Return to Transcripts main page
ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
Standing By For Vice President Debate on CNN. Aired 8-9p ET
Aired October 4, 2016 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: And welcome. We are about an hour away from seeing the vice presidential candidate step up on that stage in Longwood University in Virginia, in what is likely to be a proxy battle between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.
Welcome to our viewers in the United States and watching around the world. I'm Anderson Cooper with a special edition of "360" on this debate night in America.
Tonight voters are getting their only chance to compare Tim Kaine and Mike Pence side by side to see if they are prepared to step into the role of president if necessary. But the vice presidential nominees may wind up spending more time about Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump than themselves. Their most important and difficult challenge, promote and defend their running mates.
What happens in the coming hours will set the stage for the second Clinton-Trump debate only five days from now, a pivotal moment in the campaign, with Hillary Clinton gaining new momentum and Trump on the defensive after their first face off last week.
[20:00:03] Now, let's go inside the debate hall. Wolf Blitzer is there with more and what to expect tonight -- Wolf.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Anderson, Tim Kaine won a coin toss so he'll get the first question tonight. The viewers will see Senator Kaine on the left during this 90-minute debate. Governor Pence will be on the right. They will be seated this time at a table, there aren't any lecterns this time so the candidates will be closer to one another.
They will also be closer to the moderator, Elaine Quijano of CBS News. That proximity could affect the tone of this debate.
Let's go to Jake Tapper.
Jake, we're getting a little preview of what's to come tonight, aren't we?
JAKE TAPPER, CNN CHIEF WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Wolf. Spoiler alert: the Republican National Committee apparently accidentally posted a blog in which they declared that Mike Pence won the debate. Usually, people in Washington wait until the debate is over. But it does happen every now and then that an ambitious press secretary will get ahead of him or herself. But this notes that Mike Pence won the debate. The consensus was
clear after the dust settled. Pence was the clear winner. Mike Pence's top moments from the debate, it says, were when he discussed the economy and highlighting Hillary's scandals, plural, Mike Pence made the most of his opportunity to debate Tim Kaine. The other clear winner of course was Donald Trump.
Obviously, this was just an accident. The Republican National Committee has taken it down. But it does illustrate a larger point, which is, Wolf, you know this, every time a president gives a State of the Union Address, there is a press secretary from the opposing party that accidentally hits se and the opposition of that member of Congress to everything the president has yet to say becomes clear. It's one of those things people tend not to like about Washington, D.C. -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Good point, indeed. A little awkward for the RNC right now.
Dana Bash is with us as well.
Dana, Mike Pence was really brought on as a sort of counterbalance to Donald Trump. Ands presumably, we're going to see some of that tonight.
DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: No question about it, since he was picked. Not only is he a counterbalance because he is a career politician or at least has been for the past decade plus, but because he can explain things in a more traditional way for a politician. And we've seen that, Wolf, for the past three months, talking about ways that Donald Trump really meant to say X or meant to say Y.
And what's been interesting is that the campaign has used the way Mike Pence has cleaned up Donald Trump's remark, controversial remarks as a template for the way that they've been able to change, try to change the direction of things that Donald Trump has said. So, there is no question that when it comes to his tax issue and everything else that we've been talking about over the past week, Mike Pence is going to try to do that tonight.
BLITZER: Interesting. All right. Dana, stand by.
You can bet that Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton will be listening to every word their running mates have to say tonight.
CNN's Sara Murray is joining us now.
Sara, how will Donald Trump watch this debate?
SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICS REPORTER: Well, Donald Trump is on the West Coast right now. He's in Las Vegas and we're expecting him to watch the debate from his hotel there in Vegas with guests. And he put out on Twitter today that he is going to be live tweeting throughout the VP debate.
Now, some people might look at this as counterprogramming, almost a way to almost steal the event from his running mate. But the Pence campaign is already putting their own positive spin on it, saying that Donald Trump tweeting about this event could bring in viewers who weren't otherwise tune in, maybe some more millennial viewers because Donald Trump does have millions of Twitter followers. So, we will see if that comes to fruition.
But as you said, Wolf, even though this is a VP debate. This is certainly a referendum on the two candidates at the top of the ticket so you can bet they are going to be watching closely.
BLITZER: I'm sure they will be.
I want to bring in Brianna Keilar right now.
Brianna, what are you learning about Hillary Clinton's plan to watch this debate tonight?
BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, she's going to be watching from her home in Westchester County. And one aide tells me she's preparing to watch a debate very different from the one she participated in earlier this week. Her debate prep actually on hold because her team is helping out Tim Kaine.
And then you have President Obama, one of her big surrogates, who is going to watch at least part of the debate. The White House says. They say he at affection for Senator Tim Kaine. Perhaps not surprising because Tim Kaine did support him all the way back in early 2007 and also rumored to be on his vice presidential short list.
And President Obama heading to Ohio next week to help with Hillary Clinton after canceling his event in Miami tomorrow. A big post- debate he was supposed to because of the impending hurricane, Wolf.
BLITZER: Brianna Keilar, thanks very much.
Anderson, over to you.
COOPER: A lot to talk about with our panel.
Michael Smerconish, do you think the strategy for a vice presidential debate is a lot different than the presidential debate?
[20:05:00] MICHAEL SMERCONISH, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I think it is with these two at the top of the ticket, because this race boils down to a referendum on both of them and not the vice presidential candidates.
I can't remember. I've been playing very close attention for thirty years. I can't remember an election like this where both candidates were viewed unfavorably by a majority of the public. It is really a referendum on each of them. I can't tell you, Anderson, how often I get telephone calls on my radio program from individual whose don't extol the virtues of Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump, but instead, they call to say why they're opposed to one candidate or the other.
COOPER: So, Nia, do you expect Trump -- Pence and Kaine essentially to not be talking about each other but their respective bosses?
NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER: I think from everything we've heard the candidates and the people around them say, it is going to be about the top of the ticket. Kaine, for instance, said he's isn't the main event tonight. He's the in-between space. And I think this entire debate isn't the main event. It's the in- between space and the main event is next Sunday.
