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AT THIS HOUR WITH BERMAN AND MICHAELA

NY Times to GOP: Dump Trump If Not Better by Labor Day; Second Night of Violent Protests Erupt in Milwaukee; Trump Speech Soon on Plan to Defeat ISIS; FBI Investigation into E-mails Haunts Clinton. Aired 11:30-12p ET

Aired August 15, 2016 - 11:30   ET

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


[11:30:00] KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Coming up for us, a Labor Day deadline. Oh, this, right now, a labor day deadline, that's what the "Wall Street Journal" editorial says Donald Trump has to turn things around before, it says, the Republican should, in the editorial, "write off their nominee and focus on down-ballot races." The newspaper also adding this: "As for Mr. Trump, he needs to stop blaming everyone else and decide if he wants to behave like someone who wants to be president or turn the nomination over to Mike Pence."

Here now, Donald Trump's former primary rival, now supporting the nominee, former Senator Rick Santorum.

Senator, good to see you. Thank you for coming in.

RICK SANTORUM, (R), FORMER SENATOR & FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Great to be with you, Kate. Thank you for having me on.

BOLDUAN: Thank you very much.

So, "Wall Street Journal" is asking it, I ask it to you, is Donald Trump behaving like someone who wants to be president right now? The "Wall Street Journal" Editorial Board seems to think he does not.

SANTORUM: Donald Trump has been getting a lot of advice from a lot of people. And I would say the advice I've been reading, particularly in the "Journal," is probably very good advice. But I think Donald Trump has it within him to right the ship, to stay focused. His speech today is a good start to that. I'm hopeful he will stay focused on the security issue, stay focused on the issue of jobs and the economy, and particularly working men and women in this country. I hear this angry white male -- it's not angry -- these are people, just like you're seeing in Europe, who sat back and looked at the system and said, it's not working for me. Hillary Clinton is a continuation of that system. She is the status quo. That's why she has all the Wall Street people. Even the elite Republicans, who are doing very well, the billionaire Republicans, are joining her. It's working men and women who are suffering. If Trump can focus on that, I think he's going to do very, very well. The winds are at his back.

BOLDUAN: The focus I think is where a lot of the criticism is coming, though, Senator, and how many pivots can be blown, or how many resets can be un-reset, let's say. That's a huge question. I mean, a lot has happened since I saw you last at the Republican convention, including when Trump had that long feud with the Gold Star family. I do wonder, I mean, you were supporting the nominee when I last spoke with you. After that feud with the Khan family, are you still 100 percent behind Donald Trump?

SANTORUM: Absolutely. Do I like the fact he gets off on rabbit trails that are not constructive? No. But I have to say Donald Trump is an unorthodox candidate. He was off on rabbit trails throughout the course of the primary. Many predicted during that primary, just like they're predicting now, they would be fatal to him. It turned out they weren't. I'm not suggesting -- I'm not encouraging -- Donald, don't take this as an encouragement to do more of this. I would say those types of things don't seem to damage him as much as other candidates.

Having said that, we're now doing crunch time. It's time for the Republican candidate, for Donald Trump, to step forward, to lay out his vision for this country, to let people know that he is someone they can trust as president, someone who's going to be responsible, someone who's going to be focused on making sure that life is better and safer and more prosperous for the people here in this country. If he stays on that, and I believe he certainly has the ability to do that, he'll win this election.

BOLDUAN: Look, as you said, it's crunch time. And at some point, if he is down 10 points in the polls, in the battleground states, do you think the party should take resources, move them elsewhere and focus on trying to protect down-ballot Republicans, to protect the majority in the Senate?

SANTORUM: Let's be honest. A lot of that's happening right now. You see a lot of Republicans who have, unfortunately, in my mind, not lined up behind Donald Trump, and who are focused their efforts --

(CROSSTALK)

BOLDUAN: But Republican party, Reince Priebus, I mean, they're pushing back -- I mean, some Republican staffers and former members have said, yeah, you need to move resources now. The Republican Party says no. That's not the case. They're not doing that.

SANTORUM: Well --

BOLDUAN: Do you think they need to kind of, a la 1996, at some point?

SANTORUM: The Republican Party realizes if you don't have a strong top of the ticket, you can put all the resources you want in down- ballot races. If the top of the ticket is not supported and doesn't do well, I can tell you as someone who ran in a year where the top of the ticket did very, very poorly, and the national move was against the party, it doesn't matter how much money you pour in some of these races. You've got to set the tone from the top. So abandoning ship is not an option. The better thing to do is make sure that ship is sailing the right course.

