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THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER

Home Field Advantage Nearly Nonexistent In GOP Race; Joe Biden Hits Back At GOP Candidates On Treatment Of Hispanics; Changes Proposed To New USDA Guidelines; Ann Romney Shares Challenges After MS Diagnosis. Aired 4:30-5p ET

Aired October 7, 2015 - 16:30   ET

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


[16:32:40]

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Welcome back to THE LEAD.

Let's stay with our politics lead. Home field advantage means very little right now when it comes to the race for the Republican presidential nomination, new polls showing the state of the race in three battleground territories this morning, in Ohio, Pennsylvania and in Florida.

And the numbers indicate being from a state does not give the candidates any leg up with Republican voters, at least not right now. John Kasich from Ohio, Rick Santorum from Pennsylvania, Marco Rubio and Jeb Bush from Florida all glancing upwards at one Mr. Donald J. Trump, who leads in all their home states.

CNN's Athena Jones is standing by in Waterloo, Iowa, where Trump held a rally right at the building behind you.

Athena, in an interview, Governor Bush saying today his greatest weakness is his impatience. It's hard to imagine that he and his campaign are not impatient by his inability to gain traction even in the Sunshine State.

ATHENA JONES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right. Hi, Jake.

I mean, the Bush campaign says this race is going to be a marathon or a triathlon, not a sprint. Still, Bush can't feel good seeing that he's trailing Trump by so much in a state where he was governor for eight years. Trump, of course, is touting these latest numbers.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JONES (voice-over): Donald Trump celebrating in Iowa today.

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We're way ahead of everybody.

JONES: As a new Quinnipiac poll shows him leading the Republican field in three key states, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Florida.

BEN CARSON (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'm delighted to be here. JONES: Ben Carson coming in second. But it was Trump's standing in

Florida that really had him gloating today.

TRUMP: Florida, I was at 21. I went up to 28. We're killing everybody. And don't forget you have a sitting senator and an ex- governor in Florida.

JONES: He bests both Senator Marco Rubio and former Governor Jeb Bush by double digits in their home state. The same goes for Ohio Governor John Kasich.

TRUMP: I don't know, maybe there's a mistake, because actually the governor of Ohio is a quality guy. And he's doing a good job. But we're beating everybody by a lot in Ohio.

JEB BUSH (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'm not aware of it.

JONES: The new numbers come as Bush campaigned down the road in Iowa today trying to make headway in the key early voting state, where he is badly trailing the leaders. He downplayed the latest numbers.

BUSH: Last time, who was winning in October four years ago?

JONES: Rubio campaigning in New Hampshire echoed his former mentor.

[16:35:00]

SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R-FL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, they don't really matter very much. And polls are polls. What's going to matter is what voters are ready to do in early February. And that's what we're aiming toward.

CARSON: Fiscal irresponsibility.

JONES: And while Carson is rising in the polls, he's also facing questions over his comments in the aftermath of last week's community college shooting in Oregon.

CARSON: Not only would I probably not cooperate with him. I would not just stand there and let him shoot me. I would say, hey, guys, everybody attack him. He may shoot me, but he can't get us all.

JONES: Today, he suggested the media was trying to twist his remarks.

CARSON: We're living in a culture now where you have a group of people who just sit there. They don't try to listen to what you're saying. They're just trying to find a defect so that they can cause more division.

JONES: Despite Carson being on his heels in the polls, Trump took to Twitter to defend him, writing: "Ben Carson was speaking in general terms as to what he would do if confronted with a gunman and was not criticizing the victims. Not fair."

A different approach for Trump, who often uses the platform to poke his rivals. (END VIDEOTAPE)

JONES: Now, Trump and Carson have been holding their fire against one another in recent days. Trump even said recently that he'd tap Carson for a Cabinet position if he wins -- Jake.

TAPPER: Athena Jones in Waterloo, thank you so much.

Let's talk about all of this with CNN political commentator and contributing editor for "The Atlantic" and "National Journal" Peter Beinart, as well as CNN political commentator and Republican strategist Ana Navarro.

Thanks for -- you both for being here.

I have to say, Ana, why is Donald Trump -- you're a Floridian. Why -- how is Donald Trump killing -- he's right, killing Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio in the Sunshine State?

ANA NAVARRO, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Heatstroke?

