Return to Transcripts main page


Clinton Leads Trump By 5 Points; Kaine Vs. Pence Tonight; Hurricane Matthew Hitting Haiti. Aired 5-5:30a ET

Aired October 4, 2016 - 05:00   ET


CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: The post-debate bounce. Hillary Clinton pulls out in front of Donald Trump in a new CNN poll.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Debate night for the running mates. Tim Kaine and Mike Pence, they get one to convince the country to vote for their tickets.

ROMANS: Hurricane Matthew ready to strike, headed right for Haiti and then Cuba. Find out when the East Coast could start feeling this powerful storm's impact.

Good morning and welcome to EARLY START, everybody. I'm Christine Romans in New York.

BERMAN: I'm John Berman. I am in Farmville, Virginia. It is Tuesday, October 4th. It is 5:00 a.m. in the East.

[05:00:01] And I'm at Longwood University. This is the site where in just a few hours, we will have the vice presidential debate. You can see the fan lining up early right now, hours before the main event at 9:00 tonight.

Tim Kaine and Mike Pence get one shot, one opportunity, as Eminem says, to sell themselves and most importantly to advocate for the top of their tickets.

Hillary Clinton has jumped out to a new lead over Donald Trump in the wake of the presidential debate. Some call this a debate bounce. In the latest CNN/ORC poll, Clinton leads by five points among likely voters.

One big factor here is an increase in the Clinton support among independents. Now, a month ago, independents broke for Trump. After the debate, they moved 25 points toward Hillary Clinton. Secretary Clinton is also taking new steps toward closing the enthusiasm gap, 50 percent of his supporters say they are extremely or very enthusiastic about voting for her. That's up four points from early September.

Enthusiasm among Donald Trump supporters actually ticked down two points over that same period. Another interesting finding in this poll comes in the wake of the report that Donald Trump might have gone nearly two decades without paying federal income tax. Our poll found that 86 percent of registered voters believe that paying taxes is a civil duty. Just 12 percent told pollsters that paying taxes are an unnecessary burden best avoided.

The polling period actually ended before "The New York Times" published the record that Trump took a $916 million loss on his 1995 tax. That loss might have allowed him paying federal income taxes for up to 18 years. Trump is now joining his top surrogates in calling that an act of genius.

CNN's Jason Carroll is with the campaign in Colorado. He has the very latest.


JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Donald Trump wrapped up his debate here in Loveland, Colorado, trying to turn the tables on the whole controversy involving his taxes, basically saying that he used the tax laws as any smart person would do in his mind to turn his company around during what he called a real estate depression during the '90s. He basically said he did what he could to what he said minimize the burden on himself and on his family.

And, Christine and John, he also readily admitted to the crowd here that he benefitted from knowing the tax system.

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The unfairness of the tax laws is unbelievable. It is something I have been talking about for a long time. You heard me talking about it, despite being a very big beneficiary, I must admit. I am. I am a big beneficiary.

But you are more important than my being a beneficiary. So, we're going to straighten it out and make it fair for everybody. More fair.

CARROLL: Donald Trump also criticizing Hillary Clinton, saying that she is the candidate that focuses on, quote, "small, petty things." He also calls her the candidate of distraction, which is unusual because Donald Trump himself has been accused by some in his own party by being easily distracted. Of course, they want him to focus on the issues going forward, heading into the debate now just a few days away -- Christine, John.


ROMANS: All right. Jason Carroll in Colorado -- thanks, Jason.

On the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton will be campaigning today in Eastern Pennsylvania with her daughter Chelsea. She is expected to escalate her attacks on Trump's effort to pay little or no taxes as she did Monday in the swing state of Ohio.

Let's go to CNN's Jeff Zeleny for the latest on that.


JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: John and Christine, Hillary Clinton campaigning in Pennsylvania today after spending Monday in battleground, Ohio. It was the first time she visited the state in nearly a month, arriving as Donald Trump leading five points in a Quinnipiac poll in Ohio.

