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Interview With Presidential Candidate Donald Trump; Interview With New Jersey Governor Chris Christie; Interview With Ohio Governor John Kasich; The Republican Debate Winner; Celebrities Endorsing Senator Bernie Sanders. Aired 9-10a ET

Aired September 20, 2015 - 09:00   ET




JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Breaking news: brand-new poll numbers, our first look about what voters think about the Republican pack sense Wednesday's explosive debate. Who is up? Who is down? Who might be on their way out?

The man at center stage, Donald Trump, will be here to respond live.

Plus, Governor Chris Christie.

GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R-NJ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'm a Republican in New Jersey. I wake up every morning as an outsider with a Democratic legislature who is trying to beat my head in.

TAPPER: Pundits say he had a good night. But are the points he scored enough to put him back in the game? An exclusive Sunday interview next.

Then, Governor John Kasich trying to sell his experience in government.

GOV. JOHN KASICH (R-OH), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think I actually flew on this plane with Ronald Reagan when I was a congressman. His goals and mine are pretty much the same.

TAPPER: But will playing up his time in Washington work in a race that so far that favors political outsiders? I will ask him.

And the best political team on television will be here with insights from the campaign trail.


TAPPER: Hello. I'm Jake Tapper in Washington, D.C., where the state of our union is radically reshuffling.

Breaking right now, a brand-new CNN poll, the first since Wednesday night's debate.

And, in the immortal words of Ned Ryerson, it is a doozy, Donald Trump maintaining his first-place status, though his lead has dropped from 32 percent to 24 percent. But here are the real bombshells, Carly Fiorina leaping to second place, her debate performance landing her at 15 percent, squeaking by Dr. Ben Carson, who is now at third place with 14 percent.

Also surging into fourth place, Marco Rubio, who also got rave reviews. He takes 11 percent, in double digits. He's jumping ahead of his mentor and friend Jeb Bush, who is treading water at 9 percent. Bush's supporters and donors have openly worried about his fall in the polls over the summer.

But perhaps the most jaw-dropping number belong to Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker. Once the leader in Iowa, once considered one of the top contenders in this race, he doesn't even register in this new poll, with less than one-half of 1 percent. That's right. I said less than one-half of 1 percent.

It's a remarkable shakeup. We have so much to talk about this morning.

But I want to start with the Republican front-runner, Donald Trump, who joins me now by phone.

Mr. Trump, thanks for joining us.

Let's start with these new poll numbers. They show you're still in the lead by a wide margin, but you have lost some support, with Carly Fiorina and Rubio going up considerably.

What do you make of it all?

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, I'm a little surprised, because other polls have come out where I actually picked after the debate, I actually gained after the debate.

I'm in first place in every poll, but gained substantially in a couple of them. So, I'm a little surprised, but, you know, it's a poll. The only poll that matters is the big one. You know that one. That's going to be the election.

TAPPER: Of course.

I do want to ask you about this exchange you had with a voter on the campaign trail. Let's play it.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have a problem in this country. It's called Muslims. We know our current president is one. You know he's not even an American.

TRUMP: We need this question, this first question.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But, anyway, we have training camps growing where they want to kill us. That's my question. When can we get rid of them?

TRUMP: We're going to be looking at a lot of different things.

And, you know, a lot of people are saying that, and a lot of people are saying that bad things are happening out there. We're going to be looking at that and plenty of other things.


TAPPER: Now, Mr. Trump, forget the notion of defending President Obama for a second. I don't want to really talk about that.

You are running to be president of United States of America. That includes millions of peaceful, law-abiding Muslim-American citizens who love this country. This man said -- quote -- "We have a problem in this country. It's called Muslims."

Now, you're not responsible for what he says, but this is raw, unvarnished, ignorant bigotry. You are a leader. You are the front- runner in the Republican race. Do you not have a responsibility to call out this hatred?

TRUMP: Well, you know, we could be politically correct, if you want.

But, certainly, are you trying to say we don't have a problem? Because I think everybody would agree. I have friends that are Muslims. They're great people, amazing people. And most Muslims, like most everything, I mean, these are fabulous people.

But we certainly do have a problem. I mean, you have a problem throughout the world.

TAPPER: What's the problem?

TRUMP: Well, you have radicals that are doing things.

I mean, it wasn't people from Sweden that blew up the World Trade Center, Jake.

TAPPER: I get that. But to say we have a problem, and it is called Muslims, because there are some extremist Muslims, is tarring all Muslims. You would agree that the vast...


TRUMP: No, I don't agree with that at all.

But you have extremist Muslims that are in a class by themselves. I mean, they are -- it is a problem in this country. And it's a problem throughout the world. I mean, all you have to do is look at Europe.

TAPPER: But what if he had said, we have a -- what if he had said, we have a problem in this world; it's called blacks? Would you have said something then?

