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Battle Today for House Speaker; Carson Recounts Being Held at Gunpoint; Airman Spencer Stone Being Treated for Injuries Following Bar Incident; Clinton Flip-Flops on Trans-Pacific Partnership. Aired 11-11:30a ET

Aired October 8, 2015 - 11:00   ET


[11:00:00] VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: In Tennessee, there's a possibility -- a lesser requirement for parents to be charged if their child uses a gun to commit a crime.

ANA CABRERA, CNN ANCHOR: Tragic on so many levels.

Victor Blackwell, thanks to you.

And thank you for joining me today. Great to have you here. I'm Ana Cabrera.

AT THIS HOUR with Berman and Bolduan starts right now.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: The doors will soon close. Last-second deals cut. A possible insurrection launched. The vote minutes away and the surprise brewing in the battle for House speaker.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Ben Carson tells Americans he would charge a gunman, rush him. But when he's faced a gunman, admits that's not what happened.

BERMAN: Hillary Clinton versus the White House, the one she worked for. A huge split on a signature issue. So, is the risk of being called a flip-flopper worth it to avoid a showdown in the CNN debate?

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

BOLDUAN: Hello, everyone. I'm Kate Bolduan.

BERMAN: I'm John Berman.

We'll show you live pictures right now of Capitol Hill. That's our studio. And there's live pictures of Capitol Hill. High drama this morning, the kind that only happens every few generations. Uncertainty in the race to be House speaker, House Republicans meeting behind closed doors, voting in minutes on who they want to replace John Boehner.

BOLDUAN: Kevin McCarthy, the current House majority leader, he's the odds on-on favorite but Jason Chaffetz has been getting a lot of attention but a vocal group of House conservatives, called the Freedom Caucus, they have thrown a wild card into the race for speaker by throwing support behind Congressman Daniel Webster of Florida. So, who will win out? The question matters very much because we're talking about a position in line to succeed the president.

Chief political correspondent, Dana Bash, is on Capitol Hill. She's talking to a lot of members, especially some of the members who want that seat.

Dana, where do things stand AT THIS HOUR?

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: We're about an hour away from votes beginning but this morning there was a meeting where the candidates for speaker got a chance to make their closing arguments to their caucus, explain why they should be speaker, the three candidates you just mentioned.

And I actually happened to speak with one of them, as you mentioned, Daniel Webster. He is a Congressman from Florida but also the former speaker of the Florida House. And I asked him whether or not he would, if he doesn't end up winning in today's vote, back Kevin McCarthy at the end of the month? Listen to what he said.


REP. DANIEL WEBSTER, (R), FLORIDA: I'm going to answer that if I lose. How about that?

BASH: Have you been thinking about it?

WEBSTER: No. I've been thinking about winning only.

BASH: And how do you feel in terms of the votes, where do you think you are right now? How many do you have?

WEBSTER: I have no idea. I haven't asked for commitments. I've made my own commitment to them. I would commitment to serving them by telling them the truth, by making them successful, by giving them the idea of putting principle over power, and then also by saying that I'll earn the right to be heard, not demand to be heard.


BASH: And that really is the crux of what we're hearing from the so- called Freedom Caucus, of about 40 or so members who have been really trying to push the entire leadership, the entire Republican caucus to move and to change the way it operates, to make it not so much bottom- down, but sort of, you know, all the way around, get everybody's voices heard. That's what they've been pushing. That's why they endorsed Daniel Webster.

Now, what we're going to see in about an hour is closed doors because this is going to be a secret ballot. The entire House, Republican caucus, is going to vote. And all Kevin McCarthy or somebody else needs is 125 votes to get the nomination. That's effectively all it is. It's the nomination from the party because the actual vote for House speaker isn't until the end of the month, October 29th. That is going to be the key.

Of course, as you guys mentioned, the House speaker is a constitutional role, which means it is something that has to be approved by a majority of the House. So, you have to get 218 votes, all members, to be speaker. So the key for Kevin McCarthy is, assuming he does get the nomination today, is whether he gets that or whether it ends up being another round of votes. And I know you guys are both history buffs, John and Kate. That hasn't happened. There hasn't been a second round in almost a century, 1923. We'll see if that ends up happening.

