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Presidential Race Change; Nixon's Grandson Supports Trump. Aired 8:30-9a ET

Aired October 14, 2016 - 08:30   ET

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


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[08:32:03] ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: One week ago that "Access Hollywood" tape surfaced showing Donald Trump making lewd comments about women and bragging about what many see as sexual assault. So, where is the race today? Let's get "The Bottom Line" with CNN political analyst David Gregory.

Hi, David.

DAVID GREGORY, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Hello there.

CAMEROTA: So, after a year and a half of this crazy presidential race and all of the inflammatory language that we've heard, has this been the watershed week?

GREGORY: Well, I think Hillary Clinton is in a commanding position to win the presidency at this stage. If you look at the polling, she's up in North Carolina, she's up narrowly in Ohio, she's winning big in Pennsylvania. The path for Donald Trump is so narrow, indeed. He certainly not doing much to court the kinds of swing voters that he would need, namely women, college educated voters. He seems to be going down an ever darker path.

Plus, I think this - this whole notion of an October surprise was actually not a surprise. It was the full Donald Trump in his full vulgar form and that's what we've seen in this past week and he's doubling down on it by talking about a global conspiracy and going after the media and all these things. Great fodder for the people who love him and who hate the media and hate Hillary Clinton, just not a way you win the presidency.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Also, other than these recent accusations, you know, those of us who have been harder on Trump for the last year or so have been saying, it's all out there.

GREGORY: Yes.

CUOMO: This is all from his past. You know, was it just about what the curiosity level was for the media versus the entertainment value of the actual candidate.

GREGORY: Right. CUOMO: So, that takes us to Michelle Obama. The influence of her speech yesterday, is this lefty fawning or do you think it was a clear-eyed assessment that may actually move the needle?

GREGORY: I think Michelle Obama has been an incredibly effective surrogate. I think in many ways her speech was a speech that went beyond partisan differences because I don't think we're locked in partisan differences in this campaign. You know the effective ad by the Clinton team about our children watching and what do they make of this? I have an 11-year-old daughter who asked me before the last debate, daddy what is groping? And I said, oh, great, you're watching, you know, you're watching the news again. Well, you know, the risk of following presidential politics, it's gross. And I think what she was effectively saying is that this is the legacy of this campaign that we're left with. And it speaks to people in a - kind of a base level of human decency about this campaign and what people worry about. So I think she's had an effect to rely speak to people.

And, by the way, this is not just speaking to the left. I mean, again, these are women who cut across all political barriers, college educated women, Republican women, swing voters. I think she's really speaking to those and has really emerged in many ways as the most effective surrogate that Hillary Clinton could have at this point.

CAMEROTA: But, David, I want to ask you about what you think of the legacy of this campaign because why does it seem to be the treatment of women will become the legacy, rather than the economy, jobs, immigration -

GREGORY: Yes.

CAMEROTA: All of the other things that people care about?

GREGORY: Well, I - that's a really good point, Alisyn, and I actually - I think that will be a big piece of it. And I think it will be a big piece of it because it has dominated the final months. I mean we're not talking about these other issues. We're talking about, you know, claims of sexual assault and things that he's bragged about throughout the course of this campaign and the course of his adult life.

[08:35:15] But I actually think for a lot of voters it will - what will loom bigger is not this. It will be the flirtation with authoritarianism that Donald Trump is engaged in. A fawning for Vladimir Putin. A threat to persecute and jail his political opponent. A threat to open up the libel laws against the news media. These are really dangerous things.

And I think that if you look - there's a new Fox poll out this morning that shows not only trustworthiness but again temperament. Does he have the temperament to be president? A majority, over 60 percent, say that Donald Trump does not and that he's not qualified to be president. Really these past couple of months have been mostly about where we started. Is this guy up for the job? Does he have the temperament to be president? Is he qualified to be president? He has never gotten over that hump. And there's no indication that he's going to even try to because in - somewhere in his mind he this he can just - this scorched earth thing is going to either set him up for the post-election phase of whatever he wants to do to lead a kind of, you know, populist movement, keep it going, maybe turn it into a new media network. We'll see what it is.

But I do think that his effect on Republicanism, and Republicans' behavior with regard to their own party, that's going to be a big legacy here. Because it's not just going to end on Election Day. There will be difficulties for Hillary Clinton as a result of this campaign and how the country's been divided, how the Republican Party's been divided and the Republican Party's going to have a lot of work to do, as well.

CUOMO: Mike Pence, he's a guy who came into this in terms of how he decided to define his role as being the stable one. The one that could be worked with. That strong, conservative center. But he's had to make compromises with himself. And he made perhaps the biggest one this morning, saying that proof is going to come out that these allegations are not true about Donald Trump. What do you make of that?

