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Clinton Tops Polls as Trump Controversies Pile Up; Vice Presidential Debate Tonight. Aired 11-11:30a ET
Aired September 8, 2016 - 11:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
[11:00:14] HILLARY CLINTON, (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: What kind of genius loses $1 billion in a single year?
DONALD TRUMP, (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Hillary Clinton has never created a single job in her life.
CLINTON: He started his business with a $14 million loan from his father.
TRUMP: Hasn't made an honest dollar in her life.
JOE BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Where in the hell is he from?
MIKE PENCE, (R), INDIANA GOVERNOR & VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: When Tim Kaine was governor, he actually tried to raise taxes by $4 billion.
SEN. TIM KAINE, (D), VIRGINIA, VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: He ran a one-man crusade to allow Indiana businesses to discriminate against LGBTQ America.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. I'm John Berman.
KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everybody. I'm Kate Bolduan.
We're live from Farmville, Virginia, and in the immortal words, James Stockdale, who am I, why am I here, because, friends, it is debate day in America once again. The one and only face-off for running mates, Mike Pence and Tim Kaine, just hours away.
The debate here coming as Hillary Clinton is seeing a bump in the polls. Donald Trump is taking some lumps in the headlines. He had a bad week and, yes, your calendar is correct, it is just Tuesday. The controversies piling up over his taxes and his foundation.
BERMAN: Five weeks now until Election Day. Donald Trump is down five points to Hillary Clinton in our latest CNN/ORC poll in the four-way race.
Let us begin our coverage with Sunlen Serfaty. She is just outside the debate hall here at Longwood University.
Sunlen, big week.
SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It sure is, John. Donald Trump's no good, very bad week certainly adds to the drama and ups the stakes around the vice presidential debate tonight where the responsibility no doubt will squarely fall on his running mate Mike Pence's shoulders to defend himself and their ticket against all these controversies, including, first and foremost, the controversy, the new revelations in "The New York Times" over the weekend about Trump legally avoiding paying income taxes for nearly two decades. Now, this is something that Vice President Joe Biden quickly picked up on in an interview with CNN's Chris Cuomo. He slammed Trump and said that paying taxes is doing your part for the country.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BIDEN: As my dad says, it's a small price to pay. Since when does somebody who lives on the top of the world in a penthouse overlooking the world be in a position where he doesn't feel any obligation at all to pay any federal income tax to support the military, to support education, to support our foreign policy? Since when is that a patriotic thing to do? Can you imagine any other president, any other president to ever say that and be proud of that? I can't fathom it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SERFATY: As Hillary Clinton goes on the attack on this as well, Donald Trump has been forced on the campaign trail to try to defend himself, trying to defuse the situation. Trump saying he was just able to, you know, beat a bad system, use the tax laws to his benefit is what he said at his rally last night. Certainly, John, Kate, this puts the pressure on Mike Pence tonight to potentially navigate through some tricky waters.
BOLDUAN: As if he didn't have any pressure to begin with, now he's answering for the brilliance.
With us now -- thank you so much, Sunlen.
With us now to discuss, Trump supporter, Matt Schlapp, he was the political director for George W. Bush; CNN political commentator and Clinton supporter, Symone Sanders here, who also worked, of course, for Bernie Sanders; campaign; also with us, CNN political commentator, Trump supporter, Andre Bauer, the former lieutenant governor of South Carolina; and another South Carolina person with us, CNN commentator and Clinton supporter, Bakari Sellers, a former member of the South Carolina statehouse.
A lot of South Carolina here today.
We have a debate tonight, yes. That's part one. Part two is, this is also a moment when Hillary Clinton is up five points in the CNN poll, Matt. And Donald Trump is up against arguably one of the biggest controversies he's facing --
MATT SCHLAPP, TRUMP SUPPORTER & FORMER POLITICAL DIRECTOR FOR GEORGE W. BUSH: Sure
BOLDUAN: -- regarding his taxes or lack thereof. Where are we in the race today?
