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tv   The Lead With Jake Tapper  CNN  September 16, 2015 1:00pm-2:01pm PDT

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much. good luck to you. good luck to ben carson tonight. that is it for me here at the reagan library. i'm brooke baldwin. we'll send things to "the lead." anderson cooper in for jake tapper. "the lead" starts right now. brooke, thanks very much. i'm anderson cooper in for tonight's moderator jake tapper, as brooke just said. this is "the lead." debate night just two hours away. a big fight feel who will come out swinging and who could get counterpunched right off the stage? more contenders are arriving this hour. many have walked through, sized up the podiums. donald trump is expected to get here later this hour. he will not be allowed to park his jet next to air force one. we have cameras perched at every angle to bring all the pregame preparatio preparations. our analysts, reporters, question ners and moderator as we count down to the biggest night in the race for the president so far.
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just seconds ago we saw rick santorum arrive here at the reagan national library. today's coverage with the man himself mr. moderator host of this show and cnn's chief washington correspondent, jake tapper. let's check in with jake tapper. jake, what's your strategy for tonight? >> well, as you and i have spoken about, anderson, our goal is to get the candidates to debate each other. i thought the best moment in the first debate was when rand paul, senator rand paul and governor chris christie were passionately disagreeing on nsa mass surveillance. i thought that was just illuminating. they both were very, very passionate. disagreed very strongly. and we're going to try to prompt as much of that as possible encouraging the candidates to step up and explain why their view, why their position, why their policy is superior to the rival one on the stage.
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we don't want this to be about stump speeches or talking points. we want it to be about an actual debate. >> and how is it going to work? you're moderating, hugh hewitt, dana bash. >> yeah. they're both going to be integrated throughout the night. a number of times starting in the first block of the first debate. and it's just going to proceed. and a lot of it of course is going to be up to the candidates themselves if there's an exchange that really needs more time than a minute response to the question, 30 seconds rebuttal, we're going to give it. we want there to be real differences, real excitement. and we hope the candidates meet the challenge. >> jake, it looks like rick santorum is behind you checking out the podium. have all the candidates done that so far? i know trump has not.
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>> we've seen governor christie, marco -- senator rubio, interestingly went behind his podium and very discreetly where his name was written on a piece of tape he took a pen and drew a cross next to his name. something to reassure him throughout the debate. i asked permission from his staff before i shared that detail because obviously it was a personal one and meant to be private, but i thought it was very telling about marco rubio. and we have rick santorum here. we're expecting them all to be here. they're all checking out where they're going to be standing, who's going to be standing near the arena. >> we just lost jake. let's check in with athena jones who has been standing by watching the candidates coming. correspondent athena jones, who have you talked to so far? who have you seen? >> hi, anderson. we've seen a whole slew of people coming through here. this is where they make their first foray into that debate
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set. we've seen senator graham, senator santorum just went by, governor kasich, governor christie. let's go ahead and play for you a sampling of some of what the candidates told me as i asked if they were ready. how are you feeling? >> i feel great. >> i think there may be a lot of fireworks tonight. >> my goal tonight is to keep from having one of those moments that sends me back home. >> i had a great breakfast of cold pizza and diet coke and i'm thrilled to be here. >> i'm just going to be me. see what happens. >> little selection there. i asked governor bush when he walked in, you know, what he'd done to prepare. he said he went on a six-mile hike this morning. he wasn't bitten by a rattlesnake. so things are looking pretty good. i also asked senator rubio what his goal is how he's going to breakthrough. and he said something interesting to me, anderson. he said this is a long protesz. the contest won't be decided tonight. i thought that was interesting especially because for some candidates they really do have to make a strong impression tonight or suffer a steeper loss in the poll and maybe a loss in
