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STATE OF THE UNION
Interview With Ohio Governor John Kasich; Interview With Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell; Interview With Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus; Donald Trump Expects A Riot If Not Nominated; Violence And Protest Interrupt Trump; Hamilton Comes Back To Washington. Aired 9-10a ET
Aired March 20, 2016 - 09:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
DANA BASH, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Can Trump close this deal?
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Thank you.
BASH: With more key wins this week, will he secure the nomination outright, or will there be a battle at the convention?
TRUMP: I think we will win before getting to the convention, but I can tell you, if we didn't, I think you would have riots. I think you would have riots.
BASH: John Kasich tells Trump to cool it.
GOV. JOHN KASICH (R-OH), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: He's not running for the presidency of the WWE. He's running for president of the United States.
BASH: But the Ohio governor can only win if he gets delegates, not voters, to switch to his team. Is there a backroom deal in the works? I'll ask him next.
Plus, Supreme Court showdown.
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I simply ask Republicans in the Senate to give him a fair hearing.
BASH: Some Republicans have already agreed to meet with the president's pick. Is the Senate strategy to block him showing cracks? Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell joins us live.
And the best political minds will be here with insights from the campaign trail.
BASH: Hello. I'm Dana Bash, in for Jake Tapper, where the state of our union is tense. More violent confrontations at a Trump rally this weekend. Two
protesters in Arizona, one wearing a white hood, interrupted Trump's speech.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: There's a disgusting guy, puts a Ku Klux Klan hat on. He thinks he's cute. He's a disgusting guy. These are bad people, I'm telling you. And they're not really protesters. They're agitators.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BASH: As they're escorted out, a supporter in the crowd punches one of the protesters and repeatedly kicks him before being arrested.
And new questions for Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski. This video -- that's him in the gray suit -- shows him confronting a protester. He appears to grab the man's collar and then the man tumbles down. Trump's spokeswoman Hope Hicks tells CNN -- quote -- "The individual he was speaking with was pulled from behind by the man to Corey Lewandowski's left," referring to a member of Trump's private security detail.
She went on to say the video clearly shows the protester reacting to the man who pulled him, not to Mr. Lewandowski. Hicks added that: "Mr. Trump does not condone violence at his rallies, which are private events paid for by the campaign."
There were protests earlier in the day as well against Trump. The protesters happened with hundreds marching outside Trump Tower in New York City and protesters blocked the roadway leading to a Trump event in Fountain Hills, Arizona. Some activists were arrested, but no one was hurt.
The escalating protests come as Trump continues his winning streak this week, strengthening his lead against his two remaining competitors in the delegate race for the Republican nomination.
BASH: And joining me now is Governor John Kasich of Ohio.
Governor, as you probably have heard since Marco Rubio dropped out, we have seen people who were kind of looking for an establishment figure going to Ted Cruz. In fact, I told Lindsey Graham this week I thought I would see pigs fly before he ever got behind Ted Cruz, but take a look at what Senator Graham told me.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: John Kasich, I think, is the most viable general election candidate. I just don't see how John gets through the primary. This is an outsider year. He's seen as an insider. So, I think the best alternative to Donald Trump, to stop him from getting to 1,237, is Ted Cruz.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BASH: So, Governor, what do you make of this notion that it's time to rally behind Ted Cruz, because it's mathematically impossible for you right now to win the nomination?
KASICH: Well, I don't think anybody's going to have enough delegates, Dana, to tell you the truth.
And I think we're going to go to a convention, which is really an extension of the political process. And when we get there, the delegates are going to think about two things. Number one, who can win in the fall? And I was glad to hear Lindsey say, Kasich's the best general election candidate, because I don't think the other two can win.
And, secondly, now, this is a crazy idea. Who actually could be president of the United States and do a good job? When the delegates think about that, I think we will do very well, and we will go to the convention with momentum.
So, you know, maybe what they ought to think about is consolidating behind me, because I thought the purpose of this was to win the presidency and to beat Hillary Clinton. Maybe I -- maybe somehow I didn't get the memo, huh?
BASH: Maybe not.
But let's talk about the process right now, because, at this point, it is all about gobbling up as many delegates as you can to have the momentum you just talked about and to keep Donald Trump from getting more.
Do you believe there is any way you and Ted Cruz could work in a coordinated fashion from now through June to prevent Trump from getting the nomination?
