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THE SITUATION ROOM
Bombshell Trump Tape Emerges; Matthew Slams Florida, Targets Georgia and Carolinas; On Tape, Trump Brags "As a Star" He Can Grope Women; U.S. Blames Russia for Election Cyberattacks; Trump Apologizes After Lewd Conversation Leaks. Aired 6-7p ET
Aired October 7, 2016 - 18:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: How much damage will the city suffer?
We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
BLITZER: We're following two major breaking news stories, including a bombshell in the race for the White House. An audio recording has surfaced of Donald Trump engaging in a very vulgar conversation about women, bragging about groping them. He also talks about how he tried to seduce a married woman, saying -- and I'm quoting him now -- "When you're a star, they let you do it."
Trump has issued what's believed to be the first apology of his campaign.
We're also following Hurricane Matthew right now, a powerful and dangerous Category 2 storm. The National Hurricane Center has just issued a new advisory, saying Matthew is causing devastation along the Northeast Florida coast right now.
Winds are clocked at 110 miles per hour. Three deaths are now being blamed on the storm in the United States, and more than a million customers in Florida right now are without power.
We're covering all angles of the breaking news this hour with our correspondents, our guests, and our expert analysts.
Let's begin, though, with the stunning new Trump recording.
Our senior political correspondent, Brianna Keilar, is here with the very latest.
Brianna, this is a political earthquake.
BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Wolf, and questions tonight if Donald Trump and his campaign can recover from this.
The candidate caught on tape describing and endorsing forcibly kissing women and grabbing them by their genitalia.
DONALD TRUMP, CHAIRMAN & CEO, TRUMP HOTELS & CASINO RESORTS: And I did try and (EXPLETIVE DELETED) her. She was married.
KEILAR (voice-over): A new video sending shockwaves through the presidential race tonight, taping an interview in 2005 with the TV show "Access Hollywood," Donald Trump speaking in vulgar turns about his pursuit of women.
TRUMP: Grab them by the pussy. I can do anything.
KEILAR: In the clip obtained by "The Washington Post," Trump tells host Billy Bush that he's not always successful in those efforts.
TRUMP: I moved on her like a bitch, but I couldn't get there. And she was married.
KEILAR: Trump and Bush then seem to see Arianne Zucker, the soap opera actress, who greets them getting off the bus.
BILLY BUSH, "ACCESS HOLLYWOOD": Sheesh, your girl's hot as shit in the purple. Whoa. Whoa.
TRUMP: I've got to use some Tic Tacs, just in case I start kissing her. You know I'm automatically attracted to beautiful. I just start kissing them. It's like a magnet. I just kiss. I don't even wait. And, when you're a star they let you do it. You can do anything.
BUSH: Whatever you want.
TRUMP: Grab them by the pussy.
TRUMP: I can do anything.
KEILAR: The Trump campaign released a statement from the candidate moments after "The Post" published a video, offering an apology of sorts.
"This was locker room banter, a private conversation that took place many years again," Trump says in the statement. "Bill Clinton has said far worse to me on the golf course. Not even close. I apologize if anyone was offended."
KEILAR: And we are getting some response, even just from people who are on the campaign. Donald Trump has sort of apologized for this, saying he's sorry if people are offended.
But some pretty stunning reporting coming from our Phil Mattingly, who spoke to a Donald Trump field staffer who was actually in a field office when this story broke, this person telling Phil that there were gasps, collective gasps. "We're trying to get our heads around it right now, but there's no way to spin this. There just isn't" -- Wolf.
BLITZER: All right, Brianna, stay with us.
I want to bring in our political experts right now.
Gloria Borger, when you saw this audio from this tape, you see it's two days before the presidential debate with Hillary Clinton, 30-plus days before the election, you said to yourself?
GLORIA BORGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: There's no way to get around this, Wolf.
It's not something that the candidate can sort of pass off and say, oh, I was being politically incorrect, which is a phrase he likes to use. It's hard to know where to start or how to dissect it.
The tape is unexplainable. But the fact that he issued an apology that wasn't an apology, and tried to sort of talk about Bill Clinton in the same breath, he no longer has any standing to talk about Bill Clinton and Bill Clinton's behavior, period, after this, after this tape.
My phone has been going wild from Republicans. I just heard from one who said -- this Republican said that they "heard the Trump tape in the car with my daughter. It was humiliating." This is from a Republican. "Awful."
And then I heard from another Republican who was saying that they're worried about the problems they have been having with independent voters, which you saw in the Quinnipiac poll today, Clinton 46, Trump 32. He's bleeding independents.
They believe that this is going to hurt them that way. But I don't think that there's any way to get around this, and the first attempt at it, Wolf, just wasn't enough.
BLITZER: Yes, the statement, I will just read it one more time.
"This was locker room banter, a private conversation that took place many years ago. Bill Clinton has said far worse to me on the golf course. Not even close. I apologize if anyone was offended."
BORGER: What does he mean if by the way?
BLITZER: That apology was a sort of an apology, apologizing if someone, if anyone was offended.
JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: I think everybody is offended.
BORGER: Well, and if you're not offended, OK, fine.
KEILAR: Well, there are some people not offended, but it seems like they're people who are die-hard Trump supporters.
KEILAR: And he is going to maintain a lot of support among those folks.
What he needs to do is expand his support, and he's been -- he's on the downswing from this, and that kind of adds a weight to it.
BLITZER: Mark Preston is over already in Saint Louis getting ready to cover the second presidential debate.
Mark, you're getting some new information. What are you learning?
MARK PRESTON, CNN POLITICAL EDITOR: We are, a couple things, Wolf.