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the money race. so this is definitely do or die for some of the candidates, anderson. >> certainly, particularly those candidates in the first debate which starts in one hour, 55 minutes. athena, thanks very much. a lot is at stake as we said for several of the candidates gracing the stage tonight. let's talk debate strategy. with me here chief political analyst gloria borger, john king, david axelrod, cnn political commentator. former senior adviser to president obama. who has the most to lose tonight? >> i think there are people on the fringe of the stage. >> in both debates. >> governor christie, rand paul has a lot at stake and certainly in the first debate i call it the dead man walking debate. it's going to be very, very hard to play yourself on to the main stage in that first debate. there are people going to follow rick perry out of this race after this debate. >> before iowa even? >> i think so. because it's all about whether you can raise the money to continue. some of the candidates on the stage, governor bush and others,
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have ample resources to move on. and so there's a little less at stake although it's still a very important debate. >> john king, what do you expect? >> i'm most interested in what dr. carson does tonight. because we know donald trump has moved to the head of the pack. we know despite all of us trying to apply the normal rule of politics when he says things we think are outrageous or too much bravado to them, we think it's going to hurt him and only helps him. he's here. we know that. he's going to be a force until we get to the voting. is dr. carson, is this a temporary boom like we saw some of the candidates in 2012? or can he use this debate tonight to build and sustain? he's the kinder gentler trump. republicans are clearly looking for somebody outside of the establishment, somebody without a title like senator or governor. can he sustain it when he will be the target tonight? and the first debate he had the opportunity to just choose his moment to be mr. nice guy. he's going to take a little bit tonight because somebody needs those votes. >> in order for him to sustain it is that an organizational issue? >> no. i think it's a candidate issue
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tonight. yeah, carson needs to have and build an organization, but they also need a candidate who can sustain himself on a stage like this. he doesn't have experience. he's had a lot of controversial things in the past which nobody is particularly paying attention to right now. the person i'm interested in is how jeb bush navigates tonight because he's got a lot at stake here. people have $100 million investment in this guy. and he is, you know, single digits in iowa. you know, he's not doing as well -- >> his pac's about to drop $25 million? >> exactly. a quarter of their money. so they understand he's got a problem here. and i think in talking to sources in the campaign that he's going to try and portray donald trump as the imposter on the stage. that donald trump is not the reformer that jeb bush is. he's not the conservative that jeb bush is. he's not the optimist here at the reagan library that jeb bush
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is. so he's going to try to figure out how to do that without directly attacking, attacking, attacking. you know what happens when trump is attacked, he attacks back. and i don't think the bush people really want jeb to get in that. >> they don't want bush going toe-to-toe. >> but he would. >> yeah, he has to find the right way to do it. it's remarkable as you move around here and talk to republican operatives how much trump is in everybody's head. and they're all trying to figure out how to get to this guy. one of them said we know there's crypt nite, we just haven't found it yet. and i think for jeb bush who's not by nature a combative person, it's very dangerous. you don't want to look weak and you don't want to look like you're playing a role that really isn't suited to you. so he has to find the right tone to expose trump. >> and yet we are hearing from, you know, we've heard from a number of people kind of behind the scenes tha they feel the electorate is angry and they want their candidate to kind of reflect that anger.
