This is a rush transcript from "The Kelly File," September 8, 2016. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
MEGYN KELLY, HOST, "THE KELLY FILE": Breaking tonight, exactly two months until America elects the next president and brand-new polls out late today show this race getting tighter in some of the most critical battleground states.
Good evening and welcome to THE KELLY FILE, everyone. I'm Megyn Kelly.
Hours ago, one of the nation's most trusted pollsters releasing new surveys from four key states, and things are in play. Tonight Donald Trump on the campaign trail making his second visit this week to Ohio, talking education in Cleveland. The Quinnipiac University poll telling us why he's there.
It is a dead heat. Clinton at 45 percent. Trump at 46 percent.
Mrs. Clinton's four-point lead from early August disappearing. And in Florida, it is also tied with both candidates at 47 percent. In North Carolina, Clinton is ahead by four points, just outside the margin of error. That's the first time Quinnipiac has polled in that state. And in Pennsylvania, the most dramatic change. Clinton's lead now cut in half, down from ten points in August to five points today. Now she's ahead 48 percent to Trump's 43. So what does it tell us?
Chris Stirewalt is our FOX News digital politics editor, and Mo Elleithee is the founding executive director of the Georgetown University Institute of Politics and Public Service. Great to see you both. Stirewalt, how do you see it?
CHRIS STIREWALT, FOX NEWS DIGITAL POLITICS EDITOR: Well, first of all, thank God that we have polls. We've lived in this wasteland of garbage internet polls, and finally we have real polling, so I'm excited.
KELLY: You're a poll snob.
STIREWALT: Yes. I know. I'm such a poll snob. But the truth is, this is really important because it tells us the shape of the race is changed, and it changed from where Trump was getting blown out after the conventions to now he's back in a tie in the two states, of course, that every Republican has to win, Florida and Ohio. Pennsylvania wasn't ever really going to happen. I don't think it's going to happen unless Donald Trump turns this around and becomes some sort of wave election for him, but I don't see Pennsylvania in the running.
But it's North Carolina that ought to worry him because given the fact that he's got a problem in Colorado and Virginia and other states to put together the Republican map. If he can't win in North Carolina, he's got big problems. They've been spending a lot of time there. They're going to spend a lot more.
KELLY: He needs North Carolina, needs it. Mo, how do you see it? Because, you know, some of her supporters got nervous when they saw that, and some of his got very happy.
MO ELLEITHEE, FOUNDING EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, GEORGETOWN UNIVERSITY'S INSTITUTE OF POLITICS AND PUBLIC SERVICE: Well, and I'd say this as a former Hillary Clinton staffer. We should be nervous, right? I mean you don't want to be complacent at this point. And these polls kind of show why. And we've seen other state polls in the past week that do as well. What's really interesting, there were two different organizations that did 50 state polls in the past week. Washington Post-Survey Monkey did one of the most extensive ones I've seen. And they show something similar, that in a lot of these states that you just talked about, if the race is tight and within the margin of error.
But what's really interesting to me is you're seeing the number of traditional battleground states shrink. Chris just talked about Virginia and Colorado, which have become perennial battleground states. She's doing fairly well in those states, outside the margin of error. The number of traditionally red states that have become battleground states is increasingly worrisome, I would think, for the Trump campaign.
ELLEITHEE: Georgia is dead even. Arizona is within the margin of error. It shouldn't surprise anyone that Donald Trump chose to give that big immigration speech in Phoenix, and the next day. Hillary Clinton's campaign went on the air there. Something is happening. They're seeing something in the numbers in Arizona.
ELLEITHEE: So, you know, if you look at the full landscape of all 50 states and the polling and the election were held today, she would win fairly comfortably in the Electoral College. So, I do think there's something to worry about there for the Trump campaign.
KELLY: All right. So, what do you think is the conventional wisdom right now, Chris? Is it that it's hers to lose and he needs a huge event to turn it around? Does he have to go into those debates and just go for broke, or does he have to just sort of slow and steady, slow and steady, be a statesman, don't say anything crazy, and somehow hope, you know, the sort of missing Trump voters that his campaign has suggested are out there show up on November 8th?
STIREWALT: No. He needs the contour of the race to change. While I would throw that Survey Monkey polls out on their ear and all of that other garbage, total, but in that case, deserved. I want polls in Maine. I want polls in New Hampshire. I want polls where all of these white people are living and voting. And I want to know, is Donald Trump competitive in Minnesota? Is he competitive in Maine? Is he competitive in New Hampshire? If that's the case, Mo is right. We could be looking at a changed map. But if we're not, then we're looking at a race where Donald Trump has trailed all along. He's closer now, but he still needs the structure of the race to be changed in order to win. And that's the reality for him.
