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EARLY START

Trump Campaign: Obama Born In U.S.; Deadly Airstrikes Rock Syria; U.N. Aid Trucks Await Clearance Into Aleppo. Aired 5:30-6a ET

Aired September 16, 2016 - 05:30   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[05:30:35] CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN HOST: Breaking overnight, the Trump campaign trying to set the record straight. The campaign now says yes, President Obama was born in the U.S. The only problem, the candidate, himself, has not said so directly. Will he at a big party meeting later today?

GEORGE HOWELL, CNN HOST: Hillary Clinton responding to the drama as she gets back on the campaign trail after battling pneumonia. How will she try to stop her slide in the polls in those battleground states?

Good morning, welcome back to EARLY START, I'm George Howell.

ROMANS: I'm Christine Romans. It is Friday morning, everybody.

HOWELL: Friday.

ROMANS: Thirty-one minutes past the hour and so much going on to start your weekend. Breaking overnight, Donald Trump's campaign says, for the first time, the president was born in the United States. It would be a major reversal for a candidate who rode the birther controversy to political prominence starting five years ago.

Just yesterday, Trump told "The Washington Post", "I'll answer that question at the right time. I just don't want to answer it yet." Then hours later Trump's campaign was crediting him for ending the controversy years ago. Crediting Trump and blaming Hillary Clinton for first bringing it up during the 2008 primary race.

A Trump campaign statement says this. "In 2011, Mr. Trump was finally able to bring this ugly incident to its conclusion by successfully compelling President Obama to release his birth certificate. Mr. Trump did a great service to the president and the country by bringing closure to the issue that Hillary Clinton and her team first raised."

HOWELL: All right, as a matter of accuracy and context it's important to point two noteworthy things out about that statement. First, it's just factually incorrect. It's untrue that Hillary Clinton raised doubts about whether Barack Obama was born in Hawaii. That simply never happened.

Second, the statement came from the Trump campaign, not Donald Trump, himself. We may hear from the candidate's -- talk about it -- we may hear him actually say the words later today at the Republican Party headquarters. That is the big question today. But in the meantime, Hillary Clinton was back on the campaign trail trying to blunt the momentum from Trump's rise in the polls while she was sidelined with pneumonia.

CNN's Brianna Keilar has more.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Christine and George. A spokesman for the Trump campaign released a statement that says, in part, "Having successfully obtained President Obama's birth certificate when others could not, Mr. Trump believes that President Obama was born in the United States."

Now, this is something that we have heard from top campaign officials before. We have not heard this from Donald Trump, himself, and in this statement we're not. This is a spokesman. For years, of course, Donald Trump has either openly questioned President Obama's birthplace or he's dodged when asked to give a definitive answer on the topic, so that's what we'll be waiting for. Does the candidate repeat what his campaign is saying?

And the timing here is significant. This statement from a spokesman came just hours after Trump's comments to "The Washington Post" were published. The "Post" asked him if Obama was born in the U.S. and he said I'll answer that question at the right time. I just don't want to answer it yet. And still, he has not.

Hillary Clinton then jumped on what he said. She said this while addressing the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute at their annual gala.

HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Today, he did it again. He was asked one more time where was President Obama born and he still wouldn't say Hawaii. He still wouldn't say America. This man wants to be our next president? When will he stop this ugliness, this bigotry?

KEILAR: This playing out as Donald Trump says he's making a play for African-American voters or, as some see it, at least a play for voters who are turned off by what they believe is a very belated and, thus far, ineffective attempt to reach out to the black community. This is a key Democratic voting bloc. Hillary Clinton has been losing some ground here, not to Donald Trump, but to third-party candidates, and so she was very quick to seize on Trump's missteps with this constituency.

These birther comments, yes, particularly off-putting to black voters because they're seen as an effort to delegitimize the first African- American president.

But also, she seized on Donald Trump insulting the pastor of a black church in Flint, Michigan, who he called a nervous mess the day after she pretty calming and briefly interrupted his address to her congregation once he started criticizing Hillary Clinton. She asked him, saying --basically, as they had previously agreed, to keep his comments apolitical -- George and Christine. (END VIDEOTAPE)

[05:35:00] ROMANS: All right, Brianna Keilar in Washington for us. Thanks, Brianna.

