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Prominent GOP National Security Experts Oppose Trump; Trump Fires Back at "Failed Washington Elites"; Clinton and Trump Exchange Attacks on Economic Plans; Clinton Campaign Accepts Presidential Debate Schedule; GOP Senator Susan Collins Not Backing Trump. Aired 10-11p ET
Aired August 8, 2016 - 22:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[22:00:00] DON LEMON, CNN HOST: Exactly three months until Election Day. Did you know that? And a giant vote of no confidence.
This is CNN TONIGHT. I'm Don Lemon.
Dozens of prominent republican national security experts signing a letter stating that Trump lacks the temperament to be president, and then he would be the most reckless commander-in-chief in American history.
Trump firing back tonight calling them part of the failed Washington elite who should be held accountable for making the world a dangerous place.
And tonight, a top republican senator says she will not vote for Donald Trump.
Meanwhile, Trump and Hillary Clinton slamming each other's economic position.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, (R) PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: All Hillary Clinton has to offer is more of the same. More taxes. More regulations. More bureaucrats. More restrictions on American energy. And on American production.
HILLARY CLINTON, (D) PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: There is no other Donald Trump. What you see is what you get.
He is still the same Donald Trump who makes his shirts and his ties overseas instead of in the United States.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: There's a whole lot to get to tonight. We'll get to all of it. I want to begin, though, with senior White House correspondent Mr. Jim Acosta. Good evening to you, Jim.
JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Don.
LEMON: Today was supposed to be a day where Donald Trump was getting back on message talking about the economy. But instead, he's got more incoming fire from the republicans who think his foreign policy is dangerous. What else can you tell us?
ACOSTA: that's right. This was a day when Donald Trump was supposed to make that pivot and get back to general election campaign issues like the economy. You know, he was interrupted 14 times at that economic speech today, Don, and Donald Trump did and go and let loose and go after those protesters.
And then at 3 o'clock this afternoon, this bomb was dropped by 50- some-odd former national security officials, dating back to the Nixon administration. All working in republican administrations.
Former secretaries of homeland security, former director of the CIA, former director of National Intelligence, all saying Donald Trump is unfit to be president of the United States.
Donald Trump fired back in his typical fashion and wrote these officials office being holdovers from the Bush administration who are simply just trying to line their pockets in D.C. and got the country in trouble in the first place by leading the nation in the war in Iraq.
The Trump campaign also put out a statement from Lieutenant General Michael Flynn. One of their top national security officials with the campaign who is basically saying the same thing. But Don, I think the biggest development of this day just happened within the last hour and that is the republican senator from Maine, Susan Collins, announced in this op-ed in the Washington Post that she cannot support Donald Trump.
She laid out three different reasons going back to Trump's apparent mocking of that disabled reporter, his criticism of the Mexican- American Judge Curiel and this recent confrontation with the Khan family and the question becomes, Don, just how much of this can Donald Trump take?
It seems to be one republican after another coming out and saying he is not fit to be president of the United States.
LEMON: And you wonder who else is going to come out. But, I mean, you know, Jim, he did reveal his economic plan earlier.
ACOSTA: That's right.
LEMON: So, let's get to that. Did he get specific about it?
ACOSTA: He did. And there were more specifics in this speech than I think a lot of people realize which is why this has been such a difficult end of the day for Donald Trump.
Let's put some of this up on screen because what he laid out is, I think, a proposal, a plan that would be attractive to a lot of republicans out there. New tax brackets that are lower for all Americans, moratorium on new regulations, a repeal of the estate tax and that republicans that just about every four years it doesn't happen, but they want it every four years.
Here's where Donald Trump disagrees with a lot of republicans. He wants to withdraw from the Trans-Pacific trade deal. He wants to crack down on China. A lot of Americans think that that will start a trade war.
But then Donald Trump also wants to restart the Keystone oil pipeline process, get that going all over again. So, that is what is such a, you know, a big disappointment I think for the Trump campaign today.
They try to get back on track. They try to gain some traction with this economic plan and it just sort of got overwhelmed by this news of all of these republicans coming out and saying he's unfit to be president.
LEMON: And let's talk about, you know, Donald Trump loved to, at least he did, talk about the polls. What are the latest polls showing?
ACOSTA: This Monmouth University poll, Don, I think is pretty striking. Hillary Clinton was leading by just a couple percentage points when this was taken about three weeks ago. Now she's 13 points ahead of Donald Trump in the exact same poll.
And the breakout number, Don, that is most striking to me only 27 percent of Americans according to this poll believe that Donald Trump has the temperamen to be president of the United States. The numbers are basically upside down for Hillary Clinton.
It all goes back to this issue that was raised by these national security officials earlier today and in part, by Susan Collins late this evening with this op-ed. Does Donald Trump have the temperament to be president of the United States? This latest poll says no.
[22:05:00] These national security officials say no. Susan Collins is saying no. And the question becomes how does Donald Trump deal with this over these next few days? He has a whole slew of events down across the southeast, and we'll be listening to see if Donald Trump has anything to say about all of this.
But it is becoming sort of a snowball effect for his campaign and the question is, can he hold back the snowball?
