER: Probably, so. He -- McCain is a shrewd politician and he's been there a long time and he knows -- and I think he's held it -- he's done very well on how he handled himself. He's a gentleman. I have see endorsed him the first time he run for president. And, you know, he's in a tough spot, he's in a quagmire but he's kind doing it (ph) well.

COOPER: Yeah -- I mean, he's got this tough primary Errol, on the August 30th. How does he continue to walk that line?

LOUIS: Well, he has said, in fact, that it's going to be one of the hardest races he's ever had to run. There's no question about that. I mean, he and other down-ballot candidates have been trying to figure out a way to sort of rhetorically separate themselves from Trump.

And I'll tell you, one thing that makes it a little easier for them is that the comments are so outrageous, and there's so distant from what any elected official would say or has said that it's believable when they say, this guy doesn't speak for me. You know, it's very hard to sort of find somebody who -- everybody could point to and say, that's a Trump Republican.

COOPER: And Tara -- I mean, you're a Republican, you're not a Trump fan clearly, do you want to see others Republicans full support with Donald Trump?


COOPER: You do?

SETMAYER: Absolutely.

COOPER: Because?

SETMAYER: Because what do we stand for as a party if we continue to support what Donald Trump is doing.

COOPER: So you're looking -- you think that for long term ...

SETMAYER: Yes. For the health of the -- for the health of the Republican Party, for the conservative movement, Donald Trump doesn't represent anything for the conservative movement, even if he got for being gets elected. You can forget it because he's done after conservatives. He's shown that he has absolutely no respect in regard for what the -- what real conservatism means.

[20:25:06] And I've always said that people like Paul Ryan and others should have stood by and said he should earn our vote and unless he does, I'm not giving it to him. And here's a perfect example of that.

COOPER: Andre, Governor Perry, you know, for instance says, the number one issue is Supreme Court that's why I'm going with Donald Trump, even though he was the first candidate entered (ph) for the primary season to blast Donald Trump on his face and things like that. As a Republican and as a conservative, do you worry about a long-term damage to the party if -- I know, Donald Trump continues -- if Donald Trump implodes in some way or does a bad job?

BAUER: There is a double-edged sword. He's bringing new folks ...

COOPER: Right.

BAUER: ... to the party which is what he tried to do. So he has a lot of new excitement in the party ...

COOPER: Right.

BAUER: ... from folks that aren't involved and haven't been in the past but he is also alienating some of the core base that says these are two outlandish issues for me to digest.

COOPER: Right. But you don't think it can do permanent damage? I mean, you think the party is stronger than that?

BAUER: Oh, because we're really only a two-party system and the parties have gotten further and further apart. It's -- the identity is hard to leave the party.

SETMAYER: Let me say something really quick about that. CBS came out with a poll that showed only 55 percent of conservatives are willing to support Donald Trump where you had George Bush and Mitt Romney -- I mean, I'm sorry, McCain and Romney had up in the '80s or so, George Bush too. There are -- the conservative movement is being pulled apart by Donald Trump because there are so many of us that look at it, who character perspective.

And as far as the Supreme Court is concerned, the Senate is the most important aspect of the Supreme Court. A president can nominate whoever they want, but they have to be approved by the Senate.

COOPER: Right. Right.

SETMAYER: If the Republicans lose the Senate, we only have a four- seat means property (ph), then it's a moot point whoever is the president. We can't trust Trump with anything that he says.

COOPER: A lot more to talk about ahead, including the contingency plans. Some Republicans are actually mapping out just in case Donald Trump suddenly quits the race, if that's even possible. If that would happen, what would it take for a new nominee to be picked? Isn't even possible? Tom Foreman actually walks us through what the rules are.

Coming up at the top of the hour, Gary Johnson and his running mate, William Weld, join me for CNN's Libertarian Town Hall. We'll be taking questions from the audience. (Inaudible) is going to be interesting. Please stick around for that. We'll be right back.


