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Clinton and Trump Tangle in Fiery Final Debate; Trump Won't Commit to Accepting Election Result; Assessing Candidates' Tax Plans; Candidates Battle Over Putin. Aired 4:30-5a ET

Aired October 20, 2016 - 04:30   ET



CHRIS WALLACE, DEBATE MODERATOR: Do you make the same commitment that you will absolutely -- sir, that you will absolutely accept the result of this election?

[04:30:01] DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I will look at it at the time.


CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: An unprecedented moment in American politics. Donald Trump refusing to say whether he will accept the outcome of the general election, 19 days from now.

Welcome back to EARLY START, everyone. Bright and early this morning, or late out there in Vegas. I'm Christine Romans.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: I'm John Berman. Thirty minutes after the hour right now.

And this morning, you can still hear the ringing from the political grenade that went off last night. One of the least surprising questions to come in any of the presidential debates this year yield the one of the most controversial answers ever. Donald Trump who's down an average of eight points in the polls right now refused to say whether he would honor the results of the election.


WALLACE: Are you saying you're not prepared now to commit to that principle?

TRUMP: What I'm saying is that I will tell you at the time. I'll keep you in suspense.


BERMAN: All right. There were plenty of other moments and issues that came up. But that refusal is the headline in all of the papers across the country this morning. Plus, the fact that Donald Trump who really needed a win on the stage to change the trajectory of the race did not seem to get it.

According to our CNN/ORC poll, 52 percent of those watched thought Hillary Clinton was the winner, 39 percent said Donald Trump. It was a slightly more Democratic audience, so that could affect the results.

But let's go live to Las Vegas right now and bring in CNN senior political reporter Manu Raju.

Manu, the third and final debate, you know, news making to say the least.

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER: Yes, that's right. And Donald Trump, of course, as you mentioned, John, leading a huge night after poll after poll in battleground states saying that he was losing this race both nationally and those crucial states. But overshadowed by the shocking comment that that he may not accept the results of the election if he loses.

Immediately afterwards, the Trump campaign, Republican officials, moving to clean up Donald Trump's remarks. Here's Kellyanne Conway speaking to our colleague Dana Bash right after the debate.


KELLYANNE CONWAY, TRUMP CAMPAIGN MANAGER: Donald Trump will accept the results of the election because he's going to win the election.

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: What you just said to me was that he will accept. So, what you're telling me is that on election night, if he's sort of waffling, you as his campaign manager will say, Mr. Trump, no matter what it is, I mean, obviously, it won't be a big deal if he wins, but if he doesn't, you will say, Mr. Trump, this is what is going to happen and you're going to accept these results.

CONWAY: Absent evidence of widespread abuse and irregularities, yes, I would say that, but I actually think I'll be saying to him: congratulations, Mr. President.


RAJU: Now, Reince Priebus, the RNC chairman, also making similar remarks, saying that the election results, Donald Trump will accept those election results. What we have seen repeatedly throughout this election that the staff may say one thing, the candidate says another thing. But Donald Trump's critics also jumping on him and including the Republican critics.

One critic, Lindsey Graham, the South Carolina senator, saying this in a statement last night, I'll read it to you now. Trump is doing the party and country a great disservice by continuing to suggest the outcome of this election is out of his hands and rigged against him. If he loses, it will not be because the system is rigged, but because he failed as a candidate.

And, guys, we'd also reached out to Republican leaders on Capitol Hill, Mitch McConnell, Senate majority leader, and House Speaker Paul Ryan, no response yet. Deafening sounds if you will.

BERMAN: All right. Manu Raju for us in Las Vegas -- thanks a lot, Manu.

ROMANS: All right. After the debate, Hillary Clinton met with reporters on her plane. She lashed out at Trump for that refusal to honor the longstanding political tradition accepting that final vote count.


HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: One of our hallmarks has always been that we accept the outcomes of our elections. We do the best we can to have free and fair elections which we do. And somebody wins and somebody loses. So, what he said tonight is part of his whole effort to blame somebody else for his campaign.


