Jake Tapper opened today’s show and we reviewed his recent interviews with Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush:
HH: I’m pleased, however, to welcome Jake Tapper of CNN’s The Lead and of course, State of the Union, because over the last72 hours, he spent important time with both Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush. A year ago when everyone thought it would be Hillary V. Jeb in 2016, November, this would have been quite the coup. Now, it’s still a coup, but both of them are on slippery ground, Jake, than when we would have imagined a year ago.
JT: Yeah, it’s certainly not playing out the way that I think anybody thought, including Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump, perhaps. The idea that she would be, you know, facing a tough challenge from Sanders, and the fact that Jeb would be down so significantly in polls, very surprising. And I really, what I love about this election season, I’ve said this to you before, Hugh, I really have no idea how it’s going to turn out, no idea.
HH: Nobody does, yeah. Here’s the first clip I want to play from your Friday interview with Hillary, cut number one where you talk to her about the Benghazi hearing on Thursday.
JT: You’re scheduled to testify before the Benghazi Committee in the House of Representatives in a few days. What are you expecting and how are you preparing?
HRC: I really don’t know what to expect. I think it’s pretty clear that whatever they might have thought they were doing, they ended up becoming a partisan arm of the Republican National Committee with an overwhelming focus on trying to, as they admitted, drive down my poll numbers.
HH: Now Jake Tapper, can she, you know, I know that’s her line. She used it at the Democratic debate. Can she make that work over the course of hours and hours, because Kevin McCarthy’s gaffe aside, and Hanna’s statement against interest, most Republicans reject that line. Do you think she’s just going to stick with it?
JT: No, I think she’ll probably, I mean, I have no idea, but my guess would be that she tries to answer questions as calmly and coolly as possible. She does not, she tries, you know, her best to not have a what difference does it make moment like she did a few years ago, I think 2013 Benghazi hearings, where she tries not to give them any fodder. But I do think that the gift from Kevin McCarthy, the gift from Congressman Hanna, the in-kind contributions, will be what she says about the Benghazi Committee hearings from now in perpetuity. I mean, I think that those are just, I mean, just unbelievable talking points for her to use, whether or not you agree with them.
HH: And you pushed her very, very hard on no one having signed off on her server. She doesn’t have an answer to that. But then, this cut is the one that makes me cringe a little bit. I don’t know if you knew at the time how much I would welcome this, cut number four:
JT: I know Bernie Sanders said the American people are sick and tired about hearing about your damn emails.
JT: But there are a lot of people who are not.
HRC: Well (cackling)
JT: …including FBI officials looking into whether national security was compromised because of this server. And this is something else that is very confusing to me, with all your experience.
HH: All right, stop it right there. So Jake, that laugh, and you’re trying to push on through what you know is a serious subject, but she went with the laugh. Were you aware of how bad that would sound to the audience?
JT: No. I mean, I guess she probably thought I was taking it in a different direction, I guess, because you know, I talked about the Bernie Sanders quote. And you know, I really can’t account for it other than maybe she was just remembering the Bernie Sanders moment. Maybe, I have no idea, I can’t really explain it. But she did go on to…
HH: Jake, that’s, I was…you pushed on to the most serious thing, the FBI investigation, and she’s cackling. And I thought to myself she can’t read people. She doesn’t mirror, you know, the best thing in an interview is to mirror your interviewer’s posture, demeanor and seriousness. You were being very serious about the FBI inquiry, and she’s laughing. I thought to myself, that’s cringe-inducing. Let’s move on to Jeb, because you interviewed Jeb today, and this was big deal, or on State of the Union yesterday. You brought up Donald Trump’s stability. Let me play cut number seven.
JT: Now the ad goes on to highlight or lowlight, depending on your point of view, of Trump’s moments in which I’m sure you would argue he’s not being serious. In light of this new ad, let me re-ask you what I asked at the last debate. Do you feel comfortable with Donald Trump’s hand on the nation’s nuclear codes? Your ad seems to be stating very clearly that you do not. You invoke the number of nuclear weapons the United States has.
JB: I have grave doubts, to be honest with you, and it’s only because of the things he says. It looks as though he does, he’s not taking the responsibility, the possibility of being president of the United States, really seriously. For him, it looks as though he’s an actor playing the role of a candidate for president, not boning up on the issues, not having a broad sense of the responsibilities of what it is to be a president. In his own words, it gives me great concern, for sure, and a lot of other people will as well.
HH: Now that was, Jake Tapper, a mic drop moment at home for me, because that’s the Daisy card. That’s Barry Goldwater Daisy ad stuff. And here it is, it’s not even November of 2015, and they’re going with the hand on the button ad. You asked it. It’s a good question. In fact, I want to come back and talk about the debate a month later. But are you surprised they went there so quickly in the advertising?
JT: No, to be completely candid, I thought that they were going, I thought Carly Fiorina and Jeb Bush were going to go there at the debate a month ago. And I’m surprised they didn’t when they had 23 million viewers, and they are doing it now. But I’m not surprised, because I don’t see potentially any other way to stop him for the Republican establishment to invoke this. I just, Donald Trump is such a force, and he is just, he’s confounding the Republican political establishment. And I don’t know how they can take him down without signaling out to voters, okay, you’ve had your fun, now it’s time to get serious, because that, to me, it seems that is their only card. I just don’t see it, and it’s also what they say off the record. So I’m not surprised that he went there yesterday. I’m surprise that he and Fiorina did not go there a month ago.
HH: And here is my reflection on the debate a month later. It’s been a month since we did the Simi Valley debate. Jeb Bush has attacked Marco Rubio on the Syria question, which is what I brought up at the debate, and Donald Trump has attacked Jeb Bush on his ‘my brother kept us safe’ thing. And then you brought it up, the same question you asked Jeb Bush. It seems like that debate’s themes are still echoing 30 days later, which is really remarkable.
JT: Yeah, and Fiorina, obviously, her comments about what she saw on the videotape has continued to play a role in her, both in her popularity and in critics of her. I’m talking about how she couldn’t have seen what she claims to have seen. And I mean, obviously it was a debate that had some staying power in terms of both what was said and in terms of Carly Fiorina climbing in the polls and then she didn’t really take advantage and capitalize.
HH: So looking back, I am assessing whether or not the Priebus reforms, 12 debates total, partnering CNN with Salem, all these different things, I think the innovations have worked well for the electorate. I thought God spare your colleagues at CNN when they have to do Hillary V. the Washington Generals again five times. If Joe Biden doesn’t get in, that’s going to be painful. But I like what’s happened thus far. What’s your assessment?
JT: The only thing I would say is obviously, the sheer number of candidates on the stage meant that we had to juggle a lot, Dana. And the main thing is that there were things we could not do, because we were trying to make sure that the candidates got the balance of time. And in terms of the three debates that have been held, one by Fox and one by Me and you and Dana, and the other one by Anderson and some people, I would, I haven’t seen the numbers for Anderson’s debate, but my guess would be that percentage-wise, we consumed the least amounts of time, because we were so cognizant of trying to make sure that they got the time. The only thing I would add to the Priebus reforms would be I think it probably would have been better to have, you know, seven people in the undercard debate, and eight people….
HH: And maybe that’s coming. Yeah, maybe that’s coming in round two. We’ll see on December 15th. Jake Tapper, always a pleasure from CNN. Stay tuned, America.
End of interview.