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ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT

GOP Candidates Descend On Iowa; Carly Fiorina Speaking in Iowa; Biden Considering Run But Trump Already On The Attack. Aired 7-8:00p ET

Aired August 13, 2015 - 19:00   ET

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


[19:00:04] KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: OUTFRONT tonight, nearly every presidential candidate descending on Iowa for the state's biggest political event of the year. And speaking live in this hour, a rising star in the Republican Party, Carly Fiorina.

Plus, Joe Biden consulting political heavyweights about a possible run for president. So, could Joe Biden derail the Hillary Clinton express? And Donald Trump says, his favorite book is the bible. But does he have the right stuff for conservative Christians? Let's go OUTFRONT.

Good evening, everyone. I'm Kate Bolduan in for Erin Burnett. OUTFRONT tonight, nearly every presidential candidate is descending upon Iowa. One of the biggest presidential campaign staffs of the summer now in full swing. The candidates up close and personal with an estimated one million Iowans at the Annual State Fair. The fair, of course, brings together the very best of fried foods and life-size butter cows. And a rite of passage for presidential contenders across the board. And this year all eyes are on the outsiders. Donald Trump, Ben Carson, Carly Fiorina taking over 43 percent of GOP support in Iowa right now.

And also right now, Carly Fiorina is on the ground in that state already making her pitch to voters as she basks in the glow of her first debate performance and her poll numbers, well, they show it. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CARLY FIORINA (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: That means we have to challenge the status quo of Washington. Something that the political class really hasn't been willing to do for a long time. And I think that's why you see so many people saying, I don't care if you have been in politics all your life. What I care about is do you understand how to translate a good speech into real results.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BOLDUAN: Senior Washington correspondent Jeff Zeleny is OUTFRONT tonight in Des Moines. So, Jeff, you've been speaking to voters there. What do voters want to hear from candidates?

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Kate. I'm at the Iowa State Fair, first of the Iowa State Fair. You're right. Every single presidential candidate in this race almost to a person is going to be here over the next week and a half or so. And the voters are really interested in what Carly Fiorina just said. Someone who will challenge the status quo. We're in an unusual political season here where the establishment and the regular order of things has not exactly fallen as many expected. The establishment front running candidates have faded a bit at least during these summer months.

And voters' wants suppress these candidates for specifics. Kate, the thing I'm really struck by is, how undecided people generally are, even when they are actually paying attention to this campaign. Our latest poll showed that two-thirds of Republicans here say they are wide open to making up their minds. And that's exactly what I hear when I talk to voters. And on the democratic side, it's a little more wide open than you might think. Hillary Clinton is definitely the frontrunner here. But I was walking around these fairgrounds with Martin O'Malley earlier this afternoon. And Kate, I can tell you so many people stopped him and said, we are so glad to see that you are here, we are glad to see that you are competing in this contest. Democrats want a competition. So, at this point, six months before the Iowa caucuses, Kate, things are more wide open here than we sometimes think.

BOLDUAN: Yes, I mean, that level, that many undecided voters, that's still a huge opportunity for folks. And also kind of underscores how important getting out there and getting up close and personal with voters can be for them. We have seen many examples of how not to make the rounds at the fair. A lot of slip-ups. So, how do these candidates pull it off successfully, Jeff?

ZELENY: Well, Kate, it's a really good point. I mean, voters really take a measure of the person of their likability. Who would you like to have a beer test with, that happens right here in settings like the Iowa State Fair and other setting similar in New Hampshire and South Carolina. So, what candidates do, they have to appear genuine. They cannot be insulting. They have to look at ease or at least interact with people in a way that they are sort of normal people. It's part of a theatrics of running for president. But it's also pretty serious. Generally Kate, the most likeable presidential candidate wins. And likability is tested in places right here during average events where a million people will come to the Iowa state fair over the next week, week-and-a-half or.

BOLDUAN: Absolutely. And we are looking at video there of Mike Huckabee. He kind kicked off the Soapbox series, if you will. Speaking to voters there. A lot more of that to come. Jeff, you will be all over it. Thank you so much.

And speaking of the contenders, all making it to the state to make their pitch, we talked about Carly Fiorina. Well, she is still holding that town hall just north of Des Moines in Alden, Iowa right now. She is taking questions from folks. Let's listen in.

CARLY FIORINA (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It's even evil that is metastasizing. President Obama and Secretary Clinton alike, they declare victory in Iraq in 2011. They withdraw and they watch. They watch. As a growing force becomes a crisis spinning out of control. So, I would hold a Camp David summit immediately with our Arab allies who know this is their fight. They have asked us for very specific support. By the way, every single one of our Arab allies is fighting ISIS on the ground as we speak.