SCHLAPP: I think if you look at most of the polls across the country that are coming in, this is a close race. I think Hillary Clinton said it the other day, why aren't I 50 points up? There's a little frustration in the Clinton camp. This seems to be a tight race. People, at the end of the day, they're not going to vote on tax returns. They're not going to vote on these extraneous issues. They are not going to vote on the central question, which is the economy, and the fact the American voter feels like, for 15 years -- this goes truly into the end of the Bush administration as well -- they haven't seen their take home pay rise. They haven't seen their economic prospects get better. And when we look overseas and see what's happening with Islamic terrorists, it scares the heck out of them. They want a candidate that will answer their questions. That's why over 70 percent of the American people think the country's on the wrong track and they want change.
[11:05:15] BERMAN: Symone, I'll put that same question to you. Where are we in this race right now? Some of the headlines you read literally say the worst week ever for Donald Trump. If it really has been the worst week ever for Donald Trump, why is it and arguably margin of error race now?
SYMONE SANDERS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think voters -- I would agree with Matt actually.
BERMAN: You're not supposed to agree.
BOLDUAN: Get off the set. Get off the set.
SANDERS: I would say the economy is very important. Here's where -- I'm going to disagree -- that Donald Trump's taxes are going to be a real problem. Every day hard-working people in America, main-street folks, blue collar workers, people that arguably, some of them -- a lot of them supported Senator Sanders in this race. Some folks are looking at Donald Trump. They don't want a person that has benefited from this rigged economic system that we're talking about. And Donald Trump's taxes are an issue.
And I guess the reason this race is so close though is because we have to remember a lot of people have just started paying attention. We're all politicos, but everyday American people, they have just now been tuning into this election. This is going to be a pivotal five weeks in this election, and things like Donald Trump's -- one of his worst weeks ever, I'm going to say one of because we've had a couple, these matter an will matter to voters. BOLDUAN: Taxes, that is the issue. One of the issues that is the
leading edge issue in the campaign trail. And John points out perfectly this morning, it's rare that the campaigns, both campaigns are talking about the same issue at the same time, this being Donald Trump's taxes. To remind our viewers, listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: As a businessman and really estate developer, I have legally used the tax laws to my benefit, and to --
TRUMP: -- the benefit of my company, my investors and my employees. I mean, honestly, I have brilliantly -- I have brilliantly used those laws.
CLINTON: Back in the 1990s, Trump apparently lost $1 billion in a single year on bad investments and failing casinos. Now, how anybody can lose a dollar, let alone $1 billion, in the casino industry is kind of beyond me. Right?
What kind of genius loses $1 billion in a single year?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BOLDUAN: To the genius on the panel, Bakari Sellers, I say only half- joking --
-- what's your view of this? Did team Clinton come upon the holy grail of issues, Donald Trump taxes, the mystery surrounding it?
BAKARI SELLERS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: There's been a lot issues Trump brought upon himself. I think Hillary Clinton framed the issue perfectly and then "The New York Times" ran this article. Yes, Donald Trump did lose nearly $1 billion, which was 22 percent of all the net operating losses filed for every American in the United States. He was 2 percent of the losses that were incurred in the entire United States. What it does it goes to the heart of his whole campaign, that he is some brilliant businessman, and he's not. The "Charlotte Observer" even stated today that Donald Trump isn't brilliant. Donald Trump isn't smart. Donald Trump is a free loader. Who takes care of all of those resources? Who takes care of all those services that the government provides Donald Trump and his family? It's the little people. It's the fact he's not playing taxes, as Symone said, which are going to drive middle class Americans and average everyday working Americans crazy.
BERMAN: Andre, obviously, I want to give you a chance to respond to this. You are actually in the real estate business. As an aside here on politics, look, you cover campaigns, you can smell fear in a campaign when they're really scared of an issue. I'm not sure I fully smell fear from the Trump campaign on this issue, or else he wouldn't be talking about it as he was yesterday on the campaign trail.
ANDRE BAUER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: A couple of things. Number one, Donald Trump pays more in taxes in one year than most people pay in a lifetime.
BERMAN: Not income taxes. Not federal income taxes. You know that's a totally different thing.
BAUER: But when people say he didn't pay taxes, that's not true. He pays hundreds of millions of dollars --
BOLDUAN: Do you think that issue is a win argument?
