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EARLY START

Trump's Confusing Obamacare Message; Trump Attacks VP Joe Biden; Obamacare in the Election Spotlight; Pentagon: Fight for Mosul Will be Fierce. Aired 5-5:30a ET

Aired October 26, 2016 - 05:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: The final fortnight of this campaign, assuming he can get his stories straight which seems to be a bit of a problem so far.

[05:00:07] Listen to the difference a few hours makes.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: All of my employees are having a tremendous problem with Obamacare.

We don't even use Obamacare. We don't want it. The people don't want it. And I spend more money on health coverage, but we don't use it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: So, all of his employees are having trouble with Obamacare or he's not using Obamacare. None of his employees have Obamacare.

Also, he apparently wants to beat up the vice president who also wants to throttle him.

CNN's Sara Murray is in Florida.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICS REPORTER: Good morning, John and Christine.

Donald Trump wrapped up a three-day sprint through the Sunshine State last night and he spent most of the day hitting Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama for rising premiums under Obamacare. But you saw this push and pull between Donald Trump trying to stay on the message. His advisors wanted him to hammer home and fighting his gut instinct to want to settle any fight with anyone who has criticized him.

TRUMP: Do you see where Biden wants to take me to the back of the barn? Me? He wants it. I'd love that. I'd love that. Mr. Tough Guy.

You know, he's Mr. Tough Guy. You know he's Mr. Tough guy, when he's standing behind a microphone by himself. He wants to bring me to the back of the barn. Oh. Some things in life you could really love doing.

MURRAY: Now, that was Donald Trump responding to a comment Vice President Joe Biden made a couple of days ago, saying he wishes there were both still in high school and he could take Donald Trump out behind the gym.

Now, Trump is back on the campaign trail today in North Carolina, and we'll see what message he brings with him. But, first, he'll be in Washington, D.C., for a ribbon cutting for his new hotel.

Back to you.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BERMAN: All right. So, Vice President Joe Biden, he's not backing down. He connects his threat to take Trump behind the gym to Trump's self-described locker room talk about grabbing women's private parts. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOSEPH BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I was a pretty good athlete in high school and played little in college. People didn't act like in locker room like he talks about. That's not true. And you and I both know if you're in the locker room, the school I went to, one of the guys said, this is what I'm going to do because I'm a star halfback, or quarterback, I'm the boss. And my sister and her girlfriends are out there, I would take the guy behind the gym.

The point I was making is he is trying to dumb down, he's insulting everybody in the neighborhoods I come from and the people who play ball. That was the point I was trying to make.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: OK, about this fight, would it ever happen now? Doubtful, but back in junior high, I think there would be a rumble.

According to an interview just released by Trump biographer, Michael D'Antonio, Trump loved to fight in school.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

TRUMP: I was a very rebellious kind of person. I don't like to talk about it actually. But I was a very rebellious person. And very set in my ways.

MICHAEL D'ANTONIO, TRUMP BIOGRAPHER: In eighth grade?

TRUMP: And I loved to fight. I always loved to fight.

D'ANTONIO: Physical fights?

TRUMP: Yes, all kinds of fights, physical --

D'ANTONIO: Arguments? TRUMP: All types of fights. Any kind of fight, I loved it, including physical.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

BERMAN: All right. Donald Trump is warning that Hillary Clinton's policies on Syria would lead to World War III. The Republican nominee told "Reuters" that Clinton calls for a more aggressive stance against Syria's Assad regime would draw the U.S. into a confrontation with a nuclear-armed Russia, which, of course, backs Assad.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

TRUMP: What we should do is focus on ISIS. We should not be focusing on Syria. You'll end up with her plan, you'll end up in World War III with Syria. Steve, you're going to end up in World War III over Syria if we listen to Hillary Clinton. She's incompetent.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

BERMAN: Now, the Clinton campaign accuses Trump of, quote, "parroting Vladimir Putin's points while refusing to lay out his own plan for resolving the crisis to Syria. And, in fact, a lot of the rhetoric is similar to what you have heard from Russia overtime.

