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Interview With Delaware Senator Chris Coons; Voter Suppression Concerns?; Final Sprint to Election Day; New Trump Ad: Clinton E-mails on Weiner's Laptop; ISIS Leader Urges Troops to Fight in Rare Recording. Aired 6-7p ET
Aired November 3, 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: Happening now, breaking news: battleground barnstorm. The presidential candidates and their top surrogates fan out across the country, trying to win over voters in critical states likely to decide the election.
Tonight, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton are both in North Carolina about to hold dueling campaign rallies. Who will take the state's crucial electoral votes Tuesday?
Crunch time. The Trump and Clinton campaigns are out with tough new ads, and they're crunching the numbers as they decide where to put their resources in these, the final days of the presidential race. With polls tightening across the board, what are the campaigns' choices reveal?
Watching the vote. Federal judges in North Carolina and Pennsylvania intervene amid concerns about voter suppression. Election scrutiny is intensifying with Trump's allegations of a rigged system. Will the vote go off without a hitch?
And voice of terror. After months of silence, the ISIS leader purportedly records a message to terrorist forces under assault in Iraq. He's encouraging them to stand their ground and fight, even as Iraqi soldiers, backed by U.S. forces, close in on the ISIS stronghold. Is the ISIS leader now on the run?
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: Breaking news tonight, the fight for North Carolina is in full swing, with both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton about to hold rallies in that critical battleground state. It's the second event there today for both of them, underscoring the major role North Carolina will play on Election Day, just five days from now.
Top surrogates were dispatched to other battleground states, President Obama campaigning for Clinton in Florida. Now we have learned he and the first lady will appear with Hillary Clinton, Bill, and Chelsea Clinton on the election eve in Philadelphia. Donald Trump had his children campaigning for him in Colorado,
Wisconsin, and New Hampshire. And in Pennsylvania, his wife, Melania Trump, made a rare public appearance, giving her first speech since the Republican Convention. She said, as first lady, she would work to fight cyber-bullying of children on social media. There was no mention of her husband's notorious Twitter attacks over the years.
We're covering all angles of the breaking news this hour with our guest Democratic Senator Chris Coons. And our correspondents and expert analysts, they are also standing by.
Let's begin with the Trump campaign.
Our political reporter, Sara Murray, has the latest.
Sara, Donald Trump is capitalizing on new developments with the Hillary Clinton e-mail investigation. What are you learning?
SARA MURRAY, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Wolf.
He spent most of the day in Florida and North Carolina hammering Hillary Clinton about her e-mails, trying to stay on message, and even going so far as to suggest that Hillary Clinton is an unstable person, all as he tries to use these last few days to close the deal with undecided voters.
MURRAY (voice-over): Tonight, Donald Trump's path to the White House is looking a little less treacherous.
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: In five days, we are going to win the great state of Florida, and we are going to win back the White House.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
MURRAY: As he barnstorms Florida and North Carolina, the latest polls still show a narrow path for Trump to hit 270. But he's in the hunt nationwide, and new surveys from Colorado and New Hampshire hold glimmers of hope for Trump in states where he's been trailing. The GOP nominee using his final stretch to cast Hillary Clinton as a candidate shrouded in scandal.
D. TRUMP: Here we go again with Clinton. You remember the impeachment and the problems? She's likely to be under investigation for many, many years.
MURRAY: And blasting President Obama for hitting the trail on Clinton's behalf.
D. TRUMP: He's down here campaigning for crooked Hillary.
(BOOING) D. TRUMP: Now, why isn't he back in the office, sometimes referred to
as the Oval Office? He's campaigning every day. And I actually think, considering that she's under criminal investigation, I think he's actually got a conflict.
MURRAY: With the days dwindling, Trump now openly reminding himself to stay on message.
TRUMP: We have got to be nice and cool. Nice and cool. Stay on point, Donald, stay on point. No sidetracks, Donald.
MURRAY: And he's fanning out his family for a battleground state blitz, sending Ivanka Trump to New Hampshire, Donald Trump Jr. to Colorado and Eric Trump to Wisconsin, even his wife, Melania, now on the trail delivering a rare solo speech, her first since plagiarizing first lady Michelle Obama at the GOP Convention.
Melania Trump using the limelight to preview her focus if she becomes first lady, cyber-bullying.
MELANIA TRUMP, WIFE OF DONALD TRUMP: Children and teenagers can be fragile. They're hurt when they're made fun of or made to feel less in looks or intelligence. Our culture has gotten too mean and too rough, especially to children and teenagers.
MURRAY: She made no mention of her husband's prolific Twitter use, his preferred platform for hurling insults at his rivals in both the media and the political arena.
Also on the trail today, a former Trump foe turned ally, Texas Senator Ted Cruz, who snubbed Trump at the GOP Convention, now campaigning alongside his running mate, Mike Pence, in Iowa. Even though Cruz couldn't bring himself to say Trump's name at the campaign rally, he insisted to reporters the GOP's wounds have healed.
SEN. TED CRUZ (R), TEXAS: Some of you guys are wanting to write stories suggesting divisions among Republicans. I will make a point. I'm getting ready to get on a gigantic plane that has Donald Trump's name painted on the side of it. On Monday of this week, I voted for Donald Trump.
