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Republican Party in Civil War; Judge to Rule on Extending Florida Voter Registration; Trump Supporters Defend "Locker Room" Talk. Aired 9-9:30 ET

Aired October 12, 2016 - 09:00   ET


[09:00:10] CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: Amen brother. Hey, you guys have a great day. NEWSROOM starts now.

And good morning, I'm Carol Costello. Thank you so much for joining me. Donald Trump delivering on his threat to abandon the last fibers of his restraint. In a single day, he attacks the very party that nominated him and two prominent Republicans who have abandoned his campaign.

He rips Senator John McCain, himself a former presidential nominee, and he turns on House Speaker Paul Ryan, the most powerful Republican in Congress.


DONALD TRUMP, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I don't want his support. I don't care about his support. What I want to do is I want to win for the people.


TRUMP: The first sign of a little bit of difficulty, he unendorses.

O'REILLY: All right.

TRUMP: I wouldn't want to be in a fox hole with a lot of these people.


COSTELLO: Expect Trump to wage war again today as he stumps in the key battleground state of Florida. Running mate Mike Pence campaigns in Virginia and in North Carolina. Among the Democrats, Hillary Clinton visits battlegrounds Colorado and Nevada while husband, Bill, kicks off a two-day bus tour of Iowa, and V.P. nominee Tim Kaine is in North Carolina.

As the miles rack up, the calendar counts down, Election Day now less than four weeks away. So with Trump declaring war on his own Republican party, is his new strategy a path to Election Day?

Let's bring in CNN Politics Executive Editor Mark Preston. Good morning. MARK PRESTON, CNN POLITICS EXECUTIVE EDITOR: Good morning, Carol. No

question, right now, we have a Republican Party that is in a civil war right now with the top of the ticket trying to go right after his own members. But what would happen if he were elected President? Would he be able to work with these members? Let's see what he told Bill O'Reilly last night on Fox.


O'REILLY: If you're elected President, you're going to need McCain and you're going to need Ryan. You're going to need these guys.

TRUMP: They'll be there. They'll be there. I would think that Ryan maybe wouldn't be there. Maybe he'll be in a different position. But McCain will be there. They'll all be there.

O'REILLY: And you think they're going to all cooperate with you after you're trashing them?

TRUMP: I get along -- I know you don't believe this. Well, I get along with you for 20 years, so I guess I can get along with anybody, frankly.

O'REILLY: All right, right.

TRUMP: But to be honest with you, Bill, I get along with people.


PRESTON: You know, in many ways, Donald Trump is correct in that way. Politics is situational. If he were to become President, then the Republicans in Congress would have to work with him. But would Paul Ryan be the speaker? At least, would he have the backing of the campaign? A little tepid response from Kellyanne Conway this morning. Let's see what she had to say.


GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ABC NEWS: Does Mr. Trump want Paul Ryan to be the Speaker if he's elected?

KELLYANNE CONWAY, DONALD TRUMP'S CAMPAIGN MANAGER: Well, that's up to the members of the Congress, but I hope it means that we have a majority in the House, the Senate and the presidency, because that actually would be the best indication that Americans who are voting for Donald Trump for president also want a mandate for him to push through different pieces of legislation.


PRESTON: And there you have Kellyanne Conway, again, speaking truth to the fact that it is up to the members of Congress, the House of Representatives, about whether Paul Ryan would be able to be Speaker.

But the fact of the matter is, if Donald Trump were to win the presidency, Carol, if he were to win the presidency, there's probably no question that Republicans would hold on the House's static.

COSTELLO: Wait, wait, wait. Isn't that an extraordinary thing for a campaign manager to say about a House Speaker, the most powerful Republican in the United States? You can't give an unqualified. Of course, he would be Speaker of the House.

PRESTON: Sure, but we are in extraordinary times where you have the House Speaker backing away from the Republican nominee. So, again, going back to the topic of what we discussed right now, we have a GOP in civil war.

COSTELLO: All right. Mark Preston, thanks so much. Donald Trump not just laying into Republicans. Trump's seizing on hacked e-mails released by WikiLeaks saying the Department of Justice helped Hillary Clinton's campaign, in his words, cover up her crimes.


TRUMP: This is collusion and corruption of the highest order and is one more reason why I ask my attorney general, I will ask, to appoint a special prosecutor. We have to investigate Hillary Clinton and we have to investigate the investigation. This was a disgrace.