I think for Pence, he's got to try to get momentum back in the -- wind in the sails of the Donald Trump and the Republican ticket and buoy the hopes of the Republicans across the country who are rally dispirited by Donald Trump last week, his performance and not preparing. And I think if you are Kaine you really just want to continue the momentum.
It's almost like a relay race. He gets a baton from Hillary Clinton. She had a strong first leg. She's got to have a strong second leg tonight.
COOPER: It is interesting, though. I mean, they are sitting at a table. In some ways, it is much more intimate. I don't know if that makes it harder to go at each other?
DAVID AXELROD, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: It does. And look, what Michael -- what Michael said is really true. When you prepare a candidate for a vice presidential debate, the first thing you say is this is not -- your job is to make the case for our candidate to go after the other candidate to score points, to put points on the board. And that is the discipline here.
But I was -- Dana said something interesting about Mike Pence. As you observe him over the last couple of months, he's sort of very quietly tries to make sense of things that sometimes seem absolutely senseless. He's like there is that character that Barack Obama had, the anger translator. He's like Trump's rationality translator. He takes these things Trump says and tries to make sense of them.
I think Kaine is going to give him the opportunity to do that all night long.
GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, I think that look, the argument that Pence has to make is over and over again "we are change." She is corrupt. She is stats quo. We are change. And the argument that Kaine has to make is they don't have the temperament.
Donald Trump doesn't have the temperament. He doesn't have the character to be president.
And I think they're going to be going at each other that way and talking about their candidate. However, my question also is, whether Pence is actually going start to go on the attack here. Whether he's going to raise Bill Clinton's infidelities, Hillary Clinton's defense of Bill Clinton and whether that should affect the way women look at Hillary Clinton and whether we see that as a foreshadowing of what is going to happen --
SMERCONISH: I would have said that if Donald Trump is tweeting tonight he gets to play the heavy and Mike Pence doesn't need to. The fake press release reveals that the best moments for Mike Pence were the economy and also when he highlighted Hillary's scandals. So, we know he is going to do that.
AXELROD: But those scandals aren't necessarily personal scandals. I think there was great disappointment on the part of Republicans that Donald Trump didn't raise those kinds of issues in the last debate. I highly doubt he's going to be the guy who delivers --
COOPER: Paul, do you see Mike Pence going down that road?
PAUL BEGALA, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: No, because it's not smart. And Mike is smart. He'll attack on e-mails, right, he'll attack issues but not on their personal lives.
But Kaine has a couple of aces in the hole here. A couple of home state celebrities from Indiana, a native of East Chicago Indiana, graduate of University of Indiana, Indiana Law School, Judge Gonzalo Curiel, who Donald Trump said was unfit to rule because he's Mexican- American. Paul Ryan, Mike Pence's friend, said that's the very text book definition of a racist statement.
Gee, Mike, who's right? I hope -- I hope Tim is watching. Tim, don't play your harmonica now. Just pay attention here.
And then, also, a 1,500 miles from the debate site is the home of the Khan family, in Williamsburg, Virginia. Gold star family who Donald Trump shamefully attack, and Tim is their senator and was their governor. And he will -- and, by the way, he himself is a military dad, and he will I think -- I hope defend the Khan family and put Mike Pence on the spot.
COOPER: I want to bring in the rest of the panel. We do have to take a quick break.
As we're closing on the start of tonight's debate, we're learning about a surprising new addition to Hillary Clinton's roster of campaign surrogates.
Stay with us for more of AC360.
[20:13:54] BLITZER: We're less than an hour away from the vice presidential debate here at Longwood University in Virginia. As CNN cover this is campaign, we're traveling the country. We're talking to voters in key battleground states in partnership with Instagram, Facebook and CA Technologies.
You can get involved. Post a photo on Instagram. Tell us who you are voting for with the #myvote. Your picture could be used in our election coverage.
We heard earlier from Tim Kaine's wife. And now let's talk to Mike Pence's wife, Karen Pence, is with CNN's Sara Murray -- Sara.
MURRAY: Wolf, Karen Pence joins me now.
Karen, thank you very much for being here.
Now, your advisors tell your husband tonight wants to focus on policy, but inevitably throughout this campaign, he's had to answer for more controversial bombastic things Donald Trump has said. Does he ever feel like he needs to be sort of the clean up act?
KAREN PENCE, MIKE PENCE'S WIFE: You know, I think tonight is going to be a lot of the fun. I look at Mike's whole life, his whole battleground, and he's really ready for this. I mean, he was on the debate team in high school, history major in college, worked for a policy think tank, law school, Congress, governor.
[20:15:04] So, I think tonight, I think what he really wants to show is maybe a contrast between the two. I think really if I had to say what Mike really wants to accomplish tonight, he wants to show a vision -- a vision for America.
MURRAY: So, how did he prep for this big moment? He's not new to the debate stage but this is a very big audience. What did he do today?
PENCE: Today was kind of fun. We came in last night and so, we got up this morning and worked out at the hotel. Then we came over here to Farmville, did the run through and then actually our whole family went for a jog.
And local school let us run around the track. It was kind of fun to get some fresh air and get the blood pumping. And he took a nap.
MURRAY: A little family fitness and relaxation.
Is there anything he likes to do right before the stage or anything you're expecting him to do tonight, just to make sure his head is in the right place ready to go?
PENCE: That is a great question because, you know, he loves music. He has all kind of soundtracks on his phone. And so, like even on the way over here, just now he said, honey, I need to get --
MURRAY: Is there like a favorite band?
PENCE: Gosh I don't know. He does the whole gamut. He soundtrack from a movie. I don't know what he has on there tonight.
MURRAY: One of the things we've seen, it's been a raucous presidential campaign. And he has been clear that Mike Pence does not like negative campaigning. At the same time, he has a running mate who's out there threatening to throughout Bill Clinton's infidelities into the mix. Do you think that is fair? How do you feel about sort of the tone of this campaign so far?