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the danger on that is being inauthentic. >> sure. >> suddenly you become the angry guy because that's what the polls say. >> and how do you strike that balance? on this stage you have three candidates who thought they would be different voices in this election. rand paul, ted cruz and marco rubio all were insurgents. they ran against establishment candidates in senate primaries when they came to washington they thought they were going to be the outsiders, they were going to be different. now you've got trump and carson and fiorina and they look like the same old. so how do they find their spot? look for them to try to say they're anti-establishment. but because they have the title senator in this summer now fall of trump with the carson rise and fiorina being the new face on the stage. >> i think it's important to understand we focus so much attention on trump because it's hard to take your eyes off of him. but he's really speaking to a base out there. and that base is a group that has experienced an economy where you haven't seen a raise in 20 years. they're frustrated with their economic standing. and they're frustrated with the
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political system they don't think has responded. and so to be too optimistic is to not speak to the experience. >> to the anger. so how do you appeal to the trump supporters, the angry voters? you don't want to turn them off. jeb bush doesn't want to turn them off because at some point he hopes he can -- >> that's true. but whether he's vying for those voters or the nontrump voters in coming up that center right lane. >> i think there are lots of different lanes on this highway. >> right. >> and there's the outsider lane. and trump is in it. and carson is in it. bush is not in the outsider lane, but he wants to be the reformer who is -- can be different. and that's hard. >> social conservative and that's where carson if you're a huckabee, if you're a ted cruz. >> exactly. >> you have to look at carson and say he is eating up a lot of that social conservative vote so how do we get past him? >> john, you've looked at the
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numbers a lot in all the various polls we've seen. if dr. carson does start to fade out, doesn't have the organization or people just start to look elsewhere, where are those conservatives who are supporting him now where do they go? do you think they gravitate toward trump? carson and trump are often linked together as outsiders. >> the interesting thing when you look at the polls is that these guys the numbers have gotten higher also gotten wider in the sense of the breadth of it. they're getting women, they're getting men, they're getting ev evangelica evangelicals, tea party, it's not just one well of the republican party which is fractured into a bunch of pieces and trump's getting little pieces of each pie and carson getting little pieces. you would assume if carson starts to go down that the first beneficiary would be the other candidates pushing the social conservative issues. dr. carson may not be known to, but evangelical they've been buying his books for years. >> but i was surprised in our poll of iowa, likely iowa caucus goers that trump was beating carson among evangelicals.
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>> right. >> surprised a lot of people. >> right. >> i think carson's going to begin to focus on whether trump truly is a social conservative. >> so is the imposter on the stand. >> we'll take a quick break. more with the panel in just a moment. we're awaiting more candidates, donald trump, dr. carson expected to arrive. we'll take a short break and be right back. big day? ah, the usual. moved some new cars. hauled a bunch of steel. kept the supermarket shelves stocked. made sure everyone got their latest gadgets. what's up for the next shift? ah, nothing much.
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welcome back to the reagan library. ben carson just arriving here at the reagan presidential library. let's listen in. >> are you ready? are you excited? >> excitement might be a little extreme, but i'm very ready.
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very happy to be here. >> what's your goal tonight? how are you going to make a strong impression? >> the goal is to be who i am. that's what got me here. not going to change it now. >> and did you do anything special this morning to prepare for tonight? >> yeah. i flew from florida to here. >> all right. thanks, sir. good luck. >> what'd he say? >> i flew from florida to here. that's how he specially prepared. i want to go to the candidate waiting area. we're at the location with former rick santorum. nia. >> hi there. rick santorum is here. he's already done the walk through. senator santorum, what is your strategy going into tonight? >> just be authentic, try to give people some insight as to who you are and why you're the right person to come into washington, d.c., shake things up and make a difference for the country. >> what do you think you need to do to break out of the undercard debate and make it to the next stage? >> i think show you're the outsider with the insider experience to make things
