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Afghan Forces Fight to Retake Key City; Obama, Putin Clash Over Syria, Ukraine; Trump: Iran 'Out-negotiated U.S.'; Tropical Storm Joaquin Forms in the Atlantic; Trump Unveils Tax Plan. Aired 6-6:30a ET

Aired September 29, 2015 - 06:00   ET



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A counterattack to retake the city of Kunduz from the Taliban has begun.

[05:58:09] UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Five hundred Taliban prisoners were freed from the city's prison.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The biggest town that they've been able to take since 2001.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Their first face-to-face meeting in two years.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm amazed they came out to do that handshake at all.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Putin blamed the U.S. for the rise of ISIS.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The United States is prepared to work with any nation, including Russia and Iran, to resolve the conflict.

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Let Syria and ISIS fight. Why do we care? Let Russia take care of ISIS. Assad to me looks better than the other side.


ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Chris Cuomo, Alisyn Camerota and Michaela Pereira.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, everyone. Welcome to your NEW DAY. It is Tuesday, September 29, 6 a.m. in the East. Chris is an assignment today. John Berman joins us. Great to have you with us.

And we do begin with breaking news. The United States launching an air strike overnight against Taliban targets in northern Afghanistan, one day after Taliban fighters captured a major Afghan city. This marks the first time since Taliban had gained ground there since the U.S.-led invasion of 2001. MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN ANCHOR: At this hour, Afghan fighters are

trying to retake the northern city of Kunduz. But the Taliban has already done considerable damage, freeing hundreds of jailed prisoners during their surprise pre-dawn attack. We have the story covered the way CNN can. Let's begin with CNN Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr.

And I know they are concerned there are Taliban among those prisoners that were freed.

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: That's right. Good morning, Michaela.

Some urgency now to get the situation in northern Afghanistan back under control. The U.S. launching airstrikes overnight in Kunduz. The largest city that the Taliban has been able to take control of since 2001 in northern Afghanistan.

A very messy situation. Afghan security forces now have arrived on the scene. We are told by Afghan authorities they are moving through the city, trying to retake the prison. But the Afghan Taliban got there, and they freed hundreds of prisoners. They also -- the Taliban say they have taken control of a local hospital, posting pictures on social media to prove their case. The Afghans trying to get this city back under their control.

This is what we've seen so many times but this time on a much larger scale. The Taliban move in when they see some vulnerability. Afghan forces have to respond. But what does this mean for U.S. troops? There are 9,800 U.S. troops left in Afghanistan. Most are scheduled to come home by the end of next year.

But this now, a very open question, a debate inside the Pentagon, inside the White House. Should U.S. troops be left in Afghanistan, more troops as this security situation continues to pose a lot of problems -- John.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Yes. Does this development change that discussion? Barbara Starr at the Pentagon for us.

Now, despite a vast superiority in numbers, Afghan security forces could not repel a Taliban attack in Kunduz, even with U.S. airstrikes. Do these American trained forces have the wherewithal to win that city back.

CNN senior international correspondent Nic Robertson live in London with that part of the story -- Nic.

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, John. Airstrikes alone are not going to do it. This is an urban environment. There were civilians and an estimated 250 casualties at least yesterday. The numbers were really clear.

This is a fight that everyone, the U.S., the Afghan government, should have seen coming. The Taliban have been taking control of areas, digging in north of Kunduz since about April this year. The fight for them to take the city, a huge prize, the biggest town they've been able to take since 2001, is significant. This is an economically important town and province. It is a strategic and important highway to the north to Tajikistan. This is a place the government should never had lost. They had the troop numbers, the police numbers, far out-powering the Taliban.

What we've seen in the past, when Taliban have taken control back in the old days of the Taliban, when they used to do this, the reason they could take control of the town so quickly would have been because they had sympathizers in the town. People there dissatisfied with the government.

That is going to be a big battle for the government. They should be able to do it militarily, take control again but are they going to win over the people there that they already appear to have lost to the Taliban -- Michaela?

PEREIRA: All right, Nic. We're going to discuss this more ahead.

