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SMERCONISH

Trump Winning War Vs. GOP Establishment; Wang: 90 Percent Sure Trump Will Win GOP Nomination; Does Trump Have a Jewish Problem? Aired 9-10a ET

Aired March 19, 2016 - 09:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


MICHAEL SMERCONISH, CNN HOST: I'm Michael Smerconish.

New clashes between Donald Trump supporters and protesters outside his rally in Utah last night. All this turmoil fueling a big turnout at the ballot box and Trump is taking credit. Here he is last night.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The biggest story in all of politics worldwide is what's happening to the Republican Party. Can you believe this? Still, because the voting turnout is massive. And you know who they are, right? The people coming in, where are they from? They are Democrats, they are independents and we have, I think, I guess, ultimately millions of people coming in. They have never - you know what a great thing that is for our democracy when you think about it?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SMERCONISH: So Donald Trump claims that he's brought millions to the Republican Party. I can't speak to the number, but I'm sure there are many joining the GOP because of him. In fact, I've decided to be one of them, just not for the reasons that he would want.

Back in the '80s I was proud to be a card carrying member. It was family tradition as I'll explain later in the program. I proudly served in the Bush 41 administration, but in 2010 I left the GOP, and for the last six years, I've been registered as an independent but living in a closed primary state, I just can't stand the thought of sitting out.

The Pennsylvania primary on April 26th. Registration data from across he country suggests there are engaged in similar strategic voting, including Mitt Romney, who announced he's voting in Utah for Ted Cruz after having supported John Kasich in Ohio.

Apparently, Mitt is unwilling to be among the good men who do nothing, me too. But is it too late to stop Donald Trump, his insurgent candidacy has completely ambushed, baffled and paralyzed the establishment. On the Weekly showtime, reality series about the campaign, "The circus," host Mark Halpern and John Hillaman (ph) put together a round table of establishment types to discuss Trump and it's gotten a lot of attention. Here is an excerpt. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RICK HOLT, MAJOR GOP FUNDRAISER: Everybody around this table that I know, we've been in every presidential campaign since probably 1980 in various degrees and in Trump's problem, he - you don't know what his compass is. Before it's all over, it's going to be hugely problematic.

VIN WEBER, FORMER CONGRESSMAN: I talked to people at times, I'm sure (INAUDIBLE) table, they said, why don't you Republicans do something about his guy? We can't call a meeting and decide Trump is out.

And we hate that.

UNIDENTIFED MALE: Dictatorship, who is for it?

ED GOEAS, POLLSTER, ANTI-TRUMP SUPER PAC: I think everyone is kind of buying into this - he's inevitable and he can't be stopped. I believe he can be stopped.

RON KAUFMAN, WHITE HOUSE ADVISER, BUSH 41: Trump is doing well for one reason, he understands the climate and the culture of America today better than anybody at this table.

ED ROGERS, WHITE HOUSE ADVISER, REAGAN AND BUSH 41: Republicans are hierarchial, respectful of authority. We fall in line and Trump has interrupted that cycle.

UNIDENTIFED MALE: Donald Trump, nobody thought of him as any kind of political leader until six months ago.

UNIDENTIFED MALE: He's not articulate. He's not poised. He's not informed. All he has going for him is a lot of votes. Why hasn't any of that hit home? Here we are. Here we are.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SMERCONISH: So here we are now, joining me now, three of the people you just saw, co-creator and co-host of "the Circus," Mark McKeenon. He has advise George W. Bush, John McCain, just to name a few. Ron Kaufman is a White House advisor, was for George Herbert Walker Bush and an adviser to candidate Mitt Romney. Ed Goeas is a pollster. He has worked on campaigns for 11 senators and 53 congressman and now for the anti-Trump super pac, Our Principals.

Mr. McKeenon, isn't it your fault, meaning the establishment fault because you seeded control of the party to men with microphones and you are happy to take the benefit of what they were delivering and now you've got this?

MCKEENON: We do. We found the six members of the establishment left in Washington.

(LAUGHTER)

MARK MCKEENON, CO-CREATOR, "THE CIRCUS INSIDE THE GREATEST POLITICAL SHOW ON EARTH": And they were very generous by joining us for dinner, and being very candid about their assessment of the situation. The most interesting thing about that meeting is, we had six people and there were six different opinions about what's going on.

SMERCONISH: (INAUDIBLE) you reap what you sow.

MCKEENON: Well, I would agree with that. I'm a guy that's been saying for years that we may have to burn down the Republican house in order to rebuild it - we can talk for an hour about that but what is clear is that the establishment doesn't have a clear idea about what to do and that's advantage Trump.