[20:31:17] COOPER: Welcome back. We've been talking about the turmoil in the Republican Party and what one veteran Republican operative calls a new level of panic over the state of Donald Trump's campaign. Trump's statements what many see is self-inflicted mistakes since the convention have shown again how predictably, unpredictable he is. So unpredictable that a Republican official is actually working on a plan for what to do if Trump were to drop out of the race. GOP sources say they don't expect it to happen, but some are actually working on "a what if", scenario we're told. If Trump would have quit before September first, it would be possible to come up with a nominee who could get on the ballot in enough states to win.

Tom Foreman is here to actually show us how it works. Tom?

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, Donald Trump received more than 14 million votes during the Republican primaries, that translated into 1,725 delegates at the convention. But if the Republican Party needed a new nominee, that decision could come down to just 168 people. How could that be?

Well, the key lies in rule number nine of the Republican National Committee. It says, "The Republican National Committee is hereby authorized and empowered to fill any and all they can see which may occur by reason of death, declination, or otherwise of the Republican candidate for president of the United States." Now the rule goes on to say, "The committee can call everyone back together for a second convention, but the committee can also make the pick on its own and that committee is just 168 people. Anderson?

COOPER: So how are the members of the committee picked? And I mean, first of all, I find this whole thing -- I just don't believe this is possible or going to happen, but how would the process actually work?

FOREMAN: I would agree. It's an incredible long shot for this to happen. But if somehow it reaches that point, the rules do not seem designed to push a nominee aside, but they're also pretty vague. So who knows how it can play out?

The committee is comprised of three people from each state and U.S. territory who were chosen by Republicans back home and they vote with the power of their entire original delegation.

For example, Nebraska had 36 delegates, its three committee members would have 36 votes. And California, for example, has 172 delegates. They would have that same clout in their three committee members. And the vote of this committee, this much, much, much smaller group is exactly the same as the convention and as they rendered the votes needed to win 1,237.

A simple majority, whoever gets that majority in the committee meeting like this would be the nominee whether or not he or she was even in the race prior to this time. Anderson.

COOPER: All right, Tom. Tom, thanks very much.

Back with the panel, also joining the conversation, CNN political commentator Angela Rye, former executive director of the Congressional Black Caucus. David, again, this just seems either some sort of Democratic fantasy or I don't know why this Republican -- but it just seems totally unrealistic.

CHALIAN: We don't have an ounce of reporting that Donald Trump is considering leaving the race. There's nothing to suggest that is in the works and in fact it is so against the grain of everything we know about Donald Trump.

COOPER: So, David, is this some sort of shot across the ballot that ...

CHALIAN: I think it maybe. I think when Republicans who had been so concerned about the state of his candidacy is he'll stay on message and if he'll able take the fight to Hillary Clinton nonstop every day, when they see that going off course, I think you know, somebody comes and says, well, we are looking, if he drops out of the race, we want to be prepared.

So yes, I think it could be a bit of a shot across the ballot. I agree too it's not going to happen at all.

But what -- if for some reason there was this vacancy, Anderson, I don't think we're going to see a reconvening of a whole national convention.

[20:35:03] It really would come down to these members of the Republican National Committee.

COOPER: Can we just go directly to Governor Pence?

CHALIAN: Not necessarily, I mean because names will be placed into nomination for the committee to vote on, he would be an obvious choice.

COOPER: To me, this -- Andre, just like one of those conversations, who is stronger? Superman or Batman? Maybe it's just like a ridiculous conversation and yet here we are having it.

BAUER: It's been a ridiculous race.

COOPER: Right. Yes. Absolutely, Superman, probably stronger. But -- I mean is this -- do you think this is some sort of shot across the ballot, just sort of like a message?

BAUER: I think, you know, there are a lot of talking heads within both parties and people always like to be heard and think that they have knowledge. I'm not sure somebody over a beer just wouldn't say it.

COOPER: Because the idea of that this would upset a lot of the new voters who have come into the Republican Party and sort of, you know, Donald Trump could again say, look this thing is rigged, I'm being, you know, they're kind of pushing me out or they're agitating to move me out. BAUER: It really breaks up the Republican Party if in any way they try to push him out. He's once fair and square by the rules and he's the nominee whether you like it or not.

