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Inside the Donald Trump Campaign Shake-Up. Aired 11-12p ET
Aired August 17, 2016 - 23:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[23:00:02] DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: Inside the Trump campaign shake-up, the so-called street fighter who is the new chief executive of team Trump. This is "CNN Tonight." I'm Don Lemon.
Donald Trump hires Steve Bannon, the man who's been called the most dangerous political operative in America to say good-bye to the more presidential Trump that we have been promised.
Now, with less than three months ago until Election Day, can the campaign stop his slide in the polls? Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton not impressed.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HILLARY CLINTON, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: He can hire and fire anybody he wants from his campaign. They can make him read new words from a teleprompter. But he is still the same man who insults Gold Star Families, demeans women, mocks people with disabilities and thinks he knows more about ISIS than our generals.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: Let's get straight to CNN Sara Murray with the very latest on the Trump campaign shake-up. Sara?
SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL REPORTER: Well, Don, it certainly is rare to see this many campaign shake-ups over such a short amount of time, but the Donald Trump campaign doesn't do anything by the book. And sources had been telling us that Donald Trump was growing very frustrated with the direction of his campaign. He decided over the weekend that he wanted to make that change and that's why we saw Steve Bannon brought on, that's why we're seeing Kellyanne Conway being elevated.
Now, some sources have told us, this is an opportunity for Donald Trump to be on unleash, to go back to the basics, to hold declines of big rallies he really thrive on during the Republican primaries and to on with his gut. But when I spoke with Kellyanne Conway tonight, she was careful to say that Trump would also be talking about the issues. He will be talking about ObamaCare. He will be talking about national security and that he's not going to leave that teleprompter behind.
She says one of her top goals is to make sure that voters understand this election is not a referendum on Donald Trump, because we know he's been a very divisive figure throughout his campaign, but rather it is a choice between Hillary Clinton and between Trump and they really want to play to those voters who might have security, national security at the top of their mind or who might be looking for a change.
Now, as of right now Donald Trump is, of course, lagging and basically every battle ground state but we will see if new advisers surrounding him could help change that time.
LEMON: All right, Sara, thank you very much.
Now, I want to bring in Mark Preston, CNN Politics Executive Editor and Brian Stelter, CNN Senior Media Correspondent, John Phillips, KABC Talk Radio Host and the Trump supporter and Matt Lewis, Senior Contributor to the "Daily Color." I have my hands full.
Gentlemen, I'm going to start with Mark Preston. Good evening to all of you. Trump's polls are taking from the Republicans have been defecting, now the shake-up. Today, Trump's lawyer, Michael Cohen call this an expansion of winners. What's the reality here?
MARK PRESTON, CNN POLITICS EXECUTIVE EDITOR: Well, clearly, I mean, the reality is now, Don, that Donald Trump realized that what was going on with his campaign and the struggle of Trump being Trump and Trump being a traditional politician which just not going to work.
Look, we're going to be very critical of the shake-up because of the timing of it and the fact that we've seen two campaign managers basically fired in the last 60 days and we're 80 days before an election.
However, I do think you do have to look at it and say, "If things are not working out, would it be worse had he not made a change?" And I don't think that that's going to emphasize enough.
Donald Trump needs to make a change if he's going to beat Hillary Clinton. All the polls show that he is losing, specifically in the five or six battleground states. He needs to win there (ph).
LEMON: Was it the polls or was it -- because there was just whole meeting that he, you know, with the family and with donors and that someone got this year (ph) or was it just the polls that when he saw them, I mean, he's like, "Oh, my gosh."
PRESTON: No, I think the polls are just a yard stick of basically the overall feeling and current of what was happening in the campaign at this time.
LEMON: For people who may not be familiar with Breitbart, Brian, lay out sort of style and their claim of fame. I sort of remember them really coming to fame during Shirley Sherrod. Remember that?
BRIAN STELTER, CNN SENIOR MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: Right and this was a distorted story they published years ago that was attacking this Obama administration first. And you know, this website, it plays loose with the facts, there's no doubt about that. It's not just conservative.
In fact, a lot of conservative voters would say, "No, we are not a part of Breitbart, it is too extreme for us. We would call it nowadays part of the alt-right." I'm not sure how we exactly would define the alt-right, like reviewers at home. I mean, we're talking about ...
LEMON: Conspiracy theorists.
STELTER: Well, we're talking about in some case believers in white nationalism. I don't want to just merely entire sight that way, but this is like does hold some extreme points of view in expressing the extreme points of view. It's a home for writers who believe these things and that's what makes it so crazy. Donald Trump did not go out and seek out a moderate in terms of a media executive. He sought out a very right-wing media executive.
LEMON: Matt, we have spoken about this rise in the alt-right, some say that Breitbart plays a role in that. What's your assessment of it?
MATT LEWIS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Right. So, the alt-right, you know, it's hard to define, but essentially these are tend to be young men.
[23:05:03] It's a coalition of, you know, I would say men's rights activists, video gamers, white nationalists and the thing that Breitbart has done is help normalize it. They, you know, there are other sites that -- there's one called "be there" (ph), I think it's called that have been around along time that have cater to this really fringe right-wing movement which I would draw distinction between this and mainstream conservatism, a huge distinction.