All right, let's talk about this major change in Donald Trump's tax plan. In his big economy speech yesterday he said his new plan would cut taxes by $4.4 trillion over 10 years.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: By lowering rates, streamlining deductions, and simplifying the process, we will add millions and millions of new jobs. In addition, because we have strongly capped deductions for the wealthy and closed special interest loopholes, the tax relief will be concentrated on the working and middle-class taxpayer. They will receive the biggest benefit and it won't even be close.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: So here's the plan. Cut the current seven tax brackets down to three. Households earning less than $75,000 will pay 12 percent. Seventy-five thousand to $225,000, you can see, 25 percent, et cetera, et cetera. He promises millions more low- and middle-income earners would pay absolutely nothing -- would have no tax burden at all.

He would limit itemized deductions but the campaign doesn't explain how. He would also raise the standard deduction most people take on their returns. Plus, there's the child care deductions and there's a tax-free dependent care savings account.

The corporate tax rate would drop to 15 percent from 35. Companies would pay only 10 percent tax on bringing foreign profit back to the U.S. Companies could write off the entire expenses of building factories or manufacturing.

Trump says all of this would unleash an economy now held back by bureaucracy, high taxes, and too much regulation. The big claim here from team Trump that this is all something that would cost just $2.6 trillion when you get $4.4 trillion of tax relief, and you would have tax cuts, more defense spending, and you wouldn't touch the safety net.

How would you do that? Well, it would cost $2.6 trillion over 10 years, the campaign claims, $1.8 trillion paid for by growth-induced savings. Translation -- the economy would simply just grow so fast people in businesses will make more money and pay more taxes.

Eight hundred billion more would come from what he calls the Penny Plan. What is the Penny Plan? The idea is to cut one percent from all non-safety net or non-military spending. See, that's all that down there -- that 19 percent -- that very bottom line. Those programs where he wants to cut one percent make up just 19 percent of the U.S. budget. Entitlements like Social Security, Medicare, far more expensive. He would not touch those. Economists, this morning, taking issue with that kind of spending reduction. They say it focuses on the very area that doesn't need to be cut. Proponents say it's just one percent a year and not a big deal. It would be a way to get us some savings. So already some consternation this morning in how you would -- how you'd get to these numbers. But it shows you the blueprint and the aspirations on what he would focus on.

HOWELL: So there's the economic plan, there is the birther issue. Hillary Clinton back on the campaign trail. We haven't even gotten to the fact that Donald Trump was on "THE TONIGHT SHOW". We'll have more on that and much more, next.

[05:38:10] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[05:42:20] ROMANS: All right, everybody, it's Friday morning and boy, it is a packed day in politics. Donald Trump refusing to say President Obama was born in the U.S. Then his campaign releases a statement and said no, the president was born in the U.S. With all these viral moments of Trump on T.V. -- he was on "THE TONIGHT SHOW". So much to get to.

Let's bring in "CNN POLITICS" reporter Tal Kopan, live in our Washington bureau. Also, senior media correspondent Brian Stelter, host of CNN's "RELIABLE SOURCES". Everybody, nice to see you again this Friday morning.

TAL KOPAN, REPORTER, "CNN POLITICS": Good morning.

ROMANS: Tal, I want to start with this birther issue. This has been what -- I almost have to pinch myself that we are at this stage of the general election and we are still discussing whether this president was born in the United States. He was born in Hawaii, I think, in 1961.

He -- you know -- look, Donald Trump -- his team, at least, is now saying yes, we agree that he was born in the United States. Donald Trump has not said this. And in admitting that the president was born in the United States the team almost taking a swipe and taking credit for putting it all to rest, Tal. It's really, really unusual.

KOPAN: Yes, it's a remarkable thing that we're seeing on a number of levels. First of all, the idea that a candidate refuses to say something himself and, I think, refuses is fair. He has been given numerous opportunities. Asked directly multiple times will you say in your own words that Barack Obama was born in the United States, as he was, and he has evaded that every single time.