MURRAY: Now, it was interesting to see the surrogates all out in force today. I attended Melania Trump's speech, and she didn't focus a whole lot on trying to soften her husband's edges.
Rather, it seemed like she was trying to introduce herself more to American voters. She spent a while talking about growing up in Slovenia, but by far, Wolf, the biggest round of applause she got was when she talked about becoming a citizen of the United States -- back to you.
BLITZER: All right, Sara, thank you, Sara Murray reporting for us from outside Philadelphia.
Now the Clinton campaign. CNN's Phil Mattingly is in Raleigh, North Carolina, for us.
Phil, a very heated race there. That's where we're getting all the indications from the polls.
PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, no question about it, very tight polls, and there's a really good reason. The surrogates and the principals themselves are crisscrossing the state for recognition that North Carolina's 15 electoral votes could make or break this campaign.
HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It is great to be here.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
MATTINGLY: It's the 53,000-square-mile roadblock to Donald Trump's White House dreams.
SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D), MASSACHUSETTS: Thank you, North Carolina. Wow!
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
MATTINGLY: Hillary Clinton and her top surrogates flooding North Carolina, a state that could effectively clinch the race on November 8. But it's far from a sure thing, a purple that went to Democrats in 2008, and back to the Republicans in 2012.
It remains exceedingly close. The latest CNN poll of polls in the Tar Heel State puts Clinton ahead by just four points.
CLINTON: This morning in Florida, Donald stood on a stage and said -- and I quote -- "I'm honored to have the greatest temperament that anyone's ever had."
CLINTON: Now, he knows we can see and hear him, right?
MATTINGLY: For Clinton and her campaign, as polls tighten, it's a moment to focus on the clearest path to victory and shift the race back into a referendum on Trump.
CLINTON: At another rally yesterday, actually he said out loud to himself, "Stay on point, Donald. Stay on point."
His campaign probably put that in the teleprompters.
MATTINGLY: A message magnified by the campaign's latest TV ad, which features what advisers maintain has been one of their most effective weapons, Trump in his own words.
D. TRUMP: I would look her right in that fat ugly face of hers. He is a war hero because he was captured.
MATTINGLY: This all coming as Clinton maintains a four-point lead nationally in the latest CNN poll of polls, an advantage, but one that's been unquestionably shrinking, something underscoring the Clinton campaign's increasingly targeted efforts to turn the Obama coalition into the Clinton coalition.
To help make it happen, President Obama making his case for Clinton today in Florida.
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: She doesn't whine or complain or blame others or suggest everything is rigged when things aren't going her way. She just works harder. She just comes back better.
MATTINGLY: That as running mate Tim Kaine reaching out to Latino voters in Arizona, his speech entirely in Spanish, and Clinton reaching out directly to black voters, going after Trump in a series of radio interviews.
CLINTON: He doesn't know people who run businesses, who are professionals, who are at the heart of the community. He doesn't know and appreciate the strength of the black church and black educators.
MATTINGLY: Joining Clinton on the trail tonight in North Carolina, Bernie Sanders and musician Pharrell Williams, a clear play for two crucial elements of a Clinton victory, millennials and the African- American vote.
MATTINGLY: And, Wolf, when it comes to North Carolina, it's the African-American vote that's been raising jitters among state Democrats over the last couple weeks.
In the early vote, the numbers are clearly down from 2012. But state Democrats make this point. First off, President Obama is not on the ticket. That makes a difference.
But, second off, those numbers have started to change, more than 7,000 voters, black voters yesterday than in the same point in 2012. They believe changes in the voting laws cut back on that early vote, starting to make gains now. And when you look across the state and across the different coalitions, starting to feel more comfortable about where they are, trying to hammer that home tonight with that rally behind me. It's expected to start in about two hours, Wolf.
BLITZER: All right, thanks very much, Phil Mattingly, in Raleigh, North Carolina.
Last hour, we talked about all of this with Republican Congressman Jason Chaffetz, who says he's now going to vote for Donald Trump. Let's get the other side, with Democratic Senator Chris Coons of
Delaware. He's a Hillary Clinton supporter. He's a member of the Judiciary Committee.
Senator, thanks for joining us.
SEN. CHRIS COONS (D), DELAWARE: Thank you, Wolf. Great to be with you again.
BLITZER: All right, so Donald Trump's campaign has a new ad out there attacking Hillary Clinton over this new -- renewed, shall we say, e- mail investigation that the FBI is undertaking. Watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NARRATOR: Decades of lies, cover-ups, and scandal have finally caught up with Hillary Clinton. Hillary Clinton is under FBI investigation again after her e-mails were found on pervert Anthony Weiner's laptop. Think about that. America's most sensitive secrets unlawfully sent, received, and exposed by Hillary Clinton, her staff, and Anthony Weiner? Hillary cannot lead a nation while crippled by a criminal investigation.
Hillary Clinton, unfit to serve.
D. TRUMP: I'm Donald Trump, and I approve this message.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: All right, Senator, a very tough ad, indeed. So what's your reaction?
COONS: My reaction, Wolf, is that that's the sort of aggressive, tough ad that frankly will turn off a lot of voters.