But Hillary Clinton is hoping to close that gap by seizing on Donald Trump's tax returns. She has been asking for months, what is Donald Trump hiding? On Monday in Toledo, Ohio, she told voters.

HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: In other words, Trump was taking from America with both hands and leaving the rest of us with the bill.

Then, you all know that in the debate, he said it was smart to avoid paying taxes. Yesterday, his campaign was bragging it makes him a genius. Here's my question: what kind of genius loses $1 billion in a single year?

ZELENY: The Clinton campaign seizing on that revelation of Donald Trump's tax returns, going after his business acumen in one sense and he has not been contributing like most Americans do to the military and other federal programs that your taxes go to.

Now, the Clinton campaign realizes limits. Donald Trump supporters are loyal and locked in. But it is those voters in the middle, those moderate voters, those college-educated women voters that they are most interested in.

[05:05:04] That's one of the reasons Hillary Clinton back in Pennsylvania today as she watches that vice presidential debate tonight in Virginia -- John and Christine.


BERMAN: All right. Jeff Zeleny, thanks so much.

Joining us now to discuss the presidential campaign and the vice presidential debate which takes place in just a few hours, political analyst and best-selling author Ellis Henican.

Good morning, Ellis. Great to have you with us.


BERMAN: We saw something pretty unusual yesterday, which is both candidates on the trail talking about the exact same thing, Donald Trump's taxes, though they had slightly different views of why it's important and what it means. Listen to what they said.


TRUMP: As a businessman and real estate developer, I have legally used the tax laws to my benefit and to the benefit of my company, my investors and my employees. I mean, honestly, I have brilliantly -- I have brilliantly used those laws.

CLINTON: Back in the 1990s, Trump apparently lost $1 billion in a single year on bad investments and failing casinos. Now, how anybody can lose $1, let alone $1 billion in the casino industry is kind of beyond me, right? What kind of genius loses $1 billion in a single year?


BERMAN: So, has Trump sort of stopped the bleeding on this, Ellis, or are we going to hear this day in and day out for the next, what is it, 38-some odd days?

HENICAN: Well, I don't think Hillary will get that many days out of it, maybe another day and a half. The Trump argument would be stronger if he had actually released his tax returns. You know, maybe it is brilliant. Maybe it is a genius. Maybe he just has a good accountant.

But it's a much easier argument to make if you say, well, hey, here's how I did it, these are the details of it. Unfortunately, that is not on the table yet.

ROMANS: Let's listen to something that Donald Trump said yesterday. He was at a panel of retired American Warriors PAC in Virginia. And he was talking about this issue facing vets.

You know, post-traumatic stress disorder and what vets face when they come home is a major, major issue. And this is what Donald Trump said about it.


TRUMP: When you talk about the mental health problems and when people come back from war and combat. They see things that maybe a lot of the folks in this room have seen many times over and you are strong and can handle it, but a lot of people can't handle it, and they see horror stories, they see events you could not see in a movie. Nobody would believe it.


ROMANS: Maybe you could handle it. A lot of people can't handle it. It was taken out of context. Even this morning, "The Daily News", Ellis, my son was not weak. Joe Biden hitting back on this right away, saying Donald Trump just doesn't get it. He doesn't try to educate himself with what is happening with American vets.

How big is this tempest here?

HENICAN: You know, listen, it's obviously a sensitive area. I didn't hear Donald Trump saying he doesn't care about vets or that somehow he wants them to suffer. It was inartfully said. But this doesn't seem like something is going to go too long to me.

BERMAN: I think what critics, Ellis, is that I don't think anyone questions that Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton and any elected official in America right now is committed to the wellbeing of our veterans. But it shows a lack of sensitivity in the language surrounding an issue which is of great interest and great concern to a lot of people. There are a lot of people who devote their lives to dealing with post-

traumatic stress, PTS. And one of the things they are devoted to is the notion that it can happen to anyone. It's not being, it's not about being strong or about being weak. It's about having traumatic stress.