BERMAN: Intrigue.

BOLDUAN: History being made. We'll see if that happens again.

Dana, thanks much. We'll be following this closely. Waiting for that vote to happen coming up soon.

Also new this morning, GOP presidential candidate, Ben Carson, is facing more criticism this morning over comments he made about how to react when faced by a gunman. First, Carson said that he would stand up to a shooter. He would rush and overwhelm the gunman to take him down.

BERMAN: Then Carson told a radio host he was once held at gunpoint himself. So, did he attack the gunman then? No. Listen.


[11:05:10] BEN CARSON, (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE & RETIRED NEUROSURGEON: Guy comes in, puts the gun in my ribs, and I just said, I believe that you want the guy behind the counter. He --


KAREN HUNTER, SIRIUS/XM RADIO HOST: That's what you said, in that calm way?

CARSON: In a calm way.

HUNTER: In a calm way, oh, OK.

CARSON: He said, oh, OK.


HUNTER: You just redirected him to --

CARSON: I redirected him.



BERMAN: He redirected the gunman.

Joining us now to talk about this is Karen Hunter, the Sirius/XM radio host who had that conversation. It was interesting to hear and I think jarring for a lot of people to

hear that, on the heels of what he was saying this week, he would, had he been in a room with a shooter, tried to rush the gunman when he didn't --

HUNTER: Well, if we're being fair, what he was saying is if you're in a crowded situation and a lot of people in the room. Law enforcement backs that up, right, and the greatest thing to do is to rush the gunman if there are a lot of people. This was a one-on-one situation. It's so easy to take -- I know it was radio gold for me, and I know the media is having a field day with it, but Dr. Ben Carson is a complex human being. He does not follow the rules that are set forward by people who are in his position. He just speaks from his heart and says whatever is there. So, it was interesting to hear.

What was more disturbing than him saying that was that he directed the person to a person making like $8 an hour.

BOLDUAN: Isn't that just --



HUNTER: I was like, OK.

BOLDUAN: Do you seem to -- that seemed to have stopped you a little bit.

HUNTER: It was like, so, wait a minute. You didn't say, hey, don't do this. You don't want me, you want him? It's a guy making $8 an hour? It was bizarre.

But we've seen this. This is not the first, second, third, fourth or fifth time we've seen statements many of us scratch our heads and say, what's happening here?

BOLDUAN: You've had him on before. What do you make of it? What do you make of -- take us into those personal conversations. Those conversations you've had with Dr. Ben Carson. You say this is not the first time, not the second time he's made comments that people scratch their heads. He faces criticism. He has not backed down on any of these remarks.

HUNTER: Because he believes what he says.

BERMAN: Even when it seems inconsistent though?

HUNTER: Listen, here's what we don't get, those of us in the media. He's not playing by our rules. So, and I said to him yesterday --


BOLDUAN: It's not -- what do you think? I feel like it's not our rules we're setting, though. These are rules -- if you look at -- as I was saying yesterday, I think the people who matter, their opinion on this situation, are the people who -- the people who are the victims.

HUNTER: That was the other thing that was disturbing is that you somehow imply these people who didn't stand up are cowards or they're to blame, which I thought was insensitive, and I said that to him. He's not looking at it from the same way most of us are. What's jarring to me is that he's number two in the polls, despite not knowing how to answer these questions. I said to him, you're answering questions no one's asking you. You know, so, you're volunteering information. You're stepping on land mines that are there but you're looking for them. It's almost as if you are purposely doing this. You know, his response is, this is what he's -- he's going to say what he feels, no matter what his advisers say, what we tell him to say, what we think he should say. This is what he feels and he's going to stick by it.

BERMAN: You agree. You said complicated. But another word --


HUNTER: Yeah. There are many words I could use.

BERMAN: -- inconsistent in this one case. It does seem --

HUNTER: He would say, the first thing if we're in a crowd, I say we should jump the shooter. This was a one-on-one situation. So --


BERMAN: So in that case you shoot the cashier?

