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THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER

Ted Cruz Changes Course, Endorses Trump; President Obama Dines with Anthony Bourdain In Hanoi, Vietnam; Bourdain: Obama's Chopstick Skills "On Point"; South Korea Reveals Plans To Assassinate Kim Jong- un; President Obama On New African-American History Museum. Aired 4:30-5p ET

Aired September 23, 2016 - 16:30   ET

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


(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): With the violence in Charlotte almost certain to loom large over their first debate, Donald Trump is previewing his lines of attack, accusing Hillary Clinton of siding against the police.

[16:30:07] DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: Those peddling the narrative of cops as a racist force in our society -- and this is a narrative that is supported with a nod by my opponent. You see what she's saying and it not good -- share directly in the responsibility for the unrest that is afflicting our country.

ACOSTA: The Clinton campaign says that's nonsense. Tim Kaine argues it's all about coming together.

SEN. TIM KAINE (D), VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: If you make the relationship between the police and community more adversarial, you're not going to close down the gap, you're going to widen the gap. And that gap is dangerous to people in neighborhoods and it's dangerous to police.

ACOSTA: But just three days before the debate, Clinton's advisors are looking to drive their own wedge --

TRUMP: I look at right into fat ugly face of hers.

ACOSTA: -- between Trump and women voters in this ad aimed at energizing a key Clinton voting bloc.

UNIDENTIFEID MALE: Do you treat women with respect?

TRUMP: I can't say that either.

ACOSTA: After a busy week of rallies, Trump stayed at the office today, top advisor Rudy Giuliani called it a strategy session. Sources familiar with both candidates' debate preparation say Trump is watching videos of Clinton's past debates while Clinton is studying briefing books and Trump's debate performances for ways to get under his skin. While the Trump campaign is setting low expectations for their candidate, the GOP nominee has been trash-talking Clinton all week TRUMP: Where is Hillary today? Well, they say she's been practicing

for the debate.

Some people think she's sleeping.

ACOSTA: More fodder for Trump, the announcement from the FBI that top Clinton aides including her former chief of staff Cheryl Mills were granted limited immunity in exchange for their cooperation in the investigation into Clinton's use of a private e-mail server.

Both sides have colorful characters in their corner. College basketball legend Bobby Knight it talking up Trump's chances.

BOBBY KNIGHT, TRUMP SUPPORTER: I think people will really get a look at him that maybe they haven't seen before.

TRUMP: While the Clinton campaign say they have a brash billionaire on their side in Mark Cuban, who tweeted he just got a front row seat to watch Clinton overwhelm Trump at a humbling at Hofstra on Monday.

MARK CUBAN, CLINTON SUPPORTER: I think Donald Trump is a immediate and present danger to the security of this country.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ACOSTA: Now, both candidates will be in debate prep this weekend. But, Jake, an important travel note, Donald Trump is going to campaign in Virginia on Saturday. It's unusual to see a candidate campaigning with the debate so close.

And Hillary Clinton is now going to visit Charlotte on Sunday. Her campaign just announced this a few moments ago.

TAPPER: All right. Busy weekend for both of them.

Jim Acosta, thanks.

And this programming note, this week, I'll be hosting a special town hall with President Obama. He'll take questions from active duty service men and women, veterans and their families. That's next Wednesday night at 9:00 here on CNN.

So, does a Ted Cruz endorsement actually help Donald Trump or could this be more of a political opportunity for Senator Cruz himself. We'll talk about that, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[16:37:40] TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD.

We are waiting for President Obama to give some remarks live at a White House reception for the grand opening for the brand new National Museum of African-American History and Culture here in Washington.

But, first, let's turn to this breaking news. Ted Cruz last made headlines by appearing at the Republican convention and not endorsing Donald Trump will support Donald Trump after all he announced. Trump this afternoon releasing a statement he'll vote for the Republican nominee on Election Day. Cruz had argued that he had had serious doubts that Trump was a true conservative and that Trump respected the Constitution. Moreover, Trump retweeted this message from a supporter mocking Cruz's wife's appearance.

And then, of course, there's this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: His father was with Lee Harvey Oswald prior to Oswald being shot, you know, shot, I r mean it's ridiculous, nobody brings it up. They don't even talk about that. That was reported and nobody talks about it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: By the way, when he says that was reported, he means it was in the "National Enquirer". It is, of course, a blatant falsehood that Rafael Cruz had anything to do with Lee Harvey Oswald or the Kennedy assassination. It's quite insane to be frank, a little fact check.

So, Cruz moving on, responded in kind after Trump said that.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)

CRUZ: I'll tell you what I really think about Donald Trump -- this man is a pathological liar. He doesn't know the difference between truth and lies.

I'm not in the habit of supporting people who attack my wife and attack my father.

(APPLAUSE)

And that pledge was not a blanket commitment that if you go and slander and attack Heidi that I'm going to nonetheless come like a servile puppy dog and say thank you very much for maligning my wife and maligning my father.

(END VIDEO CLIPS)

TAPPER: Servile puppy dog.