[19:05:10] But they have asked us for very specific things. King Abdullah of Jordan, the man I've known a long time. King Abdullah, king to this country begging us for bombs and material. We haven't provided it. So has gone to the Chinese. I will provide it. The Egyptians are asking us to share intelligence so they can target more effectively. We haven't done it. The Kurds have been asking us to arm them for three years. We haven't done it. All of these things are going to send a very clear message. The United States is back in the leadership business. They will stand with their allies and they will confront their adversaries.

(APPLAUSE)

BOLDUAN: There, you hear right there Carly Fiorina making her pitch, taking questions at a town hall in Alden, Iowa. We're be listening in throughout the hour. So, will Carly Fiorina or one of the other outsiders, will they be able to wrestle the nomination from an establishment candidate in the end?

Dana Bash is OUTFRONT.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DANA BASH, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Carly Fiorina, Ben Carson, Donald Trump, all climbing in the polls, all with one key characteristic in common. None has been elected to office. All are worrying the republican establishment. Trump is well ahead in Iowa, according to CNN's latest poll. And the Tea Party senator who was supposed to be the outsider is lashing out with an impersonation of sorts.

SEN. RAND PAUL (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We have now people up there who say such profound things as, you are stupid. You are fired. You are a pig. You look terrible.

BASH: Trump responded saying, Trump style saying, Senator Paul has no chance of winning the nomination. The people of Kentucky should not allow him the privilege of remaining their senator. Rand should save his lobbyists and specialist interest money. Just go quietly home. And Trump is even getting it from John McCain, who had tried to stay above it all when Trump attacked his military service last month.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: I don't like to respond to Mr. Trump because there's an old lined about, you don't want to get into a wrestling match with a pig because you both get dirty and the pig likes it.

BASH: Another candidate climbing in the Iowa polls, neurosurgeon Ben Carson is now in the line of fire from a fellow doctor accusing him of using tissue from aborted fetuses for medical research, something he told CNN is unnecessary.

DR. BEN CARSON (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Virtually everything that can be attributed to progress by using fetal tissue can also use other types of tissue.

BASH: Today, in New Hampshire, Carson defended his research.

CARSON: Tissue specimens, tissue banks are maintained everywhere. It would be irresponsible to throw the tissue away.

BASH: Meanwhile, Jeb Bush is still trying to answer questions about his brother's controversial policies like torture of terror suspects, something President Obama stopped immediately after taking office.

BUSH: I do think in general the torture is not appropriate. It's not as effective. And the change of policy that my brother did and then was put into executive order form by the president was the proper thing to do.

BASH: And he is talking Iraq again. The question, if the U.S. had not invaded Iraq in the first place, would ISIS now be a problem.

BUSH: Who knows? I mean, that's just such a, you know, complicated hypothetical. Who knows? I can't answer that. I tell you though that taking out Saddam Hussein turned out to be a pretty good deal.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BASH: Now, it has always been clear that politically to be viable, Jeb Bush would have to convince voters he is different from his brother. Over the past few months it has been clear that no matter how much he has to do that, politically, personally, it is hard for him to do, Kate, especially on controversial issues like he was just talking about. Now, during that event today, he actually did say that he believes that the country is safer because of his brother. And that's not just because he is a Bush -- Kate.

BOLDUAN: Those questions will -- they follow him at every stop at this point. That's for sure. Dana, thanks so much.

OUTFRONT with us now, Josh Holmes, the former chief of staff for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. Also, CNN political commentator and conservative radio host Ben Ferguson. And Andy Dean, a Trump supporter who also worked for Trump for seven years. It's great to see all of you. Let's get right to it.

Josh, outsiders have never held office like Trump, Fiorina, Carson. They are pretty much dominating the republican field right now. Is this exposing a weakness in the Republican Party?

JOSH HOLMES, FORMER CHIEF OF STAFF FOR SENATOR MITCH MCCONNELL: Well, I think the poll you are reacting to -- polls are a snapshot in time. Right? And the poll that we're talking about happened in the middle of August at a time when voters are now just beginning to kind of tune in to what's happening. The information thus far has been largely dictated by what's in the media. Last week's debate. And now as you see in Iowa, there's the groundwork really begins. And so, I think the real frontrunner of this race is sort of undetectable to polls. It's the ground work that you are laying with volunteers, with your ground system, with all your mail, with all the TV ads. You've got to remember, these voters are going to be hit with almost $200 million worth of ads and mail and everything else over the next six months. So, a lot changes in the next six months.