KASICH: I -- I don't -- I don't see how.
Look, Dana, here's the thing. Everybody is focusing on process, OK, delegates here, delegates there. Everybody's got to face the fact that we're going to an open multiballot convention. That's where we're headed. And the convention is an extension of what we're going through right now.
And so I have been at a convention that was contested in 1976. What happens is, the delegates will take everything seriously. They will take a look at people's experience and their electability. And that's fine. I -- what's everybody so panicked about this? Everybody needs to take a little chill pill, to tell you the truth.
BASH: OK. But while they're taking that chill pill, they also are trying to figure out the best scenario to get to what you just...
KASICH: Who is they? By the way, who is they? Who are these they? BASH: A lot -- there are a lot of Republicans who are very worried
about this. Let me just put this out there.
KASICH: Well, yes.
BASH: One scenario -- one scenario that I have heard is that split- the-map scenario. You focus from now on, on the East, where you do quite well, Ted Cruz focuses on the West, where he does better, to try to keep Donald Trump's delegate count low through the convention. Is that a strategy you or anybody on your team would pursue?
KASICH: Not at this point. We're not thinking that way.
I'm thinking that we're getting momentum, and I can go East and I can go West. Who -- you know, the thing about California and me, OK? I have got positions that unify people. And, you know, the fact is, let's talk about some of the people that have joined me. Charlie Black, he's one of the most skilled political people you can find in America.
Vin Weber, another one. Tom Ridge, the former governor of Pennsylvania. Mike Leavitt out here in Utah. I mean, these are people who are very skilled and very experienced, and they believe that we just ought to keep going along, as I do, and get to the convention, and then, you know, conventions are cool things.
We're going to learn a lot when we get there.
BASH: So, just to put -- just to put a button on this, Governor, there are no conversations, you're not interested in any conversations to coordinate with Ted Cruz, since there's only three people in the race, to try to keep the guy who's got by far the most delegates, Donald Trump, from getting even more?
KASICH: Look, we always talk, Dana, you know that, if somebody wants to call and discuss things.
But you have got to understand that this is sort of a mission for all of us. And it's not just me. It's the team. We had people from 22 states who were working phone banks in the state of Ohio. These are people who believe that America can be better and that America can be really terrific, and that people can have better wages and better jobs.
I mean, if somebody wants to talk to me, I'll be willing to listen to them, but where am I not going to go? And why would I not go there? Explain that to me. I believe that the message and the experience and the vision I have matters in this country.
And, you know, the message that the people watching today in the living rooms that they can change the world and their neighborhoods and their communities and in their families, that's a message I think people ought to hear. And I think it's a positive and a message that gives people hope. And I'm going to keep saying it until I can't say it anymore.
BASH: I -- I know that. I have heard you say it. And you're going to continue to say that. And that is your message. But I want to...
KASICH: Dana, there's one other thing.
KASICH: One other thing.
KASICH: People wanted me to drop out. They were all going to get behind Rubio, right? And he's gone. I'm still here. You know what would have happened had I dropped out? You know would have won Ohio? I won Ohio. I didn't win Ohio in any calculation.
I won Ohio because of my message and my record. And guess what? As a result of that, Donald Trump is going to go -- not going to go to the convention with enough delegates.
BASH: Governor, Donald Trump warned this week that there would be riots in the street if he walks onto the convention floor and he has the most delegates, and he's denied the nomination. You have called this unacceptable language, and it pulls people apart. But why should party leaders and not the voters choose the nominee?
KASICH: Well, Dana, they will.
You have got to get to the magic number to be the nominee. OK? And if Trump goes in there with a big number, maybe he will -- maybe he will get it. But, you know, the Republicans have had 10 conventions like this. And only -- and only three times has the person going into the convention with the most delegates won.
You see, when you get to a convention, the delegates will take this very seriously. And they will examine electability, and they will examine who can be a great president, who is the best person and who -- you know, frankly, who can win in the fall, as I have just mentioned?
So, you know, I don't think that kind of language is appropriate to talk about violence and rioting. I hope you -- I know you don't, OK? That's inappropriate. I will also tell you the threats on Donald Trump's family is outrageous. They have no right to be threatening his family.
So, why doesn't everybody just realize that we are better in America when we're together and we're unified? And if you go to a convention and you lose, be a big enough person to say, I gave it my best and I didn't win. That's what I would say if I didn't.