KELLY: Now, Mo, I get that she has this better ground game than Trump. Everybody says that on both sides of the aisle. But he is tightening this. I mean it's getting tighter, and the question is, why and whether, in the next two months, it can get so tight that the positions reverse and he's over?
ELLEITHEE: Yes. Well, I wonder how much it's really tightening, or how much it's just really settling. Right. I mean, both campaigns got little bumps coming out of their conventions, and that's natural and normal, that always happens, and it usually settles. You know, we are sort of a 50/50 country or maybe more accurately a 40/40 country. Right? Whoever has got the D starts with 40 percent. Whoever has got the R starts with 40 percent.
ELLEITHEE: And you're fighting that over remaining 20. But here's why that ground game matters.
KELLY: Hi Gary.
ELLEITHEE: Right. Yes. Well --
Well, you know, when you have races like the states we just talked about that are within the margin of error, the ground game really does matter. A really strong ground game is worth two to four points. That's the margin in some of these polls.
KELLY: Uh-hm. And Trump is just now opening up offices in Florida. Why is he just now opening offices in Florida?
ELLEITHEE: Big, big hoopla over the fact that he's opening 25 offices in Florida this week. The Clinton campaign has had over 50 offices in Florida for months. They've been investing in those organizers that are out there knocking on doors and making phone calls and developing one-on-one relationships with voters. That matters. If these numbers are right.
KELLY: Well, if his can do twice the work of hers, you know, maybe he'll make up the difference.
ELLEITHEE: Right. Right. I mean, you know, everything about him is super human.
KELLY: I have to go. It's great to see you both. Has anybody here see Stirewalt got it? Have you seen the movie Parenthood? He has a scene with Steve Martin and Dianne Wiest, and she's got this, is it Wiest? It's Wiest. And she has got a couple of kids and one of them is played by Joaquin Phoenix, right? And his name is Gary. And he is walking in in her arguments and every time she sees him, she says, hi, Gary. And that is how I think about Gary Johnson. I'm going to ask him about it when he comes on the show momentarily, that and Aleppo.
Well, those new polls are coming in as these candidates are hammering each other out on the campaign trail. Mrs. Clinton arguing that Trump does not have the qualifications to be president. Trump followed up on last night's commander-in-chief forum by offering a dramatic play by play takedown of her email scandal. The gloves are off. Here he is in Cleveland a few hours ago.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, R, PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: Hillary Clinton's staff deleted and digitally bleached, which is acid-cleaned, her e-mails after receiving a Congressional subpoena. That's after receiving, not before. That's after receiving. She gets a subpoena from the United States Congress, and she deletes and bleaches. She also and her staff destroyed some of her 13 different phones, but this time with a hammer. I've never done that. Then when she was interviewed by the FBI, she claimed she couldn't remember important events 39 times.
She couldn't even remember whether she was trained or handling classified information. Didn't remember anything about it. So she really didn't remember, that's a problem. And if she did remember, that's a problem. She even said she didn't know what the letter C stood for, whether it was confidential, classified information, or something. All the while, as Hillary and Bill raked in millions of dollars from special interests, the world was falling apart.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KELLY: Joining me now, Monica Crowley, FOX News contributor, and former foreign policy assistant to President Nixon, and Roland Martin who is host of News One now on TV One and a senior analyst on the "Tom Joyner Morning Show." Great to see you both.
Roland, let me start with you. Man's got a point, no?
ROLAND MARTIN, SENIOR ANALYST, TOM JOYNER MORNING SHOW: Yes. But here's the deal. I know where she got that hammering with the Blackberry from. She got that from Tom Brady because he did that with deflate-gate. He's a Trump supporter. So, it's a great idea.
KELLY: Don't throw a sports reference at me. I can't follow.
MARTIN: No, I mean, that's what Tom Brady did.
KELLY: Let's stay on Hillary and hammers and bleach. To me, you tell me. I thought the most salient point there was the fact that after she got the subpoena. After she got the subpoena, she did those things. The guy maintaining the server said he had an oh, blank moment but still went ahead and started wiping things clean.
MARTIN: Look, here's the deal. If you're Donald Trump, this is what you need to attack her credibility, so it's no shock that he's doing this. But it's a little hard for me to listen to Donald Trump talk about, how Hillary forgot something when he forgot that he was actually for the Iraq war but now he's against it when he was for it. But now he's against it. So, he might want to have his memory checked as well.
KELLY: Monica, that man's got a point too. Roland and Trump both making good points tonight. Your take.
MONICA CROWLEY, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: Well, what struck me, Megyn, about the way Donald Trump made this argument and the actual argument, two things. One, his tone. When he was attacking Mrs. Clinton today with the truth and with the facts, he did it in a tone more out of sorrow than in anger.