Back here in the United States, another important day for President Obama at the United Nations. After his closely-watched meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Both leaders clashing publicly on their competing visions to end Syria's civil war and sitting down for the first time since Russia's incursion into Ukraine.

CNN White House correspondent Michelle Kosinski live at the U.N. for us with all the latest -- Michelle.

MICHELLE KOSINSKI, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: All right. This happened after about two years of not having a real sit-down conversation, everything that's transpired since then, the fact that there are enormous differences. And this was something of a kind of showdown here at the U.N. But it also seems to have worked.

I mean, despite those differences, both sides are calling this constructive. And that's about the most anyone had hoped for. Now, the U.S. and Russia's militaries will communicate in the fight against ISIS. And the two sides will at least talk about a political transition in Syria.


KOSINSKI (voice-over): With that stiff, silent handshake preceded by an awkward, cold toast and two scathing speeches.

OBAMA: We cannot stand by when the sovereignty and territorial integrity of a nation is flagrantly violated.

VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): We think it is an enormous mistake to refuse to cooperate with the Syrian government.

OBAMA: President Obama and Putin did manage to tolerate each other enough to hash out their significant differences for an hour and a half behind closed doors, starting with Obama confronting Putin over his refusal to back down in Ukraine.

But on Syria, where Putin continues to back and even try to rally international support for long-time ally, President Bashar al-Assad, currently at war with his own people. And President Obama believes he must go, calling him a tyrant.

OBAMA: There cannot be, after so much bloodshed, so much carnage, a return to the prewar status quo.

KOSINSKI: They do agree fighting ISIS is a priority, as difficult as that may be to coordinate.

NICHOLAS KRISTOF, COLUMNIST, "NEW YORK TIMES": Syrian government airstrikes on a hospital killing three health care workers, thereby, Assad is empowering ISIS. The idea that you're going to fight ISIS by supporting the Assad regime is crazy.

KOSINSKI: So in this rare meeting, they decided the U.S. and Russian militaries will communicate to avoid fighting each other in battling ISIS. And Russia has agreed to explore the possibility of a political resolution in Syria, Putin calling this face-to-face time with President Obama "meaningful" and "surprisingly frank."


[06:05:15] KOSINSKI: Well, the relationship hasn't changed much. It's still described as business-like. What they share is a goal, although the U.S. still has plenty of skepticism over whether Russia's words will be matched with actions. And because there always seems to have to be a big divergence in how each side sees the conversation that just happened, Vladimir Putin told reporters afterwards that the U.S. had asked for this meeting although the White House has been describing Putin as desperate to talk to President Obama. They say he has asked for this meeting several times -- Alisyn and John.

CAMEROTA: Yes, there are differing reports.

So let's discuss all of these developments with Christiane Amanpour. She's our CNN chief international correspondent, of course. And Jim Sciutto, CNN's chief national security correspondent. Great to have both of you on set with us here in studio.

So surprisingly frank were the conversations, as described by Putin, Christiane. What do you think happened in there?

CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: You know, all that matters beyond the atmospherics is do they have a plan to fix what's happening in Syria? So far, no, they don't.

Neither President Obama nor President Putin outlined, in their speeches yesterday, anything resembling a real plan to stop the war. Putin wants to support Assad. Really? He's got a tiny rump state. He's the one responsible for the mass murders, for the mass, you know, fleeing of the refugees.

CAMEROTA: He's been a failure, you know, in terms of combatting ISIS. So then what is Putin's play?

AMANPOUR: Well, it looks like Putin has skillfully, some might say, simply out-leveraged the United States, which is not there, has no skin in the game. It has no cards on the table. Putin has put his military, aircraft, helicopters, armored vehicles, personnel and came up with a surprise intelligence sharing with Iran, Iraq and Syria and said, here, this is our fait accompli. And you guys are wrong. You guys don't know that ISIS is what you've created.

In fact -- in fact, Putin -- rather Assad is the one who people are fleeing. And because he's been there, you know, the terrorists have been able to rise there.