You see that we have got the closing arguments being made here in the last five days all across the country in battleground states. President Obama earlier today made a terrific closing case in Florida about how voters need to focus on the fact that protecting the environment, social justice, equal rights are all on the ballot, even if he's not on the ballot this time.
And I think what we have seen in the way this entire campaign has unfolded is that Secretary Clinton was prepared, prepared to debate, prepared to campaign, and is prepared to govern. And I frankly think we have seen Donald Trump didn't really take seriously the idea that he needed to prepare to debate with disastrous results for him.
And in terms of the ground game here in the last couple of days, he hasn't really built a ground game that will deliver for him. So he's taking some pretty wide swings in his attacks on TV in the last couple of days, at the same time that Secretary Clinton is showing that her deep preparation and her real experience is going to bring her across the finish line.
BLITZER: But, in all fairness, Senator, she's got some scathing attack ads against Donald Trump, recalling all sorts of incidents. Some of those attack ads are very tough, just like his -- the attack ad we just saw. Both of these candidates are launching into this anger that's going on right now in these final days. I think that's fair, right?
COONS: That's right, Wolf.
But here's a critical difference between the attack ads, at least that I have seen here just outside of Philadelphia. The most effective attack ads on Donald Trump actually use Donald Trump. They are quotes by him, things he has actually said, insulting women, insulting minorities, insulting immigrants.
It's striking to me that his wife was here in the Philadelphia suburbs today trying to shore up his support among Republican women and talking about the importance of fighting cyber-bullying, when some of the very incidents that are in those tough ads from Hillary Clinton are incidents of cyber-bullying of tweets and personal attacks by Donald Trump himself.
BLITZER: If there were classified e-mails found on Anthony Weiner's computer, as the FBI is now investigating, that would be a major, major setback for Hillary Clinton right now, that all of a sudden her classified e-mails that originated on her private server wound up Anthony Weiner's computer. How concerned are you about that, Senator?
COONS: Wolf, I'm not concerned about that, because I frankly don't expect to see that result.
I think that we are just five days away from a national election, and what matters is that voters ought to take a hard look at these two candidates and think about which of them is really prepared to govern and to serve as our president and lead the country.
I do think that the average American has heard a great deal about both of the challenges that are being highlighted in their attack ads, and I hope that they will cast votes from a perspective of optimism, about what each -- what Secretary Clinton as a candidate will bring to the table as our next president, rather than simply the sort of fear and dislike and division that Donald Trump tries to bring to the closing days of this campaign.
BLITZER: You're on the Judiciary Committee.
Do you have confidence in the FBI investigation and the role being played by the FBI director, James Comey, right now?
COONS: Well, Wolf, frankly I'm troubled by reports that the FBI director correctly followed longstanding DOJ procedure and FBI policy and did not publicly comment on some investigations earlier this summer, investigations into Donald Trump's former campaign manager or into Donald Trump's campaign or into Russian hacking, because he was concerned that those comments might influence the election. Why he didn't continue that policy, why he sent this recent letter,
frankly, is beyond me, and it's my hope that the FBI and its current director wild return to their previous practice of avoiding comments when there really are no underlying facts that have been uncovered yet.
If you parse Secretary Comey's letter, it's clear that he didn't know what these e-mails were, what they might contain, whether they were even relevant. So I do question why this particular release was timed this way. But I, frankly, hope that in the country as a whole, folks will make their best decision and come out to vote, vote with some optimism that Secretary Clinton really is the better qualified and better prepared candidate to lead our country.
BLITZER: He also didn't comment when they were looking into the Clinton Foundation. Apparently, they were looking into various aspects of that as well. He decided he wasn't going to comment on any of that.
But even if he didn't have full knowledge of what they discovered on Anthony Weiner's computer, his agents apparently did have some significant information. They briefed him on it, and, at that point, he decided to live up to a commitment he made to the United States Congress that if there were new information coming forward, and if it were significant, he would go and at least inform them that there's a new development. What was wrong with that?
COONS: Well, Wolf, I understand that, in ongoing investigations, it is typically the case that the FBI director does not make comments that will be publicly released and affect the election.
It was entirely predictable that, in this case, for him to send a letter to eight different Republican chairman of committees in both the House and Senate, that that would be released.
BLITZER: The letter was also, Senator, sent to the ranking Democrats on all those committees as well, not just the chairmen.
COONS: That's right. That's right.
But I'm simply observing that the timing and the direction of the letter was such that it was pretty foreseeable that this was going to end up being an issue in the campaign, even though the FBI director, at the time, had really no knowledge of what was in these e-mails, whether they whether they were relevant, whether they were personal, whether they were duplicative.
And I think, as this -- as our interview reveals, it has ended up being more of an issue in the last few days of the campaign than I think is justified. And I, frankly, think the FBI director should have stuck to longstanding policy and declined to release this information in a way that could affect the outcome of the election.
BLITZER: I need you to stay with us, Senator. We have more to discuss.
There's new information coming into THE SITUATION ROOM. We will take a quick break. We will be right back.
BLITZER: A fierce fight tonight for North Carolina, the battleground state that could decide Tuesday's election.
Both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton are holding rallies there tonight that are about to get under way. And Trump is continuing to hammer Hillary Clinton on the FBI's announcement that it's now reviewing the case of her private e-mail server.
We're back with a Clinton supporter, Democratic Senator Chris Coons of Delaware.
