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EARLY START

Trump: Debate Will Be "Interesting"; The Final Debate: Clinton on the Attack?; Obama to Trump: Quit "Whining"; Video Suggests Dems Instigated Violence; Iraqi Forces March Toward Mosul. Aired 4:30-5a ET

Aired October 19, 2016 - 04:30   ET

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


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[04:30:12] JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: The clock is ticking. The final countdown to the final debate. Huge stakes here in Las Vegas. This could be the final chance for Donald Trump to get back into this race.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Hillary Clinton staying out of the public eye, preparing for tonight's showdown. What's the strategy? Will she go on the attack? Will she be forced to explain those e-mail leaks to tens of billions of voters?

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

BERMAN: I'm John -- I'm John Berman, about 30 minutes past the hour, I think. I'm live at the University of Nevada in Las Vegas.

Oh, we actually have people out here now to watch, to watch this show to join us as we count down to the third and final debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. This could be the last best chance for Donald Trump to right his ship, to claw his way back into the campaign.

You can see the excitement building here on campus. Donald Trump, he is behind the late round of national polls by a lot in some of those polls. He's also trailing in most of the key battleground states. He made two stops in battleground Colorado on his way here, urging his supporters don't believe the polls. And he delivered a kind of dire warning about a possible Clinton victory.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: History will record that 2017 was the year that America lost, truly lost its independence, truly lost its independence. And by the way, this is our final shot, folks. In four years, it's over. You're never going to be able to win. You're never going to be able to win. It's tilting. It's going to be a one-party system. This is your final shot.

(END VIDEO CLIP) BERMAN: Donald Trump is also renewing his pledge to build a wall along the border with Mexico. He describes himself to voters in Colorado as a unifier.

Let's get more now from CNN's Jason Carroll.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: John and Christine, Donald Trump had very little to say about the debate to the crowd here in Grand Junction, Colorado. He did say that the debate would be, quote, "interesting". Certainly, a number of his supporters want him to stay on message during the debate. And while he's out on the campaign trail, having said that, a number of GOP leaders pushing back on Donald Trump's unfounded claims that the electoral process is, quote, "rigged". They certainly want him to stop talking about it when he's out on the campaign trail but Donald Trump kept pushing the idea anyway.

TRUMP: The moment is going to be November 8th. It's very simple. And we will. We've just begun to fight. They even want to try and rig the election at the polling booths where so many cities are corrupt. And voter fraud is all too common.

And then they say, oh, there's no voter fraud in our country. There's no voter fraud. No, no, there's no voter fraud.

Take a look at St. Louis. Take a look at Philadelphia. Take a look at Chicago. And then I have even the Republicans saying, oh, this is a wonderful -- look. Look. If nothing else, people are going to be watching on November 8th.

CARROLL: Trump holding the media responsible for what he calls that rigged system, saying that the media has been, quote, "lying, cheating and stealing." Again, these are Donald Trump's words. He also said that the media at this point is worse than his opponent Hillary Clinton -- John, Christine.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BERMAN: All right. Jason Carroll, thanks so much.

Donald Trump did unveil a new policy proposal: term limits for Congress. He's calling for a constitutional amendment, it will take a constitutional amendment, that will restrict House members to three terms, six years, Senate members to two terms, or 12 years.

Now, on Monday, Trump proposed a series of ethics reform including a five-year ban on lobbying when lawmakers and members of the executive branch leave office.

CNN has learned new details about Donald Trump's preparation for the final debate here at the University of Nevada in Las Vegas. A source tells us that RNC Chair Reince Priebus played the moderator in final practice sessions with New Jersey Governor Chris Christie playing Hillary Clinton. This is a mock debate format, the kind of thing he did not like to do before the first debate. So, interesting that he's doing it now.

Hillary Clinton has been off the campaign trail for several days, raising money and preparing for tonight's debate. In the first debate, she seemed to be trying to bait Donald Trump. When they square off tonight in several hours from now, she's expected to employ a different strategy.

Let's get the latest from CNN's Jeff Zeleny.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Hillary Clinton is getting ready for her third and final debate with Donald Trump.

[04:35:01] She's been preparing just as much as she did for her first two, but I'm told in a different way.

Now, she's actually been familiarizing herself with all of those campaign e-mails and previous positions and statements that had been unearthed through the stolen hacked e-mails published by WikiLeaks. It is a new development in this campaign. Something she is preparing for. Something she expects Donald Trump will go after. She will also, I'm told, go after what Donald Trump has been calling a rigged election. She'll be pushing back on that hard, perhaps as a way to get under Donald Trump's skin.