BASH: You likened the fight against ISIS to the fight against the Nazis this week. Are you prepared to put U.S. troops on the ground and go it alone if that's what it takes?
KASICH: Well, look, Dana, I have been talking about this for, I don't know what, a year or something like that.
I made a major -- many major foreign policy speeches. Look, the bottom line is, is that we can unify the world. The -- our Arab Muslim friends in the Middle East know they have an existential threat. So do the Europeans.
I believe we can assemble a coalition just like we did in the first Gulf War.
BASH: But what if you can't?
KASICH: We can. We will. We will go. We will be in the air and on the ground and it will get done. I promise you, it will get done.
I have been involved. I have seen it. I know how to do it. And we're not going to go alone because it's not what we're going to have to face.
End on kind of a fun note. This week, you had an event that went viral, your confetti from the primary night in Ohio. What was with all of that confetti?
KASICH: Well, here's what happened.
Blew it the first time with a weak confetti shot. So, it was like porridge. He went from too cold to too hot. And all I can say is, I don't want that much confetti again. We should shot it out in the crowd. But I didn't know it went viral. That's pretty cool. My daughters and my wife will like that.
BASH: Are you still pulling confetti off of or your -- out of your ears and out of your hair?
KASICH: Yes, I have it on my shoulder.
KASICH: Yes, I had it a little bit on my shoulder, but, you know, it was a lot of fun.
And I have to tell you, Dana, in Cleveland, the raw emotion about that victory was so overwhelming to me. And, you know, I go to these big rallies or what happened in Cleveland, and, frankly, I just feel so humbled by the support that we see.
And I'm going to do my best, my very best, not to let people down. Look, I'm just a weak, flawed man, like everybody else, but I'm going to do the best I can to have the strength I need to lead this country and give people hope.
BASH: Governor, thank you so much for joining me this morning. Appreciate it.
KASICH: Thanks, Dana.
BASH: And up next, if Trump's at the top of the ticket, will other Republicans running for office embrace him, or, in the words of one, drop in like a hot rock?
BASH: Welcome back to STATE OF THE UNION.
This week, President Obama revealed his choice to replace Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: I chose a serious man and an exemplary judge, Merrick Garland.
Over my seven years as president, in all my conversations with senators from both parties in which I asked their views on qualified Supreme Court nominees -- this includes the previous two seats that I had to fill -- the one name that has come up repeatedly from Republicans and Democrats alike is Merrick Garland.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BASH: And his choice did soften the stances of some Republican senators who now say they will meet with Garland.
But Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is standing firm on his pledge to not hold hearings on the new nominee.
And he joins me live.
Senator, thank you very much for joining me.
Let's start with the...
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), MAJORITY LEADER: Good morning.
BASH: ... fact -- good morning -- the fact that the Senate is in recess for two weeks now.
Vulnerable -- vulnerable Republicans are going to be bombarded with protests and attack ads for refusing to even give the president's Supreme Court pick a hearing.
What if Democrats are right and this costs several Republicans in your caucus their seats and maybe even you the majority? Would it be worth it to keep a Democrat appointee off the Supreme Court? MCCONNELL: Well, look, there's a lot of activity on this issue out in
the country on both sides. And a lot of people who think this appointment ought to be made by the next president will be weighing in as well.
And, look, that's the principle. Who ought to make the decision, a lame-duck president on the way out the door, or the president we're in the process of electing right now? What is the tradition? It's been 80 years, 80, since a vacancy created in a presidential election year was filled.
You have to go back to 1888, Grover Cleveland in the White House, to find the last time a vacancy created in a presidential year was filled by a Senate of a different party from the president.
MCCONNELL: So, we know what the tradition is, Dana.
It's the Biden rule. When Joe Biden was chairman of the Judiciary Committee in '92, he said, if a vacancy occurred, it would not be filled because of the pending election. Harry Reid said back in 2005 that, even though the president nominates, that doesn't guarantee a vote.
And Chuck Schumer, who's going to be the Democratic leader next year, said 18 months before the end of President Bush 43's term that, if a vacancy occurred in the Supreme Court, they wouldn't fill it. So, we know what their tradition is.
This nomination ought to be made by the president we're in the process of electing this year.