PENCE: One thing about Mike is he likes to say there is a real contrast between he and his running mate. Donald Trump is a like a larger than life figure and Mike always says there is me. And I think he has a very gentle personality. He's someone who is just 100 percent integrity, honest, truthful. But he'll tell it like it is too. He's not afraid to show a contrast.
MURRAY: I have to ask. Because Donald Trump, he's this Vegas. But he says he's going to be tweeting tonight.
Does that make you nervous at all? Does that make your husband nervous at all?
PENCE: You know what, we have gotten to be such good friends with the Trumps. I got to tell you. I mean, Mike and Donald talk almost every day, at least once or twice. And we've gotten so close to their family. I know Eric is going to be here tonight.
It's such an honor to be on the ticket with him. We have such a fondness in our heart for him. It will be fun to see what he tweets actually. No, we're not afraid of it.
MURRAY: Mrs. Pence, thank you very much for joining us. Good luck to you guys tonight.
PENCE: Thank you.
MURRAY: Wolf, I'm going to throw it back to you.
BLITZER: All right. Sara, thank you. That's Karen Pence as well.
We're getting some new information right now on the Clinton campaign. I want to go to CNN's Jeff Zeleny. He's also in the spin room.
Jeff, what are you learning?
JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, we are learning tonight that Al Gore is going to be coming out on the campaign trail for Hillary Clinton in the coming weeks. Al Gore, of course, the former vice president who unsuccessfully ran for president in 2000 has been essentially on the sidelines politically speaking. He did endorse the political campaign in July, but he'll be coming out in the final weeks to help go after those young voters, Wolf, those millennials voters who may be siding with Gary Johnson or Jill Stein. He'll be campaigning for Hillary Clinton for the first time coming up in the coming weeks -- Wolf.
BLITZER: All right. Jeff, standby.
Dana, what do you think of Al Gore coming out there and effectively going out on the campaign trail for Hillary Clinton really means?
BASH: First, I think Jeff is definitely right. He's going to try to get millennials, and maybe he'll be in Florida and try to reach back to some of the people who think they got robbed there.
But I just think there is so much irony in the fact that Al Gore has been in campaign since back in 2000, you remember, I remember. Al Gore in the campaign did not want any Clinton anywhere near the campaign trail. And looking back, a lot of think that was a big mistake.
BLITZER: Yes, a lot of people do and he lost Florida as we know by very, very close margin and a third party candidate, Ralph Nader got 90,000 votes.
All right. Thanks very much.
The vice presidential debate just minutes away. We'll be right back after a quick break.
[20:21:28] BLITZER: We're back. At Longwood University in Farmville, Virginia, just minutes before the vice presidential debate.
Tonight, the focus is on Mike Pence and Tim Kaine as they battle on behalf of Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.
I want to go John King over at the magic wall.
John, what do these vice presidential candidates bring to their tickets?
JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Let's try to talk about the state of the race, Wolf, and what Mike Pence and Tim Kaine are hoping to do tonight. First, let's just remind people, we look at our polling right now. Hillary Clinton has a five-point lead in our latest national poll.
We should also note, of course, there are two third party candidates, Gary Johnson and Jill Stein, but their support is so low they don't make the cuts for debates and neither do their vice presidential candidates. So, it will be Tim Kaine and Mike Pence making the case. Pence prosecuting for Donald Trump, Tim Kaine prosecuting for Hillary Clinton.
What strategic goals are they looking? A key goal for Mike Pence is to help Donald Trump here with college-educated whites. Look at the Philadelphia suburbs. Look at the research triangle in North Carolina. Look right here in northern Virginia, just outside of D.C. Look in other key swing states around the country, the Denver suburbs come to mind.
Donald Trump is struggling with a traditional Republican constituency. Mike Pence, one of his big goals tonight -- try to help Donald Trump with these voters are. For Tim Kaine, keep what you got. Try to hold the board here, but also make progress with millennials and never Trump Republicans.
Now, a lot of these voters are camping out right now with Gary Johnson. Tim Kaine is hoping maybe they don't like Hillary Clinton. Maybe they think she's part of the past. He's trying to make the case to millennials to support the Democratic ticket.
As we look forward through this, Wolf, worth nothing, look at this -- favorability ratings. Mike Pence has a higher favorability ratings than his running mate, Donald Trump. Tim Kaine, a little bit behind Hillary Clinton. These two, though, do not have the high unfavorability ratings that these have. A lot of the American people when we ask these question, they say, we don't know Tim Kaine. We don't know much about Mike Pence.
Anderson, that might be just about to change.
COOPER: We shall see tonight if they in fact raise their profiles. We're about 35 minutes from the start of the debate.
Let's talk with our partisans. Jeffrey Lord is a Trump supporter.
How concerned are you about the battleground state polls that we've been seeing, particularly since the debate, seems to be shifting to Hillary Clinton? Are you confident they can shift back?
JEFFREY LORD, CNN POLITICAL COMMENATOR: Sure. Sure. They absolutely can.
COOPER: I knew you were going to say that, to be honest.
LORD: Of course. But while we were waiting, I was reading an article about the Carter/Reagan debate in the polls after the Carter/Reagan debate. And uniformly -- and this is "TIME" magazine saying that the pollsters of the day said it was within a point or two for either and, of course, it turned out to be a ten-point landslide for then-Governor Reagan.
So, I just feel we should have a sense of caution here. I mean, events happen so fast. I personally am convinced that what could determine this election is whatever event has occurred within the last 24-48 hours before the voting, although I take David's point of voting already in progress to account.
But still, I think in states like Pennsylvania, where we are voting on Election Day, you know, if something happens that can push in the Trump direction --
COOPER: Paul, you have been involved with campaigns. Is that a reality?
BEGALA: It is no longer a reality. This thing can move. This is not over, and it can move.
But I think there are some important differences between from when President Reagan came from a tie to a landslide. First, when Reagan ran, 45 percent of us Americans, split tickets. Now, it's about 5. We're much more ossified, we're much more polarized.
I don't think that is a great thing for America. But it is much more settled before the thing even begins and as Axe pointed out a while ago, 40 percent of us will vote even before Election Day.
[20:25:04] So, this stuff -- it is the target groups that King was talking about.