But Breitbart is now mainstreaming it, and, you know, apparently the alt-righter for lack of a better term are very happy that Bannon has now been promoted. They see this is sort of a win that they're now inside the tent.
LEMON: Their mainstreamed, so to speak.
LEMON: This is what Breitbart wrote, a lengthy piece about alt-right. This alt-right -- this was back in March and this is part of what he said. "The alternative right, more commonly known as the alt-right is an amorphous movement. Some, mostly establishment types insist it's little more than a vehicle for the worst dregs of human society, anti- semites, white supremacists, and other members of the stormfront set. They're wrong. Previously an obscure subculture, the alt-right burst onto the national political scene in 2015. Although, initially small in number, the alt-right has a youthful energy and jarring taboo- defying rhetoric that have boosted its membership and made it impossible to ignore." It sounds like some bloggers that have -- what do you guys think of that?
STELTER: Well, you know, Breitbart has a writer who compares CNN to Hitler. You know, it's not only inappropriate, it's ridiculous, right? It's an extreme source of rhetoric, but it has a home online. Now, "The New York Times" have great job sum it up Breitbart and it was said the website recently accused President Obama of importing more Haiti-Muslims compared Plan Parenthoods works to the holocaust called Bill Kristol who was just on a renegade Jew as you mentioned and advised female victims to sexual (inaudible) harassment to just log off and stop screwing up the internet for men.
This is a kind of rhetoric you'll see on the subside. Now, how much of Steve brings over to the campaign that remains to be seeing him.
LEMON: I want to get John there, real quick. John, what do you make of all this?
JOHN PHILIPS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Look, the Breitbart website is very aggressive and I think that's the direction that Trump is going to go in. Right now we have two candidates that have very high negatives and the candidate that makes their opponent the focus of the race is going to be the candidate that wins.
So far, Hillary Clinton has done a very good job about making this race all about Donald Trump. If Donald Trump is going to mount (ph) to come back is what he's going to have to do is he's going to have to make Hillary Clinton the focus. And I think that's what Stephen Bannon is going to bring to the table.
He is going to have Trump very aggressively go after Hillary Clinton. I think the debates are going to be quite a brouhaha. It's going to be a human cock fight with feathers just flying everywhere because that's going to be his moment in the sun. That's going to be his time on the national stage to really take it to her face to face, which she's never really had done before.
LEMON: The association with Breitbart is very ...
STELTER: She's battled -- OK, all right.
LEMON: Yeah. So, the association with Breitbart I think is very important because many of the things that, you know, if you get a story from Breitbart, you know, you wonder if it's true or not most of the time.
STELTER: Correct, correct.
LEMON: And many times there's no legitimacy to the stories and it's, you know, a click bait is right. There's an outrageous headline that gets you to click on and then you read the story and you realize there's no data there. And why -- so why then would he associate himself with that?
PRESTON: Well, I think he's been associated with Steve Bannon from day one. It just that it hasn't that certainly been out in the open.
STELTER: It's been informal and now it's formalized. PRESTON: Right. Now, it's formalized and I don't think that Bannon is taking a pay check that he needs one by which is imagination. It's very (inaudible), but here to say, let us not underestimate what Bannon can potentially do for this campaign.
As much as I say, it is almost ridiculous to have him running the day to day operations of the campaign, 80 days out just because he hasn't had the experience. He is a very savvy media executive. He understands what is going to drive people and I think that he will put Donald Trump in a more folk focused light.
STELTER: It means that the three of us in this table are going to have to have our computers now and our phones out fact checking the heck out of ...
LEWIS: Don, let me give you just a quick example of something that Breitbart site did. During the immigration reform battle, they reported that there was something called a Marco phone and Marco phone was allegedly cell phones that would be given to illegal aliens. Do you know what the phones really were?
They were satellite phones that were to be provided to people who live on the border who cannot get cell phone reception to report illegal immigrants. This story blew up, you know, that was the line, the truth halfway -- a life halfway across the world before ...
LEMON: The truth gets out of it. Yeah.
LEWIS: That's basically what happened with the story. And so that's how can you drive political narratives and really change things.
LEMON: So how is the Clinton campaign responding? Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROBBY MOOK, HILLARY CLINTON CAMPAIGN MANAGER: Donald Trump has decided to double down on his most small, nasty and divisive instincts by turning his campaign over to someone who is best known for running a so-called new sites that peddles divisive, at times racist, anti- Muslim, anti-Semitic conspiracy theories.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[23:10:21] LEMON: So, John, at the end of the day Trump has got to persuade enough people in the right states to vote for him. How is this new leadership going to help him win?
PHILIPS: Well, Hillary Clinton has stated the last several weeks on all the scandals that have come out about her all of the missteps because the focus has been on Donald Trump. If they can shift that focus from Donald Trump to Hillary Clinton, I think that will give him an opportunity to reintroduce himself to voters and say, "Look, maybe I'm not going to win you over, but she can lose."