LEMON: All right. Well, we shall see without it melting. Thank you, Jim. I appreciate that.
Let's bring in now, I want to bring in Roger Zakheim, he's a former deputy assistant Secretary of Defense who is a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute; and also his father, Dov Zakheim, is a former undersecretary of defense who is a senior adviser at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
Gentlemen, I'm so glad to have you here this evening. Thank you for joining us. Roger, I'm going to start with you. Father and son you both say along with 48 other GOP national security experts that Donald Trump is not qualified to be the commander-in-chief. Who came to this conclusion first, was it you or your father?
ROGER ZAKHEIM, FORMER SECRETARY OF DEFENSE DEPUTY ASSISTANT: Well, you know, the wisdom comes from the old man. I actually can't recall who came up with it first, but it seemed that we arrived the same conclusion early on in this race.
LEMON: So, how did you do that? Before you answer that, let me put this up, because this is what Dov -- here's what you guys say about Trump. You said "He is unable or unwilling to separate truth from falsehood. He does not encourage conflicting views. He lacks off control and acts impetuously. He cannot tolerate personal criticism. He's alarmed our closest allies with his erratic behavior. All of these are dangerous qualities in an individual who aspires to be president and commander-in-chief. With command of the U.S. nuclear arsenal."
So, the question really is, what worries you the most about a Trump presidency, that would be the how did you come up with it?
R. ZAKHEIM: Well, for me...
DOV ZAKHEIM, FORMER UNDERSECRETARY OF DEFENSE: Well, it's more...
R. ZAKHEIM: ... my biggest concern is judgment and character, that's the one that stands out most beyond any other policy.
D. ZAKHEIM: I think that's absolutely right. The problem is that his behavior essentially encompasses all these subject matter and all the substantive issues. The real problem is look at the way he behaved today.
Look at his reaction. He blamed republicans for Benghazi, for God's sake. By the way, he didn't mention Russia at all. And that's a giveaway, too. He blamed republicans for ISIS. He doesn't have any kind of self-control.
I work very, very closely with George W. Bush both before he was president, when he was running for president, and when he was president. What a contrast.
And it just seems to me that a man who cannot control himself cannot possibly control policy in any kind of rational way and that goes to every specific item whether it's NATO, whether it's the Korea and Japan, whether it's China. The fundamental problem isn't the policy. The fundamental problem is the person.
LEMON: So, Dov, it's not his knowledge or lack of knowledge about foreign affairs or about any other foreign policy. It's his temperament, it's his behavior. You think he's erratic. Is that what you're saying?
D. ZAKHEIM: Yes, he's erratic. He overreacts. And that's compounded, of course, by his utter ignorance. The man seems to have had no idea that Russia invaded Ukraine. That's remarkable.
So, it's not -- he doesn't seem to be interested in detail. He doesn't seem to want to learn. He doesn't seem to want to listen. And on top of it, you've got the character problem. It all meshes together in a frightening mix.
LEMON: So, Roger, let me ask you this because you guys aren't alone. Just tonight, Susan Collins of Maine, she has an op-ed in the Washington Post and she says that Trump lacks a temperament. He says Trump's lack of discipline and judgment required to be president.
Another prominent republican deflection here. The question is why so many now, you think, and not earlier in the campaign or even before the convention?
R. ZAKHEIM: Well, I think Donald Trump continues to raise the bar in exceeding our lowest expectations for him. He's done a whole lot along the way. But I think taking on a Gold Star and a Gold Star mother probably was the low water mark of his campaign.
Particularly for those who focus on service, who focus on the men and women in uniform, who focus on national security. This is not the way a commander-in-chief is able or should act.
LEMON: I want to ask both of you this. And I guess Roger, since you're talking, I'm going to read this. Because this is how his campaign reacted in a letter today. And it says "The names on this letter are the ones the American people should look to for the answers on why the world is a mess. We thank them for coming forward so everyone in the country knows who deserves the blame for making the world such a dangerous place. They are nothing more than the failed Washington elite looking to hold onto their power and it's time that they are held accountable for their actions."
[22:10:06] I mean, Roger, you know, you say that Trump is dangerous. Trump says it's you guys who made the world a dangerous place. He points to the invasion of Iraq, as an example. What's your reaction?
R. ZAKHEIM: Well, I say it's typical Trump. As for me, I served at the tail end of the Bush administration. I spent the past eight years or so cutting my teeth in the U.S. Congress, countering President Obama's national security policy.
As far as I'm concerned, the state of the U.S. national security today and the challenge we face are a function of the current occupant of the presidency. It has nothing to do with the gentleman who signed on on this letter.
So, once again, I think Trump is wrong with the facts. Overreacts. And actually misleads here.
LEMON: Yes. Same question, but I'll ask you, let me just add this, too, because a lot of people, Dov, who sign this letter work for the Bush administration. You heard your son say he worked for the end of the bush administration. Trump supporters say this is just sour grapes from the career establishment republicans. What's your reaction? D. ZAKHEIM: No, it's not at all. I mean, I worked at the beginning of
the Bush administration. I came in with Governor Bush who became President Bush. And the fact of the matter is that when we left Iraq, for example, there was no ISIS.
