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Analysis of the Presidential Debate. Aired 12-12:30p ET

Aired September 27, 2016 - 12:00   ET


[12:00:00] JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: "INSIDE POLITICS" with John King starts right now.

JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR: Thank you, John and Kate.

To our viewers in the United States and around the world, welcome to INSIDE POLITICS. I'm John King. Thanks for sharing some time with us today.

Two defining questions as we assess the impact from last night's big debate and mark, get this, exactly six weeks to Election Day here in the United States. Question one, will Donald Trump learn his lesson and listen to close confidants who concede he lost last night, and times looking woefully unprepared.


DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: I would like everybody to end it, just get rid of it. But I would certainly not do first strike. I think that once the nuclear alternative happens, it's over. At the same time, we have to be prepared. I can't take anything off the table (ph).


KING: A little bit of a contradiction there.

Question two, did Hillary Clinton just stop Trump's momentum or did she win new support with carefully targeted appeals to millennials, minorities and women?


HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: He loves beauty contests, supporting them and hanging around them. And he called this woman "Miss Piggy." Then he called her "Miss Housekeeping" because she was Latina. Donald, she has a name.

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: Where did you find this?

CLINTON: And she has become a U.S. citizen. And you can bet -

TRUMP: Oh, really?

CLINTON: She's going to vote this November. TRUMP: OK. OK.


KING: A feisty debate last night. With us to share their reporting and their insights, CNN's Maeve Reston, Jonathan Martin of "The New York Times," Matt Viser of "The Boston Globe," and CNN's Nia-Malika Henderson.

Now, when Donald Trump first hit the post-debate spin room last night, he was upbeat.


DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: I think it went better than I ever thought, yes.

QUESTION: Did you feel lost at some point?


TRUMP: No, I loved it. I loved it.


KING: But, it didn't take long, just a minute or two, for the finger pointing to start.


TRUMP: And they also have - gave me a defective mic. Did you notice that?


TRUMP: My mic was defective within the room.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So that guy's not getting paid?

TRUMP: No, no, I - no, but I wonder, was that on purpose?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, who knows?

TRUMP: Was that on purpose? But I had a mic that wasn't work properly with - working properly within the room.


KING: Let's be clear, the mic was not the culprit. There was a lot of grumbling among Republicans, including some very close to trump today, that their candidate and his inner circle dropped the ball at a critical moment. Mr. Trump arrived at the debate with clear momentum in the polls, nationally and in the key battleground. He had a chance to seize control of the race. The bottom line, as we debate the debate over the next hour, is that he did not do that.

Hillary Clinton offered her take this morning before flying to one of the key battleground states in this race, North Carolina.


HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: Well, I think his - his demeanor, his temperament, his behavior on the stage could been seen by everybody. And people can draw their own conclusions.

KING: And then this.


QUESTION: How was your microphone, Secretary Clinton?

QUESTION: What about his stamina?

CLINTON: Anybody who blames it on the microphone is not having a good night.


KING: Now, she's not known for her coming back and talking again to reporters, but she - she didn't want to pass that up. We'll get into the best exchanges of the debate over the next hour. We'll go through taxes. We'll go through foreign policy. We'll go through Hillary Clinton's e-mails. The best and the worst.

But the big picture this morning is, look, campaigns, you try to put a great face on it. Now (INAUDIBLE) Donald Trump active on Twitter already saying, "I really enjoyed the debate last night. Crooked Hillary says she's going to do so many things. Why hasn't she done them in the last 30 years." You always try to put the best face on this. But among Republicans, even people in the Trump inner circle, they realized that they missed a big opportunity.

JONATHAN MARTIN, "THE NEW YORK TIMES": The biggest challenge that Donald Trump faces is trying to make this a closer race is winning over female voters, OK? That - that is his central challenge. The story coming out of last night's debate was that he had sort of this rocky - well, it wasn't great, but the exchange over gender was in the very end of that debate. Donald Trump, this morning, comes out on a cable news show and basically -

KING: Lets listen. Let's listen. I don't mean to interrupt, but Alicia Machado's this woman's name.


KING: She was a contestant in the Miss Universe contest. And Hillary Clinton says, you know, Donald Trump insulted her. First talked about her weight, then called her "Miss Housekeeping" because she's Latino. So you think Donald Trump this morning might say, that was a long time ago. I apologize if I offended anybody. That's not what he said.


TRUMP (voice-over): So that person was a Miss Universe person. And she was the worst we ever had. The worst. The absolute worst. She was impossible.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did not know that story.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, I didn't know either.