LEMON: Yeah. Quickly, Mark, last word.
PRESTON: So, we're talking about Steve Bannon, which our viewers don't know who he is. They will get to know him very quickly, but you know who they do know? They know Roger Ailes. And Roger Ailes is informally -- perhaps formally helping Donald Trump as is Roger Stone who is the master of the political dark art. So, imagine, these three horsemen, you know, helping out Donald Trump heading into the final ...
STELTER: And maybe you have to remember it also, if Donald Trump loses, he has the right man in his camp to launch a T.V. network or some sort of new enterprise. I'm not saying that's what Trump is planning tonight ...
LEMON: Yeah, we're going to talk about that.
STELTER: We got (ph) on that.
LEMON: But, also, whether that helps him or not depends on how you feel about, because it may not help him with women considering what was going on.
PRESTON: You know, but they are smart.
LEMON: When you mention all those names that was pregnant. Stick around everybody. When we come right back, I want to talk about what to expect when Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton go head to head on the debate stage.
[23:15:45] LEMON: Donald Trump's former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski calls new campaign CEO Steve Bannon a guy who is willing to go right at his opponent.
Back with me now, Mark Preston, Brian Stelter, John Philips and Matt Lewis. So, Matt, so he's been called -- Bannon, has been called the most dangerous political operative in America. You heard what Corey Lewandowski has said about him. He's also been called a bully core (ph), didn't say there's a bully and the street fighter. What do you think his advice is going to be, for example, for the debates?
LEWIS: So, I know Steve a little bit and I think all of those things are probably true. I mean, I think like he's simultaneously brilliant and creative, but probably also grandiose. You always hear people saying like, "Oh this is Hillary use Karl Rove." I think this is Trump's Trump basically.
So I actually think that this is a guy who is going to reinforce the Let Trump Be Trump narrative. I think he's going to be very aggressive and I think that it basically going to tell Trump -- I think what Trump wants to hear, not to say that that's, you know, necessarily bad advice, but sometimes it helps to be -- to have somebody confirm what you believe.
And so I think that if Trump was ever going to go after Hillary, I think the odds are now dramatically increased that he will be very aggressive.
LEMON: I would say so. Brian, I want to ask you this because we have a short amount of time here. I want to ask you about Roger Ailes, because we touch on him a little bit, embroiled in the sexual harassment scandal, that he's going to help Trump with the debate. What do you know about that?
STELTER: Well, we know that these are two friends and talk to -- who'd been friends for decades. It makes sense that they're talking, sharing advice with each other. The campaign said there's no formal or informal role (ph) for Roger Ailes, but these phone calls are happening and we'll continue to have and we know they met up over the weekend at Trump golf course as well.
So, Ailes can bring a lot of television expertise to the table and like I mention, if Trump loses in November, he can also help Trump with a new channel, perhaps.
LEMON: Is Kellyanne Conway is going to be helping the new campaign that she was helping him traveling with him? Do you think she can help stay on message? I mean, nobody has been able to, so far, do you think Kellyanne can do it?
PRESTON: But, you know, who has in some respect has been his daughter, right? A strong woman, very smart Kellyanne -- I mean, as much as you can with Donald Trump. I mean, let's face the fact.
As much as you can get him to stay on message, I think that his daughter has been able to do her best to try to keep in that way. I think Kellyanne is somebody who is well respected within the establishment that can dispense advice and quite frankly she doesn't need the job. She's very successful. She's not somebody that is looking to join the Trump campaign in order to get the next big job. She's going to get a job. Anyway, she's a very well respected ...
LEMON: But, where have the kids been? I haven't -- we haven't seeing much of ...
PRESTON: They've been on vacation, which makes no sense at all.
LEMON: Oh, seriously? OK.
PRESTON: Right, I mean, they have. I mean ...
LEMON: We did see them in someone's yard ...
STELTER: Unless you've given up. All right, let's be honest. Obviously (ph), unless you've given up. Unless it's August and you don't believe your father can get there. LEMON: What do you think ...
PHILIPS: Maybe they just need vitamin D, Brian.
STELTER: They've got a rooftop at Trump Tower. I don't think they can go upstairs ...
LEMON: John, what did you say?
PHILIPS: I said maybe they just need vitamin D.
LEMON: Do you think it's as bad as maybe they've just given up? Do you think they just need a vacation?
PHILIPS: No, I think they need a vacation. Look, when you're campaigning for the presidency, you're going from time zone to time zone, city to city, high stress. We just had the convention that was exhausting for everyone involved. So, for them to get a little R and R, I think it's perfectly fine. Frankly, I think Trump should take a vacation.
LEMON: What do you think their role is in this or do they even have a role, because remember the whole Corey thing and it was said, "Oh, you know, the kids went and they have intervention." And said this guy has to go and now he's gone. What do you think their role was if any in this change?
PHILIPS: I think that their father, Donald Trump really trusts their judgment. He values their advice.
LEMON: Do you think they played a role in this one?