We had troops there. The place was quieter than it had been for years. We had actually won that war. And so, the argument that we left the place a mess, as if the last eight years didn't exist, is just mind- boggling, but it's a reflection of Trump's ignorance, his overreactions.
I mean, let's face it, do you honestly think that the signers of this letter would be serving in a Hillary Clinton administration? Last time I checked, they were all republicans.
So, it's not sour grapes at all. It's fear for the country. We fear for this country if that man gets into the White House. It's as simple as that.
LEMON: So if it came down to her or him, if you had to make a decision, could you make one?
D. ZAKHEIM: Well, right now, I'm not committing to Secretary Clinton at all. Frankly, a lot of her policies are not my policies, not what I advocate. It's a very, very difficult situation for somebody like myself.
I know I'll vote all the way down the ticket for republicans. What I'll do at the top of the ticket, I honestly don't know, but I cannot vote for Mr. Trump. That I can guarantee.
LEMON: Roger, same question for you.
R. ZAKHEIM: I won't vote for Donald Trump and I won't vote for Hillary Clinton. To me, it's a choice between bad and worse. And I'm not forced to make either of those choices. There's a August now, we have until November. I'm hopeful we'll have another choice in the months in the weeks or months ahead.
LEMON: Thank you, Roger. Thank you, Dov. I appreciate it.
D. ZAKHEIM: Thank you.
LEMON: Joining me now is a former Trump campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski who is still receiving severance from the Trump campaign and is a CNN political commentator. Thank you very much for joining us. So, you heard their reaction. What's your response?
COREY LEWANDOWSKI, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Look, here's what I think. I think you have individuals who have never taken the time or the effort to sit down and listen to Mr. Trump or learn more about his policy positions.
Because if you look at the individuals on his foreign policy team who he has sat with, whether its admiral Kubic, whether it's General Flynn, whether it's Jeff Sessions, they're all unified in their support for Donald Trump and understand that he will be the best commander-in-chief, the best president of the decision that we have in front of us.
And those are the individuals, you know, General Flynn was head of the DIA, he's lieutenant general. Look at the Admiral Kubic who served, yu know, our nation for 32 years honorably. And they understand because they've sat with Donald Trump.
They had the opportunity to talk to him and they -- you don't see any of those people. The people that he sits with and understands what he's doing are absolutely in favor. These people have never met him. So, they have a media perception which is not reality.
LEMON: I want to talk to you about the 50 people. Because these are 50 people. And these aren't, you know, just people who, you know, Johnny come lately to the game. These are very established and very well respected people.
But they point specifically to -- they don't think he has knowledge of foreign affairs at all. Specifically to his behavior, that he's erratic, that he can't control himself. That has nothing to do with the people you just named who are advisers. This is him personally. What's your response to that?
LEWANDOWSKI: Here's one of the responses. If you look at some of the people who signed this letter, they've been very public. They were supporting other candidates. Most of them were supporting Jeb Bush originally in this process. Then after Jeb Bush was destroyed in the election, they went to Marco Rubio. Then after Marco Rubio then went to John Kasich.
And they had been right down the line anything they can do to make sure that they stay in power in the next administration. And they've never been part of the Trump administration. They will not be part of the Trump administration and that scares them.
Because what they want to do is they want to maintain their hold in Washington, D.C. Many of the people, you've heard Dov just talk about this, was there and was clearly a decision maker to get us into the Iraq war.
Now when you look back on it we spent $6 trillion.
LEWANDOWSKI: And that was under the Bush administration. I think what the campaign would say is that that was a mistake going into it. It's a mistake staying there. And we've lost thousands of lives and $6 trillion for what is the question.
[22:15:01] LEMON: No one who holds public office is perfect, no one who holds prominent positions as experts in foreign affairs, as security or defense experts, no one is perfect.
A lot of these people help to keep us safe before 9/11 and after 9/11. If you look at -- if you look at Michael Hayden, he's a former director both the CIA and the National Security Agency, Tom Ridge and Michael Chertoff, two former secretaries of the Homeland Security, John Negroponte, served as the first director of National Intelligence and the deputy Secretary of State.
And you go on and on and on, William Taft, the former deputy Secretary of Defense and ambassador to NATO. Now, none of the people, now of the secretaries of state of republican administrations for the past administrations, Henry Kissinger, George Schultz, James Baker, Collin Powell, Condoleezza Rice, they didn't join in condemning trump but neither has endorsed his candidacy as well.
Again, this doesn't concern you when you have so many prominent well- respected people coming out and saying this guy is not fit, there is no credence to anything that they're saying?
LEWANDOWSKI: Well, what concerns me is that fact that...
LEMON: There's no credence to anything?
LEWANDOWSKI: Well, no. Here's what concerns me about these people. If they choose not to support Donald Trump, that is an implicit endorsement of Hillary Clinton, the person who is directly responsible whether it is legal or not for the Benghazi disaster.
And what we just saw was two families are suing Hillary Clinton now because their loved ones were killed in Benghazi. There is a accountability that has to happen.