TRUMP: She was a - she - she was the winner and, you know, she gained a massive amount of weight. And it was - it was a real problem.


MARTIN: It boggles the mind that somebody who's accused of misogamy would come out the next day and ensure that that very story line is, in fact, what is central to the conversation the next day, at a moment when his biggest challenge, like I said, is winning over female voters. You can't make it up.

KING: Right.

NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER: And it shows, I think, the brilliance of Hillary Clinton's strategy. This story about Alicia Machado was new. I hadn't heard it before. I talked to some Hillary Clinton advisors and they said that was the plan to introduce something new. They had gone into this debate with this theme, right, about Donald Trump and his words and using those words against him. All of their ads are that way. You have Harry Reid calling him a flat out racist on the - in the well of the Senate. And so there he was taking the bait. I think that was such a terrible moment for him in the debate because he didn't have a real answer for it and then to continue for it. They knew this was going to happen.

[12:05:22] KING: All right, no matter who you support, it was just crystal clear, she came in with a clear strategy. If you're a Republican or a conservative or an independent, undecided, you might not agree with what she said, but she had a clear strategy. She had studied the videotape. She knew what worked in the Republican primaries to get under his skin. She was methodical throughout the debate in doing it so it built up. And she also targeted just about every one of her answers, to Jonathan's point, she knows she's struggles with millennials. She wanted to hit climate change. She knows she's struggling with African-Americans. She stressed criminal justice reform. You know, she knows she needs to keep the gender gap, and she went after the women's vote.

This morning she responds on Twitter with this one, "Trump on Alicia, 1996, Miss Piggy. This morning she gained a massive amount of weight. It was a real problem." So they're watching what's happening too. The Clinton campaign is watching Donald Trump this morning and they think, Matt, keep your foot on the pedal

MATT VISER, "THE BOSTON GLOBE": And they're going to keep going with this. I mean the women - mobilizing women last night, history with the first female candidate on a stage like that. I think that they're going to keep pushing that. And Trump is giving that oxygen by continuing to talk about that. He needed to change the subject this morning on to something else. And maybe we'll see that in one of his rallies this afternoon. But we're talking about women and Donald Trump and that's not good ground for him to be on, on a Miss Universe contestant from 1997.

MAEVE RESTON, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER: I mean you saw - yes, I mean you saw that actually repeatedly over and over again in the debate last night, such a difference in preparations, in the sense that she had kind of cleverly threaded the bait that she wanted to lay for him in each of her - in each of her attacks and he took it, you know, almost every time. Whereas he kept returning to - because he was rattled, as you said, he kept returning to subjects that did not, you know, (INAUDIBLE) to his benefit. He went back, for example, in the middle of the e-mail discussion, went back to his tax returns. I mean it just - the strategy wasn't thought through and that's what's the big difference was last night.

VISER: He also went back to Rosie O'Donnell in that -

RESTON: Right. Yes, right.

VISER: Like in that closing moment, which is, you know, kind of -


VISER: Back to that first debate when he brought up Rosie O'Donnell as well.


KING: I mean he is who - he is who he is and that showed last night.

VISER: Yes. Yes.


MARTIN: He is who he is and that - that clearly isn't going to change. But he does have a talent for focusing on one big issue and driving that. And I thought he was pretty effective in doing that in the opening 20 minutes, talking about not just trade, but just sort of this issue of American decline. And is it - is it, you know, a tad alarmist? Well, yes. But that really appeals to a good chunk of voters in this country. But the issue is, as Maeve said, he just can't stay on that because once he's baited, and Hillary knew how to do this, he just drifts from his focus and talks about his own personal (INAUDIBLE).



KING: Yes. I want to get to - we'll get to the economy stuff in a minute, but this is a key point because it's about preparations, it's about strategy.

MARTIN: Yes. KING: Coming in with clear goals. They both had very different missions. They're trying to reach different voters. They understand that. But he did not show a consistent plan. And to that point, we'll get to this in a minute, whether it came - whether it was his taxes, whether it was the birther debate, whether it was other debates, she had clear plans and clear ideas from watching the Republican primaries on how to get under his skin and how to bait him. And she also clearly studied him. She knew he likes to raise the issue of her stamina, whether she campaigns hard enough. So when it came, she pounced.


TRUMP: You look at the inner cities. And I just left Detroit. And I just left Philadelphia. And I just - you know, you've seen me. I've been all over the place. And you decided to stay home. And that's OK.

CLINTON: I think Donald just criticizing me for preparing for this debate. And, yes, I did. And you know what else I prepared for? I prepared to be president. And I think that's a good thing.