PHILIPS: Maybe they did, who knows. That they certainly did in the last one. But, you know, if they fill that role and they give him that advice and they keep him grounded, I think that's the main purpose for them. They gave great speeches. Ivanka did a great speech at the convention and I think they humanized him in a way that he really needs -- where he needs help.
STELTER: There's more that really hasn't really been reporting that they were involved in this one. Can you imagine what's been like for Donald Trump (inaudible)? Everybody around like Paul Manafort is telling you to change, telling him not to be yourself. What's the first rule in T.V.? Be yourself. Just be yourself with the camera.
Now, I know in politics it's more complicated, but I've got to imagine Donald Trump must be relieved today because he's surrounding himself with people with him let him be himself.
[23:20:09] PRESTON: But, you know, what I think when it comes to politics, though, I do think that is very dangerous. You should be yourself up to a point, but the fact that matter is, it's a proven track record in how you win in being a traditional candidate is that Trump ...
LEMON: I would say everything other than politics when someone tells you don't change, change. When someone says change, don't change. Other than politics, I think that when you're in politics and you can correct me if I'm wrong, Matt Lewes. I think that that's the reason you have people around you and not necessarily yes people is because they're doing the read on you and not only on you, but the voters as well.
LEWIS: Yeah. But I was going to echo something Mark said, which is along these lines. You know, my wife works in politics and she often times will be advising, you know, members of Congress, senators and she -- I think because she's a woman, she can put them in line sometimes, you know?
You've got to make these calls. You've got to do this and she does it in a way I think that, you know, if I did it, they'd probably punch me in the nose.
STELTER: And that's what Kellyanne Conway has been doing through television. You know, in some CNN yesterday, all day long she was talking about polls, she's using data. I don't think she was talking directly at Donald Trump.
PRESTON: If that's the way to reach him is through the T.V.
STELTER: It really is.
LEMON: I think it's interesting this morning, I do think that Kellyanne was here last night and I think there was a lot invested in the speech and in the thing and I think she probably knew and so she felt invested in that and I've never seen her feel that invested in something and sort of react the way that she did because we had -- he did exchange, but we've had way more heated exchanges in the primaries than that exchange so I think she was invested last night in what was happening ...
STELTER: By the way, no new event today. Trump didn't have a public event today where the press could attend. He did have a -- just kind of summit in his office this afternoon.
PRESTON: You know, which I think is smart, because here's the deal, Donald Trump has what, 80 some-odd days to try to turn it around. He has a time to reset. It's going to be that first debate. It will be interesting to see Steve Bannon, Roger Ailes, Roger Stone are able to have him boil all of his attacks down to three or four that will stick on Hillary Clinton.
LEMON: Thank you, everyone. I appreciate it.
Up next, what today's Trump campaign shake-up means for the Republican Party and their other candidates running for office. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
[23:26:48] LEMON: Donald Trump's campaign shake-up is shaking the party, too -- shaking-up the party, too. And I want to bring in now CNN Political Commentator Bob Beckel, Kayleigh McEnany, Trump supporter, Boris Epshteyn is a Senior Adviser to the Trump Campaign, Lanhee Chen, former Policy Director for Mitt Romney.
Boris, you first. So, Michael Cohen who is Donald Trump's special counsel to the Trump organization was on with my colleague Brianna Keilar is a very interesting exchange earlier. They spoke about the changes going on in the campaign. Watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Say it's not a shake-up, but you guys are down and it makes sense that there would ...
MICHAEL COHEN, DONALD TRUMP'S LAWYER: Says who?
KEILAR: ... polls. Most of them. All of them.
COHEN: Says who?
KEILAR: Polls. I just told you. I answered your question.
COHEN: OK. Which polls?
KEILAR: All of them.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: Again, he's asking me. What are you going to ask me? I'm going to show you the polls. Here are the polls. Look at this. He's down in Colorado, Florida, North Carolina, Virginia. States that he needs. He's also down nationally. Do you recognize that he is not winning now, which is what Brianna was asking Cohen?
BORIS EPSHTEYN, SENIOR ADVISER, TRUMP CAMPAIGN: The issue isn't whether you're winning now. The issues winning on November 8th and the polls are tightening.
LEMON: My question was do you recognize he's not winning now? And that, yes that he's ...
EPSHTEYN: I recognize according to those polls, he's not up in those specific polls.
LEMON: OK, good.
EPSHTEYN: There are other polls -- I could read numbers like anybody else. There are other polls, the L.A. Town polls that have been on one point, the other poll is Bloomberg (inaudible) within five or six points, even NBC which Donald Trump was consistently outperformed is within 6 points. I'm very confident that over the next 82 days he will win this election.
LEMON: But for now in the polls that we showed, he's not winning in those polls and in the ones that you mentioned, he's not winning in those polls. You said he is down, so he's not winning in those polls. Kayleigh ...
EPSHTEYN: But he's winning the election, really. We are going to win this thing.
LEMON: Oh, you mean he's going to win.
LEMON: OK. Well, I hope that you would believe that since you are, you know, part of the campaign. OK, does this shake-up mean that we're going to see Reince Priebus introduce Donald Trump for the last time you think?
KAYLEIGH MCENANY, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: For the last time?