Can Pence validate Mr. Trump among college educated voters? Can Tim Kaine validate Hillary among millennials?
VAN JONES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: It is a part of the tragedy. And I just want to make sure that, you know, for people who remember how America was pre-Trump, what's about to happen is going to be a tragedy tonight no matter what and here is why. You're going to have two very heavyweights in their party who come from deep philosophical traditions and they are not going to talk about that.
They are going to drag out big garbage cans and through them at each other mainly, because we're now in a world where the Trump effect has pulled politics down so low. That the most important thing he can do tonight is make sure the mud stick, that Kaine can do tonight is make sure the mud sticks on Trump. And the main thing Pence has do is throw mud back on him.
That is bad for the country as far as I'm concerned. I would much -- everybody is going to say, we want to have a policy discussion. We want a policy discussion. That is not going happen the way it should because of Trump.
KAYLEIGH MCENANY, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think it will happen. Mike Pence has ample material to talk about policy. He has a record in the state of Indiana where he brought down taxes and unemployment. And he'll bring up that record.
And I think Mike Pence has a really unique opportunity here to draw a contrast of what a politician should be. A politician should go in and engage in public service, not personal enrichment. Mike Pence has never taken a salary above $200,000. And he can contrast with Hillary Clinton who went into the White House, came out dead broken and somehow personally enriched herself and her husband to the tune of $100 million via the Clinton Foundation --
JONES: The first thing he ever did was get in trouble. If you want that talk about Pence, was get in trouble for using campaign cash for personal reasons. So the idea that he's a person who's going to president a case about personal enrichment? That is the first thing he ever did.
MCENANY: He's going to prosecute the case flawlessly because he's trained for this. He has prepared for this moment. He knows about the Clinton Foundation, giving the prince of Bahrain access not through normal channels, but going through the foundation, which is a huge pay for play scheme.
JONES: I think he's the wrong guy to do that.
BEGALA: And he has advantage also being Donald Trump's running mate. Donald Trump we all agree is a Gandhi-like figure. Really, he's St. Francis of Assisi. We should be honest, he's a flawless man. Are you kidding? Are you kidding?
MCENANY: He abides by the law.
JONES: No, no, we don't know.
BEGALA: No, this is the point Van is trying to make, that Trump has hijacked America's election for his own narcissism that we can't have an honest debate. These are pretty impressive people.
By the way, they both have deep Christian values that bring them to totally different places. Tim is very committed to the civil rights and economic justice. Governor Pence is very committed to his own social conservative views on abortion and -- I was going say gay rights but he's against gay rights, so denying rights to gays. That could be an interesting debate.
I think Van is right. We won't have it because of this freak show of Donald Trump.
BORGER: The other people who are going to be watching, and this is a number that came out our CNN poll that really interested us -- white college graduates. Right now, Hillary Clinton is winning with white college graduates by 13 points.
Mitt Romney won white college graduates by 14 points. Republicans have won that cohort since 1956 in this country. White college graduates are going to be watching this debate. Mike Pence could potentially make a difference to these graduates if he does talk about substance, if he does say this is why I'm a conservative, if he does defend Trump in a way that appeals to them.
But so far, this is very dangerous territory for Donald Trump. Very dangerous.
LORD: What we have here is Donald Trump is still the outsider candidate. And Mike Pence is the bridge. To voters who are -- the non-outside folks or at least trying to make their decision. And I think he can in fact do very well and help translate that for him. But make no mistakes, he's not going to be diluting Trump's outsider image.
AXELROD: One of the things that was interesting to me was -- because I take your points on economics. But Pence was losing his race for governor when he left. And interestingly, I saw an ad from Indiana over the weekend for governor, where his lieutenant governor is running for governor. And he talked about working with Mitch Daniels for ten years on the economy and never mentions Mike Pence, who is the sitting governor who appointed him, which tells me he has some problems there.
LORD: I don't think we're going to lose Indiana.
AXELROD: No, I agree with you. But there must be some weakness in ts economic argument if the people in his own state don't respond to it.
HENDERSON: Other voters, Gloria was talking about college-educated white voters. And also older voters.
One of the things you see in the polls is Hillary Clinton is actually doing really well with older voters. Obama lost older voters over 65 by eight points in 2008, lost them by 12 in 2012.
[20:30:02] And Hillary Clinton is over performing Barack Obama in terms of older voters. So, I think in terms of his temperament and preservation, I think Mike Pence can do some good in terms of helping the Republican ticket with those older voters because they are not doing as well they need to do right now.
SMERCONISH: Can I say it's an old school debate in so far as you have two old school middle aged white guys, credentialed, capable of offering substance for 90-minutes. And I know that we all, maybe not we all, but the public I think acts if it demands substance and wishes we were having more of a substantive conversation. When in reality there's a huge market for incivility. And I think to frankly to the extent that they are substantive tonight you're going to have a lot of cliques, I hope not. In terms of people's attention span.
LORD: I think Michael is exactly right. And this goes back to something ...
LORD: ... we talked about the presidential thing.
LORD: But good Lord, American history is replete. I mean -- where, you know, the Grover Cleveland thing, because his fatherhood an illegitimate child, mark my words Mike Pence is going to White House. This stuff has been going on for two centuries. And I think -- I think Michael is absolutely right. There's part of the American people that likes to pick up the tabloids in the morning and they want to see it.
COOPER: Well, I thought ...
MCENANY: There's another part of the American people that is really ...
COOPER: I love that you know the Grover Cleveland chant.
LORD: He knows the chant by heart.
COOER: As you'll know, mama I went to the White House, ha ha ha.
SMERCONISH: That's right. COOPER: Paul you focused grouped that out didn't you?
MCENANY: There's another portion of the electorate that I think to Gloria as earlier point really wants to see a case for change made And I think there's even the toughest acknowledgment among the Clinton campaign that a status quo wasn't good. You had Hillary Clinton yesterday saying, "for decades we've been on the wrong path". You had Bill Clinton today say ObamaCare is the one of the craziest things premiums are spiking for American. Guess what, they can't make that argument because they have been in control for decades and the White House as secretary of state.