HUNTER: Tell them to shoot somebody other than you. Listen, I don't speak fluent Ben Carson.


I cannot. I'm not Kazoo. I cannot tell you what's in this man's mind. I can tell you we need to pay attention because it's resonating with people.

BERMAN: Good point.

HUNTER: And so --


BERMAN: And he's number two in the polls.

HUNTER: Absolutely.

BERMAN: Do you speak Rupert Murdoch?

HUNTER: I do, actually. Yeah, I speak a little crazy sometimes.

BOLDUAN: I do want to ask you about that so all of our viewers are caught up. I know -- Rupert Murdoch, he put out a tweet saying, "Ben and Candy Carson, terrific. What about a real black president who can properly address the racial divide and much else." Then this morning, he apologized not meaning to offend, and personally finding --


HUNTER: Offend who? All black people?

BOLDUAN: What do you make about this real black comment?

HUNTER: We'll be dealing with this today on Sirius/XM because we deal with these issues. But someone who has been the purveyor of and sat in the seat of racial divide, he has been responsible for racial divide, for him to have the audacity to bring up the first black president that could entirely deal with the divide that he created in many ways with the way he covers racial issues in this country, I think, was despicable.

BERMAN: Is there -- look, he's a white Australian guy.

[11:10:00] HUNTER: Yes, he needs to --

BERMAN: -- deciding what's really black --

HUNTER: he needs to take his medication. He needs to sit down somewhere, be quiet. He needs a nap. He needs a lot of things. What he should never do is talk about racial division in this country.


BERMAN: Is there anything that's really black or not really black?

HUNTER: There are some things that are black. I'm not going to talk about them on CNN. Y'all just have to figure that out. But, no, I think this whole race thing was not created by black people to begin with. Racism was not created by black people. So to sit there and talk about something I have to fix as a black person that you started, you created, is ridiculous.

BOLDUAN: You talk about race much with Ben Carson?


HUNTER: Yes, a lot.

BOLDUAN: What do you think Ben Carson makes of this strange endorsement from Rupert Murdoch?

HUNTER: I'm sure he would appreciate the compliment to him and his wonderful, beautiful, smart wife. He doesn't dodge the race question. What he tries to do is rise above it, and say, look, I made it out of Detroit with a single mom who couldn't read and look where I am because I didn't focus on race. Pull yourself up by your boot strap. There's a lot of the people who feel that way. I think it misses the point of the inherent racism we have in this country. Until somebody decides to fix it, and it's not going to be Rupert Murdoch, we'll continue to have these issues.

BERMAN: Karen Hunter, you have to come back. HUNTER: Well, invite me back. I'm --


BERMAN: Consider yourself invited. Thank you for joining us. Really appreciate it.

BOLDUAN: It's great to meet you.

BERMAN: We're asking, what does Ben Carson think about this? Does Ben Carson think he's more black than President Obama? We'll get an answer. He joins Wolf Blitzer today at 1:00 eastern time on "Wolf" on CNN. Don't miss that. It will be interesting.

BOLDUAN: Absolutely, not.

And just days before the CNN Democratic debate, Hillary Clinton flip- flopping on a big issue, once again, splitting with President Obama, and maybe not surprising her rivals are pouncing.

BERMAN: Plus, a top strategist for Mitt Romney says Donald Trump will be out by January. What does the Romney family think? We'll speak to an important member of that family. Ann Romney joins us live.

And Vladimir Putin shooting cruise missiles from ships into Syria. Now Syria says it is launching a wide-scale ground offensive. That war is escalating. The question, who exactly is the target?


[11:16:18] BOLDUAN: We are getting some breaking news in here just now, an incident involving one of the heroes from that Paris train attack that occurred in late August.

Let's get over to the Pentagon. Our Barbara Starr is there with more details.

Barbara, what are you learning?

BARBARA STARR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: John, Kate, The Air Force has just given us a statement. Let me read to everybody. This is about Spencer Stone. The Air Force saying, quote, "Spencer Stone, Airman Spencer Stone, has been transported to a local hospital and is currently being treated for injuries. The incident is under investigation that he was involved with."