And it's an incredibly difficult for anyone to deal with. That's what people who are in the moment struggle with, but, you know, that was the context there. Let's turn focus to tonight where I am right now in Farmville, Virginia, the vice presidential debate.

How big of a moment is this? You know, look, we know it is the top of the ticket people care about. What can tonight do, Ellis?

HENICAN: You know, I've got to tell you, it took a while to ramp up the enthusiasm, but I'm finally there. I mean, it didn't come easily.

But listen, these are the most conventional VP candidates in the least conventional year, and both of them has a job to do, right? I mean, Pence has got to show there is someone in there with serious policy chops who might actually be influencing what this Trump administration would do, right? And Kaine has got to bring some kind of sense of human connection and some kind of normal comfort to the Clinton campaign and both of them need it desperately. So, yes, we've got to watch tonight.

ROMANS: Yes, we'll watch tonight, no question. You know, you look at the favorability and the unfavorability. Both of these guys are more popular than their bosses, too.

All right. Thanks, Ellis. You're going to come back in a few minutes.

John Berman, don't go away. Who will win the night? Republican Governor Mike Pence or Democratic Tim Kaine?

[05:10:00] Coverage starts today at 4:00 p.m. right here on CNN.

Meantime, the man who currently holds the seat will tell "NEW DAY's" Chris Cuomo of protecting his legacy has him back on the campaign trail fired up for Hillary Clinton. That's coming up right after "NEW DAY's" 6:00, about an hour away.

And the other big story this morning, the people of Haiti and Cuba, they are bracing for a powerful category four hurricane. We've got a live report and the preparations, coming up.


ROMANS: All right. Welcome back to EARLY START.

This morning, Hurricane Matthew bearing down on Haiti with heavy rain and 145-mile-an-hour winds. Forecasters fear a catastrophic blow to the poor island nation. The category four storm is also expected to hit Cuba where hurricane warnings have been posted.

[05:15:03] For the very latest, let's go live to CNN's Patrick Oppmann in Cuba.

And, Patrick, you're expecting -- you're expecting to get hit later this afternoon. But Haiti is already feeling some of the effects?

PATRICK OPPMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely. Wind and a lot of waves and eventually storm surge. We're told that it's already caused two deaths. Two fishermen were caught up in the storm and certainly could cause many more on the island that has already suffered so much from earthquakes and hurricanes in the past.

Here in Cuba, and Cuba's second largest city, you can hear they are waking up here this morning. Rooster is starting to crow, and eerie calm that's settled over the city, as people wait for the low moving but powerful storm. And the concern there, Christine, is the storm that right now is only moving about eight miles per hour, is when it comes over our eastern Cuba, it will dump a lot of rain. It's a very mountainous region.

This is where Fidel Castro had his regime. People could have roads washed out. So, government officials are going door-to-door the last few days, telling people to evacuate. Of course, this is a communist- run island. The government controls all the press and they are blasting on messages telling people that they need to prepare, they seek shelter or get the necessary supplies because of very powerful, potentially deadly storm is coming this way.

ROMANS: Yes, very tense morning, no question, preparations. Thank you so much for that, Patrick Oppmann.

We know you'll follow it for us.

Big threat to Haiti right now. What kind of threat could Matthew pose for the Eastern U.S.? That's a question we asked meteorologist Pedram Javaheri.


PEDRAM JAVAHERI, AMS METEOROLOGIST: John and Christine, we are watching category four Matthew sitting there just south of the island of Haiti, across the Tiburon peninsula. This particular storm, of course, impacting one of the poorest nations in the western hemisphere, also one of the poorest nations in the world when it does make landfall later this morning.