I have been on the phone with Republicans in Florida, in Iowa, in New Hampshire, trying to get quick reaction on what their thoughts are. As Gloria was saying, appalling, what they're saying, but getting a mixed reaction to this.
One is, hey, listen, everybody knows he's the playboy. His supporters will stand by him and it's just going to harden the positions of those who are supporting him. However, they concede this, though. They concede this. That middle vote that they need, the vote that's going to matter, that's going to win the election for Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump is gone.
There's one Republican in Florida I spoke to, very well-known Republican who was asked not to be named, but he said to me: "It's over. It is over."
And at this point, Wolf, you have to wonder how many straws are piling on the back of the camel. It appears that this could be the one that breaks it. Now, our colleague M.J. Lee has some reporting from inside the campaign. She's telling us now, M.J. is telling us now that a close adviser to Donald Trump describes "The Post" story as flat-out appalling.
Now, Wolf, that's important. It's from inside the campaign. And at this point, they can't even begin to guess how Trump can come back from this -- quote -- "This should have never happened. I wish it had never happened. I think -- I know that men talk this way sometimes, but it's nothing I would ever want to hear or condone or approve of," the adviser says.
My reaction is: "It's appalling. It's just flat-out appalling."
So there you go, Wolf. As Republicans are trying to put their arms around what's going on, we are heading into a debate tomorrow night that could be watched by more than 84 million people, which could break records. Donald Trump is really against the ropes.
BLITZER: Yes, the debate is Sunday night, that debate, if -- in fact, who knows if it's even going to take place, given this tumultuousness of this latest bombshell. I assume it will.
But Rebecca Berg is with us as well.
Hillary Clinton's reaction in her tweet: "This is horrific. We cannot allow this man to become president," a short simple tweet like that.
REBECCA BERG, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, this is obviously a major gift for Hillary Clinton and her campaign wrapped up with a bow on top.
She has been trying to make the point all along, trying to attract women voters and suburban families who are key to this election that Donald Trump is not good for women, that he doesn't respect women. And this -- remarks today that has come forward is just -- completely makes that point for her without her having to utter a single word.
But I was just texting with one Republican who does support Trump. And this Republican made the point that, while this is obviously inexcusable, while there is no defense for this sort of language, you have to ask the question, does this surprise people?
Because elections are won or lost when there is a development that surprises voters, it takes them aback and maybe turns their expectations of a candidate on their face. With Donald Trump, many voters already feel that he does not respect women, and they know about remarks he's made regarding women in the past that have been controversial.
So is this going to be a major surprise to them? Certainly, for many voters, this will cross a new line. But, for others, maybe it will not. And I think that's going to be the deciding factor when we look how important this is.
BLITZER: Dana Bash is getting more reaction to this bombshell as well.
Dana, what are you learning?
DANA BASH, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I was talking to somebody who is a humongous fan of Donald Trump, somebody who is a big supporter, and has been an adviser who said, they just can't imagine any woman in this country voting for Donald Trump after seeing this.
And more importantly, hearing the idea of him using the P-word, forgive me, but -- and talking about grabbing that as a way to push himself on a woman, because he's famous and because that's what you do when you're famous.
It's almost hard for everybody to wrap their minds around that this is something that happened and that is public, and that happened, you know, almost a little more than a month before the election.
One thing that we were talking about last hour, Wolf, is whether or not Trump is going to just let this two-sentence statement where he talked about Bill Clinton and not -- and sort of gave kind of an apology, whether they're going to let that stand, or whether or not Trump is going to come out in another way to try to further explain or at least try to do some more damage control.
My understanding, my impression is that that is not going to happen tonight. So, then it's one more day tomorrow, and then Sunday is the debate. Tomorrow, he's supposed to have a big event with the Wisconsin Republican leadership, including the House speaker, the RNC chair, Reince Priebus, who of course is from Wisconsin, the governor of Wisconsin, Scott Walker, who literally is an Eagle Scout, and I can't imagine him being comfortable with saying -- with hearing this kind of stuff.
So there's an immediate question is, what happens with this event? They were all supposed to be on the same stage, which was going to be a big deal. Is that going to happen starting at 2:00 p.m., Wisconsin time, tomorrow?
BLITZER: It's a good question.
Gloria, what does this do to those suburban women that he was trying to court to get their support?
BORGER: I think it's a huge problem, Wolf. I mean, suburban married women, not only whom he's been having trouble with, but not only suburban women, but, if they're married, their husbands, because this is going to be a conversation.
And one of my sources who heard the tape in a car with a child, this is -- you know, this is something that strikes families. This is a person you're going to put in the Oval Office, and you have to think about that, as people did during the days of Bill Clinton. The big question that was being asked by lots of Republicans, and by lots of Democrats at the time of Bill Clinton, was, is he suitable for the Oval Office after the Lewinsky affair?
Well, this is before an election. The language, as Dana was saying, kind of it's hard to get your arms around, and it stops you in your tracks, I think, to a degree. And I think that's what suburban married women will be thinking about, and he's already way behind with them, Wolf. He's already got a 20-point deficit with women to begin with.
BLITZER: You wanted to...
ACOSTA: I just wanted to throw one thing in.
And that is, I think one thing we have to watch is, when does this party start to run away from Donald Trump? Kelly Ayotte, who is running for reelection up in New Hampshire, she hasn't exactly really embraced Donald Trump up there.
Actually, she's had a tough time talking about him. She put out a statement just a few moments ago saying his comments are totally inappropriate and offensive. I just heard from a senior Trump campaign adviser who I asked, can Donald Trump recover from this? And this person said -- quote -- "It's pretty tough."