BEGALA: Why do you keep saying that? That's not true. The George W. Bush, what are you talking about?
MCENANY: They can't process this case for change, Mike Pence and Donald Trump can, and if they do so they will win this election.
BEGALA: There's an art to it. And I do think president -- Vice President George Herbert Walker Bush did just right. He was trying to succeed Ronald Reagan, and so in time our lifetime, where party 13 and up. And so it's worth studding, and he was going to be kinder and gentler than President Reagan. Don't forget he had ...
LORD: Kinder and gentler than whom?
BEGALA: Exactly. But -- it was a little bit of a departure. But this is -- the problem with Trump trying to make the case with change with Mike Pence tonight is that Trump is so eccentric. He so -- he such a lightning rod.
So, last night in a debate in New Hampshire where Kelly Ayotte and incumbent senator running against incumbent governor, she's in a lot of trouble. In the debate she was asked, is Donald Trump a role model for your children? She said of course. Then this morning she put out a press release and no I misspoke, he's not a role model.
AXELROD: And that is exactly why she's ...
BEGALA: What is Mike Pence going to say? What is Mike Pence is going to say. Is Donald Trump a role model for your children?
LORD: Of course.
MCENANY: Of course.
BEGALA: That's not going to get him a lot of votes.
BEGALA: You can ask him.
LORD: I don't to hurt your feelings, but is Bill Clinton?
LORD: Well, OK, point made.
AXELROD: There's no doubt that you are right that there is a mood for change in the country. It's not unusual after two terms of a president. We've been through -- we've been through, a hell as a country in the beginning of this administration when he came to office and this economic crisis. It's been a jarring time.
I would argue, you know, that we're better off than we were then. But be that as it may there's a mood for change in the country. The question is what kind of change and is it the change that Donald Trump is offering the kind of change people feel comfortable with.
So far he hasn't gotten over that hump. Mike Pence has to help people believe tonight that change -- this is change they can live with.
VAN JONES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: So the irony, is since you like to do the history stuff. In '92 there was the slogan which was -- it's the economy stupid ...
JONES: ... a change versus more the same and don't forget healthcare. That was the 1992 Clinton playbook.
AXELROD: And it worked.
JONES: And Trump is trying to have that be his playbook. That's ironic. And here is the deal. What's so tragic and what will be so tragic for you guys is probably most of the Republicans you got knocked off, the other 17 might have been able to prosecute the case. You don't have a candidate who can stick with that very simple message. The discipline that Bill Clinton had in '92, you have not seen for more than 48 hours in a row. And tonight what you are going to seen actual difference. You're going to see Pence be ...
LORD: Well ...
JONES: ... hold on a second. Let me just finish. You are going to see Pence actually be presidential. You're going to see Pence be disciplined, it doesn't going to make a bigger contrast with this freak show of Trump.
MCENANY: But, you know, what still ironic is that, you know, as the media proclaiming Trump did so horribly last week, Democrats proclaiming that, the polls showing that a lot of voters agree with that sentiment. But despite that the latest CNN poll which included voters after having seen the debate shows that Trump is most trusted on the two issues most important to voters. Terrorism and the economy. He is the guy who can prosecute this case, despite having a horrible debate performance the polls bear that out.
(CROSSTALK) [20:35:10] BEGALA: What's going to happen tonight is -- as I think Mike Pence will stay on message and he can certainly will. Donald Trump won't. He's going to have that ...
JONES: He's tweeting tonight.
BEGALA: He's going to have that Twitter account going, and I bet you dollars to doughnuts, he find some way to attack a Miss Universe ...
COOPER: And John King is reporting that he -- I just saw on Twitter that his campaign folks are going to be around him while ...
BEGALA: Unless one of those Trump suits is a straight jacket made in China or in Bangladesh it's not going to work.
BEGALA: I think they can't control him. Are you kidding? And it would be -- it could be he's attacked the pope. Maybe he'll attack the Holy Father tonight, maybe Rosie O'Donnell. Who the hell knows? But we know his not going to stay on message and butcher his guy Mike Pence. So I think we'll be fine to that.
GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: You know, people wanted change, and you could argue that Hillary Clinton looks like change because she's a woman just by virtue of that fact. But the question is risk. Hillary Clinton has been making the argument about risk this entire campaign against Donald Trump. When he gets up at 3:00 in the morning and starts tweeting about Alicia Machado, people get up in the morning and they read that. And they say, oh, well what is he going to do when it is actually an important thing?
AXELROD: When he tweet missiles off at 3:00 a.m.
BORGER: And so the risk argument. I mean Donald Trump is his own worst enemy on the risk argument.
COOPER: But just for the record I'm not sure if he got up at 3:00 or just stayed up. No, I'm not saying that historically, I'm just saying for the record, I don't know.
LORD: Gloria, Hillary Clinton had her 3:00 in the morning -- whether there was literally 3:00 or not, I cannot recall. But it was Benghazi and four people are dead because of that.
JANET BROWN, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR COMMISSON OF PRESIDENTIAL DEBATES: Thank you very much.
LORD: So if you're telling me are they more concern about what Donald Trump might tweet or that Hillary Clinton ...
COOPER: OK, let's listen to Janet Brown who's the director of the commission.
BROWN: .... of 2016 here at Longwood University. On a normal evening Willett Hall would be hosting a basketball game. And as you can see it has been turned into a venue where a conversation will be taking place that will be watched all over the world by tens of millions of people. That is courtesy of the skills of the commission's production team. The audio, set, lighting, and other production team members are without peer in this business.
They have transformed this into something that a huge national and international broadcast will be telecast from. And I hope you'll take the time to look in your programs and read their names and appreciate the extraordinary work that they do.
There are a lot of people to thank for all of the work that's gone into this evening. And I'd like to start by introducing t co-chairman of the commission Mike McCurry and Frank Fahrenkopf.
MIKE MCCURRY, CO-CHAIRMAN COMMISSON ON PRESIDENTIAL DEBATE: Thank you Janet and thank you Farmville and Longwood University. You have been spectacular hosts. Give yourselves a round of applause.