[09:05:03] TRUMP: No. I would have probably just -- I listened to his question.

I mean, who I am? I listened to his question. He made a question/probably statement, but I listened to his question, and I actually didn't respond. This was the first time -- because, over the weekend, as you know very well, because you covered it and your -- and CNN covered it very well -- but it was a very, very big subject.

And I said, this is the first time I have ever had a situation like this where I didn't even say anything. So, it was a question that was asked in front of a totally packed house. Nobody thought much of it until the following couple of hours, when it came became a pretty big subject.

But, no, we do have a problem with radical Muslims. There's no question about that. I think you would be the first to admit that.

TAPPER: I don't think it's the same thing as saying we have a problem with Muslims. But I don't think we're going to get very far.


TRUMP: Well, you know, I -- look, I can say this.

The Muslims -- and, as I have already said, I have tremendous people that I know that are Muslims. They're wonderful people. They're fabulous people. They live in this country, by the way, in most cases, and they're tremendous.

But you do have a problem with radical Muslims. There's no question about it.

TAPPER: All right. I want to move on.

Take a listen to this new Web video that is being put out by the Jeb Bush campaign. It's being released this morning. It's about the exchange you two had, you and Governor Bush, during the debate about whether or not you pushed for casino gambling in Florida.

I want to play it, and then get your reaction.


JEB BUSH (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The one guy that had some special interests that I know of that tried to get me to change my views on something, that was generous and gave me money -- was Donald Trump. He wanted casino gambling in Florida.

TRUMP: I didn't.

BUSH: Yes, you did.

When he asked Florida to have casino gambling, we said no.

TRUMP: Wrong.

BUSH: We said no. And that's the simple fact.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Trump was wrong, and Bush was right.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Which makes Trump, it seems to me, a liar.


TAPPER: So, that's very strong, calling you a liar. Fact-checkers also say that you did push for casino gambling in Florida.

Did you not?

TRUMP: No, I never -- I never called Jeb Bush. And that's what I was saying. I never called him.

It was ultimately approved by the next governor shortly thereafter. It was approved, and very strongly, by the next governor, the governor who took Bush's place.

But I never called Jeb Bush, and I never asked Jeb Bush to approve gambling. It was too early in the process. I never once called him.

TAPPER: But you had a fund-raiser for him?

TRUMP: I had a -- oh, that was years before. I had a fund-raiser for him years before.

But I never pushed for gambling, in the sense that I never called him. And that's what I was referring to. Had I called him, I think he would have done it. But I never called Jeb Bush.

TAPPER: Following the debate, you said to "Morning Joe," I think, that you were surprised that Jeb Bush did not push harder for an apology to his wife.

If he had pushed harder, would you have apologized?

TRUMP: Well, no. If you see the clip, I said nothing wrong. In fact, I said very nice things about his wife, if you see the clip, the whole clip.

No, I wasn't surprised. I think he did the right thing. I think he might have asked. And, probably, that was a sound bite that was given by the pollsters. You know, do the -- ask for this.

But, no, I wouldn't have apologized, because I did nothing wrong. If you look at the clip, the whole clip, it's -- very nice things are stated about his wife.

TAPPER: No, no, I know, but you're saying -- I'm asking more about -- you had said that you were surprised he didn't push harder. I'm wondering...

TRUMP: Well, I said he might have pushed harder. I didn't know if he was going to push harder, but I wouldn't have -- it wouldn't have changed my mind. TAPPER: You recently released a plan cast as protecting the Second

Amendment, but you have also said that you think more needs to be done on the issue of mental health when it comes to people who are disturbed getting guns.

Last year's school shooting in Isla Vista passed -- after that shooting, California passed a law. It allows judges to temporarily take away someone's guns if they're deemed to be a threat to themselves or others by the judge, at the urging of family members. But it would be done without a hearing.

Is that the kind of measure that you could support, or would you oppose that?

TRUMP: Well, it's something I would very strongly look into.

The mental health problem is really a big, big problem. We're -- and I see it in New York, where people are being released that shouldn't be on the streets, and the mental health problem. So, it's something I could certainly look at.

TAPPER: You have said that you would be far better on women's issues than the likely Democratic candidate, nominee, Hillary Clinton.

Let me ask you about one specific policy that she's talking about on the trail. She's obviously trying to draw a contrast between herself and Republicans.

Do you think the federal government should require businesses to provide paid family leave or do you think that's an unfair mandate?

TRUMP: We're going to be releasing a policy on it over the next three to four weeks, Jake. And we're working on it right now.

TAPPER: I want to ask you about veterans issues, if I could.

You have said you will be fantastic for veterans, but the only specific I have heard that you say is that you would build more hospitals for them. Is there anything else that you would do for veterans?