LEMON: Yeah, for the last time.
MCENANY: I don't think so. I think Reince Priebus is fully in this. I love the RNC. They have proven the voters that they respect them, contrary to that you've seen many in the establishment back away which does to me they don't respect their voters.
The voters gave Trump a mandate like no Republican nominees ever had before. And Reince Priebus and Sean Spicer have been right there beside him. They've been loyal. They care about this party and they care about beating Clinton.
LEMON: So, I mean, this is what Manu Raju is reporting. This is for you Lanhee. He is reporting this tonight saying that some senior Republicans say the RNC must stick with Trump or risk losing Congress. Do you think that's accurate? Does he -- if, you know, if Trump wins or loses, is that going to have a big impact on the down ballot camp?
LANHEE CHEN, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: Oh, it's going to have a huge impact. I mean, it's very difficult to divorce these down ballot races from what's happening in the presidential and if you look at Marco Rubio, Rob Portman, Kelly Ayotte, they're all dealing with the head win in their states because if where Trump is polling right now.
[23:30:00] Now, obviously polls are snapshot in time, we all know that. So, depending where the campaign goes, that will largely dictate the fate of these candidates, but it's impossible to divorce their fate from that. I mean, they're going to try too in some cases, but I think it will be very difficult.
LEMON: Bob, what do you think that Steve -- adding Steve Bannon does with the Trump RNC relationship? BOB BECKEL, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: You know, I mean -- I'm sure they thought it through, I guess, but I could not think of a person -- this would be a much better person to have in that job than Bannon because he plays to Trump's worst instinct. And I think it surprises me but also I have to take into account that the Manafort story was building and building, it's not yet played out and if you have to make a change to sort of do what you did when you did.
But, you know, every time a campaign is in trouble in August, you go back and look at presidential campaigns, ones I've run and others, there's always a shake-up because you want to take it off the candidate, right, before Labor Day. And almost invariably, you'll see changes about the end of August. And so, the question now is, is there really a chance for Trump to make a comeback and you talk about these polls nationally. What you really have to look at is state by state and that's really the divorce between trying to get people to split their tickets, which is what they're trying to do now. A lot of them are saying, "OK, you vote one way on the top of the ticket and they can vote for me." It's very difficult. It's getting rarer and rarer all the time.
BORIS EPSHTEYN, SENIOR ADVISER, TRUMP CAMPAIGN: Look at Ohio, look at Florida, Florida either tied or up for Trump, Ohio within the margin of error three point in Indiana. Iowa is very tight. This is a snapshot of some polls in Colorado, North Carolina and Virginia, important states that I do think will be very competitive and -- but there are other key states like the ones that I just mentioned where it's much, much tighter and looking good for Donald Trump.
LEMON: Let's take those that you said, on Florida 44 to 39. I think that's ...
EPSHTEYN: That's one poll. If you look at other polls, look at Q Poll, there is two points. There was also a poll in the week or the last week where Donald Trump was up by one point. There's a lot of tightness.
But a more general point, I don't want to be out there saying that there is a shake-up. There's not been a shake-up. It really is an expansion. A shake-up means somebody leaves. Paul Manafort was very much there. I was there today. Paul Manafort is very much ...
CHEN: The only person who only made.
EPSHTEYN: No, no. No, no, a huge part of the team, was in all the key meetings today. He was the chairman. He was the chairman.
LEMON: Paul said there was an expansion of winners.
EPSHTEYN: Here is one piece. Here's what you point, let me just make it. There was not a campaign manager for this campaign since Corey Lewandowski left. This was a filling of that role. And in addition of Steve Bannon, and we should not skip Kellyanne Conway when we talk about this change.
LEMON: What do you think of this expansion of champions or whatever? They said winners.
CHEN: Well, I'd to see where they put the losers because ...
EPSHTEYN: We don't like losers.
CHEN: The issue -- well, clearly. The issue is never about the adviser. The issue in my mind is always about the candidate, right? And so, you can switch advisers and switch positions all you want. The ultimate question is, who does the candidate listen to? And, if the answer is that the candidate is going to end listening to someone like Kellyanne Conway, then that's good news for the Trump campaign I think. But, if at the end of the day, this is just another way of saying, we're going to rearrange some deck chairs but Donald Trump is still going to be Donald Trump, that's ...
BECKEL: And he was the one who's been saying for months now, "Let Donald Trump be Donald Trump." The idea of trying to script this guy and put him on Trump was just crazy.
LEMON: Do you think this is the last we're seeing the teleprompter Donald.
KAYLEIGH MCENANY, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: No, not all. Whoever Donald Trump was listening to this week, that is who he needs to listen to for the rest of this campaign. He has had a phenomenal week. He had two home run speeches. We saw him sitting there with the team of National Security advisers looking very presidential. He has had a great week. He's been on message. He drove home really important messages to the African-American community that we've yet to hear up until point. He needs to now deliver a speech to women, to families, to working women. And I think whoever he listens to this week on the teleprompter during the National Security meeting, that needs to happen every single week. And he will win this election. He will absolutely win.