CROWLEY: And I think that's actually a much more effective tack and sort of Ronald Reagan's approach of well, there you go again when the country is at stake.
KELLY: Uh-hm. It's very true.
CROWLEY: Yes. And the second thing too Megyn is that we know that the most problematic scandals for any politician are the ones that reinforce a preexisting negative notion about that candidate. And the reason why the server and the e-mail scandal, which continues to drip, drip, drip with every passing day -- the reason has become so damaging to her, Megyn, is because it reinforces this already existing notion that she is fundamentally untrustworthy, dishonest, out for herself, and above the law.
KELLY: Uh-hm. What about that, Roland, because last night one of the things she said was, I did everything right. And she talked about how there was no header on these e-mails and, thus, how was I to know? Meanwhile, the people who work for her had been taking off the headers, in some instances at her direction. So is it like -- the American people know she did not do everything right, and it's amazing, is it not, that she still doesn't have her story straight on this issue.
MARTIN: Right. Okay. I mean, I have said this multiple times. I was on your show last week. I said this on Tom Joyner. I said it on TV One. Move the hell on, okay? This is very simple. Learn to pivot. Fifty three percent of African-Americans lost their wealth during the home forecast crisis. We still have -- she was rushed last night when Matt Lauer asked her about the ISIS questioned but spent 12 minutes on e-mails. Look, simply admit I screwed up. I shouldn't have done it. The FBI, 100 people investigated it.
Look, they chose not to pursue charges. I'm focused on jobs for the American people, and if they ask you ten times, give the same answer. But you're not going -- smart peoples sometimes want to prove they're really smart. They can convince you. You're not going to convince people. You're wasting time. Keep explaining. Simply say I made a mistake. I shouldn't have done it. I won't make the same mistake again.
KELLY: But meanwhile, Donald Trump and the Republicans who support him are sitting back, like, you know, enjoying the popcorn because she still clearly hasn't found the message on this, and she's been struggling on the email front for weeks now. Those very weeks that Donald Trump has been closing the gap between the two of them in some of these critical polls as we saw. So you tell me whether she needs to keep working on it and come up with a better message than the one we heard last night.
CROWLEY: Well, she does, Megyn, you're right. The problem is that she can't. Two-thirds of the American people took a look at the FBI report, and they believe that she should have, in fact, faced prosecution. Since Barack Obama became president in 2009, seven people have been prosecuted for far less in terms of mishandling classified material, two of whom have gone to jail.
KELLY: But they did it intentionally. That's the difference. Just for the record, what the authorities found in those cases was that there was an element of intent that they found lacking, they say, in the Clinton case. Go ahead. Finish your point.
CROWLEY: That's right. The FBI Director Comey indicated that the FBI could not find criminal intent. The problem, Megyn, is twofold. One, the FBI never asked her what her intent was in setting up this private, unsecured, non-government server and network. And, two, just by virtue of setting it up, that was the intent.
KELLY: Mm-hmm. Didn't James Carville tell us once she didn't want Darrell Issa going through her e-mails? Now she's got Chaffetz and she's got Judicial Watch and she's got Gowdy and she's got us.
KELLY: I got to go. Good to see you both.
MARTIN: Focus on the issues.
KELLY: Hillary Clinton is not the only one facing new fire tonight. General Jack Keane is here on the controversy over what Mr. Trump said about our military leaders.
And Bill Bennett weighs in on how the Iraq War issue may be playing with voters. He's here. He's excited. Don't worry.
Plus, after hosting last night's presidential forum, NBC host Matt Lauer being accused of everything from embarrassing his profession to outright sexism. I'll tell you what I think too.
Howie Kurtz, former White House Press Secretary Bill Burton are both here on what Lauer did and whether he deserves this blowback. Man, people are mean.
And then a story that's literally the stuff of nightmares. Reports of creepy clown sightings now spreading across the country and Brian Kilmeade is here with the results of our investigation.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CAPTAIN MICHAEL TERRY, GREENSBORO, SC POLICE: In my 20 years, I'm not familiar with a spree of clown sightings. So this is unique, a little bizarre.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KELLY: Developing tonight, new fallout surrounding comments that Donald Trump made at last night's commander-in-chief forum. He criticized American generals as having been, quote, "Reduced to rubble under President Obama," suggesting that he knows more about ISIS than America's greatest military minds.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MATT LAUER, NBC HOST: So let me read some of the things you said. I know more about ISIS than the generals do, believe me. Was that the truth?
TRUMP: Well, the generals under Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton have not been successful.
LAUER: Do you know more about ISIS than they do?