TRUMP: Well, one of the things I would do is, we would fix the hospitals. We would build some, but we would also let, when -- you know, as you probably heard -- a couple of weeks ago, it was announced -- the longest wait in the history of the VA, the Veterans Administration, people waiting to see their doctor, the longest recorded in the history of the VA.


And what I'm going to do is, I'm going to make it so that they will be able to go out and use private doctors, and we will pay the private doctors. There's no reason for a person to wait in a waiting room for five days for a doctor with something that can be taken care of maybe by just a simple prescription or whatever. I think it's disgraceful. So, we're going to also, you know, do a little bit of a free market

thing, where, if cases like that happen, they are going to be able to go to doctors, whether it's private, or even a public hospital, or a private hospital, in a community where they can get immediate service and really good treatment, and quickly.

TAPPER: Who do you think had a good night at the debate, other than you?

TRUMP: Well, I think Carly had a good night, but I think you gave her a lot of very easy questions.

You know, you read off a couple of questions which all you had to do is say, I agree with that. So, I think that she had some pretty easy questions. You gave her some beautiful softballs.


TRUMP: I think the most difficult evening -- and I got very good marks. I have won every poll in terms of the debate.

But I think, certainly -- and this happened with FOX also -- certainly, I got the toughest questions. I think, with you, I got the toughest questions. And when they weren't asked of me, they were asked to other people with my name in it. I guess 47 percent of the questions, according to what the media said, had Trump or Trump- related. So, I think that...

TAPPER: You are the front-runner, sir.

TRUMP: I think that -- but I do think that Carly did well. And I think that Marco did well.

I actually think just about everybody did well. I don't think there was any disaster that night.

TAPPER: Who do you think is your toughest competition right now?

TRUMP: Well, I would have to go by your polls.

I always -- I'm a believer in polls. I believe strongly. I have watched polls all my life. And it's amazing how accurate they are. Sometimes, they're wrong, but, pretty much, they're accurate. So, based on that, Ben is a terrific guy, would be one. And Carly would be another one, and perhaps Marco or -- and maybe Bush. I don't know.

I mean, Bush seems to be fading very fast. I think, you know, when you're in favor of Common Core, and when you are weak on immigration, I think, you know, it's a very big thing to -- to -- I don't know how you overcome that, frankly.

TAPPER: Republican front-runner Donald Trump, thank you so much, as always, for calling in. We appreciate your taking our questions.

TRUMP: Thank you very much, Jake.

TAPPER: OK. Bye-bye.

Coming up: His laugh lines made him a crowd favorite at the debate. What is Governor Chris Christie's next move? I will ask him live next.



TAPPER: Hello there. Welcome back to STATE OF THE UNION. I'm Jake Tapper back in Washington, after Wednesday night's Republican debate at the Ronald Reagan Library in Simi Valley, California.

Now, Governor Christie may have been stage left, but he has -- also found himself in the center of the debate throughout that night.


CHRISTIE: While I'm as entertained as anyone by this personal back- and-forth about the history of Donald and Carly's career, for the 55- year-old construction worker out in that audience tonight who doesn't have a job, who can't fund his child's education, I have got to tell you the truth. They could care less about your careers. They care about theirs.


CHRISTIE: Let's start talking about that on this stage, and stop playing -- and stop playing the games.


TAPPER: Joining me now from New York City, Governor Chris Christie.

Governor, thanks so much for joining us.

Three people seemed to get the most positive reviews from pundits coming out of the debate, yourself, Senator Marco Rubio, Carly Fiorina.

But you -- to put it nicely, you didn't seem too impressed by Ms. Fiorina. Take a listen.


CHRISTIE: Carly, Carly, listen, you can interrupt everybody else on this stage. You're not going to interrupt me, OK?


TAPPER: You also made a point of interjecting when Fiorina and Trump were going at each other about who had the worst record as a CEO.

She's now in second place. Why do you think you're a better candidate than her? CHRISTIE: Oh, listen, Jake, you look what I have been able to do over

the course of six years now, nearly, I have been governor of New Jersey, and what we have -- what we have done is stood up for the people in New Jersey who needed to be stood up for.

You know, taxes had been increased monumentally in the time before I became governor. We have now vetoed more tax increases than any governor in American history, according to Americans for Tax Reform. We have done the work that needs to be done to create jobs in New Jersey, to be able to give people opportunity, and make them understand the law is going to be enforced and things are going to be better in our state and across our country if we do that.

And so, you know, I just think that what I have done and the vision I have laid out, which is much more specific than anybody else in this race on entitlement reform and education reform, are the things that people are going to want to hear over the course of time.

TAPPER: The question I asked Carly Fiorina that prompted that whole exchange was, why should voters seeking somebody with private sector experience who want the creation of American jobs, why should they like you over Donald Trump?

You seemed to take issue with her answer.

CHRISTIE: What I took issue with is that these folks, Donald and Carly in that interchange -- and there were a lot of others that night -- they are spending all their time talking about themselves and none of the time talking about the people who really matter.