GREGORY: I think Mike Pence is positioning himself now as a loyal surrogate. I think Mike Pence is obviously an ambitious politician who would like to set himself up to run in four years. And Mike Pence wants to try to retain his credibility within the party, and his credibility as a conservative, by the way, but also set himself up to be able to court these Trump voters. There's a lot of conservatives like him who I think may have to answer for the fact, you know, family values conservatives who are standing behind a guy like this who, even if you don't believe all these claims, has still talked in a way that I think would offend a lot of people.

CAMEROTA: David Gregory, Thank you. Great to talk to you.

GREGORY: Thanks. See you later.

CAMEROTA: Have a nice weekend.

CUOMO: "The Bottom Line."

All right, you know who likes Donald Trump?

CAMEROTA: Who's that?

CUOMO: Richard Nixon. True. Of course he's no longer with us. May he rest in peace. However, the candidate - the president's grandson is going to join us with a very interesting piece of history that could shed some light on Trump's rise in politics. There he is. Good to have you with us. We'll talk to you in a second.

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[08:40:40] CUOMO: A little bit of a provocative suggestion here in a race that is always provocative.

CAMEROTA: Go ahead.

CUOMO: Could it be that former President Richard Nixon ignited Donald Trump's political aspirations nearly 30 years ago? Here's the case.

CAMEROTA: The theory.

CUOMO: Here's the case. A letter from Nixon after Trump's appearance on "The Phil Donahue Show" in 1987, here's an excerpt. "Dear Donald, I did not see the program, but Mrs. Nixon told me that you were great on 'The Donahue Show.' As you can imagine, she is an expert on politics, and she predicts that whenever you decide to run for office, you will be a winner. With warm regards, sincerely, Richard."

That letter just a sample of what will be available to visitors when the Nixon Presidential Library in California reopens today.

Joining us now, President Nixon's grandson, Christopher Nixon Cox.

It is good to see you, Chris. We know that - first of all, congratulations on the library being reopened after renovations. And we know you share the generous assessment of Trump by your grandfather. Tell us why.

CHRISTOPHER NIXON COX, GRANDSON OF PRESIDENT NIXON: Well, you know, I think that this election is really a change election and people are looking for a candidate that's going to grow our economy, that's going to be strong on foreign policy, and I think that Donald Trump will provide that to the - to the American people.

Of course, when you look at that letter that my grandfather wrote, he wrote that over 25 years ago. And I think he was very impressed with the charisma of Donald Trump and how Donald Trump was able to present himself on TV. And certainly when you see the primaries and all the victories that Donald Trump's had in the primaries, we see a true political talent. Donald Trump certainly has the ability to mesmerize a crowd, to galvanize people behind him, and we've seen that play out throughout the primaries.

And, of course, the general election, we'll see where things end up. But my prediction is it will probably be a very close election. I think that Donald Trump will probably be able to make a comeback here in the last few weeks.

CAMEROTA: And what gives you that confidence?

COX: Well, he's done it multiple times. We saw in March Donald Trump was down nine points. Then he came back to almost tie the race. He fell behind in June I think about seven points and again by the convention was leading after his convention. In August he was down, but then he was back to tied in September. So, you know, this just seems to be the pattern of this election.

And as I mentioned before, 70 percent of Americans think the country's on the wrong track. They're looking for a change candidate and Donald Trump is clearly the candidate of change. So that's the fuel that will really power his candidacy and I think make this very, very tight election.

CUOMO: It's not policy that's holding Trump back, though, right? This election has descended into a power of who is the less bad person. That's why both their negatives are so high. Do you think your grandfather would have gotten behind Donald Trump knowing what people now know about him?

COX: You know, I think it's - it's - you know, of course, I don't want to speak for my grandfather. I know that he would be a supporter of the Republican nominee because he would feel that the Republican nominee, or Donald Trump in this case, would be supporting freedom for the American people. And what I mean by that is, lower taxes, reducing spending, and then having a strong foreign policy. Those are the tenants of the Republican Party. That's what Donald Trump will represent. And he would be for the Republican nominee. And he would be advising Donald Trump.

And I think, today, we really need my grandfather's advice. He was such an expert on foreign affairs. He knew China better than anyone. And when you look at the threats facing us around the world today, the threats in North Korea, the threats in Syria, that's where my grandfather could provide so much advice to Donald Trump. And he - he would say to Trump - he would be a great adviser. I have no doubt about that.

CAMEROTA: And also your grandfather, correct me if I'm wrong, believed in the power of political rhetoric, and the power of the rhetoric to be aspirational. You know, you have the bully pulpit and you can inspire voters. Do you think that the rhetoric we have heard in this presidential race would meet your grandfather's standards of aspirational?

CUOMO: You better say, no, Chris. You know that's the only answer to that question.

