What to expect from the town hall debate

This is a rush transcript from "Special Report with Bret Baier," October 6, 2016. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.


TIM KAINE, DEMOCRATIC VICE PRESIDENT NOMINEE: Donald Trump has decided to change the name of this book. It's the same book, but they changed the name to "Great Again." And instead of glowering at the world, Donald Trump has kind of a smile like I have a used car I want to sell you kind of a smile.

MIKE PENCE, REPUBLICAN VICE PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: I think the reason why you see these enormous crowds rallying around Donald Trump, enormous crowds yesterday out west is because he has made a real connection with everyday Americans. So my advice to him for Sunday night is what it was before the last debate, and that is go out, be yourself, and share that vision for how we are going to make America great again.


BRET BAIER, ANCHOR: The two vice presidential nominees talking about the top of the ticket and what's happening. We have new polls, a couple of them out today. In New Hampshire, a Suffolk/Boston Globe poll has Clinton up two, within the margin of error, essentially tied there with Donald Trump. There you see Johnson and Stein on there in the four-way. And then in Michigan, this is Detroit Free Press and WXYZ. This says Clinton up 11 in Michigan. Our FOX average of national polls has not changed, still at 2.2, Clinton lead.

Let's bring in our panel, Jason Riley, columnist with the Wall Street Journal; Julie Pace, White House correspondent for the Associated Press, Mercedes Schlapp, columnist for the Washington Times, and syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer. OK, state of the race, Jason?

JASON RILEY, WALL STREET JOURNAL: Trump is still behind. And that's the bottom line. We see some movement in the polls in a few states. I think he is doing better in Pennsylvania, Iowa. In most of the battleground states he is still behind. And there's a lot at stake in these next two debates, frankly. We will have to see if he can pick up where Pence left off. I think he would be wise to copy his VP pick's poise, his temperament, I think it served Pence very well in that debate, and not allow himself to get baited into responding to all of these divisive things that he has said. I think that would serve him very well.

BAIER: He is doing a town hall, Julie. He is reportedly getting advice from Chris Christie. Interesting that he is going to New Hampshire for this town hall, a place that Christie obviously owned town halls. But a little practice before Sunday.

JULIE PACE, ASSOCIATED PRESS: Absolutely. The thing that's interesting about Trump right now going into this town hall debate is that most general election candidates come into the town hall with a lot of practice under their belt from the primaries. Town halls are a staple of primaries in New Hampshire and in Iowa. Trump didn't do that. He did rallies at these events. So he is not as practiced as Clinton is. He is not as practiced as Chris Christie is.

I think that it's a good idea for him to be doing a practice town hall tonight. We are getting some reports, though, that the audience is handpicked, that they may be suggesting or maybe having to submit their questions in advance, which is nothing like what Sunday night is going to be. More practice is --

BAIER: The Clinton people have had their share of handpicked crowds.

PACE: Absolutely, but if you are going to practice for a nationally televised where you're not going to know the questions, you might want to give yourself some practice in that kind of environment a couple days ahead.

BAIER: Mercedes?

MERCEDES SCHLAPP, WASHINGTON TIMES: Trump has got to be ready for a very scripted attack dog Hillary Clinton on Sunday. That's why she's in seclusion. She's going to be with some new, fresh --

BAIER: Even in front of the town hall where there are people that are kind of looking for emoting and engaging, do you think that even in that environment?

SCHLAPP: I do think so because I think he has got to stay focused on learning how to pivot to his strengths and pivot to Hillary Clinton's weaknesses. Although he will be answering the question to the audience or to that particular person, the fact is that Hillary Clinton is still going to be there. And the fact is that Hillary Clinton will continue trying to bait him. And if he turns around and says, let me talk about my tax returns a lot more, and doesn't do what Pence did, which Pence was able to ignore Kaine and really pivot on Hillary Clinton's weaknesses, I think that's a strategy that Donald Trump needs to adopt.