If you're a middle-class American sitting on a couch watching that debate and hearing billionaire Donald Trump and multimillionaire Carly Fiorina argue about who made more money or who lost less money, you know, that doesn't do anything for their lives.

And what I wanted to do was bring the debate back to what it should be back to, which is, how are we going to help create opportunity and jobs for those folks and their children? How are we going to help them pay off their student debt? How are we going to try to make their lives better?

That was my point. It wasn't about a critique of their answer. It was their attitude. Their attitude was, look at me. Look at me. It's all about me.

It should be about the people out in the audience and about their problems and their concerns. And that's what the American people really want to hear from us on. How are we going to help them fix their problems?

TAPPER: Capitol Hill facing a big moment of truth coming up, the big question about whether or not Republicans in Congress should force the issue of whether or not to defund Planned Parenthood, to the extent that there would be a government shutdown.

It sounds like you kind of switched your views on whether or not Republicans should make that case.

Take a listen to what you said in Wednesday's debate, and compare it to what you said when I asked you about it last month.

Let's play that tape.


CHRISTIE: We should be doing these things and forcing the president to take action.



CHRISTIE: Let's force him to do what he says he's going to do.

We shouldn't be throwing around threats like that. It doesn't help.


TAPPER: Have you changed heart on this? Do you feel more strongly than you did last month that -- that Republicans should force the issue when it comes to Planned Parenthood defunding?

CHRISTIE: No, I don't think there's any difference in those two things at all, Jake.

I said you shouldn't be throwing around threats. You should be taking action. And that's what I have done as governor of New Jersey, to defund Planned Parenthood six years ago, and not worrying about what the pundits and the critics were going to say, but actually acting.

And what I have said is that my disappointment with this Republican Congress is, they haven't put tax reform on the president's desk. They haven't put a repeal and replacement of Obamacare on the president's desk. And now they're not doing anything on Planned Parenthood.

If the president wants to veto these things, I understand the way the system works. But let's let the American people see who the obstructionist is in Washington, D.C. And that's my frustration with the Republican Congress. We gave them majorities in 2010 in the House and then in 2014 in the Senate, and they have done nothing with them.

They need to do some things. Now, if the president is going to veto them, that's the president's choice. But at least then the American people will know who the obstructionist is. We look like we're obstructionists now, as Republicans, by getting nothing done and making excuses.

TAPPER: Right. But...

CHRISTIE: And now the latest excuse is, well, we need 60 in the Senate. I mean, come on. You have got 54 Republican senators. Let's get

something done.


TAPPER: But, sir, you said in August -- quote -- "You know, we didn't do too well when we shut down the government the last time, so everyone should take a deep breath."

CHRISTIE: Of course. Jake, I absolutely agree that we didn't do well when we shut down the government before, and I stand by what I said.

That's not -- you should put a defunding of Planned Parenthood on his desk. If he's going to veto it, let the American people see that he stands with the folks who believe that the systematic murder of children in the womb, in a way that preserves the body parts to be sold on the open market for profit, is something that he stands for.

That's an important differentiation between our party and the president's party, if that's the position he wants to take. So, let's take action, put them on his desk. If he wants to veto them -- I know the way the system works -- let him veto them. And then we go from there.

TAPPER: The pope will soon be in the United States for his first ever visit.

Right now, the pope is in Cuba. He helped broker this new step in diplomatic relations between the United States and the leadership, the communist leadership of that country. Do you think the pope made a mistake?

CHRISTIE: I just think the pope was wrong.

And so the fact is that his infallibility is on religious matters, not on political ones. And the fact is that, for me, I just believe that, when you have a government that is harboring fugitives, murdering fugitives, like Joanne Chesimard, who murdered a state policeman in New Jersey in cold blood, was broken out of prison, and has been harbored for the last 40-plus years by a Cuban government that has paid her and held up her as a hero, that this president could extend diplomatic relations with that country without getting her returned so she can serve the prison sentence that she was sentenced to by a jury of her peers in New Jersey, is outrageous.

And so I just happen to disagree with the pope on this one.

TAPPER: Donald Trump has come under fire for comments he made at the debate falsely linking vaccines to autism.

As you know, the medical community is horrified that he keeps repeating this falsehood. They call it dangerous. Do you think Donald Trump should stop saying this?

CHRISTIE: Listen, I'm not going to get anywhere in this race telling Donald Trump what to say and what not to say. I can only say what Mary Pat and I do in our family. Our children are

all vaccinated.

TAPPER: At the debate, I asked all the candidates what they would like their Secret Service code name to be. You answered True Heart.

Folks on the Internet noted that True Heart is also the name of a Care Bear. Care Bear Central told TMZ that you and True Heart have a lot of common. They're both -- quote -- "kind, affectionate, attentive, and obviously very huggable."