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happen. people are frustrated. they want someone that's going to go to washington, d.c. and shake things up. i just want to remind people that, you know, when i first came to washington we sent the chairman of the ways and means committee to jail. we knocked out the speaker of the house of representatives after four years of democratic control. i mean, i went to washington shook things up. i've been out in the private sector for ten years, ready to go back and do it again. >> good luck tonight, sir. >> thank you. >> anderson, back to you. >> all right. thanks very much. also joining me again is gloria borger, john king and david axelrod. it's a hard message to say you're the outsider with insider experience. >> especially because when you're an outsider because you lost your senate seat. he was an outsider by the insistence of the people of pennsylvania. >> excuse me because president obama ran for a second term kind of as an outsider with insider experience. how do you do that? >> i think we can be too glib about this outsider/insider
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thing. >> right. >> it is your orientation. do you come at it from the perspective of people out in the country who are very deeply concerned about this economic issue, very disappointed in the politics of washington and are you an agent for change? and i think that's what people want to convey. it's just some are more convincing at it than others. >> rick santorum though is the living, breathing example of throw out the rule book and this is a very different election. there's something in the water we have disruptive forces in our politics. he won 12 states last time. now, again, part of that was being the guy still standing the anti-romney in the election. but the republican party's history has been if you run once, come back a second time you're at least afforded more respect. here's a guy maybe he wasn't going to be the front runner, but he won 12 states and he's an asterisk in the polls. and all of these candidates are wrestling with how can i say i'm the outsider when i was an insider or am an insider? how can i make the case -- the key the governors tonight, kasich, christie, bush
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especially the republican party how do they make the case i get why you're for him, but we have to govern. someone's going to win, put their head on a bible and how do you actually govern if you just say everybody is stupid? >> rick perry was the outsider. >> right. >> somebody who ran once before and tried again this time and he's gone. governors used to be considered outsiders in the old days like last cycle. they were outsiders because they weren't of washington. now the governors are insiders because they've governed. >> the guy who was supposed to be the guy in this category was walker. he was the sort of star guy who shook up wisconsin and he was going to do that for the country. and he's made some missteps here and is in big jeopardy. >> make or break. >> i want to take you inside to the debate stage. dr. ben carson checking in on the debate stage. jeff zeleny is standing by inside. what's the scene there, jeff. >> reporter: anderson, can i tell you dr. ben carson is standing now on the stage
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looking at his podium as you can see. note, he is right in the middle of center stage with donald trump just to one side of him. anderson, i can tell you, you've seen it, these podiums are so close together. so he's going as close as he's ever been to his rival donald trump. he's looking over the debate stage right here. of course this is a setting with the air force one right behind him here. but he is a new debater. he's an outside politician. that's one of the reasons he's closing in on donald trump. so he is looking at this very carefully. he's sizing up what the podium looks like. he's smiling and looks relaxed and loose. he just flew in from florida we heard him say a few minutes ago. he seems to be taking this preparation pretty seriously. but he certainly looks relaxed right now, anderson. now he's actually looking where some of his family members will also be sitting in this very intimate audience of some 500 people or so. so such a small almost living room like feel up here, anderson, in this debate hall.
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>> jeff, when you think back to the last debate, the fox debate, i think there were some 5,000 people or so in that auditorium or several thousand people at the very least. and you can really hear that. this is a much smaller audience as you said about 500 or so seats. and they're very, very close to these candidates. >> absolutely. you can see ben carson looking right now. each seat, anderson, has a name on it where an invited guest will be sitting. so he presumably is looking for where some of his advisors or maybe family members will be sitting. candidates often do that, look for a touchstone in the audience to see a comfort level perhaps as they're debating here, someone to perhaps fetch an eye to so you can see as he's walking through seeing who else is on this invite list here on this stage, anderson. >> i want to thank david axelrod, john king, gloria borger. we're going to take a short break. when we come back, what can the candidates expect on stage here
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tonight? hear from the two people who will be asking questions during the debate. we'll be right back. just might be the one.
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carly fiorina arriving just a few seconds ago. let's see what she has to say. >> hi. athena jones from cnn. are you ready? >> i am ready. >> we see you tussling a little with donald trump in the media spotlight. how are you prepared to handle him tonight? >> oh, i think i'll handle him just fine. >> did you do anything special to prepare for today? >> got a good breakfast.