(LAUGHTER)

TAPPER: Every Republican in Florida has heatstroke?

NAVARRO: No, look, I think that the Donald Trump phenomenon now has lasted for several months. And you can't deny that there's an underlying and constant message there.

One is, we don't like politics as usual. We want an outsider. We want somebody that does not represent the dysfunction of Washington. And two is, we are worried, we are frustrated, there's a lot of dysfunction, we feel angst, we feel anger. And I think both things need to be taken into consideration by every candidate who is running.

But let's also remember that Jeb and Marco, there's a lot of overlap there. There's a lot of people in Florida, like me, who know and like both of them. And when you put both their numbers together, you know, you're almost at the same level as Trump.

TAPPER: That's some creative accounting.

But, Peter, let me ask you. Jeb Bush, in response, said, well, who was in first place in Florida four years ago? And I said to Ana, who was it? And she said Herman Cain. This is not the same thing, though. The Donald Trump phenomenon is not the same as those little Michele Bachmann, Herman Cain, Rick Perry things that happened four years ago.

PETER BEINART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: No, because he's tapping into something deeper.

The Republican Party at its elite level is pro-globalization, pro- immigration and pro-good relationship with China, good relationship with Japan. The Republican Party, at its base, especially among non- college-educated voters, is anti-globalization. They're anti- immigration in a big way. And they're very, very skeptical of free trade with China.

This is the gap that Trump has exploited.

TAPPER: And let's talk about Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio. Jeb Bush was his mentor, Marco Rubio his protege, good friends. But there has been an edge recently. They have been going after each other. Take a listen to what Governor Bush had to say just the other day.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BUSH: We had a president that the American people supported based on kind of betting on the come, betting on the fact that he was an eloquent guy and it was all about no blue states and red states, only the United States and hope and change. And he had nothing in his background that would suggest that he could lead.

And I think this time it's important for Republicans to elect someone who can make a pretty compelling case that they know what they're going to do and they have done it. And that's my lane, man.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: "That's my lane, man." And then Jeb Bush -- this was earlier today, I should say -- then added that while Rubio does have more experience than President Obama, that threshold was a very low bar.

Why go after Rubio?

NAVARRO: Because they're competing for the same job. OK? They're friends.

TAPPER: But are they competing for the same voters?

NAVARRO: I think there's some -- I think there's a lot of overlap between Jeb and Marco, and particularly in places like Florida. They are not -- look, they are friends.

But the bottom line is they're not in the playground playing a game of patty-cake. They are competing to be the leader of the free world. And there is going to be competition. And it's only going to get, I suspect, more fears as you get closer to the Florida primary in particular, which is for all the marbles. And it makes all the sense in the world for both Jeb and Marco to highlight what they bring.

Jeb brings experience. He brings accomplishment. Marco brings a new generation. You're going to see both of them make those arguments.

[16:40:05]

TAPPER: Let's turn to the Democrats now.

There was a surprise appearance by Vice President Joe Biden, Peter, at a fundraiser for the Latino Victory Project last night. And he really went off on Republicans and Hispanics. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) JOSEPH BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It's in everybody's face. People walked in, like, literally down because of the beating, the beating Hispanics are taking at the hands of the Republican Caucus -- I mean, Republican presidential race.

People are depressed. And the message I have for you guys is, these guys don't remotely speak for America. The American people are so much better.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: The beating the Latino voters are taking at the hands of Republican presidential candidates, does that cross a line, you think?

BEINART: Well, look, I think the way that Donald Trump certainly has talked about Mexican immigrants as rapists is despicable and I think their talk about birthright citizenship is also despicable.

But I think what you're seeing is one of Biden's core problems. People are not happy with Hillary Clinton because she's too controlled, right? Biden has the opposite problem. And he has had that for a very, very long time. The closer he comes to running, the more people are going to focus on that.

TAPPER: What do you make of the ad today, the one that -- from people trying to draft him to run for president, telling his very compelling story? But some people found it over the line.

BEINART: Honestly, I thought it was awful. If Joe Biden wants to run for president, he has to lay out a message that is different from Bernie Sanders and different than Hillary Clinton.

We have been musing about this now for two months. There's no message except for the fact that he's had tragedy in his life. The tragedy is awful, but that's not a message to run for president on.

TAPPER: Ana, if you scope the right side of your screen, you will see there's just six days until we see Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders on the same stage in the first Democratic debate.