I don't know if you have any response to that, but we found that an interesting note.


CHRISTIE: Jake, if you agree I'm huggable, and the American people agree I'm huggable, then I'm going to be the 45th president of the United States. I don't think there's any doubt about that.


TAPPER: All right, Governor Christie, thanks so much.

We want to invite you back, obviously, to talk more about foreign policy, Iran, Syria, and all the other issues we have on our plate. Thank you for joining us.

CHRISTIE: Look forward to coming back, Jake. Thanks for having me this morning.

TAPPER: When we come back: What did Governor John Kasich say that landed him in Hillary Clinton's crosshairs? Why is she comparing him to Donald Trump?




Ohio Governor John Kasich is currently under fire from some left- leaning Latino groups for a comment he made about Hispanic workers, specifically the maid at his hotel.


KASICH: And a lot of them do jobs that -- that they are willing to do.

And that's why, in the hotel, you leave a little tip when they -- this lady wrote -- in my hotel there in L.A., she wrote this note. It said, "I really want you to know that I care about your stay."

That is just -- is that just like the greatest thing? We can learn a lot. And she's Hispanic. And I -- because I didn't know it at the time, but I met her in the hallway, asked her if I could get a little bit more soap.


TAPPER: So, let's bring him in, Governor John Kasich of Ohio.

Governor, thanks for joining us.

I want to start with those remarks. You were very obviously given -- giving an impassioned talk about inclusiveness, which I know is important to you. But you ended up discussing tipping a Latino hotel maid for giving you extra soap.

Hillary Clinton responded in Spanish on Twitter. Translated, her tweet says: "Another product of the party of Trump. John Kasich talking about Latinos doesn't just mean talking about tips."

Do you regret your remarks?

KASICH: Look, if -- I have to be clear about it. I'm just trying to say that, in the course of a presidential campaign, I'm glad that I don't move -- move so fast that -- that I ignore people.

And my views on -- on our Hispanic friends across this country have been very positive. They are impactful in so many different ways.

And, as you know, my position on immigration has been one that -- that's intended to keep families together and to give them a good place in American society.


So, you know, if somebody needs me to clarify that, that's fine, but I have great respect for them. I think they are an important fabric of America.

TAPPER: In your opening remarks on Wednesday night, you deftly included the big, enormous prop behind us, mentioning that you had flown on Air Force One with President Reagan as a young congressman.

Given that the Republican electorate has elevated these three candidates who are not politicians, Donald Trump, Carly Fiorina, Ben Carson -- with zero elected experience, do you think at all that your years in government, which obviously go back to the Reagan era, are a hindrance in this race?

KASICH: Well, you know, Jake, as you know from having followed me over the years, I'm fundamentally a reformer. I always have. I've been in there to shake things up and I did it -- I -- I've done it throughout my entire career, never worried about polls or, you know, popularity. My whole deal is to improve things.

And it's so interesting because I'm both an inside and an outside player. My whole point at pointing to the airplane is at the end of the day, you need a pilot who can deliver change. And I've done it, you know, it sounds like a cliche. I hate to use

cliches. But throughout my career, whether it's balancing the budget, being involved in major defense reform or turning Ohio around, I hope that gives me the credibility so people know when I'm president, I know how to move power, money and influence out of Washington, how to bring about the reforms we need and understand how that system works.

TAPPER: If you were at a town hall meeting and somebody stood up and made comments that seemed to suggest that President Obama was a Muslim, even though he obviously is not, and that there is something wrong with Muslims in general, how do you think you would react?


KASICH: You know how I would react, Jake.

Look, I ran for reelection and I don't even know that I uttered the words -- the name Barack Obama. And you -- you don't hear me saying much about it.

I don't agree with him, but I don't believe those things. And if somebody said that, I would correct them immediately and frankly, it's -- the president is an American. I believe the president is a Christian. And enough of that. You know, I just don't like that kind of rhetoric.

So I may not agree with the president on many issues, but I sure respect the office and, you know, and I respect the man, even though I don't agree with him so much -- so much of the time.

TAPPER: There was a -- a big moment during the debate with you and Senator Ted Cruz talking about the Iranian deal, the idea of whether it could be ripped up on day one, you talking about more making sure that it's enforced and getting rid of it if the Iranians are violating the deal.

At this point right now, though, do you think there's anything Congress can do, anything Republicans can -- who oppose the Iran deal can do?

KASICH: Yes, I think -- I think there is, Jake. Look, you and I both understand Capitol Hill. And we know there's certain decorum, particularly in the United States Senate. But frankly, I think they ought to go to the nuclear option in the United States Senate, that being that they should declare this a big constitutional issue and whether this agreement is put into effect or not, it ought to be decided by 51 votes, not by 60 votes or some filibuster.

