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  The Commander- In- Chief Forum  MSNBC  September 7, 2016 5:30pm-5:55pm PDT

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two major party presidential nominees to find out where they stand on the critical issues. so now, please welcome the republican nominee for president, donald trump. [ applause ] >> hello, mr. trump. >> how are you, matt? >> right there. >> thank you, matt. >> thank you very much for joining us. >> thank you. >> you heard me say to secretary clinton, as much as possible, i'd like you to tell our veterans and people at home why you are prepared to be commander in chief. and keep the attacks to a minimum. >> to a minimum. >> anytime you interview a president, sitting or past -- >> was i supposed to answer?
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>> no, just answer the questions. what have you experienced in your personal life or your professional life that you believe prepares you to make the decisions that a commander in chief has to make? >> well, i've built a great company. i've been all over the world. i've dealt with foreign countries. i've done very well, as an example, tremendously well dealing with china and dealing with so many other countries that are just ripping this country, they are just taking advantage of it like nobody's ever seen before. and i've had great experience dealing on an international basis. i look today and i see russian planes circling our planes. they're taunting us. in iran i see the boats taunting our ships, our destroyers -- >> but what have you done in your life that prepares you to send our men and women into harm's way? >> i think the main thing is i have great judgment. i heard hillary clinton say i
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was not against the war in iraq. i was totally against the war in iraq. you can look at esquire magazine from 2004. you can look at before that. and i was against the war in iraq, i said it's going to totally destabilize the middle east, which it has. it's been a disastrous war. and perhaps almost as bad was the way barack obama got out. that was a disaster. >> people talk about you and commander in chief and not just secretary clinton, but some of your republican opponents in the primary season, and they wonder about your temperament, they say, does donald trump have the temperament to be commander in chief? you said something recently that i found interesting. you admitted that sometimes in the heat of a debate, you say things that you later regret. so can we afford that with a commander in chief, to have a commander in chief who says things that he later regrets? >> well, when you say regret, yeah, sure i regret. but in the meantime, i beat 16 people and here i am. so to a certain extend, there is
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a regret. i would have liked to have done it in a nicer manner, but i had 16 very talented people i had to go through, and that was a lot of people. that was a record in the history of republican politics, i was able to get more votes than anybody ever has gotten in the history of republican politics. >> but when you say inflammatory things in a presidential campaign, it's different than saying them when you're commander in chief. >> i agree with that. >> if you say things when you're commander in chief, you can spark a conflict, you can destabilize a region, you can put american lives at risk. can we afford to take that risk with you? >> well, i think absolutely. if you saw what happened in mexico the other day, where i went there, had great relationships, everything else. i let them know where the united states stands. we've been badly hurt by mexico, both on the border and with taking all of our jobs, or a big percentage of our jobs. and if you look what happened, the aftermath today, people that arranged the trip in mexico, have been forced out of government.
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that's how well we did. and that's how well we're going to have to do, matt. >> back in august, when you admitted you regret some of the things you said, you also said, i can promise you this, i will always tell you the truth. >> it's true. >> you've said, i know more about isis than the generals do, believe me. was that the truth? >> well, the generals under barack obama and hillary clinton have not been successful. >> do you know more about isis than they do? >> i think under the leadership of barack obama and hillary clinton the generals have been reduced to rubble. they have been reduced to a point where it's embarrassing for our country. you have a force of 30,000 or so people, nobody really knows, but probably 30,000 people. and i can just see the great, as an example, general george patton, spinning in his grave, as isis we can't beat. >> you said, if we had mcarthur today, or if we had patton today, we would not have isis. that the rise of these military commanders that we have today, they come up the chain of
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command, and by the time they get to the top, they're too politically correct. and have you lost faith in the military commanders? >> i have great faith in the military, i have great faith in certain of the commanders certainly. but i have no faith in hillary clinton or the leadership. if you look at what's happened. when she said, i would have done this, i would have done -- she's been there for 30 years. we need change, matt. we have to have it and we have to have it fast. >> let's go to hallie jackson. >> i'm with philip clay, public affairs office in the marine corps. he left the military with the rank of captain. he was inspired to write a book, he's a democrat and he has this question for you, mr. trump. >> over the past 15 years, a lot of u.s. troops have bled and died securing towns and provinces from iraq to afghanistan only to have isis spring back the moment we leave. you've claimed to have a secret plan to defeat isis, but you're
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hardly the first politician to promise a quick victory and a speedy homecoming. so assuming we do defeat isis, what next? what is your plan for the region, to ensure that a group like them doesn't just come back? >> part of the problem we've had, we go in, we defeat somebody and then we don't know what we're doing after that. we lose it. like as an example, you look at iraq, what happened, how badly that was handled. and then when president obama took over, likewise, it was a disaster. it was actually somewhat stable, i don't think it could ever be very stable. it's a war we should have never gone into in the first place. but he came in and took everybody out. and really isis was formed. this was a terrible decision and frankly, we never even got a shot. if you really look at the aftermath of iraq, iran is going to be taking over iraq. they've been doing it, and it's not a pretty picture.