ROMANS: Yes.

All right. The Clinton campaign delivering its closing campaign in new ads just released this hour, four minutes old. One of them narrated by actor Morgan Freeman lays out the stark choice for voters on November 8th.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

MORGAN FREEMAN, AD NARRATOR: A steady hand or a loose cannon? Common sense and unity or drama and division? A woman who spent her life helping children and families or a man who spent his life helping himself?

Our children are looking to us.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: The ads will air in the battleground states of Florida, Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio and Pennsylvania.

BERMAN: The battlegrounds, that's pretty much all of them.

ROMANS: Yes.

BERMAN: All right. Hillary Clinton has picked up an endorsement from Colin Powell, the former secretary of state and former Republican announced he is voting for Hillary Clinton. Powell said Clinton has more experience than Donald Trump. Powell had some not so nice things to say about Donald Trump at all.

[05:05:02] He seemed to sort of jab at Donald Trump, saying Hillary Clinton has more stamina to lead the country.

ROMANS: In a new revelation from the WikiLeaks email hack. Clinton adviser Neera Tanden suggested the top Clinton aides did not disclose Clinton's use of private e-mail servers because, quote, "they wanted to get away with it." Tanden currently helps run the Clinton transition team.

In an e-mail exchange of March 2015, with campaign chair John Podesta, she wrote, "Why didn't they get this stuff out like 18 months ago? So crazy." Podesta replied, "Unbelievable."

BERMAN: I want to talk about the home stretch of this campaign with our own home run-hitting CNN political analyst Josh Rogin live from Washington today.

ROMANS: Good morning, Josh.

JOSH ROGIN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Good morning.

ROMANS: That ad we just saw from Hillary Clinton, you get a sense is going to be. It really is, I'm not Donald Trump. Donald Trump is a big risk, I'm not. I'm a steady hand to lead the country forward. Donald Trump's closing argument as of the last 40 hours seems to be Obamacare.

Of course, the problem with that, while premiums are rising, and that's the story that the Obama administration and Hillary Clinton admit, that has got to deal with. Donald Trump has had problems getting his story straight. All of his employees down in his resort in Doral in Miami, they have a horrible time with Obamacare but then he had to answer questions about, wait a second, is that really where they get their health care? Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REPORTER: Mr. Trump, do you provide health insurance plans to all of these employees?

TRUMP: Obamacare is a disaster. It's got to be repealed and replaced.

REPORTER: Do you provide health insurance to all these employees?

TRUMP: I do. I do.

REPORTER: So, none of them, but most of them, no.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: They are, they aren't. Some of them, most of them. I still don't.

BERMAN: That's after all of my employees are having a hard time with Obamacare. His message going after Obamacare like it. The way he's doing it, problematic, Josh. ROGIN: Right. This was a gift to Donald Trump, a freebie, a lay-up. All he had to do was take advantage of it and he fumbled. I'm mixing my sports metaphors. But you get the point here, OK? He just can't seem to turn a policy issue into a political weapon because he doesn't take the time to learn the issue, I mean, whatever 15 minutes it would take to make sure he's got his talking points straight.

I mean, I saw Kellyanne Conway talked with Wolf Blitzer yesterday and she had a very sort of complicated reasoned, you know, understandable argument. You know, the people with these premiums would get this. People who are under 26 would have this, people with pre-existing conditions, this would happen to them. She had thought it through.

What you get from Donald Trump, oh, wow, he should be on the right side of this, the politics are in his favor. He got really lucky with the price hike but he can't seem to capitalize.

ROMANS: No, it's a headline, economic headline that he could, could use in his closing arguments. You're right, does he understand it? Is he just talking off the top of his head?

ROGIN: It's a problem.

ROMANS: Here's what Hillary Clinton said yesterday about fixing Obamacare. She's in a tough position here, too, because, you know, people are mad about premiums rising whether you're on Obamacare or not. They're mad about big deductibles, co-pays they have to pay in some cases. It needs to be fixed.