SMERCONISH: Ron Kaufman, wouldn't you be having a similar kind of dinner if Ted Cruz were in the lead and not Donald Trump?

KAUFAMN: Well, maybe, Michael and thanks for having me on the show. Listen, I think we're not anywhere near the dramatic place people like to say we're in. The process is kind of working well in many respects. Donald Trump and the rest of the candidates collectively, one reason or the other have brought more people into the polling place Republicans than ever be in history.

Donald Trump may very well end up getting more votes than any single Republican candidate in history. For me, I think it's really important that the process play out and be fair and square and at the end of the day, no matter who wins, all the candidates say, you know, it was fair.

[09:05:02]

SMERCONISH: So you're satisfied with this outcome, if Donald Trump should be the nominee of the Republican party, Ron Kaufman who played a critical role for Papa Bush is fine with that end result?

KAUFMAN: Listen, clearly, he's not my first pick as a candidate but what I want to do is one thing, win the White House. No matter who the nominee is in my opinion, there are two words that will unite Republican party. Those two words are Supreme Court. I know one thing, we know who Mrs. Clinton will appoint at the court because she's been pulled so far to the left by Bernie Sanders, we don't know Donald Trump will pick but I guarantee you, it will be a whole much better than what she picks. In the end that will matter to Republican voters.

SMERCONISH: Ed Goeas, you said in that clip from "The Circus" Trump can be stopped. Give me that path.

GOEAS: Well, first of all, I want to go back to a little bit of what is being said here. First of all, I was the only one in the room that was a pure campaign person as opposed to part of the Washington establishment from being a lobbyist or working at that level. And I did approach it differently.

I look at Donald Trump from a perspective of what the voters are out there saying and what I see the voters out there saying even in the Republican party is that you have a third of the Republicans that really do like Trump. They like his schtick. They feel like he's going to fight for them but there is an equal number of Republicans that are basically turned off to Donald Trump because of his approach, because of his brashness and his crudeness that he has out there on the campaign trail.

The way he has kind of insulted his way to his position. And think the party is in deep trouble. As much talk as there is about his supporters will riot in the streets kind of alluding to what would happen if he didn't get the nomination. There is an equal number that we're looking at that are considering either voting for Hillary Clinton or staying at home and even on the Supreme Court argument that Ron just put out there, there is a real concern you look at he's the only candidate, even today that is losing to Hillary Clinton and if, in fact, there are a lot of Republicans who stay at home as oppose to come out and vote because not because they are against her, because of his position on issues but because of the character of the man, then we're also in trouble in terms of the Senate.

We may be sitting there with a Democrat president and a Democrat Senate, which is going to put us at a much deeper position on the Supreme Court.

SMERCONISH: Ed makes the point that there are a number of Republicans, I think he was being kind, I think it's more like two thirds of Republicans, who are unsettled with the Trump prospect. What about Kasich?

MCKEENON: Well, Kasich, you know, all along has been saying he had to win Ohio and had the simplest strategy which is survive New Hampshire and win Ohio. The problem is where does he go from here? Your next guest, you're going to have on makes a very interesting argument -

SMERCONISH: Sam Wong, yes.

MCKEENON: He wins by losing. The real path for Kasich to get to a contested nominee, he can't get the delegates now. We all know that, he knows that. He's admitted that. So he has to get to a contested convention. The best way to do may actually be to lose winner take all states which I think you're going to get into in the next segment.

SMERCONISH: Ron Kaufman, John Kasich, is there a path for him?

KAUFMAN: There is a path for him for an open convention, absolutely. I think it's going to happen. I think Governor Romney actually is making this point very strongly by backing Kasich in Ohio and backing Cruz in Utah because if Cruz gets the 49, 50 percent, he gets all the delegates and Trump gets none. So that's playing by the rules. I think that's a good thing to do.

I agree with other folks that this will probably be an open convention and once that happens, lord knows what the outcome will be.

SMERCONISH: Ed, do you worry that the handling of the nomination of Judge Garland is going to reinforce this image of the GOP as being a party of no and will impact negatively the presidential race for the GOP?

GOEAS: What we're seeing right now is it's about the intensity of the base on both sides and if anything will be an equalizer on the Democrats raising their intensity. But I want to come back to the convention. The numbers that I am looking at is that Trump would have to win 100 percent of delegates to put this thing away by April 10th.