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thank you. >> she's now going to be heading into the stage. let's take you down there. welcome back to "the lead." i'm anderson cooper in for jake tapper. we're less than two hours from round two of the republican presidential debate. everyone will have to play by the rules. let's spell those out. david chalian is inside the debate halls where fiorina is heading. david, show us what the stage looks like. >> anderson, as you know, you're going to be able to feel the tension tonight. it's palpable. look at those podiums. they're so close together. what i'm fascinated by and what i'm going to be watching for tonight is to see how body language will sort of impact the debate itself. as you can see we've sort of put the candidates out in an array based on their polling. donald trump is center stage. he is at the top of the heap. and then it fans out from there as you go down the polls to the sides. so you've got chris christie and rand paul, the two lowest polling candidates in this tier
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at opposite ends of the stage. they also have no love loss for each other, so there's a lot of distance for them to sort of trade barbs at. unfortunately if you're looking for the jeb bush-donald trump death match, i'm curious to see how the candidates handle it. the psychology of standing next to someone may make it more difficult to bring the fight to them. the physics of the stage certainly impact the debate. >> david, we'll check in with you throughout the day. i want to bring in cnn's chief political correspondent dana bash and hugh hewitt. they are both going to be asking questions on that stage. dana, how do you think it's going to go? what are you looking for tonight? >> i am looking for a couple things. one is just since we just saw carly fiorina let's talk about that. that is the difference in this debate. one of the many differences, but when you're looking at the stage this enlast and how her presence will play into the dynamic. not only sort of what she brings the obvious fact she's a woman
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but the fact she's been among the toughest on the campaign trail not just on her fellow republicans but on trying to show the conservative electorate that she's the best to go up against hillary clinton. >> hugh, what are you looking for tonight? >> a lot of fun. the republican red carpet amuses me as we watch them come in and they're doing the walk through and having the great fun talking to each other. but i think they go back to the trailers and figure out what do we have to do tonight. much like an nfl coach. regardless of the question i think our job is to make sure that the most important questions get an extended answer so a republican primary viewer says, oh, okay, i like that one or that one. >> you got into a bit of a tussle with donald trump. you happened to name the quds force -- >> i've debated probably 500 questions, one of which was misheard. that's not donald trump's fault. the question about the hamas
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hezbollah question that's a question he pivoted to in his own way. we've been working the questions pretty hard. they're all hard, serious, right down the middle. they're not tricks. >> how much something like this do you plan out in advance? it's a little bit like three dimensional chess and you have to plan for that some days, you know, days in advance. do you change things on the fly? >> try weeks. >> but do you change on the fly? >> yes. we have plans to change on the fly if the responses or the interactions warrant for sure. but, look, you know this, anderson, you've done debates. we have amazing research team, production team and we have been locked in a room for a while. >> i'm the outsider. i'm so impressed with cnn. it's remarkable. >> we've got to take a quick break. hugh hewitt, dana bash, good luck ahead. it's going to be fascinating. if you don't own a tv or cable, you'll still be able to watch tonight's debate because cnn is live streaming it for free. it will be front and center on cnn.com, also available on cnn
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apps and cnn go. no cable subscription needed. more candidates are arriving getting familiar with their places on the stage. more from the reagan library next. i have type 2 diabetes.
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welcome back to "the lead." i'm anderson cooper in for jake tapper who is making final preparations for tonight's debate which he is moderating.