I think there's an acknowledgement that's settling in inside Trump Tower right now that this might be it.
David Chalian, I know you're working your sources as well. This might be it. Potentially, this could be the disaster that Hillary Clinton supporters were looking for as far as Donald Trump is concerned. But we have suggested that in the past, and he's overcome those problems.
DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: He has. There's no doubt.
We have definitely hyperventilated about Donald Trump. I think we are in a different moment right now. Wolf, what everyone is saying here, Donald Trump has to add voters right now. You have to remember the context of where we are in the race right now. He's behind.
He was already on the ropes heading into this second debate, round two. He was still struggling with trying to solve this problem for independent voters, suburban voters of whether or not he's fit for the office, because he didn't solve that question for them after the first debate.
So this just takes the bottom out from underneath him. Three things to watch right now very clearly. Donald Trump is not done responding to this, obviously. That statement alone is not going to do it. So what are they going to do either before the debate or in the debate to try to put this behind them, one?
Two, as Jim Acosta was just saying, what does the Republican Party do now in terms of saving down-ballot races and the event with Paul Ryan tomorrow?
And, three -- and this, we should not forget -- the Clinton campaign, of course, is going to use this to their advantage tremendously. So when do we start seeing and hearing this audio in television ads from the Clinton campaign or the pro-Clinton super PACs across these battleground states?
Just step back for one second and ask, how does today's story add a single voter to Donald Trump's coalition? And I don't think there's an answer to that, that it does.
BLITZER: Brianna is getting more information as well, more reaction pouring in.
KEILAR: Well, actually, I just want to highlight something that we're getting from the pool report coming out of where Mike Pence is.
BLITZER: Now, explain what the pool report means.
KEILAR: The pool report is a limited group of reporters who follow a candidate or the vice presidential candidate around, and basically report mostly their every move. But they go to events, not just rallies, which we saw Mike Pence at.
But they were also at a restaurant, where he just makes an appearance, tries to get voters on his side, Donald Trump's side. He's in Toledo, Ohio, for this. And the pooler reports that they're being brought into the back of this restaurant to get pictures. And this is also a chance maybe to throw a question at the candidate of Mike Pence signing something that is customary to sign in this restaurant, oddly, a hot dog bun.
But that is what the visual is going to be. And the person from the campaign who is with them and is leading them back -- and this is all happening just after this story breaks -- sort of pauses, has the pool of reporters stay where they are, goes back to the back of the restaurant where the aides and where Mike Pence is, and then comes back and says, you know what? We're not doing this, and you're -- we're leaving now.
And they want to know if they can get a shot of him as he's leaving the restaurant, which is also another opportunity to ask a question. And they are prohibited from doing that.
So, right now, you're seeing this campaign very much in shutdown mode until they figure out how to handle this, because it's a situation that's almost impossible to know how to handle.
BLITZER: Mark Preston, you're getting more reaction as well.
I assume David Chalian is right. At some point, Donald Trump has to go out and make a statement formally and, as best as he can, apologize, not with the words, "if anyone was offended," but directly speak to the American people.
PRESTON: You know, Wolf, Donald Trump is a gentleman who said, in a room full of Christian conservatives -- and when I say a room full, over 1,000 -- basically told them that he didn't ever really apologize to God or ask grace from God, because he just didn't do it.
I don't know how he comes out and actually apologizes. He came out just a few weeks ago, and he said he put the birther issue to an end, and it lasted all about seven seconds.
I think that Donald Trump's ego is so big that it's going to prevent him from saving himself. Forget about running for president now, but saving himself and his reputation and try to look better.
And I think that we have to take a step back and look at where we are right now in this campaign. Everything that has happened bad to Donald Trump has been self-inflicted by Donald Trump. Donald Trump, who would have had a very good chance, a very, very good chance of defeating Hillary Clinton, who has very high unfavorables, but Donald Trump has gone out and has continued, continued to do things that makes Republicans squirm and squiggle and have to explain why they're still supporting him.
As David Chalian was saying, Wolf, we're at a time in the campaign right now where it absolutely does matter. These things that he said before, not everybody was clued in. But the whole nation now is tuning in. And I think that's why Donald Trump is incredible trouble, not just for his run for president right now, but his long-term reputation as he leaves the presidential race back in November.
BLITZER: So, Rebecca Berg, what does he do now? He's got two days before this presidential debate, 30-plus days until the election. How does he overcome what clearly is a political disaster?
BERG: Well, he will need, first of all, I think a stronger statement than the one he's already put out through his campaign. Many people will not take that to mean an apology, nor does it really address why he said what he said, why he thought that was acceptable language to use.
But, come debate night, he's going to have to have a gangbuster performance. We saw him struggle in the last debate, get defensive, get off track. He's going to need a much stronger message in this debate. He's going to need to be focused and prepared, which we know is difficult for Donald Trump.
But in the next few days, he's also going to need to sort of stop the bleeding, because already we have Republicans coming out, like Jeff Flake, the senator from Arizona, no supporter of Donald Trump, but he tweets now: "America deserves far better than Donald Trump."
And it's possible that we're going to see much more of this from Republicans over the next few days. So, Donald Trump is going to need to do something to sort of get the party behind him or at least stop the bleeding for right now, so he can recover and move on.
BLITZER: And he's got to move quickly, because this damage is explosive right now.
BERG: He does.
BLITZER: All right, everyone, stand by.
We are going to continue to follow the breaking news, this political bombshell. Much more right after this.
BLITZER: We're following major breaking political news in the presidential race.