And some people would say well, that's not really good. Well, this has happened before on the passage of judges. And when it comes to a treaty this critical, one that I so strongly oppose, I think the Republicans in the Senate ought to say that we are not going to permit this to be blocked because of a filibuster.

There ought to be a vote and there ought to be extreme measures taken in the United States Senate to achieve it. It is really critical. And if that happens, then the Senate will have its say. The president may veto it. And then the American people will have more to say, because I don't meet many American people -- many people here in the country who like this agreement. They think it endangers our allies and us.

TAPPER: Obviously, we're -- we are all very upset by the stories about veterans not getting the care that they have earned through the VA system and a new report from the VA inspector general, more than 300,000 veterans died while waiting for care.

Dr. Ben Carson...

KASICH: That's unbelievable.

TAPPER: Yes. Dr. Ben Carson essentially called for closing the VA and folding in most health care for veterans into the Pentagon.

You have a lot of experience in government. Do you think that plan would work? What would you do?

KASICH: Well, I, first of all, think we need to expand the voucher program so a veteran can get the health care they need as soon as they can possibly get it and should not be just limited to the VA hospitals.

Secondly, my sense is you're going to have to decentralize the VA. And this would be a case, I believe, where we've got to get some of the smartest business minds in the country together to create a model. And that model is going to be more decentralized.

[09:35:03] But I think it's essential that we expand the voucher program, so that if I'm a veteran and I need help, I can go to any hospital, any care faculty as quickly as I can be admitted and get in there and get the care I need.

And the veterans are our golden employees. They're our golden citizens. What they do for our country, this is -- this is a terrible, terrible situation and they ought to be our highest priority.

TAPPER: Ohio Governor John Kasich, thank you so much.

We'll see you out there on the campaign trail, sir.

KASICH: OK. Thanks, Jake. Thank you very much.

TAPPER: Thank you, sir.


TAPPER: Coming up can Carly Fiorina turn her debate buzz and rising poll numbers into cold hard campaign cash? Our panel weighs in after this short break.



[09:39:57] CARLY FIORINA (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You know, it's interesting to me, Mr. Trump said that he heard Mr. Bush very clearly in what Mr. Bush said. I think women all over this country heard very clearly what Mr. Trump said.



TAPPER: Carly Fiorina she took that moment. She ran with it. The polls have rewarded her or the public really.

Joining us to talk about it Ken Cuccinelli president of the Senate Conservatives Fund, Neera Tandem, president of the Center for American Progress, and CNN political commentators S.E. Cupp and Bakari Sellers. Thanks one and all for being here. We've got a lot to chew over.

Let's start with the question of who won the debate? Who did the best for themselves? We actually ask this as a debate question -- as a poll question. One of them 52 percent said Carly Fiorina won the debate, 14 percent Marco Rubio, 11 percent Donald Trump, 6 percent Chris Christie. Do you agree Carly Fiorina?

S.E. CUPP. CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes. You and I were there in the room. She was dominant. You (ph) wanted her to talk in every conversation.

I will say just sort of on the numbers for Rubio to move as much as he has for anyone other than Trump, Carly to have broken through...


CUPP: a huge, huge deal. So, whatever he was doing which actually wasn't much leading up to the debate. He was really keeping his head down. It worked.

TAPPER: You, as a Democrat, you do not want Marco Rubio --



CUPP: Sure (ph) he (ph) is (ph).


SELLERS: He is a dangerous general election candidate. And I thought he did well. Carly did very well.

TAPPER: You mean -- just to clarify. You mean dangerous in the sense that you feel (ph) that he could be a strong candidate?

SELLERS: I mean, dangerous as that one day he could be the 45th president of the United States.

TAPPER: Right. Right. Right.

SELLERS: That is what I --


TAPPER: Just to clarify. Yes.

CUPP: You're not locking your doors.

SELLERS: I'm not locking my doors.


CUPP: ...Marco Rubio. OK.

SELLERS: But I do think that -- I do think that Carly exhibited that board room composure. She was in there with all the men. She handled her own. She did very well.

And also on the undercard I think that Lindsey Graham and Rick Santorum did very well. I don't know if that's going to mean anything in the polls but I thought they did very well. I watched it the whole five hours, Jake. It was fun.

TAPPER: More than my parents could take probably. What do you think? I mean, you were looking for a strong conservative. Did you see any on that stage?

KEN CUCCINELLI, PRESIDENT, SENATE CONSERVATIVES FUND: Well, none stepped up to that point. I mean, Carly certainly performed well but now she's immediately getting the kind of scrutiny on exactly that point. Is she conservative? And she has got TARP and immigration and other things. Now, she's being looked at over and conservatives, you know, trust but verify are not really going to appreciate a (ph) lot (ph) --


TAPPER: She supported the bail out and that bothers you. She was wishy on immigration reform in your view?


TAPPER: Because she supported the Gang of Eight?