TRUMP: 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.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KELLY: Joining me now, the architect of the successful Iraq surge, the general who is chairman of The Institute for the Study of War, General Jack Keane. Great to see you, sir.
GENERAL JACK KEANE (RET.), CHAIRMAN, INSTITUTE FOR THE STUDY OF WAR: Good to see you, Megyn.
KELLY: So, what do you think of that?
KEANE: Well, I'm not sure what he meant by it, but let me just put some facts on the table. It's well established now by many of us that we've had a weak American president, commander-in-chief, for almost eight years now, and that makes generals look weak. We may have some politicized generals if that's what he's implying, but the reality is that every major force level decision, Megyn, that our generals have made, this president has rejected. In the early 2009, a campaign plan developed by Petraeus and General McChrystal to defeat the Taliban, they required a minimum force of 40,000.
President Obama rejected that recommendation and provided 25 percent less. He also decided he would pull the force out in 12 to 15 months. Those two decisions doomed Afghanistan to the current state we find it now, a protracted stalemated war and robbed us of the opportunity for victory. In 2011, General Alston, four-star commander in Iraq, recommended to the President, a force level of over 20,000. The President rejected it and pulled out all the forces with what is now known as a disastrous consequence in Syria.
In 2012, General Dempsey, General Petraeus directed the CIA, Secretary Panetta and Secretary Clinton recommended to the president robustly arm and train the Syrian moderates. He says no. In 2013, conduct a military strike, same national security team, against the Assad regime because he violated the chemical red line. He says no. In Afghanistan --
KELLY: I get your point. You could go on. But your point is Trump is not wrong that, if you think about it, the generals have been reduced to rubble. In other words, they've been reduced to almost useless because whatever they tell this commander-in-chief, he disregards.
KEANE: Yes, and then in 2014, what happened is as opposed to asking him what are we going to do about ISIS? He says, I want to destroy ISIS after they beheaded our Americans and invaded Iraq. He tells them what they're not going to do. No boots on the ground. The minimum 300 advisors. Of course he's changed that nine times. An air campaign with no civilian casualties and we're not going to be able to provide an air/ground team to help make that campaign more effective. We have never, ever have those kinds of restrictions placed on us in my understanding of military history in this nation. That's the truth of it. Those kinds of restrictions are unprecedented.
KELLY: General Jack Keane, a man who knows of what he speaks when it comes to fighting a war, which he's done many times. Thank you for being here, sir.
KEANE: Yes. Good talking to you, Megyn.
KELLY: Well, the Republican nominee made more news today when visiting a charter school in Cleveland. He strayed a bit from the topic of education and instead unleashed a lengthy response to media fact-checkers who have questioned his opposition to the war in Iraq. Watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Iraq is one of the biggest differences in this race. I opposed going in, and I did oppose it despite the media saying, no, yes, no. I opposed going in. Three months before the Iraq War started, I said it in an interview with Neil Cavuto that perhaps we shouldn't be doing it yet.
Then on March 25th of 2003, just after the war had started, just days after, just a little while after, I was quoted as saying the war is a mess. In July of 2003, I said I would love to see New York City and some of our cities and some of the states of our nation get some of the money that's going toward Iraq.
Then in August of 2004, very early in the conflict, extremely early in the conflict, right at the beginning, I made a detailed statement in an interview to "Esquire" magazine. This is a quote, an absolute quote -- look at the war in Iraq and the mess that we're in. So I just wanted to set the record straight. There is so much lying going on. It's a big mistake. Totally destabilized the Middle East. It was a big mistake.
Death. Death to so many people.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KELLY: Joining me now, Bill Bennett who served as education secretary under President Ronald Reagan. Great to see you, Bill.
BILL BENNETT, FORMER EDUCATION SECRETARY: Thanks, Megyn.
KELLY: Look, the truth is that's revisionist history and Trump, you know, is -- he is not mentioning the fact that in 2002, he told Howard Stern before the invasion that he was for invading Iraq, and here is that clip.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HOWARD STERN, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: Are you for invading Iraq?
TRUMP: Yes, I guess so. You know, I wish it was -- I wish the first time it was done correctly.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KELLY: And then he gave many interviews thereafter. In none of those, did he say he was against the Iraq, although now he claims he had this principle stand from the beginning. And then eventually he got to the point, as did most Americans, where he started to criticize it and say that he was against it. You tell me whether I have misstated things.
BENNETT: No. I think you stated them right. I think it's best to tell the truth, tell the whole truth. And he can say, look, I said I guess so, and I thought so for a while. Then after I thought about it and studied it
more, I made a firm decision and changed my mind than I was supposed to.
KELLY: Right. People can understand that. He'd probably still get credit for having hesitations and then never have really thrown his full support behind it, and then coming around in the position that I don't like this.