With a third of those delegates being proportional. This thing is going to go at a minimum all the way to California, and one of the things if you study the history of California, I'm talking about John Kasich is the history of California and Republican primaries is if it's a conservative versus a moderate, the conservative always wins. If it's two conservatives versus a moderate, the moderate wins. So I don't know that writing off John Kasich on not winning any states because he's being perceived as being the moderate, he could very well win California but more importantly, if this goes to the convention, once it gets past that first vote, the real decision of those delegates that are there is who is most electable in the fall?

[09:10:10]

And right now, those numbers are worse for Donald Trump than any of the other two candidates in the race.

SMERCONISH: Mark, the dilemma for the Republican party is that they need that Trump constituency or it's a Hillary or Bernie election in the fall. So how do you both keep them in the tent and perhaps handle the situation where he doesn't get to 1237.

MCKEENON: Well, that's the real challenge. I mean, if you look at ort of the Republican prospects just conventionally and you look at what Mitt Romney did last cycle and where the demographics are in this country, we got to do something different in order to win and part of what Donald Trump is doing is something different. He is bringing in new voters. The question is what voters are we losing at the same time, and how can we bring all those voters back together, add to the equation and not subtract?

SMERCONISH: Ron Kaufman, where is the party - I mean, if Donald Trump is the nominee and he wins, he owns. This party becomes one in his image. What if Trump is the nominee and is defeated badly by Hillary or by Bernie? My thought is that there will be a big dispute as to what the lesson was. What would the lesson be?

KAUFMAN: Well, the same lesson we learned in '64. It's a cyclical party like all parties, just like the Democrats did with McGovern. I think we'll be fine and I don't think it's going to happen. I think we're going to win in November. I think we're going to hold the Senate in November and we're a majority party and I think we'll continue to be the majority party.

SMERCONISH: I mean, I always hear about if it's Ted Cruz, you know, we get to run the experiment. What happens when you run a pure conservative, is that what we need? A-la Ronald Reagan, a la W or do you need more bridge building? What would Cruz resolve in that respect?

MCKEENON: Well his whole candidacy is based on the notion that there are a lot of voters out there who haven't had a pure conservative candidate. He says let's try it. We haven't done it in a long time. Let's put out a true conservative and see if he brings in new voters that had been staying home.

SMERCONISH: Gentleman, I have to move. A one-word answer if you don't mind. Ron Kaufman, will Donald Trump be the Republican nominee?

KAUFMAN: Unclear.

SMERCONISH: Ed -

KAUFMAN: Probably not.

SMERCONISH: That's one word so OK. Ed Goeas, go ahead. Yes or no.

GOEAS: Questionable.

SMERCONISH: Questionable.

McKeenon.

MCKEENON: In the air, we got to keep it going for good TV.

SMERCONISH: All right. Three guys, unsure.

MCKEENON: For you and for me it's good TV, right?

SMERCONISH: Certainly. Mark McKeenon, Ron Kaufman, Ed Goeas, thank you gentleman, I really appreciate it.

While the power brokers try to broker a convention, there are two candidate who can actually win this thing and Mitt Romney who people were trying to draft just announced that he'll vote for Ted Cruz in Tuesday's Utah caucuses and he encouraged others to do the same. That has to be good news for my next guest who recently joined Ted Cruz' national finance team and who thinks taking away the nomination from anybody is a bad idea.

Neil Bush, he's the son of 41, brother of 43 and sibling of Jeb. Neil, thank you for being here. What do you make of my previous guests not rallying to embrace your guy, Ted Cruz. What do you read into that?

NEIL BUSH, TED CRUZ COMMITTEE FINANCE MEMBER: Well, I think it's very early in the process and I have great respect for all three of your guests. Ron Kaufman has been an old friend and political mentor of mine personally. I think they are wrong, though, in the following way.

Ed threw out the statistic which I think is flawed that Donald Trump would have to get 100 percent of the delegates going forward in order to lock it up. He only needs 55 percent of the delegates going forward to lock up the nomination. Ted Cruz needs 79 percent. Kasich is mathematically eliminated from this and Michael, if you look at the process going forward, there are 22 contests that remain. 14 of which are closed contests, which means only Republicans can vote.

Donald Trump does poorly in closed contests. And in most of these, they are winner take all consequences and so we need to rally the party in a one on one contest, Donald Trump cannot win. It's just clear. The evidence is there as the pack is narrowed, Cruz' numbers have gone up. Trump has a very solid core, you know, base of support from an art and following. No one is going to peel any of those voters away. But there are more people that have come out to vote for other candidates and against Trump, so to his credit, he is bringing more people to the polls, but I'm not so sure all these people will stay in the Republican Party when he loses and he will lose in an open transparent process if not before the convention, at the convention.