CHALIAN: And they can't. There's no mechanism for him to be pushed out.

COOPER: It would also, Angela, essentially seal the election for Hillary Clinton.

RYE: It would, but again, as much as I would love to see this happen, I don't think this is going to happen at all. In fact, and this is probably the only time you'll hear me ...

COOPER: Well, let me ask you.

RYE: Yeah.

COOPER: As a Democrat, do you prefer Donald Trump stays in the race or do you think -- I mean did you think he's doing harm to himself?

RYE: Currently, if we continue to see him, you know, kind of unravel, I would hope that that's what happens, but I also think that there are enough people around him. You heard Newt Gingrich today, you've heard so many others who are strong Republican establishment leaders saying you've got to get it together, you've got to get on message and whether or not this actual meeting is come to Jesus kind of a meeting happens, I don't know. But what I will say is -- and again, the only thing that you'll ever hear me quote Sean Spicer on is he's the nominee full stop. I don't think that Donald Trump -- Donald Trump likes to win, if for no other reason his ego is not pushing him out of this race so he's staying.

COOPER: Errol?

LOUIS: You know it's interesting there was a sort of a palace coup possibility early on, it was strictly local and some Republican leaders went to the head of the Manhattan Republican Party and said, you know, you can unenroll him in the party and that would derail his entire candidacy and she, of course, said nothing to it and, you know, we've got voters, we've got democracy, we've got people who were playing by the rules. Just because you don't like the outcome and this is really always in the faith with these Never Trump folks ...

COOPER: Right.

LOUIS: ... you've got to find enough people in the right places who feel as strongly as you do, that is something they'd never been able to do.

COOPER: All right, I want to thank everyone. Just ahead more, $400 million cash payment the U.S. made to Iran, Donald Trump's running mate, Mike Pence, speaking out just moments ago about that, we'll show you what he said.

Plus, more in the new polling showing Hillary Clinton widening her lead on the trial today. She blasted Trump and the economy while landing a big name Republican supporter, Meg Whitman, now vowing to do all she can to elect Hillary Clinton.

And we're just minutes away for CNN's Libertarian Town Hall, Gary Johnson and his running mate, William Weld, will be taking questions, I'll be moderating. That's at the top of the hour at 9:00 p.m.


[20:42:11] COOPER: Donald Trump speaking right now in Jacksonville, Florida, not always staying on message as we've been reporting, but Republicans are pleased with the progress he did make today on that front.

Mike Pence is also on the stump and very much on message campaigning tonight in Colorado Springs. He (inaudible) especially sharp indictment of Hillary Clinton over the $400 million cash payment the U.S. made to Iran in January the same time Iran was releasing four American prisoners. Here's what he said.


PENCE: And just this morning, just this morning, we found out that this administration transferred $400 million in cash on a pallet in an aircraft at the very same time that Iran was releasing four American hostages.

Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama have essentially put a price tag on the head of every American traveling abroad. They have abandoned our longstanding opposition to negotiating with or terrorists or paying ransoms and that is judgment this country cannot stand for four more years.


COOPER: The White House disclosed the payment back in January as part of the Iran nuclear deal, but critics including Pence and Donald Trump have seized on a new report describing details of the cash delivery.

Our foreign affairs correspondent Elise Labott joins us now. So, this transfer of $400 million approved by the President, what are the details that are known?

ELISE LABOTT, CNN FOREIGN AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, it's a pretty remarkable story when hear about in movies. Just as those four Americans were boarding a Swiss plane bound for Germany an unmarked cargo plane was landing in Iran with wooden pallets filled with stocks of Euros, shrink-wrapped Euros, Swiss Francs, other currencies, $400 million worth in cash. Why did they have this hard cash? Because Iran didn't have access to international banks. It was under U.S. international sanctions. And it was -- this is all skirting U.S. sanctions by taking the money from the central banks of the Netherlands and Switzerland because U.S. sanctions don't allow transactions with Iran in dollars.