And saying you are going to fix it is an admission that the law was flawed. Listen.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We're going to make the changes to fix problems like that. The president and I have talked about it and so, look, this is a major step forward. Twenty million people and, actually, I'm sure you know this, predominantly working people, African-American, Latino people now have access to insurance, but the costs have gone up too much. So, we're going to really tackle that.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

ROMANS: I mean, health care costs for the next president of the United States, this is going to be issue number one.

ROGIN: Yes. I think what you get from this is Hillary Clinton has the opposite problem from Donald Trump. He under-prepares, and she over-prepares. You can just imagine that one, like the WikiLeaks come out about them discussing what to say today. When we see those from Russia in three weeks from now, it's going to be the super workshopped answer where she finally gets around to saying that, you know, her position is that we have to fix it but she won't exactly tell us how, you know? So, for Hillary Clinton, this is something she's trying to avoid talking about for very good reasons. The problem is that she sends her surrogates out to talk about it like her husband who says it's a disaster or Joe Biden who says he wants to take Trump out behind the gym or the barn or whatever.

ROMANS: Yes, is it the gym or the barn? I'm very confused about where this rumble is supposed to happen?

BERMAN: I can clear that out. Joe Biden has offered to take him out behind the gym but Trump has agreed to go behind the barn.

ROGIN: OK.

BERMAN: They're going to work, they're going to work that out.

And along the first grade rationality there, Josh, you know, one of the things that people like to do is get inside the heads of the candidates. What makes them tick?

Well, Michael D'Antonio, who was a biographer of Donald Trump, interviewed Donald Trump in 2014 to try to understand what makes Donald Trump tick. And Donald Trump essentially told him, you know, I'm the way now that I was when I was 6.

[05:10:02] Listen to this.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

INTERVIEWER: Do you pay better attention as a husband now?

TRUMP: I don't think -- OK. So, I don't think people change very much the course (INAUDIBLE). You may slow down, you may -- but honestly? I've known people for many years. They've never changed. I don't think people change.

I'm a very big believer in the fact that when you are a certain way, pretty much that's the way you are. If I looked at myself in the first grade and I look at myself now, I don't think I'm that different. No, really!

(END AUDIO CLIP)

BERMAN: Reaction, Josh?

ROGIN: Yes. I think he's being honest. I think Donald Trump is proud of the fact that he hasn't matured over the last 73 years, you know, which is kind of odd. But it's sort of like playing to the fact that people like his refreshing take on himself. He never apologizes. He never says anything's wrong.

You know, when I vote for president I kind of want somebody with a first grade level of sort of maturity. But that's just me. Whether or not that view prevails, I guess we'll find out on November 8th.

BERMAN: I will see you behind the gym and the barn, Josh Rogin. ROMANS: Which is the better place to get hit?

BERMAN: I've never been in a fight and don't want to.

ROGIN: I'm not a fighter. You know, I'm not there in five minutes, start without me.

BERMAN: All right. See you later. Come back soon, like in a half hour.

A sticker shock for Obamacare. A huge jump in premiums and insurers dropping premiums. What will the next president do to fix it?

Hillary Clinton would defend and expand Obamacare. She supports a public option, basically a government health insurer that would compete with private companies. She'd expand outreach to younger, healthier people. You have to get those healthy people paying premiums into the poll to help reduce and offset the cost from the sicker, older participants.

And Clinton wants to lower prescription drug costs, mostly by promoting conversations. She wants to have a cap on premiums at 8 1/2 percent in income. That's less than it is right now.

As for Donald Trump, one of the biggest applause lines, repeal and replace Obamacare. Here's what he would do. He would repeal Obamacare, get rid of the individual mandate. He would break down state barriers so insurance companies could sell policies in any state. He also wants to make premium payments tax deductible and ease regulations on importing prescription drugs from other countries.

There you go.