BOLDUAN: That's the challenge, I think as well. Easier said than done, Senator. (CROSSTALK)

SANTORUM: Just remember, it is not the same as any other candidate. He is not your typical candidate.

BOLDUAN: True.

SANTORUM: So you're going to continue -- I'm not -- you're going to continue to get rabbit trails from Donald Trump, all the way up to November. The question is, can he stay focused enough to really drive the message of competency and trustworthiness. Certainly, Hillary Clinton does not have the trustworthiness. Donald Trump needs to gain that mantle, and I think he can.

BOLDUAN: Senator, can Donald Trump win your home state? Can he win Pennsylvania? You've seen the polls.

SANTORUM: Absolutely.

BOLDUAN: He's down by 9, 10, 11 points.

[11:35:15] SANTORUM: Yeah. Because he's -- number one, he's not gained support from a lot of Republicans he needs to get support from, including conservatives in the middle of the state, as well as, you know, more moderate Republicans in the collar counties of Philadelphia. That's the point I made before, which is he has to engender trust and confidence this is a man up for the job. The criticisms labeled against him, because of these rabbit trail assaults, are legitimate. And I'm not going to pile on. I am sure he is getting that message from just about everybody in the camp. And we'll wait and see whether he can stay focused and accomplish that.

BOLDUAN: Right. I wonder, Senator, really quick, where your confidence is that he can and will stay on message. That's been the conversation up to this point. Hence, why you're seeing people say there is going to be no pivots, no reset, no on message, when you see his past experience to this point. Where's your confidence that he can be on message?

SANTORUM: He's already said -- I think they mentioned this in the article, you know. He's going to be a very boring presidential candidate as it gets closer to November. I'm hoping for that. I'm hoping he gets a lot more boring. Again, I don't expect to be a traditional candidate, but I expect him to stay more focused on the issue. Hopefully, we'll see more policy speeches. We'll see more focus on the problems that are confronting the safety and security of Americans, as well as the economic strife that Clinton/Obama policies have brought to them.

BOLDUAN: I'd like to get the Rick Santorum weekly take, so let's plan on next week you come back on, Senator.

SANTORUM: Look forward to it, Kate.

BOLDUAN: Good to see you. Thank you.

SANTORUM: Thank you.

BOLDUAN: Thanks very much.

Coming up next, Milwaukee on edge. Shots fired, businesses burned, cars on fire as well. Protests erupt for a second night after the shooting death a black man by police.

Plus, dramatic rescues. More than 20,000 people pulled to safety. It's really amazing what's going on there, including this woman grabbed as her car was submerged. A Good Samaritan helping her out. The historic flooding, ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[11:41:30] BOLDUAN: Violent protests erupt in the streets of Milwaukee, sparked by the weekend shooting death of a 23-year-old black man at the hands of police. At least one person was hit by gunfire. One police officer was injured after a rock smashed the windshield of his squad car. Saturday night, several businesses were torched by protesters.

CNN's Ana Cabrera is live in Milwaukee with the very latest.

Ana, what led to all of this?

ANA CABRERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It all began with a shooting on Saturday afternoon that has now escalated into a much larger issue, as we're hearing from community members. We're at ground zero where the protests have been taking place. And we are expecting an update after last night's events from the police chief here within the hour.

But let me set the scene. You can see the intersection over here that protester's initially blocked, a very busy street, where they clashed with police last night, hurling rocks and other objects, firing shots in the air. Right next to where, just the night before, protesters set this gas station on fire, one of six buildings have been lit ablaze in this community.

Members say they are angry, angry over years of oppression, racism, social injustices and overall lack of opportunity, a sense of hopelessness in this community for their future.

It was a flash point on Saturday afternoon, dredging up these issues, when 23-year-old Sylville Smith was shot and killed by a 24-year-old African-American police officer following a traffic stop and police pursuit. Police say the key piece of evidence in this investigation may be the officer's body cam. That body cam video has been turned over to the state investigators who have taken over the investigation. We heard from the mayor, say there is clearly an image of the suspect holding a gun when he was shot and killed. So we are continuing to ask questions about when those images will be released to the public to back up what we're hearing from the authorities.

