Return to Transcripts main page


Fighting ISIS; Interview With Khizr Khan; Trump Promotes Hotel Opening. Aired 4-4:30p ET

Aired October 26, 2016 - 16:00   ET



JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: Why was Donald Trump just down the street in D.C., when his presence is so needed for his campaign elsewhere?

THE LEAD starts right now.

Minding his business, Donald Trump steps off the trail to cut the ribbon on his new D.C. hotel. But he needs to run the table in North Carolina, Ohio, Florida, Nevada, New Hampshire, and Maine. Could this detour have cost him an address right behind me?

His pocket Constitution was his trump card. The father of a fallen Muslim-American war hero now in a brand-new TV ad for Clinton, today, I will ask Khizr Khan why he took on the mission to help stop Trump.

Plus, taking ISIS out at the heart. As one huge battle to take out the terror group rages on, another even bigger, even bloodier one could be just days away.

Welcome to THE LEAD, everyone. I'm Jake Tapper.

Donald Trump predicting a tremendous victory with 13 days left until America formally picks its president. Mr. Trump does have a path to the White House, but that path is narrow. That path is difficult. And Trump would need to peel off battleground states currently seeming to be in Hillary Clinton's column.

Earlier today, Trump was on Pennsylvania Avenue, however, cutting the ribbon on his brand-new hotel.

CNN's Jim Acosta is in North Carolina, where Mr. Trump is set to speak in just minutes.

Several Republican strategists are now saying Trump should not have spent the morning in D.C., Jim, and every single hour he spends outside a battleground state over the next 13 days is simply wasted time.


And Donald Trump is pushing back on the notion that he wasted critical campaign time to unofficially or, excuse me, I should say officially open up that new hotel in Washington, D.C., where he also spent some time praising one of his top supporters who may have made his efforts to attract women voters even tougher.


ACOSTA (voice-over): The Trump campaign insisted this wasn't a political event, but as Donald Trump cut the ribbon on a new hotel in Washington surrounded by his top campaign aides, he also carved out some time to give a shout-out to Newt Gingrich, a top surrogate.

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: By the way, congratulations, Newt, on last night. That was an amazing interview. We don't play games, Newt, right? We don't play games.


ACOSTA: Trump was talking about this interview on FOX News, where Gingrich bitterly clashed with host Megyn Kelly, who was pressing the former speaker on the accusations of sexual misconduct hounding the GOP nominee.

NEWT GINGRICH (R), FORMER SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: You are fascinated with sex, and you don't care about public policy.


GINGRICH: That's what I get out of watching you tonight.

KELLY: You know what, Mr. Speaker, I am not fascinated by sex, but I am fascinated by the protection of women and understanding what we're getting in the Oval Office.


KELLY: And I think the American voters would like to know...

GINGRICH: And, therefore, we are going to send Bill Clinton back to the East Wing, because, after all, you are worried about sexual predators.

ACOSTA: The interview was an instant reminder of Trump's own run-ins with Kelly, which led to this moment cited time and again as an example of his problems attracting women voters.

D. TRUMP: Blood coming out of her wherever.

My theme today is five words, under budget and ahead of schedule. We don't hear those words too often in government, but you will.

ACOSTA: Trump is pointing to his glitzy new hotel to show voters what he can do for the country. He has repeatedly used his properties as campaign backdrops from Florida to Scotland.

D. TRUMP: This is what I want to do for our country, and this is what we're working so hard to do. Right now, just about everything our government touches is broken or they break it. It's always over budget, behind schedule, and simply nothing works. ACOSTA: But his hotels, like his rallies, draw their share of

protesters. Trump's daughter Ivanka, who was the ribbon-cutting with her brothers, argues the critics just don't understand her father.

IVANKA TRUMP, DAUGHTER OF DONALD TRUMP: I'll tell you, one of the most telling signs of his success over decades is the thousands of people who have worked with him, worked for him, fought with him and who continue to stand by his side in their quest to achieve great things.

ACOSTA: And Trump rejected the notion that this stop was a waste of precious campaign time.

D. TRUMP: I did yesterday eight stops and three major speeches. And I have been doing this for weeks straight. I left here -- I left there for an hour-and-a-half. I'm going to North Carolina right now. Then I'm going to Florida. I'm going up to New Hampshire.

For you to ask me that question is actually very insulting, because Hillary Clinton does one stop and then she goes home and sleeps. And yet will ask me that question.



ACOSTA: Now, in just a few minutes, Donald Trump will be delivering an urban policy speech here in Charlotte.

He often asks minority voters at his events, what the hell do they have to lose by supporting him? Trump's campaign aides say he will be putting some policy specifics behind that statement, Jake. but that statement, we should point out, is often made to mostly white audiences -- Jake.