KING: She's playing the hands she's dealt. It's a tough one because people in this country wants change. He's the outsider. She's a brand that's been in politics for more than 30 years. But it's the brand she's got. So she's playing - you know, I prepared. I studied. What's wrong with that?

HENDERSON: Right. And this idea - and this isn't her idea alone that he doesn't take this seriously, right? That this is all a game to him. Donald Trump has built his own kind of reality and this is an extension of his reality TV show. And he played into that almost immediately. And even, I thought, he is good at channeling the anger -

KING: Right.

HENDERSON: Of working class votes and all the people who are experiencing the downturn economically, but he didn't make it about them. He made it about himself. It wasn't like righteous anger. It was this personal affront, you know, why are you running so many ads against me?

RESTON: Whereas then she, very effectively, talked about her own father -


KING: Right.

RESTON: You know, in the drapery business. She's had trouble in the past kind of connecting her story to that of working people. And so there was this interesting moment where she talked about an architect who said that he wasn't paid by Trump and then she was able to sort of tie that back to her father, saying, you know, it could have been my father who was one of those people who wasn't paid. So how would people feel about that? And I just thought it was a really effective moment for her.

[12:10:17] KING: All right. OK. Much more to talk about. A big debate. We're going to break down some of the best moments as we go ahead here.

The final score, as we've discussed, favored Clinton. But as Jonathan just mentioned, Donald Trump had his moment, including a very strong start. His case for change and her answer, next.


KING: If you only watched the first 30 minutes or so of last night's debate, all this talk today of a convincing Clinton win might seem out of place. Donald Trump's strongest moments came early on when he talked about trade and jobs and forcefully argued a Washington insider like Hillary Clinton would never deliver needed change.

[12:15:10] (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: You've been doing this for 30 years. Why are you just thinking about these solutions right now? For 30 years you've been doing it and now you're just starting to think of solutions.


TRUMP: I will bring - excuse me. I will bring back jobs. You can't bring back jobs.

CLINTON: Well, actually, I have thought about this quite a bit.

TRUMP: Yes, for 30 years.

CLINTON: And I have - well, not quite that long. I think my husband did a pretty good job in the 1990s.


KING: That was his - this part of his best moment.


KING: When he was trying to make the case that we've had an incumbent Democratic president for eight years. The country almost always goes to the other party.


KING: There's an environment for change. There's a dissatisfaction. You can say disgust with Washington and the way it - I was going to say work, doesn't work in most cases, and that's what Donald Trump was trying to channel. I thought that was his best moment. You just - you've been there too long. You're part of the problem. You can't fix it.

VISER: And Hillary Clinton, in those early moments, was sort of talking in her sort of legalese kind of language. She wasn't very clear and concise, and Trump was really, you know, at his best in those - in those early moments before it changed to his business records and his taxes and she started laying the ground work for kind of baiting him later in the debate

KING: Right.

RESTON: And really I do think though that the interruptions within that first - and I did think that the first 23 minutes were his strongest - that those interruptions over and over again, that men and women maybe had very different responses to that in a way.

KING: Right.

RESTON: I, you know, I was just texting with folks like during the debate and some people thought that that was great, that he came off as a fighter, you know, the champion for the - for the working guy, whereas other woman that I've spoken to, you know, just didn't like that interruptions over and over and over again and clearly the Clinton campaign is trying to use that to their advantage today.

KING: No question, yes.

RESTON: So we'll have to see how that plays out.


KING: If you're a Trump voter, he's repeatedly getting in the face of Hillary Clinton, you like that.


KING: Even - I'm not sure even the gender thing. Just if you - if you're - if you think Trump is a bully, Trump is rude, even - even the gender thing aside, maybe there were too many of them, right?

HENDERSON: Yes, and that's the thing. I think if you were a Clinton supporter, he came across as the guy in the office who doesn't know a lot but talks a lot and interrupts and talks over everyone. And she seemed to, in some ways, stand back and want that to play out, right?


HENDERSON: I mean, in - I think he may have talked in - and I think he may have said this last night or early this morning, whenever we were on TV, and you said something like, he talked like 62 percent of the time -

KING: (INAUDIBLE). It wasn't quite that much -


KING: But he had about three minute more total air time than her.


KING: And "The New York Times" announced that it was 44 minutes - 44 minutes to 41 minutes, something in that area.

HENDERSON: Yes. Yes. So he -

KING: He blew through the time ques a lot more than she did.

HENDERSON: Yes, he blew - and she seemed to like that.

KING: Right.

HENDERSON: She seemed to want to kind of let him do - you know, a kind of boys will be boys thing.