BENNETT: And here's the more important thing it seems to me, Megyn, if I may, that a lot of people are missing. He was a private citizen. He was a businessman.
BENNETT: This wasn't his responsibility.
KELLY: But he is the one who is trying to claim credit for having this vision. So we have to go back and look at what he said. If he didn't make an issue out of it, the media wouldn't be saying, when you were running the apprentice, you were in favor of the -- he is the one who is saying, look at my great judgment. So, if he's making us go back to look at it, we've got to look at all of it.
BENNETT: But she has to take the responsibility for being a U.S. senator and, in her own mind, getting it wrong. Now the irony here is I think they were both wrong. I think we were right to go into Iraq, and I think Jack Keane, as you pointed out in recommending the surge and executing the surge, proved we were right.
BENNETT: But, yes, we need to get the record absolutely straight.
KELLY: But what did you make of her standing up last night in front of, you know, these men and women who had served in Iraq, who had served the country honorably, who had sacrificed their safety, their comrades had fallen, in some instances right around them, and saying it was a mistake. Like she couldn't stand by her vote. She couldn't say with the benefit of hindsight.
BENNETT: That's right.
KELLY: She couldn't speak all about any of the good we did or the gains we made, which her Democratic vice president said it was going to be the biggest success story of the administration until we left without any residual forces there.
BENNETT: Well, I thought it was awful but all too typical too, Megyn. Look, she's got a record as a government official, a United States senator, the secretary of state. He has no such record. I understand when he says I was for this, I was for that, we should examine it, but he doesn't take responsibility for those decisions. She does, and she must. Look, it's like the $25,000 you were talking about earlier in Florida. There's a question of scale.
Twenty five thousand dollars, you know, with Trump. Hundreds of millions of dollars with the Clinton Foundation while she was in government. This is what's hurting her. This is why she's falling, I think. And he is not on the ground yet. Once he gets on the ground, look how close it is with all the mistakes that have been made. I think he can get there.
KELLY: Uh-hm. Bill, great to see you.
BENNETT: Thank you.
KELLY: We're also digging into some wild reports -- and I do say wild -- that Hillary Clinton was wearing a special ear piece during last night's event. Is it true? We'll do a fact check.
Plus, Matt Lauer is taking heat from many, many people for the way he handled last night's presidential forum.
Up next, we have Howie Kurtz along with former White House Press Secretary Bill Burton and a couple of thoughts perhaps from yours truly on how Matt managed the whole thing.
And then libertarian candidate Gary Johnson -- hi, Gary -- he had what may be the toughest day of his campaign after a misstep on Syria, and he's here tonight on what happened after this moment.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MIKE BARNICLE, MSNBC HOST: What would you do if you were elected about Aleppo?
GARY JOHNSON, FORMER NEW MEXICO GOVERNOR: And what is Aleppo?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KELLY: Sixty one days to the election, and, whoa, is there some fierce backlash to Matt Lauer and how he handled the forum that last night put the two candidates on the same stage for the very first time.
Critics accusing Lauer of going easy on Trump and hammering Clinton, pointing specifically to his questions about her e-mail scandal.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MATT LAUER, NBC'S THE TODAY SHOW HOST: You said you made not the best choice. You were communicating on highly sensitive topics. Why wasn't it more than a mistake? Why wasn't it disqualifying if you want to be commander-in-chief?
HILLARY CLINTON, D, U.S. PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, and...
LAUER: And you said you thought your communications in that were fairly routine.
CLINTON: It said on that report.
LAUER: But Director Comey also said this after reviewing all the information. He said there is evidence to support a conclusion that any reasonable person in Secretary Clinton's position should have known that an unclassified system was no place for that conversation.
Some of the emails you sent and received happened while you were overseas, and Director Comey also said that while they have no proof, we assess that it is possible that hostile actors gained access to Secretary Clinton's personal e-mail accounts.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KELLY: New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof tweeting that the forum, quote, "feels like an embarrassment to journalism."
Some guy over at CNN says an unnamed NBC executive called Lauer's performance a, quote, "disaster."
And a New York Times critic writing, quote, "Lauer loses the war in a battle between the candidates."
Howie Kurtz, host of Fox News' Media Buzz. Bill Burton is a former Obama White House Deputy Press Secretary. So, I'll start with this. I am friends with Matt Lauer and I respect Matt Lauer a lot. I think he is actually doesn't get nearly enough credit for the tough questions he asks on that show.
I don't know, Howie. You can't win in this election. You can't win, especially with, with all due respect to our brethren, the left wing press because they want to see you kill Trump. And if you try to throw too much shade at Hillary, then they want to kill you. Your thoughts.