SMERCONISH: Neil, is yours a full throated endorsement of Ted Cruz or are you engaged in strategic voting?

[09:15:00]

BUSH: I'm engaged in strategic participatory politics. I made it clear that Ted Cruz wasn't my first choice. I admired and was heartbroken that my brother Jeb's lack of success. He had a track record and the temperament that proves he could be a great leader. Ted Cruz wasn't my second or third choice. I don't particularly like his style.

He went to Washington to be disruptive and he clearly did that and he has lost a lot of friends in Washington. He'll rebuild friendships when he becomes president. So mine is a strategic move to try to bring our party together. I think it would be a disaster to put up the most flawed candidate as the head of our ticket. Donald Trump has proven - yes, go ahead, please.

SMERCONISH: I was going to say, I'm glad to hear you differentiate why you're for Ted Cruz. Because here is something that's troubled me or made me question. I want to run a montage brief of some of the things that Cruz has said and tell you what I was thinking as he said these things.

BUSH: Yes.

SMERCONISH: Roll the tape.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TED CRUZ, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The Washington establishment is refusing to listen to the American people.

UNIDENTIFED MALE: Your fellow Republicans said you led them over a cliff.

UNIDENTIFED MALE: Do you feel like you owe your party an apology?

CRUZ: Senate Republican should have united and supported House Republicans.

UNIDENTIFED MALE: Shutting down the government or defaulting is the wrong thing to do.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: Comparing it to those who are the appeasers.

UNIDENTIFED MALE: A once proud Republican party has been driven off the cliff under Cruz control.

UNIDENTIFED MALE: Ted Cruz is a fraud and you no longer have any influence in the Republican party.

CRUZ: Do you like green eggs and ham?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SMERCONISH: Neil, I think your dad, 41 is the gold standard. I think he's a class act.

BUSH: Right.

SMERCONISH: And when people say establishment, I think in a good way of George Herbert Walker Bush as he ran in '80s a president we won't have to train, Cruz seems totally at odds with that vision of the GOP. That's why I'm questioning how you could be supportive or him.

BUSH: Well, I'll put it differently. I'll say if you look at my dad as the gold standard, in my mind because he was the gold standard because he put service above self and he was all in for helping the American people in reaching out and trying to work with the other side to make things happen in a positive proactive way both domestically and foreign (INAUDIBLE).

Donald Trump is the opposite of that. Donald Trump is self before service and he would be the worst standard bearer our party could ever put up. I would put Cruz more in the Reagan camp. Reagan came in with a philosophical compass that was really clear and firmly set. He was conservative to the core.

And yet when Ronald Reagan got to Washington, he threatened to be the outsider coming in. He worked with the Congress and we have a historic opportunity, Michael. We're going to bring you back into the Republican party. You pronounced you became independent. We're going to have a historic opportunity for President Cruz and it's not smoothly coming off my mouth but President Cruz to work with Speaker Ryan and the Senate majority leader McConnell, even though those guys are probably find Ted a little bit of a bitter pill to swallow. They're going to work together to reform Washington --

SMERCONISH: Quick final question.

BUSH: OK.

SMERCONISH: I want to know, is Jeb cool with what you're doing?

BUSH: I mean, he's not un-cool with it. Let me put it that way. I'm my own independent guy. I don't speak for my brother, Jeb, George. I clearly don't speak for my mom. I can't wait for you to track her down and get her opinion on all this.

But I put my country first above party and I'm not going to take the hail Trump kind of deal and step up there and I'm not going to do what the politically correct thing among presidential candidates and say yes, I'm going to support him. I'm not going to support Donald Trump. I'm going to support Ted Cruz, the only guy in this race, we need to unify around him. He's got a clear path to winning this contest before you get to the convention so he can use the convention for the positive message.

By the way, I'm on the finance committee, give money to Ted Cruz. Go to Tedcruz.com or .org, look him up. You can find it.

SMERCONISH: Neil -

BUSH: Thank you, Michael.

SMERCONISH: Neil, when Poppy comes back, then I'm back for good. Thank you, sir. I appreciate you being here.

BUSH: You're a good man. Thank you, Michael.

SMERCONISH: What do you think? Tweet me your thoughts @smerconish and I'll read some later in the program.

Still to come, President Obama's Supreme Court nominee is 63 years old and a centrist. Did he get out foxed by the GOP?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[09:23:26]

SMERCONISH: So, who is winning this bitter stand off about the filling of Supreme Court seats held by Antonin Scalia. It depends on how you look at it. The GOP has declared that it won't even meet with any Obama nominees. This week, the president nominated a centrist Merit Garland of the D.C. Court of Appeals and pointedly quoted praise about Garland from Senator Orin Hatch someone who is refusing to meet with any of President Obama's nominees.