TAPPER: All right, Jim Acosta in North Carolina, thanks so much.

As you just saw, CNN chief political correspondent Dana Bash was able to pull Mr. Trump aside for a few minutes at his hotel ribbon-cutting event earlier today. She asked just how much Trump would be willing to give to his own campaign financially to help push him over the finish line.

This has been, as you may know, a big sticking point with Republican officials in Washington, who feel Trump has not spent what he promised he would and that that has hurt his ability and the Republican Party's by to pay for TV ads or field staffers to get out the vote.

Let's listen to what Mr. Trump had to say.


DANA BASH, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: There's a new poll in Florida that has you up a couple of points. Other swing states have you really in the hunt. Given that, are you prepared to write a check to help yourself get over the finish line? D. TRUMP: Sure.

BASH: And, if so, how big? And I'm talking about advertising.

D. TRUMP: Let me just tell you that we have -- I have over $100 million in the campaign. Hillary Clinton has nothing in the campaign. She's all special interests and donors. And they give her money. And then she will do whatever they tell her to do.

But I will have over $100 million in the campaign. And I'm prepared to go much more than that.

Now, here's the question. New polls are coming out. We're leading Florida. We're doing great in North Carolina. We're doing great in Pennsylvania. We're doing great all over. We're doing really well in New Hampshire. Ohio, as you know, and Iowa are doing fantastically well.

I'm telling you, CNN doesn't say it, but I think we're going to win.

BASH: So, but to do that, you have a pretty big bank account.

D. TRUMP: I do.

BASH: You can -- and time is running out. The clock is ticking.


BASH: Will you write a check and...

D. TRUMP: I have already done it. I have already written a number of them.

BASH: But, I mean, specifically, specifically to get up on the air to combat the ads that you say Hillary Clinton is running against you?

D. TRUMP: She's got -- well, in Florida, she has 50-1 against me, 50. You were the one that reported that.

BASH: But you have to means to combat that.


D. TRUMP: Sure, I do.

But, in the meantime, 50-1, and I'm leading. How would you like to have spent -- in the old days, you would get credit. If you would spend less money and have victory, that would be a good thing. Today, they want you to spend money.

I will have over $100 million. I'm willing to spend much more than that if I have to.

I'm seeing just great signs. One of other things we're seeing in Florida, we're seeing it other places, the lines going into voting booths, going into voting areas are unbelievable. I mean, in Florida yesterday, we passed four of them. The lines were

three and four blocks' long. Those are not her voters, because her voters have no enthusiasm whatsoever.

BASH: Can you just be specific? How much are you willing to put down in order to put up new ads?

D. TRUMP: I will have over $100 million in. I'm willing to invest more than that.

BASH: Like how much?

D. TRUMP: Dana, don't -- just let's go through the next question, Dana.


Well, my last question, because I am getting the hook over here, is, in the speech here, you talked about the fact that this is the second best piece of real estate on Pennsylvania Avenue. In 14 days, are you hoping that you are going to be spending after that more time here or down the street?

D. TRUMP: Well, look, I just hope that -- I built a great company. This is truly a great company. We have some of the great assets of the world, not only in our country, but in other countries.

And I predicted Brexit. You were one of the people that asked me about Brexit. And I said it's going to happen. And I'm not even saying this is Brexit, but I think the result is going to be the same, if not more so.

We are going to have, I think, a tremendous victory. People don't want four more years of Obama.


TAPPER: And Dana Bash joins me now.

Dana, to hit that $100 million mark that he referred to, $100 million of his own money into his campaign, he will have had to have given $40 million of his own money in the last five weeks of the campaign.

BASH: That's right.

TAPPER: Is there any indication that he has done that?

BASH: Not that we have seen, and, more importantly, not that we have seen that has been spent, because, at this point, you know, time is up.

The money doesn't need to be put in there, but it needs to be spent, especially on what Republicans say that they fear has been their biggest deficit, that they feel that they're competing against Hillary Clinton with one hand tied behind their back on television, that she is ripping Donald Trump to shreds, not just her, but her super PAC, and they haven't been able to compete on TV.

And I am told that, at the highest levels of the party, Donald Trump has been told, a couple of weeks ago, you got to write a check. We need more money, you need more money to do this. And he didn't.

So, that was why I was pressing him on it. But, to your point, even if he did write a big check now, it might be too late.

TAPPER: Yes. The TV time has already been reserved.

BASH: Exactly.

TAPPER: And the get-out-the-vote efforts need to have been formed a long time ago.

Dana Bash, thank you so much.