BERMAN: Let's just show what Russia has in Syria right now, because it is interesting by comparison. Five hundred Russian troops, actual Russian troops, boots on the ground right there, 45 aircraft tanks, armored personnel carriers, surface-to-air missiles, fuel tanks buried underground.

Jim, the U.S. has 50 guys that they've trained. Fifty guys, Syrians that they've trained that occasionally hand the arms over to ISIS.

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: And four or five that made it to the battlefield. That's an utter failure. You heard Vladimir Putin poking fun, really, at that U.S. effort to train rebels at that speech yesterday.

A key disagreement. As they say, the conversation was surprisingly frank. Of course it would be, because they have a fundamental disagreement on Assad. The U.S. says Assad, as Christiane said, was the source of the problem, and Putin says Assad is a solution to the problem. So you have to wonder where the common ground is going forward. I mean, they both say that they agree that you need a political solution. But if you have that fundamental disagreement and you haven't moved any closer on that, you just have to wonder how you move the ball forward.

AMANPOUR: But even the political solution, there's no notion of how to do that. They've tried that before, and Assad has simply refused. The Geneva talks, et cetera. I know this seems like past history now, ancient history. But they tried it, and it hasn't worked.

BERMAN: Is the initiative more with Putin right now than it is with Obama in the White House?

AMANPOUR: Let's see. Because the White House seems to have changed its strategy. In other words, in public, yesterday, President Obama said, "I'm willing to work with anybody, Russia and Iran included."

The Iran bit is a change. They didn't want to talk to Iran. They excluded Iran for a long time. And then the other bit that's a change is from Putin, Assad must go to Assad can stay a little bit. So it's still very muddled. SCIUTTO: Christiane is right on point, too. Putin has skin in

the game right now. It's got troops on the ground. And the White House response to that, it seems to be, in effect, good luck. We've had our experience there. Let's see. And you hear this quietly, privately from White House officials. Let's see how it goes for them.

AMANPOUR: Most unfortunately, that seems to be a trend that also happened with Ukraine, and actually, they're still there in Ukraine.

SCIUTTO: Absolutely.

AMANPOUR: It's quite dangerous to give Putin his head, so to speak, in these situations.

CAMEROTA: Let's move to the breaking news about what's going on in Afghanistan. The Taliban, Jim, has taken over this city. How big of a surprise is that?

SCIUTTO: It's a bit of a surprise. And it's also a real danger, because this is -- this is a Taliban stronghold area. I mean, it's a real -- it becomes an indictment, again, as we saw in Iraq, of the Obama administration policy of train and equip. You spend -- we spent a decade there, trillions of dollars training the Afghan security forces, and they couldn't hold this ground.

BERMAN: With superiority.

SCIUTTO: With superiority and airstrikes. One airstrike today. But we've seen in Iraq that airstrikes alone don't gain ground back. It's been a year since ISIS has swept through Iraq. You've had hundreds of airstrikes, and Iraqi security forces haven't been able to hold back ISIS. So you need -- you need more than that if you're going to push them back from Kunduz.

[06:10:03] BERMAN: Of course, Jim, there are 9,800 U.S. troops still in Afghanistan, due to leave over the next 12 to 14 months. Does that change the situation right?

AMANPOUR: To be honest, I think a lot of people probably are worrying about that now, because we saw what happened when forces left Iraq. It left Iraq unable to stand its forces up, unable to defend. And then we had ISIS, and everybody said, "What a surprise." But you know, this has been going on. The Kunduz battle has been going on for pretty much a year.

BERMAN: People have been watching this develop. This was a slow boil there.

CAMEROTA: I mean, just the symbolic victory of the Taliban being back.

AMANPOUR: It's big.

CAMEROTA: OK. Let's talk about what's going on at the U.N. today. I mean, just -- there's just constant news rolling out of there. So there's a meeting with President Obama and Raul Castro. What do we expect?