Senator, I spoke to House Oversight Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz in the last hour. He says he's promising two years of investigations. He has enough material for two years of investigations into Hillary Clinton and her e-mail server and other issues if she wins the presidency.
What do you say to that?
COONS: Wolf, I, frankly, say that that gravely concerns me, that Republicans are not preparing to find a way for us to work together and to govern in a way that will solve America's problems.
The idea of two years of investigations of this e-mail issue strikes me as, frankly, a distraction from the challenges that face us and that we ought to be able to come together across our partisan differences to deal with our economy, to help grow decent middle-class jobs in manufacturing and through infrastructure, to confront the threat of ISIS and the challenges that we face in security overseas.
Secretary Clinton has faced so many investigations that at the end of the day ultimately proved to be without foundation.
I will give one example. I serve on the Foreign Relations Committee. The tragic incidents of Benghazi were the subjects of I think 12 or 13 hearings, mostly over in the House, but in the House and the Senate. And although it's clear that there were some mistakes made in terms of the response within the State Department, none of them ultimately proved any connection between Secretary Clinton and the tragic events in Benghazi in a way that produced substantive outcomes.
Yet, it was a huge distraction for the Congress. And so to hear from Congressman Chaffetz that he's already preparing for investigations in the next Congress suggests to me that, while Secretary Clinton is serious about governing and solving our problems, many Republican leaders are just not.
BLITZER: If Hillary Clinton wins the presidency, what impact could these investigations in the House and the Senate potentially have on her presidency and her ability to govern?
COONS: Well, they could be a real distraction.
They could be a source of ongoing partisan difference. And if that becomes the only thing that gets coverage in the news and that the average American knows about what we're doing in Washington, Wolf, I will suggest that the approval rating of Congress will simply continue to go down.
What I hear from folks here in Delaware all the time is they want us to work across the aisle. They want us to solve the real problems facing our country. Our recovery is steadily picking up. The private sector is creating more jobs. And we have got opportunities, both here at home and around the would, if we would come together, to make our country stronger and to make our country a better leader in the world.
But if we just simply go at each other with partisan division, from the very moment the next president is inaugurated, I'm not optimistic that we will do what we're asked to do by the American people.
BLITZER: Senator Coons, thanks so much for joining us.
COONS: Thank you, Wolf.
BLITZER: Just ahead: Melania makes her first speech since the Republican Convention and vows to take on cyber-bullying as a first lady. Did her speech win over any new voters for her husband?
Plus, a message believed to from the ISIS leader to his embattled terrorist forces, is it a sign he's afraid he's losing control?
BLITZER: Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton are both about to hold campaign rallies in North Carolina, and they're both out with some tough new ads tonight, just five days before the election.
We have got our political panel with us.
Dana, Trump's out with a new ad highlighting this renewed FBI inquiry into the e-mails found on a top Clinton -- Clinton aide's laptop, actually the husband of that Clinton aide. Watch this ad.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NARRATOR: Decades of lies, cover-ups, and scandal have finally caught up with Hillary Clinton.
Hillary Clinton is under FBI investigation again, after her e-mails were found on pervert Anthony Weiner's laptop. Think about that. America's most sensitive secrets, unlawfully sent, received, and exposed by Hillary Clinton, her staff, and Anthony Weiner?
[18:30:19] Hillary cannot lead a nation while crippled by a criminal investigation. Hillary Clinton, unfit to serve.
TRUMP: I'm Donald Trump, and I approve this message.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: All right. Dana, what do you think of that ad?
DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, there's a lot to unpack. Some true, some not true, or at least some we don't know and some true.
We don't know exactly what was on that laptop. We don't know how sensitive, if at all. We don't know the nature of the e-mails that were found. That's part of the problem, is that there's this gray area, this unknown area.
We do know that Anthony Weiner is a pervert. I mean, we know that, and that -- and that's not an accident that that's brought up, because it's a not-so-subtle way of implicating the Clintons in Anthony Weiner's issues, and sort of letting the American people know this is the kind of maybe drama that's going to come back into your living room if you elect the Clintons. Fair or unfair, that's what the message is.
BLITZER: But you looked at that ad closely. You've been reporting extensively on all of this. Were all of those accusations the Trump campaign made accurate?
EVAN PEREZ, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, they're not accurate at this point. I mean, at some point, the FBI is going to be able to tell us, Wolf, whether or not there is any classified information on this laptop. At this point, we don't have those facts yet. I think that's part of the problem with making these charges.
But, you know, I don't think that that's the point here. He's making a political ad, and it's not really about truth. It's about making accusations.
BLITZER: There may be some classified information on Anthony Weiner's computer. We have -- we don't know that.
PEREZ: The FBI still has to check that out. And that's part of what they're doing right now.
GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Wolf, the "unfit to serve" is a very important tag line here, because that's what she has been saying about Donald Trump for the last year and a half, particularly in the last six months, unfit to serve, doesn't have the temperament to be commander in chief, can't trust him with his finger on the button.
And suddenly, he's turning it around on her and saying wait a minute. She's going to be under investigation again. Very, very premature. We have no idea. She's going to be under investigation, and therefore, she cannot serve as commander in chief or president of the United States. And so they're just flipping it right back. JACKIE KUCINICH, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: And that's also his biggest
vulnerability in the polls is his temperament and whether he is fit to serve. And s that also just -- to your point, that's been working for Hillary Clinton. That's something she's re-emphasizing.