She's also going to make the case for why she can be the president for all Americans. Now, of course, that message is aimed at getting some Republicans, some moderate voters who may not have been open for voting for her. But they simply cannot vote for Donald Trump. But overall, that is her objective in tonight's debate, trying to make the case that, "A," she's presidential, and "B," even if you don't love her, you still may want to vote for her because Donald Trump in the eyes of the Clinton campaign is simply not fit for president.

But, of course, Donald Trump will be getting his last licks in. This is the last time before such a big audience for him to make his case, raising some of those questions about her honesty and trustworthiness. Without question, tonight's debate will set the stage for the rest of the campaign, less than three weeks away from Election Day -- John and Christine.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BERMAN: All right. Jeff Zeleny, thank you so much.

Tonight's debate, debate number three is tonight. CNN here now and all day long.

Christine Romans, back to you.

ROMANS: All day and all night. We don't even know what time it is in Vegas. We don't need to know.

BERMAN: Yes. (LAUGHTER)

ROMANS: All right. President Obama has a message for Donald Trump: quit whining. The commander in chief calling out Trump for his repeated claims this election is rigged. Obama mocking the GOP nominee for what he calls an unprecedented and dangerous attack on the nation's election process.

CNN's White House correspondent Michelle Kosinski has more.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MICHELLE KOSINSKI, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Hi, John and Christine, in case you haven't noticed, President Obama lately is happy to speak his mind on Donald Trump. It's clear that he sees questions, like in his press conference yesterday as an opportunity. Listen to some of what he said yesterday when he was asked about Donald Trump's recent comments on a rigged election.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: That is both irresponsible. And, by the way, doesn't really show the kind of leadership and toughness that you want out of a president. You start whining before the game's even over? If -- whenever things are going badly for you and you lose, you start blaming somebody else? Then you don't have what it takes to be in this job.

KOSINSKI: The president also took heavy shot, not just at Donald Trump's praise of Russian President Vladimir Putin but also again for Republicans who continue to support Donald Trump. And as we wind down the days before this election actually happens, we can expect to see, again, President Obama and the first lady out on the campaign trail this week -- John and Christine.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ROMANS: All right, Michelle Kosinski.

All right. Top issue for millennial voters and their parent student loan debt, and a brand new report shows grads are leaving college with more debt than ever before. Here are the grim numbers. The average student loan total at graduation is now $30,100. That's up 4 percent from the last year. That amounts to about $300 a month in payments over 10 years.

Think about that, these kids are graduating $300 in debt payments every month for ten years. Those averages are likely higher because that does not include students at for profit colleges. Those institutions don't provide reliable data, but most students at for profit colleges do take out loans and they tend to borough higher amounts. Private schools cost families an average of $26,400 last year. That's nearly 50 percent of median household income in the U.S. In-state tuition hit 14 grand or 25 percent of median income.

The amount of students that have to take out loans for colleges may have plateaued though. Right now, you have 68 percent of kids have taken out loans in. In 1993, it was just less than half. By 2004, it was 65 percent. Top that 71 percent in 2012.

All right. The two presidential candidates each bringing two guests in tonight's final debate showdown, Hillary Clinton inviting two billionaires. She calls them real billionaires, not fake billionaires like Donald Trump. Donald Trump is bringing a relative of President Obama needling the president about his half brother.

We've got more on EARLY START, next.

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[04:43:55] BERMAN: John Berman here at the University of Nevada in Las Vegas, where the anticipation is building, along with the crowd. We have at least three, four, five people here maybe. I expect we could get to a dozen by 5:30 Eastern Time, as the excitement building for tonight, the third and final debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. Our thanks to the students for sticking to their study plans and being here to support us on this debate.

Both candidates, they will be bringing guests to the debate tonight. Hillary Clinton bringing a couple of billionaires. Mark Cuban will be there, owner of the Dallas Mavericks. And Hewlett Packard CEO Meg Whitman, she will be there as well.

Donald Trump invited President Obama's Kenyan-born half brother Malik who is apparently supporting Donald Trump. And Donald Trump also inviting Patricia Smith, the mother of Benghazi victim Sean Smith. Patricia Smith has been very critical of Hillary Clinton, saying that she holds Hillary Clinton responsible for her son's death.

Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, they did not shake hands prior to the second debate.

[04:45:00] We do not know if they will or will not tonight. But we do know that there will be no handshakes between the candidates' family members beginning at the debate. That is because, reportedly, the Clinton campaign requested a new setup. According to "The New York Times", family members will now enter the hall closer to their assigned seats, instead of crossing each other's paths on stage like you're seeing right now.

Sources tell CNN that the Clinton team is worried about a stunt like Donald Trump pulled in the second debate, seating in people who have accused President Clinton of past sexual misconduct.

Christine Romans, back to you.

ROMANS: All right, John Berman.

A new undercover video appears to show Democratic operatives explaining how to provoke Donald Trump supporters into committing acts of violence at his rallies. Now, this video comes by way of a conservative activist with a checkered history of his own. But the video suggests the operatives hired by the DNC may have had a chance in instigating violence.

Now, two people now out of their jobs as more questions are raised.

CNN investigative correspondent Drew Griffin breaks it all down for us.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DREW GRIFFIN, CNN SENIOR INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT: The undercover videos produced by discredited conservative activist James O'Keefe suggest it was Democratic operatives, hired political activists, working in coordination with the DNC to instigate violence and incite reactions at Trump rallies.

And in one of the undercover videos, Scott Foval, a subcontractor for a DNC-hired firm called Democracy Partners supposedly explains just how he does it.

SCOTT FOVAL, NATIONAL FIELD DIRECTOR AT AMERICANS UNITED FOR CHANGE: There's a script. There's a script of engagement. Sometimes the crazies bite and sometimes the crazies don't bite.

When they are outside the rally --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They're harder to get in.

FOVAL: -- the media will cover it no matter where it happens. The key is initiating the conflict by having leading conversations with people who are naturally psychotic.

I mean honestly, it is not hard to get some of these assholes to pop off. It's a matter of showing up, to want to get into the rally, in a Planned Parenthood t-shirt. Or, you know, Trump is a Nazi, you know. You can message to draw them out and draw them to punch you.

GRIFFIN: According to the undercover videos, it was this man that Democratic National Committee turned to organize the work. Bob Creamer is the husband of Illinois Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky. He's part of a group called Democracy Partners, and he too was caught on undercover video, here explaining how he was hired by the Democratic National Committee to stage counterdemonstrations and press conferences wherever the Trump campaign showed up.

BOB CREAMER, FOUNDER OF DEMOCRACY PARTNERS: Wherever Trump and Pence are going to be, we have events. And we have a whole team across the country that does that. Both consultants and people from the Democratic Party and the Democratic Party apparatus and people from the campaign, the Clinton campaign. And my role in the campaign is to manage all that.

GRIFFIN: Creamer stepped down from the campaign today, and announced his subcontractor, Scott Foval, was no longer working for his firm.

Both the DNC and the Clinton campaign denied any coordination with anything involving the incitement of violence.

Creamer himself told CNN his former contractors were committing barroom talk, insisting none of what is being described by Foval ever actually happened.

In a statement, Creamer writes, "We regret the unprofessional and careless hypothetical conversations that were captured on hidden cameras of a regional contractor for our firm. He is no longer working with us."

The Clinton campaign response, "While Project Veritas has been known to offer misleading video out of context, some of the language and tactics referenced in the video are troubling, even as a theory or a proposal never executed. We support the Democratic National Committee's appropriate action addressing this matter and look forward to continue waging a campaign of ideas worthy of our democratic process."

"James O'Keefe is a convicted criminal", they add, "With a history of doctoring video to advance his ideological agenda."

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ROMANS: Drew Griffin, thank you for that. The DNC says there is no evidence that anything described on the tapes actually happened. They will investigate whether James O'Keefe broke the law to get the undercover recordings. Democracy Partners says it was, quote, "breached and betrayed" and condemns violence in all forms.

All right. if you've ever wanted to own a historical piece of Trump real estate. Tonight may be your best chance. You'll have to outbid the competition. That's right, Donald Trump slept here when we get a check on CNN money stream, next.

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[04:54:13] ROMANS: Welcome back to EARLY START.

The operation to liberate Mosul could take two months. That assessment from a Kurdish military commander after day two of this offensive. Nearly 100,000 troops are marching right now on Iraq's second largest city. Their mission: to bring an end to more than two years of ISIS rule. We're also receiving word of a dangerous situation unfolding in the last hour.