HOWARD KURTZ, THE MEDIA BUZZ SHOW HOST: The moderators are big, fat targets these days. And any fair reading would say this. Matt Lauer did a solid job. He threw hardballs at both candidates with one swing and a miss, which we'll get to.
And a lot of criticism from the left is partisan from people who think Trump is an outrageous liar and that Matt Lauer should have smashed him to smithereens.
New York Times, let me read you a new story headline. The columnists are entitled to say what they want. "Lauer surrenders to Trump."
KELLY: Oh, God.
KURTZ: This is from a guy who asked Trump, can America take the risk of electing a guy who makes so many incendiary comments that you could spark a war?
KELLY: You know, the amount of opinion that goes into these reports, you know, this is what happens. Even when I had my interview with Trump in May, this is just described as somebody by sycophant, that I was a sycophant, that I am a Trump sycophant. Like this is what happens if you don't kill him, Bill.
Every -- they want every interview to be a kill them, kill them. It's ridiculous. Not -- it wasn't Matt Lauer's job to kill him or her last night. Your thoughts.
BILL BURTON, FORMER OBAMA DEPUTY PRESS SECRETARY: Well, first of all, I've long thought that you were a Trump sycophant, so I'm not surprised you got called out on it.
KELLY: You got fair.
BURTON: You know, look, I think that Matt Lauer does do a good job doing interviews on the today show, but I think there's five or six people ahead of him at NBC who could have done a much better job more subsequent jobs than he did last night.
KELLY: What specifically were you object him to, what did you not like?
BURTON: Well, look, I'm not one of the people who complain about the questions to Hillary Clinton about the emails. I think that there are questions out there. I think people do wonder certain specifics. But as I watched that in real-time, I thought, well, he's being pretty tough on her.
This is setting him up to be very tough on Donald Trump as well.
The problem was he wasn't. For starters, he constantly interrupted Hillary Clinton. He called her to task for mentioning Donald Trump. He never did those things to Trump during the course of the debate.
It was uneven. The performance lacked what the American people, I think, needed in order to like make a fair assessment of who would be the better commander-in-chief.
KELLY: But the thing is, but look at all he's got. So, with Trump, though, you know, if the goal is to make news, right, with this candidate, which generally that is your goal as a news person.
Look at all the news he made with Trump. He didn't -- he didn't have to beat him up in the moment. Yes, he could have fact-checked the Iraq war thing, right?
But, Howie, he got him to stay all the stuff about Putin and all that stuff about the generals. And you know, these emerging positions he's been taking on Iraq. He made a lot of news.
KURTZ: Right, and if it was such a flop of an interview, how is it that we're still talking a day later about the things that Trump said and that is providing more fodder for the campaign. I do think Matt Lauer fell down on the job because it was predictable that Trump would say, I oppose the Iraq war, and he should have come back.
But on other things, you know, there was sustained questioning of Hillary Clinton about the email scandal. The recent Trump controversies about the Trump Foundation contributing to improperly, to the attorney general of Florida, and the Trump University.
Those weren't related to national security so maybe there wasn't the same kind of sustained questioning. But the idea that he laid for Trump, I really think reflects the high partisanship whip all the moderators, including our colleague Chris Wallace are going to face in these debates because moderators are targets now too.
KELLY: In a way, Wallace will have it easier, Bill, you tell me, because they'll be next to each other. So, it's like, have it. Go for it, you two. When it's just you and the guy, you know, or you and the woman, it's tougher.
BURTON: Yes, I think that's right. But I do think that it was unbalanced. It's important to note even if you just look at the way that the debate opened or the forum opened, for Hillary Clinton it was the sustained questioning. For Donald Trump, it was, well, please tell me why would you do such a good job as commander-in-chief? It wasn't really...
KELLY: But, you know, that can also be a tactic by the interviewer to get the candidate talking, and with Trump, it's always fascinating when he does.
BURTON: Generally that is true.
KELLY: And, you know, there's always a headline. Always. Great to see you both.
KURTZ: My pleasure.
BURTON: Me, too.
KELLY: Chris Wallace is going to do a great job, mark my words.
Well, a conspiracy theory involving Clinton is now bubbling up today. The ball is like -- we'll investigate the mystery of the magic earpiece.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARNICLE: What would you do if you were elected about Aleppo?
GARY JOHNSON, U.S. LIBERTARIAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: About?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Aleppo.
JOHNSON: And what is Aleppo?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KELLY: Gary Johnson is here live in studio next with what happened after that remark. Stay tuned.
KELLY: Well, Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson showed the world what a rough day looks like after this moment on a morning news show. Watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARNICLE: What would you do if you were elected about Aleppo.
JOHNSON: And what is Aleppo?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're kidding.