Sanders' campaign strategist, Tad Devine, told CNN this is a very important moment for the Vermont senator.

What do you think voters want to see from Sanders on Tuesday?

NAVARRO: If he can hold his own, what his policies are, if he can be a general election, if he can also create enthusiasm, what his moments are.

Is he capable of having a sense of humor? Who is Bernie Sanders? I think for a lot of us, he is a senator from a small state. For a lot of us, we're just now beginning to get a taste of Bernie Sanders. This is going to be a very large platform for him. How does he do?

TAPPER: All right, Ana Navarro, Peter Beinart, thank you so much. Appreciate it.

In our national lead, for decades, for decades, we have been told that a low-fat diet is best. But now the rules are changing again. Are full fat foods actually healthier?

Plus, Ann Romney says her husband would be in first place if he were running this time around. So, does Mitt Romney regret his decision? We will talk to Ann Romney coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Welcome back to THE LEAD. Our National Lead, the U.S. dietary guideline started back in 1980 with our old friend the food pyramid and then suddenly it was a plate changed in 2010 when the guidelines were last updated.

Now those guidelines are apparently approaching their sell by date so today the House Agriculture Committee took a look at the proposed changes. And, well, some of those previous recommendations may have gone, shall we say sour, curdling in the carton.

Joining me now is Michael Moss. He is the author of "Salt, Sugar, Fat, How the Food Giants Hooked Us." Michael, thanks so much for being here. First of all, what changes are they talking about here?

MICHAEL MOSS, AUTHOR, "SALT SUGAR FAT": Probably the biggest change actually is sugar. They're cracking down on sugar, recommending no more than 10 percent of the total calories that we take which frankly last time I checked was not much more than a soda per day, which is fine if you don't like cereal or ice cream or anything else.

Sugar is still sort of the big bogey man in the dietary guidelines. But other ones are cut back on salt, watch your fats, not too much of the bad fat. Eat more vegetables and calories. The big thing that's changed since 1980 is not the guidelines but us. We've been getting fatter.

One in two Americans now has some disease associated with bad eating, two-thirds of adults are either overweight or obese, one-third of kids. That's the problem that this group has been wrestling with.

TAPPER: So what does it matter this recommendations if the food pyramid came out in 1980 and the plate came out in 2010, do these decisions that the government makes really have any sort of impact on our lives?

MOSS: The last time I looked at it I came away really skeptical because they put out guidelines, 500-page report gets boiled down to something and the food giants really shape much of our eating habits go back to what they've done, which is to create products that maximize the allure and get us not just to like them.

But to want more and more of them and I think that's what drives our eating habits and our bad habits much more than the guidelines and pushback from the government can ever resolve. TAPPER: The government's been pushing us away as a society from whole milk and for that reason low fat milk has soared. It used to be tough to find skim milk and now it's front and center. Are these new recommendations changing from that?

MOSS: If you've looked careful they've always distinguished between good fats, non-saturated ones, bad fats, the saturated ones. So they sort of waffled back and forth --

TAPPER: Like a good fat is like an avocado.

MOSS: Avocado --

TAPPER: A bad fat is Doritos.

MOSS: Right. Always sort of encourage us to focus on the good fats. OK with some bad but keep those to a minimum and watch that balance. There are some people out there who are convinced that a high fat diet is going to save us. I'm a little skeptical because there's pushback from other scientists who say it's really about calories. Not the fat but we'll see.

TAPPER: And there's always in terms of this debate the USDA, Department of Agriculture, rejected a panel suggestion that people should be urged to eat less meat because of the environmental toll it takes to feed and raise animals for slaughter.

MOSS: Yes.

TAPPER: This was an expert panel of doctors and scientists. Why did the USDA reject it?

[16:50:02] MOSS: That was the real big change in these guidelines the sustainability thing. Look, we're going to have 9 billion people on this earth before too long and there's no way we can feed that population with a meat-based diet.

I think it's the influence of the meat industry. Look, these guidelines are being run by the USDA as well as the Health and Human Resources Department and it's a very powerful industry. It's hard to sort of push back. And it's hard for them to accept people should be eating less meat and not more.

TAPPER: All right, Michael Moss, thank you so much. Great to see you in person.