COSTELLO: We'll get to the e-mail Mr. Trump was talking about in just a minute, but, first, Clinton's campaign is firing back, alluding that the Trump team and Russia are actually in cahoots.


JOHN PODESTA, HILLARY CLINTON'S CAMPAIGN CHAIRMAN: So I think it's a reasonable assumption to -- or at least a conclusion that Mr. Stone had advanced warning and the Trump campaign had advanced warning about what Assange was going to do.


COSTELLO: Really? Our Suzanne Malveaux has more on this. Good morning.

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Carol. Well, Hillary Clinton and her team, they continue to be dogged by this drip, drip, drip of the e-mails published by WikiLeaks, the hacked e- mails. They're raising now more questions about the campaign, the DNC, and the role of the Justice Department.

[09:05:06] And there are really two parts from yesterday's document dump, one in which Clinton Spokesman Brian Fallon is communicating with the Justice Department -- this is in May of 2015 -- about an upcoming action in a civil lawsuit that resulted in the State Department releasing tens of thousands of Clinton's e-mails.

So Donald Trump, as you heard, he calls it collusion, corruption, and says the supporters called for a special prosecutor to look into what he's calling Clinton's crime. The Clinton campaign is saying that Fallon was relaying information that was completely in the public domain at the time.

The second part, Carol, is the e-mails from Clinton's campaign chairman John Podesta. There are now more than 5,000, this morning, that have been released. They reveal, for the most part, the inner workings of the campaign, their strategy dealing with Bernie Sanders, the reporters they like, they don't like, some of Clinton's speeches among other things.

So what does this reveal? Well, President Obama and his administration say this is the result of Russia trying to influence our election. Here's what he said yesterday.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: In the middle of the debate, you threaten to put your political opponent in jail? No trial, no indictment, no lawyers, no -- just -- when you welcome Russian meddling in our electoral process, then you're disregarding not just things like facts or evidence or a free press, but you're chipping away at basic values like tolerance and due process and mutual respect.


MALVEAUX: Now, Trump and his team, they're accusing the Obama administration and Clinton of pinning these leaks on Russia to tarnish him. But today, my colleague, Christiane Amanpour, she asked Russia's Foreign Minister, specifically, what is the role they're playing in the election?


SERGEY LAVROV, FOREIGN MINISTER OF RUSSIA: Well, it' flattering, of course, to get this kind of attention for original power, as President Obama called us some time ago. Now, everybody in the United States is saying that it is Russia which is running the United Nations' presidential debate. It's flattering, as I said, but it has nothing, you know, to be explained by the facts.

CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN HOST: Let's get back to the facts. You deny this? You know, the international community of the United States --

LAVROV: Well, we did not deny this. They did not prove it.


MALVEAUX: WikiLeaks claims to have more than 50,000 of Podesta's e- mails, which they say they're going to be releasing piecemeal. So while Podesta and Clinton's team say they don't believe that there's really anything damaging here, it certainly is a distraction. And, Carol, they still don't know what else is coming.

COSTELLO: And they continue to blame things on Russia, which is very interesting, right? Suzanne Malveaux, thanks so much.

MALVEAUX: Thanks. COSTELLO: So let's talk about that. With me is Abby Phillip,

reporter for "The Washington Post" and Ron Brownstein, CNN senior political analyst. Welcome to both of you.



COSTELLO: So, Ron, let's start there. Clinton's campaign chair John Podesta said Russia is to blame for hacking into his e-mail, and he actually suggested that the Trump campaign could have known what was coming from Russia. Seriously?

BROWNSTEIN: Well, there's one tweet. There's one kind of suspicious tweet in which they seem to be -- Roger Stone seemed to be talking about what was going to be coming and John Podesta's turn next.

Look, all indications from the administration are, from the intelligence agencies, that Russia is, in fact, systematically meddling in the election by hacking in to and releasing internal communications from one side in the campaign, right? I mean, there has not been kind of a random assortment here. There have been Democratic institutions, Democratic leaders, that have been targeted, and we don't know if their aim is to help Donald Trump or if their aim is just to destabilize the election.

But I would say that there's no "what" in these e-mails that have come out so far that is nearly as important as the "how," which is that it appears to be Russian intelligence, and the "why," which is that they seem to have a goal of destabilizing the election, you know, which has had some effect and by all indications, in Suzanne's report, is going to continue to be a source of destabilization between now and Election Day.