LEMON: Bob, your eyes said it all. You don't think he had a phenomenal week?
BECKEL: I think he may have had a phenomenal week if the decks were clear and you can just listen to what he was saying. The problem was, that all the other problems in this campaign that are leaking out, and frankly, look, I'd be the first to say I haven't run two presidential campaigns. Some days, you get really angry. The "New York Times" and the "Washington Post" have been brutal on Trump, I mean brutal.
But Trump deserves some of this himself because he can't keep calling the press out. I mean, you start saying the press, you start throwing certain press people out, the press gathers around like a herd and they're going to protect themselves and you can see it in local markets. I mean I was out in Ohio doing focus groups and listening to the local TV where local anchors are respected a lot more than the "New York Times" and you can see it in their voices the way they were talking about it. And contrary to what you may think about Ohio, I mean, I -- well, here's the question ... LEMON: Is the frustration from -- the frustration comes from Trump himself or from ...
BECKEL: I'm sure Trump must be frustrated.
[23:35:01] But here's my question, who in the world decided it was a good idea for Trump to have a rally in Connecticut?
EPSHTEYN: And I'll answer the question, have we? Hillary Clinton was down for three days I think last weekend. Donald Trump went to Connecticut and held a rally. That rally was on all the networks. She was doing another ...
BECKEL: So his chance of winning Connecticut is about as much as my deem (ph) in this presidential race.
EPSHTEYN: OK. But that's fair. But the point is, that he has rally in Connecticut, which is close to New York where obviously Connecticut is a state if you go five miles off the coast ...
LEMON: You're saying it kept him in the news cycle?
EPSHTEYN: So, one, it was a rally in the state that he want to win but, two, exactly, it kept us in the news cycle and Hillary ...
BECKEL: And why not go -- why don't you go to Utah where state that ought to be his and right now, the moments are turning him ...
EPSHTEYN: Well, he's up by 12 points in there.
CHEN: I mean local media is a good way to drive coverage, to drive positive coverage. If that was the case, why not go to Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania?
EPSHTEYN: So what's in Florida, Ohio, and Pennsylvania all over that we ...
CHEN: Well, instead of spending time in Connecticut, instead of spending time in Connecticut?
EPSHTEYN: But how much time it actually took to go to Connecticut, right? It didn't then take a lot of time, didn't take a lot of resources. It was a Saturday in which you're getting Hillary Clinton ...
MCENANY: And Hillary's taken seven days off.
BECKEL: You're not really saying that that was a good move.
EPSHTEYN: I think it was a great move because I was on Saturday night and his speech was on all the network.
LEMON: We'll continue right after this. We'll be right back.
[23:40:08] LEMON: So I'm so back now with my panel. We're going to continue the conversation. We're talking about, you know, where Donald Trump was last weekend and we're also talking about the media. But, you know, we make a big deal out of, you know, there's a new campaign manager, this or that. Does that even resonate with the people at home? Do you think they go there's a new campaign manager and therefore Donald Trump is going to change and I change my mind ...
BECKEL: Not at all. Not if you help your campaign internally, it can help enthusiasm in the campaign. But out in the America, Bobby and Susie of Middle America do not get up this morning and say, "Man, a new campaign manager."
EPSHTEYN: It helped Reagan, right, in '80 and those are -- Reagan changed campaign, you know, campaign advisors during that campaign against you in the '80, right?
BECKEL: Yeah. But -- and I can tell you that that didn't -- you know, we always sort of play this inside game and we look at these things very deeply. We got to think about what the country is thinking about. Normally, people come awake around Labor Day in presidential races. They are a little bit earlier. And frankly, Trump is lucky the Olympics were around because it took a lot of focus off it.
But come Labor Day and in this race in particularly, the level of interest in the focus group stuff that I saw out of Ohio, just forget the difference between the two candidates, the level of interest, I have never seen it quite this high because the stakes are high. And the problem with the stakes being high is that's a really dangerous place for Trump to be. Trump has got to be able to convince people in the toughest of tough situations if I'm in the Oval Office that you can trust me to do the right thing and right now they don't.
LEMON: The real pivot point here, do you think that, you know, this is a place that I think that everyone says he's got to pivot, he's got to pivot, they keep saying that. But its -- you said it's where?
CHEN: The debates.
LEMON: It's the debates.
LEMON: It's not really this?
CHEN: No. I mean this is a process story. I think if anything, people look at this and they say, "Well, there seems to be some chaos around the Trump campaign," or, "Boy, there seems to be some disorder around the Trump campaign." The opportunity for the Trump campaign to change the narrative comes with the first debate. Remember back in 2012, Romney had that great first debate in Denver.
BECKEL: Oh, yeah.
CHEN: And why was it so great? It was great because it changed people's perceptions of who Mitt Romney was. Up until then, they got a bunch of attack ads against Mitt Romney. He's a money grubber. He doesn't understand you. He doesn't have a plan ...
LEMON: Pretty strong in that debate.
CHEN: Pretty strong in that debate.
CHEN: This year, there's a similar dynamic.