I want to get more on that now from Irbil, Iraq. I want to bring in CNN's Michael Holmes.

Bring us up to speed of these most recent developments, Michael.

MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Christine, as both Kurdish and Iraqi forces move closer to Mosul, what they've been doing is what they say is a very deliberate, methodical advance taking and clearing territory and towns and villages as they go.

[04:55:01] But what we're hearing obviously shows such clearing is not an exact science.

And we just had a disturbing report in the last hour or so that some Iraqi soldiers, we don't know exactly how many have in fact been surrounded by ISIS fighters. This is near a village about 15 miles south of Mosul. We're still checking into the details of that.

The feeling is that they went through some villages, kept on moving, but ISIS fighters were left behind, perhaps hiding in those villages, came up behind them, surrounding them at the moment. Still obviously a very dangerous situation and waiting to get more information on that.

However, the Iraqi command says that they're going to continue to liberate towns on their way to Mosul. In fact, the commander of one division told CNN that his forces have destroyed dozens of suicide vehicles. They've cleared a large number of IEDs, and booby traps and killed at least 50 ISIS fighters in just the last two days.

They've also, and this possibly ties into what happened with these soldiers now reportedly surrounded. There are these networks of tunnels that are in these towns and villages, and reportedly right throughout Mosul as well, used to transport fighters and weaponry around the battlefield, reports that food found in one of those tunnels was still warm. So, you can get a sense of what's going on underground.

And the key now is to hold those areas they've taken, before they can move closer on to Mosul. As you said, it's perhaps two weeks we're being told before everything is likely in place to assault Mosul itself. And then once inside the city, the battle itself to retake it could take two months and perhaps more. Anywhere between 3,000 and 5,000 ISIS fighters said to be inside Mosul -- Christine.

ROMANS: All right. Michael Holmes for us in Irbil this morning -- thank you for that.

Breaking overnight, a Philippines police van caught on video rammed into protesters, leaving several injured. This happened during an anti-U.S. rally at the American embassy in Manila. You can see the footage showing demonstrators hitting the van with wooden batons. Those are batons they had taken from police. At least 1,000 protesters gathered to demand an end to the presence of U.S. troops in the country and to a call by the president there, Rodrigo Duterte, for a foreign policy not dependent on the U.S.

Let's go and check on CNN money stream this morning.

Dow futures slightly lower right now. But, you know, investors awaiting earnings from Morgan Stanley, American Express, eBay and others. Stock market in Europe and Asia are mixed. Oil is rising. Goldman Sachs crushed estimates on higher trading revenue. That's helped stocks yesterday.

A new report shows the cost of living is creeping higher. The consumer price index ticked up last month. Prices are now 1.5 percent higher than they were this time last year. It's a problem for the Federal Reserve not because it's rising quickly but because it's rising too slowly. They like to see a number closer to 2 percent. You take out food and energy prices rose 2.2 percent time last year.

The silver lining here, paychecks in the U.S. are growing faster than your grocery bills except if you're on Social Security. The government says the typical retiree's monthly check will grow by just $3.90 next year. Benefits did not increase at all last year. The average retiree's monthly benefit is now a little more than $1,300.

All right. This piece of historic Trump real estate could be yours. His childhood home goes up for auction tonight. The Tudor-style house is in the New York city borough of Queens. It is 2,500 square feet. It has five bedrooms, and 4 1/2 bathrooms. The suggested bid is $849,000.

It would be a relative bargain for a house in this location. You won't find the shy end finishes with gold ceilings. I wish I could show you the video. It's like a pink bathroom and, you know, 1960s -- there it is. There it is.

It's not like his current gilded penthouse. This house might need a little bit of TLC, a little work. There's the pink bathroom, depending on your tastes.

Check out the new CNN money stream app. It's business news personalized. The stories, videos, tweets and topics you want all in one feed. Download it now at the app store or on Google Play.

EARLY START continues right now.

(MUSIC)

BERMAN: Just a few hours to go before the final debate of 2016. Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump. Could this be a decisive moment in the race?

ROMANS: Hillary Clinton staying out of the public eye to prepare for tonight's showdown. So, what's her strategy here? Will she go on the attack? Will she be forced to explain those damaging e-mail leaks to tens of millions of voters watching tonight?

Good morning and welcome to EARLY START. I'm Christine Romans in the studio here in New York.

BERMAN: I'm John Berman in Las Vegas. It's Wednesday, October 19th, it's 5:00 a.m. in the East.