AMANPOUR: Well, look, the two big diplomatic engagements of this administration have been successful. The Iran nuclear deal and the Cuba rapprochement. But it's not all finished yet. And they will meet today. President Obama said in his speech yesterday that, you know, the engagement is good, but there's much more to be done, human rights, et cetera. And he hoped that Congress and said Congress eventually would lift the embargo.

Castro says Congress has to lift the embargo if there's to be a formalization. But that was -- that's standard rhetoric. The fact is it's moving forward.

BERMAN: I don't know how Castro plans to get things through Congress when no one in the United States seems to be able to do the same. I mean, how -- what are the limits of the progress, Jim, in this relationship if Congress doesn't move forward? Because they're not about to move to lift the embargo.

SCIUTTO: No, no. And the president made clear that that's a key stumbling -- stumbling block going forward. But also the president, he holds out Cuba and Iran as his endorsement, his defense of diplomacy as a way forward. That's what we heard from his speech as a model for other conflicts.

The trouble is, there are fundamental differences between those and what we're seeing in a place like, certainly, Russia and Ukraine and Syria. You know, can those be a model going forward? You know, considering the differences between the U.S. and Russia, on an issue like Syria, it's hard to see how you make that kind of progress.

CAMEROTA: We'll be watching today. Great to get your input. As always, Jim, Christiane, thanks so much for being here -- Michaela.

PEREIRA: Well, President Obama is not the only one talking foreign policy. Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump telling our Erin Burnett where he stands on everything from the Iran nuclear deal to the United States' relationship with Russia. Take a look.


ERIN BURNETT, CNN ANCHOR: Barack Obama saying he wants Bashar al-Assad removed from power. Putin says he thinks that's an enormous mistake not to cooperate with Vladimir Putin. Which man is right?

TRUMP: So I've been saying this for a long time. And I've kept it low, and I really understand what's going on in Syria. Because you look at it. First of all, it's a total catastrophe. It's a total mess. And we're helping to make it a mess. Now we have ISIS. And ISIS wants to go after Assad. But we're knocking the hell out of them, even though it's not a very full-blown thing.

We're still drop the bombs all over the place, and you know, look, they're not exactly loving life over in Syria. So we're stopping them to a certain extent from going after

Assad. You have Russia that's now there. Russia's on the side of Assad. And Russia wants to get rid of ISIS as much as we do, if not more. Because they don't want them coming into Russia.

And I'm saying why are we knocking ISIS, and yet at the same time we're against Assad? Let them fight. Take over the remnants. But more importantly, let Russia fight ISIS if they want to fight them. Let them fight them in Syria.

Now, we can fight them in Iraq. But if you think about Iraq, we've spent $2 trillion, thousands of lives lost, wounded warriors who we love and I love all over the place. What do we have in Iraq? And did you see...

BURNETT: You said you'd put ground troops on the ground in Iraq.

TRUMP: We're going to have to do something with ISIS. I was totally against the war in Iraq and I was from the beginning. 2003, 2004, because you're going to destabilize the Middle East. I was right. And to give them credit, because out of everybody running, I'm the one person that said don't do it.

BURNETT: How do you put ground troops in Iraq, though, but not in Syria?

TRUMP: Because I'm saying...

BURNETT: There is no border essentially in those two countries.

TRUMP: ... let Syria and ISIS fight. Why do we -- why do we care? Let ISIS and Syria fight. And let Russia -- they're in Syria already -- let them fight ISIS.

BURNETT: So essentially you're saying let Russia take care of ISIS. If Vladimir Putin wants Bashar al-Assad to stay because it makes sense for him, you're OK with that?

TRUMP: I've watched him a lot. And I've made a lot of money watching people. You know, deals are people. OK? People say what is a deal? How do you make a deal? It's all about analyzing people.

So I've watched Assad, and I've watched a little bit on the other side. The problem is, the other side of Assad, we have no idea who they are. I'm saying are we better off with Assad? We have no idea who these people are. We give them weapons. We give them ammunition. We give them everything. Erin, we have no idea who -- I mean, maybe it's worse than Assad. So what are we doing? Why are we involved?