MCENANY: Where Donald Trump has the advantage in the debate, if he has the message, I think Hillary Clinton's message has been Donald Trump has got a big temperament. By contrast, Donald Trump's message is, "I'm the best person for the economy. I'm going to renegotiate the deals, I'm going to get tough on ISIS." And that vision comports with the mood of the electorate.
"The Washington Post", not a favorable Trump publication, had an article out last night and they said this is the one poll if Trump wins that we will go back to and say this is what won the election. And that poll said 56 percent believe the country is in a dark and dismal place. Only 40 percent believe it's in a good place. So if he can drive this message home without the side stories, he can win.
BECKEL: It's hard to believe that he really can do that. I mean, it's one thing to say it, it's another thing for people to say I believe he can do it.
MCENANY: I believe ...
LEMONL: Everyone, this is a 70 percent that say the country is in a wrong direction. But who do you blame that on? Do you blame it on the people, you know, with -- because Congress has a very low approval rating, the president has a high approval rating? If she is running somewhat on President Obama's record, who are they ...
EPSHTEYN: You know, her person likability is very, very low as well.
LEMON: Whose responsibility is it that, you know, that 70 percent of the country think that the country is going in the wrong direction?
EPSHTEYN: Well, she's running not just on his record, she's running on status quo.
EPSHTEYN: Hold on. That's her whole candidacy is to say continue what we've done so far, continue what we, the Clintons, have done for 35 years and that's being rejected all over the country. BECKEL: Barack Obama has a 54 percent favorability rating now. I mean -- and the only reason for that I think is because of Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.
CHEN: That may be true but people want change, too.
BECKEL: Of course they want change.
CHEN: And then so, the thing that the Trump campaign has to do is they have to return to the message of Trump as the anti-establishment figure who will shake things up and fundamentally change the dynamic of what's happening in this country.
LEMON: Do you think people have made up their minds at this point because the conventions were earlier this time rather than later, right? And you say by Labor Day, but we have this two week or two- week stretch or three-week stretch on now because of the Olympics that people may change the dynamics of this. So, do you think people have made up their minds already?
MCENANY: No. It's the last poll but ...
BECKEL: It's the dog days of summer.
MCENANY: The "Economist" poll, I believe it was, showed that 8 percent are still undecided. Another poll showed the people who are entrench in Trump or Clinton, 18 percent were still willing to change their minds. You have 10 percent to 15 percent for grabs and both candidates polling under 15 percent.
BECKEL: The 30 percent of the voters are going to be of color this time around. Donald Trump's favorability in the black community today is about 3 percent. It's the lowest I've ever seen ever.
LEMON: But the poll says 1 percent but the ...
BECKEL: Yeah. But I think that's --
LEMON: The margin of error is 3 percent, right?
BECKEL: But the point is they'll have to win 80 percent or 85 percent of the white vote.
[23:45:03] But leave that aside. If -- let's assume for a moment that the first debate is going to be very, very important. We agree with that. Let's also remember that the day after Labor Day, early voting begins in this country. Forty percent of the votes will be cast before the last debate in this country, forty percent.
EPSHTEYN: So we're putting our ads out now. And I now that if we're putting ads now, more and more money is going to work. The campaign has had to catch up. She's been the presumptive nominee for two years.
BECKEL: I insist but I'm saying ...
EPSHTEYN: We're putting all that in place now and it will be ...
LEMON: Let me put these numbers out because you mentioned African- Americans. The one I saw was 1 percent with a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percent which, you know, could ...
BECKEL: Sometimes we have four.
LEMON: Or he could have the negative, who knows. So, that's for African-American. But then, when you look at this, the Fox News Latino poll, I have found that 70 percent of Latino voters believe Donald Trump is not honest and trustworthy. Fifty-one percent think the same thing of Hillary Clinton. To Bob's point, Bob says 85 percent of the white vote, I've heard anywhere between 64 and 65 percent ...
BECKEL: No, do the math.
LEMON: ... of the white vote. With these numbers, it's not going to get much of a Latino vote, he'll get some and probably ...
BECKEL: In the Fox News poll between the two of them, Romney got about 27 percent of the Latino vote. In the Fox News poll, Trump is at 20, you know, she's at 66 ...
BECKEL: ... and 14 is undecided.
BECKEL: Trump has 20 percent of Latinos, she's at 66, 14 percent undecided. And here's why, because we assume that any time he talks about illegal immigrants that all Latinos turn on Donald Trump. That's just not the truth ...
CHEN: Here's the challenge for him ...
BECKEL: ... because we're not running against immigrants.
CHEN: You've had a lot of money spent driving up Donald Trump's negatives over the last few months. The same dynamic happened in 2012 when the Obama campaign put $40 million to $50 million on the air in April, May and June to define Mitt Romney. The issue is going to be, have the Clinton campaign's numbers, had they been able to move those numbers sufficiently with all the money they put up against Trump negatively? You guys are putting ads up now and that's fine but I do think it might be too late in some ways because these numbers are calcified.
BECKEL: Trump is very different from Mitt Romney. Trump is a completely different candidate.
EPSHTEYN: That's true.