CUCCINELLI: And the California DREAM Act. Yes. I mean, there's more than just the Gang of Eight there for her.

SELLERS: I don't need -- we don't even need opposition research. We just roll Ken out there.

TAPPER: Looking for (INAUDIBLE) conservative. Yes (ph).

What did you think when you were watching?

NEERA TANDEN, PRESIDENT AND CEO, CENTER FOR AMERICAN PROGRESS: I thought Carly was dominant. I actually thought it was ironic because she -- her -- she had great presence. She was attacking -- as she was attacking Donald Trump as being, you know, a good presenter, a good actor. And I think she was great on her presentation. Fantastic. Her facts are a little bit to be disputed. I mean, she had an incredible moment about this Planned Parenthood video. And you know, it was -- it was incredible to have such emotion about that and then it turns out to be false.


SELLERS: (INAUDIBLE) debate that.

TANDEN: No, we can debate. I mean (INAUDIBLE) --


TAPPER: This is what it is. There is a plan -- because I had -- because --

SELLERS: We've had this discussion.

TAPPER: Yes. We went back and looked and there is a moment that -- where a woman --

TANDEN: Describes it.

TAPPER: Describes something she saw and they show...


TAPPER: ...something else.

TANDEN: Of (ph) -- but it's very clear she says Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama see this video and you will see what Planned Parenthood does.

TAPPER: Correct.

TANDEN: And that is false. Planned Parenthood --


TAPPER: No. We don't know what that video is from though --


CUPP: On the larger point -- on a larger point Carly wins. Carly wins with the audience.


TANDEN: That's like Donald -- just like Donald Trump wins when --


CUPP: And she made an amazingly emotional plea about something that is real, that is something that happened. It's abominable (ph) and she's talking about it. SELLERS: The question about Carly now becomes -- now becomes, is she

a businesswoman who has a record to run on a lot like Mitt Romney did...


SELLERS: ...who (ph) become (ph) the standard bearer for the party. Or she a flash in the pan who is more comparable to Michele Bachmann who has large crowds --


SELLERS: I think she's more (INAUDIBLE). I think she's more Michele Bachmann

CUCCINELLI: Well, I don't agree with that necessarily but if you just compare her business positioning and her personal story is good, but her business positioning compared to Mitt Romney. Mitt Romney is undisputedly a spectacular businessman.

TAPPER: Right. I would agree.

CUCCINELLI: That is a point of debate with Carly Fiorina.

And look what happened to Mitt Romney. Now he didn't defend and really use his record as an offensive point, and so how does that play out for Carly?

We saw what Barbara Boxer did.


CUPP: ...record was problematic...

CUCCINELLI: I agree. Sure.

CUPP: ...and she didn't have one. So --

TANDEN: Yes but she -- if Carly Fiorina looks like -- makes Mitt Romney look like he's the Pope when it comes to these issues. I mean --

TAPPER: What do you mean?

TANDEN: Like, she has 30,000 people who were terminated.

TAPPER: During a merger with Compaq.

TANDEN: Yes. So she had a merger with Compaq.

[09:45:00] Hewlett-Packard's profits went down. They had to fire 30,000 people.

TAPPER: She responded to a lot of this in the debate.

Can I say something interesting? When she was on this show a few weeks ago and I asked her about these accusations she had an answer that was, I think, the American people would like somebody who can trim jobs from government. She had a response.


CUPP: To save the company.

TAPPER: Yes. At the debate though the question was specifically, what do you say to people who are looking for something (ph) at the private sector? To create American jobs why should they pick you over Trump? And she bashed his bankruptcies.

CUPP: Yes.


TAPPER: And defended her record instead of pivoting to --

TANDEN: She would actually (INAUDIBLE) that. Right.


CUPP: ...front-runner now.

SELLERS: Yes, she is.

CUPP: She's going to have to answer this and many, many more questions.


TAPPER: And all the Cuccinelli questions.

CUCCINELLI: Right. And you don't even get the stock price there. I mean, you know --

SELLERS: You don't even get to the golden parachute which most Americans --


TANDEN: Yes, that's it. The golden parachute --


SELLERS: When they get -- when they get fired and then you get to go home you lay off 30,000 people, you get fired, your stock prices go down and then -- and then you become set for the rest of your life. Generational wealth all of the sudden --


TANDEN: I (ph) know (ph). And that's what I'm saying. Donald trump is actually -- I don't like him as a candidate but he has tapped into economic populism. Going after the hedge funds, talking about the middle class tax cut. Carly Fiorina has a problem when it comes to that kind of issue because she is the poster child of what people don't like and see is doing well (ph) (INAUDIBLE).

TAPPER: I want to turn to the other big shocker -- well, there are two big shockers. Rubio a great performance but -- in this poll going to double digits vaulting over Jeb Bush. But I am stunned by the Scott Walker fall. Less than one-half of one percent.