ROMANS: All right. Our dream team is here to talk about the headlines big and small from last night. CNN politics reporter Eugene Scott, CNN political commentator and talk radio host John Phillips, and in Vegas, we have Dylan Byers and Maria Cardona.

So, I want to -- I want to ruminate on this moment, if you will, when Donald Trump refused to say I will accept this longstanding tradition of accepting the outcome, the peaceful transfer of power in this country. Listen to it.


WALLACE: But, sir, there is a tradition in this country -- in fact, one of the prides of this country -- is the peaceful transition of power and that no matter how hard-fought a campaign is, that at the end of the campaign, that the loser concedes to the winner. Not saying that you're necessarily going to be the loser or the winner, but that the loser concedes to the winner and that the country comes together in part for the good of the country. Are you saying you're not prepared now to commit to that principle?

TRUMP: What I'm saying is that I will tell you at the time. I'll keep you in suspense.


ROMANS: Dylan Byers, keeping us in suspense. That is Donald Trump the reality show host.

DYLAN BYERS, CNN SENIOR REPORTER FOR MEDIA AND POLITICS: That's absolutely right. And it's, you know, yet another manifestation of how Donald Trump has treated so many aspects of this presidential campaign like a reality show.

[04:35:08] Look, he has every right to do that. He has run a very unconventional campaign. He has run what has really been much more of a media campaign than a traditional political campaign. But on this question of the election results, on this baseless assertion that the election is somehow going to be rigged at the precinct level, that remark during the debate -- during the debate with a few exceptions, Donald Trump actually was doing an impressive job by his standards, that is the only headline. Everything else is secondary.

He is casting doubt on the bedrock of democracy, which is the peaceful transition of power. And he might feel that's a reality show. He might feel that's a game. But the signal that sends to America and the signal it sends to the world is very troubling.

BERMAN: And, Eugene Scott, how does it help to make up eight points? Because he is trailing eight points right now in the polls.

EUGENE SCOTT, CNN POLITICS REPORTER: It doesn't help him make up the points. In fact, it actually hurts him with the Republican Party as a whole. Other candidates, other people are running for office who need voters to get on board with them. And Donald Trump, whether you like him or not, is a reflection of the Republican Party as a whole. It's going to cost some voters to not only distance themselves away from him, but either people, even people on down party, down ballot ticket.

ROMANS: We've heard, John Phillips, this candidate talk about how the economy is rigged against working people and how the election and polls sometimes are rigged against him. He is talking about voter fraud at polling places.

Hillary Clinton was ready for this and had a moment on the debate stage where she was ready to talk about what President Obama earlier this week talked about the whining of Donald Trump.

Let's listen to Hillary Clinton talk about Donald Trump and his rigged world.


CLINTON: The FBI conducted a year-long investigation into my e-mails. They concluded there was no case; he said the FBI was rigged. He lost the Iowa caucus. He lost the Wisconsin primary. He said the Republican primary was rigged against him.

Then, Trump University gets sued for fraud and racketeering; he claims the court system and the federal judge is rigged against him.

There was even a time when he didn't get an Emmy for his TV program three years in a row and he started tweeting that the Emmys were rigged against him.

TRUMP: Should have gotten it.


CLINTON: This is -- this is a mindset. This is how Donald thinks. And it's funny, but it's also really troubling.


ROMANS: I mean, his response there. That was -- that was really genuine there.

JOHN PHILLIPS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I want to know which Kardashian ended up winning.

ROMANS: Hillary Clinton was ready for that. She brought in her own e-mail somehow to turn around against Donald Trump.

PHILLIPS: Sure, if you go back to the primary and the debate with Megyn Kelly, there was a similar exchange. The question was, will you endorse the person that wins the nomination or will you refuse? And he was the only one that raised his hand.

Now, everyone on stage said, we'll endorse the nominee. Many of them didn't, including Jeb Bush and John Kasich. I thought it is a distraction then and it's a distraction now.

This is an election about impulse control. It's an election rather about Donald Trump who many people think can't control his impulses when he's insulted, when someone puts the bait out there, when he feels his integrity or his ability to win is being question.