BAUER: Absolutely. Number one, you say 22,000-plus people currently employed by Donald Trump, over $9.5 billion in annual revenues. So there's a lot of people that may say, you say he's not paying income taxes but I have a job because of him. Everybody has down years.
So for Hillary Clinton to talk about what kind of businessman is he, she wrote off $700,000, and all she does is give political speeches. So, no, she doesn't know what it's like to have things that you can appreciate. Real estate, it takes a 40-year depreciation for real estate. To say he wrote off 18 years is incorrect. That's what, by law, he has -- that's how long he has to use that write off. That's not what he can write off. This is totally a misnomer. It's the media not clearly stating what's happening.
[11:10:06] BOLDUAN: But here's the thing, we would love to know exactly what --
SANDERS: We don't have Donald Trump's taxes.
You don't know either.
BAUER: Why would anybody -- this is why businesspeople don't offer themselves for public service. The very people that are criticizing this are the very people that served in public office that could have changed this policy.
SCHLAPP: Like Hillary Clinton, who was dead broke, and in a little over a decade is worth hundreds of millions of dollars while in government service. It's amazing. That's the story here, which is how -- what was she selling? Why was she able to make so much money?
SCHLAPP: Where are her transcripts? Why can't we see --
SANDERS: That's actually not the story. The story here is Donald Trump --
BERMAN: Hang on a minute.
SANDERS: No, the story here is the Republican nominee for president has gamed the tax system, gloated about it in the first presidential debate, and is now out here actively trying to spin it into something good for the American people.
SELLERS: Even more importantly, this -- I love hearing Matt and Andre spin themselves about this. Because the fact is if Donald Trump was making and of this money, why is he stiffing the contractors who worked every single day?
BAUER: He's not.
SELLERS: We have story after story after story.
BAUER: Bring them on. Where are they?
SELLERS: You want to know?
SELLERS: You want to know the 3,000 lawsuits that he's facing?
BAUER: What's the names? What names?
SELLERS: -- have story and after story.
BOLDUAN: CNN has done stories with these people.
SELLERS: But not only that --
BOLDUAN: I can provide you with the link, Matt.
SELLERS: You can actually go back and look at the charitable giving. We're talking about the fact that the Clintons --
BAUER: -- their own foundation -- (CROSSTALK)
BERMAN: Andre, Andre, Andre, what we are going to do is this --
BOLDUAN: When I do this, this means stop talking --
BERMAN: Andre Bauer, the Clintons donated to their own foundation. Donald Trump hasn't donated to his --
SELLERS: John, that's actually not true. The Clintons have two foundations. They have a warehouse, which is the Clinton Family Foundation, then the Bill and Hillary Clinton Foundation, which we refer to as the Clinton Foundation. Yes, they do donate money, a lot of money, $20 million, of which --
SCHLAPP: Of which 10 percent --
BOLDUAN: Hang on.
SELLERS: -- to the Clinton Family Foundation, which is how they dole out grants. It's a misnomer. You know how we know this? Because we've seen their taxes.
SCHLAPP: And that's how his daughter gets a $900,000 part-time job.
BERMAN: Whoa, whoa, whoa.
SCHLAPP: The Clinton Foundation, out of the Clinton Foundation.
SELLERS: Nobody gets paid from the Clinton Foundation.
SANDERS: Nobody gets paid --
SCHLAPP: Travel as well. Only 10 percent goes to actual donations --
SANDERS: I think what we're seeing here is a real robust conversation about the Clinton Foundation because we have a clear example of what the finances look like, because we have seen the taxes. We cannot have --
SANDERS: -- a conversation, a true robust conversation about his foundation, because we have not seen the receipts.
BOLDUAN: So as we have this conversation, that does beg the question, what are they going to talk about on that debate stage.
BERMAN: This is going to be an interesting night. Mike Pence and Tim Kaine, they'll have a fun time talking about this. Whoo.
BOLDUAN: Exactly right. Something to ponder. On that debate stage tonight, this goes exactly to the conversation had, how many times does Tim Kaine mention Mike Pence by name, and how many times does Tim Kaine name check Donald Trump on that stage? We're going to talk to the senior spokesperson for the Clinton campaign, next.