Now if you don't want to support Donald Trump, that's OK, that's your prerogative in the ballot booth. But at the end of the day, if you don't support him support him, you are Hillary Clinton. If they think that she will do a better job with that national security interest then I do question...
LEMON: There's no credence to anything that they say, they're wrong?
LEWANDOWSKI: No, I question their motives. I question their motives. I question their motives. Do they want to maintain power? Because many of those people including Governor Ridge and others have supported, publicly supported other candidates in this race and when they lost, they are now looking for another way to stay in relevancy. And that's not just happening in a Trump administration.
LEMON: All right. Corey is going to stick with me. Thank you, Corey. Corey will stay around. Does this letter by the national security experts actually help Trump with his campaign theme? Is he a Washington, a true Washington outsider? We're going to talk about that next.
[22:20:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
LEMON: Breaking news tonight. Hillary Clinton's campaign saying tonight that she is accepting the invitation to the three upcoming presidential debates scheduled by the Independent Debate Commission also saying it expects Donald Trump to do the same.
Back with me now, Corey Lewandowski. Also joining us Bakari Sellers, a Hillary Clinton supporter, democratic strategist Maria Cardona who also supports Clinton, and political commentator Matt Lewis, a senior contributor to the Daily Caller.
All right, here we go. Now we have a panel. Let's discuss this. Dp you think we have enough to discuss tonight?
BAKARI SELLERS, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: I think so.
LEMON: Matt, I'm going to start with you because you haven't been the biggest Trump supporter safe to say. But even you like this economic speech today and then bam, this letter comes out and it's another conversation entirely. Is this how it's going to be from now until November you think?
MATT LEWIS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes, I think it will, but, you know, look, obviously the letter isn't great news for them. But I think today was a pretty good day for Donald Trump. He gave this economic speech. About half of it I would say is sort of orthodox Reagan era republican tax cuts.
The other half I would say is populist, protectionist, anti-globalist trade politics which I think plays well with a lot of working class Americans, but the most important thing he did was stay on script.
He actually read from the teleprompter and he didn't take the bait when the protesters tried to get him off message. And I think that's the key. If he could do this for the next three months, I think he has a shot at winning.
LEMON: When Jim Acosta mentioned that he did not, you know, let the protesters bait him, I saw Corey Lewandowski smiling like, great, finally, you know, he didn't do it. But, Corey, I have to -- I've got to ask you this question, because, you know, Matt is saying he had a good day today.
This didn't make it any better I would say because Susan Collins, is one of the first GOP senators to come out said she's not going to vote for Trump.
Here's what she said, three incidents. "Specifically mocking a reporter with disabilities, attacking Judge Curiel for his Mexican heritage, and disparaging a Gold Star family." Can you understand why that disqualifies him in her eyes and frankly, many others?
LEWANDOWSKI: Look, I think first and foremost, what you have to remember is that Susan Collins represents a state which is probably not going to be supporting a republican presidential nominee anyway in the State of Maine.
They have not supported a republican presidential candidate up there in at least 20 years. So, this isn't actually something that she's very concerned about. If you look at states like New Hampshire where Kelly Ayotte is in a much more competitive state, that would be much more concerning to me candidly.
If you look at states where Donald Trump is going to be much more competitive in states like Virginia and Florida and places like that, I think I would be much more concerned, I would be much more concerned if I was the campaign if I saw U.S. senators in battleground states that are competing heavily and walking away from my campaign.
Sue Collins is not one right now...
MARIA CARDONA, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Jeff Flake.
LEWANDOWSKI: Well, Jeff Flake hasn't walked away. He's talked about some things.
CARDONA: He's concerned.
LEWANDOWSKI: Right. But he hasn't walked away from the campaign to be fair. So, Sue Collins is not someone that I've overly concerned...
LEMON: That does play into the issue with women and now a problem with another conservative woman.
CARDONA: Yes. And I think that is the point and that's where the Trump campaign really needs to be concerned. Right now, Trump is losing college educated white women. Mitt Romney won college educated white women by 14 points and he still lost the election.
So, if you take college educated white women off the table, you take African-Americans off the table, you take Latinos off the table, you take young people off the table, you are looking at a non-existent pathway to 270 electoral votes for Donald Trump. That's what I think they need to be concerned.
LEWANDOWSKI: Mitt Romney -- Mitt Romney did not win African- Americans, let's be very clear about that. He got less than 5 percent of the African-American vote.
SELLERS: Well, to also be very clear in a four-way race, Donald Trump is polling less than both the Green Party candidate and Gary Johnson. So, that's pretty troublesome if you're a republican.
LEWANDOWSKI: I don't -- I don't think it's fair to say that you're comparing the African-American vote that Mitt Romney received to what Donald Trump may receive.
LEMON: But are you saying that Donald Trump is not going to win? Because you need minority votes.
CARDONA: Yes. LEWANDOWSKI: No, I'm not saying at all. But what I'm saying is, you
cannot compare what Mitt Romney received for the African-American vote which is less than 5 percent against Barack Obama, to what Donald Trump is going to get.