We have to get rid of ISIS very importantly, but I look at Assad and Assad, to me, looks better than the other side. And you know, this has happened before. We back a certain side, and that side turns out to be a total catastrophe.

Russia likes Assad, seemingly a lot. Let them worry about ISIS. Let them fight it out. Now, in Iraq, we have to do it. We shouldn't have been there in

the first place, but we left the wrong way. When Obama took us out the way he took us out, that was a mistake. We should never have been there in the first place.

[06:15:10] BURNETT: So when we talk about the Middle East, you've been critical of the Iran nuclear deal. But unlike some, you haven't said you'd throw it out. You said you'd make it a better deal.

TRUMP: Well, I'm a person that's a business person.

BURNETT: You would improve the deal.

TRUMP: With that being said, and you've known some of the deals, I've bought into really bad contracts knowingly; and I bought them cheap because they're bad contracts. And I've taken those bad contracts and make them -- I've made them great. I've made a fortune.

What you have to do is this. I will analyze that contract so strongly, I will go after -- and believe me, if they violate that contract, they have problems. But what they've done is they have totally out-negotiated us. The fact that they get $150 billion, the fact that we have the 24-day wait period, and it's actually much more...

BURNETT: Before we can inspect, yes.

TRUMP: It's crazy. I mean, 24 days before we can inspect? The fact that they self-inspect, and how about the prisoners we don't get? We don't get anything.

There's one other thing that nobody talks about. If Israel ever attacks -- if they ever attack Iran, there really is a clause in there, the way I read it -- and I'm pretty good at this stuff -- we're supposed to protect Iran from Israel. I mean, we're supposed to fight Israel. That's not going to happen. We're supposed to fight.

How do they allow a clause like that in there? So it's a horrible deal. With that being said, I will police that to a level that they will not believe even exists.

BURNETT: So Hassan Rouhani just said something which -- about the GOP, insulting pretty much all of you. He said, what some -- what the Republican candidates are saying are laughable. He said -- I'll quote him -- some of them wouldn't even know where Tehran was in relation to Iran. Some of them didn't know where Iran was geographically. That's pretty harsh.

TRUMP: Yes. I don't know who he's talking about.

BURNETT: You know where Iran is on a map? Right?

TRUMP: I do.

BURNETT: But what do you say when I say... TRUMP: Let me tell you what I say to him. They have so out-

negotiated our people, because our people are babies. They have no idea what they're doing. I don't know why Obama wanted to make this deal so strongly, because he lost on virtually every point.

They will find out -- I know he's not talking about me. They will find out that, if I win, we're not babies. There's no more being babies anymore.


PEREIRA: We're obviously going to discuss more of this in our political roundup ahead. But he's making the rounds. He's making a note. He wrote an op-ed on his tax plan in the "Wall Street Journal." Speaking to Erin Burnett.

BERMAN: He's got a tax plan. You know, Carly Fiorina does not have an official tax plan on her website like this. Donald Trump has proposed something serious. You may disagree with the specifics of it, but...

CAMEROTA: But there are specifics.


CAMEROTA: I mean, that is different. He's giving specifics, and now people can parse it however they want. And we will be doing that.

Meanwhile, we do have to tell you about some breaking news. A terrible night of deadly violence in a Chicago neighborhood when a family was fired on in a drive-by-style shooting. An 11-month-old infant was wounded, but his pregnant mother and grandmother were killed. This is the fifth deadly shooting in the area in as many days.

BERMAN: That's awful.

Also breaking overnight, an incredibly tense moment at New York's JFK Airport. An AerLingus flight was forced to turn around and make an emergency landing 15 minutes after takeoff for Ireland. The pilot reported hydraulic failure on the Boeing 757. The jetliner's brakes overheated, caught fire after landing. The firefighters put out the flames. Luckily no one was hurt.

PEREIRA: That's a flight they won't forget.

New this morning, a tropical storm has formed in the Atlantic. Let's take a look at where it's headed and what it means for the residents of the East Coast. CNN meteorologist Chad Myers joins us.

Joaquin is the tropical storm's name, I understand.