COSTELLO: But, Abby, this sounds so house of cards, right, and some people might be wondering, is Podesta simply deflecting because there might be something in those e-mails that have not yet been released?

PHILLIP: Well, Ron is right that, in the intelligence community and among the U.S. government, there's a widespread belief that Russia is behind these hacks. The question is, to what extent does the Trump administration know about that Russian connection in terms of their willingness to go along with it?

[09:09:58] This is the sort of bright line that the Clinton campaign is dancing around right now. Is Donald Trump sort of parroting Russian propaganda from the podium? Is he using these hacks to his advantage? Did he know beforehand that they were coming? And so there's a connection there that, basically, the Clinton campaign is kind of sort of trying to make.

But I don't really think there's a whole lot of proof beyond the fact that this information is now in the public domain, and the Trump campaign sees it as a political opportunity. They intend to use it, but we don't really know much beyond that about the extent to which that connection between Russia, these hacks, and the Trump campaign exists.

COSTELLO: Such a strange election. All right. Let's go to the GOP fight with Donald Trump and vice versa. Kellyanne Conway, today on "Good Morning, America," Ron, when asked if Paul Ryan should still be the Speaker of the House if Mr. Trump becomes President, she said, well, that's up to Congress. When she said that I went, wow.

BROWNSTEIN: Yes. Yes. Well, look, we have never seen anything like this. I believe there is no previous election in which the Republican Party was as divided over its nominee.

You go back to 1964 with Barry Goldwater. There was nothing close to this. Dwight Eisenhower and Richard Nixon campaigned for him. You go back to 1912, which is probably the biggest example ever, when Theodore Roosevelt bolted the party after it renominated William Howard Taft and not nearly as many Republican leaders in that campaign with a former president bolting the party left along with him.

We are seeing an unprecedented level of division among Republicans, ranging from that 50 national security officials who wrote a letter to George H. W. Bush basically letting it be known he's not going to vote for the nominee to, essentially, one-third of Senators and Governors saying they're not going to vote for the nominee.

And it really does put the Party in a lot of risks in the down ballot elections. You have two kind of offsetting risks. One is that traditional Republican voters, who feel that they cannot vote for Trump seeing all of this, will stay home, which will hurt the party. And conversely, there is the risk that the die-hard Trump voters, some of them who are clearly angry about what they are seeing -- we've seen them heckle Republican officials from Paul Ryan to Joe Heck -- will not vote for the Republicans down ballot.

There's a reason why parties try to avoid this. It's kind of bad any way you look at it.

COSTELLO: Well, and when you step back and you listen to Mr. Trump's campaign rallies, Abby, you know, his first 100 days in office, what's this going to consist of, fighting to overthrow Paul Ryan, appointing a special prosecutor to make sure Hillary Clinton goes to jail? Is that what voters really want?

PHILLIP: I think this is a situation where things are going to get worse before they get better. I mean, I think that this infighting is clear evidence that the Trump campaign has sort of put aside what ought to be their goal, which is winning a presidential election, and deferred it instead in order for him to continue to fight Paul Ryan and Republicans.

That is sort of nihilistic and self-destructive activity, and Republicans are well aware that they're looking at some of these polls right now that are really bad for them. I mean, in Utah, deep red state, Donald Trump is cratering. And I think that's probably just the beginning of what we're about to see coming in this next week.

COSTELLO: I know, like, Georgia is actually in play now. It's a fascinating election. I got to end it there. Abby Phillip, Ron Brownstein, you're going to join me in the next block to talk some more, so stick around.

Still to come in the NEWSROOM. It's a decision that could have a major impact on the 2016 election and today, it's in a Florida judge's hands.


[09:17:36] CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: Next hour, a federal judge will hear arguments on whether to further extend Florida's voter registration deadline as Democrats and Republicans grapple for leverage in the country's largest swing state. Hurricane Matthew halted sign-ups when it slammed into the state last week, prompting Democrats to request more time for people to register to vote.

The Republican governor, though, Rick Scott, who was chairman of a super PAC backing Donald Trump, denied their request. A judge overruled Scott's decision, and extended the deadline to today. And now that judge will decide whether to grant yet another extension.

CNN's Martin Savidge is following the story. He joins me now from Atlanta.