And if you look at the polls in South Carolina, that poll, African- Americans, Donald Trump is winning.
LEMON: Hold on.
CARDONA: Wasn't he polling like zero?
LEMON: Doesn't that make the point then, because if you need that demographic to win and you're losing them so badly he's not helping himself and not appealing to that demographic.
[22:25:01] LEWANDOWSKI: He's winning much better than Mitt Romney won them, that's what I'm saying.
SELLERS: That's not the poll...
CARDONA: No, that's not what the...
LEWANDOWSKI: And more if you look at the working class white male, Donald Trump is overly winning that compared to whatever Mitt Romney won.
CARDONA: No question.
LEWANDOWSKI: There is no question about that.
CARDONA: That's right. But there aren't enough of them.
LEMON: But you need minorities.
CARDONA: But there are enough of those.
SELLERS: I mean, I think that -- I think that what Corey is outlining is very true and it's what the campaign focused on in the primary.
CARDONA: Yes. That's right.
SELLERS: But it's not how you win a general election anymore. Barack Obama's America the 2008 and forward, the way you get to the Obama coalition is not through white men. With all due respect, Corey, there are simply not enough of you all to elect Donald Trump president of the United States. You have to build this coalition, and this coalition goes through
college educated white women, Hispanics, especially Hispanics and that is what -- that is where Donald Trump is coming up short in States like Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, and Florida.
CARDONA: And that's why you have people like Jeff Flake really concerned because Arizona who traditionally goes republican, he's saying this could be a completely different ball game because of the Hispanic community over there.
And they are registering -- not just registering at historic levels, immigrants who never -- who never thought twice about becoming citizens are now becoming citizens at a high rate because they want to vote against Donald Trump.
LEMON: And Matt, you want to -- Matt is here.
SELLERS: Matt is here.
LEMON: Matt, do you want in on this?
LEWIS: Look, here's the deal. Donald Trump comes out of the convention down double digits. Had a horrible last several weeks. But the fact remains 7 out of 10 Americans are unhappy with the direction of this country.
The fact remains Hillary Clinton is a very unlikable, bad candidate. And, you know, I -- Donald Trump is a change agent. Hillary Clinton is the status quo. And for those reasons, Donald Trump could still win this race.
But what he has to do is be disciplined. He can't attack, you know, Gold Star families, let's say, going forward. He has to do what he did today. If he can do what he did today, read that teleprompter, stay on message, he still has a shot...
LEWIS: ... because of that environment.
LEMON: Let's talk about staying on message because Donald Trump tweeted this out, tweeted this out tonight, "Many people are saying that the Iranians killed the scientist who helped the U.S. because of Hillary Clinton's hacked e-mail."
The first thing, Corey, this is wrong. Two e-mails discussing this case were both in a batch turned over by the State Department as part of the investigation, not as hacking.
Secondly, our very own colleague, whose name is Josh Rogin, a CNN contributor, who is very familiar with both the content of the e-mails in the case of this Iranian scientist wrote this in the Washington Post, "There is no reasonable connection between the discussion of Amiri's case on e-mail by Clinton staff to Amiri's eventual execution, there is no evidence her server was hacked. The Iranians knew about Amiri long well before the e-mails were released publicly. His fate was sealed long before his sentence was carried out."
So, again, you have all these national security experts talking about how he's, you know, referring to that he's reckless, right? You have Matt saying he just needs to stay on message and not appear reckless yet he tweets this out. Isn't this an example of what he should not be doing?
LEWANDOWSKI: No. I think what you have is look at the narrative that the media wants to perpetuate which is he had a good day today making a speech...
LEMON: Wait, wait, hold on, and not about the media.
LEWANDOWSKI: And then...
LEMON: No, no, when he tweets something out that's patently false about blaming Hillary Clinton for someone's death...
Look, if this is what he's hearing -- and this is what he's reporting...
SELLERS; But it's going to be the case...
LEMON: And it's going to be a bigger button and what he's hearing -- whoa, whoa, shouldn't the truth matter and not just what Donald Trump...
CARDONA: Thank you.
LEWANDOWSKI: Hold on, is everything on Twitter the truth? Is that what we're seeing?
LEMON: He's running for president of the United States.
LEWANDOWSKI: I understand.
LEMON: He shouldn't be a Twitter troll.
LEWANDOWSKI: He also responded, he also tweeted out saying that Hillary Clinton promised 200,000 jobs to the State of New York of which never came to fruition. No one is talking about that.
SELLERS: But that, I mean, at least that had some, like, research. I'm actually trying to help you out here I actually...
(CROSSTALK) CARDONA: that was based on an article, actually.
SELLERS: I think what Corey and Donald Trump have been doing in that campaign up until this point is actually somewhat genius because what they do is...
LEWANDOWSKI: I agree with him.
SELLERS: ... they throw out these falsehoods, right, And they live in world that's fact free.
SELLERS: And then it's the media's job, our job to come up and untangle those and it's very hard...
CARDONA: And then it's the media's fault.