BERMAN: And, first, she called Donald Trump a role model for children, but then the New Hampshire Senator took it back, so when did it become a liability to say the man at the top of the ticket would be a role model for kids? That's next.
[11:17:25] BERMAN: We are just hours away from the vice presidential debate here in Virginia, the faceoff in Farmville, the lambasting at Longwood University, the rumble of running mates. Governor Mike Pence and Senator Kaine going head to head for their first only, only official debate.
BOLDUAN: John Berman breaking out the thesaurus for that one.
Phil Mattingly is joining us in the debate hall.
Phil, what are we expecting tonight?
PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm stuck on Berman now. That was an impressive trio right there.
Look, tonight, it will be a similar format in some ways to what we saw in that first debate. You're not expecting the same type of audience but you are expecting a lot of people to tune in. What you'll have is 90 commercial-free minutes. It will be on that stage behind me right now. Both candidates will be seated. Tim Kaine will be getting the first question due to a coin toss.
I can confirm from watching the stand-ins going through things, the Teleprompter works and Mike Pence's stand in is excellent at improve when it comes to dealing with these types of issues. But when it comes to the actual debate itself, this is a really important moment. I think a lot of people are trying to move past what this means, look forward to Sunday night's next presidential debate. But for both of these candidates facing off with one another, clearly the biggest stage of their career, even though they're accomplished politicians that have been through a number of debates before, this is an opportunity, a little bit like what we saw a week ago, to talk about their candidate, to talk about their campaigns, but also to try and put the other candidate on the defense. What it is going to be in those nine and 10-minute segments, there
will be a question and each will have two minutes to respond and then it will be more free form. The debate moderator, Elaine Guijano, can come in and ask questions as well. But the expectation is there will be a back and froth.
When you talk to advisers in the campaigns, Hillary Clinton's team is hoping Tim Kaine can get Pence on the defensive, make this debate, Kate, as you noted earlier, all about Donald Trump. I think Pence wants to do the same thing, make this about Hillary Clinton. If either of these candidates come off the stage and the story's all about them, they probably did something wrong.
The expectation is to look for them to be talking about the principals of their campaign, look for them not to make any mistake, but certainly look for them to try to set the tone as we move into the second presidential debate on Sunday -- guys?
BERMAN: Shrewd analysis from Phil Mattingly inside that debate hall.
BOLDUAN: As always.
BERMAN: Thank you, Phil.
I want to bring in Karen Finney, senior adviser for communications and political outreach and senior spokesperson for the Hillary Clinton campaign. She works for Tim Kaine right now on the V.P. trail.
I want to throw out four names for you.
KAREN FINNEY, SENIOR ADVISOR FOR COMMUNICATIONS AND POLITICAL OUTREACH & SENIOR SPOKESMAN, HILLARY CLINTON PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN: OK, I got it.
BERMAN: Hillary Clinton, Tim Kaine, Mike Pence, Donald Trump.
[11:20:09] FINNEY: Yes.
BERMAN: Which of those names is this debate about?
FINNEY: Well, it's most about I would say Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. I would also say, you know, the difference here, I think you saw this last week with Hillary and also about the vision that Hillary and Senator Kaine have versus where they want to take the country. I think we'll be hearing a lot about the top of the ticket. I think that's a little difference in the vice presidential debate because the V.P. candidates are talking about their running mate a little bit more probably than themselves.
BOLDUAN: What is the main goal? How do you put Mike Pence on defense tonight?
FINNEY: I don't think we have to put him on defense because he walks in the door on defense. Donald Trump had a disastrous performance at the debate. He had a disastrous week. Who gets up at 3:00 in the morning to berate a woman and -- who you thought was fat and go off on her like that?
BOLDUAN: But is that setting the bar low for Mike Pence to succeed though? Because Mike Pence --
BERMAN: Mike Pence is a --
BOLDUAN: -- Donald Trump --
BOLDUAN: -- style will be very different.
