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Interview with Rand Paul; Pope Francis Meets with Iranian President; Interview with Donald Trump. Aired 1:30-2p ET

Aired January 26, 2016 - 13:30   ET


[13:30:00] WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Only six days to go until the Iowa caucus goers make the first concrete choice in the 2016 presidential election. Top three Republican candidates, at least according to the polls, Donald Trump, Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio. They're spread out across the state right now.

Joining us now is Kentucky Senator and Republican presidential candidate, Rand Paul.

You're not in Iowa right now because?

SEN. RAND PAUL, (R), KENTUCKY & PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I just came from New Hampshire. Got stuck in a little bit of snow. You remember we had a big snow. I do my day job, too. I vote in the Senate, and I'll be voting in the Senate, and then I'll be heading to Iowa.

BLITZER: Iowa is important for you. If you don't do well, what happens?

PAUL: We think we're doing very well there. We're going to exceed all expectations. We have 100 young men and women making phone calls. They made 768,000 phone calls. The latest WHO poll, a big television station in Iowa, has us at 7 percent, plus or minus margin of error of third place. We think we're doing very well and on the move.

BLITZER: How well do you have to do in Iowa to continue the contest in New Hampshire?

PAUL: I don't think we know anything until we count the votes. We're thinking everyone has jumped the game, talking about who the race is between, whether this and that. After we count the votes, we'll look at it.

BLITZER: Your dad, former Congressman Ron Paul, is going to Iowa to campaign with you?

PAUL: He will be there Sunday night, and we'll have a big college rally. We have three or four college rallies coming up. He will be at one at Iowa State on Sunday night.

BLITZER: That Libertarian young vote, you are really counting on them to come out because your dad always did pretty well.

PAUL: If you asked people under 40, should the government be collecting all of our phone records, 83 percent of those under 40 say the government is going too far in collecting our phone records. I stood for 10 hours on the Senate floor to say that it was wrong, that it was unconstitutional. And so I think people see me as a loud voice for protecting their privacy.

BLITZER: There's a Republican presidential debate Thursday night. There will be the top tier, the prime-time, a second tier debate. Have you been told yet by FOX News, prime-time or early prime-time?

PAUL: This sound like deja vu.


PAUL: You asked me this about before?

No, we haven't. But we have counted up all the numbers, and the numbers continue to rise in Iowa. Last three polls in Iowa have been 5 percent, 6 percent, 7 percent ahead of Bush, ahead of Kasich, ahead of Christie, ahead of Fiorina. We think there's no way they can exclude us from the debate. We feel certain we'll make the prime- time.

BLITZER: If you don't make the prime-time debate, are you boycotting the secondary, like the last time?


PAUL: It's like deja vu. No, we are going to make that decision after we hear what happens. I would say we don't see any mathematical possibility and we'll challenge our mathematician to duel their mathematician if there's any problem because we think it's dead science. We think we have the numbers, and we don't think there's any way they can push us out.

BLITZER: So your people are talking to their people about all these numbers even as we speak?


PAUL: We have a very tall, robust mathematician and we're sending him over there if there's a problem.

BLITZER: Maybe talk to them in advance.


BLITZER: Wouldn't that be smart?

PAUL: I think the numbers will be clear, and I don't think there will be any more polling coming out. One of the biggest Iowa television stations and the Iowa newspaper has all had us ahead of the three candidates on the stage. We think there's no way that anybody can try to interpret it to try to keep us out of the debate this time.

BLITZER: Speaking of your day job, United States Senator from Kentucky, all of a sudden, you have a Democrat who wants to challenge you. You want -- you're trying to be president of the United States, but you want to be re-elected as the Senator from Kentucky. The Lexington Mayor Jim Gray. What's your reaction to finally a Democrat steps up and says, I'm going to challenge Rand Paul?

PAUL: The good news about Kentucky is I think they will reward someone like myself that's very conservative, wants to balance the budget. I actually turn back in over $2 million from my personal legislative office budget to the taxpayer each year.