So is President Obama sticking it to the GOP forcing them to either consider him or look foolish or did the GOP win by forcing the president to pick the kind of candidate, a 63-year-old white guy who might not be very liberal?

My next guest is an expert on this for several reasons. Jeffrey Rosen's upcoming book "Louis Brandeis, American Prophet" tells the story of the judge whose confirmation battle a century ago was the longest and most contentious in Supreme Court history. He's also the president of the National Constitution Center.

Jeffrey, thank you for being here. So in Brandeis' case, it was 125 days. By my calculations, when Justice Scalia passed, President Obama had 341 days on the clock. Is this unprecedented?

JEFFREY ROSEN, PRESIDENT, NATIONAL CONSTITUTION CENTER: It is unprecedented. Brandeis was the longest wait that any nominee has had before, nominated on January 28th 1916 and confirmed on June 1st when this riveting book comes out and no nominee has waited a longer period. No one suggested that he shouldn't have hearings, the vote in the end wasn't close but it was a Democratic Senate and a Democratic president and that makes all the difference. [09:25:00]

SMERCONISH: Of course, Republicans this week are now invoking the "Biden rule." I did see that Glen Kessler of "The Washington Post" gave three Pinocchios to the claim there is a Senate responsibility to take up a nomination. Do they have a valid argument? The Republicans on the Senate judiciary committee?

ROSEN: The Constitution does not speak clearly about this. In the end, it is all politics. There is no question that politics has been at the center of this since the beginning. In 1800, John Adams has literally staying up all night to nominate judges and in the last days of his administration, he appoints his Chief Justice John Marshall who was confirmed by a federal Senate. I think we can't say that the constitution requires one thing or another, all we can say is that this would be the longest wait than any (INAUDIBLE) had.

SMERCONISH: Politically speaking, did the president get out maneuvered. I mean he has just put forth the name of a 63-year-old white guy who is a centrist but for the GOP line in the sand, would he not perhaps taken someone of color, someone more liberal and someone younger who would have gone to the Supreme Court akin to Scalia going on at his young age.

ROSEN: Well, he may have taken someone younger. But the thing to stress is that Merritt Garland is ideal judge's judge, a model of bipartisan traditional restrain. He's so respected by both sides. John Roberts said that when Merritt Garland disagrees with you, you're in a tough spot and there's no question. The bottom line is Merritt Garland is going to be with the liberals on all of the big cases where Justice Scalia was on the other side, campaign finance, affirmative action, voting rights. So to say he's a centrist is not to say that he's not going to be a strong voice for individual liberty, it's just someone who is absolutely respected as the model of a judge's judge.

SMERCONISH: What do you make of some Republicans this week saying well, maybe in a lame-duck session, maybe if we're awaiting the swearing in of President Hillary Clinton or President Donald Trump, then maybe we'll move on this nomination.

ROSEN: It would make a lot of sense for them because the odds are that Hillary Clinton appointments would be more liberal. You know it's also possible that if the Democrats take the Senate, there might be three weeks between the time the new Senate starts and inauguration day when that Democratic Senate could push through anyone they want. So this is the window for Merritt Garland that after the election, if a Democrat wins Republicans will recognize - well everyone knows, this is absolutely the best nominee they could possibly get. They have been asking for him for years and therefore may be they'll reconfirm them.

SMERCONISH: You ought to get that publisher on the horn and say you know that Brandeis book, well, it's going to be hot if you hurry up and get it to the stands.

ROSEN: Thank you, from your lips. I'll tell them right away. Absolutely. SMERCONISH: Jeffrey Rosen, thank you for being here.

ROSEN: Thanks. Great to be here.

SMERCONISH: Just ahead, Donald Trump lost the big primary in Ohio but I'll talk to one of the best in the political prediction business who says he really won by losing.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[09:32:08] SMERCONISH: John Kasich is still in the race because we won his home state of Ohio and many assumed that was bad news for Donald Trump. No so fast. Listen to this clip from Tuesday night.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SMERCONISH: A Princeton neuroscientist named Sam Wang who has a good record at crunching numbers puts forth the theory that John Kasich winning Ohio is actually good news for Donald Trump. And the thought process is that that crowded field is one where Trump excels and the longer it's delayed, there is a one on one contest between Cruz and Trump, the better it is for Donald Trump. So file that away.

(CROSSTALK)

DAVID AXELROD, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I actually think Dr. Wang happens to be an alias that Ted Cruz has used.