But there's certainly a sense of distrust of what police are saying and what authorities are saying in this neighborhood, so there are calls for answers and calls for a broader change in Milwaukee -- Kate? BOLDUAN: More immediately, they also need that disaster, that

horrible damage right behind you. Obviously, there's a lot that needs to be done on the ground right now. Hopefully, you're getting updates very, very soon.

Ana, thank you.

In just a short time, Donald Trump will lay out his plans to defeat ISIS. What are the details? Is it workable? Will this help his campaign get back on track?

Plus, lashing out. Trump blames the media for his sagging poll numbers.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: I'm not running against Crooked Hillary Clinton. I'm running against the crooked media. That's what I'm running against.

(CHEERING)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[11:48:19] BOLDUAN: Just a short time from now, Donald Trump is set to layout his three-point strategy for defeating radical Islamic terror, including an ideological test for individuals from counties with ties to terrorism, and banning anyone who harbors views that conflict with the U.S.'s values of pluralism and free. What are we going to hear?

Let's discuss with Tim Miller, former communications director for Jeb Bush's campaign; Carl Higby, a Donald Trump supporter and Navy Seal; and CNN political commentator, Patti Solis Doyle, former campaign manager for Hillary Clinton's 2008 presidential bid.

Guys, great to have you.

Carl, break out that crystal ball. What do you want to hear Donald Trump say today?

CARL HIGBY, NAVY SEAL & DONALD TRUMP SUPPORTER: This is his strong point. People overwhelmingly support his view and his plan to destruct ISIS. This is a chance he can separate himself and get back on message, because he's been catering to a lot of other messages recently. So he can get back on message, hit a hard-hitting segment of America first, American strength, which Hillary can't project.

BOLDUAN: What are the chances he stays completely on message?

TIM MILLER, FORMER COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR, JEB BUSH PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN: Zero.

HIGBY: On this topic, 90 percent.

BOLDUAN: Tim, shocker, you think zero?

MILLER: He's never been able to send a message ever. Easiest prediction I've ever had to make.

BOLDUAN: Thank you. I'm trying to throw softballs.

Laying out policy, with 80-plus days to go in a presidential campaign, that is presidential campaign politics 101. What is not, you would say, presidential campaign politics 101 is what maybe we've seen for Donald Trump over the past couple weeks. And even Carl has said he's been off message. You put it in a very interesting frame. I was looking at your Twitter feed, and you said, as someone who has lost a few races, "An 87-day death march when writing on the wall takes a toll, expect a total Donald Trump meltdown." Why do you think this is the end?

HIGBY: What are you talking about?

[11:50:04] MILLER: There's no math that gets him to victory. And this is what the whole Never-Trump crowd was saying for months, was that is Donald Trump can't beat Hillary Clinton. It didn't take Nostradamus to figure that out. It only takes a basic knowledge of the political electorate. And now it's starting to get pretty clear to Donald Trump and I think he and his supporters are trying to see it. So this is a person that has not shown an ability to carry himself with decorum, in the under statement of the year. So now if he has to we up every morning, more bad polls, more bad news coverage, what's he going to do? He's going to keep lashing out. And so I think he'll get worse and worse.

BOLDUAN: Rick Santorum told me he thinks he can win Pennsylvania.

MILLER: No, he can't win Pennsylvania. He's losing by 10 points in Pennsylvania, according to the Real Politics average, which got every state right in 2012, except for one. Donald Trump has only 154 electoral votes, with no path to victory. And we're going to see that becomes clearer and clearer to him, he's going to act worse, more like a child.

BOLDUAN: We'll get to that in a second, Carl.

Patti, talking about the polls --

(CROSSTALK)

PATTI SOLIS DOYLE, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I agree with Tim.

BOLDUAN: OK, there you go.

MILLER: Thanks, Patti.

BOLDUAN: Patti, looking at the polls, they look good for Hillary Clinton right now. I'm sure she would like to talk about especially about the battleground state polls. But what's not good is continued conversation about the e-mails and the e-mail controversy. The FBI notes from her interview with FBI agents, they are going -- expected to be going to Capitol Hill soon.