Good morning.


You know usually I try to stay away from such hyperbole as the stakes couldn't be higher. But the stakes couldn't be higher. I mean, we are talking about the largest battleground state that has the smallest of political margins in the most explosive of election years. And so, the argument going forward here is that if there are even just a couple thousand people that somehow because of Hurricane Matthew were unable to register to vote in time, it could change the balance of the outcome of the state of Florida, don't even want to talk about say what happened in 2000 and thereby could have a major impact on the outcome of the entire presidential election.

So, that's the foundation of where we start when we go into the courtroom of Judge Mark E. Walker today. Remember, he was appointed by President Obama. Governor Rick Scott of Florida is a Republican. So, you could see how politics might be at play here.

Essentially, the governor said, no need to extend the deadline. However, Democrats came forward and said, no, we do and want that deadline extended and the judge gave them essentially 24-hour extension.

What's going to happen today is those will go into the courtroom and argue if they want more time, why they want more time.

We're hearing from the state of Florida, through back channels, that no matter what the judge decides, even if it is to grant more time beyond 5:00 today, that the governor at least, and the state of Florida, is not likely to argue this. An interesting point -- it seems that most of this desire to have the

deadline extended is coming from Democrats. However if you talk to political experts in the state of Florida, they will say the greatest areas impacted by the threat of Hurricane Matthew were actually Republican areas.

So, if you extend the deadline, does that mean you're actually allowing more Republicans to register? And if so, what is the strategy Democrats with all of this?

So, that's what's at stake as the court hearing begins about an hour from now -- Carol.

[09:20:03] COSTELLO: All right. Martin Savidge reporting live for us this morning. Thanks so much.

You know, Democrats desperately need people to go to the polls. That's why you hear them urging voters not to shirk their civic duty. One bloc of voters Clinton is counting on is women, mainly because Trump is struggling to overcome those comments caught on tape. Although Mr. Trump denies he has any problems with those comments.


BILL O'REILLY, FOX NEWS HOST: But you're behind with women. Are you going to target --

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'm not sure I believe it. What women want, you know we do the child care program that really Ivanka wanted very, very much. My daughter Ivanka wanted it. I agreed with her 100 percent.

But what women want is they want secure borders, they want safety. They want law and order. They want -- you know, they want a police department that's allowed to do its job. They want justice for all.

They want a lot of things that everybody else wants and Hillary Clinton can't do it.


COSTELLO: OK. So let's talk about this, Abby Philip and Ron Brownstein join me again. Thanks so much.

So, Abby, Mr. Trump is not concerned about his comments. But his surrogates continue to struggle to explain them. Listen.


ERIC TRUMP, SON OF DONALD TRUMP: That conversation, it was locker room banter. I mean, that's what it was. It was two, alpha guys in a thing. By the way, it's totally unacceptable. And he acknowledged that and he apologized for it. But you know, two guys by themselves in private at some event, you know, going back and forth.

RUDY GIULIANI, DONALD TRUMP SURROGATE: The fact is that men at times talk like that. Not all men. But men do --

SCOTTIE NELL HUGHES, DONALD TRUMP SUPPORTER: We have made that to be sort of a part of a culture, a "Fifty Shades of Grey" culture in today's society that men can talk like that.

DR. BEN CARSON, DONALD TRUMP SUPPORTER: As I was growing up people were always trying to talk about their sexual conquests and trying to make themselves appear, you know, like the -- you know, Casanova. I -- I'm surprised you haven't heard that. I really am.


COSTELLO: See, Abby, women who are upset about Mr. Trump's comments don't want to hear excuses. They want to hear something like, you know, there is no excuse. Those comments were foul. I don't know what was in my head. But I apologize from the deepest part of my soul. But that's not what women are hearing.


I mean, this is a situation where an apology would suffice. But instead, you have a whole army of surrogates out there really muddying the waters in a way that is not advantageous to Donald Trump. They're always every day putting out something new that can be taken and people are asking, wait, what? Is that really what you mean?

So, that the point is, Republican leaders want Donald Trump to apologize. They want his surrogates to just say he is sorry. He didn't mean to say that. It was inappropriate and be done with it.

But instead this keeps dragging on and on and on. And women who are watching this are -- are, many of them are saying you know, maybe this is locker room talk. But, I don't think locker room talk is what I want in my president. And that's, that's the sort of tough spot for Donald Trump. There is only one solution, apologize.