CHAD MYERS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: You know, I'm thinking to myself, how did we even get to "J"? Where were the rest of them?

PEREIRA: Good point. MYERS: They were all very small. They were all tropical storms,

and they were just big misses; they were just big fish storms. Kind of affected the water, but nothing made any significant landfall.

And this is just completely a storm that we have no idea where it's going. Even Hurricane Center says don't believe us after 48 hours, essentially, because this thing could go left or it could go right.

Let me show you what the models look like right now. North, south, east, west, this is all the way till Friday. So we're talking about now 72 hours from where we are now and no idea. Off Wilmington, over the Atlantic, maybe in the Bahamas. And then if you take that and you extrapolate that out either farther, really all you need to do is watch this until Thursday and Friday. That's what we figured out. There are so many other players going on.

There's a cold front. There's a low here to the south that will spread big rain for the northeast. I mean, Northeast, you are going to get 4 to 5 inches of rainfall, and not from Joaquin, from the storm that is already here moving up the East Coast. There's Joaquin down there to the south. There's a cold front. There's a high pressure. There's too many ingredients in the soup right now. I have no idea what to make of this.

But stay tuned. Thursday, Friday, we'll know better.

PEREIRA: That doesn't give me confidence when he says that.

CAMEROTA: He says, "I have no idea what to make of this."

BERMAN: "You have this, you have this, you have this, and I'm not even talking about that."


CAMEROTA: All right, Chad. We'll check back with you to see what you make of all of this.

[06:20:00] Donald Trump tax plan, if it becomes reality, half of the country will not pay any taxes, Donald Trump says. So how does the rest of it work? We're taking a closer look.



TRUMP: I will probably end up paying more money but at the same time, I think the economy will do better, so I'll make it up that way. But I will probably end up paying more money. I believe in the end, I might do better, because I really believe the economy is going to go boom, beautiful.


BERMAN: That is Republican frontrunner Donald Trump talking to CNN's Erin Burnett about his brand-spanking-new tax plan. He's promising big tax cuts for millions of Americans. Really, tax cuts for everybody.

CAMEROTA: Not hedge funds.

BERMAN: Well, not hedge fund guys. He does say billionaires like himself would have to pay more. There are questions about whether the plan is feasible. There are questions about whether he's presenting it honestly and truthfully. Let's bring in CNN political reporter Sara Murray; and political commentator and political anchor for New York One, Errol Lewis.

Sara, you were there for the big unveiling of the tax plan. This is a serious proposal. I mean, he's got specifics here. He's laying out his plan for taxes. He says the economy is in his wheelhouse. You know, he told -- he told Erin that he'd probably end up paying more. "The Washington Post" says that's not true. But I'm not sure that matters in this case.

[06:25:08] SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Right. And John, that's the thing. People who don't like the plan, don't like the specifics of it, but it is a detailed tax plan. And we've seen that from Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio but not from a lot of the other Republicans in race.

So I do think he gets credit for finally putting some meat on the bones and fleshing out the policy.

Now, Donald Trump did a pretty expert job of marketing this as a plan that will be great for people who get the small paychecks and great for the middle class, when in reality, the tax experts I talked to say the people who stand to benefit from it the most are still going to be the wealthiest Americans.

CAMEROTA: OK. Because he says, you know, that the wealthiest, the hedge-fund managers who have been getting away from murder are going to pay more but everybody else, Errol, taxes are going down. That sounds fantastic.

ERROL LOUIS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Sounds like a great idea. Though I have to remind everybody that, you know, four years ago, we had Mitt Romney talking about how there were so many people, what, 47 percent who don't pay any taxes at all.

CAMEROTA: Yes, and that was -- remember, that was a Republican narrative.

LOUIS: Moral hazard. They're not paying into the system. They don't have a stake in the country.

CAMEROTA: Donald Trump is capitalizing on this.

LOUIS: He wants to push it up to 50 percent, as a matter of fact. So I mean, the politics of this are kind of interesting.