And then you have his campaign. All of his surrogates in the past few days have sort of said it. Remember, Kellyanne Conway said this last week. They say it's put it to bed. They say Trump believes that he was born in the United States but the candidate, himself, refuses to say it, which is remarkable.

And then, for them to put out this statement that sort of claims credit, like they've done a service by having the birth certificate released which, of course, followed years and years of insinuations and demands and refusal to accept that the first African-American president was born in the United States. I mean, it's really a remarkable thing we're witnessing.

HOWELL: That statement also saying that Hillary Clinton is the one -- that campaign is the one that brought the issue front and center and, Brian, that's just factually untrue.

BRIAN STELTER, CNN SENIOR MEDIA CORRESPONDENT, HOST, "RELIABLE SOURCES": That's right. There are some people that were sympathetic to Clinton, some supporters of Clinton in 2008 during the primary campaign against Obama, who were talking about this idea, spreading it around on the Internet. But the campaign, itself, has no evidence that Clinton herself was promoting this theory.

This is, in some ways, Trump's original sin, this idea of birtherism. It's what rose him to political prominence. It is an amazing and, in some ways, appalling thing that here on the front page of "The Washington Post" this morning once again. It's because the "Post" asked about this yesterday --

ROMANS: Right.

STELTER: -- that it's back in the news. The quote here, "Trump refused to say whether he believes Obama was born in Hawaii." It is an outlandish statement. We're still talking about it in the middle of a general election but it's because Trump, himself, will not disavow the comment.

ROMANS: Is he trying to play both sides because he's trying not to alienate the birthers who support him -- the people who think the president was not born in the United States. But he's also trying to nod to moderates that OK, yes, I know, that's like crazy talk.

STELTER: I think that's exactly what's happening. He's speaking to both sides. He's done this on other issues, as well, like immigration. We should keep in mind that birtherism has become something more than just an actual conspiracy theory about the president's legitimacy. It's also become a sort of symbol for whether you respect and appreciate the president or whether you hate him and do not believe he's legitimate.

You know, there are a lot of Republicans in polls who will say yes, I believe President Obama is a Muslim. Do they actually truly think he's a Muslim or are they just saying I dislike this president, I do not respect him, I do not consider him my president? It's become a sort of symbol or a code. And yet, Donald Trump, by not going to that very simple step of saying with his own words that he does believe the president is a citizen, he continues to keep this fire going.

HOWELL: If he says it he will upset his own supporters. If he doesn't say it he'll upset African-American voters that he wants. Tal, I also want to bring you in just to talk about Hillary Clinton back on the campaign trail and now seizing on this birther issue.

KOPAN: Yes, that's right. Her campaign really perceived this as a place that they can get some advantage on. And, of course, as the polls are tightening she's going to be looking for any area that she feels like is a winning issue with potentially undecided voters or potentially sort of squishy voters who might change their mind.

You know, she's going to hit this message very hard -- as hard as she can. And, you know, Donald Trump has made a specific effort in the past few weeks to at least appear like he is reaching out to the African-American community, appearing in front of black churches.

You know, she's going to try to do everything she can to question his motivations and question that effort, including the fact that she's bringing up that he sort of got into a little bit of a spat with the pastor at the black church who very politely interrupted him and asked him not to be political. And then afterwards he sort of went into interviews sort of criticizing her, in a way, or disparaging her. So we're going to see this come up again and again from Hillary Clinton.

ROMANS: I think he called her a nervous mess or something.

STELTER: Right.

ROMANS: Can we -- can we play a little bit of the sound -- I just want to switch gears to a little bit lighter note here. Jimmy Fallon, last night -- you saw Donald Trump -- let's play a little of that sound and I want to get Brian's idea on the other side.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JIMMY FALLON, HOST, "THE TONIGHT SHOW STARRING JIMMY FALLON": You've said on our show before that you never really apologize until -- unless you really feel the need to apologize.

TRUMP: I don't love apologizing. (Laughter) I'm not -- I'm not thrilled about apologizing but I'll apologize if I'm wrong about something.

