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Clinton Campaign Manager: Trump's Lack Of Preparation Surprising

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

On this morning after the presidential debate, we're hearing a lot of voices. We're hearing from voters as they react to what they heard last night. We're also hearing from surrogates and advisers from the campaigns. And we're joined now by Robby Mook. He is Hillary Clinton's campaign manager. He was at Hofstra University in New York watching the debate last night, and he's on the line. Mr. Mook, good morning, and I hope you got some sleep.

ROBBY MOOK: Hey, I got a little. Thanks. Thanks for having me.

GREENE: Can I ask you just sort of a counterintuitive question? What is one thing that Donald Trump succeeded at last night?

MOOK: To be perfectly honest with you, I was surprised by his lack of preparation. I think that came through. I think that speaks more broadly to his - frankly, his lack of fitness to be president. But I really was surprised. We expected him to be more fluent on the issues when he got on that stage.

GREENE: Well, I wanted to ask you about one issue that came up. Here's an exchange the candidates had over the Trans-Pacific Partnership, that trade deal.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

DONALD TRUMP: Now you want to approve Trans-Pacific Partnership. You were totally in favor of it. Then you heard what I was saying, how bad it is, and you said, I can't win that debate. But if you did win, you would approve that. And that will be almost as bad as NAFTA. Nothing will ever top NAFTA.

HILLARY CLINTON: That is just not accurate. I was against it once it was finally negotiated and the terms were laid out. I wrote about that in...

TRUMP: You called it the gold standard.

CLINTON: Well I...

TRUMP: You called it the gold standard of trade deals...

CLINTON: And you know what...

TRUMP: You said it's the finest deal you've ever seen.

GREENE: Robby Mook, Secretary Clinton did at one point call this trade deal the gold standard. So now her opposition to it - how is that not a flip-flop on this issue?

MOOK: Well, as secretary of state she was responsible for engaging in some of the set-up work where this deal was being negotiated. But she was very clear when she started the campaign that she had three tests that any trade deal would have to meet. It was it needed to create jobs, it needed to increase wages here in the United States and they needed to advance our national security interests. And when the final language was released, and she was not privy to the final language before others were, she said that it didn't meet those standards.

GREENE: But if I may, it's - I mean, some voters I would imagine might not want someone who served in government to change a position just because a political campaign is beginning.

MOOK: Well again, this wasn't a change in position. She was not privy to the final language that was negotiated when she was out of office as secretary of state. And she needed to take a stand to evaluate that final language. And when she did, she said she couldn't support it.

GREENE: When Donald Trump talks about the Iraq War and says, you know, I said that thing in one interview where I was supporting the Iraq War, but I have come to to oppose it - are those comparable? I mean, fair to say that these are two political candidates who, you know, have sort of altered their positions as things have evolved on these issues?

MOOK: Well, what we object to in this situation is that Donald Trump has been claiming for some time that he never supported the war in Iraq, when as you pointed out he at one point did. So it's just not acceptable for Donald Trump not to take responsibility for what he said. He did the same thing on Libya, where he expressed support for military action there and then later claims that he never did.

GREENE: Do you think Secretary Clinton is taking responsibility for having been more supportive of the TPP when she was secretary of state?

MOOK: As I said, she has been totally transparent about her involvement in the early stages of that negotiation. It's in her book. She wrote about it. She's been very clear about it. The problem again with Donald Trump is, depending on who he's talking to, he'll just revise history completely. And that's just not acceptable.

GREENE: Let me finish with this if I can, Robby Mook. Your boss has been criticized over time for being a policy wonk in debates and other situations. Some have suggested that's what they saw in a good bit of last night. Can she do a better job heading into these next few debates at, you know, avoiding what some describe as policy wonkishness?

MOOK: Well, first of all, I thought she did a terrific job last night really laying out the choice for voters, that she has been on a mission her entire career to fight for kids and families. And so I think that she did a great job at that.

GREENE: OK, Robby Mook is Hillary Clinton's campaign manager. Thanks so much for the time this morning. We appreciate it.

MOOK: I really appreciate it. Thanks. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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