BERMAN: All right. The Obama premium hike, the health care costs that are going up has the White House answering questions right now about the signature health care law. That's next on EARLY START.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[05:16:53] BERMAN: Some Obamacare premiums are poised to skyrocket next year. Republicans think they have a potent issue for the final two weeks, the final fortnight of this campaign. Donald Trump tells supporters that Obamacare is over. He declares the election now is about the battle to blow up the president's signature health care law.

Let's get more now from CNN White House correspondent Michelle Kosinski.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MICHELLE KOSINSKI, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Hi, John and Christine.

Right, these numbers are surprising. I mean, at 22 percent jump on average overall. States like Arizona are seeing 116 percent increase in premiums. For many Republicans, this is the proof of what they've been criticizing for a long time now.

There's still this real question though, because Obamacare reduced the rate of growth of health care costs to the lowest rate in 50 years, would not many people now be paying more for premiums and for health care overall if they could afford insurance overall if Obamacare didn't exist?

So, Republicans are now calling this a disaster, a train wreck. Listen to what Mike Pence said.

GOV. MIKE PENCE (R), VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: President Obama last week compared Obamacare to the Samsung Galaxy 7 phones that have spontaneously burst into flames.

What a coincidence, Mr. President, because that's exactly what we're going to do with Obamacare. We're going to pull it off the market.

KOSINSKI: The White House has been countering this saying the vast majority of people aren't going to feel this, because they get subsidies. The vast majority of people are able to find a plan they can afford on Obamacare.

They also say that the fixes they see for these problems, which in the White House would be a public option, a government insurer to compete with the others and fill in the gaps Congress won't take up. They'd also like to see an expansion of Medicaid in the states, but they say many Republican governors won't do that. And in those states, rates have gone up even more -- John and Christine.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ROMANS: All right. Thanks for that, Michelle Kosinski.

U.S.-trained elite Iraqi forces are now less than a mile from Mosul. The final stages of this operation to retake that city from ISIS is fast approaching. We're going to go live to the front lines in Iraq, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[05:23:37] ROMANS: New advances in the battle to recapture Mosul from ISIS. An elite unit of the Iraqi army is now on the eastern edge of the city waiting for reinforcement before moving in. But there's also word of ISIS fighters on the move this hour.

Let's get to CNN's Michael Holmes. He's live on the ground near Mosul for us this morning.

Tell us what's happening, Michael.

MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Yes, Christine, obviously, ISIS plans to defend Mosul. It's been a long time in the making. It seems they're going into effect.

Witnesses inside Mosul are telling us that hundreds of fighters have been pouring into the city from Raqqah in Syria, the de facto headquarters of ISIS. Hundreds of men coming in wearing distinctive uniforms and wearing suicide belts. They also have light weapons. These are obviously suicide squads who are being brought into the city.

The locals tell us that these are mainly foreign fighters who are determined to fight to the death. And they're going to have the tools to do it, because we're also hearing ISIS has prepositioned dozens of explosive devices, car bombs or some of these big truck bombs that they have as well, position those around the outskirts of the city in various places. They've also put in rocket launchers, we've been told.

And also, something we've discussed over recent days, and that is the strategy perhaps of ISIS to pull back from the eastern side of the city into the far more densely packed western old city in Mosul.

[05:25:06] That looks like that's coming to fruition as well. Those witnesses telling us ISIS fighters pulling back from the east, crossing the bridges there and mining those bridges as they go. Obviously, the intention to blow them once they are hunkered down in that western part of the city. It's going to be a long and bloody fight -- Christine.

ROMANS: Yes, I'd say so.

All right. Michael Holmes, thanks so much for that. Stay safe out there, please.

BERMAN: All right. Tough talk between Vice President Joe Biden and Donald Trump. Will they go behind the barn? Will they go behind the gym? Are there any other buildings these two men might go behind and threaten to beat each other up at?

EARLY START continues right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROMANS: Fight Club election edition. Joe Biden talks about taking Donald Trump outside. Trump taunts the vice president right back.

BERMAN: Donald Trump trying to capitalize on the Obamacare sticker shock.