Hillary Clinton is pushing for every vote possible in battleground state Florida. That's a state she could be on the verge of losing after President Obama won there in 2012.


A new Bloomberg poll today shows her trailing Trump in Florida by 2 percentage points.

CNN's Phil Mattingly is live in Tampa, where Clinton just wrapped up a rally.

Phil, when you look into the numbers of this new Bloomberg poll, why is Clinton struggling in this state that Obama won twice?

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's really interesting, Jake.

Over the course of the last two weeks, when you talked to Clinton advisers, they were starting to feel very good about the direction things were heading in Florida. Not so much when you look at this Bloomberg poll. And when you dig in, it's what I have heard from Republican officials over the course of the last couple of months.

Donald Trump is resonating obviously with older white voters, with voters without a college education, but in particular,in the north central portion of the state and in the Panhandle of the state, very strong support, the type of support that could drive an upset victory in the state, the type of support, Jake, that has Hillary Clinton pressing hard in Florida.


MATTINGLY (voice-over): Hillary Clinton doubling down on the state her advisers see as the kill shot to Donald Trump's campaign.

HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We can't take our foot off the gas even for a short time.

MATTINGLY: And as polling in the state continues to show a tight race, throwing a few jabs Trump's way.

CLINTON: Listening to Donald Trump's campaign, I truly doubt that he has ever read the Constitution.

MATTINGLY: Her attacks, including a dig, Trump's detour from his campaign schedule today to attend a ribbon-cutting ceremony for his new hotel in Washington, D.C.

CLINTON: While the hotel may be new, it's the same old story. He relied on undocumented workers to make his project cheaper. And most of the products in the rooms were made overseas, and he even sued to get his taxes lowered.

MATTINGLY: Clinton punctuating her two events in the state with two new ads.

CLINTON: Well, kids have been the passion of my life and they will be the heart of my presidency.

MATTINGLY: A dual-track closing argument accentuating the positive in an otherwise vicious campaign season, one narrated by Democratic go-to Morgan Freeman.

MORGAN FREEMAN, ACTOR: Our children are looking to us. What example will we set? What kind of country will we be?

MATTINGLY: Clinton taking a rarely seen message of change to the trail.

CLINTON: On January 20, we're going to have a new president, right?


CLINTON: So, things are going to change no matter what. The real question is, what kind of change are we going to have?

MATTINGLY: As her team continues to press state Democrats to vote early and give her campaign a crucial leg up come Election Day. The latest data from Catalyst provided exclusively to CNN showing more than seven million votes have already been cast, including more than 4.6 million in battleground states like Florida, numbers that underscore the importance of the moment, one where Clinton maintains a comfortable national lead, according to the latest CNN poll of polls.

This all coming on Clinton's 69th birthday, a moment celebrated with a surprise cake before heading straight back onto the trail, one that in a year of the unbelievable continues to take bizarre turns, like this.

JOSEPH BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The press always asks me, don't I wish I were debating him? No, I wish we were in high school. I could take him behind the gym. That's what I wish.


D. TRUMP: You see where Biden wants to take me to the back of the barn, me. He wants it. I would love that. (END VIDEOTAPE)

MATTINGLY: Still can't believe that actually happened.

Here in Florida, Jake, it's all about the early vote. You are seeing it from the Trump campaign. But that is the primary focus of the Clinton campaign, something to keep a very close eye on in the days ahead -- Jake.

TAPPER: All right, Phil Mattingly, thank you so much.

His speech may end up being the turning point of 2016, the father of a Muslim-American war hero who took the DNC by storm. We will talk to Gold Star father Khizr Khan about critics who say that he is getting too political. That's next.



[16:18:15] JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.

Let's stick with the politics lead now. It was one of the most memorable moments of the 2016 campaign, Gold Star father Khizr Khan on the stage of the Democratic National Convention berating the Republican nominee for proposing a ban on Muslims entering the U.S. It was an emotional message that led to this TV ad which is airing now in which Khan asked if his son, U.S. Army Captain Humayun Khan, would have a place in Trump's America.


KHIZR KHAN, GOLD STAR FATHER: In 2004, my son was stationed in Iraq. He saw a suicide bomber approaching his camp. My son moved forward to stop the bomber. When the bomb exploded, he saved everyone in his unit. Only one American soldier died.

My son was Captain Humayun Khan. He was 27 years old, and he was a Muslim-American. I want to ask Mr. Trump, would my son have a place in your America?


TAPPER: I just spoke with Mr. Khan, who is now campaigning for Hillary Clinton, and I asked him about that TV ad. And I started with why his son joined the Army.