And we've become a conservative state. In Kentucky, we're not too happy with President Obama's war on coal. And it's hard for Democrats because they have to explain why they either do or don't support the president's policies that have cost us tens of thousands of jobs. It's been devastating to the eastern part of our state. And really, frankly, we blame the president personally for what he has done. So it's hard for a Democrat to run in Kentucky because they either have to repudiate the president or they have to run with him and just admit that's going to make a lot of people in Kentucky unhappy.

BLITZER: You think Jim Gray is a formidable opponent?

PAUL: Nobody can tell at this point. But I do think that the hardest part he will have is -- you know, the last Democratic candidate wouldn't even admit she voted for President Obama. That's how unpopular he is in Kentucky. He'll have to admit who he voted for, does he support Obamacare or the war on coal? All of those issues are very difficult in Kentucky for Democrats.

BLITZER: Senator Paul, thank you for joining us.

PAUL: Thank you.

BLITZER: Say hi to your dad. We'll see him out in Iowa.

PAUL: I will.

[13:34:50] BLITZER: Appreciate it very much.

Rand Paul joining us.

Still ahead, a historic meeting at the Vatican. The pope welcomes Iran's president, but it was the parting words that left quite an impression. We're going to tell you what the president of Iran told the pope.


BLITZER: In a meeting that would be unthinkable only a few years ago, on one side of the table, the president of Iran, who is also a senior Muslim cleric, and on the other side, the head of the Roman Catholic Church. Pope Francis and the Iranian president, Hassan Rouhani, met at the Vatican earlier today. In a statement, the Vatican said the pope urged Rouhani to use his influence as president of Iran and work with other countries to find solutions to problems, and there are many of them in the region. After the meeting, President Rouhani asked the pope to pray for him. For more on the significance -- and it is significant, this meeting -- our chief international correspondent, Christiane Amanpour, is joining us.

Explain how this meeting came about, and the notion of President Rouhani's request for the words pray for me, why that was so unusual.

[13:40:00] CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I mean, was it unusual or not? Pray for me is what Pope Francis says to everybody he meets. Whether they are high officials or whether they are ordinary civilians he is always saying pray for me. You know the affect that the pope has on people. You saw it in Washington when he went to Congress and the day after former Speaker John Boehner made his future very clear. This pope has a lot of affect on many of the people he meets.

I assume that President Rouhani was sort of taking a page out of his book. Let's say that the president also needs all the help he can get to push through what he believes to be a moderate agenda through a very difficult and challenging landscape in Iran. Not just a nuclear cord, but also trying to open up to the rest of the world. He went to Italy. He is going to France tomorrow in order really to drum up business. And it's a huge trade and business in Italy where he is right now. He has spent $17 billion in terms of investment or signed $17 billion worth of bilateral deals. In France, he will ask for 114 Airbus planes to refit a very, very ailing Iranian passenger plane fleet. All the years of the sanctions may have made them amongst the most unsafe planes in the world. That's the focus of this trip.

BLITZER: How does it play in Iran the fact that the president of Iran meets with the pope? What's the impact over there?

AMANPOUR: Well, I think it probably plays well. I mean, we haven't seen anything particularly unusual come out of the Iranian press. I just checked before coming here to talk to you. They haven't really made a big deal. I think they think it's good. They think that their leader is going toe to toe to -- with one of the most important and effective spiritual leaders in the world. So what he said is President Rouhani wants to make sure that the pope understands that they don't want to use religion for violent means. They don't want Islam to use religion for violent means.

On the other hand, as you know, Iran supports Assad and there has been a huge amount, as you know, since Assad's war has been raging unabated, no Western effort to stop Assad. There have been ISIS rising and ISIS has caused terror and rape and pillage and plunder on the region's Christians, the Yazidis. Obviously, the pope wanted to make sure that Iran understood how the world sees this, and how much of the world frowns on the support for President Assad, which has allowed the growth of ISIS.

BLITZER: Very quickly, on a totally different subject, Christiane, while I have you. You just came back from Davos, the Global Economic Forum. A lot of world leaders were there. You had a chance to meet with many of them. And we were talking earlier about the Donald Trump phenomenon here in the United States. How explained globally. Give us a little thought, the reaction you got in Davos.