SELLERS: ... it's very hard to persuade somebody what they feel to be fact to be untrue. Now, is it highly irresponsible? Yes. But Donald Trump's not trying to be responsible.
LEMON: But we're going to talk about that in the broadcast. Because if you say something enough, even if you repeat a lie enough, people believe it.
LEMON: And actually if you put a fact check in there, many times it reinforces the lie and people still believe the lie is true.
CARDONA: And especially for his supporters. And here is what I think is happening. That worked beautifully for the republican primary.
CARDONA: The fact of the matter is that it's a very different electorate. People are skeptical, thank goodness. Donald Trump actually believes that American voters are imbecilic.
I love to remember my favorite judge, Judge Judy who says, "Don't pee on my leg and tell me it's raining." Right now Trump supporters -- Trump supporters are drenched and...
LEMON: She's talking to you, Corey.
LEWIS: And Corey wasn't to do that in the show.
LEMON: I got to get to a break.
LEWANDOWSKI: I promise not to do that on the show.
CARDONA: Thank you.
LEMON: All right. I got to get to a break. Everyone stay with me.
Up next, we're going to talk about Trump campaign's safe space memo. Which group of voters is the campaign trying to reach?
[22:30:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
LEMON: Election Day only three months away. Tonight, Hillary Clinton's campaign saying that she is accepting the invitation to three upcoming presidential debates.
Back with me, Corey Lewandowski, Bakari Sellers, Maria Cardona, and Matt Lewis.
OK. Corey, this is a memo from the Trump campaign it was dated January 14th 2016, released over the weekend and says in part, it says "In the media and in certain social circles, our low-P supporters have been called stupid, racists and bigots. The elites look down on them."
"And there is evidence they deny their support for our candidate because they fear being ostracized. That's why the engagement scripts for low-P must all open with a warm and friendly disclosure."
"I'm a volunteer for Mr. Trump's campaign for president. This lets them know that they're in a safe space. Then we follow with encouraging invitation, we'd like you to join us to help America -- help us make America great again. Can we count on your vote in the upcoming primary?"
So, low-P is low participation, right, people who are unlikely to vote, they don't usually participate in the political process.
[22:34:59] So, you were in the Trump campaign during the primary. Your name is on this memo. So, explain what's behind this, what exactly and who exactly was the campaign targeting then?
LEWANDOWSKI: Well, what you have here is an internal document which talks about the people who have not traditionally participated in the republican primary process. So, low propensity voters.
Those voters who have might have voted in one or two primaries, two of four primaries. Traditionally what the methodology would be, is you are running in a republican primary or any primary go after the voters that you're very sure are going to go out and turn out on Election Day.
The model for the Trump campaign was a little different because we believe there that was a disenfranchised group of people who are unhappy with the way Washington is. We're not happy with the choice of the republican nominees that were put forward.
And we thought the people who had been disenfranchised or not participated in the election process over a series of primaries in the past would be good tarts to make sure they knew Donald Trump was running and he'd be changing the system. That's the purpose of that.
LEMON: OK. Let's talk about this memo, Matt. I want you to get in on this. Because it says a Trump volunteers need to create a safe space for people who had previously been called stupid, racist, bigots.
The criticism here is this is dog whistle politics. Do you think it is?
LEWIS: In some cases. I mean, first, strategically, I think Corey -- this is a very smart idea because you have 16 other republican candidates who were going after very likely voters. So, Trump basically had these low propensity voters to himself. Very shrewd and counterintuitive.
Now who are these people, right? I would say that a lot of them are just good God-fearing salt of the earth, working class white Americans who feel that the American dream has passed them by. They're never going to vote for a guy like Mitt Romney, you know, who just sort of screams rich elitist.
So, I think some of them are, you know, very good people who just frankly have been left behind by the system. But there's no doubt that some of them, we've talked about this on this show, Don, that the right folks, that some of these people actually are racist and some of them are hearing dog whistles of unseemly things that I don't think have any place in American politics.
CARDONA: I actually don't think this was a dog whistle because this was not a public document. And to Matt's point, I agree, I actually think it's very smart for you to be able to talk to your voters like that.
Here the problem. Because a lot of these voters, and I agree that not all of them are racists or bigots by any means, but then you have the people that Matt mentioned and an article in the Washington Post that talks about a Nazi leader that talks about a white supremacist leader and David Duke of the KKK talking about how great Trump is for their -- they're wanting to mainstream the pro-white movement.
And that, I think, is what really gives rise to this notion that the Trump campaign is using dog whistle politics for all of those people who are racist and are bigots and are now coming out of the woodwork by saying Trump is your candidate, you can be safe with Donald Trump. And that I think should be a concern for the Trump campaign.
LEWANDOWSKI: That not what I meant. That's not what happened to all of these men. We looked at individuals who had voted in one of four primaries and said let's go after those individuals.
This is the opposite of the Bradley effect which as you remember, when he was running, many people said I'm going to be supporting Bradley for the mayor of San Francisco, I believe it was, his poll numbers were actually artificial because people wanted to be part of that.
What we saw with the Trump campaign was many people didn't want to admit publicly when it came to polls that they were supporting the Trump campaign even though they were.