When we come back, Ann Romney will tell me what it felt like the day she was diagnosed with MS. And she says there's a positive sign to her living and fighting this disease. My interview with Ann Romney next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD. In Politics Lead today, life after an intense race for the White House while taking on an even more personal challenge. [16:55:06] Ann Romney was close to becoming first lady. In the fall of 2012, she stood on stage with her husband, Mitt Romney as he conceded his Republican bid for president to Barack Obama. That campaign season took dedication and strength.

Ann Romney has been battling multiple sclerosis for nearly two decades. She knows from strength. The disease affects her brain and spinal cord. That diagnosis has impacted her life, marriage and faith.

And it's also the influence behind her new book titled "In This Together, My Story." It's our lead read today. Ann Romney talked to me about ha and also weighed in on the current race for the White House.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TAPPER: We have heard in tweets from you and your husband, Mitt Romney, concern expressed about some of the tone and tenor from the Republican side of the race. You write in your book politics is like a, quote, "cage fight but only bloodier." Is this getting too far?

ANN ROMNEY, WIFE OF MITT ROMNEY: If you think about what our objective is with any politics, it's to help people, and to be there to work with people. If we cannot even have a respectful dialogue, how do we expect to have a respectful dialogue in the House to get bills done?

How do we expect to have a respectful dialogue in the world if we cannot talk and speak with dignity? And I do get upset when I see these things. I don't like it at all.

TAPPER: Stu Stevens was here the other day, and he told me Mitt is very, very happy but he thinks if Mitt were running right now he'd be winning. What do you think?

ROMNEY: I think I'd agree with that.

TAPPER: Yes.

ROMNEY: I do.

TAPPER: Any regrets that he's not running?

ROMNEY: None.

TAPPER: None.

ROMNEY: No.

TAPPER: He's around the house all the time now.

ROMNEY: I love it. We're having a great time.

TAPPER: Let's talk about your book "In This Together," very, very moving. Focuses on some of the challenges you face and continue to face after your diagnosis with multiple sclerosis. There are many very moving scenes, but the one that sticks with me is you and Mitt are in the neurologists office --

ROMNEY: Right.

TAPPER: -- and he's doing all these tests. And it's obvious that you're not doing well.

ROMNEY: Yes. I'm failing everything. It's like you're falling out of the sky and you have no parachute. You're so confused by it all. You're so worried. And then you get the diagnosis. Mitt and I cried. We held each other and cried because we knew it was not a good diagnosis.

But then Mitt said something interesting. He said, Ann, we're in this together. We'll be OK as long as it's not fatal. And that's the title of the book, "In This Together." But I want this title to be -- it's not just the story about me. It's we're all in this together.

All of us are going to go through a point in our life that will bring a life event will bring us to our knees and really be humbling and difficult. I think we have to be aware that all of us will have those burdens and care for each other.

TAPPER: It was very tough for you. You write a number of times. It's tough for you to admit that you needed help. Sometimes you needed help walking, dealing with your family because you couldn't get out of bed.

ROMNEY: It's humbling. The hardest part of having an illness is it stripped me of my identity. It basically left me with nothing and it was Mitt that came to my rescue again. And he said I don't love you because you make dinner. I love you because who you are and that's all that was left of me, was who I was. But I am now grateful for those lessons. I didn't like them.

TAPPER: You talk very openly about your battle with depression after the diagnosis. And you say that you wish you had gotten a disease that would kill you quickly as opposed to over decades.

ROMNEY: Well, I'm not proud of that, but I wanted to be honest in the book. I wanted people to understand that I've been through this. And I think it's pretty common for people to become very depressed. I was pretty defeated for a while. It took me a while to crawl out of that hole.

TAPPER: Faith is very important to you and your husband. How do you explain this in the context of your faith? Why would a just and loving God do this to you, a mom of five strapping young men with grand kids? Somebody who's tried to do good in this life.

ROMNEY: Right. Things happen and I think God loves us, but he doesn't protect us from pain. And through pain is where we have our greatest growth. And so I never question my faith. Hopefully through hard things come beautiful things at the end where we can help others and lift others up. (END VIDEOTAPE)

TAPPER: Our thanks to Ann Romney for that interview. Again, her book is called "In This Together" my story. And our best thoughts and wishes with her and Mitt Romney.

That's it for THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper. I turn you over to one Mr. Wolf Blitzer, who is in a place I like to call "THE SITUATION ROOM."