(LAUGHTER)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SMERCONISH: No, David Axelrod, Dr. Sam Wang is not Ted Cruz. He is however not only a Princeton neuroscientist, but also one of the best in the prediction business and he says he's 90 percent sure that Trump will win. He's made quite a name for himself predicting the exact 2008 presidential results and he joins me now.

Do you still think it was good for Donald Trump that he lost Ohio to Kasich?

SAM WANG, FOUNDER, PRINCETON ELECTION CONSORTIUM: Absolutely. I do think it was good in a divided field, Trump has the advantage. In a one on one race, Trump has a problem because he in one on one surveys falls well behind Cruz.

SMERCONISH: All right. Don't make my eyes glaze over and remember, I'm a knucklehead, but explain the graphs and what they mean, Dr. Wong. Put those up, if you would.

Here we go. Not that, the graphs. Thank you. There we are.

What does that mean?

WANG: This is the conventional political thinking if Kasich wins Ohio he stays in the race and below, that's a three-way race, and that's a histogram of all the possible outcomes that I've calculate using polls, and the red vertical line is where Trump needs to get. And you can see that Trump gets super close under than scenario and he just needs to pick up a few dozen delegates at the convention in most scenarios.

SMERCONISH: Bottom line for that slide is that it benefits Donald Trump to have three people in the race --

WANG: That's right.

SMERCONISH: -- not two. Go to the next slide. Let's see what this represents. One more slide if we can.

WANG: OK. So, this is the crazy fox scenario where Kasich realizes all he's doing is helping Trump. If he drops out of the winner take all races, then what he does now is creates a head-to-head between Trump and Cruz. And that histogram has shifted to the left and you can see here now that Trump is far away from 1,237 delegates, in that scenario, it goes to an open convention and actually improves Kasich's chances.

SMERCONISH: So, what you're saying, Dr. Wang, is that now, he should utilize some game theory, he John Kasich and he should not campaign in every state that remains. Explain.

WANG: If he has self-restraint and he listens to what Mitt Romney suggested a week or two ago, what he should do is pull out of the winner take all states, only campaign in the proportional representation states, Utah is one of them and take delegates where he can, but also minimize Donald Trump's delegates.

[09:35:01] SMERCONISH: So, he would have to say look, folks, don't vote for me. Vote for Ted Cruz.

WANG: Yes, Rubio did that for Kasich and he would have to do the same.

SMERCONISH: I mean, in similar fashion to Mitt Romney and we've been talking about this consistently now throughout the program today, this notion of strategic voting, the same way Mitt Romney went into Ohio and campaigned with John Kasich and now casting his ballot in Utah for Ted Cruz. You're saying that if Kasich would do similarly, then he could prevent Donald Trump from getting to 1,237?

WANG: Yes. If he had enough self-restraint, he could apply the game theory and do that, follow that narrow path.

SMERCONISH: Isn't there a risk that if he pursues game theory, I love that descriptor, sort of a money ball approach, he runs the risk he pushes Ted Cruz over the hump?

WANG: It's unlikely Cruz will get to 50 percent. But there is no denying that somebody is going to get those delegates. And so, Cruz could get maybe 40, 45 percent of the delegates that creates a situation Kasich might not like but certainly better than Trump getting 50 percent. SMERCONISH: When all is said and done, Dr. Sam Wang, who vested even

Nate Silver in the last cycle, got to give you your props, you still think Donald Trump has a 90 percent shot of winning the Republican nomination?

WANG: It's hard to say for sure because of human factors and the convention but feels like about 90 percent.

SMERCONISH: OK. What would be the odds if Kasich were to pursue the strategies you've just set forth?

WANG: Oh --

SMERCONISH: Less than 90.

WANG: Fifty-fifty.

SMERCONISH: Fifty-fifty?

WANG: Yes.

SMERCONISH: Let me get you to say this clearly, if John Kasich does that which you've advocated, based on your number crunching, you say what?

WANG: I think it will be a tossup. I think we have no idea who would be the nominee at that point.

SMERCONISH: Because it would definitely go to Cleveland and the determination would be made at the convention.

WANG: Goes to Cleveland.

SMERCONISH: See, I wonder if they are all going to come to your conclusion when it's over and too late and look back and say Dr. Wang, he was right at Princeton.

WANG: I've been writing about this, everyone falling into line about one step too late. So the field should have narrowed now and didn't really. There say problem. People are slow, sometimes to realize their own self-interest.

SMERCONISH: Dr. Sam Wang, thank you so much for being here.