BASH: And you are convinced -- briefly, you are convinced that your Republican senators who are in tough races in November won't pay a political price for it, regardless of the history?
MCCONNELL: There's a lot of interest on both sides of this issue.
The right-of-center world does not want this vacancy filled by this president. And even though -- if you want to discuss the nominee just for a minute, even though Barack Obama calls him a moderate, he's opposed by the NRA. He's opposed by the National Federation of Independent Business, which has never taken a position on a Supreme Court nominee before.
"The New York Times" said it would move the court dramatically to the left. But this is not about this particular judge. This is about who should make the appointment.
We're in the process of picking a president, and that new president ought to make this appointment, which will affect the Supreme Court maybe for the next quarter-of-a-century. BASH: Speaking of a new president, if Hillary Clinton or Bernie
Sanders were to win the presidency, is there any chance that Republicans would vote to confirm Merrick Garland during a lame-duck session of Congress?
MCCONNELL: I can't imagine that a Republican majority Congress in a lame-duck session, after the American people have spoken, would want to confirm a nominee opposed by the NRA, the NFIB, and "The New York Times" says would move the court dramatically to the left.
BASH: Senator, just to...
MCCONNELL: This -- this nomination ought to be made by the next president.
BASH: So, just to -- just to put a button on this, are you ruling it out 100 percent?
BASH: OK. Thank you.
Let's turn to the presidential campaign trail. You spoke this week with Donald Trump. You told him that, no matter who may be triggering the violence at his rallies, it might be a good idea for him to discourage it.
Yesterday, I'm sure you have seen even more violence occurring at Trump rallies. Does he do enough or is he doing enough to lower the temperature?
MCCONNELL: Well, I think all of the candidates ought to encourage the people who are in -- coming out in these crowds to enter into the kind of peaceful discourse that we have practiced for most of our 200 years.
And I think for the candidates to encourage people to have these debates in a respectful way would be a very important addition to the conversation.
BASH: And, Senator, "The New York Times" did a story recently looking at Republican efforts to stop Donald Trump. And take a look at what they quoted you as saying.
They said that -- of Mr. Trump, Mr. McConnell has said -- quote -- "We will drop him like a hot rock, according to his colleagues."
Did you say that, and are you encouraging your senators to drop him like a hot rock if they get into trouble?
MCCONNELL: No, what -- no. Yes, what I have said is, we are going to run individual races no matter who the presidential nominee is.
We have spirited contests in New Hampshire and Pennsylvania and Ohio and Wisconsin, Illinois, Nevada, Colorado, and Florida. And all of those races will be run by candidates seeking to appeal to the voters in those states.
Senate races are statewide races. You can craft your own message for your own people. And that's exactly what we intend to do this fall, no matter who the nominee is.
BASH: Are you concerned that Donald Trump will hurt your candidates on the ballot?
MCCONNELL: We're going to be running strong with these incumbents no matter who the nominee ultimately is.
I intend to support the nominee of our party, and we will find out who that is in the coming months.
BASH: OK. On that note, for many years, you worked alongside John Boehner when he was speaker of the House.
I want to you look at what he said this week about a potential nominee. He said: "If we don't have a nominee who can win on the first ballot, I'm for none of the above. They all had a chance to win. None of them won. I'm for Paul Ryan to be our nominee."
Would you vote for, as a member of the Republican Party, a delegate -- you are going to have rule -- a position at the convention -- would you vote for anybody who was not a candidate for president, Paul Ryan, Mitt Romney, anybody else?
MCCONNELL: I have no idea. I am going to be a delegate from Kentucky. I'm bound on the first ballot to the outcome of our caucuses. If there's a second ballot, I'll let you know. But I haven't thought that far ahead.
BASH: Well, just real quick, it is kind of an open question whether or not anybody running will get the votes to have the nomination wrapped up in or around the convention.
Do you think it should be somebody running for president, or could it be anybody?
MCCONNELL: Well, at some point, somebody's going to get -- I think it's 1,237 votes. And, at that point, they're the nominee.
I have no earthly idea how it will unfold between now and then. But the nominee will have to have that many votes to be chosen by our party.
BASH: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, thank you so much for joining me this morning. I appreciate it.
MCCONNELL: Thank you.
BASH: And coming up: Protests against Donald Trump in cities across America continue after last week's violence in Chicago. Are they putting pressure on the Republican Party?