[19:10:30] BOLDUAN: A lot will change in the next six months. But where we are right now, Trump is on top, Ben. And you said that Trump's lead would never last. You thought his numbers would drop after the debate. Not so much. Just look at Iowa as we are talking about it. Did you underestimate him?

BEN FERGUSON, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: No, I think, look, it's still very early on. And I also think what you have seen come out of the first debate is a lot of other people who are rising in the polls. I think Donald Trump was very smart when he came in. He was filling a void. People were terrified in the GOP. True conservatives of another Mitt Romney or another John McCain, another establishment candidate. And he who yells the loudest gets the most attention early on in these primaries. And so, I think, you know, am I little surprised he is still where he is? Yes. But also, look at how you had people that were on the undercard, you know, as they called it debate, the early debate, the happy hour debate. Carly Fiorina did an excellent job. And look how much she is getting attention now. Same thing with Ben Carson. So, I think this thing is far from over. We're very far away from anyone getting to cast their first vote. And I think there's a lot of ways that Donald Trump I'm sure will be able to screw this up.

BOLDUAN: You know, a lot of ways is going to be able to will screw this up, Andy. But let me ask you about Carly Fiorina.

ANDY DEAN, TRUMP SUPPORTER: Right.

BOLDUAN: She's also rising in the polls. I mean, we're all talking about it. She's holding a town hall right now. A lot of people are writing that she could be the perfect antidote to Donald Trump. Is she a threat to your candidate?

DEAN: Now, she has absolutely a zero chance. Nobody looked at her record yet. Carly Fiorina when she ran Hewlett-Packard she fired 30,000 people and still didn't make the company do well. Stock was down 47 percent during her tenure. The board of directors had to fire her from the company. But she did leave with a $20 million golden parachute. And also you keep saying that Carly Fiorina is this political outsider. She's tried to run for office before. She just hasn't been successful because she's not a winner. She ran in California and got destroyed by Barbara Boxer. One final thing about Ben Ferguson. He has had this hatred for Donald Trump because he's a member of the political elite and what the American people are showing time and time again is that Donald Trump is winning on the issues. He is winning on the economy. And Ben hates that.

BOLDUAN: Ben, you have an ax to grind?

FERGUSON: I will say this real quick. Name any other candidate in the GOP field that's given more money to Democrats than Donald Trump combined. That's one of the things if you want to talk about records, Andy, look at your guy who you are obsessed with. He is a better democrat than he was republican. And he also is a guy that talks about bribery on stage. He said anything I want or anything I'm going to get, I'm going to bribe people and give them cash. There's one problem. When you are the president of the United States of America they're not allowed to bribe people. No, it's not, when you're the president, you can't go bribe people.

DEAN: Okay. This is the current system which Donald Trump wants to change. And if you ask the American public, 44 percent of them say --

FERGUSON: By being a player in it?

DEAN: -- only one candidate can change the system. And that's Donald Trump. You need an outsider to go inside and change it. Donald is the guy. Look at the numbers, Ben. Look at the numbers, Ben.

FERGUSON: That would be fraud. Look how much money he has given to Hillary Clinton.

DEAN: I'm making any sense Ben. This is a tough night for you, Ben.

FERGUSON: I'm making sense. You are not listening. Pay attention.

BOLDUAN: I'm listening.

FERGUSON: You said Carly is a person who did not have a chance and that no one looked at her record. I'm actually stating the record of your guy, which you don't want people to know about. He has given an insane amount of money to Democrats, including Hillary Clinton. No other GOP candidates have done that.

BOLDUAN: Here is one thing for sure, given --

FERGUSON: What is your point?

BOLDUAN: Here is one thing for sure. We have a lot more time which I love to fight this out. Carly Fiorina, outsider or not, obviously that's debatable now, too. She's on the ground in Iowa. And all of these candidates are going to be heading there. Guys, it's great to see you. I think I hear police coming for one of you in the background.

(LAUGHTER)

Josh, Ben, Andy, thanks so much.

DEAN: Probably L.A. Yes. BOLDUAN: Exactly.

DEAN: Thank you.

BOLDUAN: OUTFRONT next, Joe Biden reportedly talking to family and friends about a possible presidential run. So, could he trip up Hillary Clinton?