Here is what we know. Spencer Stone currently serves at Travis Air Force Base in northern California. He was involved in some sort of incident -- we do not know what -- in a bar and suffered multiple stab wounds, according to a U.S. official, a defense official, familiar with the case. He is in stable condition, we are told, at a hospital near Travis Air Force Base where this happened in the region where he served. He is in stable condition, we're told, by this official who's familiar with the current details AT THIS HOUR. Suffered multiple stab wounds in this incident in the bar. We do not know the nature of the incident. Of course, Airman Stone, along with his two friends, came to the

world's attention for attacking and taking down that gunman on that Paris train several weeks ago. He was here at the Pentagon along with his two friends getting honors and awards from defense secretary Ash Carter. They were awarded the Legion of Honor by the French government before they even left Paris. So, these are three young men who came to the world's attention in a very positive light, hailed as heroes. One of them now, Spencer Stone, who had been stabbed by that gunman in his thumb during the incident on the train, now back in the hospital with multiple stab wounds from some sort of incident he was involved in a bar near where he serves at Travis Air Force Base.

BERMAN: Barbara Starr for us at the Pentagon.

Troubling news to have this happen so soon after what happened in the Paris train where he was a hero.

All right, our thanks to Barbara for that.

This morning, Hillary Clinton in a huge split with the White House on an issue that matters a lot to this White House. Just days before the first Democratic debate right here on CNN, the former secretary of state now says she's opposes a trade deal she once called the gold standard of trade deals when she was secretary of state.

BOLDUAN: Clinton explains her rejection of the deal saying she's not in favor of what she's learned about it. Her Democratic rivals, whom she'll soon face on the Democratic stage, are pouncing on this.

Here's Martin O'Malley.


MARTIN O'MALLEY, (D), MARYLAND GOVERNOR & PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Wow, that's a reversal. I was against the Trans-Pacific Partnership months and months ago. Secretary Clinton can justify her own reversal of opinion on this, but I can tell you that I didn't have one opinion eight months ago and switch that opinion on the eve of debates.


BOLDUAN: Joining us to discuss, John King, host of "Inside Politics" and CNN's chief national correspondent; Amanda Carpenter, CNN political commentator and former communications director for Ted Cruz; and Democratic strategist and CNN political commentator, Donna Brazile.

I thought we would be alone for a little bit there. I didn't know if you were going to bump up. I'm glad you're here.

Donna, you heard what Martin O'Malley said. I think you're going to hear that wash, rinse and repeat, come Tuesday's debate. What's Hillary Clinton going to say about it? What are the risks of her looking like she's doing this in order not to anger progressives?

[11:20:00] DONNA BRAZILE, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR; I know what she might say to her opponents but I believe what she will tell the American people is that she had an opportunity to look at the final deal, which was just completed on Monday. Congress has a lengthy review process. What she saw when the deal was completed is that it didn't contain currency manipulation. She's worried about that. She's worried Japan and other nations might be --


BRAZILE: But Donna, how does she fight this gold standard of trade agreements?

BRAZILE: She's also working for outsourcing. I don't speak for her campaign. I do believe she's have a very, very tough time explaining why it took so long, but I think if she came out on the right side of this conversation at the end of a long, deliberative period, she'll be fine. Look, Democrats, we don't have a lot of squabbles and disagreements. We have bold visions about how to improve the economy, how to deal with climate change, how to --


BOLDUAN: I hear you laughing.

BRAZILE: We have disagreements with Republicans. We have strong disagreements with Donald Trump and Ben Carson. That's what Democrats are going to talk about. We're not going to begin this round of in- fighting.

BERMAN: John, guard the left flank.

BOLDUAN: You hope.


BERMAN: Guard the left flank. That's what's happening here. What about guard the White House flank? Is there a risk for Hillary Clinton in putting too much space between herself and the White House? Over the last few weeks she's done it on immigration, on Syria, now no-fly zones in Syria.

BOLDUAN: Keystone Pipeline.