We've been very warmly welcomed. I want to tell you a little about the non partisan commission on presidential debates which began in 1987, conducting these debates, we are now in our eighth series of debates that have been hosted by the commission. The board of directors of the commission, the commission itself is made up of 16 prominent leaders from both the public and the private sector. They are Democrats, Republicans, Independents and probably some none of the above.
But we are delighted that tonight we've got one of our members of the commission with us. The former president of the League of Women Voters and the president of the Council on Foundations. I'd ask Dorothy Riding, please stand up and take a bow. We are also pleased to have one of the original members on Commission on Presidential Debate, the former vice chair, David Norcross.
Now, one of the responsibilities of the commission is to design the format for these debates and four years ago we made a change to allow longer blocks of time for the candidates the to engage each other and the issues.
So tonight we will have a debate that's divided into 9 and 10 minute segments. Each one begins with our moderators posing a question. Only the moderator knows what those questions are. The commission does not. The campaigns do not. And the candidates themselves do not.
The debate also -- this is very important is for the public, and as Janet said, millions of people will be watching this. So it's very important that you respect the rest of our American citizens watching this debate by not interrupting this debate with any booing, cheering, clapping, or one of my cousins in Georgia would say "hooting and hollering."
[20:40:08] So please just be quite and respect the time of the candidates have to be with each other to discuss the issues. Also the use of cellphones, cameras or electronic devices is also strictly prohibited. Now if any of these ground rules are violated you'll probably find yourself being asked to leave the hall.
So please honor those rules. At about 9:00 live back in the back, you will hear a lot commotion's as our friends from the network go live. So don't be disturbed by that, that's part of our process back. And with that I'd like to introduce some very good friend of mine, a partner someone who I've enjoyed working with. Frank Fahrenkopf, the co-chair of the commission.
FRANK FAHRENKOPF, CO-CHAIR COMMISSION ON PRESIDENTIAL DEBATES: Thank you Mike, and thank you ladies and gentleman. I want to join Mike and Janet in welcoming you here.
The CPD is a non partisan. Private organization, it's -- we get no money from the political parties. We get no money from candidates. We get no money from the government, whether state, local or federal government. We're privately funded and we're funded by a number of corporations, foundations and individuals who firmly believe that those who would be president and vice president of the United States should debate. Should debate so that the American people sitting at home watching on television or streaming on their other devices can make an ascertation as to who they're going to support.
But they hear the issues discussed that are going to be important. And I want just take a moment and mention sponsors for this 2016 debates. The Anheuser-Busch companies who do a great job for us every year. The Howard G. Buffett Foundation. The Kovler Fund. The Law Firm of Krull and Moreland. The National Governors Association and the AARP, who to join me in giving a hand for their support.
Now I'm just going to mention two other things that we do other than these debates every four years. We have been involved for the last 4- years and something that most of us in this audience, other than the students who are here don't know a lot about. Most of us as I look around this audience, we grew up reading newspapers and magazines and watching the television news to find out what's going on in the world, what's going on in politics. That's not the way it is today for millions and millions particularly of young Americans because social media has changed everything.
And so over the last four years we've been working with very closely these social media platforms in this country. To make sure we understand what those people who on social media are interested in, what are their concerns? What questions do they think ought to be asked? And those platforms are helping us tonight and throughout these debates by letting the moderators who as Mike said are the only people who know what questions are going to be asked. What's on the minds of those people.
So and we're very, very involved with them, we've very thankful for them because the important thing is to get every American possible educated about the candidates and the issues and get them out to vote on Election Day.
And the last thing I'm going to mention isn't else something else we do between the debates and that is our international program. The United States of America and our system of democracy is a beacon throughout the world. We're not perfect. We never say we are perfect. But through particularly emerging democracies around the world, they look to our system. And they are fascinated by this concept of having debates between the leaders.
In the last 20 years we've been working with 35 nations around the world. We've brought some of them to Washington. Sometimes we send people there, where they are now having these types of debates. And in fact in a couple of weeks in Nevada, UNLV, the final debate, we will have 50 people from 45 nations there for a three-day seminar. They'll participate and they will watch the debates. So we're extremely proud of that program.
And as Mike said something else we're extremely proud of. And this is this university. It has done a remarkable job. We owe a debt of gratitude to the students, to the faculty, to the -- all the workers and people who work so hard setting up the chairs that you are sitting on. They did a remarkable job. And they are very, very fortunate because they have a remarkable leader. It's my pleasure to introduce the president of Longwood University, Taylor Reveley.
[20:45:06] BLITZER: Frank Fahrenkopf, Mike McCury, the two co- chairman of that presidential debate commission. Jake Tapper, the format is very different tonight than we saw in the first presidential debate.
TAPPER: That's right Wolf, we're told that there will be nine segments of 10 minutes each. So you should expect much quicker exchanges about the topics that the moderator brings up. Also the candidates, the nominees, will be seated at table. That might lend itself to more conversational, interactions, perhaps less aggressive. But we shall see.
BLITZER: You know, and Dana the tone of that Clinton/Trump debate was pretty combative.
BLITZER: These two candidates, the vice presidential candidate, they seem a bit more affable, shall we say. So the tone might be a little more high level?
BASH: It could be. They are more affable. They are genuinely nice guys and people have covered them for years. People on the opposite side of the aisle will tell you that, that they are nice and the question is nice is going to be whether or not either of them get that Mr. nice guy, sharpens up the rhetoric. Sharpens up their arguments as the people inside of the campaigns at the top of the ticket frankly hope that they do, especially when it comes to Mike Pence going after Hillary Clinton's record.
BLITZER: While we're waiting to be the spouses of the candidates are going to be introduce momentarily. The moderator will be introduced. Anderson in the meantime, let's go back to you.
COOPER: Yeah. Let's continue to talk with our panel as we watch the events in the debate hall. Just for people at home, David, I mean what are you going to be looking at for tonight in terms of the score card? What are you watching?