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the air here is electric. so much on the line for all candidates. all day candidates have been arriving poised to take each other on. i want to talk to the republican senator from mississippi, thanks for being with us. >> glad to be with you, anderson. >> you have endorsed john kasich. >> that's correct. >> is he somebody you've worked with extensively? >> well, i've known him 35 years or more. we were in the house together when i was majority leader, he was chairman of the budget committee in the house when we got the historic, i think, budget agreement that balanced the budget and led to a surplus. and when clinton was president kasich was a key play ner that. >> in this age it seems people want outsiders. donald trump, dr. ben carson even bernie sanders is doing it well. >> john kasich has it all, he was in the house, he was in the armed services, but he was out in the private sector. he worked in the media. he's had that experience of being outside looking in at what happened. and now most importantly he's governor of a big important state. and he's done the same thing there with balancing the budget and showing compassionate people
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that do need help. >> i got to ask you about donald trump since he's leading in the polls and dr. ben carson who is right behind him. are you surprised at the staying power of donald trump and the power of ben carson? >> in a word, yes. i can see what people see in trump and also in dr. carson. he's got a demeanor about him that's very likable. let me just say this is a great lineup of candidates. i've been good friends with several of them for a long time. i'm big admirers of several of them. served in the senate with rick santorum. i know marco rubio very well. >> can you see donald trump being president of the united states? >> not really. i think we're going to wind up with john kasich to be president of the united states. it's a long way from here to when the real primaries start, but i think as people get to know john kasich more and more, they're going to say this is what we need. this is a man that knows how to get things done. not just talk about it, done it. >> pundits all along have been saying donald trump's not going to get this far. he's been defying pundits all
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along saying he's kind of in a way rewriting the rules. >> yeah. >> what do you think will actually change so some of these more establishment candidates will start to get heard more? >> well, somebody wrote a piece recently and said, look, when you look at what trump is doing and what bernie sanders is doing, it tells you there's something stirring in america. i believe people are really frustrated with how washington is not working. the problem in washington is one word, one word, leadership. people are frustrated. they want people that give them hope and will change what goes on up there. i agree with a lot of these people on policy, where i disagree with them is on tactics. how do you actually get it done? that's why i've settled on john kasich. i've seen him do what's necessary both in congress and as governor. so i think he can play it both ways. in the case of trump, you know, he's out there, he's a media guy. he stirs them up. you got to give him credit for
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that. >> what is your recommendation for candidates out there who want to get their message across tonight? do they go after trump? do they ignore him? >> i think some may go after him. i would hope kasich will focus on telling america who he is, what he wants to do, what his vision is. i think it would be a mistake for him to engage in a brawl here at this debate. but it probably will be feisty. cnn's going to want to see a little fireworks. but kasich needs to stay on message, keep talking about what he wants to do. usually if you have two candidates shooting each other, the third candidate benefits. kasich will be the man. >> senator lott, appreciate it. there is a lot ahead if you are away from the television listen to the debate anywhere on the sale em radio network. go to salemmedia.com. the republican debate live from the reagan national library. more from simi valley, california next. you tuck here... you tuck there. if you're a toe tucker... because of toenail fungus, ask your doctor now about prescription kerydin. used daily, kerydin drops may kill the fungus
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possibilities are as endless as the shrimp. and yeah, they're endless, but they won't last forever. from and the people whought you underwhelbrought youet speeds. temperamental satellite television. introducing... underwhelming internet speeds and temperamental television... in one. welcome to the moment no one's been waiting for. the fastest internet and the best tv experience is already here with x1. only from xfinity. welcome back. it is cnn debate day. i'm anderson cooper filling in for jake tapper who is moderating tonight's debate. the so-called under card debate the audience at the ronald
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reagan presidential library is starting to filter into the debate hall. you see it there. i want to talk about what we can expect from some of the candidates with the best political team on television amanda carpenter is joining us and bill burton may be joining us shortly. tonight the stakes are sky high. just how high? cnn has partnered with pivot and that data indicates a seismic shift from the day of the last debate until now donald trump picked up 12 points, ben carson 17 points, carly fiorina up 11 points. those are big gains. biggest decliners jeb bush odds of winning nomination have been chopped in half and wisconsin governor scott walker. i know you've been talking to walker's team about their strategy tonight. what is it? >> yeah, well, they are sanguine. they're going to focus on his wisconsin record. they plan to get a little more aggressive, but don't expect any personal attacks. it's just not his style. one thing that was particularly interesting, they're very aware
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that last time the governor didn't use all of his allotted time. and because there's so little of it, there's so many people, he plans to use more of his time tonight. >> jeb bush, van, i mean, he's got a difficult road ahead of him. >> well, you know, he probably would be as good a president as either his brother or his father. but he has turned out to be a much worse candidate than either one. he has to show he can get on stage and get out. he is such a big guy and big record but looks small next to donald trump. like i said oatmeal getting colder just standing up there talking about policy, he's got to connect and breakthrough today. >> how does he do that? >> i think he has to talk about his record but also show the willingness to fight. the punches donald trump has landed on him about not being up for the job, not having enough energy, that has gained traction. so he has to show that he has the guts for the job. it's not a talking point. it's more of a personality question at this point. and, you know, van is so right.
