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Trump Supporter Criticized for Tweeting Image of Hillary Clinton in Blackface; Interview with Hillary Clinton Campaign Strategist Joel Benenson; Trump & Clinton Gearing Up For First Debate. Aired 8-8:30 a ET

Aired August 30, 2016 - 08:00   ET


[08:00:00] ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: And yet even you fall into the trap of sending out these lightning rod symbols that only divide people. How do you explain it?

PASTOR MARK BURNS, TRUMP SURROGATE: Well, you know, again, the only way to explain it is just to simply say that it was in hindsight a horrible image to use. For me the blackface wasn't the focal point of the picture. For me when I saw it, it was showing how Hillary Clinton and the Democrat Party panders after the black vote.

CAMEROTA: Sure, sure. But I mean even the photo that you re-tweeted. I understand, and you've been articulate about your apology and I'm sure everyone appreciates that. But even re-tweeting that alleged Halloween party photo, how is that bringing the country together?

BURNS: Again, I think at the time I did my initial tweet was to reinforce my position as to point out why this particular candidate, Hillary Clinton, is not really good for the African-American community, because the Democrat party automatically assumes they own the black vote. They own that voting bloc. And because they already know that voting bloc belongs to them, very little change takes place.

I do know that the Republican Party in general has not as a whole party reached out to the African-American community like they should have, which is why I'm extremely proud of Mr. Trump and how he is going to be, I believe, without question the strongest Republican candidate that is declaring to the African-American community that you're not going to be -- I'm not going to leave you where we've left you, but we're going to do whatever we can so that all of us, all Americans, have an economic revival and that includes the African- American community.

CAMEROTA: And pastor, I want to be very, very clear. It is not allegedly fake, as I just said. It is a fake photo. It has been debunked time and again.

BURNS: Sure.

CAMEROTA: But let's move onto this weekend and what Donald Trump will be saying. It will be his first direct appeal to the black community. He will be speaking, as you say, to the only African-American owned and operated national Christian television network. What plan will he be laying out about how to help that community? BURNS: I think it's really important, one, to know that when we met

in the RLI, the Republican Leadership Initiative last week in Trump Tower and see the African-American leaders and Hispanic leaders and Haitian leaders and the Muslim-American leaders coming together, to hear together collectively the number one issue that is plaguing our minority communities in this country, and number one is education. And we believe Mr. Trump is going to continue to echo giving parents the power to choose the schools that their children can attend so that children who are born into underprivileged, underperforming communities, that their parents would now have the power to place their children into better performing schools or force those lower performing schools to raise the bar so they can match the other schools.

Many of our minority children in this country are doomed to fail on day one, the moment they enter into the public school system, and we've got to change that. Also HBCUs, there's a message for HBCUs. There's a message for economic development and revitalization of our communities, and I believe Donald Trump has a great plan for that.

CAMEROTA: Pastor Mark Burns, we really appreciate you coming on NEW DAY to explain the tweets that you've sent out as well as the plan moving forward. Thank you so much for being here.

BURNS: Thank you for having me. Blessings to you.

CAMEROTA: You too.

We're following a lot of news this morning, so let's get right to it.


DONALD TRUMP, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We have bad schools, no jobs, high crime, and no hope. I will fix it.

TIM KAINE, (D) VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Klu Klux Klan values, David Duke values, Donald Trump values are not American values.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: These accusations and these conspiracies, that doesn't make any sense.

TRUMP: African-American, Hispanic, vote for Donald Trump.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What's happening in Chicago is way bigger than Donald Trump.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The American people hear him loud and clear.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Anthony Weiner caught in yet another sexting scandal.

TRUMP: Huma Abedin has access to classified information. Much of this information Anthony Weiner would know about.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is NEW DAY with Chris Cuomo and Alisyn Camerota.

CAMEROTA: Good morning, welcome to your NEW DAY. It is Tuesday, August 30th, 8:00 in the east. And the attacks seem to be getting uglier by the day between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. You just heard from that prominent Trump supporter. He's in hot water this morning after tweeting out a cartoon of Hillary Clinton in blackface.

[08:05:07] CUOMO: We're going to get reaction from the Clinton campaign to that controversy in moments. This as former KKK leader David Duke uses a robo-call to urge people to vote for Donald Trump. We have all the angles covered. Let's begin with CNN's Jason Carroll. Jason?