BARNICLE: Aleppo is in Syria. It's the epicenter of the refugee crisis...
JOHNSON: OK. Got it. Got it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KELLY: Predictably, the media pounced with major media outlets questions and sometimes mocking his awareness about a hot spot unfolding in Syria.
But some of that same media that slammed Governor Johnson for not knowing more about Syria also ignored a story there this week, a chemical weapons attack that got no mention on any of the major networks.
Gary Johnson is here and joins The Kelly file live in a moment, but first we go to Benjamin Hall in London with the big story from Aleppo. Benjamin.
BENJAMIN HALL, FOX NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Megyn, it's been just over three years since President Obama said that the use of chemical weapons in Syria would be a red line. Well, today, one report says it's just part of the normal.
On Tuesday, another attack in the northern city of Aleppo. Emergency volunteers were on the scenes before the dust could even settle, and as they began pulling people from the rubble, they realized this was different. Dozens were taken to an underground hospital with breathing problems, choking, and coughing.
At least 70 people were treated and a 13-year-old girl and a 29-year-old man later died from complications. The casualties were filmed being washed and decontaminated to get traces of chemicals off their bodies, but the Syrian government denies using chemical weapons.
In October 2014, a Russian -ed plan was agreed to remove Syria's chemical stock pile from the country, all 600 tons of it. It's a deal now widely seen as a way to prevent Obama acting on the red line.
And today, Russia continues to help the Syrian regime, bombing what it claims are terrorist targets, but which sometimes turn out to be U.S.- backed rebels. And at the same time, Russia say they want to work with the U.S.
There were talks of another meeting between Kerry and his Russian counterpart Lavrov for Friday, but the State Department today said there isn't a big hope for success and they may no longer go ahead.
I've been to Aleppo. I've spoken to people who were in Syrian gas attacks.
They say they feel let down by Obama, that he promised action and none was taken. And today, President Assad continues to gas women and children.
KELLY: Benjamin, thank you.
Joining me now, Libertarian presidential candidate and former Governor of New Mexico, Gary Johnson. Governor, good to see you. In all seriousness, you understand the situation there, right?
KELLY: And you understand why it's of grave concern that you aren't familiar?
JOHNSON: I'm very familiar with the situation. Aleppo, though, this morning was -- is this an acronym? And I shouldn't -- I should have known but didn't, and I'm the only one to blame for that.
KELLY: But do you understand, I mean, we've got Donald Trump praising Putin. Putin backs Assad. Assad is gassing his own people. Those children are being burned by their own leader.
KELLY: And the next person who is going to be commander-in-chief here needs to understand those issues.
JOHNSON: Well, and so those issues, Aleppo, the fact that we back the opposition in Syria, the opposition is the Free Syrian Army. The Free Syrian Army is also partners with Islamists, ISIS. We arm the opposition.
KELLY: Yes, that's the problem.
JOHNSON: We arm the opposition.
KELLY: There was a time when they weren't in there and we refused to go in, and now they're all corrupted by these terrorists.
JOHNSON: Well, arm the opposition. The arms end up in ISIS' hands. Let's see. We're also backing...
KELLY: Well, what would you do? What would you do? You've got a 13-year-old girl dead. There's videos of babies with chemical burns on their faces. What does a President Gary Johnson do to help them?
JOHNSON: Let's finish out the story, though. You've got, then we back the Kurds. The Kurds are also against ISIS. But the Kurds are...
KELLY: I understand, but I'm trying to be more forward-looking with you because you're auditioning for a job. And so the question is what does President Johnson do?
JOHNSON: So, understanding that in the very first place, we're in this situation because we supported regime change. And whenever we support regime change, it always results in things being worse, not better, and it started out with Iraq.
So, here it is we're dealing with ISIS, and we will see ISIS to a conclusion. But it is so...
KELLY: This is Assad. This is Assad gassing his own people.
JOHNSON: And so to deal with Assad, to deal with Syria...
KELLY: Crossing the red line Obama said that he could never cross.
JOHNSON: We have to join with Russia to deal with this. And then Russia. So we've got Russia that's also bombing the terrorists...
KELLY: All right. I want to ask you this.
JOHNSON: ... and we're going to end up in a conflict, an air conflict...
KELLY: So, under President Johnson, we're out?
JOHNSON: Well, no. We need to join with Russia to deal with this diplomatically. That's the only way we're going to bring an end to that. And to me, that was the...
KELLY: Russia is backing Assad.
JOHNSON: I understand that. And so, in that context, Russia and us have to join to bring an end to this. And not that Obama isn't engaged in this also, but if we don't engage in diplomacy to bring this to an end, a cease- fire at the start, it's not going to result in a resolution.