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and i think you know, because you've been watching for a long time, i've always said, shouldn't be there, but if we're going to get out, take the oil. if we had taken the oil, you wouldn't have isis. isis formed with the power and wealth of that oil? >> how are we going to take the oil? >> leave a certain group behind and take various sections where they have the oil. people don't know this about iraq, but they have one of the largest oil reserves in the world. and we're the only ones, we go in, spend $3 trillion, lose thousands of lives and what happened is, we get nothing. you used to be, to the victor belong the spoils. now, there was no victor there, believe me. but i always said, take the oil. one of the benefits we would have had, if we took the oil, is isis would not have been able to take oil and use that oil to fuel themselves. >> let me stay on isis. when we've met in the past and you've talked, you say things like, i'm going to bomb the
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expletive out of them very quickly. when people likely press you for details like that gentleman just said on what your plan is, you very often say, i'm not going to give you the details because i want to be unpredictable. >> absolutely. the word is unpredictable. >> but yesterday you actually told us a little bit bl about your plan. you said, we're going to convene my top generals and they will have 30 days to submit a plan for soundly and quickly defeating isis. so is the plan you've been hiding this whole time, asking someone else for their plan? >> no. but when i do come up with a plan that i like and that perhaps agrees with mine, or maybe doesn't, i may love what the generals come back with -- >> but you have your own plan? >> i have a plan, but i don't want to -- look, i have a very substantial chance of winning, make america great again. we're going to make america great again. i have a substantial chance of winning. if i win, i don't want to broadcast to the enemy exactly what my plan is.
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let me tell you, if i like maybe a combination of my plan or the generals' plan, if i like their plan, i'm not going to call you up and say, we have a great plan. this is what obama does. we're going to leave iraq on a certain date. >> but you're going to convene a panel of generals and you've already said you know more than those generals. >> they'd probably be different generals. today you probably saw, i have a piece of paper, 88 generals and admirals endorsed me today. [ all speak at once ] >> people that have been losing for us for a long period of time. the fact is, we have had the worst and you could even say the dumbest foreign policy. our results are so bad. we would have been better off had we never, ever spent $2 in that part of the world. >> you recently received two intelligence briefings. >> yes, i did. >> did anything in that briefing shock or alarm you, without
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going into specifics? >> yes, very much so. >> did you learn new things in that briefing? >> first of all, i have great respect for the people who gave us the briefings. they were terrific people. experts on iraq and iran and different parts of -- and russia. but, yes, there was one thing that shocked me. and it just seems to me that what they said president obama and hillary clinton and john kerry, who is another total disaster, did exactly the opposite. >> did you learn anything in that briefing, again, not going into specifics, that makes you reconsider some of the things you say you can accomplish, like defeating isis quickly? >> no, i didn't learn anything from that standpoint. what i did learn is that our leadership, barack obama, did not follow what our experts and our truly -- when they call it intelligence, it's there for a reason, what our experts said to do. and i was very, very surprised. in almost every instance. i could tell, pretty good with the body language, they were not
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happy. our leaders did not follow what they were recommending. >> hallie? >> i'm with former army captain sue fulton, from west point, served as a signature officer internally. [ cheers and applause ] she's a democrat and has this question for you, mr. trump. >> mr. trump. >> thank you very much. >> thank you. do you believe that an undocumented person who wants to serve in the u.s. armed forces deserved to stay in this country legally? >> i think that when you serve in the armed forces, that's a very special situation, and i could see myself working that out, absolutely. >> so she's saying, has already served in the armed forces or wants to serve, plans to serve? >> plans to serve. plans to serve in the armed forces. under daca, we have people who are -- >> military is a special thing.