JASON CARROLL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: And good morning to you, Chris. Tomorrow the campaign is hoping to shift gears to policy as Trump delivers his speech on immigration. As for now that blackface cartoon of Hillary Clinton is sure to complicate Trump's attempts to reach out to African-American voters.


CARROLL: Accusations of racism leading to more personal attacks on the campaign trail.

KELLYANNE CONWAY, TRUMP CAMPAIGN MANAGER: People look at that and say you seem desperate.

CARROLL: Donald Trump's campaign manager hitting back at Hillary Clinton's running mate for remarks he made last week linking Trump to former Klu Klux Klan grand wizard David Duke.

TIM KAINE, (D) VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Donald Trump is pushing their values. Ku Klux Klan vales, David Duke values.

CONWAY: In the case of Tim Kaine, we expect the rough and tumble politics, the lies from Hillary Clinton and her folks. And you stoop so low that you are making these allegations, and I think it's going to backfire.

CARROLL: But Duke, who's running for a Senate seat in Louisiana, is promoting Trump in robo-calls for his Louisiana Senate campaign.

DAVID DUKE, U.S. SENATE CANDIDATE, FORMER KKK LEADER: It's time to stand up and vote for Donald Trump for president and vote for me, David Duke, for the U.S. Senate.

CARROLL: Trump had been characterized for not disavowing Duke's endorsement quickly enough during the primary. Trump's campaign did quickly disavow the robo-calls in a statement and on CNN.

KATRINA PIERSON, NATIONAL SPOKESPERSON, TRUMP CAMPAIGN: It's absolutely disturbing. The Trump campaign has no knowledge of the campaign that David Duke is running and we have disavowed David Duke and don't condone any of the activities he's doing.

CARROLL: At a fundraiser in the Hamptons, Clinton saying Duke's Senate bid is a byproduct of Trump dog whistles to racist voters.

HILLARY CLINTON, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Nobody knows how well he is doing and how his embrace of Trump and Trump's acceptance of him could put that man, that despicable man, in the Senate of the United States.

CARROLL: This as Trump supporter, Pastor Mark Burns, apologized after tweeting this photo of Hillary Clinton in black face, mocking her outreach to black voters.

BURNS: The last thing I want to do is to offend people.

CARROLL: Meanwhile, the Republican nominee seizing on the latest sexting scandal surrounding the husband of longtime Hillary Clinton advisor Huma Abedin.

DONALD TRUMP, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: She's married to a guy that is uncontrolled and uncontrollable.

CARROLL: Abedin announcing her separation from disgraced former Congressman Anthony Weiner after the "New York Post" published suggestive pictures he allegedly sent to another woman with his child lying next him, something people close to the family tell CNN left Abedin furious and sickened. Trump using the opportunity to slam Clinton's, quote, "bad judgment."

TRUMP: He's a sick person. And she has access to classified information. To think that it's very likely that much of this information Anthony Weiner would know about. And I think it's something that was terrible.


CARROLL: And looking ahead to Donald Trump's speech, this morning Trump tweeting, quote, "From day one I said I was going to build a great wall on the southern border and much more, stop illegal immigration. Watch Wednesday." Trump has been criticized for not being clear about if he will keep his promise to have a deportation force deport an estimated 11 million undocumented people living in the U.S. Chris?

CUOMO: All right, Jason, appreciate it.

Let's get the Clinton campaign's response to all of this. We have Joel Benenson, chief strategist for the campaign. It's good to see you.


CUOMO: So Pastor Burns comes on and says I regret putting out the blackface cartoon of Hillary Clinton. What I want to talk about is all the inequities that are going on in these big cities and the Democrats are to blame and I believe in Trump. Did that excuse the move? Or did he surrender his ability to discuss the issues by doing what he did? BENENSON: I think it surrenders his ability to discuss the issues. I

think it's unfortunate. There's an unfortunate pattern here of enormous insensitivity, a string of outrageous comments about people of color in this country, an attempt to in fact dismiss them as if they don't know who really has their interests at heart. Hillary Clinton is a woman who has support of African-Americans and Latinos and people of color in high numbers because she's fought for racial justice and equality her entire adult life, starting the helping desegregate schools in the south as a young lawyer. So what we've seen from the other side are hateful comments. We called it out last week.

CUOMO: You think they might work, telling the African-American community you have nothing to lose, your cities have been run by Democrats. Clinton's a bigot because all she wants is your vote?