And the concern is when you think of this island, the storm surge will be devastating, seven to 11 feet high. But when you talk about what's happening across the area with heavily deforested landscape in the region, of course, being there, there's very poor oil, very hard to come by. So, a lot of the energy there is actually coming in from people taking trees out and burning it and using charcoal for energy and that lead, of course, to what could be a humanitarian crisis when it comes to the amount of water that will come down across the elevated terrain here. All of that will be runoff and could lead to flash flooding, and we have seen this with tropical features making landfall on the island of Haiti and leading to large scale fatalities. But notice, the storm system quickly moves off towards the eastern

coast of Florida. At this point, the model consensus is a little different between the European and the American model. The European model wants to keep the storm system offshore later this week, while the America one actually brings in some remnant rainfall across parts of the Northeast, pushes it to southern Canada as we approach next week. So, a lot to be seen with what happens. But certainly some interesting weather ahead of us across the Eastern Seaboard -- guys.

ROMANS: It's going to be a tense week or so. Thanks so much for that, Pedram.

All right. Let's talk about money. The majority of registered voters think Donald Trump should release his tax returns. That's according to the latest CNN/ORC poll, 95 percent of Democrats, 75 percent of independents think Trump should reveal tax data. Forty-nine percent of Republicans agree.

Now, the survey asked why hasn't Trump released those tax returns? Fifty-seven percent say he is hiding something. Thirty-seven percent believe Trump when he says he is audited, although that's not -- it doesn't legally prevent him, of course, from releasing those returns. Ten percent say they are unsure.

As for tax policy, 48 percent of registered voters pick Clinton when it comes to who would better handle taxes. Trump is within the margin of error on this though at 46 percent.

BERMAN: All right. Indiana Governor Mike Pence, he is getting ready to come here to Farmville, Virginia, the vice presidential debate at Longwood University. On the way, he suffered a defeat in a federal court. Find out what that is about, next.


[05:23:21] BERMAN: Good morning, everyone. Twenty-three minutes past the hour right now.

We are live at Longwood University in Farmville, Virginia. The vice presidential candidates, they are making their way here. Tim Kaine and Mike Pence, they face-off tonight for their one and only debate. That is at 9:00 Eastern Time. You can see it right here on CNN.

Now, Governor Pence in his capacity as leader of Indiana, he goes into the debate suffering a loss in a federal appears court. Three-judge panel overruled the governor's attempt to block Syrian families from resettling in Indiana. He used really tough language in their decision. The justices say there is no reason the Syrian terrorists are posing as refugees in the United States, or that Syrian refugees have ever committed acts of terror in the United States. They called this suggestion nightmare speculation.

Governor Pence argues his policy is not discriminatory. He aims to protect the citizens of Indiana.

ROMANS: North Korea may be planning an October surprise. The Center for Strategic and International Studies say provocative action by Pyongyang can often be expected around the U.S. elections. You may remember, the North conducted a missile and nuclear test shortly after President Obama was elected.

CIA Director John Brennan says erratic behavior by North Korea is one the biggest challenges the president will face. National security experts are urging the U.S. to team up with its allies to curb any dangerous activity.

In Politics, Hillary Clinton waking up this morning with a lead over Donald Trump in a new national poll. Find out which voters she has captured after the debate coming up.


[05:29:16] ROMANS: The post-debate bounce. Hillary Clinton pulls out in front of Donald Trump in a brand new CNN poll.

BERMAN: Debate night for the number twos. Tim Kaine and Mike Pence. They get one shot to convince America that they can handle the job and what's more important, their bosses can do the job.

ROMANS: Hurricane Matthew ready to strike. The eye of the storm right now nearing Haiti. A live report straight ahead.

Welcome back to EARLY START this morning. I'm Christine Romans in New York.

BERMAN: I'm John Berman. I am live in Farmville, Virginia, about 30 minutes after the hour right now.

I am live at Longwood University where just a few hours from now they will hold the one and only vice presidential debate. The Democrat Senator Tim Kaine of Virginia, the Republican Governor Mike Pence of Indiana -- they will meet face to face on stage here.