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he sort of has been tagged with having, you know, all of the family baggage of the bushes but none of the charisma. >> one of the things that he does have going for him which i hope he shows some courage, his position on immigration is actually a very attractive position on immigration before he started trying to figure out how to be a part of the trump wave. there is a part of the republican party that needs to be spoken for and spoken to that is that old compassionate conservative republicanism, which you thought he was going to bring. and somehow we're talking about anchor babies and all kind of other crazy stuff in the primaries. >> here in california at the reagan library it is a great backdrop to do that and contrast himself with trump at the same time. >> but donald trump has done very well on immigration issues in terms of in the polls. if you look at the polls it's been a winning issue for him. >> i think it's because the bush approach trying to do something early has already lost. i mean, if you look at what republicans particularly in congress wanted to do, a lot of the so-called moderates were saying we have to do something on immigration before the
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election so we can take this away. nothing happened because they couldn't make that deal happen because they were so insistent on giving some version of amnesty as part of that deal. i think that has given rise to trump and rise to an approach that the republican base is demanding that we must do border security first. don't do this big grand deal. this is not the way we're going to go. and we will never support a candidate as the nominee who takes that approach. >> dr. ben carson, he's second in the polls. there's a lot riding on him. he doesn't quite have the organization to maybe move forward as quickly as he may have liked. >> i have been completely stumped and bewildered. listen, after ben carson's debate performance, except for his kind of very nice closing i thought to myself there's one person that will not be on that stage next time, it's ben carson. he seemed out of his depth. and this guy takes off like a rocket. to do now. know what he's going- he will probably come under more fire for the first time. he's going to get asked i think tough questions. but i think if you had sat here two or three weeks ago and said it would be ben carson standing
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next to donald trump, nobody would believe you. >> he's tapped into the evangelical vote in ways i think ted cruz has tried to as well. and to some success they've sort of shared that group. but i think van is right there's more scrutiny of ben carson comes to light we're going to see he's just not a very serious candidate. >> we got to take a break. we'll have more with this panel. we're just getting started on this debate night more from simi valley, california here on cnn in a moment.
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let's talk about the big orange elephant in the room. that's joke. that's humor, donald. don't tweet. >> i've been doing this for 30 years. a lot of preparation. but i feel really good about the debate. >> i think donald trump is an entertainer. and i think i am a leader.
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>> carly's giving me a little bit of a hard time even though her poll numbers are horrible. >> the problem with donald trump is that he's a fake conservative. >> we'll just see how everyone else behaves. welcome back to "the lead." i'm anderson cooper sitting in for jake tapper moderating tonight's debate. it is debate day here in simi valley. we only have one hour and five minutes to go until the candidates stride on to the stage for the first debate. all candidates are here with one notable exception the man who will be in the center of the main stage at the main debate, donald trump. we're back with amanda carpenter, van jones, s.c. cupp, bill -- >> well, i think what will be interesting is who can take on donald trump in a way that's actually going to get some traction. can donald trump talk about his campaign in a way that isn't just about the process and the polls and numbers and things like that?
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and can jeb bush show energy not just strength. he hasn't been able to show a lot of strength and i think has revealed his major weakness should he be the nominee. >> when you have 11 candidates though on the main stage, you don't have a lot of time for each candidate. it does play to the strength of perhaps a donald trump who may not be going into policy specifics. >> part of the thing i think that's happened is this is a different era now of politics. this is -- you've got somebody like trump this is a reality tv era. it's a social media era. and he understands that. and none of the rest of them do. jfk understood television. fdr understood radio. obama understood the internet. this guy understands social media. he understands reality tv. we thought he was leaving reality television and coming into politics. he has pulled politics into reality television and we're living in his world. the rest of them don't know what to do with it. >> he only wins if he has a winning moment with another candidate. if they all kind of just leave him alone, he's not going to win on policy.