It seems that that conversation is taking a toll on at least one person close to Hillary Clinton, and that is Bill Clinton. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Wait a minute. That's it. It's not true. The FBI director said, when he testified before Congress, he had to amend his previous day's statement that she never received any e-mails marked classified. They saw two little notes with a "C" on it. This is the biggest load of bull I've ever heard. That were about telephone calls that she needed to make, and the State Department typically puts a little "C" on it to discourage people from discussing it in public. Does that sound threatening to national security to you?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BOLDUAN: Our reporter, M.J. Lee, was there, and she said he went out of his way to take that question, about why should we trust her if like about her e-mails, and he went out of his way to go into that in- depth conversation. Yes, that is what Bill Clinton is known to do sometimes, but when you're explaining it, it's something they don't want to talk about anymore, Patti. How is this helping?

SOLIS DOYLE: Bill Clinton is the greatest politician of our time or anyone's time, quite frankly, except when it comes to defending his wife. It's very personal and he gets very passionate and emotional about it, and he's her husband, right?

But, look, on the trust issue, I think Hillary Clinton had a fantastic convention. You know, it was a two-tiered convention. She had so many speakers talk about how trustworthy she is, to fight for the American people, to fight for the middle class, and she also had a bunch of speakers talking about just how erratic Donald Trump is.

BOLDUAN: Patti, that was three weeks ago.

(CROSSTALK)

BOLDUAN: That was light years ago.

SOLIS DOYLE: And Donald Trump has proven he is reckless and erratic, and Hillary Clinton's is out on the stump. Look at her numbers. Her trust numbers have moved by double-digits. I think the FBI will release these notes and it will say that, you know, she didn't lie to the FBI. And, again -- once again, investigation, after investigation, maybe this time, we can move off the e-mails.

BOLDUAN: I'm guessing that's probably a no, but we will see.

Carl, I've got to get your take on this one, Donald Trump's tirade against the media. He blames the media for why he is down in the polls, just because of media coverage. He wrote, "If the disgusting corrupt media covered me honestly and did not put false meanings into the words I say, I would be beating Hillary Clinton by 20 percent." Republicans complaining about media bias, it is not new. But when he's saying, I would be beating her by 20 points if it wasn't for the media, is he in some roundabout way continuing on this fatalistic tone where he's looking towards defeat?

HIGBY: Donald Trump needs to understand right now that he is fighting Hillary Clinton. The media is going to do what the media is going to do. We know there is slant to the left in the media. We all know. He's going to say, my enemy is going to do whatever they want. Let them slant whatever polls they want. Despite the polls going up and down, the core group for Trump has not changed. Trump still has a chance in this race.

You said he can't win Pennsylvania. I disagree.

But he needs to understand, go after the main person. If he goes after Hillary Clinton, the media can't cover anything but Hillary Clinton, and that makes Hillary Clinton answer questions, which leads to gaps. She's a flawed candidate.

BOLDUAN: That's taking responsibility for the words that come out of your mouth, Tim.

MILLER: If Carl was Trump instead of Trump being Trump --

(CROSSTALK)

BOLDUAN: We might win Pennsylvania.

(CROSSTALK)

MILLER: We might be in an OK situation.

(LAUGHTER)

Here's the problem. Trump is Trump.

Here's the thing. And I have to disagree with Patti on her defense of the e-mails. This is a right territory for criticism if we did not have a candidate who was a pathological liar himself, and incapable of making the case against Hillary Clinton.

(CROSSTALK)

[11:55:23] BOLDUAN: Jeb Bush complained about media coverage, as well. I think I got a few e-mails from you when you were with the campaign.

MILLER: That was my job, to talk about the media. And Jeb's job to talk about policy.

BOLDUAN: Right. Does it add --

(CROSSTALK)

MILLER: Jeb did not go on any whiney Twitter rants about the media, if I recall.

BOLDUAN: Does it add voters? And don't worry about --

MILLER: No. No.

BOLDUAN: Does it add voters in? That's the thing?

MILLER: No, it doesn't add any voters. That's what I'm saying. If we had any of the other 16 that ran that would be focused like a laser on Hillary Clinton's trustworthiness. Trump is not capable of doing it. So that's why we're stuck where we are.

HIGBY: This is only further energizes voters that are already disenfranchised with the media, so I don't think it adds anything.

BOLDUAN: Guys, thank you.

Patti, thank you.

SOLIS DOYLE: Thank you.

BOLDUAN: Thanks so much.

Coming up for us, campaign debut. Vice President Joe Biden hitting the campaign trail with Hillary Clinton for the first time. Just moments away from their joint appearance. What will Joe say? Talk about speaking off-the-cuff. We'll see.

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