KING: Right.



VISER: And she wasn't interrupting him at all. You know, she was perfectly content to let him sort of hang himself on his own words.

HENDERSON: She wasn't at all. She wasn't at all.

RESTON: Right. Yes, right.

KING: Right. I'm told - I'm told our count, the CNN count was 46 minutes for him, 41 minutes for her.

RESTON: And to guests (ph) on the plane, apparently, you know, on the way to North Carolina, told a reporter today that, you know, that that - those interruptions reminded women around the country of the bullies that they know in their life.

MARTIN: Right. Yes.

RESTON: So clearly they want the scenario to play out.

KING: They - it's an important point because we're talking about these different subsets of voters we're talking about. This election is so close and they both have very different constituents they're trying to put together. And when you talk about these things, it's important to remember, there's a global audience, but that each candidate is also trying to micro-target (INAUDIBLE).


KING: Let's stick with the experience things because, again, her calling card, she understands the environment. And her calling card is, he's dangerous change. Yes, he's an outsider. Yes, you might want something different, but this guy's dangerous. And he tried to turn that back on her saying, well, you've got a good resume, but what have you done with it?


TRUMP: Hillary has experience, but it's bad experience. We have made so many bad deals during the last - so she's got experience, that I agree.

Whether it's the Iran deal, whether it's anything you can - name - you almost can't name a good deal. I agree, she got experience, but it's bad experience. And this country can't afford to have another four years of that kind of experience.


MARTIN: I think that was a fantastic moment for him. I - it's a pretty straightforward election. When the conversation is about the status quo in Washington and who can best bring change to that, it's usually on his turf. That's a home game for Donald Trump. When the conversation is about Donald Trump, that's usually a, you know, a bad thing for him, right?


MARTIN: She wants to make it about him, right, and it's sort of fascinating because most times, you know, you don't want to have a sort of referendum campaign, you know, like that when the incumbent's job numbers are so good, like Obama's are, and the economy is showing real signs of improvement. Typically though a, you know, defacto incumbent would like to run on more of a continuity campaign, but Trump is so extraordinary -

KING: Right.

MARTIN: That she's got to make it about him and less about -

HENDERSON: The message. Yes, about the messenger, yes.

MARTIN: Four more years, you know.

[12:20:02] KING: A big issue for him, if you look at the battleground states. And for those of you watching around the world, we elect presidents not by popular vote nationwide. We do it by the Electoral College. One state at a time. Each state gets votes depending on their population. And the (INAUDIBLE) he's looking at people in these states (INAUDIBLE) we use the term the rust belt states. He's looking at Pennsylvania. He's looking at Ohio. He's looking at Michigan. He's looking at places that used to be the foundation of American manufacturing that are struggling. And he blames a lot of this on trade deals, like the North American Free Trade Agreement. Like the still to be determined whether it passes, Trans Pacific Partnership. When she was secretary of state, she was working for President Obama. It was a top priority of his. She said great things about the prospect of the TPP. Donald Trump tried to hold her accountable.


TRUMP: You called it the gold standard -

CLINTON: I wrote about - well, I hope -

TRUMP: You called it called it the gold standard of trade deals.

CLINTON: And, you know what -

TRUMP: You said it's the finest deal you've ever seen.


TRUMP: And then you heard what I said about it, and all of a sudden you were against it.

CLINTON: Well, Donald, I know you live in your own reality -

TRUMP: Oh, yes.

CLINTON: But that is not the fact.

TRUMP: But you have no plan.

CLINTON: But in education - oh, I do.

TRUMP: Secretary, you have no plan.

CLINTON: In fact, I have written a book about it. It's called "Stronger Together." You can pick it up tomorrow at the book store.

TRUMP: That's about all you've (INAUDIBLE) -

LESTER HOLT, MODERATOR: Folks, we're going to -


KING: Now, she does have a plan. He likes to say that, she doesn't have a plan. You can agree or disagree with it, but she has many detailed plans, far more than he does. But to the point where she did call it the gold standard. She did call it the - now, she can say, I had a boss at the time and I had to do my boss' bidding, but she was very clear and gave a couple of very detailed speeches about how great this was and now she says, not so fast.

RESTON: And I - in those facial expression there in that exchange, you can see that she's sort of been knocked off -

KING: Right.

RESTON: You know, on - back on her heals by him in that moment that she doesn't have a particularly sharp, good answer for that. And that is why it was such a strong moment for him.

KING: But he couldn't sustain it.

MARTIN: Right.