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if they plan on serving, if they get in, i would -- now we have to vet very carefully, but the answer is, it would be a very special circumstance, yes, thank you. >> thank you very much for your question. >> hallie, you have another one. >> alex was an army staff sergeant assigned to special operations, stationed at ft. bragg and was deployed to afghanistan and other places across the middle east. he has not decided who he will vote for yet in november. you have a question for mr. trump. >> i do. as you know, tensions between the united states and russia have been at the highest level since the cold war. in your first 120 days of presidency, how would you deescalate the tensions and more importantly, what steps would you take to bring mr. putin and the russian government back to the negotiating table? >> i think i would have a very good relationship with many foreign leads. i think it's very sad, when you look at barack obama, as an example, lands air force one in china, and they don't want to
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put out stairs to get off the plane. and he has to use the stairs that mechanics use to get up and down to fix the plane. they wouldn't give him stairs. i think it's sad when he lands in saudi arabia, in cuba, and there aren't high officials to even greet him. this is the first time in the storied history of air force one. i think i would have a very, very good relationship with putin and i think i would have a very, very good relationship with russia. as i said, take a look today. take a look at what happened with otheir fighter jets, circling one of our aircraft in a very dangerous manner. somebody said less than ten feet away. this is hostility. and just two, three days ago, they looked like they were not getting along. but i looked at president obama and putin staring at each other, these were not two people who were getting along. and you know the beautiful part of getting along, russia wants
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to defeat isis as badly as we do. if we had a relationship with russia, wouldn't it be wonderful if we could work on it together and knock the hell out of isis? wouldn't that be a wonderful thing? >> you've said about vladimir putin, i will tell you in terms of leadership he's getting an a. our president is not doing so well. he called you a brilliant leader. you said it's a great honor to be so nicely complimented by a man so highly respected within his country and beyond. >> well, he does have an 82% approval rating according to the different pollsters. by the way, some of them are based here. >> he's also a guy who annexed crimea, invaded ukraine, supports assad in syria, supports iran, is trying to undermine our influence in key regions of the world, and according to our intelligence community, probably is the main suspect for the hacking of the dnc computers. >> well, nobody knows that for a fact.
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but do you want me to start naming some of the things that president obama does at the same time. >> but do you want to be complimented by that former kgb officer? >> when he calls me brilliant, i'll take the compliment. it's not going to get him anywhere. i'm a negotiator. we're going to take back our country. our depleted military, we've lost our jobs. we're losing our jobs like we're a bunch of babies. we're going to take back our country. the fact that he calls me brilliant or whatever he calls me is going to have zero impact. >> but the fact that you say you can get along with him. you think the day you become president he's going to change his mind on some of these key issues? >> it's possible, matt. i don't know. it's not going to have any impact. if he says great things about me, i'm going to say great things about him. the man has very strong control over a country. it's a veryifferent system and i don't happen to like the system, but certainly in that system, he's been a leader. far more than our president has
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been a leader. we have a divided country. we have a country where you have hillary clinton with her e-mails, that nobody's ever seen, where she deletes 33,000 e-mails, and that's after getting a subpoena from congress. if you do that in private business, you get thrown in jail. >> he was in the army reserves and spent ten months in iraq, right at the beginning of operation iraqi freedom. he's a republican and has this question for you. >> i like what you say about supporting veterans and how they're important. but i haven't heard what the actual plans are. how do you translate your words to action after you take office? >> well, i love that question, because i've been very close to the vets. you see the relationship i have with the vets, just by looking at the polls. in fact, today a poll came out, and my relationship has been very good. i have a very, very powerful plan that's on my website that you possibly saw. one of the big problems is the wait times. our vets are waiting six days, seven days, eight days. and by the way, hillary clinton
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six months ago said the vets are being treated essentially just fine. there's no real problem. it's overexaggeration. >> she went on after that and laid out a litany of problems in the v.a. >> she made up half the things she said about me. i'm telling you, she said she was satisfied with what was going on in the veterans administration. now, under my plan and by the way, people are dying online, they're dying waiting to get to see a doctor. they're waiting five days and six days. under a part of my plan, if they have that long wait, they walk outside, they go to the local doctor. they choose the doctor, they choose the hospital, whether it's public or private. they get themselves better. in many cases, it's a minor procedure or a pill or just a prescription. and they end up dying because they can't get to see the doctor. we will pay the bill. they go outside, get a doctor, they get a prescription, they do what they have to do.