And so, what you saw on primaries after primaries, after caucus after caucus, was Donald Trump outperformed what the polling expectations were. Because people for whatever reason had not wanted to tell those public pollsters they're going to be supporting Donald Trump.
LEWANDOWSKI: So, our goal, our target, was to look at individuals who had been disenfranchised and haven't participated. And they turned out in record numbers...
LEMON: But it didn't showed -- but actually this analysis by the 538 blog found that actually Trump voters in the primary were a share of regular republican electorates.
LEMON: So, it wasn't even clear that the strategy even -- that strategy even worked.
LEWANDOWSKI: You know why it worked? We won 14 million votes and Donald Trump is the nominee today...
LEMON: That's a whole other show for people who people not wanting to admit that they support Donald Trump.
LEMON: And I don't understand why. But, go ahead, I'll give you the last word.
SELLERS: No. And I said this before, it bears repeating again, Donald Trump is not a racist by any stretch.
What we saw in this memo and what has played is that Donald Trump utilized tactics such as racism. I mean, he played on the way that people normally talk around their kitchen table.
SELLERS: Whether or not it's the way he talks about voters of color or whether or not he was talking with Jake Tapper, he refused to diavod David Duke because all of a sudden he didn't know who he was.
So, and that's what creates this climate today. But it also puts you at a disadvantage going into a general election. LEMON: Gentlemen, thank you very much. Coming up, Donald Trump calls himself a successful businessman but what does his business record say about him? We'll be right back.
[22:40:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
LEMON: Donald Trump has built a reputation as a billionaire real estate mogul but is it just that? A reputation?
I want to break it down now with Neil Barsky, he is the founder and chairman of the Marshall Project, and Bob Cusack, he's the editor-in- chief of The Hill.
Welcome, gentlemen. Neil, I'm going to start with you. Between 1985 and 1991, you covered Trump for the Daily News and for the Wall Street Journal. You recently recall those experiences in The New York Times article, it's called "Trump the bad, bad businessman." And one thing you talked about was the Trump myth. Can you elaborate on that?
NEIL BARSKY, THE MARSHALL PROJECT FOUNDER & CHAIRMAN: Well, I think during the period I covered Trump which was really his rise and fall, from the business perspective, he was very similar as he is today.
He was the best salesman I think the world may have ever known. Today he convinced the voters that he might be a good president. Then he convinced bankers, and bondholders, and the ultimately the stockholders that he was a great businessman who -- and they eventually lent him billions of dollars and almost invariably lived to regret it.
LEMON: So, you -- so, you think he was a better seller than he was a businessman?
BARSKY: A 100 percent. Because he knows it didn't operate any better than anybody else's. His buildings didn't operate better than anybody else's. But he was able to convince the financial community for a long period of time that by putting the Trump name on a building, it had more value.
Yet, in 1990 and '91 when the economy tightened, and it was revealed that he had $800 million in personally guaranteed loans, the banks took a bath, Trump lost properties.
[22:45:07] And, you know, I did a piece in The New York Times this weekend about this. I've heard from so many bankers from that period who I knew 20, 25 years ago, who share my incredulity, if you will, that Donald trump might be president after what he went through and after what he put the banks through and bondholders through, and the stockholders through.
LEMON: Yes. And in their terms -- your term, pretending to be a better businessman than he actually is.
BARSKY: Well, I wouldn't -- I think he did what business people do. He projected an image. It was the banks who were foolish enough to lend him the money. I don't put it all on Donald. LEMON: You said that you noticed two things about him. Real estate
successes were very small compared to more successful developers who got less publicity and that he lied a lot you said.
So, why does he get more publicity than more successful developers? What kind of things did he lie about?
BARSKY: Why does he get more publicity now? I mean, he is a charismatic figure. He is not shy. He would return your call. He would -- he would be buddy-buddy with people. He would -- he had a fair amount of fame very early in his life.
So, I don't really -- he made great copy. And he put his name on every building he could. So, he created a perception very early after he built one, two buildings in New York. And this is a city of hundreds of hundreds of buildings that he was a mega developer. Sometimes myth becomes reality.
In this case, the music stopped in 2991 and a lot of people had to pay.
LEMON: Bob, here have been many stories about Donald Trump's business dealings and many people have pointed out some of the things that Neil has been pointing out, yet, Trump has got a big brand, he is considered to be a very successful businessman by the public. So, you know, why is it all at stake -- why is it all at stake I should say and really no sizzle here?
BOB CUSACK, THE HILL EDITOR-IN-CHIEF: Yes. Well, I mean, definitely there have been those stories out there. And I agree with Neil. Listen, Donald Trump is a great marketer. And that's part of being a businessman.
You know, overall, he does have buildings that have his name on it and politics is a lot about perception and, yes, he's not paid people. He's paid them laid. He's had bankruptcies. But overall, the perception of Donald Trump, and he's gone a long way in making that perception, is that he is a very rich guy and we don't know exactly how rich he is, but he's very rich.