I'll ask the chairman next.
BASH: Welcome back. I'm Dana Bash, in for Jake Tapper.
Donald Trump said this week he expects a riot if the nomination is handed to somebody else at the convention in Cleveland.
And the Cleveland police seem to agree. The department is seeking to buy 2,000 sets of body armor and batons in preparation for the July event.
Is this weekend's violence at Trump rallies a preview of what's to come at the convention?
Joining me now is Reince Priebus, chairman of the Republican National Committee.
Thank you very much for joining me. I appreciate it.
Let's start with...
REINCE PRIEBUS, REPUBLICAN NATIONAL COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN: Good morning, Dana.
BASH: Good morning.
Let's start with that violence at the Trump rally in Tucson, Arizona, yesterday. That happened. Last week, there was violence in Chicago. Is this the image that the Republican Party wants to project in the country?
PRIEBUS: No, it's not the image, number one, that we want to project, but it's not the image that we are projecting. It's an image that -- that I think has been out there, unfortunately, at some rallies.
But I think both the campaign side from Donald Trump and everyone else involved has said that violence is not the answer. And it isn't the answer. And so I would say to leave these things up to the professionals.
And, as far as your comment about Cleveland, the city and the police department, they were planning on -- on buying those things far before any of this became a topic. So, they're prepared.
Each city gets $50 million in security money. And I'm sure both Philadelphia and Cleveland are going to do all of the preparations necessary to ensure a safe environment in Cleveland.
BASH: OK. You know, there is a lot of discussion this morning about the Trump campaigns -- campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, being in a confrontation with a protester. Trump said this morning that he gives Corey Lewandowski credit for dealing with people who were holding terrible signs.
But are you concerned about what that video shows? It's on the screen right now.
PRIEBUS: Well, I haven't seen the video. And obviously, as I'm talking, everyone else is looking at the video. I saw some still images this morning before getting on earlier shows. But clearly look -- what I've said is that -- and I think everyone agrees that getting involved in confrontations, violence is not the answer. Getting involved is not the answer.
I think you leave these things up to the professionals. You've got professional police. You've got secret service. That's what I would say. I think that's what everyone sort of agrees with at this point. And it's certainly not something that we would condone as far as the continuation of violence. And it goes to both sides. I mean, it starts with agitators and then people take matters in their own hands. It just obviously doesn't work.
BASH: OK, let's turn to the matter of you not having a nominee in sight.
Donald Trump told CNN this week that if he is 20 or 100 delegates short of the magic number of 1237, he should still get the nomination. Does that sound fair to you?
PRIEBUS: Well, there's two things. Number one, I mean, history would show whether it be Walter Mondale, Gerald Ford, when someone's a little bit short, you know, you let the process play out. And generally if it's that close, generally that's what happens. But certainly what I would say is that the minority of delegates doesn't rule for the majority.
So this is a delegate-driven process. This is the first time in a long time people actually cared about delegate count. But delegates matter. And so the majority of voting delegates in our party choose the nominee. That's the way it is, Dana.
I was -- I won on the seventh ballot as chairman of the party. Now that's hardly a landslide. But I was never behind. And no one gave it to me on the second or third ballot. In fact, I had to fight and fight and fight. And eventually I got the majority. That's how it works.
And so the votes that happen in the states enfranchise the delegates to go to the floor and vote. So everyone is -- no one's disenfranchised. In fact, they're empowered by the delegates that they receive, but they have to have the majority.
BASH: Well, I'm glad you mentioned that because one of your committee men, Curly Haugland said this week that it is the party, not the voters, choosing the nominee.
Do you agree with that as chairman?
PRIEBUS: No, I think it's a combination of the two. I mean, the voters create the bound delegates. So if you're voting in a state, when candidates receive a certain amount of votes, they bind the delegates to that candidate.
Look, 150 years ago, this is what it used to be. People would run for delegates in their states. They would win these elections, and they would go to the floor of a convention. And they'd vote for who they wanted. And that's how we picked a nominee. The same thing Kiwanis would do. The same thing the NRA would do.
Somewhere along the line, Dana, as people decided that they would expand the participation and they said, we'll have these primaries and caucuses, but then we bind the hands of the delegates for just one vote, based on that outcome. And then it expanded into other things. So the voters are certainly empowered. But the delegates' vote, based on the outcome of those elections.