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he's not going to win on substance. if they all just kind of ignore him, stick to their scripts, maybe engage with everyone else and each other, i don't know if he has a winning headline coming out. >> some of these candidates are going to go after him. look at rand paul. he went after him during the first debate. didn't really work out for him but he's talking about going after him even harder this debate. some of these politicians on the fringe and either side and low in the poll numbers have nothing to lose. kind of gets them some attention. >> i think this is a mistake to spend your time talking about trump. you have to use your time wisely to frame the debate in the way you want to go. i'm a former cruz person and i like the ad they used. this is a good move they used to put the focus on radical islamic terrorism. it depicts a scorpion in the desert harkins back to the famous reagan ad of a bear in the woods. nice echo of peace through strength while we're at the reagan library without saying reagan, reagan, reagan, like so many other candidates do.
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>> the problem for some of these second tier candidates is they feel ot only way they can get attention is take on trump. but you have rand paul and chris christie and all these other folks try to get their best shot in there because that's how they think they're going to get on television. >> i think we've talked too little bit -- too little about rubio. i think rubio is playing this brilliantly. he's taking your advice. he's not going after trump. jindal jumps up and down for a day and a half saying i don't like trump and now you're not talking about him anymore. rubio i think is the guy -- whoever can hold their breath long enough while donald trump has all the oxygen and survive with their reputation in tact is going to be formidable. >> and some money in the banks. >> and some money in the banks. >> carly might be the only person on that stage who can go after trump and actually not incur his wrath. it's really hard to go after a woman if you're donald trump. it won't stop him. but it's hard to come away looking good after that. so i've talked to her campaign. she says that she's been handling trump pretty well so
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far. so i think we should expect to see a line from her tonight against him. >> but van's point about marco rubio, i think he is playing it safe but perhaps too safe almost if he's jockeying for the v.p. pick rather than the presidential that he's given up his seat at this time. >> or playing the long game. >> but there's not enough time. i hear so many candidates saying we have a long time. no, you don't. after this there's only four more debates and we're going into the holiday season. those primaries start on february 1st. there is not enough time to change the dynamics of this debate. trump's lead at 30% is solidifying. if you want to shake that up you have to make it happen now. >> i remember in 2007 people were saying the same thing about barack obama. we were getting beat up nationally. in iowa we were losing and the leader of the campaign said we're going to keep our head down and focus on iowa and that's how we're going to win this thing. you didn't see any move in the numbers until the jefferson jackson dinner in des moines in
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2011. >> someone with this many candidates running and trump has 30%, it's a totally different dynamic. >> you know, carly fiorina, you've debated her. >> i've had the misfortune and i'm still in therapy, for some reason cnn put me against her in debate. i'll say it before and say it again, her mind is so sharp it should be registered as a weapon. hey, listen, she's quick. i'm telling you. >> i want to find a tape of that debate. >> listen, it wasn't just me. there were four of us. she mowed us all down. she's a force of nature. you've got to have two ceos on that stage and that's never happened before not just a woman, two ceos. let's see it. >> i want to thank our panelists. i want to thank everybody for watching. we're going to talk to everybody throughout the evening. one hour until the first debate. we're coming up just one hour until the start of the republican debate right here on cnn. jake tapper will be your
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moderator. that's it for "the lead." i'm anderson cooper. turn you over to wolf blitzer. we're live in simi valley, california. happening now, fight night. the battle is on as gop candidates gather for their big debate right here on cnn. it all starts just an hour from now. the time is quickly running out for some white house hopefuls. they'll be trading punches with donald trump. and not everyone will be left standing. catching trump. dr. ben carson is almost neck and neck with the billionaire in the latest polls. but everyone else is back in the pack. tonight's cnn debate is a chance to stand out from the crowd. and conservative credentials. gop hopefuls will be trying to show they can be the heir to ronald reagan as their party is ripped apart to ideological and personal coils and rip each other apart with

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