COOPER: Right. But this goes back a long time. I mean, this was all part -- this has been negotiated for quite a long time, but the administration is saying that the timing of the money arriving just when the prisoners that it was just coincidence?

LABOTT: Well, that's what they say. There was a -- this is a decades-long claim by Iran for a failed arms deal that took place in the 1970s under the shah of Iran, but these negotiations started picking up last November as the U.S. started negotiating with Iran about the Iran deal, then they started negotiating about the prisoner swap those four Americans for seven Iranians in U.S. jails.

[20:45:00] And so, all of this kind of dovetailed at the same time and they saw that this was all going to be resolved at the same time. Officials do concede that Iran wanted this payment to coincide with everything coming together because they wanted to show that they were getting some deliverable, something tangible for this and Iranian officials even touted it as such. But the administration says this was not a quid pro quo, this was not a ransom and they were negotiating an end to this claim that was in mediation in the Hague and they say they -- actually the Iranians were claiming $10 billion. And so this would really have saved the American taxpayers some money, Anderson.

COOPER: But it certainly, I mean, at the very least looks like it was a quid pro quo that it was a ransom payment for the -- or a reward for releasing, I mean, if the U.S. didn't want it to look like that they -- couldn't they have tried to do it not at the exact same time?

LABOTT: I think everyone realizes the optics were pretty awful, but the officials say they needed to be creative to kind of seize the moment of all of these negotiations to try and get this all done and they say they were able to do that.

COOPER: All right, Elise Labott, thanks. We're dealt (ph) more on this ahead.

The breaking news tonight in the wake of the Democratic convention, Hillary Clinton has widened her lead over Donald Trump. A new Fox News poll shows her leading Trump by nine points in a three-way race, including Libertarian Party nominee, Gary Johnson, while Trump has been having one of the worst weeks of his campaign.

Clinton has been surfing a post convention bomb staying on message during clear of drama and landing some big-name Republican supporters. On the trail today, she and Tim Kaine took aim at Trump's outsourcing.

Here's Joe Johns.


JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR WASHINTON CORRESPONDENT: The Democratic ticket barnstorming swing states today blasting Donald Trump on the economy.

HILLARY CLINTON, (D) PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: If he wants to make America great again, he should start by making things in America.

JOHNS: But behind the scenes, her campaign is trying to capitalize on her opponent's stumbles, stepping up efforts to encourage disaffected Republicans to renounce Donald Trump. The biggest prize so far, Meg Whitman, Hewlett-Packard CEO and former Republican gubernatorial candidate. "To vote Republican out of party loyalty alone would be to endorse a candidacy that I believe has exploited anger, grievance, xenophobia and racial division," she said in a statement.

Whitman is the latest in a growing list of Republican switching parties to support Clinton.

Today running mate, Tim Kaine shut down Trump's record with small businesses during a factory tour in North Carolina.

SEN. TIM KAINE, (D-VA) VICE PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: Hillary Clinton would be your hired person. Donald Trump would be your fired president. He has a track record with small businesses. Small businesses looked at as kind of expendable.

JOHNS: The campaign is out with a new ad in battleground states using a Trump appearance on David Letterman to slam him on outsourcing his clothing line.

DAVID LETTERMAN, HOST: Where is your shirt made?

TRUMP: Bangladesh. Well, it's good. We employ people in Bangladesh.

LETTERMAN: Ties. Where are the ties made? These are beautiful ties.

TRUMP: They have to work, too. They are great ties.

LETTERMAN: The ties are made in where? China?

TRUMP: China.

LETTERMAN: Ties are made in China.

JOHNS: It's something she consistently hits him for on the campaign trail.

CLINTON: I really would like him to explain why he paid Chinese workers to make a Trump ties. This is one of them. It's got his name on it, of course, and instead of deciding to make those ties right here in Colorado.