And does Donald Trump have the credentials to win over Christian conservatives?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The bible, nothing beats the bible. Nothing beats the bible, not even the art of the deal. Not even close.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BOLDUAN: And we are just now learning the scope of the devastation from that huge warehouse explosion. Wait until you see the dramatic video we just got in to CNN.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[19:17:54] BOLDUAN: Tonight, strongest signals yet that Vice President Joe Biden could enter the presidential race. And already republican frontrunner Donald Trump is pouncing at the prospect of a new opponent.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: I think I would match up great. I'm a job producer. I've had a great record. I haven't been involved in plagiarism. I think I would match up very well against Biden.

So, what will it take to push Biden in the race and also what could keep him out? Michelle Kosinski is OUTFRONT.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MICHELLE KOSINSKI, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Vice President Joe Biden is calling close supporters and advisers this week, still considering jumping in the race for 2016. Hillary Clinton say, she'll respect whatever decision Biden makes. Her supporters have sent some signals to think twice.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The problem is that Joe Biden is a very good guy and probably has no appeal whatsoever to people under 35.

KOSINSKI (on camera): Do you think he's going to run?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I can't tell. But I'm worried if he does and doesn't do well, it will be hurtful to him and we all care about him deeply.

KOSINSKI (voice-over): Donald Trump is already treating him as an opponent with a slam.

TRUMP: I think I would match up great. I'm a job producer. I've had a great record. I haven't been involved in plagiarism.

KOSINSKI: A reference to Biden's issues back in lawsuit as well as during his 1988 campaign accused of using someone else's line in a speech. Here is Jon Stewart recently.

JON STEWART, STAND-UP COMEDIAN: So the reason loose lips McGee (bleep) up his 2008 presidential run is now the reason he's a viable candidate?

KOSINSKI: However, often Biden may make the funny headlines, his decades of experience, nearly 40 years as a well-respected senator, have garnered him plenty of supporters who would like him to go for it. Maybe hit the middle ground of Democrats frustrated with Clinton's e-mail problems but not liberal enough to back the independent Bernie Sanders. The latest CNN/ORC poll of likely Iowa caucus goers places Biden third at 12 percent if he doesn't run Clinton benefits the most.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I did trust Hillary but I trust Joe more.

KOSINSKI: But for Biden, this is more than political. His son Beau who just died in May had urged his father to take this chance and run with it. The 72-year-old has had to mull this over in the midst of grieving and working. Now this week away from Washington of thinking and discussing could be his deciding factor.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

KOSINSKI: No doubt, the timing is tough. Even though those close to Biden has said, they feel sorry for him that he's having to make this wrenching difficult decision now. He doesn't have a super pack. He doesn't have this massive campaign operation that Hillary Clinton has had for such a long time. But that doesn't mean this isn't going to happen -- Kate.

BOLDUAN: Absolutely. Michelle Kosinski, thank you so much.

And OUTFRONT now, our CNN political commentator Hillary Rosen and Dan Pfeiffer. Dan of course a former senior adviser to President Obama. It's great to see both of you. Michelle late it out really well, Dan. I mean, Biden is up against some major challenges, both personally and politically. But do you think he could still pull it off?

DAN PFEIFFER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: He could. I think Michelle is right that he would start this behind. Hillary Clinton has got a big organizational head start. She's up in the polls. But he -- if he gets in, he would have a shot no doubt.

BOLDUAN: And Hillary, I mean, a recent Gallup poll that really just came out showed that Democrats at the moment they seem pretty evenly split on whether they want Biden to get into the race. Should he? HILLARY ROSEN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: You know, there's a

huge amount of affection for Joe Biden among Democrats, among all Americans really. So, I think that's what those polls are showing. I'm not sure there's as much of a clamoring from policy perspective or for a real differentiator. And I think that the problem the vice president is going to have is if he gets in thinking that Hillary Clinton is going to fail, that's not going to be a good enough reason. But, you know, Joe Biden is an extremely competitive guy. Under that jocular, you know, fatherly figure is a fierce, fierce competitor. And he is, you know, personally not happy that he is not out there in this presidential race, you know, being considered by Americans to be the natural heir to Obama. He likes Hillary Clinton. You know, they're good friends. It's not an anti-Hillary thing. It's just -- he does feel like he has paid his dues.

[19:22:14] BOLDUAN: Yes. And that absolutely has to be part of it. I mean, Dan, from your experience, obviously, from your former job, President Obama, he know surprised speaks very highly of both Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden. If Biden would jump in, what kind of position does that put the President in? His current vice president and his former secretary of state up against each other.