Hillary Clinton has a problem with impulse control when it comes to selling the government. We saw elements of that last night when the Clinton Foundation was brought up. He was better when he focuses on that than he is when he takes the bait.

BERMAN: What is Maria Cardona's response to that? We will find out in our next segment. That's a tease right there.

ROMANS: That is a tease. But, first, we're going to talk about your tax bill. And last night, a claim Donald Trump made about your tax bill under a Hillary Clinton presidency.


TRUMP: Her plan is going to raise taxes and even double your taxes. Her tax plan is a disaster. We will have a massive, massive tax increase under Hillary Clinton's plan.


ROMANS: Doubling your taxes under Hillary Clinton's plan. Well, Clinton's plan calls for a range of tax increases on wages and investments, but they target the highest income household. And even in that group, most would not see the tax bill double.

Clinton wants to implement the so-called Buffett Rule named after the billionaire Warren Buffett. So, anyone making $1 million or more would pay at least 30 percent of that in federal income taxes. Some of these earners like Buffett pay around 15 percent right now. So, those tax bills could double.

So, really rich people, your tax bill could double. But on average, Tax Policy Center estimates that those in the top 0.1 percent, will see their bills rise 10.8 percent. The top 1 percent will see a 7.4 percent rise.

And here's the most of us, the middle and low income households, meanwhile, would see a small tax cut on average.

BERMAN: All right. We're going to have more on debate coverage coming up. High moments, low moments for both candidates. Did Donald Trump do what he needed to do to close the gap in this race?



[04:44:18] TRUMP: Those stories have been largely debunked. Those people -- I don't know those people. I have a feeling how they came. I believe it was her campaign that did it.


BERMAN: Donald Trump talking about the list of women accusing him of past impropriety, whether it'd be kissing or groping. In fact, most of those stories have not been debunked and there were some extra witnesses who came forward and one of them, "People" magazine story the other day, but Donald Trump said they had been debunked, and also said he had nothing to apologize for to the American people or even his wife. Listen.


TRUMP: Those stories are all totally false, I have to say that. And I didn't even apologize to my wife, who's sitting right here, because I didn't do anything.


BERMAN: Maria Cardona, Hillary Clinton supporter who was watching this again. You know, Donald Trump had to know this question was going to come up.

[04:45:03] So, in a sense, that was a prepared response to that question. What did you make of it?

MARIA CARDONA, HILLARY CLINTON SUPPORTER: That was a really bad prepared response because he actually did -- at least Melania told Anderson that he did apologize to her. So, that was a little strange.


BERMAN: I think he apologized for "Access Hollywood". I think he apologized for the "Access Hollywood" video.

ROMANS: For the language.

BERMAN: It's the language there, which is different than apologizing for the incidents that these women bring up, that he flat out denies. CARDONA: Well, he should certainly apologize for that, too, because I can't imagine that all these nine women are making up the same story that reflect what had he said in the "Access Hollywood" video.

But that aside, you know, this is an issue that I don't think he had a good answer for no matter how much he prepared for it because he from the very beginning, this was kid of set for him to have an epic fail on this answer from the very first or from the second debate when he brought forward Bill Clinton's accusers telling the world that they should be listened to and they should be believed. Yet when nine women come forward to talk about the exact same experience or very similar experiences that they had in terms of Donald Trump doing things from walking into a dressing room when all of the women were naked to inappropriate kissing, to actually sexual assault -- no, no, no. They're making it up. They shouldn't be believed. It would have been a debacle anyway.

ROMANS: John Phillips, you're a supporter. I mean, you support Donald Trump. You presumably will vote for Donald. How does he turn the page, can he turn the page from that whole sordid mess? I mean, does he have any other choice but to say, this is debunked. I didn't do it. I didn't apologize to my wife because it didn't happen.

PHILLIPS: Well, I first want to correct one thing that Maria said. They're not the exact same allegations. Juanita Broaddrick claims that she was violently and forcibly raped by Bill Clinton and the tack that Hillary used in the last debate when that subject came up that she just essentially --


CARDONA: None of it was true.

PHILLIPS: I'm sorry. What?

CARDONA: There is a deposition where Juanita Broaddrick said none of it was true.