AMANPOUR: Well, really Davos was all abuzz with Donald Trump phenomenon, and a little bit of the Cruz phenomenon. They are really wondering all over the world who is going to be the next president, and could it possibly be Donald Trump? There's a lot of interest around the world in this particular election. There is always in every American election, but this particular one has turned convention so definitely on it's having an effect around the world as well.

And people are really scratching their heads, trying to figure out this phenomenon and figure out what it might mean in terms of trying to resolve not just the global economy and unemployment and the environment and all of that, but these huge securities issues and crises, either Syria or the rise of ISIS. You know, are the boundaries of the world going the same as they were, you know, three years ago once the Syria/Iraq crisis is resolved, if it is. So there are really huge questions that are plaguing the world right now, not to mention the refugees, that people are wondering, you know, who is going to be tackling. Of course, they're asking is it going to be Donald Trump? Is he leading the Republicans, and that's top of everybody's mind right now.

BLITZER: We're going to continue to follow the global, the international reaction for the White House here in the United States. Christiane will help us.

Christiane, thanks very much for joining us.

An important note to our international viewers. Coming up at the top of the hour, Christiane will have a lot more. "Amanpour" coming up right at the top of the hour.

[13:44:40] Up next here, Donald Trump now at 41 percent in our new national poll. I sat down with the Republican frontrunner. You are going to hear what he says about his commanding lead and why he is on the fence about attending the next Republican presidential debate.


BLITZER: We've been look at new polls today. One shows Donald Trump with a slim lead in Iowa, but a new CNN/ORC poll shows Trump with 41 percent support, nationally, beating his nearest rival, Ted Cruz, who has 19 percent.

With only a few days before the Iowa caucuses, I sat down with Donald Trump, and we spoke about the race for the White House.


BLITZER: You think you have this, Republican nomination in the bag?

DONALD TRUMP, (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE & CEO, TRUMP ORGANIZATION: No, I think I have a good chance. Look, I'm leading in all the polls. I'd love to win Iowa. If I don't win it, I don't win it. We go to New Hampshire. The people up there have been unbelievably good to me. But Iowa is important to me. I have a great bond with Iowa. There's a big move to move Iowa to the back of the pack in the next election cycle. I'm not going to do that. I have a great bond. You look at a guy like Cruz. He came out totally opposed to ethanol. That affects many, many farmers. And many jobs in the state of Iowa. If I was in Iowa and someone said I'm opposed to ethanol, I would absolutely not vote for him. The governor came out and said, you should not vote for him. So I think that, you know, I'm going to do well in Iowa. I bonded with the people. I bonded with the evangelicals. I bonded with the Tea Party. And the people of Iowa.

[13:50:30] BLITZER: Before Iowa, there's a Republican debate Thursday night, FOX is hosting that debate. You and Megyn Kelly have had issues. She's one of the moderators. Are you going to be at that FOX debate?

TRUMP: Probably. I don't like her. She doesn't treat me fairly. I'm not a big fan of hers at all. I don't care. She probably was -- I might be the best thing that ever happened to her. Who ever even heard of her before the last debate? But I thought she was very unfair in the last debate. Everybody said I won the last debate. But I'm not a fan of Megyn Kelly. I don't like her. She probably doesn't like me and that's OK but she better be fair. I've done well in the debates. Every single poll has said I've won every debate. We're going to see what happens.

BLITZER: When you say probably, you haven't 100 percent decided?

TRUMP: No, not 100 percent.

BLITZER: Why not?

TRUMP: I can't say 100 percent. I'll see. If I think I'm going to be treated unfairly, I'll do something else. I don't think she can treat me fairly. She's very biased. But that doesn't mean I don't do the debate. I like doing the debates. I've won every single debate, according to either poll. I think the debates have been good. After the last debate, I went up 11 points in the poll. I went up 11 points right after the debate. So I want to do the debates, they're good for me, but I don't think she can treat me fairly, and I'm not a big fan of hers.

BLITZER: You have very loyal supporters.

TRUMP: I do.

BLITZER: In fact, you -- I think you were joking, but you said, it's getting a lot of buzz, you could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody, that wouldn't affect the support you're getting.

TRUMP: Well, you don't think I was joking, you know I was joking. Of course, I was joking. The whole room was laughing and I was laughing when I said it.

BLITZER: It got -- you got some criticism.