BERMAN: Now Keystone. Does she risk losing if not outspoken support of this White House, just ticking them off?

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: There's a risk in every decision you make in politics, especially on the presidential campaign. To borrow a phrase from 2004, when it comes to the trade agreement, she was for it before she was against it. So Martin O'Malley says it's a cynical flip. She's moved to other issue to the left, arctic drilling, Keystone Pipeline, immigration, minimum wage. She's moved to the left. Her challenge is to say I moved from previous positions because I studied, I listened, times are changes, the economy is changing, to convince voters that being open-minded is actually a skill set that you want in a leader. Her critics will say she's pandering and she's flip-flopping and she's moving. That is not unique on American politics. On the Republican side, Jeb

Bush was once for a path to citizenship now he says legal status. Marco Rubio helped write the bill for citizenship and now he says, whoa, whoa, let's secure the borders and then we'll have conservations about other things. We've been through this with Mitt Romney, with John Kerry, and even Barack Obama. It happens in presidential politics. Her challenge on that debate stage is to convince people she's not pandering, she's not flip-flopping.

One other interesting subplot, this makes her, on trade, very different from her husband, who ran and won for president, challenging the Democratic party on trade.

BOLDUAN: It is fascinating. We can see already, Amanda, what Republican criticism will be in a general election of Hillary Clinton on this. But before she takes on any of your -- any of your Republican candidates, she has to get through the Democratic primary. What advice would you give Hillary Clinton on that debate stage come Tuesday? She's got Bernie Sanders and they've all been playing pretty nice. But then she has three other people on that stage who a lot of folks don't even remember their names.

BERMAN: They have nothing to lose.



AMANDA CARPENTER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: The biggest challenge in this debate is the image problem. She has to show she's likeable and in command of the issues. Where I think she's digging herself a stage is going to the left. This debate stage, it's remarkable and notable you have a Socialist on the Democratic debate stage. Not only that, Hillary Clinton is moving to his side. She's totally -- gone are the days of Bill Clinton where a Democrat would moderate on the issues. She's chasing the Socialist wing of the party. I think that's stunning.


BRAZILE: It's right versus wrong.


CARPENTER: Let's look at the trade deal.

BRAZILE: Bernie Sanders is right on raising the minimum wage. Hillary Clinton is right on raising the minimum wage. These are right verse wrong. The Democratic Party is right on trying to raise the wages --


CARPENTER: Without a doubt, the Democratic Party has taken that very far left.


BRAZILE: That's taking the party to the people, who need jobs, who needs to have a living wage, and that's what we're going to talk about on Tuesday. You won't get a debate where we talk about what people look like, their hair on whether or not there should be a woman on a $10 bill.


BERMAN: John King, I want to give you the last word on Bernie Sanders. What does he have to do on Tuesday?

KING: I think he has to prove that he's a president. He's not an insurgent candidate, not a revolution without the Democratic Party. He's actually a viable candidate for the nomination.

To Amanda's point, Hillary Clinton has moved his way. That gives him credibility. He wants to pass her without being too critical. Guess what? They actually like each other. They like and respect each other. His challenge is, I'm the insurgent, the energy in the party. Senator Obama, in 2008, you're the new guy, getting a lot of attention, energy, prove you're a president. That will be fascinating when we have this debate on Tuesday.

BERMAN: Sure will. Can't wait.

John King, Amanda Carpenter, Donna Brazile, thank you so much for joining us.

[11:25:15] BOLDUAN: A reminder to all of you, if you didn't catch it, the first Democratic presidential debate is only a few days away now, Tuesday, October 13th. Our coverage begins at 8:30 p.m. that evening only here on CNN and also even before then, we, these two, are going to be live for special -- offering you special coverage starting Monday. We'll be live there.

BERMAN: You may have heard this phrase over the last couple of months, "Make America great again." Donald Trump has said it a few times. It's his slogan. It's now a trademark. But Trump says, claims it's not about the money.

BOLDUAN: Plus, Syria launching a wide-scale ground offensive as Russia drops bombs by land and sea. Why this move could change the war there.