Let's talk to CNN political commentator and former communications director for Senator Ted Cruz's presidential campaign, Alice Stewart.

So, I guess, bottom line -- help us understand why Ted Cruz do this, because -- I'm confused.

[16:40:01] He said he was not gong to do this. Is this about 2018 reelection chances, 2020, running for president, or is it really based on the fact that he thinks Donald Trump is better than Hillary Clinton? ALICE STEWART, FORMER COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR, CRUZ PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN: Well, first and foremost, he thinks that Donald Trump will be a better president than Hillary Clinton. He feels that Hillary Clinton is fundamentally unfit to be president.

And he's had all along throughout his presidential campaign has had several priorities. Supreme Court being at the top of the list. Obamacare, immigration, Internet freedom and the balance of the Supreme Court rests on who the next president appoint and he wants to make sure that a conservative is at the helm and nominates conservative justices.

And Trump came out today with a new list of justices, Mike Lee who's a friend of Ted's is on that list, and it gave him comfort, and that's a big reason why he's had a change of heart. Not to mention the fact as he has mentioned that over the past few weeks, Trump has toned things down quite a bit and put more focus on our freedoms, certainly on improving the economic prosperity a also showing focus on African- Americans and Hispanics lifting them up into prosperity.

So, a lot of these things are taken into account. In the end, he wants to win. I spoke with the Trump campaign, Kellyanne Conway just told me that this is great news. When you have a conservative hero rallying behind the Republican nominee, it means great things. It shows conservative unity, conservative support --

TAPPER: OK.

STEWART: -- on the ticket, that's the best way -- right now the only way we're going to beat Hillary Clinton.

TAPPER: Your former colleague on the Cruz campaign Rick Tyler just told NBC News, quote, "It's mourning in America for conservatives, we lost our leader today."

You obviously disagree. Have you heard from other conservatives, other Ted Cruz fans who share Rick Tyler's point of view that this is -- he seems to be suggesting Ted Cruz is selling out?

STEWART: There's clearly lot of hard core conservatives that are not going to be happy with this news. Understandably, this is where they come from. This is their core. But right now, we have two choices in the Republican Party. We have a conservative leader of the party, Donald Trump, or we have the liberal progressive in Hillary Clinton. And we don't have a choice.

Hillary Clinton is fundamentally unfit to be president and the only other option at this stage of the game is Donald Trump. So, it's -- for the furtherance of the conservative cause right now, it's in everyone's interest to get behind Donald Trump.

We have a limited amount of time in order to get this done. The polls are tightening, which is good news. The momentum is behind Donald Trump and the best way to continue this ball down the field and through the -- across the finish line is to have unity behind Donald Trump. And, clearly, this is the best way to defeat Hillary. TAPPER: I'm old enough to remember when Ted Cruz thought both Hillary

and Donald Trump were liberal New Yorkers. But I hear what you're saying.

Alice Stewart, thank you so much.

Very few people --

STEWART: I remember that too.

TAPPER: Very few people get the opportunity to hang out with President Obama over a beer. Anthony Bourdain got a shot. He'll tell me about it, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

[16:47:19] JAKE TAPPER, CNN THE LEAD ANCHOR: Welcome back to THE LEAD. Lots of tensions with North Korea, but we should point out it was not that long ago that the U.S. and Vietnam were enemies, and it was just a few months ago that President Obama visited that one-time foe. In fact, while in Vietnam, CNN got a special visit with the president as he sat down for a meal with the host of CNN's Original Series: "PARTS UNKNOWN" with Anthony Bourdain, and the venue for their presidential meal was less than glamorous. Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, UNITED STATES PRESIDENT: All right. You're going to have to -

ANTHONY BOURDAIN, AMERICAN CHEF: I will walk you through it.

OBAMA: You're going to have to walk me through this.

BOURDAIN: We're about to eat Bun Cha.

OBAMA: Yeah, that's not too elegant, but I'll manage.

BOURDAIN: And dip and stir. And get ready for the awesomeness.

OBAMA: I'm ready. Now, is it appropriate to just pop one of these whole suckers in your mouth, or do you think that you should be a little more -

BOURDAIN: Well, slurping is totally acceptable in this part of the world.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: Let's bring in the host of this CNN Original Series: Parts Unknown, Anthony Bourdain, fresh-off winning yet another Emmy. Anthony, congratulations.

BOURDAIN: Thank you. TAPPER: So, did you have to court the White House for a long time to

get the president to do this?

BOURDAIN: They reached out to us about a year ago, and we were looking for a time and place that would be convenient and fun and represent, you know, the kind of thing that we do ordinarily.

TAPPER: And the restaurant where you ate, where the president - where the president appears, more hole-in-the-wall-ish than a - like a presidential grand dinner.

BOURDAIN: I mean, look, that's what we do. It would have been really weird and artificial if we've been in a banquet room at the Hilton. To be honest, the president was very comfortable and relieved and happy, it appeared to be, eating in such an informal setting. And I have to say as well, the fact that he ate there and ate a typical Hanoian specialty, a humble thing, a working class thing like a Bun Cha, went over very, very well with Vietnamese, particularly this vast number of young Vietnamese who compromise so much of the population today.