PFEIFFER: Well, it's obviously a difficult position. But he would take the position that presidents have, you know, forever before and, you know, not take a position. It's up to the democratic primary voters and caucus goers to decide and he let the process play itself out. But obviously, there are two people he has great respect for and two people he is very close to personally. So, it would be challenging.

BOLDUAN: You know, Hillary, what impact do you think Biden would have on Clinton if he jumped in? I mean, he is polling at 12 percent in Iowa. He hasn't even jumped in the race.

ROSEN: Yes, you know, I think Hillary Clinton said it best the other day when she said if he wants to run, he should. You know, she always expected she would have some kind of strong primary opponent. You know, Bernie Sanders is giving her a run for her money in the caucus states and in New Hampshire. So, she's getting some opposition. But, you know, Democrats are like their field. I mean, we have seen this in the polling time and again that there is not a clamoring for new candidates. You know, it's not like the Republicans where they are just looking for, you know, the craziest messenger to be the person who appeals to them. You know, they like Hillary Clinton. You know, Joe Biden will have a challenge.

BOLDUAN: Yes.

ROSEN: But if anyone could do it, you know, he would be the one.

BOLDUAN: Yes. Well, there's a lot of time left before the -- before folks head to the polls. It seems that that time to get in the race is absolutely dwindling. Hillary, Dan, it's great to see you. Thanks.

ROSEN: Take care. BOLDUAN: Of course. OUTFRONT next, our special report on Donald

Trump's spiritual side.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: When we go in church and when I drink my little wine, which is about the only wine I drink and have my little cracker, I guess that's a form of asking for forgiveness.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BOLDUAN: And also, shocking new video in tonight of that massive warehouse explosion. What caused the blast that almost levelled a city of 13 million people?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[19:28:36] BOLDUAN: Tonight, the presidential candidates are making their way to the crucial state of Iowa. Already former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, the darling of the evangelical base, he has already taken to the Soapbox at the Iowa State Fair selling his conservative platform. But Donald Trump, the GOP frontrunner, he is right now also making a play for this crucial voting bloc. Can Trump land his biggest deal yet winning over the conservative base?

Sunlen Serfaty is OUTFRONT.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): He is not your textbook God fearing man with the insults --

TRUMP: What a stiff.

SERFATY: The ego --

TRUMP: That means I'm a star.

SERFATY: The excess.

TRUMP: I'm really rich.

SERFATY: Three marriages and an empire built in part on greed. But on the campaign trail, Trump has been trumpeting his faith. According to evangelical voters, key to winning the primary.

S.E. CUPP, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: You want that support. You want that turnout. And you want that stamp of approval because it is such a large piece of the pie.

SERFATY: And now he is on top polling nearly ten points ahead of any other candidate among white evangelicals. This despite there being some red flags to evangelicals in his record and rhetoric. Over time, he has become more conservative on social issues like gay marriage and abortion. In 1999 --

TRUMP: I cringe when I listen to people debating the subject. But you still, I just believe in choice.

SERFATY: But now --

TRUMP: I am pro-life. I had an experience with a friend of mine who was, frankly -- they were going to abort their child, which they ended up having. And their child is like this magnificent person.

SERFATY: Kind words for the controversial Planned Parenthood. He says he would take away funding for abortion.

TRUMP (via telephone): I would look at the good aspects and I would also look -- I'm sure they do some things properly and good and good for women.

SERFATY: Donald Trump insists he is religious.

TRUMP: People are so shocked when they find this out. I'm Protestant. I'm Presbyterian. And I go to church and I love God and I love my church.

SERFATY: This church in Queens is where young Trump went to Sunday school and was confirmed. First Presbyterian confirming to CNN his family did worship there together at one time.

TRUMP: I go as much as I can always on Christmas, always on Easter, always when there's a major occasion and during Sundays, I'm a Sunday church person.

SERFATY: And Trump has also been known to follow Norman Vincent Peale, one of the original prosperity preachers, who taught that prayer and positive thinking can lead to earthly riches.

TRUMP: He would give a sermon, you never wanted to leave.

SERFATY: He collects and stores bibles that he says people send him in the mail.

TRUMP: Nothing beats the bible. Nothing beats the bible, not even "The Art of the Deal", not even close.

SERFATY: Still, Trump admits he has never asked God for forgiveness.