An old audio recording has now surfaced of Donald Trump engaging in a very vulgar conversation about women, bragging about groping them. He also talks about how he tried to seduce a married woman, saying -- and I'm quoting him now -- "When you're a star, they let you do it."
Trump has issued what's believed to be the first apology, at least of sorts, of his campaign.
Joining us now on the phone is CNN political commentator former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski.
Corey, I want to replay some of that audiotape for viewers who are just tuning in right now.
This is audiotape from back in 2005.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I moved on her, actually. You know she was down on Palm Beach. I moved on her. And I failed. I will admit it.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Whoa.
TRUMP: I did try and (EXPLETIVE DELETED) her. She was married.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's huge news there.
TRUMP: No, no, Nancy. This was -- and I moved on her very heavily. In fact, I took her out furniture shopping. She wanted to get some furniture.
I said, I will show you where they have some nice furniture.
TRUMP: I took her out furniture -- I moved on her like a bitch, but I couldn't get there. And she was married.
Then, all of a sudden, I see her, she's now got the big, phony tits and everything. And she's totally changed her look.
BUSH: Sheesh, your girl's hot as shit in the purple.
TRUMP: Whoa! Whoa!
BUSH: Yes! The Donald has scored.
BUSH: Whoa, my man!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Wait. Wait. You got to look at me when you...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just remember who set this up.
[18:25:01] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Will you give me the thumbs...
TRUMP: Look at you. You are a pussy.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You got to put the thumbs up. You got to give the thumbs-up.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can't be too happy.
TRUMP: It's very (OFF-MIKE). All right, you and I will walk out.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, my God, it's her.
TRUMP: Maybe it's a different one.
BUSH: It better not be the publicist. No, it's her. It's...
TRUMP: Yes, that's her, with the gold. I better use some Tic Tacs just in case I start kissing her.
You know, I'm automatically attracted to beautiful -- I just start kissing them. It's like a magnet. I just kiss. I don't even wait.
TRUMP: And when you're a star, they let you do it. You can do anything.
BUSH: Whatever you want.
TRUMP: Grab them by the pussy.
TRUMP: I can do anything.
BUSH: Wow. You know, those legs, all I can see is the legs.
TRUMP: No, it looks good.
BUSH: Come on, shorty.
TRUMP: Ooh, nice legs, huh?
BUSH: Oof, get out of the way, honey. Oh, that's good legs. Go ahead.
TRUMP: It's always good if you don't fall out of the bus, like Ford, Gerald Ford, remember?
BUSH: Down below. Pull the handle.
TRUMP: Hello. How are you? Hi.
ARIANNE ZUCKER, ACTRESS: Hi, Mr Trump. How are you?
TRUMP: Nice seeing you. Terrific. Terrific.
ZUCKER: Pleasure to meet you.
You know Billy Bush?
ZUCKER: How are you?
BUSH: Hello. Nice to see you. How you doing, Arianne?
ZUCKER: I'm doing very well, thank you. Are you ready to be a soap star?
TRUMP: We're ready. Let's go. Make me a soap star.
BUSH: How about a little hug for the Donald? He just got off the bus.
ZUCKER: Would you like a little hug, darling?
TRUMP: OK, absolutely. Melania said this was okay, said this was okay.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: That was the audio, the hot mic he was caught on with Billy Bush, who was then the host of "Access Hollywood."
Corey Lewandowski, what was your reaction to hearing this audio and seeing the video?
COREY LEWANDOWSKI, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Look, I think what this comes down to -- and this is not a surprise -- is, clearly, this is not how women should be spoken about.
But we're not choosing a Sunday school teacher here. And I want to be very clear about this. And we -- what we know about Donald Trump, this is 12 years ago, this audiotape. And it does not reflect or bring to mind the Donald Trump that I have spent 18 months with traveling. I have never heard anything like this out of him.
And so let me say, we're appointing a leader. We're electing a leader to the free world. We're not electing a Sunday school teacher. And, you know, I spoke with Jerry Falwell Jr., who runs Liberty University.
And he went out and he reminded us of the difference between Ronald Reagan and Jimmy Carter. And Jimmy Carter was the absolute best person to be a Sunday school teacher for their children. But to have a leader, someone who is tough and will be respected around the world, that's what we're doing here.
And that's what I think Donald Trump is. And are his words perfect? Absolutely not. Is this defensible? I don't think so. And what I do know is that he has apologized, if anyone has been offended. This was a private conversation.
But I know Donald Trump as a husband. I know Donald Trump as the father of two women. And I have seen firsthand the respect that he's had for women over my tenure during employment through the Trump Organization and the Trump campaign.
So, let me say, you know, this private conversation obviously is troubling. But we want a leader who is going to lead America. And you know what? Is that rough sometimes? It is. Is this defensible? Absolutely not.
But what I do know is, he's still the person who is going to lead our country forward, and we should be thinking about what that true leadership looks like with the rest of the world.
BLITZER: Corey, it's not only the language he uses in that video. It's the conversation about casually talking about grabbing women by their private parts, bragging that he can do whatever he wants to these women because he's a celebrity.
That is very, very concerning to a lot of voters out there. He needs to address this directly with the American people. I assume you agree.
LEWANDOWSKI: Look, I think the American people know Donald Trump.
He's spent a lot of time out in public and has done more interviews than anybody else. I think the American people know exactly who Donald Trump is. He's a person -- and what has been such an attraction to Donald Trump is that he's not a career politician. He doesn't measure every word. He speaks from the heart. He speaks the way many times people talk around their dining room table.