BECKEL: He's been defined a long time. All he has to do is deliver his message to the people. MCENANY: Yeah.
LEMON: Thank you, Boris. Thank you, Lahnee. Thank you, Kayleigh. Thank you, Bob.
MCENANY: Thank you.
LEMON: I appreciate it.
Coming up, the latest in the deadly flooding in Louisiana. The death toll is rising in the wake of a historic storm that forced thousands of people to flee their homes.
[23:51:13] LEMON: The death toll has risen to 13 in the wake of massive floods in and around my hometown of Baton Rouge. Retired U.S. Army, Lieutenant General Russell Honore joins me via Skype now. And on the phone is Jo Lee Misner, 36 of her relatives lost their homes in the floods.
Thank you both for joining us. I'm sorry that you both are having to go through this. General, you first. You run the Task Force in Katrina, in the after math of that disaster. Lots of parallels are being drawn between that and the Baton Rouge floods. How would you compare them?
RUSSEL HONORE, RETIRED U.S. ARMY: There are many similarities. You know, Katrina came and in 24 hours, it moved out and it left New Orleans under water. This storm last for four days of rain, Don, and it had a cascading effect. The good news, it came on a weekend and a lot of volunteers working with our great first responders here in Louisiana saved a lot of lives because that weekend timing and, you know, in our culture, we have boats, we have great boatmen, and the again, Cajun Navy came in, volunteers and really saved the day because it was such widespread flooding, Don.
LEMON: And they were needed and we love that they did that. Jo Lee, I want to go to you now. You're in Livingston Parish. Livingston Parish is one of the hardest hit areas. I'm so sorry for all that you're going through. You told our producers that 36 members of your family have lost their homes. That is incredible. How are you holding up?
JO LEE MISNER, 36 OF HER RELATIVES LOST THEIR HOMES IN FLOODS: Actually, that is correct. We're doing fine where I am. I live in a higher elevation than they do, and I mean, that 36 members, but that, you know, that's the entire families of 13 homes. We only have seven homes in the family that were not affected, so these family members are now staying with other members who, you know, that didn't lose their homes.
LEMON: I want to take a look now at some of the pictures that you have been posting on Facebook. Your family's homes literally submerged. Your mom's home. This is your mom's home. Your uncle Donald shop, you said, Lynn's house, Derek's house, you mentioned. What did they do when the water started to rise?
MISNER: You know, at first, we didn't realize it was going to be that bad. I mean, everybody referenced '83, you know, thinking it was not going to be that bad. Well ...
LEMON: It was worse than '83.
MISNER: You know, that was our fault. Friday -- it's a lot worse than '83. But, you know, on Friday, that was our thoughts and Saturday morning we realized, "Oh my God, this is going to be a lot worse," and then we started doing anything that we can to get, you know, certain things out of the houses and then maybe start using cinder blocks to start block our furniture and refrigerators and then we found out later on, you know, that this wasn't enough.
LEMON: What's the most pressing need right now for you and your family?
MISNER: It's so hard to say. It's -- we never even -- I mean, it's just, it's unbelievable what they've been through and we just never imagined that this would happen in the first place. It's hard to know where to start.
LEMON: General, many of the roads have been shut down, but how are the big interstates like I-10, I-12, you know, the ones that link Baton Rouge to others areas like Denham Springs, Livingston Parish, going to New Orleans?
HONORE: They're finally open, Don, and that is not the last that they -- Interstate 10 is open. You know, 12 between Hammond and Baton Rouge ...
HONORE: ... if you've driven in this the last year, they put a big concrete structure in the middle of that interstate.
HONORE: I think that may have disrupted the water flow because that has happened before, it was flooded in that area because much of that is a flood zone for the Amite and the other rivers that run across Interstate 12 and 10.
[12:55:07] And that could have had some impact and we're going to have to get the core engineers back in there to look at that flood plain. And we're going to have to take a strong look on how close we move and continue to construct subdivisions in those areas. A lot of people went in there not knowing that they were in a flood zone. That is the sad thing.
LEMON: Yeah, my sister is in Denham Springs. Luckily, her house wasn't flooded but I mean pretty darn close to it. And I think, general, you're right. I think after maybe all the flooding and the storms it had and especially Katrina, maybe it somehow changed the topography and they need to work on that and look at it. Thank you so much, General. Jo Lee, our thoughts and prayers are with you. Thank you so much. OK?
MISTER: Thank you.
LEMON: All right. The victims ...
HONORE: Sign up ...
LEMON: Go ahead, sign up for what?
HONORE: FEMA assistance.
LEMON: Got you.
HONORE: Please sign up.
LEMON: Thank you, general. Now I want to tell you about the victims of the flood. They are in desperate need of supplies like diapers, batteries, bottled waters, nonperishable foods. And you can help by sending supplies to YMCA AC Lewis, 350 South Foster Drive, Baton Rouge, 70806. Roll that back, let me put it up, 350 South Foster Drive, Baton Rouge, Louisiana, 70806 to YMCA AC Lewis. And you can donate to the Red Cross by texting La floods to 90999 to make a $10 donation. We'll be right back.