BLITZER: Manu, we did see Melania Trump, her first speech today that she's delivered since the Republican convention in July. Was she effective?
MANU RAJU, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think that remains to be seen. It was a short speech. Some people think that maybe she missed an opportunity, because she didn't really get into a lot of details about her husband's personal life or what he's like away from the camera. It was mostly a resuscitation of why Donald Trump would be a good commander in chief and how the country is headed in the wrong direction.
So perhaps one good thing about political spouses when they give speeches, they can show that softer side of their -- of their spouse. She didn't really quite do that. I'm not sure if that was necessarily her objective, at least from the view of the Trump campaign. They wanted to put her out there, because they do believe she is an effective surrogate, but as we know, she's not been out there because of the way she stumbled in the Republican convention and her speech.
But whether it actually moves voters, particularly women voters, suburban voters in the Philadelphia suburbs, which they're targeting there specifically, that's still questionable.
BLITZER: You know, David Swerdlick, she did say if she were to become first lady of the United States, she would fight online bullying, and she made an impassioned appeal to make sure that kids aren't bullied online, stuff like that. A lot of Democrats and Donald Trump critics immediately jumped on that and saying, "Look at your own husband. Look at the online bullying he's done over the years on Twitter."
DAVID SWERDLICK, ASSISTANT EDITOR, "THE WASHINGTON POST": Yes, I mean, that's a worthwhile cause. It's important. And I think, generally speaking, minus that stumble on -- at the convention, she's been an effective surrogate. She's been pretty unflappable. She gave that good interview with Anderson Cooper.
KUCINICH: And her performance today was very good.
SWERDLICK: Yes. She's been overall, I'd say, an asset to the campaign overall. But yes, it is a bit rich when she's married to someone who's arguably like the most famous Twitter curmudgeon, I guess you could say, Donald Trump, that this is going to be her signature issue.
BORGER: Mrs. Trump, meet Mr. Trump.
BLITZER: Gloria, all of a sudden North Carolina has become this must- win state for both of these candidates. They're spending an enormous amount of money there and an enormous amount of time. Tell our viewers why. BORGER: It's kind of become a microcosm of the whole country, sort of
just stuck into one state. You have a quarter of the voters are African-American. You have an evangelical conservative population. You have an urban, more progressive, multicultural population. You have a rural, more conservative population. And so this state is sort of ground zero for all 00 both of these campaigns to get out their voters.
[18:35:18] And what the Democrats are seeing is a little dispiriting for them. Although in some polls, they're ahead. But the turnout of black voters, and again, it is an unfair comparison to compare it to 2012, when you had an African-American at the head of the ticket.
But the black vote was 28 percent in early voting now at this particular time. And now it's 22.7 percent.
BASH: And Barack Obama lost.
BORGER: Exactly. And Obama lost.
BLITZER: And four years ago, he won North Carolina, 8...
BORGER: That's right. But if there was a flip of six to ten points in the African-American vote in North Carolina, she could lose the state. And this is what's worrisome.
RAJU: And now North Carolina also central to the fight for the Senate majority, too.
RAJU: Richard Burr in a poll today, the Republican senator, down four points to a little known Democrat, Deborah Ross. This is causing major concern among Republicans that they could lose this seat. So that's one reason why you're seeing so much emphasis on the state.
BORGER: Although one Republican source said to who's tracking North Carolina very closely, said to me that one thing they're looking at is that they seem to be getting 90 percent of Republicans. And so they're hopeful that Republicans are going to come home to Donald Trump in the end, and that that will pull Burr across the finish line and pull Trump across the finish line. Again, that's coming from a Republican.
BLITZER: There's a new Hillary Clinton campaign ad that's very tough on Donald Trump that's out right now in these, the final days of this campaign. I'm going to play a little clip for you. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Putting a wife to work is a very dangerous thing.
Wouldn't you rather in a certain sense have Japan have nuclear weapons?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And Saudi Arabia have nuclear weapons? TRUMP: Saudi Arabia, absolutely.
CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC ANCHOR: Talk of maybe using nuclear weapons. Nobody wants to hear that about an American president.
TRUMP: Then why are we making them? Why do we make them?
I would bomb the (EXPLETIVE DELETED) out of them. I love war, in a certain way.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: So is that ad designed to win over undecided, persuadable voters or to generate, to really turn out that Democratic base and have a lot of people show up and vote?
KUCINICH: You know, that's a play -- it's a play that they've run before, using Donald Trump's words against him. And it has been effective.
But I think this seems to be to rally her voters, to remind them to get out, but also to remind Trump voters who they're voting for, and maybe, you know, cause them to stay home. We've seen a lot of that with some of these other ads that were really tough against Trump that might make people think twice about casting their ballot for him.
BLITZER: Do you agree?
BASH: I do. I do. At this point, it is all about getting out the vote. I think that there -- certainly, there might be a slice of soft Trump voters or soft Clinton voters, meaning those who could be persuaded to go to the other side.
But talking to the campaigns, talking to the parties on both sides, they say it is all about the voters that have identified for the past many, many months, going back to them again and again and again, and making sure they actually vote.