TRUMP: Well, no, from dishonest press. When they show me, I'm laughing, they're laughing. Everybody's laughing. Everybody's having a good time. Of course, I'm joking, you know that.

BLITZER: Of course.

TRUMP: But the purpose of that is to say that people love me, you know, they want to stay with me. They're loyal. They're tired of seeing our country being pushed around and led by people that are stupid people. They're tired of it, Wolf. We're tired of the Iran deals. We're tired of the Sergeant Bergdahl deals where we get a trader and they get five of their killers. They're tired of deal like this. We can't take it anymore. People are looking at it and they're looking at me and they have confidence in me. I've built a great, great company. I'm going to use that talent now to do it for the United States.

BLITZER: Another New Yorker who's built a great company, Bloomberg, the former mayor of New York City, now toying with the idea of running as a third party independent. If he were to do so, could you beat him?

TRUMP: I'd beat him. I would love him to do it actually. I love the competition. I love the competition. I would love for Michael to do it. We used to be friends. I guess we're not friends anymore. I don't think we are. We used to be friends. Good friends. When I had a problem, he had a big problem in the Bronx, I cleared up the problem. There was a big project -- they were unable to get it built. It was under construction for like 25i years, way, way over budget. Way over budget. I took it over and I got it knocked up in one year. Now it's a tremendous success. Michael asked me if I'd get involved in it. And I'm the one that got it done, and did a great job.

BLITZER: Well, it could be competitive.

TRUMP: I hope he's going to do it. I mean, I hope -- I don't know that he is, but --


BLITZER: He might do it. You listed your net worth at $10 billion. Forbes says $36.5 billion for Michael Bloomberg.

TRUMP: Yeah, I don't believe that. I don't believe that.

BLITZER: You don't think he's --


TRUMP: It's a technology company. If somebody came in, frankly, and comes with a better machine than him, people stop using --


BLITZER: What do you think he's worth?

TRUMP: I don't even know why -- I have no idea. I don't even know why other companies haven't come up with a better machine. I mean, why? It's so simple to come up -- it's such a competitive world. For some reason they haven't come up with a machine. I don't know. Maybe because he was the mayor of New York. I don't know. But they haven't come up. And it's so easy to do you would think. So I think it's very fragile. I like real estate better.

BLITZER: If he says he's ready to spend $1 billion of his own money to be elected president, are you ready to match him dollar for dollar in you're the Republican nominee?

TRUMP: I don't know. I don't know. I don't think he's going to do that. I don't thing he's going to run actually. But I may be run. But I don't think he's going to run --


BLITZER: Why don't you think he's going to run?

TRUMP: I'm the only -- so far -- if he comes, he self funds. I'm the only person still funding. Everyone else, I mean, Ted Cruz is totally, totally conditioned down to the oil companies. The oil companies control him and others. You look at Jeb Bush. Poor Jeb, I mean, here's a guy who spent 100 and some odd million dollars already and he's almost last. What he's done to the Bush family. And he doesn't even want to use the Bush name. He's ashamed the Bush name. What Jeb Bush has done to the Bush family is very sad. Then he brings out his mother. I said, Jeb, your mother can't help you with ISIS, she can't help you with China, she can't help you with these people, Jeb. You got to do it yourself. But here's a guy who spends over $100 million and he's nowhere. I mean, he's -- I think he's disgraced himself to be honest with you. All these people, whether it's Jeb or Hillary or anybody, they're all controlled by the people that give them the money. I'm putting up my own money. I'm self-funding, which is very nice.


[13:55:] BLITZER: Donald Trump speaking with me.

Since that conversation, we've now learned that Jerry Falwell Jr, of Liberty University, is going to be endorsing Donald Trump later today in an event during the 6:00 p.m. eastern hour. We'll have coverage of that in "The Situation Room."

Trump just tweeted, "Jerry Falwell Jr, one of the most respected religious leaders in our nation, has just endorsed me."

We'll have coverage of that coming up.

That's it for me. Thanks very much for watching. I'll be back 5:00 p.m. eastern, in "The Situation Room."

For our international viewer, "Amanpour" is coming up next.

For those in North America, "NEWSROOM" with Brooke Baldwin starts after a quick break.