TAPPER: How are the - how was the president with the chopsticks? Those can be tricky.

BOURDAIN: Very good. And this is a particularly tricky - those rice - those rice noodles are sticky and difficult to maneuver, but as he - as he told me, he's very nostalgic for his time as a young man in Indonesia. He's very good with chopsticks, and he looked very comfortable and relaxed and we received no guidance from the White House as to what we should talk about or what subjects to avoid. We spoke like to dads and a Southeast Asia enthusiast, and had a good time.

TAPPER: That sounds great. Thanks so much. Congratulations. I look forward to watching it on Sunday.

BOURDAIN: Thank you.

TAPPER: And you can watch more of Anthony's conversation with President Obama on the season premiere of "Parts Unknown" that's this Sunday 9:00 p.m. Eastern. Don't miss it. Also in our "WORLD LEAD", a plan to take him out, South Korea publicly saying it has plans to assassinate the leader of its out-of-control neighbor, North Korea, if it ever comes to that. South Korea's top defense official confirmed long-circulating speculations, saying elite troops are on standby to target and assassinate Kim Jong-un in a worst-case scenario. Stay with us.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

[16:52:13] TAPPER: Welcome back. President Obama at a White House reception, an honor of the Smithsonian's new National Museum of African American History and Culture. Let's listen in.

OBAMA: Nobody had heard of this museum, and now you cannot miss it. A breath-taking new building right in the heart of the National Mall. And that is what we call progress. It could not have been done without the persistence, the wisdom, the dedication, the savvy, the ability to make people feel guilty, the begging, the deal making, and just the general street smarts of Lonnie and his entire team. So, please give him a big round of applause. But, of course, there's also about more than Lonnie. This is about people who for more than a century advocated and organized and raised funds and donated artifacts, so that the story of the African-American experience could take its rightful place in our national memory. It's a story that is full of tragedy and setbacks, but also great joy and great victories. And it is a story that is not just part of the past, but it is alive and well today, in every corner of America.

And that's certainly true today in this house, a house that was built by slaves. Now, I can't name everybody that is here, but I'm going to have to give you a little bit of a taste. This room is like a living museum of its own. Right now, Madame (INAUDIBLE) would be very jealous. We've got icons of the entertainment industry like Quincy Jones and Dick Gregory and Phylicia Rashad. We've got the first black woman in space, Mae Jemison. And we have the woman who owns the universe, Oprah Winfrey. We've got those drum majors for justice like John Lewis and Andrew Young and C.T Vivian and Jesse Jackson. And we've got those next generation of warriors for justice like Brittney Payton and Deray McKesson. We've got -- personal heroes of mine like Harry Belafonte who still is the best-looking man in the room at 90- something-years old. I'm just telling the truth. So, this is an extraordinary group, but the thing about this museum is that it's more about -- it's more than just telling stories about the famous. It's not just about the icons.

There's plenty of space for Harriet Tubman and Doctor King and Muhammad Ali, but what makes the museum so powerful and so visceral, is that it's the story of all of us. The folks whose names you never heard of, but whose contributions, day after day, decade after decade, combine to push us forward and the entire nation forward. It's the maids who decided, you know what, I'm tired of segregation and I'm going to walk for my freedom. It's the porters who not only worked tirelessly to support their families, but ultimately helped bring about the organization that led to better working conditions for all Americans here in the United States. It's about our moms and grandparents, and uncles, and aunts who just did the right thing, and raised great families despite assaults on their dignity on every single day. You see it in the dignity of the artifacts that are in the museum. The dignity of an enslaved family, what it must have been like to try to live in that tiny cabin. Those slaves who dared to marry even though it was illegal for them to do so. Folks who were forced to sit in the back of a train, but went about their business anyway, and tried to instill in their children a sense that this isn't who we are, and there's going to be more someday.

You see it in the men and the women who rush to the war fronts to secure all of our freedom, understanding that when they came home, they might not yet be free, the students who walk past angry crowds to integrate our schools, the families huddling around a bible to steel their faith for the challenges ahead. That quiet, determined dignity and hope. Everybody here has somebody in mind when we think of those kinds of folks, who couldn't make it to this room, but whose stories are our stories. And whose stories are represented at this museum. It might be an ancestor who ran to freedom or an aunt or uncle who pushed back against Jim Crow or a friend who marched or (INAUDIBLE) or might be young people who are organizing against cynicism today. But the point is, that all of us cannot forget that the only reason that we're standing here is because somebody somewhere stood up for us. Stood up when it was risky, stood up when it was not popular, and somehow standing up together, managed to change the world. You know, the timing of this is fascinating. Because in so many ways, it is the best of times. But in many ways, these are also troubled times. History doesn't always move in a straight line. And without vigilance, we can go backwards as well as forward. And so part -

TAPPER: We'll take a -

OBAMA: -- of the reason that I am so happy the museum is opening this weekend -