BLITZER: But David, haven't most people -- not all people -- made up their minds so far? They know so much about both of these candidates already. Don't you think most Americans who are going to vote have already decided?
SWERDLICK: Yes, I mean to Dana's point, we're running out of those softer, persuadable voters sort of across the country. I think those ads, both the Trump ad against Clinton and the Clinton ad against Trump, is the campaigns wanting to end on their strongest note. Each campaign's strongest note is the weaknesses of the other candidate.
BASH: But again, it's about enthusiasm. It's about -- to your point, it's not so much, necessarily, about trying to reach people who haven't decided. It's reaching the people who have decided to make sure that they get angry or annoyed or upset or whatever it is, depending on what they see when they look at that ad, to go vote.
BORGER: And don't forget: voting is happening now, as we say in THE SIT ROOM. Happening now. So they want voters to take a look at that and say, "Oh, OK. I'm going to be with her." Or, "OK, I'm going to be with Trump" or "By the way, maybe I'll just stay home, because I don't -- I don't like him." And I think that, you know, that's what -- that's what these ads will do.
Last-minute negative advertising works. And it works very well, and she's got a lot of money to use it. So she's going to use it wherever she can. And so will he.
KUCINICH: They didn't want to be here. The Clinton campaign was trying to turn a page and be -- have their positive ads be pushed out there.
BASH: Where are those?
KUCINICH: The positive ads? But, you know, in part because of this e-mail scandal, this newest -- and Comey's letter, they've had to go back to their tried and true strategy, which is hammering Donald Trump.
BLITZER: How worried are the Clinton folks right now as these polls in several battleground states and nationally show there's a narrowing of that gap?
RAJU: Pretty worried. I mean, significantly so, and Democrats here in town are worried, too. That's one reason why that they're leaning on President Obama for one reason to hit the campaign trail, try to energize the Obama coalition, get his base out.
[18:40:08] Actually, Obama -- both of the Obamas cutting today a series of ads targeting African-American voters in key House districts that -- some of which overlap with key battleground states, Nevada, as well as Florida, as well. Because they know that they're looking at the early voting numbers. They aren't -- they aren't great so far, and the polls are also nerve-racking, as well. So leaning on an effective surrogate like Obama perhaps could change that.
BLITZER: Let's listen to President Obama, Dana. I want to play a clip. This is President Obama. He held two rallies for Hillary Clinton today. Watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: If you disrespect the Constitution before you're president and threaten to shut down the press when it says something you don't like, or threaten to throw your opponent in jail in a live presidential debate without any regard for due process; if you discriminate against people of different faiths before you are president, then that is what you will do in office. Except you will have more power to carry out the twisted notions that you had before you were in office. So you can't make excuses for this stuff.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: He speaks with some authority as having spent almost eight years in that Oval Office he's talking about. BASH: Right, which is why he's out there saying what he's saying in
that sound bite. And it is why he feels, obviously, so passionate about it. And because of his popularity, in general, but particularly with the Democratic base. That is exactly what we were talking about before. That is saying to people who are maybe a little bit apathetic, maybe disgusted with both candidates, Democrats who are not that thrilled about Hillary Clinton. You can't afford to do that, as he says. His mantra now in these rallies is "Don't boo vote." That's what that was about.
BORGER: You know, Barack Obama was the candidate of hope when he came into office. And you look at the speeches he's giving now are about be very afraid. Be very afraid of Donald Trump. It's not an uplifting kind of ending -- rousing ending for him. It's -- because that honestly wouldn't work right now.
What he needs to do is get people scared of a Donald Trump presidency, and that's exactly what he's trying to do. It's kind of an odd moment for -- for this president, who didn't come into office that way.
BLITZER: Evan, do you think we're going to get any more information from the FBI director or his aides between now and the election, five days from now, to give the voter a better appreciation how serious or not so serious this review of these e-mails found on Anthony Weiner's computer might be?
PEREZ: Wolf, I think they know that they're under tremendous amount of pressure. They know that the people want this, but they also don't want to get this wrong. They don't want to provide incomplete information that could mislead people and then three weeks later we find out, actually, that there is more to this. So that's the reason why there's this much chance that we'll hear more between now and election day.
They're working overtime. They're trying to get to the bottom of this. They -- believe me, they want to try -- everybody knows that everybody is watching this. But the concern is also about, you know, four months from now we're back here again, and they discover something else that they hadn't known about or taken a look at.
BLITZER: How much division within the FBI is there? We're hearing stories about hardliners and others. You've heard all those stories. You cover it for us.
PEREZ: Sure. I mean, look, we've heard about these stories for about a year now. We've known that there's been this divide inside the bureau, and there's this mystique built up about the bureau going back to the J. Edgar Hoover days of the FBI as a specialized group of investigators.
And look, a lot of that is true, but there is something that's happening this year in American politics. There's this toxic year of American politics, and it's infecting everything, including some of our most prized institutions. And it goes to the FBI.
There's been some reports out there today that an indictment is in the offing in the Clinton Foundation investigation. Everything we've known about this investigation, which has been going on for well over a year is that that's not true.