KELLY: Governor Johnson, let me ask you this. Why didn't you know? I mean, I appreciate you owning the mistake. I think the viewers -- we've all made the bad mistakes. Why didn't you know?
JOHNSON: Well, is it more important to know about the issue or is it more important -- and I'm not -- I'm not defending myself for not knowing. I'm not. But understanding the issues, understanding the underlying philosophy, policy that has us in this position today, I mean it's unbelievably complex. We're literally spending money on both ends of the gun shooting ourselves.
KELLY: Yes. Governor, great to see you. Thanks for coming in.
JOHNSON: Thank you.
KELLY: It's hard to come out and admit when you make a mistake, so good for you. On national television, sometimes you have no choice. Oh, and don't forget about this. Let's hear it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PARENTHOOD QUOTE: See, you can't handle it. Todd's working now. We'll find a place to live somewhere. Hi, Gary.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KELLY: Have you ever seen that movie?
JOHNSON: I haven't. I guess I'm going to have to.
KELLY: We'll leave it at that. Bye, Gary. Great to see you.
JOHNSON: Bye, Megyn. Thank you.
KELLY: It's a great movie.
Up next, the crazy questions about whether Hillary was wearing a mystery earpiece last night. Plus we'll investigate the reports of creepy clown sightings when Brian Kilmeade joins us next.
KELLY: Hillary Clinton dealing with what some are calling a conspiracy theory today as her campaign shoots down reports suggesting she was wearing a secret, covert earpiece during a presidential town hall last night.
Brian Kilmeade of Fox & Friends has been investigating this, and you found?
BRIAN KILMEADE, FOX & FRIENDS SHOW CO-HOST: I found that it's not true, but it's going crazy. And it's not going away. Evidently they're claiming this to Clinton camp -- and I talked to Jennifer Griffin, who is following Hillary Clinton around because now she's talking to the press. It makes it more fun.
They said it's the way the light hit the ear. And it's just amazing the two web sites are saying not only did this happen, they even found the type of thing it could be. Some technology, which is operating on my favorite wavelength, which is 300 megahertz.
KILMEADE: The problem is, if you have someone whispering in your ear things, not that we ever do that, wouldn't she get better answers? Wouldn't she have grown her hair over her ear?
KELLY: She would have grown her ear. I'd see. Yes, exactly. If you're going to cheat, you've got to at least like pull it down a little, change the style a little. Put a wig on.
KILMEADE: I would do that. Plus, Megyn -- excuse me, Matt Lauer was so close, they were touching knees. So, there's no way you put your ear piece in at that moment.
KELLY: Well, it kept the internet a flutter for a full day. Meanwhile, there are serious problems again with clowns. You're officially our clown correspondent now.
KILMEADE: I don't know what to say about that.
KELLY: I don't mean that the way it sounds.
KILMEADE: Well, it doesn't sound...
KELLY: But this is a follow up report for you.
KILMEADE: Right. I don't think there's a way to spin my way out of this being a positive story but I'll take the clown title. Gags the clown first got me on your show because gags was in Green Bay, and gags the clown was walking around with balloons, scaring people, which is not illegal. It turns out gags was not a bad person. He was somebody looking to create interest in a bad movie.
So, now we have something else happening and it's happening in South Carolina, where 30 kids say that this guy walking around in a clown outfit, it might be two people. It might be one. Different types of this complex is walking around in a clown outfit, saying, hey child, which is scary, do you want a laser? Do you want candy? Do you want cash? By the time people show up, the cops show up, he's not there.
KELLY: Why are they doing that?
KILMEADE: Why is the clown?
KELLY: Why is he doing it?
KILMEADE: We can't find the clown to ask him why he's doing it. Not only is it bad for a clown to do that because to lure kids is terrible in every way, shape or form. It's killing the business for good clowns who just want to work parties.
If you're a good clown, now you're being lumped in. The scary thing is you are allowed to dress as a clown. That's not illegal.
KELLY: That's what the cops kept saying. There's nothing we can do about this.
KELLY: There's nothing unlawful about.
KILMEADE: But, by the way, if you can help, the cops have put out this description. We're looking for someone, a clown or a person dressed as a clown. Is there a difference? Are you born a clown as opposed to somebody dressed as a clown?
KELLY: I got to leave it at that. I don't know what to think. My emotions are really confused.
KILMEADE: I like a new title.
KELLY: Great to see you Brian Kilmeade.
KELLY: We'll be right back.
KELLY: Happy news here at The Kelly File. Meet Poppy Malone Firth. Welcome. Welcome. The first child for our senior producer, Tommy Firth and his wife Cara. Mom and daughter doing well. So happy for all of you. We love you. Good night. Thanks for watching, everybody.
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