[08:10:00] BENENSON: I don't know if Donald Trump has ever gone up to Harlem in this city and seen the renaissance that's taking place up there, the growth of the black middle class, black entrepreneurship in this country, people striving to get ahead and succeeding.

And for him to denigrate and stereotype an entire population in the way he has, it reflects the kind of bigotry and racism we've heard coming out of his mouth from the start. Whether he's talking about Mexicans being drug dealers and rapists, people who have come to this country and are trying to make a better living, whether he attacks an American born judge because of his heritage and says he can't do his job because his parents were Mexican -- I think people of this country, white, black, Latino, Asian, all people see what that's about. That's about prejudice, it's about bigotry, it's about hate.

And what's worse is when he takes that hate and he has it go mainstream, as Hillary Clinton said last week, taking the tweet from anti-Semitic white supremacist, a guy who had a dozen followers or so, and Trump tweets it out to 11 million people. What is wrong with this person who thinks he should be president of the United States and behaves like that? It's a total disgrace.

CUOMO: Do you accept -- well, of course your answer is no. What is your reaction to Donald Trump's suggestion that the Anthony Weiner situation reflects badly on Hillary Clinton and her judgment to keep Weiner's wife so close to confidential information because Weiner would have had access to it?

BENENSON: Here we've got what is a painful private situation for Huma Abedin and her son. And anybody who has been through any marital separation knows that that is a difficult process in a divorce. Here they've got to do it in public, and we should leave it private for these folks.

To the substance of what Donald Trump said, it's another one of the outlandish things this man tosses out. And he repeated it, it's the kind of thing he did this weekend when he tweeted an incredibly insensitive tweet after a woman was shot on the streets of Chicago.

CUOMO: Dwyane Wade's cousin. BENENSON: Dwyane Wade's cousin. And he tries to take credit for

these things. He did it after Orlando. He did it after this tragedy in Chicago last week. This is what he does. He thinks everything is about him, his political opportunism. It shows why the man in temperamentally unfit to be president of the United States.

CUOMO: All this will come to bear in the debate.

Now, I know that the media can overhype things. I suggest that this is going to be the biggest moment of this campaign up to this point and anything that will follow other than Election Day, because there's only one first impression with the two of them on stage talking to each other and not just about each other. Why do you think you have an advantage over a guy who's showed great command of a big field in the primary and winning people over in debate?

BENENSON: Well, I think we have an advantage because these presidential debates are very different from primary debates. First of all, you're right. We do have a lot of eyeballs on them. They're going to be watched we think probably by the biggest audience out there.

What the American people want to hear is which one of these candidates have my interest front and center every day, which one of these candidates is going to have my back, has real plans, will tell me what those plans are, how she's going to get them done, and the difference it's going to make in my lives.

And what Donald Trump had in the primaries was a different ball of wax entirely. He had a free for all with eight people on the stage. In 90 minutes he spoke for about 12 minutes. I don't think he can go toe to toe with her. I think he'll be very aggressive. I don't think he can go toe to toe with her on policy, I don't think he can go toe to toe with her on substance. I think we'll see a lot of the same kind of hyper, over the top rhetoric from him that we have seen. That's who he is. I don't think he can control himself.

CUOMO: Are you trying to mess with Trump's mind, this report out in "The New York Times" that you're talking to the ghost writer, biographer, whatever, the guy from "Art of the Deal" to get psychological secrets about his insecurities? Did you guys put that out there to "The Times" just to make him furious?

BENENSON: I think if anybody knows what's going on in Donald Trump's mind, I'd love to hear from him, because I think what we've seen on his campaign, the way he basically once a week disqualifies himself from being a serious candidate, for president. No, we're not trying to mess with his mind. We're trying to win a campaign for presidential of the United States.

CUOMO: But are you preparing for her to bait him on that stage and take it to him?

BENENSON: No. I think we're preparing for Hillary Clinton to deliver what has been the core message and the core contrast in this campaign.

CUOMO: Who plays Trump in --

BENENSON: Not going to talk about any of those details.

CUOMO: Do you play Trump? You would be a terrible Trump.

BENENSON: Why? Why would I be terrible?

CUOMO: I don't think you can do the New York look.

BENENSON: I've done debate prep many many times, believe me, Chris, believe me.


CUOMO: I'm not feeling it.

BENENSON: Not good, OK.

CUOMO: Do you guys realize -- am I wrong to suggest that this is the moment, this is the moment people have been waiting for?