Now, does that mean that everything is perfect? Absolutely not. But, really, you have to look at the fact that is it enough to make someone change their position and vote for Hillary Clinton, who now has to lead our country forward in a time of difficult economic crisis, difficult world leadership, a person who has been dishonest, who has an 11 percent approval rating when it comes to trustworthiness and honesty.
And do you want someone who is going to be crass and tough? Maybe. Or do you want someone who is going to be dishonest and potentially doing something illegal? I think, every time, the American people, it's going to be someone who is tough and crass.
BLITZER: Corey, does he need to address this issue before the debate Sunday night in a press conference setting, in an interview? We're in the final stretch of the campaign, as you well know. He has to explain to the American voters out there. He has got to convince women specifically he's fit to serve in the Oval Office.
Look, if I was consulting Donald Trump right now, my advice would be, in addition to the statement that he's put out that says, if people are offended, that he's apologized for that, my advice would be, sit down and do an interview. Let's do that now.
Let's get the opportunity to have a conversation about this now before the debate on Sunday.
[18:30:13] You know, I don't advise Donald Trump, but in my professional opinion, I would be making a recommendation that he goes on TV and has a sit-down interview to discuss the issue.
BLITZER: With a serious journalist, or someone who is just someone who supports him, for example? Would he have a serious interview with a journalist who is going to ask him all the tough questions or just someone who's going to ask him the simple questions and move on?
LEWANDOWSKI: Look, again, if it were me, Wolf, and I was providing counsel to Mr. Trump right now, when we saw Donald Trump sit down with Matt Lauer at the commander in chief's forum, you know, he did an excellent job there. Matt is very a serious interviewer. I would be recommending that you sit down. My recommendation, as a private citizen, as a person who worked at that organization, would be sit down and have an interview. Do it tonight. Do it with a serious journalist. Get the issue out in front of you. You know, get in front of this issue and make sure that you answer the tough questions right now.
BLITZER: The Republicans, they're reacting and pretty much in shock, as you probably have heard by now, Corey. Some are saying you just can't spin this. There were gasps in the room when some Republican organizers were just hearing about this audiotape.
Clearly, the Republican Party is worried, especially about how this could potentially hurt what are called these down-ballot races: Senate races, House races. Are you concerned the party could really run away, for example, from Trump right now?
LEWANDOWSKI: Look, I don't think so. And the reason for that is obviously, Donald Trump has raised the vast majority of the money that the Republican Party has to spend for the election.
And again, I believe Donald Trump is still the best candidate to reverse the downward spiral this nation is in right now. So you have to think about it. You know, you've got a leader who talks tough. He's been very bold. He speaks from the heart. You know, people understand that. They know Donald Trump. That is what is has attracted this massive amount of people to Donald Trump through the last two years of this campaign. They had the opportunity to find the perfect politician. You know, what we don't know -- and I'm not trying to change the
subject here -- we don't have any understanding of what Hillary Clinton has said in those meetings with Wall Street where she was paid for these speeches. She's never released those transcripts. For all we know, the same things are being said in that regard. Now, I don't know if that's the case, and I don't think that the Trump campaign wanted this or knew that this was available or to come out during October. I'm sure that wouldn't be the case strategically.
But what we don't know is what Hillary Clinton has said in some of these speeches, because she refuses to release the audio. Do we have a bombshell in there and we'll find that out in a week from now? I don't know the answer.
But the point is, you've got two candidates in this race. One of the two is going to be the president of the United States, Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton. And you have to make the fundamental decision: Do I want a tough, brash, bold person who's going to say and do whatever it takes to save our country, or a career politician? And I think the choice is very clear.
BLITZER: Corey Lewandowski, thanks very much for joining us.
BLITZER: All right. Let's get reaction now to what we just heard. Joining us on the phone, our political commentator Ana Navarro.
So what was your reaction to what you just heard and your reaction also, Ana, when you heard the audio?
ANA NAVARRO, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR (via phone): You know, Wolf, I was on a plane. I was on a plane back from Washington to Miami. And I started hearing people gasp around me on the plane as they were looking at their iPhones and looking at their iPads and reading this story and listening to this story.
It is absolutely disgusting. It has absolutely no justification. It is inexplicable. This is not locker-room banter. This was a 60-year- old man talking this way about women.
How much more do we need to listen to? How many more times do we need to read about and listen to Donald Trump objectifying women, offending women, insulting women?
I would caution other Republicans. I would caution my Republican brethren, this is a defining moment for our party, not only for this cycle. Be very careful about standing next to this man. This man is a taint. He is tainted. He is a stain on the Republican Party.
What he has done is unjustifiable and is going to be with you the rest of your political career if you stand by him, and if you try to defend the indefensible. We have heard time and time again during this campaign examples of Donald Trump having objectified women.
He is not running to be Sunday schoolteacher, Corey is right. He is running to be the president of the United States of America, the leader of the free world. And that comes with a requirement of having a moral compass. And what he has shown consistently is that he lacks any morality. He is vulgar; he is crass. This is not being tough. This is not being bold. This is not leadership. This is disgusting, plain and simple. He is unfit to be president. He is unfit to be called a man.
BLITZER: All right, Ana, I want you to stick around. Gloria Borger is with us, as well.
Gloria, I want to get your reaction. Corey Lewandowski sort of set the stage for what we will probably hear from a lot of other Donald Trump supporters.
[18:35:04] GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, what Corey is saying is that, you know, that Donald -- this was a private conversation. Donald Trump is brash. He's tough. He's not running to be your Sunday schoolteacher.
I think the language in this just makes Corey's argument very difficult for people. When you hear it, it's difficult. And I just spoke with -- was e-mailing with former Bush campaign manager Sally Bradshaw. She said to me, on the record, "He's a pig. I'm voting for Hillary."