FALLON: Yes. Have you ever played the board game "Sorry!"? (Laughter)

TRUMP: I sort of like "Monopoly" better than "Sorry!". (Laughter)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: That was a good one. Now, this is the Donald Trump that could be dangerous to Hillary Clinton in the debates, right?

STELTER: Yes, I think that's absolutely right. There are T.V. ads running non-stop in swing states showing the worst of Donald Trump. His insults, the ways he's attacked people. Then you compare that to this version of Donald Trump. The friendly, the warm, the playful Donald Trump. The polls are tightening for this figure at just the right time, you know.

There's a momentum story that Trump is telling as we head into the first debate 10 days from today. By the time we get to that debate they may, essentially, be neck-and-neck between Clinton and Trump. And to the extent that Trump can continue to bring through that warm personality that we saw on Fallon, it's a big challenge for Clinton.

HOWELL: Wow, we'll have to wait and see. Brian Stelter, Tal Kopan, live in Washington. Thank you, both.

ROMANS: Have a great weekend, you guys.

KOPAN: Thank you.

STELTER: Thanks.

HOWELL: All right, time to take a look at what's coming up on "NEW DAY". Alisyn Camerota is live for us.

ROMANS: Hey, Alisyn.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN HOST: Hey, guys, great to see you. So, does Donald Trump believe that President Obama was born in the United States or not? His campaign seems to want him to back away from the birther stuff but he, himself, has never admitted whether or not he now still believes it and he's never apologized. So this morning we're going to talk about what's going on inside his campaign about all the birther stuff.

Also, Hillary Clinton is back on the trail. We'll tell you what she's been up to. And Donald Trump has laid out his economic proposal so we will go through it point by point. All that, when this hardworking crew and I see you at the top of the hour.

ROMANS: I was going to say, everyone's working so hard and Cuomo's AWOL.

CAMEROTA: I told them -- I told them to act natural and then we decided no, bad idea.

(Laughter)

ROMANS: Don't act natural whatever you do. We all want to be employed. Thank you so much.

HOWELL: Alisyn, thank you.

CAMEROTA: OK.

HOWELL: It is considered one of the most devastating areas in Syria's civil war. It's where thousands of people in Aleppo desperately wait for humanitarian aid. The question, how can officials get that aid there before this fragile ceasefire runs out? CNN takes you inside Aleppo, next.

[05:49:40] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[05:53:50] HOWELL: The United States and Russia accusing each other of violating a shaky ceasefire in Syria. Twenty-three civilians, including nine children, were killed by airstrikes Thursday in a province not covered by the current truce. Human rights observers say it is unclear who was behind those attacks. In the meantime, the four-day-old ceasefire is holding in Aleppo but desperately needed humanitarian aid still has yet to arrive.

CNN's Fred Pleitgen is in Aleppo and has this report.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, George and Christine. You know, it was a fairly quiet night here in Aleppo. The ceasefire seems to be pretty much holding although we did hear some airplanes circling over the sky. We also heard occasional artillery shell being fired and what appeared to us be mortars being fired, as well.

Now, the big question on Friday is going to be is aid finally going to reach the besieged Eastern parts of this city? It's something, of course, that the United Nations has been working on but at this point in time their trucks are still stuck on the border between Turkey and Syria.

[05:55:00] What we're hearing here on the ground is that there is a chance that it could happen today but, of course, there are still administrative hurdles. On the one hand, permissions from the Syrian government. But on the other hand, safety guarantees of free passage by a lot of rebel organizations, as well, to actually make it to that area. So the U.N. says that it's doing its best.

The aid that that -- or the route that that aid is going to take is called the Castello Road. I was actually able to go there yesterday and it seems as though there are preparations underway there to try and allow that aid to get through. But again, very difficult in this very complex battlefield to really put a timeframe on when that's going to be.

We've also been traveling around the city and I can tell you that the destruction here in Aleppo is really epic. We went and visited some families in a frontline district and many of them were actually living in the ruins of their destroyed houses. But for them, of course, after so many years of war, they say just having that calm for a couple of days -- having this ceasefire in place is something that they truly cherish -- George and Christine.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ROMANS: All right, Fred Pleitgen, thank you for that.