BENENSON: Look, I think a lot of Americans have paid a tremendous amount of attention to this campaign. I think, to your point, the conventions are a moment where a lot of folks tune in.

[08:15:00] Each candidate has a chance to show people who they are, who they're standing up for, what they're standing up against. I think we came out ahead.

We've got to sustain that effort going forward. I think debates are going to be -- particularly the first debate, I think a lot of people are going to tune in. It is an opportunity to take the measure of these two people. We're confident when people stand up and listen to which one of these people can do things that will help my kids get educated, that can create jobs in America, that has a plan to keep us safe.

I think they're going to make a judgment based on what they see on that stage. I think Hillary Clinton will come out on top.

CUOMO: Joel Benenson, thank you very much for being on NEW DAY. You can't smile when you're doing the Trump --

BENENSON: That's the problem but it's so funny. What am I going to tell you --

CUOMO: You blew it. You blew it right there --

BENENSON: I'm sorry. I'm going to come back. I'll try better next time, OK?

CUOMO: You're always welcome.

BENENSON: Right, thank you.

CUOMO: Alisyn? CAMEROTA: It's a good effort, I though.

We just talked to the pastor who parked that firestorm of the tweet of Hillary Clinton in black face. What does the Trump campaign have to say about this? A senior adviser here, next.



PASTOR MARK BURNS, TRUMP SURROGATE: I prayed that those who I offended really receive as a sincere apology, because it was never my intention to, you know, to hurt anyone or to offend anyone. But the message is very clear. Obviously, my message, I stand by, but the methodology, I do not.


[08:20:01] CAMEROTA: All right. That was Donald Trump surrogate, Pastor Mark Burns, apologizing after tweeting a cartoon of Hillary Clinton in blackface.

What is the campaign's response to this?

Let's bring in Trump campaign senior advisor Boris Epshteyn.

Boris, thanks so much for being here.


CAMEROTA: Pastor Burns is sorry that he tweeted that. But he says he hasn't heard from Donald Trump. Why doesn't Mr. Trump, since these things are offensive and they cause a distraction for the campaign for a day, why doesn't Mr. Trump tell his surrogates knock it off?

EPSHTEYN: Well, did Hillary Clinton call Tim Kaine and tell him not to compare Trump voters to KKK voters? I don't think so.

CAMEROTA: That's my question. My question is, why doesn't Mr. Trump, say knock it off, stand the incendiary tweets?

EPSHTEYN: We repeatedly go out and I was actually out on the networks within minutes of this tweet saying it was not appropriate. But the message therein shows the frustration of the African-American community with Hillary Clinton.

CAMEROTA: Of course. This is the point, the message is obscured by the lightning rod symbol.

EPSHTEYN: Let's talk about the 26 percent of African-Americans in poverty.


EPSHTEYN: Let's talk about the unemployment of African-Americans, double that of white people. Let's talk about Hillary Clinton calling African-Americans super predators, and then you can understand the frustration.

CAMEROTA: She's apologized for that. But let's --

EPSHTEYN: Does that resolve everything, apologies these days? Just whitewash everything? I don't think so.

CAMEROTA: You tell me. We're talking about this pastor's apology. But the point is, is that why is this incendiary symbolism still being used in tweets? I mean, it's so interesting.

The pastor told us was, I want to talk about the issues. I want to mend this country. I don't want the divisiveness.

And yet, he tweets out a fake photo of Hillary Clinton and Bill Clinton at alleged -- which is fake. It's a fraudulent photo supposedly of them at a Halloween party. This is not them. It's been proven --

EPSHTEYN: That's from some guy named Harvey Castro.

CAMEROTA: He retweeted it. It's been proven wrong. Why --

EPSHTEYN: We shouldn't be talking about tweets. We should be talking about the candidates running for president. Let's talk about --

CAMEROTA: Why are surrogates sending out these crazy symbols?

EPSHTEYN: It's not about the surrogates. It's not about the staffers. It's about people running the campaigns. Hillary Clinton is in the Hamptons, all week long, raising money, getting bribes for the foundation, and not doing anything for the American people. Let's talk about that.

CAMEROTA: Boris, come on, even you are using incendiary language.

EPSHTEYN: Incendiary language? Tim Kaine, the V.P. nominee went out there and said the Trump values -- Trump voter values are KKK values. Did Joel Benenson who's sitting right in this chair before me get the same sort of questions about why they used incendiary language? No, he did not.