BORGER: This is a key Republican. She's already announced she was voting for Hillary before, but she wanted to say that on the record. Because I think that this is a part in the campaign.
And this may be the October surprise, by the way, that we didn't anticipate, whereas Ana is saying, each man and woman for himself in politics. And they have to decide. Kelly Ayotte, as Jim was talking about, had a very difficult time the other day, saying whether she thought Donald Trump was a role model for children. She said one thing, and then she had to say another. And Paul Ryan is supposed to be with him somewhere tomorrow.
This is where politicians are going to be asked these questions at their own town halls, all over this country, before the election. And they're going to have to make a decision about, if they're with Donald Trump, how they explain this. Do they leave Donald Trump? And I think that it's -- you know, there are lots of campaigns around the country that are having some very difficult questions internally.
BLITZER: David Chalian is with us, as well. David, this is a moment, could be a make-or-break moment for the Donald Trump campaign right now.
DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Well, I think it is clearly that. There's no doubt this is a make-or-break moment.
Listen, I think what you just heard from Corey Lewandowski and from Ana Navarro, represent the Trump loyalists, obviously, and the "never Trumper." And those two factions, that's not going to have the electoral impact.
So if you want to look at the political impact of this, you've got to go back to Donald Trump was still on a quest to grow beyond his base of loyalists. So even his key loyalists, Corey Lewandowski, says, "Is this defensible? I don't think so." And then tries to reframe it.
But the thing that we really need to focus on politically, in terms of its impact on the election, is the voters in the middle that Donald Trump is still -- this Sunday night, his mission going into that debate was to give them assurances that he fits the office he's seeking. And this completely upends that argument for those voters. That is why it is a bombshell in the race.
BLITZER: And Dana bash, he clearly had threatened to bring up Bill Clinton's infidelities, although the other day he told "The New York Post," page six of "The New York Post," he wasn't going to do it. He felt that there were other, more important issues to bring forward.
But this is -- this is a moment that clearly the Hillary Clinton camp is ready to exploit big-time politically, going after him.
DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, he said he wasn't going to bring up Bill Clinton's infidelities, exploitations in the debate. And in his three-sentence response, statement about these tapes, he talked about Bill Clinton and what Bill Clinton has privately said to him on the golf course. So who knows where he's going to go with this? Because he feels that that is some kind of defense, because he's running against Bill Clinton's wife, which I think we should underscore, has absolutely nothing to do with the former president. It's his wife. And especially when you're talking about any kind of untoward talk on the golf course.
Having said that, I think the other thing that we should keep in mind as we look at the effect of this and the ripple effects of this, is Senate races, House races, and races across the board, maybe even all the way down to dog catcher, frankly.
I was just talking to one adviser who is very involved in competitive House races across the country. This is a Republican. Who said already after Donald Trump's poor debate performance and, more importantly, his subsequent attacks on Alicia Machado, the former Miss Universe, they saw the so-called generic ballot number for Republicans go down. And what that means is that it was having an affect down ballot.
This adviser said it's hard to imagine that not being more precipitous after these audiotapes come out. So that is something that we're going to see. We're going to look for.
And the last thing I'll say to you, Wolf, is that, you know, we talked about whether or not Paul Ryan is going to be on the stage still with Donald Trump tomorrow. It's a unity event. It's a big event. Lots of Wisconsin Republicans are going to be there. And I just got a text back from somebody saying it's still up in the air. No one knows how it's going to go down.
BLITZER: Up in the air, not exactly a strong vote of confidence, at least not yet. We'll see what happens in Wisconsin tomorrow.
Everyone, stand by. We're going to continue our special breaking news coverage on this political bombshell. I'm also going to update you on the other breaking news, the hurricane in Florida, moving up towards Georgia, South Carolina. Much more right after this.
[18:45:12] WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Our breaking news, Hurricane Matthew is slamming Florida with powerful winds, heavy rain and flooding. But the governor warns the worst may still live ahead, as the storm targets Georgia and the Carolinas.
Brian Todd is in Charleston, South Carolina, for us.
Brian, people there I understand, they're scrambling to get ready. What's the latest?
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, we are really getting pounded with some heavy rain here and high winds, as this scene gets braced for some of the hardest hits from Hurricane Matthew. It's really getting bad at this hour.
And this comes after the storm just pounded Florida with devastating effects.
TODD (voice-over): Hurricane Matthew barreled into the central coast of Florida early Friday morning, bringing torrential rain and wind gusts of over 100 miles an hour.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How many kids are in there?
UNIDENTIFIED KID: There's 20 of us.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Twenty?
TODD: Causing devastating flooding and leaving almost a million residents without power.
GOV. RICK SCOTT (R), FLORIDA: We're already starting to see the impacts and it's a monster.
TODD: The storm hit Florida as a category 3 hurricane. The major concern in the state, rising water.
SCOTT: We are very concerned about storm surge. And the worst effects are still likely to come.
TODD: President Obama urged residents in the storm's path to take the threat very seriously.
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This is still a really dangerous hurricane, that the potential for storm surge, flooding, loss of life, and severe property damage continues to exist and people continue to need to follow the instructions of their local officials.
TODD: The powerful storm is slowly moving up the coast toward the Carolinas, the National Weather Service has extended hurricane warnings into North Carolina. And now, Georgia and the Carolinas are bracing for impact, pleading with citizens along the coast to move inland and stressing not to underestimate the threat.
GOV. NIKKI HALEY (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: We understand the situation that is before us. And it is not a good one.