TRUMP: When we go in church and when I drink my little wine, which is the only wine I drink, and have my cracker, I guess that's a form of asking for forgiveness.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SERFATY: And that comment brought a lot of criticism, raised a lot of eyebrows within the evangelical community. But those poll numbers, they certainly tell a different story, showing Kate that his message is also resonating at the same time.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: It seems to be a lot of contrasts in there to work through, Sunlen. Thank you so much. Great to see you. OUTFRONT with me now, Russell Moore, an ordained minister and a

leader with the Southern Baptist Convention, one of the most influential religious organizations in the country, and CNN political commentator, Jeffrey Lord, former political director in the Reagan White House.

Great to see both of you.

So, Russell, Sunlen laid it out really well. Donald Trump says he is religious, but he is facing criticism among other things for that moment when he said, I've got the little cracker, I drink the wine. Do you believe he is a man of faith?

RUSSELL MOORE, SOUTHERN BAPTIST CONVENTION: I don't expect the president of the United States to be a Sunday schoolteacher. I find it hard to believe that someone can present himself as a man of faith when he is saying "I don't ask God for forgiveness". He is using really insulting language toward evangelicals and other people of faith with the cracker talk and the wine talk, and just the entire disposition of the ego, speaking of everything in terms of personal insult against himself. Not to mention the fact you have someone who has made his money in the casino industry, which we believe is a predatory industry that harms the poor.

So, I don't think this is the sort of candidate that evangelical Christians are looking for.

BOLDUAN: I mean, Jeffrey, you hear. He doesn't believe it. I mean, Russell, I'm sure you cut him a lot of slack, you have probably given him some leeway, he's always welcoming, but he is not believing it.

How then is Donald Trump going to win over evangelicals with lines like that? I've got the little cracker, I drink the little wine.

JEFFREY LORD, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, first of all, he is a Presbyterian, not an evangelical. I must say, as a Christian myself, there is a different in approach.

One of the things I would also note, Kate, is in this Iowa poll that CNN has, the economy was overwhelmingly the issue, 30 some odd percent. I took a look at those folks who were very concerned about abortion and social issues and it was down somewhere between 3 percent and 6 percent. My point to you is that when you get right down to voting, the economy tends to override every issue for most people, most Americans, because if they are not doing well themselves, then the other issues tend to fall back. And that certainly is demonstrated in this poll.

So, I would imagine that as we go along that, you know, he'll be focusing on that issue, that will be important to evangelicals. I don't think he is anti-evangelical or not a Christian or what have you. I'm sure he is more than willing to talk with Dr. Moore and anyone else. BOLDUAN: Well, I mean, Jeffrey has a point. When you look at

the polls, the recent polls, you've got Trump leading among white evangelicals in Iowa. White evangelicals -- and in Iowa, on one of the most important issues, economy was at the top, religion, faith, God at bottom. How do you make sense?

MOORE: Well, let's just worry about the economy and not worry about the issues of social matters or justice issues, well, Hillary Clinton could say that. Just don't worry about abortion, let's just --

(CROSSTALK)

[19:35:01] LORD: I don't think that's what he is saying.

MOORE: -- about the economy.

And when you have someone who just the other day is talking about the good things that Planned Parenthood does, giving an uncertain message about what he would do with de-funding Planned Parenthood, someone who changed his position on abortion just within the past several years and when asked why speaks of the fact that the child turned out to be a super star, which is kind of a social Darwinist view of like, there are many children who aren't superstars. We don't think that's their value. We think their value is because they're made in the image of God.

Not to mention, the comments about women and we have heard comments on Howard Stern talking about women in terms of their appearance, denigrating Rosie O'Donnell. I don't agree with Rosie O'Donnell on very much either.

BOLDUAN: Right.

MOORE: But to speak of her in that kind of vulgar, dismissive language, I don't think that's something that's going to go over well with people who follow Christ.

BOLDUAN: Jeffrey, I want you to weigh in. Do you think that Donald Trump risks coming across as disingenuous?

LORD: No, no, I don't think so at all. I think he's a very genuine man and he's very blunt-spoken. You know, I would go back to President Reagan. President Reagan was not noted for being a particularly religious man, although, he certainly was a very religious man.

But he himself as he evolved as a presidential candidate became very close friends with Jerry Falwell. I know I'm right in saying that the first non-governmental outside group that he met with as president during his very first week was the March for Life folks. So, you know, there's nothing in Donald Trump's past here that indicates that he is not willing to sit down and talk with evangelicals, to listen, to learn, to move forward on this.

I mean, I just think to cast him as someone who is negative on this is wrong and unfair.

BOLDUAN: Well, we know one thing, he's going to heading to Iowa for the state fair. And voters there will have a good opportunity to get an up close and personal look at him and talk about these issues.