CAMEROTA: Boris, let's move on.

EPSHTEYN: I'd love to move that.

CAMEROTA: Let's do that. I know you both, you and I would like to.

Let's talk about the debate. We keep reading that it's now less than a month away, the first debate, we keep reading that Donald Trump doesn't want to do the mock debate where somebody is a stand-in for Hillary Clinton. He's not doing the traditional debate prep. Why not?

EPSHTEYN: It's not about the prep. It's about the fact that she hasn't been out there answered question in 270 days. He's had a ton of preferences. I think over 40 press conferences in the last several months.

She's the one that's not ready. You should ask her. How prepared is she going to be to go outside of that bubble.

CAMEROTA: Boris, you've been miscast. You want to be a journalist who asks the questions. But you're here answering the questions.

I'm talking about debate prep. Why isn't Mr. Trump interested in the conventional debate prep? What's his plan?

EPSHTEYN: The plan is the win the debate. The plan is to go out there and show the American people why he is the one that has the temperament, the judgment and the stamina to lead this country. And that's exactly what he's going to do in all the debates and then once elected president.

CAMEROTA: And so, in other words, he doesn't feel he needs to do the standard immersion in policy? But he just --

EPSHTEYN: No immersion in policy. He has plenty of policy in front of him. This is a candidate who's been successful in everything he's done, who can name the type of materials used in a rink 30 years ago. So, believe you me, he'll be fully prepared for that debate come September 29th.

CAMEROTA: OK. He's giving his first policy speech on immigration tomorrow. And you can forgive people for being a little bit confused about where he stands, particularly on deportation. What is he going to say to clarify that tomorrow.

EPSHTEYN: Well, you'll have to watch the speech.

CAMEROTA: You're the senior advisor.

EPSHTEYN: Here's what I will tell you he will talk about. First of all, the wall will be built and Mexico will pay for the wall. Second of all, all immigrants who are criminals will be deported.

CAMEROTA: Yes, what about the rest of them?

EPSHTEYN: Third of all, we'll have to end sanctuary cities, so people like Kate Steinle are not murdered in cold blood by illegal immigrants who are here.

CAMEROTA: Yes, the one sticking point is the 11 million. So, what is his plan?

EPSHTEYN: Well, 11 million is the total now. The fact that you're deporting the criminals reduces that by about to 2 million to 3 million. So, you talk about 8 million left.

CAMEROTA: OK. And what's the plan for that?

EPSHTEYN: We'll make sure we enforce the laws on the books now, new laws that are passed and according to the Constitution and, of course, humanely. Now, keep in mind, Hillary Clinton is the one who has absolutely flip- flopped on immigration. At one time, she said she wanted a barrier and then she was against the barrier when she was talking in Nevada. She said that she wants little children from Latin American deported because she's somehow a child advocated.

Clinton -- and also she wants 100-day amnesty. She's the one who should be pushed on her immigration plan.

CAMEROTA: You don't hear any flip-flop in Donald Trump's deportation plan where originally he said every single one of the 11 million will have to go?

EPSHTEYN: What he's doing is he's looking at the plan overall and saying that the priorities are to make sure that illegal who are criminals are deported right now.

[08:25:05] And then you end those sanctuary cities, you instituted E- Verify, and then you deal with the rest in accordance with the laws.

Hillary Clinton has not done that. She's made 180s on immigration every which way. Just like on the TPP.

CAMEROTA: Boris Epshteyn, you are a mass pivoter. You're doing like a pure whit in here in the studio. Congrats --

EPSHTEYN: All I want to talk about is the real issues facing America.

CAMEROTA: I know you do.

Thank you, Boris. Thanks so much for being here.

ESPHTEYN: Thanks so much. Bye-bye.


CUOMO: He's a good lawyer is what he is. And he believes in Donald Trump.

Anthony Weiner caught up in yet another sexting scandal. His marriage to Hillary Clinton's aide all but over, it appears. Should this matter at all to Clinton's campaign? We have that and the big issues of the race with New York's Charlie Rangel, next.


CUOMO: Donald Trump using Anthony Weiner's sexting scandal to slam Hillary Clinton. He says this is proof that she has bad judgment because Weiner may have had access to confidential information through his wife Huma Abedin, who announced their separation because of what we've recently learned about the former congressman.

Let's discuss all that's going on in the election with Democratic congressman from New York, who has endorsed Hillary Clinton, Charlie Rangel.