It's Friday morning, let's get an early start on your money this morning. The biggest question in money today, when will the Fed raise interest rates? All the guessing has a seesaw effect in the stock market. Stock futures edging lower right now. All threemajor averages up yesterday. Stock markets in Europe are mixed right now. Shares in Asia finished higher overnight. They are done for the week. Oil is now down.

Here's what those swings look like. Check out the Dow over the last five sessions. They lost last Friday, remember, nearly 400 points. This week has been back and forth for stocks. Federal regulators here in the U.S. formally recalling one million Samsung Galaxy Note 7 smartphones after reports the device catches fire while charging. The U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission is telling customers to immediately stop using and power down this device. Note 7 users can get a free replacement from Samsung, their wireless carrier, or the retail outlet where they bought the phone.

All right, Donald Trump slamming Ford, saying it will cut jobs when it moves its small car production to Mexico. Ford -- its CEO firing back, fact-checking Donald Trump, and says no, it's committed to making cars in the U.S.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MARK FIELDS, CEO, FORD MOTOR COMPANY: What we'll be doing is we'll be replacing those products with two very exciting new products, so not one job will be lost. And most of our investment is here in the U.S. and that's the way it's going to continue to be.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: So Mr. Trump is wrong. Is that correct, Mark?

FIELDS: That is correct.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: Trump has a media blitz where he was slamming Ford. Ford put out a statement saying it would be in the U.S. "forever". The company pointing out that yes, they're moving 2,800 jobs to a new factory in Mexico but the factory where those jobs are moving from in Wayne, Michigan will get two new SUV models -- their truck models that they'll be building, so there won't be any jobs lost.

And you can be sure that reporters like Poppy and I will make -- you know, follow up and make sure that there aren't any jobs lost at that plant.

HOWELL: And again, you know, the company, itself, fact-checking here.

ROMANS: Yes, remarkable.

HOWELL: Yes, interesting. The Trump campaign saying once and for all, President Barack Obama was born in the United States. But the candidate, himself, he hasn't said those words. Will he or won't he? "NEW DAY" starts right now.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CLINTON: He was asked where was President Obama born. He still wouldn't say America.

TRUMP: Hillary Clinton slanders you as deplorable.

CLINTON: People tell me how concerned they are by the divisive rhetoric from my opponent.

TRUMP: Hillary failed on the economy.

CLINTON: We're going to make our economy work for everyone.

TRUMP: My economic agenda can be summed up in three words -- jobs, jobs, jobs.

CLINTON: I will never give up. I'll never walk away.

JOHN KASICH (R), GOVERNOR OF OHIO, FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: There's literally no enthusiasm for Hillary Clinton.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Is it still possible that you could vote for Donald Trump?

KASICH: It's very unlikely.

FALLON: Thank you for giving us the material that we're doing. Can I mess your hair up?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

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

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST: That might be the moment of greatest transparency that we've seen in this election.

CAMEROTA: I agree with you and he didn't seem like he liked it that much.

CUOMO: Who would?

CAMEROTA: I'll try it on you later.

CUOMO: I know. Well, my hair is fake. Good morning, welcome to your new day. It's is Friday, September 16th, 6:00 in the East.

Up first, Donald Trump and his campaign at odds and reigniting an old controversy. Trump's campaign says he now believes President Obama was born in the United States. But Trump, himself, refuses to say that and says don't take the word of his campaign, only believe what he says.

CAMEROTA: Hillary Clinton's campaign says Trump needs to say it himself on camera and admit that he is wrong. All of this as Trump gains momentum in the polls. With only 53 days until Election Day there is so much at stake. Early voting just one week away now and 10 short days until the first debate. So we have it all covered for you.

Let's begin with senior political correspondent Brianna Keilar. She is live in Washington. Bring us up to speed, Brianna.

KEILAR: Well, Alisyn, this really seems to be the latest chapter in the birther saga, but what we're now hearing from the Trump campaign is nothing new, really.