BAIER: Here is Donald Trump. One of the ads Hillary Clinton has out now deals with the things Donald Trump has said in the past. You have seen different versions of this ad. There's a new one out about body shaming, and Donald Trump was asked about that.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You understand the concern from parents of younger girls that some of the words you used to talk about attractiveness or unattractiveness might make it more difficult for girls who are struggling with their body image and the pressure to be model perfect?

DONALD TRUMP, REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: Sure, I do. A lot of this is done in the entertainment business. I'm being interviewed for "Apprentice" long before I ever thought in terms of running for office. A lot of that was done for the purpose of entertainment. And when people hear it and when -- there's nobody, I can tell you this, there's nobody, nobody, that has more respect for women than I do.


BAIER: Charles?

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: The most important thing here for Trump is the morning after. He might have lost the debate. It was pretty close. It was not the route that people say it was. But he really threw it away the morning after when he went after -- he went down the rabbit holes on the Miss Universe and the other stuff. And that's happened to him before.

I think he can hold his own. He just needs to be -- to ignore, as everybody here has said -- ignore the bait. He should just dismiss all the quotations that he hears the way that Pence did. Deny it happened and then ignore the fact checkers the next day, and then to pivot and to talk about her.

The preparation he has to do is to learn a few things she said to focus on her weaknesses on Benghazi, which he never mentioned, e-mails, other stuff, and then just have somebody remove the cell phone overnight at least for a week. I think he will be all right.


BAIER: There's a lot of coverage of the Clinton aides taking a hammer to a cell phone. Maybe the Trump aides you are saying --

KRAUTHAMMER: Find that guy.


BAIER: Find that guy, all right.

Something serious on international affairs, and it comes up in this election. Here is Clinton and Pence on Russia.


HILLARY CLINTON, DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: He particularly seems fond of Vladimir Putin. There seems to be some misunderstanding between what it means to have a dictatorship and provide leadership.

PENCE: Hillary Clinton actually said that the number one priority during her tenure as secretary of state was the reset with Russia. She posed for a picture, she pressed the button, and Russia invaded Ukraine.


BAIER: There's a lot of back and forth with these campaigns, but it comes in a time, Jason, that is very serious. You have got Russia essentially threatening to shoot down U.S. aircraft over Syria. We are one shot away from something really big happening.

RILEY: This should be a good issue for Trump. It should be an excellent issue. And Pence showed the way on how to discuss this. This is not about singing the praises of Vladimir Putin and praising his strong leadership or what have you. This is about forcing Hillary Clinton to defend the Obama administration's policy towards Russia. And that is what Trump has to force her to do. And she doesn't have a leg to stand on. It was the premature withdrawal of troops from Iraq that created this vacuum that ISIS has filled. There is no disputing that. And Trump needs to drive that point home.

PACE: I think this is a perfect example of Trump's problems, though. He takes an issue that could be a good issue for him where Hillary Clinton does have to answer for actions in the Obama administration and has spent weeks and months essentially praising Vladimir Putin, which obscures anything else he might say on this issue. Mike Pence did give a tougher answer and Trump would probably be best to just take that answer and say it himself. But he hasn't shown an ability do that when it comes to this Russia issue.

BAIER: I want to talk hurricane Matthew and the politics right after the break. But quickly on the substance of this warning, this threat that is coming from Russia.

KRAUTHAMMER: This is as serious as you say it is. And it tells you how far we have fallen. We were the ones -- before the evacuation of Iraq, we were the ones for all the blood and toil and waste of the initial invasion, who controlled that area. We controlled the airspace. We had air bases in Iraq. We controlled everything. No country would ever have said to us and nobody was in a position to say to us, you can't have a no-fly zone or we will patrol it, we will shoot you down.

The Russians are now in Syria. They have the approval of the government. So they have international law, I think it's ridiculous to worry about that, but the administration does on their side. And they are telling the United States, which was the dominant century for a half a century here, if you go up in the air we will shoot you down. They have installed in a naval base, a Russian naval base, S-300 missiles which can do that, meaning they actually have not only a threat but they have the capacity to shoot American airplanes down. It's probably a bluff because it could trigger a war. It could trigger something extremely serious. But it means we are excluded and the Russians are in charge. Think about the reversal of fortunes of a place where we were the dominant power since the 1970s.

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