Up next, Donald Trump is headed to meet with a major Jewish group on Monday but maybe his version of New York values won't be so welcome there. He's heard bluebirds before, this was in December.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You know what I want to do? I want to wait until I meet with Bibi. You know, I'm leaving for Israel in a short period of time.

(BOOS) I know, I know what you're saying. I just want to -- I just -- You're not going to be unhappy -- who is the wise guy? Do me a favor, just relax, OK? You'll like me very much, believe me.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[09:41:45] SMERCONISH: Monday night, Donald Trump is scheduled to speak at a major pro-Israel conference by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, AIPAC.

The welcome will be mixed at best. Many Jewish leaders are planning to protest, accusing Trump of encouraging hatred. Others want him to repudiate his promise to be neutral in Israeli-Palestinian negotiations and there's his perhaps well-intentioned stereotyping at another recent Jewish forum.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: Look, I'm a negotiator. Like you folks, we're negotiators. Is this room negotiates -- I want to rene -- perhaps more than any room I've ever spoken. Maybe more.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SMERCONISH: Joining me now, Jeremy Ben-Ami, president of J Street. That's a liberal Jewish advocacy group, which supports a two-state solution between Israel and the Palestinians, and opposes Trump. And Sid Dinerstein, a former Palm Beach County Florida Republican chairman, Trump will be the keynote speaker at his group's event tomorrow night and he's a Trump supporter.

Jeremy, you have said that Donald Trump is unfit. Why?

JEREMY BEN-AMI, PRESIDENT, J STREET: Well, this is a man who has created a toxic brew playing to the people's worst fears, stereotyping people based on ethnic background and religion. He is speaking in a way that is counter to the very values on which this country was founded and certainly the values of the Jewish people, and it is the way in which he has gone about this campaign that should disqualify him from consideration to be president of the United States.

We need somebody who's going to bring this country together, not drive it apart. That's the theme is coming together. So, he's the exact opposite of the very theme of the conference he's speaking at.

SMERCONISH: Sid, respond to that, if you would.

SID DINERSTEIN, FORMER PALM BEACH COUNTY REPUBLICAN PARTY CHAIRMAN: I think that the accountability issue is important one. Nobody should ever ask J Street to speak about Jews. They are an anti-Semitic organization which for your voters must be shocking. There is no other religion that has people from their religion out to destroy their own country of Israel.

That's what J Street is. They are a one-person organization, George Soros, who is born George Schwartz who proudly during the Holocaust --

BEN-AMI: Michael, who is this person?

SMERCONISH: Hang on.

DINERSTEIN: -- in Hungary, sent hundreds of thousands of Jews to their death at Auschwitz, and took their money for the Nazis.

BEN-AMI: Michael, please.

(CROSSTALK)

SMERCONISH: Sid, Sid, hang on, Sid.

DINERSTEIN: George Soros who is a funder or --

SMERCONISH: We're way afield. We're way afield. We're talking about Donald Trump. George Soros isn't running.

DINERSTEIN: We're exactly on point.

(CROSSTALK)

SMERCONISH: Hold on. Hold on.

DINERSTEIN: -- on point.

SMERCONISH: Sid, I want to ask you a question.

DINERSTEIN: For Donald Trump to get walked out on by J Street is a matter of great pride. We as Jews want to be walked out on by J Street. They are the anti-Israel, anti --

(CROSSTALK)

SMERCONISH: Jeremy, I want Jeremy Ben-Ami -- Sid, you said it. Let him respond. Jeremy, the floor is yours. You can respond or I'll respond, go ahead.

BEN-AMI: Yes, no, look, I'm not here to talk about J Street. I'm here to talk about Donald Trump.

[09:45:01] The issue with Donald Trump is he's going to have trouble getting support from anybody beyond, let's say, Sid and a few people like him perhaps in Palm Beach. He is representative --

DINERSTEIN: In Palm Beach County's primary last week --

BEN-AMI: Jewish community stands against --

DINERSTEIN: In Palm Beach County's --

(CROSSTALK)

BEN-AMI: We're a tolerant community. We have lived as a minority in other people's lands. We have suffered oppression. We understand what it's like to be stereotyped and singled out --

DINERSTEIN: In Palm Beach County last week --

SMERCONISH: Gentlemen, I want to show you both, maybe we can cut through some of this. I want to show you both a quick snippet. It's Donald Trump saying something and Ted Cruz responding. Roll it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: Let me be sort of a neutral guy. I have friends of mine that are tremendous business people and really great negotiators and they say it's not doable. You understand, a lot of people have gone down in flames trying to make that deal. So, I don't want to say whose fault is it. I don't think it helps.

SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, let me be very clear, as president I will not be neutral.

(CHEERS)

America will stand unapologetically with the nation of Israel.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SMERCONISH: Sid Dinerstein, who has the right answer as between those two candidates on that issue, neutrality?

DINERSTEIN: Oh, both of them. All Republicans are good for Israel. All Democrats are not. J Street, Hillary, Barack Obama, Al Sharpton, they are all pro-Iran. They are openly pro-Iran.

Al Sharpton is the David Duke of the Jewish community and J Street, Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama stand with Al Sharpton with his anti- Semitism.

Donald Trump may or may not --

SMERCONISH: Jeremy, Jeremy --

(CROSSTALK)

SMERCONISH: Hang on, sir. Jeremy, it occurs to me neutrality is something J Street advocated. I don't want to speak for you but in this respect, does Donald Trump have the right idea?

BEN-AMI: Well, next time, I hope you can find someone that can talk with us about the issues.

The best way the United States can be a friend to the state of Israel is to help it to achieve a two-state resolution to its conflict with the Palestinian people. That's the core premise of J Street is that the future of Israel as a democracy and true to its Jewish values will depend on its ability to separate from the Palestinian people, something that prime minister of Israel gives at least lip service to, every former prime minister, all of the leaders of the other parties support a two-state solution and in seeking to help to get to that outcome, a president of the United States would be acting in the truest sense of friendship to the state of Israel. So that is what we want to see.

SMERCONISH: That was the irony that I wanted to highlight. I know Jeremy that you've written that sons and daughters of those who suffered under authoritarian regimes, you are alert to demagogues. And yet, I listen to what Donald Trump said on that issue and said to myself, that sounds very J Street-ish.

Gentleman, thank you. Jeremy Ben-Ami, Sid Dinerstein, I appreciate you're both being here.

Coming up in just a moment, why I left the GOP and why I am headed back again, at least for the primary. And some of your tweets like this one from Diamond and Silk. Hello, ladies.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[09:52:31] SMERCONISH: Hey, I mentioned at the outset that drawn by Donald Trump, I intend to change my voter registration to Republican. This is a very personal decision for me. I followed my parents into the GOP when I turned 18.

There were four of us, all Republicans, in the house where I was raised. In fact I vividly recall both my enthusiasm and dilemma when casting my very first presidential ballot. It was the spring of 1980, Ronald Reagan or George Herbert Walker Bush? I got to meet both at local events and found each to be worthy.

When I was in law school, I even ran on the state representative on the GOP line, I lost by 419 votes. Not that I'm still bruised. And I served in the Bush 41 administration when I was 29 years old.

Today, I doubt either Reagan or Bush could capture this party's nomination. I didn't leave the Republican Party. It left me.

The 1980 GOP platform had welcoming stances that today's Republicans would demonize, on everything from abortion to voter participation to immigration. I became an independent in 2010.

Ditching party labels, that suited me. But I had never missed an election in three decades and I knew it would be painful to sit out primaries because of Pennsylvania's archaic closed system. This season, I can't tolerate being a bystander.

Today, under my roof, besides me, there are two R's, two D's, and a 15-year-old who says in three years, he too will be an independent, not a Republican or a Democrat.

It was actually our eldest son, who's now 20, who introduced me to strategic voting. He registered as an R even though his sentiments leaned D. He did it deliberately, arguing the R's need more help with their selection process. His goal: he told me at the time, was to limit outliers. That was two years ago. And that was two years ago before the GOP devolved into a battle over the height of a wall, the banning of an entire religion and the size of the candidates' hands. There's a lot of strategic voting this cycle. In my home state, nearly

50,000 Democrats have become Republicans this year, presumably to vote in the presidential primary. Some have told me on my program that they joined the GOP to vote for Donald Trump, others to vote against Donald Trump. And now, me too. They say you can't go home again.

[09:55:00] But I'm just planning a short visit.

And now for a tweet or two. As I like to say, you can follow me on Twitter if you can spell Smerconish.

Here's some of what came in during the course of this broadcast. "@Smerconish, @CNN, a roundtable of over 60 wealthy white establishment men meeting to overthrow the will of GOP voters. What could possibly go wrong?"

Hey, I can only say I am neither wealthy nor over 60, so I assume you're referring to the other guys. Please continue to send me your tweets @Smerconish.

Watch all the CNN coverage. Got some big things coming up, including another election night on Tuesday. And I will see you next week.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome to Saturday, and good morning. Thank you for sharing your company with us. I'm Christi Paul.

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