And that's the whole basically tenet of his campaign, is that he can run a business and he can run the country better than politicians are running it. So, there have been doubts but I don't think it's a very effective strategy for the Clinton campaign to repeatedly go after his business record like the Obama campaign went after Mitt Romney's because Trump is basically, he boasts about it.
Mitt Romney almost didn't want to talk about his wealth. And I think it's very transparent and open even though he hasn't released his tax returns. But that Trump basically boasts about how wealthy he is.
LEMON: Yes. Why are you shaking your head?
BARSKY: Well, we've elect presidents hopefully based on their track record whether it be in politics, the military or in Trump's case his business record. And the very premise of Trump running in the first place is he was a multibillionaire.
Cousin of mine who's going to vote for Trump said everything he touches turns to gold. So, this perception I do think is critical to the narrative of Donald Trump.
LEMON: When you were shaking your head, were you saying you don't believe he's as rich as he says he is?
BARSKY: Oh, it's definitely not as rich as he says he is. There's not a human alive that believes that he's ever been as rich as he is.
I don't know. I don't know, if I saw his taxes, if I saw his balance sheet, if I saw his financial statements, if I saw what I could see with Mitt Romney or Hillary Clinton or any candidate, I could know -- I don't know.
LEMON: I want to play something. This is a few sound bites from Donald Trump in Detroit today and discussing his economic plan. First he's quoting a February 2016 New York Post article praising him for what he did for New York City. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: And this is a direct quote that, "Basically Donald Trump waded into a landscape of empty 5th Avenue (Inaudible) the dust fall mugging ground that was Central Park, so dangerous."
"Almost by sheer force of will, he rode to the rescue. Expressing rare faith in the future, he was instrumental in kick starting the regeneration of neighborhoods."
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: So, Neil, there were -- there were many prominent developers in New York in the 1980s alongside Trump. Did he rescue New York City?
BARSKY: He absolutely didn't rescue New York City. I would say that he was one of the early builders of New York in this late '70s when it came out. I mean, Trump is not completely, completely bereft of a track record.
It's just the one word I would use a exaggeration and hyperbole, which is sort of right in that last clip and that characterizes virtually everything about him and that's part of his narrative and that is part of his myth.
LEMON: Neil Barsky and Bob Cusack, thank you very much.
Coming up, there are attacks on policy and attacks on experience but are Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton actually attacking each other's mental stability?
[22:50:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
LEMON: It's a presidential election and we're used to political attacks, but these two candidates are actually attacking each other's brains.
CNN's Jeanne Moos has more.
JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We're no longer just hearing from the candidates. Now we're getting inside their heads. Let me out of here. Donald Trump has had the lion's share of armchair analysis.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A screw loose.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Everybody was asking me about his mental health.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's easy to behave that way when you're mentally ill.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MOOS: Even the conservative Weekly Standard piled on. Donald Trump is not of sound mind. That sounded worse than the phrasing Hillary Clinton uses.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CLINTON: Temperamentally unfit.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MOOS: That probably triggered Trump's temper. And now he's analyzing Hillary.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Unstable. She's unbalanced.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MOOS: This was the Donald's preliminary diagnosis of Hillary.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: She's really pretty close to unhinged.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MOOS: But by the very next day, he apparently thought her condition had worsened.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: She is a totally unhinged person.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MOOS: One host listed the diagnostic criteria for narcissistic personality disorder.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Requiring constant admiration.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MOOS: And found Trump met all 12. Tweeted the former dean of Harvard Medical School, "Trump doesn't just have it, he defines it."
[22:55:03] The Donald, himself, was less specific about Hillary's symptoms.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Honestly I don't think she's all there.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MOOS: After Michael Bloomberg threw Trump over for Hillary.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICHAEL BLOOMBERG, BILLIONAIRE INVESTOR: Let's elect a sane, competent person.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MOOS: Dr. Drew declared Trump...
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DREW GRIFFIN, "DR. DREW ON CALL" HOST: Not insane.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MOOS: An when John Oliver called him ...
JOHN OLIVER, "LAST WEEK TONIGHT" HOST: Such a damaged sociopathic narcissist.
LEMON: Is that unfair to call someone who is nominee of the Republican Party a sociopath?
DREW: Yes, it is unfair.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MOOS: But clinical psychologist Dr. George Simon said this to Vanity Fair about Trump and narcissism, "He's so classic. I'm archiving video clips of him to use in workshops because there's no better example." Here's another one for your files, doctor.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: All my life I've been told I've been told you have the greatest temperament.
MOOS: Jeanne Moos.
CLINTON: Temperamentally unfit.
TRUMP: Totally unhinged.
MOOS: New York.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: Oh, boy. Donald Trump delivers a major address on the economy. We have a reality check of some of the points he made. We'll be back.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
LEMON: The breaking news here. Republican Senator Susan Collins of Maine saying that she will not vote for Donald Trump in November.
This is CNN TONIGHT. I'm Don Lemon.
[22:59:57] Trump, meanwhile, seeking to get his campaign back on track delivering a major economic address. Speaking at the prominent Detroit economic club, calling his proposals a way to renew America's economy.
His plans will reduce tax rates simplify the tax code and put a moratorium on government regulations.