COSTELLO: Here's the thing. Here's the other thing, okay you know these comments came out and he said them like in a microphone he didn't know was hot, right, but it's the -- but he said other comments about women, and it's like, it's like the piling on, right, so that you have to sit back, some women are saying, and, and look at the totality of what Mr. Trump says about women and how he refers to them and then you maybe some woman would conclude maybe he doesn't look upon me like a human being.

Maybe does he really care about me as a person, Ron? Isn't that it?

RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, yes, it kind of fits in from the beginning the Clinton campaign and Priorities USA, all of the advertising aimed at women have really focused on Donald Trump's attitudes toward women much more than his policies. There's been a little bit about the abortion and women should be punished which he later backed off of.

But it's been about his comments, what it means for women, their role in society, their daughters. That has been kind of the central focus. Look, women are not a monolith. They are not a bloc. You can't look at all women, you know, in the same light electorally.

From the beginning, Donald Trump has faced huge problems among women of color. There's a big gender gap among minority voters. He does somewhat better among minority men.

What's happened in the aftermath is that the problem he had with college educated white women, who are usually Democratic leaning, has exploded. I mean, our Atlantic PRRI poll out this week and the NBC/"Wall Street Journal" poll have Hillary Clinton leading by about 30 points among college-educated white women, the biggest advantage ever for a Democrat among those voters ever Carol is eight points.

And then the last group is the blue collar white women where Donald Trump has been leading usually among them in polling throughout the campaign. They usually vote Republican. And those are the voters who if they leave him I think are the ones who turn this from something that is bad to something that is really bad for Republicans because those are the voters that could push his vote down into the mid 30s.

COSTELLO: So, so one of the things that Kellyanne Conway said on "Good Morning America" this morning, Abby, as a way to reach out to women and convince them to vote for Mr. Trump is this ad that they're now running.

[09:25:10] And we're going to put that ad up and show you what it's like but it shows Hillary Clinton stumbling and coughing, and almost falling over going up the steps. Kellyanne Conway said there it is the ad so you know the ad so there she is coughing and you're going to see her stumbling up the steps.

So, Kellyanne Conway says, she was asked whether that would actually appeal to women. Here's what she said.


KELLYANNE CONWAY, DONALD TRUMP CAMPAIGN MANAGER: We're calling into question her record as secretary of state.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right there, you're making fun of her health.

CONWAY: No, we're calling into question whether she's got the stamina to lead. And I think that's an important issue. It came up in the first debate.


COSTELLO: So, Abby, how will -- how might that go over with women voters?

PHILIP: Well, I mean I think Kellyanne probably started in the right place, which was that women voters are, you know, perhaps even more than other blocs of voters, very concerned about the economy. They're very concerned about security. They're very concerned about issues. And so, this ad I think doesn't really go there. It really does focus on this jarring image of Hillary Clinton kind of stumbling into that van and needing help up a staircase. You know, I don't know why the Trump campaign believes that this is sort of an issues-focused ad. Maybe they have some polling that shows that.

But I think that they would probably be better off focusing on sort of a bread and butter issues that I think actually do work with women voters. Especially in this kind of environment where it's so toxic that that's likely to turn off everybody, not just women.

COSTELLO: All right. Abby Philip, Ron Brown -- go ahead, quickly.

BROWNSTEIN: Real quick. If you add up everything, the attacks on Ryan, that kind of ad, the put her in jail kind of comment from the debate, what it all adds up to is I think the Trump campaign has given up on the idea of converting voters within the existing electorate and they are putting all of their chips on driving a radical increase in turnout among the most alienated voters, the most disaffected from Washington, the most disaffected from Clinton because this is not about converting those white collar white voters who are the principle barrier to him now.

This is -- all of this seems aimed at voters who don't usually vote and are the most alienated from many things happening in American society.

COSTELLO: I get that. I get that he wants to energize his base to get out there to vote. But on the other hand, he might energize women to get out there and vote against him.

BROWNSTEIN: Yes, sure.

COSTELLO: So it's a -- it's an iffy strategy, right? Abby Philip, Ron Brownstein, thanks to both of you.

Still to come in the NEWSROOM, Donald Trump says he's bouncing back from the leaked tape of lewd comments, but you can't say the same for Billy Bush.