AXELROD: Well I think you are going to see very quickly what the strategies are. Is Pence on the -- is he spending much time on himself or is he on the attack? Will Kaine do what we suspect and raise some issues that have arisen in the last week and ask Pence to comment on them?
COOPER: To continue to kind of prosecuting what they say is a lack of judgment.
AXELROD: I eman in short, what you -- Pence is coming to try and change the momentum of the last week and Kaine is coming to try and continue the momentum the last week. And we'll be able to judge pretty quickly who's being more successful in that task.
BORGER: You know, I think that what you also might hear from Kaine to Pence is how can you defend Donald Trump on X, Y and Z when you have disagreed with him on so many important issue, including the Muslim ban. Including trade for example. How can you defend him not releasing his taxes when you are released your taxes.
COOPER: What's interesting ...
COOPER: ... many vice presidential candidates failed.
AXELROD: Right, I don't think that is that hard for Pence, because I think he'll just say look he's the candidate. He will set the policy. We agree on many things. We don't agree on everything. Just as you don't on agree with Hillary Clinton on X, Y and Z.
So I wouldn't waist time on that. I would raise some of these very controversial things that have happened in the last few weeks and before and I would force Pence to say yay or ney on these things. Does this represent what you think?
BORGER: Yeah, and Alicia Machado ...
HENDERSON: And I think Kaine is also going to try to bring up some of the things that Pence has done in Indiana around LGBT rights because I think that's going to speak to those college-educated, more moderate voters. I think he's going to try to wrap that around Trump to make him, again, more unacceptable on certain segment of voters.
AXELROD: And Pence by the same token will use the issue of taxes. He signaled that. Kaine raised them. He cut them.
AXELROD: Kaine doesn't, you know, Kaine and Clinton don't understand business. We understand business. But that opens up a whole another discussion this week that runs to the taxes and the business ...
SMERCONISH: ... strategies. They need a growth strategy because that which brought them thus far is now limiting them. All that behavior from Donald Trump this week with the beauty queen, the way in which he conducted himself in the debate, the tax issues. These are things that could have been handled when there were 16, 17 others on the stage because he had that hardened base of a third or more who are always going to be with him. I just haven't seen the growth strategy since we entered the general election process. Where are they growing today?
COOPER: Where are they growing?
MCENANY: This is where I really hope that Mike Pence brings in a little of the personal side. You know, we heard him say that they have become very close with the Trump family. Tell us some of those personal stories because this is an opportunity for really voter this VP candidates to be character witnesses, tell us how -- give us an anecdote about how Trump has the right temperament what you see and as he told that about I think was pretty significant, Mike Pence said I'm here to tell Trump's story. I think that will be a big part of it.
LORD: And stick to the economy. I mean that is always the number one issue in an election. And they should stick with them, and when you've 70 percent in these polls that say the country is going in the wrong direction, speak to that issue over and over and over and over again. You can't do it enough.
JONES: I think -- I think for Tim Kaine, there's an Obama coalition out there that he needs to talk to. It's not just -- I mean he's definitely, his going to have to -- right now Donald Trump is down and he needs to keep him down. And he needs to remind people who maybe haven't been watching TV all weekend and all week, all the things that have happened. That's important.
[20:50:12] But, you know, what there's also an Obama coalition out there that needs to be reminded that Tim Kaine is a friend of theirs. This was not the VP that the young millennials wanted. They would have loved to see an Elizabeth Warren. They would have loved to see, you know ...
LORD: Bernie Sanders.
JONES: Fine. But, you know, you could go down a whole list of more firebrand progressives. So, I do think it's important. She's still struggling to get that Obama coalition fired up. And I think people right now, he has a very low bar to hit, but he could hit a bar and remind people, he has gone -- you know, he speaks Spanish fluently, he has been there on the front lines, he has gone overseas.
JONES: He needs to make sure that remind people ...
AXELROD: Spent two decades as a civil rights and civil ...
JONES: Exactly. And I think sometimes people assume that everyone knows that about Tim Kaine. People do not know that. And it's important that we don't forget that there's an Obama coalition out there that needs to be spoken to tonight.
BEGALA: The tougher challenge is Pence, because he's got a reverse the momentum. He doesn't just need to draw, he needs to win. And I think he do that by attacking. I cannot disagree, Kayleigh, I mean it'd be nicer if he talk about how well the Trump, but first let's face it, they're not like popping popcorn and watching Trump's "playboy" videos together. Right this is a guy who's got like deep Christian values.
AXELROD: I don't think that's what she was talking about.
BEGALA: That's right, no I mean Mike Pence is not like Donald Trump in any way. But what Kaine is going to the offense. How can he do that? Not look disagreeable. He should have studied Joe Biden. Joe Biden four years ago, the president, I'm sorry acts, but you know it's true, he lost badly in the first debate to Mitt Romney, Biden began to come back. He had a very aggressive debate with a very principled conservative Paul Ryan, but did it without being nasty. I was a really master ...
AXELROD: Yeah, it was.
COOPER: Yeah. Let's toss it back to Wolf. Wolf?
BLITZER: Anderson, Janet Brown, the executive director of the Presidential Debate Commission is about to introduce the two wives of this vice presidential candidates, Anne Holton and Karen Pence. Dana, both of these women are impressive in their own right.
BASH: Absolutely. We got to hear from them earlier this hour. And I think one of the things interesting about Anne Holton, the wife of Tim Kaine is that, she is not only a local, just like Tim Kaine is in Virginia, she is the daughter of a governor, a Republican governor. So she is -- let's listen in.
BLITZER: Yeah, let's listen in.
BORWN: .... And Karen Pence.
BLITZER: These wives, Dana, they're going to have a front row seat together with other special guests who have been invited tonight. A very, very prime location.
BASH: That's right. Anne Holton and Karen Pence, and the moment that we just saw, I have to say of the two of them shaking hands, giving each other sort of knowing looks, that they're two people on the planet who know what the other is going through.
BROWN: ... and CBS News correspondent.
ELAINE QUIJANO, CBS NEWS DEBATE MODERATOR: Hi, everyone. I'm Elaine Quijano of CBS News and I am honored and humbled to be with you here tonight. Thanks for coming.