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we pay the bill. that is something that i have been praised -- and by the way, i never say take the v.a., take it private. i wouldn't do that. too much respect for our people. i would never do that. i heard it was said that i said that. i would not do that. but i do believe, when you're waiting in line for six, seven days, you should never be in a position like that. you go out, you see the doctor, you get yourself taken care of. >> hallie, you have another question. >> rachel fredericks, aviation operations, serving stateside. she lost two friends to suicide and you struggle yourself with ptsd, she's a republican, but leaning towards you. still undecided. you have a question for mr. trump. >> i do. mr. trump, i wanted to ask what your plan will be to stop 20 veterans a day from killing themselves. >> and actually, it's 22. it's almost impossible to conceive that this is happening
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in our country. 20 to 22 people a day are killing themselves. a lot of it is, they're killing themselves over the fact that they're in tremendous pain and they can't see a doctor. we're going to speed up the process. we're going to create a great mental health division. they need help. they need tremendous help, and we're doing nothing for them. the v.a. is really, almost, you. if you look at what's going on as an example in arizona, where they caught people stealing and they can't even fire the people. we are going to make it efficient and good. if it's not good, you're going to private hospitals, public hospitals and doctors. >> one more. >> donald day, who served as a radio operator in the vietnam era. tours of duty in southeast asia and europe. he's a democrat and has this question. >> mr. trump, i have a daughter interested in joining the service. when she researched the military, she saw the stats on sexual assault and decided not
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to go. i have a concern about the rape of women in our armed forces. as president, what specifically would you do to support all victims of sexual assault in the military? >> great question. it's a massive problem. the numbers are shall eritaggerd to believe. we'll run it tight. i want to keep the court system within the military. it shouldn't be outside of the military. we have to come down very, very hard on that. your daughter is absolutely right. it is a massive problem. we have to do something about that problem. the best thing we can do is set up a court system within the military. right now, the court system practically doesn't exist. takes too long. >> in 2013, on this subject, you tweeted this. quote, 26,000 unreported sexual assaults in the military. only 238 convictions. what did these geniuses expect when they put men and women together? end quote. >> it is a correct tweet.
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many people think that's absolutely correct. we need to have a -- >> it should have been expected? does that mean the only way to fix it is take women out of the military? >> since then, it's gotten worse. no, not kick them out but something has to happen. right now, nobody gets prosecuted. you have reported, and the gentleman can tell you, you have the report of rape and no one is prosecuted. there is no consequence. when you have somebody that does something so evil, so bad as that, there has to be consequence for that person. you have to go after that person. now, nobody is doing anything. look at the small number of results. that's part of the problem. >> so many of the issues we've talked with you, mr. trump, tonight and secretary clinton, are so complex, that even career military people and career diplomats and politicians have trouble getting their arms around them. >> right. >> you've had a different
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background in business. i'm curious objeabout what you' doing now. what kind of research are you doing now? what kind of homework are you doing? what kinds of things are you reading as you prepare for the day in two months where you might be elected the next president of the united states. >> well, in the front row, you have four generals, admirals, people all throughout the audience i'm dealing with. right here, there is a list printed today of 88 admirals and generals i meet with and i talk to. >> how much time are you spending on this? >> a lot. i'm doing a lot of different things. don't forget, we're running a big km pain. we're doing very well. i'm also, you know, and i'm very much giving it to my children and executives to run. i'm also partially running a business. campaigning, running a business. i have a lot of hats right now. but we're doing very well. in the meantime, i am studying and meeting constantly. you see general flynn and some of the folks that we have.
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they're scattered throughout the audience. we have admirals, we have generals, we have colonels, we have a lot of people that i respect. i think i've learned a lot. i think also, i certainly feel i have a common sense on the various issues that you're talking about now. >> you said in a speech today, you said, history shows that when america is not prepared is when the danger is the greatest. >> we're not prepared. >> will you be prepared on day one if you're elected president of the united states to tackle these complex national security issues? >> 100%. hey, matt, again, she made a mistake on libya. she made a terrible mistake on libya. the next thing -- not only did she make the mistake, but then they complicated the mistake by having no management once they bombed you know what out of qaddafi. i mean, she made a terrible mistake on libya. part was the management after the fact. i think that we have great management talents, great management skills.
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>> you are prepared? >> totally prepared. remember this, i found these subjects of interest all of my life, matt. this hasn't been over the last 14 months. i've found these subject of tremendous interest. that's why they were asking me about iraq 14 years ago. they were asking me these questions. they don't ask business people these questions. >> i'll end in the same place i started. have you given much thought, mr. trump, if you're elected president and commander in chief, to that moment where you're going to have to make that first decision that puts american men and women in harm's way? >> i think it's the most difficult decision you can possibly ever make. you're talking about death. we're talking death to not just our side. we're talking death all over. i would be very, very cautious. i think i'd be a lot slower. she has a happy trigger. she votes for the war. >> have you thought about personally the emotional burden of that moment? >> i think it is a tremendous burden. i think there is no greater burden that anybody could have.
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i've been preparing for this for a long time. my theme is, make america great again. we're going to make america great again. but, matt, we've also got to make america strong again. right now, we are not strong. believe me, we have a depleted military. we're the greatest people in the world in our military, but it is very sadly depleted. >> the republican nominee for president of the united states, donald trump. >> thank you, matt. >> thank you. we're going to be back with much more from the intrepid carrier on this commander in chief forum after this.