What's going on? Is this -- is this dead man Walkering?

TANDEN (ph): Oh, man!

TAPPER: As a dad, I am allowed to make bad pun. It's in the contract.


TANDEN: Only with your children. Only with your children.


CUCCINELLI: ...that laughs at every single one isn't (ph) here (ph) (INAUDIBLE).

I'm one of those (INAUDIBLE) too --

TAPPER: You of all people -- you of all people (INAUDIBLE).

CUCCINELLI: Yes, because -- yes, I know --

TAPPER: I'll come back you. You're freshly married. I'm going to come back --

SELLERS: Twenty-two (ph) days in.

CUCCINELLI: I was projecting (ph) on my humor. But I don't have an explanation for that. I mean, that is --


CUCCINELLI: That is -- of course you do.

TAPPER: (INAUDIBLE) I want to ask the Republican --


CUCCINELLI: But look, he has -- he has the best record of performance of a good cast of governors in this race from a Republican --

TAPPER: In a blue state.

CUCCINELLI: Yes. That's right which, you know, Christie -- Chris Christie made.

You say whatever you want, but he's taken on one of the biggest special interests in the world.

TAPPER: So, what happened?

CUPP: He does not exist in this kind of climate. He cannot breakthrough.

I know, Scott Walker. You've met him. He is -- he says over and over again I'm not going to get personal.


CUPP: I'm aggressively boring. I mean, that's great. I can -- I can relate to that. I like his record. But when there's 17 people in a field when they're all throwing punches and you're going to stand there and kind of just be the guy that talks about your record, it's just not going to breakthrough.

TANDEN: I mean, you can't --

CUPP: It just doesn't work.

CUCCINELLI: Especially when your record is successfully fighting.

TANDEN: Everybody is saying -- the message of the Republican Party is that the government has failed. So, it seems to me if that's your message for year after year after year people are going to go to someone who has never been in government which is why the top three candidates -- TAPPER: They're outsiders.

TANDEN: The top three candidates are (ph) outsiders (ph)

TAPPER: All right. We got -- we got to go to the break. Thank you so much. Great round table. When we come back...

SELLERS: Thank you.

TAPPER: ...we're going to take you to Havana where Pope Francis is making an historic visit. What he said to the Castro brothers. Next.


[09:52:54] TAPPER: Hey, folks. There's some news happening around the world. We want o bring you up to speed.

The Pope celebrated mass in Havana's Revolution Square this morning. He was welcomed by Cuba's communist dictator Raul Castro who praised the Pope's role in restoring diplomatic ties between Cuba and the United States.

Next stop on the Pope's tour is the United States. He arrives here in Washington on Tuesday.

In northern California two wildfires have destroyed more than a thousand homes. This fire season is the worst in a decade for the American west with nine million acres burned so far this year. Writer Jackie Collins has died of breast cancer. Her stories of

glamorous Hollywood made her one of the world's bestselling novelist with more than 500 million books sold. Her sister, the actress Joan Collins, says she is devastated by the loss of her best friend.

Coming up, Bernie Sanders, original hipster. All the cool kids are feeling the burn and leaving the Clinton campaign behind.


[09:58:16] TAPPER: The coffee house crowd has spoken and they want more Bernie Sanders.

The Sanders campaign this week rolling out a roster of more than 100 celebrities endorsing the socialist senator in his presidential bid. Many of them with just the kind of (INAUDIBLE) that the Clinton campaign must have been looking for when they rented their campaign H.Q. smack in the middle of hipster heaven is this week's "State of the Cartoonion."


TAPPER (voice-over): So what's hip in Brooklyn right now? Bun, beards, brews, and Bernie. That's right. Independent Senator Bernie Sanders is winning the hipster primary. With endorsements coming his way from the likes of actors Mark Ruffalo who will use his incredible hulk like progressive crud (ph) to push out Sander's progressive message.

Also endorsing Sanders such old favorites as Patton Oswalt and Margaret Cho. Feeling the Bern. And musician Jeff Tweedy from the hipster band Wilco who senses a kindred spirit in values and perhaps hair style. And Flea from the Red Hot Chili Peppers who wants you to give away now when it comes to your vote.

The good news for Hillary Clinton when it comes to hipster ground zero is that there really isn't any sort of significant Brooklyn primary. Though with classic hipster irony Brooklyn is where Hillary Clinton's campaign headquarters are located which might make for some awkward encounters as Clinton goes out for some organic Fair Trade coffee outside her office in Brooklyn.


TAPPER: Thank you for spending your Sunday with us. You can catch me here every Sunday and weekdays on "THE LEAD" at 4:00 p.m. eastern. And go to that's STATE OF THE UNION, for extras from the show.

[10:00:00] I'm Jake Tapper in Washington.

"FAREED ZAKARIA GPS" starts right now.