PHILLIPS: Well, I have seen many interviews where Juanita Broaddrick is saying that she was forcibly and violently raped by Bill Clinton.

CARDONA: She changed her story.

PHILLIPS: But the point is, during the debate when that came up, Hillary Clinton just flatly refused to answer the question. She answered the question that she wished she was asked. Donald Trump essentially did the same thing last night.

Now, the news cycle changes four or five times a day. Today, we are talking about his refusal to acknowledge the -- or accept the election results whatever happens. So, I think tomorrow and as we move closer to Election Day, voters will be talking about 1,500 other issues.

ROMANS: It's only 19 days.

BERMAN: Guys, stand by. We have a little bit extra time. I want to save it for the next segment. We're going to play some more sound for you.

Coming up, we're going to talk about this last final debate. We're also going to talk about what it means for the next two and a half weeks. What will that look like now that there are no more face-offs?

Stay with us.



[04:52:13] TRUMP: Eighteen hundred nuclear warheads and she's playing chicken. Look, Putin --

WALLACE: Wait, but --

TRUMP: -- from everything I see, has no respect for this person.

TRUMP: No puppet. No puppet.

CLINTON: And it's pretty clear --

TRUMP: You're the puppet!


ROMANS: Here we are. That's our post-debate coverage this morning.

I want to go right to Dylan Byers with this, because the third wheel in the debate, in this election, quite frankly, Vladimir Putin, and he made an appearance last night.

BYERS: That's absolutely right. I thought you would say third wheel, Chris Wallace, who I by the way an excellent job --

ROMANS: He did a great job.

BYERS: -- as moderator. And he received a lot of praise from both sides.

No, you're right. The third wheel was Putin. Going back to the point about the failure to accept the election results being the top line headline, under that is the whole discussion about Putin. Donald Trump sort of praised for leaders like Putin and Assad and his unwillingness to offer any similar praise for previous American presidents going back to Reagan, who as Hillary Clinton pointed during the debate, he criticized in a full page ad in "The New York Times" in 1987.

Why it is he won't sort of come off of this, I think is curious to many people. I do think his remarks about power and powerful leaders will resonate with those core group people who believe American leaders should be more strong men like Putin or Assad, perhaps, only with American values. But that's not again, we keep going back to this, it's not the sort of thing that's going to appeal to the voters that have not made up their minds. BERMAN: And also somehow, you know, Hillary Clinton was able to shift

the discussion from WikiLeaks overall to Vladimir Putin, from what could be a real weakness, where there could be a lot of questions where she feels on safer ground. It was interesting to see.

We've got just a few minutes left. And if we can, I'd like to shift the discussion to what the heck happens now? We've got like two and a half weeks left. No more debates. No big intervening moments.

You know, John Phillips, I keep on harping on the fact that Donald Trump was eight points down going into this debate. Our poll found that he lost the debate. So, what's left for him to do?

PHILLIPS: If I could predict the future, I would have snuck in Maria's luggage and I'd be in Las Vegas and I'd be playing the blackjack table right now. Anyone who thinks they can predict the future with this black swan election doesn't know what they're talking about.

ROMANS: Oh my goodness. I know --

BERMAN: A fool's prediction --

ROMANS: Eugene, I mean, no more debates. This is campaign events from here on out. Maybe interviews. Maybe a press conferences. They haven't had a single press conference for so long, I can't remember one is like. What is the next 19 days look like as the candidates try to win?

SCOTT: The fact is, there are still opportunities available to pivot and focus on issues for voters. Donald Trump is giving a speech at least once a day between now and Election Day.

[04:55:01] And if he really wants to win these independent votes, he can talk about some of the things they've asked him to speak on. Whether he will or not remains to be seen. And it's unlikely based on how he's handled speeches so far.

BERMAN: Maria Cardona, 30 seconds.

CARDONA: You know, it is funny. People keep saying, oh, he still has time to be presidential, he still has time to focus on the issues, we're 20 days out and he hasn't done that in a year and a half.

So, I think we are one step closer to welcoming madam president into the White House. The next 20 days, she's going to focus on her positive vision and then run out the clock and get elected.