COX: Well, it's certainly been a very tough election in terms of rhetoric. But, you know, I think when you look at what Donald Trump has done on his side, his voters are very motivated to get out and vote. Certainly the enthusiasm is with Donald Trump's side. So, you know, he's certainly said something to motivate his voters. But I think that my grandfather would certainly hope that the debates in the days ahead would turn towards policy more and focus on the issues that are confronting the nation because we know a nuclearizing Korean peninsula is a very dangerous situation. Russia invading Crimea and taking land from a sovereign country for the first time since World War II is a very dangerous situation. ISIS in Syria, very dangerous.

[08:45:19] CUOMO: Well, your grandfather would have had a - would have had a field day with Trump on those two issues because he's certainly not where your grandfather would have been.

Let me ask you something on a personal note. The library's reopening. That's got to be a proud moment for the family. But, you know, for all of the aspersions and the negativity about what happened with your grandfather while he was in office with Watergate, what is the family most proud about when it comes to remembering the legacy of your grandfather?

COX: You know, we're so proud of all the accomplishments that he had, both domestically and in foreign policy. Of course, everyone knows about the opening to China, which was a major diplomatic breakthrough. And that achievement still echoes through history today.

But not as many people know that my grandfather started Title IX, equalizing funding between men's and women's athletics, or that he started the EPA or OSHA. And even on his civil rights record, he start affirmative action in 1969 in Philadelphia and he desegregated southern schools and provided assistance to minority owned businesses. Those are all part of the record that not many people know about.

And we want people to come to the Nixon Library. It's opening today. We want people to come and examine that record more and get to know the great things that my grandfather has done for this country. And we think that this new library gives all sorts of interactive exhibits where you can see my grandfather's thinking and you can make decisions alongside of him. And we think that that's really something that's quite exciting and hopefully sheds some new light on Richard Nixon's legacy.

CAMEROTA: Sounds like it will be a great visit to learn more about history. Christopher Nixon Cox, thanks so much for sharing your perspective on the race with us.

COX: Thank you so much. Great to be here with you this morning.

CAMEROTA: Great to have you.

CUOMO: All right, how about a little hero action? We can certainly use all of that we can get right now. So, we want to tell you about one of the CNN heroes taking on national bullying month. Matthew Kaplan started up a one of a kind program when he realized his little brother was being made fun of. In the past five years, he shared his powerful message with nearly 5,000 middle school kids across the country. Here's a taste.

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MATTHEW KAPLAN: The term peer pressure is thrown around a lot. And usually when it is, it's meant as a negative thing. But I believe that we can actually harness peer pressure for good. I mean what if it was cool to be kind. And that's what positive peer pressure is all out, creating this culture where being inclusive and being kind is the norm.

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CUOMO: Amen and wish it were that way. To see Matthew's positive peer pressure program in action, go to cnnheroes.com.

Bullying's still a problem. That's why I say it that way. Even in my kid's fancy schools, it's still there.

CAMEROTA: Of course it is. That looks great. He said it's cool to be kind.

CUOMO: That would be nice. CAMEROTA: Not cruel.

All right, meanwhile, the process to separate conjoined twins linked at the head is nothing short of remarkable. Dr. Sanjay Gupta is going to join us next with exclusive access inside the hospital that bore witness to this very rare operation. We'll show it to you, next.

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[08:55:10] CAMEROTA: All right, Sanjay, please keep us posted. Thanks so much for bring us all the latest on the surgery. Great to see you.

SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Thank you.

CUOMO: And God bless those parents, you know?

CAMEROTA: My goodness.

CUOMO: Boy, the strength they've need.

CAMEROTA: All right, we need a little laughter in our lives. Your late night laughs, next.

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CAMEROTA: Are you going to dance or are you going to read?

CUOMO: That was my Friday dance.

CAMEROTA: Wow.

CUOMO: No surprise here, but look at you respecting the prompter call for once. Wow. All right, so the 2016 race, I mean there's just so much comedic relief that's gone on. So how about a taste for your Friday.

CAMEROTA: Please.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SETH MEYERS, "LATE NIGHT WITH SETH MEYERS": Five women have now come forward to accuse Donald Trump of inappropriately touching or kissing them as recently as 2005. Said Trump, I would never do that and anyone who says I would is me on tape on a bus with Billy Bush.

JIMMY FALLON, "THE TONIGHT SHOW STARRING JIMMY FALLON": Big story today that Trump said he's preparing a lawsuit against "The New York Times" for its recent articles about him. Trump says what they're doing is wrong and he was also one lawsuit away from a free one on his lawyer's punch card. (INAUDIBLE).

[08:59:53] JIMMY KIMMEL, "JIMMY KIMMEL LIVE": I got a personal e-mail from Mr. Donald J. Trump, who offered me, as you'll see, an exclusive Trump presidential black card. At my inauguration next year, there will be upwards of a million people there, but only a few will have presidential black cards. That's right. For a one-time initiation fee of $35, you too can own a card that has no benefit or rewards whatsoever.