Now, we have a lot of business to get to, a lot of issues to cover, so I would ask for your help. If everyone could right now please check to make se that your cellphones are off, I'll give you a moment to do that. And while you're doing that, I will remind you that there is to be no cheering, no booing, no noise of any kind, as the debate gets underway. And with that, I am going to take my seat, get situated, once again, thank you all for being here.
BLITZER: Elaine Quijano of CBS News, Dana, she's going to be the moderator. She's got a tough assignment tonight between these two vice presidential candidates.
BASH: Listen, this is incredibly hard, no matter who you are, no matter what you've done, this is -- the stakes are incredibly high. This is the vice presidential debate, but they know that there are lots of eyeballs. And Elaine Quijano is our former colleague here and we know she can -- she can do a good job.
BLITZER: Yep, we know her quite well from her years here at CNN, as well. Jake, this is a moment for these two vice presidential candidates, potentially, to shine. But the stakes for them are really enormous.
[20:55:00] TAPPER: That's right. And this is the biggest moment for a vice presidential nominee. Obviously, the presidential nominees have two other debates left, plus obviously, everything they say and do will be focused on microscopically, but for Tim Kaine and Mike Pence, this is the moment for which they have been preparing since they were pick.
This is the opportunity to aggressively prosecute the nominee of the other party, the presidential nominee, not vice presidential, and to present an alternative vision, a positive vision to make the case for the nominee that maybe the nominee doesn't make as well for him or herself.
BLITZER: A good point. Anderson, let's go back to you.
COOPER: Wolf, thanks very much. We're probably about five minutes away or so from this debate. The pressure certainly on Elaine Quijano is enormous. I think this is her first debate certainly like this. But again it is kind of a more -- not informal, but more intimate setting, which I don't know exactly how that affects the flow of the debate.
AXELROD: I think she got a good draw here, because these guys are not Donald Trump, they're not -- she's not going to -- they're not going to try and paint outside the lines, I suspect. They're both, they're calm, they're courtly, they're -- and I think that they will play by the general rules here. But you still -- I mean, you're sitting there and the nation is watching and you're trying to pry meaningful things out of them and not just talking points. And pressure for ...
SMERCONISH: And I think that configuration could have an impact. It would be far more easy for me to say something negative to Paul than it would tonia, because we're well deserve ...
AXELROD: Stand by America.
COOPER: And, go!
HENDERSON: And it also puts I think some pressure on Elaine, because she's right at the table with the two other candidates there, so does she jump in, does she hang back? So it will be interesting.
BORGER: And they're not going to hang back, because these people are aggressive. You know, and ...
JONES: But they are both skilled at delivering the knife with a smile, right? So you've got the temperamental differences could not be -- especially with regard to Trump versus Pence. So, in that setting, you're kind of all sitting there together, it's kind like your at the bar, but you've got to be able to deliver it with a knife -- a knife with a smile. And I think this setting actually supports both of them doing that.
COOPER: Well, it's also so much about the last presidential debate was about baiting Donald Trump, you know, Hillary Clinton baiting Donald Trump, getting him off his game. I don't imagine there being a lot of sort of baiting going on here. I mean, I think they both have their points, their strategies going into this and they're going to hammer away at it.
BEGALA: And they're not really debating each other. You know, Roger Ailes, who apparently has been coaching Trump, wrote a book years ago called "You Are The Message."
BEGALA: The message to Tim and to Mike tonight is, you're not the message. The other fella is, the other woman is. And in that sense, it could be a sort of unsatisfying debate, because they're going to attack past each other, I suspect each attacking the other's principle.
AXELROD: It clearly get that. When you hear how they've spoken about these debates and consider the temperament of these two guys, you know, they're going in there to do exactly that.
JONES: So they will be trying out some new attacks. I mean, that's the -- listen, let's not forget, the war to settle the score is on Sunday. I'm sorry, sir, but it will be the war ...
AXELROD: The war to settle the score! Wow!
JONES: Sunday will be the brawl to end it all. Anderson, that will happen. So, but tonight, you're going to see them giving some of this early attacks trying to figure out some of the fakes and jabs.
BORGER: It will be interesting to see whether this foreshadows what's going to happen on Sunday night. I mean look, most of this vice presidential ... AXELROD: This is the flap before the scrap right?
COOPER: Wow. We've got a few more minutes, you know, how many we can come up with.
AXELROD: Need a rhyming dictionary.
BORGER: Usually vice presidential debates don't move the needle very much.
BORGER: I mean Quayle's disastrous performance in '88 didn't move the needle, right? But, but, this is going to let you know whether attacks -- they're going to test out some attacks.
COOPER: So, so -- well, that's the -- I mean David, would a presidential campaign test out attacks through the vice presidential debate?
AXELROD: Maybe somewhat, but look, here's the thing, Pence has to stop the bleeding and hold the fort until Trump gets on that stage on Sunday night. If Trump has a good night Sunday night, it could change the picture. If he doesn't, whatever Pence does tonight will be irrelevant.
COOPER: I think stop the bleeding and hold the fort is a mixed metaphor. But anyway ...
SMERCONISH: At least speaking for myself, 10 days ago, I didn't know the name Alicia Machado. I wonder who else is out there whose name we don't know that perhaps by the end of this debate, it wouldn't be surprise me if Tim Kaine had someone ...
AXELROD: ... and Mike Pence.
MCENANY: And Michael, there's ample material there. You know, is -- are we going to see Pence plant a bomb like Wells Fargo, for instance, Hillary's out and out talking about Wells Fargo, but we know that her foundation took in thousands of dollars from Wells Fargo. Who will drop that little bit of information to frame the media narrative for the forthcoming ...
LORD: One of the things this will move.
SMERCONISH: It could it -- somebody who worked for the Trump Taj Mahal in Atlantic City who sold pianos and never got paid and all of a sudden they tie it to a tax issue.
[21:00:06] LORD: Where this could go, is -- there was a great column in the "Wall Street Journal" today by Bret Stephens who was decidedly not a Trump ... BORGER: Right.