HENDERSON: He couldn't sustain it, yes. And even, you know, looking there at that split screens, at times it just felt like he was yelling at her. Even when he was making really good points, and I think that, you know, the trade is a really good point for him, but he couldn't sustain it. And at times it felt like he thought he could go in here with his stump speech and just repurpose it for 90-minute and keep repeating the same thing.


KING: Right.

VISER: And that's where the preparation comes into account, where Hillary Clinton seemed to have prepared lines.


VISER: That Trump didn't come in with. And that moment was probably one of the best I think for him where Hillary Clinton does have issues on trades, she has a different record. She's sort of flip-flopped on this issue with Bernie Sanders kind of pushing her a little bit during the primary. So she's got issues with that, but he couldn't keep that up. He couldn't change that into some other issue. He didn't bring up the e-mails very effectively.

MARTIN: Right.

VISER: Or the Clinton Foundation.

RESTON: Or Benghazi or any of those things.

VISER: Or not - there were a whole host of things that he could have found a way into -

KING: Right, blaming the moderator today, but that's what a seasoned debater does. Here's the place that the moderator's not going. Ask me about the sunrise, I'm going to talk about the Clinton Foundation. Ask me about cupcakes, I'm going to talk about Clinton e-mails.

HENDERSON: That's right.

KING: That's what a seasoned debater does. And she did a lot of that and he didn't.

Hang on just one second, Jonathan, a perfect segue to where we go next. Truth is often a casualty when politicians debate and last night was no exception.


LESTER HOLT, MODERATOR: You had supported the war in Iraq before the invasion. What makes your -

TRUMP: I did not support the war in Iraq.

HOLT: What - two -



[12:27:04] KING: Welcome back to INSIDE POLITICS. A lot of moving parts with the day after a big debate. Six weeks until

the election here in the United States. Just moments ago, the president of the United States, Barack Obama, spoke to Ryan Seacrest on his radio show and he shared his thoughts about last night's debate. I think we can bet he's for Hillary Clinton. Let's listen.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES (voice-over): Anybody who was watching the debate I think got a sense that you've got really sharply contrasting visions about where we should take the country. And, you know, I'm admittedly biased. I have worked with Hillary. I know her. She is well prepared. She's got the right temperament for the job. She's well respected around the world. She's serious. She does her homework. And she's got a vision to put people back to work and make sure that the economy's working for everybody and not just the few. And I would say that the other guy doesn't have the preparations, the temperament or, you know, the core values of inclusion and making everybody, you know, have opportunities.


KING: We're going to get to the - we're going to get to the reasons the president of the United States particularly does not like the other guy, as he calls him, in just a minute.

But another new development. At the beginning of the show we were telling you about one of the exchanges last night where Hillary Clinton brought up a woman named Alicia Machado, a former Miss Universe contestant who Donald Trump once called "Miss Piggy," and then called "Miss Housekeeping" because she is Latina, Hillary Clinton made the point last night. The Clinton campaign - you see the pictures of her there. The Clinton campaign now announcing this morning Miss Machado has decided to join the Clinton campaign as a surrogate. Very important as the campaign targets Latino voters, also targets women voters.

The morning after the debate. Fresh developments here now.

Let's go back to the debate last night.

Donald Trump knew his role as the chief cheerleader for the birther movement would be a debate flash point, but he had nothing new to say, no explanation, as to why, after years of peddling conspiracy theory garbage, he just this month decided to concede President Obama was born in the United States.


HOLT: We're talking about racial healing in this segment. What do you say to Americans, people of color -

TRUMP: Well, it was very - I say nothing. I say nothing because I was able to get him to produce it.

HOLT: (INAUDIBLE). TRUMP: He should have produced it a long time before. I say nothing.

I think I did a great job and a great service, not only for the country, but even for the president, in getting him to produce his birth certificate.

HOLT: Secretary Clinton.

CLINTON: Well, just listen to what you heard. And, clearly, as Donald just admitted, he knew he was going to stand on this debate stage and Lester Holt was going to be asking us questions, so he tried to put the whole racist, birther lie to bed, but it -


KING: I just do not understand how you walk into a debate, whatever you think of his politics, Donald Trump's a smart man. He has smart people around him. How do you walk into a debate on this issue -

MARTIN: Know it's coming.

KING: That you know she wants to use against you and you have nothing new to say. And he has yet to say, after five years, forgive me, this is not - this is not a partisan thing. You don't need to run to the fact check machine. It was conspiracy theory garbage. The president of the United States was born in the United States. Five years after the press - after the birth certificate was released, he was still talking about it and calling it a fraud and he hasn't said why and he did not come to the debate with a better answer.