Russell, Jeffrey, thank you both so much. Thank you.

MOORE: Thank you.

LORD: Thanks, Kate.

BOLDUAN: Of course.

Coming up for us next, OUTFRONT, we're going to show you some of the dramatic video just in to CNN of that massive warehouse explosion, so powerful it has been compared to a nuclear blast.

We also have breaking news. Did ISIS use chemical weapons on the battlefields in Iraq? We have a live report coming up.

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BOLDUAN: The death toll is climbing tonight after massive explosions ripped through a major city. At least 50 people are now dead, 500 injured after this fireball lit up the night sky in a busy port city in China.

You can actually see the impact of the shock waves from the blast in this new dash cam video that just in. The devastation stretching as far as the eye can see, walls collapsed, cars simply torched.

And tonight, there is growing fear that those who survived could now be breathing in toxic fumes.

Will Ripley is OUTFRONT at the scene of the explosion.

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WILL RIPLEY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): One day after a series of massive explosions destroyed so much of Tianjin, a black cloud continues to hang over the city, the air thick with a chemical stench. A sea of cars destroyed. Their paint stripped off by the intense heat.

Broken glass covers streets and sidewalks for miles around. And when the wind blows, more glass rains down from apartments and homes.

Today, new images of those amazingly powerful blasts. This cell phone video records the moment of impact, the first blast around 11:30 at night. Fire officials say hazardous chemicals stored in a warehouse were ignited by fire. The bright flash followed by a tremendous explosion, waking people all across this port city of more than 13 million.

Another explosion followed just seconds later. Seven times more powerful, the equivalent of 21 tons of TNT, according to a Chinese data center. Buildings shook, windows blown out.

Blast felt more than two miles around the epicenter. Some likened it to a nuclear explosion even as a mushroom cloud rose over the blast site.

"The house collapsed. We didn't know what happened", says one survivor.

Surveillance video obtained by ABC News captured the explosion's sudden furry. This man buried under a wall of glass.

At least 50 people killed. Hospitals said to be overwhelmed by the hundreds injured. More than 1,000 firefighters ran to the danger. At least 17 died and dozens are missing.

Emotions are running high. I was reporting outside a hospital when a small group of people challenged me, demanding to see my phone. Police arrived but I was temporarily forced off the air.

A statement from the environmental group Greenpeace expressed what many fear, quote, "We are concerned that certain chemicals will continue to pose a risk to the residents of Tianjin." The company that owned the warehouse was in the business of storing dangerous chemicals. The cause of the fire has yet to be determined.

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RIPLEY: There's a lot of fear among residents here about another explosion. And you can see why when you look at the force of the impact, the fact that this size of a large piece of charred metal was actually tossed. You see how that building was damaged.

Look what happened at this car. And keep in mind, I'm standing more than a mile -- more than a mile from the scene of the explosion which is beyond those buildings there.

There's a small amount of smoke. There's haze over the city. You can get the chemical smell. It's not nearly as intense as it was yesterday.

There's a biological and chemical response team on the scene here right now. In the coming hours, we're going to learn if it's safe to enter the explosion site to figure exactly what chemicals were there that ignited this and try to minimize the risk of future incidents, because here in this industrial city and many other Chinese cities, there are a lot of factories with volatile chemicals that are dangerously close to people's homes, Kate.

BOLDUAN: Just terrifying. Will Ripley on the scene for us -- thank you so much.

[19:45:01] OUTFRONT with me now is Mike Dority, an American living just a few miles from where that massive explosion occurred.

Mike, when we see these videos, it's just hard to believe. And you were there. Take me through what happened, what you saw. MIKE DORITY, AMERICAN RESTAURANT OWNER IN TIANJIN: Well, first

we felt it, you know, a crack, a loud boom, rattling doors. It sounded like a freight train. Thought maybe earthquake. Then the big one hit and I was sure the building was coming down.

But next over to a window to see a gray mushroom cloud rising into the sky with things falling out of it on fire. It was pretty hairy.

BOLDUAN: Hairy to say the least.

There's fears that the chemicals are in the air. This could be -- people could be at risk staying there. Are you concerned? Are you thinking about getting out?

DORITY: Well, I'm not thinking about getting out. But, of course, we're concerned. The idea is stay inside as much as possible, air purifiers running and wear a mask when you're outside, sort of normal for around here.

BOLDUAN: I guess so. Absolutely nothing normal about this scene outside your door and near your restaurant. Hopefully, you can get back to business and everything can get cleaned up soon. It doesn't look like that's going to happen quickly.