TODD: South Carolina officials say there could be up to 11 feet of storm surge, which could cause life-threatening conditions and leave parts of the state under water.
HALEY: There is nothing safe about what's getting ready to happen. This is the last time you'll hear my voice when I am asking you to evacuate. We need everybody to consider evacuating.
TODD: Governor Nikki Haley just said about almost 400,000 people have evacuated. That window for getting out is closing very, very fast at this hour. I just talked to a state official who said in the coming hours, if people get stranded, they will not be able to get first responders to them. This is a critical period, Wolf.
BLITZER: All right. Brian Todd in Charleston, South Carolina, for us. I hope those people heed those recommendations and evacuate.
Let's get some more on Hurricane Matthew right now, the director of the National Weather Service Louis Uccellini is joining us right now.
Louis, thanks very much for coming in once again. What's your biggest concern right now?
LOUIS UCCELLINI, DIRECTOR, NOAA'S NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE: Water. The water coming in from the ocean as part of the surge, the heavy rainfall expected, it's already developed over northeast Florida and spreading into Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina. The inland flooding with that rainfall is going to be significant, dangerous. This is where the major impacts are going to be.
BLITZER: To where are the greatest danger areas in Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, maybe even North Carolina?
UCCELLINI: Yes. So, we've seen the surge increase as the storm moved parallel to the coast, as we talked about last night, and Jacksonville was hit very hard. We're expecting at least six-foot surges in the Georgia into South Carolina. And the storm is going to get closer to the coast off the South Carolina coast. So, we're really expecting that surge to really create havoc along the coast.
BLITZER: Is it going to make landfall this hurricane?
UCCELLINI: It's going to be very close.
BLITZER: If it makes landfall, where would it make landfall because I assume that's going to be a really dangerous area?
UCCELLINI: So, we're looking at that area at the Georgia border with South Carolina, in that general area. It's going to be very close to the coast. That puts Charleston in a very dangerous part of the storm.
BLITZER: So, what does that mean for the people of Charleston, what should they brace for, worst case scenario?
UCCELLINI: Well, they should be listening to their local officials, and the governor of South Carolina made it very clear, they need to get out, they need to get out now. Don't take any chances with these types so surges? There's absolutely no way people can get in there.
BLITZER: How much time do they have in Charleston, for example? That's where Brian Todd was reporting from, if it makes landfall there or close to Charleston not between and when? How many hours do they have left?
UCCELLINI: In the early mornings, they're running out of time.
[18:50:01] BLITZER: The early morning hours and overnight tonight?
UCCELLINI: Yes. They are running out of time. And as this storm moves up the coast, it's going to be dealing with a higher tide.
BLITZER: So, what does that mean higher tide?
UCCELLINI: Well, part of the inundation that affects the coastline is not just the function of the surge. If it happens on high tide, it's even worse.
BLITZER: Because more water --
UCCELLINI: Because more water is already there.
So, this is what -- this is what the coast of South Carolina and Georgia are going to be dealing with.
BLITZER: Because people have heard, you know, 140 miles per hour winds. Then down to 120, and now 110. So, they are saying, well, maybe it is not bad, you hear people saying that.
UCCELLINI: Right. So, the wind speeds around the storm have been increasing. And we predicted, continued weakening of the winds, slow weakening as it moves up as it approaches North Carolina. But that circulation is carrying a lot of water with it. It's been rotating off the coast, so the surge itself can still be a very dangerous part of the storm system. And again, I want to emphasize, the very heavy rainfall, up to a foot of rain in parts of North Carolina and South Carolina as this storm moves slowly up the coast.
BLITZER: Louis Uccellini, thanks very much for joining us, the director of the National Weather Service. And thanks to all your people for doing the excellent work that you are doing. You are saving lives. UCCELLINI: Thank you, Wolf.
BLITZER: Thank you very much.
There's more breaking news we're following. An audio recording has surfaced of Donald Trump engaging in a vulgar conversation about women, bragging about groping them. This was recorded back in 2005. We're going to play a little for you right now. We want to warn you, the language is very disturbing and graphic.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I I moved on her actually, she was down in Palm Beach and I failed. I'll admit it. I did try to (INAUDIBLE) her, she was married.
No, no, Nancy. No, this was -- I moved on her very heavily, in fact. I took her out furniture shopping. She wanted to get some furniture. I said, I'll show you where they have some nice furniture.
I took here out furniture -- I moved on her like a bitch. But I couldn't get there. And she was married. And all of a sudden, I see her, she's now got the big phony tits and everything. She's totally changed her looks.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sheesh, your girl's hot as shit, in the purple. Whoa, the Donald is good! Whoa, my man!
TRUMP: Look at you. You are a pussy.
TRUMP: Maybe it's a different one.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It better not be the publicist. No, it's her. It's her.
TRUMP: Yeah, that's her, with the gold.
I've got to use some Tic Tacs, just in case I start kissing her. You know, I'm automatically attracted to beautiful -- I just start kissing them. It's like a magnet. Just kiss. I don't even wait. And when you're a star they let you do it. You can do anything.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Whatever you want.
TRUMP: Grab them by the pussy. You can do anything.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, those legs, all I can see is the legs.
TRUMP: Oh, it looks good.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Come on, shorty.
TRUMP: Nice legs, huh?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oof, get out of the way, honey. Oh, that's good legs. Go ahead.
TRUMP: It's always good if you don't fall out of the bus. Like Ford. Gerald Ford, remember?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Down below. Pull the handle.
TRUMP: Hello. How are you? Hi.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hi, Mr. Trump. How are you? Pleasure to meet you.