This something that -- these allegations began with the publication of a book, "Clinton Cash," by Peter Schweitzer, who is a conservative writer. And it is true that some FBI agents have been pursuing this, and they've been wanting to go harder on it. Justice Department prosecutors and FBI headquarters basically found that the allegations didn't really merit further action. And so it's still -- it's still going on, but there's nowhere close to a conclusion.
BLITZER: You were going to say something?
RAJU: Yes. You're also starting to see some of the political fallout of this. There's a poll in New Hampshire today that said 49 percent of voters were less likely to vote for Hillary Clinton in the aftermath of these new revelations, FBI revelations that are looking into her e-mails.
[18:45:05] And it said 51 percent of independents in that state were also less likely to vote for her. Now, we will see if that translates nationally and other battleground states, but at least some cause of concern right now within the Clinton camp.
BASH: And, also, you know, you're talking about, you asked Evan whether or not we'll see any real sort of definitive decision or announcement about whether or not there was in there there in the e- mails in Anthony Weiner's computer. The mantra of the Clinton is certainly that they want Jim Comey to come out and say what's really there. But in reality, I don't think they really want to know the answer, because what if the answer is yes, she committed a crime? That's the worst thing.
PEREZ: The principal -- you know, lawyers always say, don't ever ask a question you don't know the answer to already.
PEREZ: That's very -- that's a good point that the Clinton --
BLITZER: Be careful what you wish for.
PEREZ: Exactly. By the way, Wolf, I think it is useful for the campaign to be not be seen in bed with the FBI. Trump has been arguing for the last few months that the election is going to be rigged. You don't hear him saying that as much anymore. Think that is helpful for the campaign.
BLITZER: You heard Jason Chaffetz in the last four tell me, he's the chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. He's got two years worth of hearings ready to go against Hillary Clinton if she's elected or even if she's not elected. Two years of hearings, you can imagine what that's going to cause.
KUCINICH: I do wonder if this undermines Jason Chaffetz a little bit, saying that, you know, no matter what, they're going to go after her. You have other members of Congress like Mike McCaul in Texas said she could be impeached. I mean, it just seems like they're sharpening the knives before they know what they have. And I think that might end up backfiring on Republican members of Congress.
And to your point about the rigged, it's almost like an afterthought now, because he said today he was going through something else, and by the way, the system is rigged, remember that.
BORGER: But don't forget, after he won Indiana and he was the presumptive nominee, he said, oh, I was only talking about a rigged system when I was losing.
BORGER: When I'm winning, just like the polls.
BASH: He likes the polls when he's winning.
BORGER: Right. And for Jason Chaffetz, Republicans now know that it's a good political message for them. This is what happened with Donald Trump, they don't have anything to lose in close contests by saying I'm going to investigate Clinton. It's exactly what their base wants to hear, so why wouldn't they say it now? There's almost no downside --
BASH: It's very true.
BORGER: There's almost no downside --
RAJU: And that's why the fight for control of Congress is so important, even though the majorities are going to be narrow in both chambers, no matter who's in charge, and they'll have a hard time passing legislation. You control the committees when you're in the minority, you decide what investigations to launch, depending on what side, you either want accountability to the administration, or you want to work with the other side.
BLITZER: Republicans presumably still the majority in the House.
Manu, you cover the House for us. Get ready for two years.
BLITZER: You're going to be a busy guy on Capitol Hill.
Remember to stay with CNN for complete coverage of the presidential race and all-day coverage on Election Day just five days from now.
More breaking news coming up. We received a recorded message believed to be from the leader of ISIS. Is he on the run and fearful of losing control of his terrorist forces?
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [18:52:18] BLITZER: Breaking news: a rare recorded message reportedly from the ISIS leaders encouraging his troops to stand their ground as Iraqi soldiers back by U.S. forces closed in on the terrorism stronghold in Mosul, Iraq.
Our Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr is working the story for us.
What are you learning, Barbara?
BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Good evening, Wolf.
The White House today emphasizing ISIS is losing territory. And one U.S. official telling me they even have indications the group is working on succession plans if its leader is killed.
STARR (voice-over): Tonight with Iraqi forces now inside Mosul, ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is purportedly speaking out in a rare audio recording. Baghdadi, the ISIS leader, is imploring his followers to keep fighting.
ABU BAKR AL-BAGHDADI (through translator): God's enemy, from the Jews, Christians, atheists, Shiites, apostates, and all of the world's infidels have dedicated their media, money, army and munitions to fight Muslims and jihadists.
STARR: U.S. officials believe the message is a sign Baghdadi is worried he's losing ground and the support of his troops.
COL. JOHN DORRIAN, SPOKESMAN, OPERATION INHERENT RESOLVE: This is the type of thing that a leader who's losing command and control and ability to keep everybody on the same page says.
STARR: Addressing the estimated 5,000 fighters in and around Mosul, Baghdadi said that holding your ground if honor is a thousand times better than retreating in disgrace.
The 32-minute high quality audio message is the first message since late 2015. U.S. officials tell CNN there is every reason to believe the voice is in fact Baghdadi's. There's been no confirmed sight of him since July 2014, when wearing a flashy wristwatch, he declared his caliphate in Mosul.
Now, U.S. officials believe Baghdadi is feeling the pressure after many in his inner circle have been killed in air strikes.
Baghdadi also lashing out at Turkey, telling his followers to invade it and turn its security into a horror.