Mike, thank you very --

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BOLDUAN: Thank you very, very much. Mike Dority with us tonight.

And OUTFRONT next, breaking news. Reports that ISIS has launched chemical weapon attacks in Iraq. Do the terrorists have mustard gas now?

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[19:51:01] BOLDUAN: And breaking news -- a dangerous development in the fight against ISIS. Right now, the United States is investigating what officials say are credible reports that ISIS used chemical weapons in Iraq.

Jim Sciutto is OUTFRONT with these new developments.

So, Jim, what more are you learning?

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Kate, extremely serious situation. U.S. investigating credible information that ISIS used chemical weapons, specifically mustard agent, or mustard agent. There had been reports of ISIS using chlorine gas. This would be much more severe. The reason they're looking into this, there was an attack on Kurdish forces in the last week.

After the attack some Kurdish fighters showed signs of blisters on their skin, indications of use of a blistering agent, which mustard gas is, as well as breathing problems afterwards. They have not confirmed its use. They're looking into it. But they do consider the information credible. It would be an extremely serious development, extremely serious expansion of ISIS' capability.

BOLDUAN: Big escalation in the fight there. What do -- how do officials think they got their hands on it?

SCIUTTO: They have two ideas, essentially. Either ISIS overran Iraqi or Syrian weapons caches that had old chemical shells in them, or it is also conceivable that they have developed the ability to mix it themselves. That would be particularly concerning, because, of course, ISIS is a terror group, the threat in Iraq and Syria, but the concern they pose a threat in Europe but also on the U.S. homeland.

They haven't determined that. It is very plausible that they could have overrun a weapons cache. But frankly either explanation is not good, because remember there was a chemical weapons deal negotiated with the Syrian government, Russia and others to rid Syria of all of its chemical weapons. This would indicate some were left behind.

But again, they're still investigating how they got them, whether they can make it themselves or they got it on the battlefield in Iraq and Syria.

BOLDUAN: Terrifying nonetheless. Credible reports of ISIS using chemical weapons in Iraq.

Jim, thank you very, very much. A lot more to be learned on the dangerous escalation in the fight against ISIS.

OUTFRONT for us next, we have a much lighter. Donald Trump partying at Studio 54. The club's co-founder, Ian Schrager, he talks abut Disco Donald, and much more.

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[19:57:28] BOLDUAN: Tonight on CNN, the music of the '70s, Studio 54 was at the center of it all. The disco, the dancing, the drugs and the celebrities.

I sat down with Studio 54 co-founder Ian Schrager to talk about the magic behind the success.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

IAN SCHRAGER, STUDIO 54 CO-FOUNDER: At that particular time it was a sexual revolution. It seemed that America tipped over on its side and everybody rolled into New York and Europe kicked over and everybody rolled into New York when New York was in the doldrums, it was during this time of economic doldrums that's studio was the perfect answer, it was perfect for the people at the time.

BOLDUAN: So many were like, God, everyone just wants to know what it is look to be in there. There is kind of a mythology almost of interest into what happened in Studio 54. SCHRAGER: Anybody who was anybody, passed through Studio 54

during that era, from every creative field, from every political field. Everybody was there.

And, what was really heart warming to see it, it was that everybody was kind of themselves, was able to let loose. And, and really have a good time.

So, kind of -- it was a great equalizer. Studio was great equalizer, because you could have a fancy lady in a ball gown dancing with a guy with his shirt off and jeans, dancing next to a presidential candidate, dancing next to a movie star. And really nobody cared.

BOLDUAN: Did Trump ever frequent the club?

SCHRAGER: Of course, sure.

BOLDUAN: You know him?

SCHRAGER: Sure.

BOLDUAN: You have known him a long time?

SCHRAGER: Yes, I know Donald a long time. I know the private Donald, not the public Donald.

He is a really smart guy. He is a really hard working. And I kind of view Donald in a kind of prophet way, which is different than I think the public perception may be of him. But I think, you know he is a great guy. And I think he would great for the president of this country.

BOLDUAN: If those walls could talk in Studio 54, what do you think would be one sentence they would say?

SCHRAGER: If they were talking specifically to me, it would probably say, "Don't tell a soul what happened."

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BOLDUAN: I thought I had him. But I didn't.

And don't miss the music of the '70s tonight at 9:00 Eastern right here on CNN.

Thanks so much for joining us, everyone. We're going to see you again tomorrow night.

"AC360" starts right now.