BASH: Let's -- you know, because of all of the interest in your rules, there is a lot of knowledge now about rule 40 of the RNC. It's something that was adopted in 2012.
PRIEBUS: There's a lot of misinformation, too.
BASH: Good. So let's clear it up.
PRIEBUS: OK. Go ahead.
BASH: It was adopted in 2012. A candidate -- it says a candidate must have the support...
BASH: ... of the majority of delegates from eight different states. So has to win eight states in order to win the nomination. Are you committed to keeping that rule in place?
PRIEBUS: First of all, it's not exactly right. What the rule says is that in order to be nominated on the floor, you have to have the majority of delegates from eight states. And by the way, that was put in in 2012 for the 2012 convention.
PRIEBUS: The rules committee for the 2016 convention will decide what that rule is. So now -- and there's nothing mysterious about that.
You know, I tend to be a person who likes to keep things the way they are. But that's not my decision, though, Dana. I'm not the person that gets to decide. The delegates that get elected in each of these states make the decisions for what the rules for the 2016 convention will say. And I'm not saying anything nefarious. This is just the way it is.
BASH: Right. PRIEBUS: So you could be voting at the (INAUDIBLE) -- go ahead.
BASH: No question about that. But you understand politics. And then there are rules, and then there is perception.
And given the environment out there right now, do you think it's a bit dangerous to change the rules, even if it's OK, even if it's sort of legal within the party of boundaries, it certainly will look like potentially like things are being rigged one way or another if and when the rules are changed given the environment.
PRIEBUS: Well, I mean -- There is (ph) always risks to every decision that you make. But there will always be a perception problem if people continue to miss -- to not explain the process properly. So the 2012 rules committee writes the rules for the 2012 convention. The 2016 rules committee writes the rules for the 2016 convention.
Are you trying to say that the rules committee that was made up of Romney delegates should write -- should enforce the rules for the 2016 convention which will largely be made up of Trump/Cruz delegates? I mean, that wouldn't make any sense, would it? I mean, that's what I don't understand.
This is very simple. The delegates get elected. The delegates fill the slots on these different committees, and there's many committees. There's platform, rules, credentials. Those delegates make the decisions on the governance of the convention that they're a part of. That's really simple to me.
BASH: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Appreciate it. Sounds simple to you, but it's going to be something you're going to have to explain over and over. I appreciate it.
And as the --
PRIEBUS: Well, thank you for letting me.
And as the Republican race narrows, Donald Trump turns his focus to Hillary Clinton with a new attack ad. What's her plan for hitting back?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: They're troublemakers. They're no good, and we'd better be careful. We've got to take our country back, folks. We've got to take our country back. Very simple.
(END VIDEO CLIP) BASH: That was Donald Trump responding to protesters last night in Arizona. Will these have any effect on his campaign? We're going to talk about that now with Republican strategist, S.E. Cupp, Dick Harpootlian, former South Carolina Democratic Chair and Bernie Sanders supporter, Bakari Sellers, former South Carolina State Representative and Hillary Clinton supporter, and Sarah Huckabee -- sorry, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, senior adviser to Donald Trump.
Thank you all for joining us. Sarah, I'll start with you since you're on the Trump payroll.
What do you think? Do you believe that he's doing enough to stop these protests?
SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, SENIOR ADVISOR, DONALD TRUMP: You know, I don't think that there's anything in Donald Trump's rhetoric that is inviting or inciting violence. I want to know sometimes where the outcry is when Barack Obama was saying let's put -- you know, the GOP is putting a gun to the Americans' heads and things like that. There was no outcry over that language.
Donald Trump isn't saying, let's start a riot or let's create violence. You have people that are coming in, creating a scene, into a very passionate, fired-up crowd and expecting no consequences. I made kind of the comparison earlier as a southerner with a couple of fellow southerners here, if I went into an LSU game saying, LSU Tigers are losers, and expected no one to say anything to me and for there not to be any consequences, I think that would be a big mistake. And I think that we're, you know, putting all the blame on Donald Trump and not putting any of it on the protesters themselves. And I think that's a big, big problem.