PAUL CRUICKSHANK, CNN TERRORISM ANALYST: His all-out declaration of war on Turkey, that is a game changer. That may be the most significant thing in this tape. The gloves are off.
STARR: The British foreign secretary unexpectedly telling parliament that Baghdadi may have been in Mosul but no longer is. BORIS JOHNSON, BRITISH FOREIGN SECRETARY: Some of the intelligence we
have, you may know, suggests that the gentleman in question has actually vacated the scene himself.
STARR: The U.S. military more cautious and more blunt.
[18:55:00] DORRIAN: If we knew where he was, he would be killed at once. So, we don't know where he is.
STARR: And, you know, go back to that threat that was discussed about Turkey. Baghdadi urging attacks there.
Just few days ago, the State Department withdrew family members of U.S. diplomats in Istanbul because of the rising ISIS threat -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Yes, there was a significant development. Barbara, stay with us. I want you to be part of this conversation.
We're also going to get more on the breaking news from our chief national security correspondent Jim Sciutto, who is with me and our national security analyst Peter Bergen.
Jim, why do you think he released this tape now? We haven't seen Baghdadi for two years and we haven't heard from him since late last year?
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: It's because they are losing ground really. I mean, that's the view of U.S. intelligence and this is a typical tactic. ISIS is very aware of its public reputation, particularly with its followers. And as it is losing territory, he wants to sort of give encouraging words to his followers, kind of defiant words to his followers as they lose ground, draw attention to other parts of the caliphate.
But also, this is crucial and something U.S. counterterrorist officials are worried about. As ISIS get squeezed there, they make greater efforts to attack abroad and we heard in this message as well, encouraging his followers to attack abroad.
BLITZER: Does it have impact when a video like this comes out? Remember, Bin Laden used to do it all the time. You interviewed him back in the nineties and was appearing all the time on video and making these kinds of statement.
PETER BERGEN, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: I think it does have an effect. I mean, these statements are very common from Baghdadi, and the fact is, is that we've seen other leaders of ISIS call for attacks then attacks happened. So I think it does have an effect.
BLITZER: Barbara, what's your information over there at the Pentagon? Is Abu Bakr al Baghdadi in Raqqah, the ISIS capital in Syria right now is that the working assumption? That he may have been in Mosul, but he's long gone from there. STARR: You know, Wolf, you hear a lot of chatter about he might have
been in Mosul. No one really is saying for sure. And he may well be in hiding somewhere in one of these desert towns between Mosul, Iraq and Raqqah, Syria. Very much, they are looking for him but they insist right now, they just don't know where he is.
BLITZER: Jim, what are you hearing? Are they getting any close U.S. forces, make the Iraqis, Kurds others to finding this guy.
SCIUTTO: Their description is that he's in deep hiding. That is what U.S. intelligence officials tell me. If they knew of course they would go after him. But let's be hob. Find that information they are not going to let us know first. And they have tremendously good intelligence there.
And we've seen that over the last several months where they have had good capability of tracking down other ISIS leaders who are what were at that point in deep hiding. So, they've got a good track record in the last year.
BLITZER: Do you think they are going to find him and kill him?
GERGEN: They killed 36 leaders of ISIS in the Mosul area the last several months, but I talked to multiple U.S. officials in Iraq when I was there last week and asked the same question, do you know where this guy is? As Jim says, it's unlikely they say, yes, we do. They really had something.
But you can tell when people don't know and they really don't know. They have no idea where he is. They assume there is a succession plan in place. You have seen a lot of his leaders being killed and they also think by the way that he remains in charge.
BLITZER: What kind of assessment anywhere in Iraq last week did they give row about the effort to liberate Mosul?
GERGEN: Well, I mean, I think the results speak for itself. Most people think this will be finished by the time the next president assumes office.
BLITZER: January 20th.
BLITZER: It is going that well you think?
GERGEN: Maybe even quicker. Raqqah, of course, in Syria is another matter.
SCIUTTO: They're into urban areas quicker than early predictions were.
BLITZER: Barbara, what are you hearing at the Pentagon.
STARR: Well, I'll tell you, Wolf, right now, a lot of people are looking ahead to what is next. ISIS clearly on the ropes, probably going to lose Mosul, probably going to lose Raqqah. So they lose their physical caliphate. But the big issue is they will still have an ideological caliphate. There were still be perhaps thousands around the world their ideology appeals to.
A lot of concern that they are going to turn into an underground insurgency, guerilla group and stage those attacks abroad. It may be getting worse before it gets better, Wolf.
BLITZER: Yes, what worries me, I'm sure worries all of us. There are more than a million civilians in Mosul right now, and if the ISIS forces that have controlled that city for more than two years decide they are going to fight to the end, we only can imagine how many innocent, wonderful civilians are going to wind up dead.
SCIUTTO: No question. And then, there's evidence they're using them as human shields as well.
BLITZER: Right. An awful, awful situation.
Peter, thanks very much. Jim Sciutto, thank you. Barbara, excellent reporting from over the Pentagon, as usual. Barbara Starr joining us.
That's it for me. Thanks very much for watching. I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM.
"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.
Wolf Blitzer; Dana Bash; Evan Perez; Jackie Kucinich; Manu Raju; David Swerdlick