I do agree with Sara. I mean, you have to give him credit. Many of these ideas he published in a book in 2000. So he clearly obviously believes in this. The fact that he was reading from a script, which he almost never does suggests that he wanted to get it right. He wanted to make sure everybody understood what he was saying.

I think probably the real break with reality is that he's talking about things that have been on the agenda for a long, long time, not just in his book. But they've been trying to get rid of the inheritance tax for generations.

CAMEROTA: Yes, but I do want to get back to the political narrative. Because I find that so fascinating, that that was something that Republicans ran on, that 47 percent of people who were just the entitlement nation. And now Donald Trump is running on it. Won't this upset Republicans? Or has he shifted the way to explain why half of the country doesn't pay income taxes?

MURRAY: Donald Trump yesterday said he would not call it a populist plan. But there definitely is a populist tinge to this, sort of a push to bring in people who are lower on the income scale.

Look, Donald Trump is a smart man. He knows that he is drawing a lot of support from people who make $30,000 to $50,000 a year. And he has -- even though he is a billionaire and he lives in Trump Tower, he has a certain appeal with them, and he wants this tax plan to be palatable to them.

BERMAN: You said something really interesting before, that he's doing a good job selling this. This plan isn't wildly different than Jeb Bush's plan, which pretty much no one talked about. I get the sense that Donald Trump is perfectly happy talking about this for the next several weeks going into the next Republican debate at the end of October.

LOUIS: Well, that's right. And it does parry the main knock on him, which is that there is no specifics in his plan. So now he can say, "I have specifics."

Now, you start to pick it apart, it all really starts to collapse. I mean, just like Jeb Bush has been promising 4 percent growth. Well, the last 40 years average economic growth has been under 3 percent. So he's talking about something that is just extraordinary.

There are those of us who feel that extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof. This is not extraordinary proof. It's just kind of an outline of a lot of ideas that have been hashed around before, have gone absolutely nowhere. I mean, the alternative minimum tax. I'd love to see that go away. I have to wrestle with that every year like millions of other people. The inheritance tax, again, on the agenda for generations, has gotten nowhere.

How is he going to get this done when others have tried? I think he's got to explain that. How is he going to get to growth that even Ronald Reagan really couldn't achieve? He's got to explain that, too.

BERMAN: We're at 3.9 percent growth right now. There is growth out there.

LOUIS: It can happen. But you know, sustained over time?

BERMAN: Right.

LOUIS: Never seen it.

CAMEROTA: Speaking of debates, let's talk about the big announcement. CNN announced that it will allow Joe Biden to decide up until an hour before the Democratic debate...

BERMAN: Really, I mean, it's like right up until the last minute. Joe Biden can walk on that stage and debate if he wants.

CAMEROTA: He can be waiting in the wings deciding for October 13, and then walk on or walk -- or decide not to take part.

MURRAY: But how do you exclude the sitting vice president from the Democratic debate? You just can't do it. It's impossible. I mean, if he decides to get in three days, four days before the debate, that's a really big deal. And that's someone who obviously is a credible candidate and should be onstage. I think this was a smart decision. Not just because I work with you.

BERMAN: He's either going to have to say at some point in or out. I can't imagine him not saying anything until the 13th at 7:59 p.m. and saying, "Well, yes" or "Well, no." This forces some kind of decision.

LOUIS: Well, that's right. That might, in fact, be the intention of some of the planners here at CNN, for all I know. But you know, the reality is, he can't -- if he's planning to get in, if there are only about four debates before Iowa, he can't afford to pass up a chance to talk to 18 million, 20 million, 20 plus million people in a scenario like that. So he's going to have to make a decision fairly soon. And I think, probably, if he's going to do it, we'll know by the time of the debate.

CAMEROTA: But I mean, realistically, he could skip the debate and still get in.


CAMEROTA: You said it's not wise.

LOUIS: No. It would be -- it would almost be political malpractice to say, "Yes, we're going to get in but we're going to blow the first chance to talk to 20 million people. We'll come in at some later time, because that will somehow be better for us." I can't see how.

BERMAN: Errol, Sara, thanks so much for being with us.