BAKARI SELLERS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think the comparison -- and I've heard those talking points from many Trump surrogates to what Barack Obama said is just intellectually disingenuous because of the simple fact that was just an analogy. And none of his supporters took that seriously. But when Donald Trump is out there saying I'm going to punch him in the face, when Donald Trump is calling Mexicans rapists, when he's insulting every single ethnic group and every person, the only group that Donald Trump hasn't insulted right now has been white men, for all practical purposes. And he's gone down the list and insulted everybody.
You cannot say that his rhetoric is not partially to blame for this. And I hope that Donald Trump, because he's not at a college football game, he's not with a bunch of co-eds. He's running for the president of the free world. And my hope is that he elevates his rhetoric and the discourse.
BASH: Dick, I want to bring you in because you said that this reminds you of 1968.
DICK HARPOOTLIAN, FORMER S.C. DEMOCRATIC PARTY CHAIR: Well, again, we have the same kinds of tensions. There was the establishment campaign's Richard Nixon, others that were sort of disrespecting the protesters the folks that were against the Vietnam War that were for social justice. And it boils over into those of us who were alive in 1968 to a major confrontation with people getting clubbed, jailed, prosecuted.
Is that what's going to happen in Cleveland? I mean, is that really where this is headed? And I would -- you know, I would disagree with the Trump folks that say they're merely expressing the disenchantment of the silent majority, perhaps, maybe those words come back. This is what we call in the south, we grew up with this, dog-whistle politics. That is their constituency hears it, the racist, the sexist, the xenophobic, blaming other people, whether they're brown-skinned Mexicans or brown-skinned Muslims, people that aren't like us. And that's what's going on here.
S.E. CUPP. CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I don't think it's a dog whistle, I think it's a dog scream. I don't think they're trying to hide it at all. And I firmly believe Donald Trump is responsible for setting the tone at his rallies. But even if you think Donald Trump isn't totally to blame or there's blame to go around, I think it's inarguable that Donald Trump is an incredibly divisive person.
Whether that's his fault or, you know, the environment or the -- President Obama's, you know, creation, it doesn't really matter at this point. Here's where we are. And what a leader does with an angry electorate is the real test. I think Obama has met an angry electorate and dismissed a lot of the fears. He's been a little condescending.
I think Trump is meeting that anger with more anger. And I don't really think that that's creating an environment to elect a leader to bring the country together. He talks about unifying. I think that's a joke.
SANDERS: It's absolutely not a joke. I mean, you have to look at the millions of people that are starting to vote in this process that have never participated in it before. To completely ignore that is a big mistake. And I think it's one of the reasons that he's doing so well is because the talking class and the pundits continue to ignore that fact. And I think one of the other big things that we are not paying attention to is why these people are so angry. It's because Washington has failed time and time and time again, and nobody's talking --
CUPP: There's a difference between exciting people and unifying people.
BASH: OK. Let's talk about --
CUPP: You (ph) have (ph) exciting people but I don't think he's bringing a lot of people together.
BASH: Let's talk about the convention where there will be a lot of excitement. And how (ph) unifying (ph) --
(CROSSTALK) CUPP: Not a lot of --
BASH: Do you believe -- I'll just start with you, S.E. -- do you believe that it is possible at this point for Donald Trump to clinch the nomination before the convention?
CUPP: Yes, I think it's possible and I think --
CUPP: I think it's probable. I do. I mean, that doesn't mean that Ted Cruz and John Kasich should get out. I think John Kasich's made a compelling argument that he could be the president of Ohio. But I'm not sure where else he can go, but he should stay in and Ted Cruz should stay in. But I think yes. I think we're poised for Donald Trump to --
BASH: Bakari, who scares you the most on the Republican side?
SELLERS: Absolutely nobody. I mean, John Kasich, of course, but John Kasich literally needs to win 110 percent of the remaining delegates so that's not much of a fear.
I think the Republican Party literally beat their best opportunity to have the 45th president of the United States when Marco Rubio gave his concession speech. Marco Rubio and John Kasich terrified Democrats. But the fact of the matter is Donald Trump changes the map a little bit, but he doesn't expand the base. And until Donald Trump realizes that you can't be president of the United States with simply getting white men to turn out and vote, he won't win. And Ted Cruz leaves the same playing field that Mitt Romney does. And Barack Obama won 330 electoral votes on that map. And so neither Ted Cruz nor Donald Trump, although I know that people will caution me and say don't take Donald Trump lightly. We're not. The math is just easier with both (ph).
BASH: That's what I was going to ask you.