BYERS: And let's just remind our viewers really quickly about the electoral map here. No, it is unconventional election, anything can happen in one 24-hour news cycle. But look at the map. We're talking about states like Arizona, Utah. I mean, we're talking about states that were solidly red, now battleground states.

So, you know, he is on very solid footing here barring some unforeseen catastrophe to her campaign. ROMANS: To Maria's point about the lack of substance, you think there

was some substance last night. I heard Chinese steel, I heard abortion policy. There were traditional topics talked about, and I would say the first 40 minutes of this was pretty restrained.

BERMAN: It was and they talked about the Supreme Court. They talked about abortion. You know, they talked about trade. They talked about immigration.

I don't know either one picked up votes with undecided voters on any of those subjects. But it was interesting to see, especially in contrast to what we then saw in the remainder of the debate.

Obviously, there is more to discuss. You all four will be with us for the remaining 19 days and we can't wait for that. Thanks so much.

ROMANS: And we will be fact checking and fact checking and fact checking for the next 19 days. No question.

And on that point, Donald Trump has frequently made some pretty wild claims about the government jobs data. He calls it one of the biggest hoaxes in American politics. Here's what he said last night.


TRUMP: The end of last week, they came out with an anemic jobs report. A terrible jobs report. In fact I said, is that the last jobs report before the election? Because if it is, I should win easily, it was so bad.


ROMANS: A terrible jobs report. It was so bad.

We scrub the record. The words experts used, economists used to describe that report, healthy, modestly below expectations, steady. Those are the kind of words we saw.

Here is what the report showed if you're wondering. The economy added 156,000 jobs in September. It was the 72nd consecutive month the economy has expanded. Six straight years of monthly jobs gains. Unemployment ticked up slightly, still relatively low at 5 percent, down from 10 percent in October 2009, cut in half.

So, you know, Donald Trump has very little credibility as a labor economist. But he has brilliantly tapped into the malaise that people don't get raises or getting better opportunity on the job, that's what he's focused on. And that's why when he makes claims like that about the labor market, it resonates.

BERMAN: Well, because people know how they feel. You can't tell people they don't feel how they feel. If they feel uncertain and if they anxiety about the way things are going, it is very real to them.

ROMANS: Absolutely.

BERMAN: And they feel for a long time that people haven't (INAUDIBLE) to them. So, that is very much an issue right now.

All right. The big headline out of last night, though, Donald Trump refuses to say whether he will accept the outcome of the general election. This was a big, big important moment. What effect will it have on his race? What effect will it have on down ballot races across the country?

NEW DAY starts right now.


TRUMP: I will tell you at the time. I'll keep you in suspense.

CLINTON: He is talking down our democracy. I am appalled.

TRUMP: She should not be allowed to run.

CLINTON: Every time Donald thinks things are not going in his direction, he claims whatever it is, it's rigged against him.

TRUMP: He was guilty of a very, very serious crime.

CLINTON: When I was in the Situation Room, he was hosting "The Celebrity Apprentice".

TRUMP: The one thing you have over me is experience. But it's bad experience.

CLINTON: You're not up to doing the job.

ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Chris Cuomo and Alisyn Camerota.


CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning. Welcome to your NEW DAY. It is Thursday, October 20th, 5:00 in the East.

Up first, defiant Donald Trump refusing to say if he will accept the election results. He said, "I'll keep you in suspense", shocking comments overshadowing the final debate, casting doubt over our democracy.

Hillary Clinton called Trump's comments horrifying.

CAMEROTA: And the RNC and some GOP lawmakers coming out to say that they will respect the will of the people. This final debate was heavy on substance and personal attacks.

So, did the candidates change any minds? We have only 19 days left until Election Day. We have it all covered for you this morning.

So, let's begin with CNN political reporter Manu Raju. He is live in Las Vegas.

It's been a long night there, Manu.


Donald Trump, of course, needed a commanding performance to reverse the sharply declining poll numbers that we have seen since last month's first presidential debate. For the first half hour, he delivered a precise argument that actually could rile up conservative voters on issues like abortion and the Supreme Court.