FINNEY: I think that's the question. Their ticket has had a really awful week. The question is how far is Mike Pence willing to go to defend Donald Trump? Because we've seen him defend some of the things Trump has said like Putin is a better leader than Obama. In other instances, he won't. I think the question is -- we've already heard, he believes he has to try to change the dynamic in this debate for their campaign leading into the next debate. Whereas, Tim Kaine gets to come in and talk about things like middle class tax cuts and the kinds of things that he and Hillary want to do to keep us safe here at home and around the world and not on defense.
BERMAN: There is an RNC web video ad that talks about Tim Kaine's record largely as a lawyer but also as governor of Virginia, how he defended criminals. Criminals, a lot on death row, criminals convicted of doing largely horrible things, and he was trying to get them from being executed in some cases or trying to change the sentences in some cases. Is there anything about the ad that's not true?
FINNEY: Well, I think it was shameful that the RNC was touting the fact that it was a Willie Horton-style ad. I thought that was pretty --
BERMAN: They say what they --
FINNEY: When you're tweeting out --
BERMAN: Sean Spicer said --
FINNEY: When you tweet out the title, you know exactly what you're saying --
BERMAN: Willie Horton aside.
FINNEY: Willie Horton aside. Look, I think here's where the distortion about that ad, you know, Tim Kaine is a man of deep faith, he is opposed to the death penalty. During his time as a lawyer, he did have a couple cases where he was court appointed. In those instances, he did -- because of his reaction to the death penalty, he did try to seek, you know, life in prison for some of these folks. In some instances, there may have been issues with the actual process. It wasn't necessarily that the person may not have been guilty but, process-wise, as we know, in a legal proceeding, that can make the difference between the death penalty or life imprisonment.
What I find shameful about this, though, if they tried this against him once before when he ran in Virginia. And, you know, again, this comes from a place of deep faith. When he ran for governor, he made it very clear he would uphold the law of the state of Virginia, which he did.
BERMAN: He's never lost an election here.
FINNEY: But I think because they know that is a point of -- you know, this is a point of moral faith for him, I think to attack it as if to suggest he was trying to, you know, let people go free -- I mean, in one of the cases, for example, the person had brain damage and had real mental issues.
BOLDUAN: Karen, on taxes, we, as journalists, all support full -- as much disclosure as possible. We would love to learn more about taxes and business dealings of Trump and Clinton. When it comes to Donald Trump's taxes, there is no suggestion, there is no evidence right now that he broke the law --
BOLDUAN: -- in terms of what he did with his taxes. Is there any reason to not try to pay as little income tax as possible?
FINNEY: Here's the thing --
BOLDUAN: Doesn't everyone try to do that?
FINNEY: He has put his business record out there as this is the testament to what a great person I am and how great I'm going to make everything when I'm president. Well, to lose $1 billion in a year that's a lot of money. More importantly, that's a lot of other businesses that went out of business because you tanked your business. He may have made money, but it caused a lot of pain for people who were either part of those companies or businesses or dependent. And then we've also seen him basically, you know, bilk people out of money, whether it's Trump University or whether it's --
(CROSSTALK) BOLDUAN: -- before there was any -- release of any kind of tax information. W heard from Hillary Clinton, other Democrats who said I don't believe he paid any in taxes. And what I'm hearing you say is don't look at the taxes, look at the business.
FINNEY: Well, I'm saying both things. I'm suggesting that, you know, he is out there touting -- he said it makes me a smart businessman. So you not paying any taxes makes you a smart businessman and that's the record you want to take to the American people and try to convince them that you're going to be -- that you care about them when basically your career in business shows you care about yourself more than anybody else. I think that's part of what's relevant.
I also think it's relevant because this is a man who, in 2014, before he decided to run, promised to release his taxes. So what's the problem with keeping that promise?
[11:25:35] BERMAN: We would like to see taxes. We would like to see taxes, period.
Karen Finney, thank you.
FINNEY: Thank you.
BOLDUAN: thanks, Karen. Good luck tonight.
BERMAN: Battleground blitz. Hillary Clinton with big help on the campaign trail today, including from the First Lady Michelle Obama. Will this help win over undecided voters, perhaps, some younger voters in key battleground states?
BOLDUAN: And a brand-new forecast out for Hurricane Matthew. The dangerous storm slamming into Haiti. How strong is it now? How is the U.S. preparing for a possible impact? We'll have an update coming up.