KHAN: When he was undergrad student, he used to meet ROTC cadets, and he spent time with them. And he would see the honor and the courtesy and the care of others and how honorable they were with one another and with their colleagues. [16:20:04] And he always said to us, with them, he felt an element. With them he felt as if he is in good company, and he wanted us to -- he wanted to join, and he asked that, if he has our blessing. Of course, which parent will not give their blessing for such a purpose?

So, that was the reason that he joined. And thereafter, he continued and he commissioned in the Army.

TAPPER: I can tell it's still very difficult for you to talk about, as is quite normal in -- for Gold Star parents such as yourself.

Let me ask you, just because you have entered the political arena when you gave that very passionate speech at the Democratic National Convention over the summer. Did you expect Mr. Trump to react the way he did?

KHAN: No. It was unexpected, yet expected because, the way he had expressed himself and the political rhetoric, the caliber of political rhetoric had been indicative of the -- this person's -- this candidate's, Donald Trump's inability to comprehend or have empathy with the people that he wishes to lead. So, in a way, it was unexpected, yet his caliber to us had proven that this would happen. And it has continued.

TAPPER: And one of the things he said was that he would, quote, "like to hear" your wife say something because she didn't speak at the convention. What did you think when you heard him say that?

KHAN: Total ignorance of the culture, total ignorance of the grief of a Gold Star mother. Time after time, then, before then, and up until now, Donald Trump has proven that he has neither the capacity nor the capability nor the character or the temperament for the office -- the highest office of this country that he seeks.

So, we were disappointed. Mrs. Khan had spoken since then at many occasions. She's very capable. But that very moment, she was under such a grief because our son's picture was in the background. And she was totally unable to speak. Maintaining the dignity of the occasion, she insisted that she not speak, otherwise she will fall apart at the stage. And so we had agreed that she will not speak. But since then she has spoken.

But we are not disappointed in a sense that Donald Trump has shown his true color. Donald Trump has shown his incapacity, his lack of caliber, lack of temperament, and so, we are disappointed that person of these characters is seeking the highest office of this country.

TAPPER: Former Texas Governor Rick Perry told me during the Republican national convention that you struck the first blow against Donald Trump when you gave that speech at the Democratic convention and that, by entering the arena that way, you made yourself a legitimate target for criticism. You are now campaigning in a TV ad for Hillary Clinton.

Do you accept what Rick Perry said, that by coming forward and by talking about criticisms of Donald Trump, you are in the arena and you are making yourself open to criticism?

KHAN: Jake, my stand was ethical, moral, on behalf of those who were scared when Trump made that statement of banning Muslims, throwing out Hispanic Americans from this country. We had grieved.

And I want Perry to listen to this carefully. Listen to this one more time. My stand had been a moral, ethical, for care of others.

Little children will come to us and would say, is this true? Will we be thrown out of this country? Will we be able to finish our school, our elementary school? Would our parents be thrown out?

The parents would say to us, these children don't eat, don't sleep, don't do their homework. It was that concern. It was that care that took us to the stage.

And we will -- we will do this a million time all over again, and I implore Republicans and the surrogates of Donald Trump, the caliber that your candidate has shown, the capacity that your candidate has shown, rethink about this. And I am going to make a very profound statement through your program. I implore all the independents, all those that are reluctant to vote, and all Republicans, you have seen the temperament of your candidate, temperament of Donald Trump.

[16:25:09] Are you -- he is not only seeking the office of the presidency, but he is seeking the office of the commander in chief of the United States Armed Forces. Is this person capable to maintaining the nuclear arsenal, the code of nuclear attack in his hand, in his capacity to launch such an attack? You only have a few minutes to decide.

Has this person shown to you and to the rest of the world the capacity, the capability that that office, that capacity to launch a nuclear attack requires? He has shown no ability to consider, to have the balanced hand, to have the balanced thinking.

On the other hand, Secretary Clinton, such an experienced leader that we have. Leadership in the Senate with the Armed Services Committee. Leadership as secretary of state of this country, is the most qualified person to be in charge of the nuclear arsenals of the United States.

We still continue to implore and appeal to the Republicans to reject this candidate. Many have rejected this candidate because of his temperament, because of his inability to lead this nation. We implore, again and again and sincerely to all independents to vote for Secretary Clinton. We implore all Republicans to vote for Secretary Clinton and rejecting Donald Trump.

TAPPER: Mr. Khan, as I told you before we started, my deepest condolences on the loss of your son. He sounds like an incredible, selfless young man. We thank you for your time today.

KHAN: Thank you very much.

(END VIDEOTAPE) TAPPER: Coming up next, will showing Republicans the money be enough to save their majority in the House and Senate? That story next.