TRUMP: Nice Seeing you. Terrific, terrific. You know Billy Bush?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hello, nice to see you. How you doing, Arianne?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm doing very well, thank you.
Are you ready to be a soap star?
TRUMP: We're ready. Let's go. Make me a soap star.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How about a little hug for the Donald? He just got off the bus.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Would you like a little hug, darling?
TRUMP: Absolutely. Melania said this was OK.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: I want to bring in our senior political correspondent Brianna Keilar.
You're getting more reaction to this bomb shell, this political bomb shell. What are you learning, Brianna?
BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's right.
A lot of our reporters are getting reaction to this. Collective gasps coming from field workers in one field office. This is something that is sending -- I mean, this is really a political earthquake as you had put it, Wolf. This is something that even though we heard Donald Trump say so many times use language or even talk about women in a way that is certainly something that, you know, is offensive to many people, this sort -- this crosses a different threshold and there are a lot of people not just outside of Donald Trump's campaign but now inside of his campaign who are questioning if this could be t moment that is really the nail in the coffin for Donald Trump.
There have been people inside of the campaign telling us that it will be tough. Certainly people close to Donald Trump saying that it will be tough for him to come back from this. And now, what we're also waiting to see is how do other Republicans, including those who have either wholeheartedly supported him, or those have supported him in a tepid way, like House Speaker Paul Ryan, how do they respond?
Because Donald Trump tomorrow was supposed to be in Wisconsin, alongside him, the RNC chair Reince Priebus, House Speaker Paul Ryan.
[18:55:07] And no word yet on that event, and whether it's actually going to happen. You can imagine, Wolf, that documentary about this election is made. Whether or not Donald Trump wins or loses, this is the moment that will be so prominent, this appear before cameras for the first time. This is the shot.
Does the House speaker really want to be standing next to Donald Trump?
BLITZER: It is a major moment right now for Donald Trump, for the Republican Party as you correctly point out. Thanks very much.
Remember we are just two days away from the second presidential debate between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. CNN's Anderson Cooper will be one of the moderators. We'll be airing the debate live, of course.
Our coverage begins here on CNN begins Sunday afternoon at 4:00 p.m. Eastern.
There's more breaking news we're following tonight. The United States now openly saying what many inside the government strongly suspected -- that Russia is directly behind a series of cyberattacks targeting the upcoming presidential election.
Our chief national security correspondent Jim Sciutto is working the story for us.
Jim, you are getting new information. What are you learning?
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, I want to draw your attention to two points made in the statement. One, saying explicitly that this is an attempt by Russia to influence an upcoming U.S. presidential and national election. And two, that that decision to do this in the words of the statement from the Department of Homeland Security would have to be approved by the most senior officials in the Russian government, pointing the finger directly at the Kremlin here.
They've had the intelligence for sometime. I've been speaking to U.S. intelligence officials for weeks, where they said the most likely culprit is Russia. But to say this publicly, to publicly name and shame Russia, that is something they only do under very specific circumstances, and if they want to send a message.
They have done this with China. They have done it with North Korea. They are now with Russia.
BLITZER: Why did it take so long for the U.S. government at the highest levels now to formerly, publicly accuse Russia of these kinds of political hacks? SCIUTTO: It's my understanding, Wolf, and I've spoken to a number of
officials with knowledge, that they have had the intelligence. That the assessment has pointed to Russia for some time, but there' been a debate as to whether to publicly name and shame Russia, and that debate obviously has now come down on the side now of doing so.
And a couple of other factors at play here. One, the overall relationship with Russia is declining, Syria, Ukraine. In the past there might have been a reason to hold back, in light of really the collapse of this relationship, really no reason to hold back at this point.
BLITZER: The hacking comes and this public declaration by the U.S. comes as Russia is making some belligerent moves. Explain.
SCIUTTO: No question, belligerent and dangerous, Wolf. Russia deploying a nuclear missile, a new category of nuclear missile right on the border with Eastern Europe. This is in Kaliningrad. It's part of Russia that's actually in the midst of Eastern Europe, right on the border with U.S. NATO ally Poland, for instance.
This is something that's not just a message, a dangerous message, a belligerent message. But it is a belligerent military step. We have a comment from NATO spokesmen in Europe saying in these words that this is not helpful to reduce tensions. That's a very diplomatic way of saying that this is something the U.S. takes very seriously and militarily, it's something that affects the U.S. nuclear umbrella over Europe, because if you have this missile now forward deployed, it's something NATO has to take military steps to respond to.
BLITZER: And it comes just as the U.S.-Russian effort to achieve some sort of cease fire in Syria for humanitarian purposes, that by all accounts has now completely collapsed and there is some suggestion the U.S. went public with this declaration about Russian hacking because that diplomatic effort is now history.
SCIUTTO: That's right. It's hard to see how those are not tied. You did have this diplomatic effort, really a last ditch effort to stop the fighting in Syria. Was there some marginal benefit to holding back on publicly identifying Russia for the hacks while that was under way? Yes, possibly. Now that those talks aren't under way, and just to remind people, as Russia bombed the humanitarian convoy, says the U.S., really there was no reason to hold back on naming for the hacking.
BLITZER: And I assume all of these will be part of the Sunday night presidential debate between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.
Remember we are only two days from this presidential debate. CNN's Anderson Cooper, once gain, he'll be one of the moderators. We'll be airing the debate live, of course. Our special coverage will begin Sunday afternoon, 4:00 p.m. Eastern. I'm sure you are going to watch that debate. The political news right now very, very explosive.
That's it for me. Thanks very much for watching. I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM. "ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.