HARPOOTLIAN: I don't think you should take Donald Trump lightly. He's been very effective and very good at what he's done so far. And those of us that were Democrats in 1980 when that actor ran for president and we dismissed him as, you know, the guy -- Bedtime for Bonzo, we all said this guy can't be elected president and he was.
BASH: Do you think he could beat Hillary Clinton?
HARPOOTLIAN: I do. I do. And I think that she's going to have to be more agile. She's going to have to be quicker. I mean his -- if you -- when you talk to him or Chuck Todd or anybody talks to him, it's -- he repels the questions. He doesn't answer them.
And the American people aren't looking for a position paper. They're looking for punch him in the face. And that's unfortunate. But that's what's resonating right now. And Bernie Sanders is doing some of the same thing. I mean, he's a little more articulate about it, and he's not gendering violence. But he is talking about how those guys, Wall Street, pharma companies and the federal government are not doing the job, and somebody has to come to Washington and change the culture.
BASH: We'll have to leave it there. Thank you to all of you. Great discussion this morning. Appreciate it.
And the hottest show on Broadway hit 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue this week, but did the star of the hip-hop musical "Hamilton" actually convince the government to change its policies? That's next.
BASH: Welcome back.
Alexander Hamilton founding father and unlikely star of a hip hop (INAUDIBLE) that has taken Broadway by storm. But Hamilton's place on the $10 bill is threatened by winds of history. That was perhaps until the smash hit came along and its crafty creator came to town.
BASH (voice-over): That would be.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Alexander Hamilton.
BASH: By creating the musical sensation "Hamilton" Lin-Manuel Miranda thrust (ph) the story of a sometimes forgotten founding father into 2016 pop culture and the timing couldn't have been better giving the country's first treasury secretary a new shot at keeping his place of honor on the $10 bill.
JACK LEW, SECRETARY OF THE TREASURY: The new $10 bill will be the first bill in more than a century to feature the portrait of a woman.
BASH: (INAUDIBLE) to put a woman on the $10 bill started last summer before Alexander Hamilton became a household name for the first time in three centuries.
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This was one hot ticket. The last time I went to Hamilton I didn't even get to see the show.
BASH: But the president did get the cast of "Hamilton" to visit the White House this week.
MICHELLE OBAMA, FIRST LADY: I am -- I'm so excited.
BASH: Miranda got the perfect opportunity to hang out with the current Treasury Secretary Jack Lew and Miranda did not throw away his shot. He did exactly what Hamilton, the man he embodies everyday on Broadway would have done. He pressed Lew to consider Hamilton's value to the country. After the meeting Miranda tweeted, I talked to U.S. treasury about this on Monday. Secretary Lew told me you're going to be very happy.
But if Hamilton stays, who goes?
CRUZ: I wouldn't change the $10 bill I'd change the 20. I'd take Jackson off and I'd leave Alexander Hamilton right where he is as one of our founding fathers.
BASH: Miranda seems to have a knack for making the most of unlikely situations. He first performed the Hamilton rap in public at the White House Poetry Jam in 2009.
LIN-MANUEL MIRANDA, CREATOR, "HAMILTON": It's a concept album about the life of someone I think embodies hip hop Treasury Secretary Alexander Hamilton.
BASH: This time around Miranda got an assist from the president in the Rose Garden.
OBAMA: All right. Drop the beat.
MIRANDA: You're throwing up some words I'm getting to say some free styling that you never heard constitution, the POTUS, I'm free styling you know this
BASH: The "Hamilton" creator may be buddies with the president now...
OBAMA: You think that's going viral?
OBAMA: That's going viral.
BASH: ... but when it comes to Hamilton's legacy, his place as the $10 founding father, the question remains can "Hamilton" save Hamilton?
BASH: And the Treasury Department says they will continue the honor Hamilton on the $10 bill but what honor means is still unclear.
Be sure to tune in tomorrow. The final five will be right here on CNN. Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, Ted Cruz and John Kasich will join Wolf Blitzer and Anderson Cooper for back to back interviews before the primaries head west
Make sure to watch CNN's The Final Five special tomorrow night at 8:00 p.m. Eastern.
Thank you so much for spending your Sunday with us. And go to CNN.com/SOTU for extras from the show.
I'm Dana Bash in Washington.
"FAREED ZAKARIA, GPS" is next.