JOHNS: Clinton held a fundraiser in Colorado last night as the campaign touted a record month in donations breaking in nearly $90 million in July with an impressive $9 million from the 24 hours after she hits up to the nomination last week.

Joe Johns, CNN, Commerce City, Colorado.


COOPER: All right, coming up, the power of a third ticket, how the history shows those like Libertarian nominees, Gary Johnson and William Weld can shake things up in the battle for the White House, that as we countdown to the CNN Libertarian Town Hall minutes away. I'll be the host. Our audience will be asking the questions. Stay with us.


[20:52:44] COOPER: And we are just minutes away from the CNN Libertarian Town Hall with the Party's presidential nominee, Gary Johnson, and his running mate William Weld. Both former governors are now seeking the White House and gaining ground in a new Fox News poll.

Johnson and Weld now have support from 12 percent of registered voters up 2 percentage points since June. Clinton and Kaine lead the pack at 44 percent and the Trump/Pence ticket is nine points behind them at 35 percent.

The question many are asking, can the libertarian ticket shake up this race? History shows us yes, it is possible.

Randi Kaye tonight reports.


RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: No third party candidate has ever reached the Oval Office, but that doesn't mean they didn't have a hand and who did. Back in 1912, former President Teddy Roosevelt left the Republican Party and ran on the Progressive Party or Bull Moose Ticket.

Roosevelt essentially split the Republican vote with incumbent William Howard Taft. It likely cost Taft the presidency, handing the Oval Office to Democrat Woodrow Wilson instead.

Fast forward to 1968 and another third party candidate shook things up. This time it was George Wallace.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Wallace has the courage to stand up for America. Give him your support.

KAYE: The former governor of Alabama was considered a segregationist Democrat opposing civil rights and fueling fear in America.

GEORGE WALLACE, (D) 45TH GOVERNOR OF ALABAMA: It's a sad day in our country that you cannot walk even in your neighborhoods at night or even in the daytime.

KAYE: Wallace ran on the ticket for the American Independent Party. By pulling conservative Democratic votes, he caused the Democrat Hubert Humphrey the election. Republican Richard Nixon walked away with the win.

In 1992, it was Ross Perot's turn to shake up the race.

ROSS PEROT, INDEPENDENT PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Good afternoon. The volunteers in all 50 states have asked me to run as candidate for president of the United States.

KAYE: The Texas billionaire ran as an independent and focused his presidential campaign on the national debt. PEROT: Decide who do you think will do the job. Take that person in November. But just believe me, as I've said before, the party is over and it's time for the clean-up crew.

KAYE: On Election Day, Perot snagged 19 percent of the popular vote. Likely costing Republican George H.W. Bush a second term, then Governor Bill Clinton got the win.

[20:55:02] Bush refused to discuss Perot years later in the HBO documentary, 41.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can you talk little about Ross Perot?

GEORGE H.W. BUSH, 41ST U.S. PRESIDENT: No, can't talk about it. I think he cost me the election. I don't like him.

KAYE: Ralph Nader played the spoiler in 2000. He won just 2.7 percent of the vote nationwide but pulls in more than 97,000 votes in Florida.

Republican George W. Bush beat Democrat Al Gore in Florida by just 537 votes. If most of Nader's supporters had voted for Gore instead, Gore would have won Florida and been elected president.

AL GORE, (D) FORMER U.S. VICE PRESIDENT: Just moments ago, I spoke with George W. Bush and congratulated him on becoming the 43rd president of the United States.

KAYE: When Nader was questioned about his campaign's rule in Gore's loss, he brushed it off.

RALPH NADER, (D) AMERICAN ACTIVIST: By the way, I do think that Al Gore cost me the election, especially in Florida. And that's far greater concern than whether I was supposed to help elect Al Gore.

KAYE: In 2016, an election year where both major party candidates have a likeability problem, third party candidate see an opening once again.

Randi Kaye, CNN, New York.


COOPER: And the Libertarian Party nominees will take the stage here behind me very soon. The CNN Libertarian Town Hall begins right after this short break.