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Trump Campaign Manager Charged with Simple Battery; Sanders, Clinton Campaign Talk New York Debate; Obama to Address Prescription Drug, Heroin Abuse. Aired 1:30-2p ET
Aired March 29, 2016 - 13:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[13:30:00] CHAD SWEET, NATIONAL CHAIRMAN, TED CRUZ PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN: Every time we spend a minute discussing these type of distractions, unfortunately, it is not helping us to secure the border, helping American get a job or increase their take home pay.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Clearly, you want to move on.
Trent, what about you? What is John Kasich saying about this?
TRENT DUFFY, NATIONAL COMMUNICATIONS ADVISOR & SPOKESMAN, KASICH FOR AMERICA: I think he is saying kind of what Chad said which is a campaign is reflective of the candidate's values and the way they conduct themselves. The more we learn about Donald Trump and the way he conducts his campaign, the reason his favorables are way high in the negative, is because this is happening. That's why he can't beat Hillary Clinton. And the more we learn about Donald Trump the more it goes on, the more hopefully people will realize he is not the right leader for our country and party. I agree with Chad. We need to talk about how to bring jobs back. That's what John Kasich wants to do, and how to bring America together, not divide and get in to name calling and mud slinging.
BLITZER: We will move on.
And I will get Katrina to respond to both of you.
KATRINA PIERSON, NATIONAL SPOKESPERSON, DONALD TRUMP PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN: Chad said there was a history of culture of physical abuse in the Trump campaign, I find that interesting. Everyone is innocent until proven guilty, or at least that's what I thought.
But more importantly, the reason why Donald Trump is winning and other candidates aren't is because he is putting out his vision that is different from the other candidates. Mr. Trump wants to move forward, a 21st century foreign policy mission, stop illegal immigration and move forward with negotiation on trade, which does bring back jobs, which is why Mr. Trump is winning and why the other candidates have been trying to politicize every single allegation that comes out. That's the only thing that is happening here.
(CROSSTALK) PIERSON: I will say it again, Wolf. I will say it again. What we have is a situation where you have a candidate, an outsider candidate that is winning Republicans, including Independents and Democrats. There is an all-out effort in this campaign no matter what.
BLITZER: Go ahead and respond.
BLITZER: One at a time.
Chad, go ahead.
SWEET: The key thing is you have your candidate at rallies saying he will pay legal bills for those that engage in physical violence. No surprise we see the same culture at the campaign manager level. You can't make this up. If Corey is selected for his defense counsel, Kendall Coffey, who is a disgraced attorney under Clinton, that had to resign in 1996, because why? He bit a stripper.
PIERSON: Scott Richardson is Corey Lewandowski's attorney.
This is what I'm talking about. Again, trying to politicize an incident. Scott Richardson is Corey Lewandowski's attorney.
DUFFY: We're not politicizing an incident. He was charged by the Jupiter Police Department today. This is a real thing that happened.
PIERSON: You are misrepresenting who is representing Corey Lewandowski. Scott Richardson is Corey Lewandowski's attorney.
BLITZER: Trent, go ahead.
DUFFY: Hold on a second. The entire country is watching footage of what happened, which the campaign previously denied. I worked for President George W. Bush. I have been with Secret Service agents and I've been around the president of the United States. You made the point earlier about the notion this reporter had breached the security of the candidate. There is a Secret Service agent next to Trump. If he thought there was a physical threat to Mr. Trump, he would have stopped it. He didn't.
This is what is playing out. No one is politicizing it. We are all watching in real time. And campaigns do reflect the candidate. For him, Mr. Trump, to disavow this and to suggest this is a politicization, is, you know, part and parcel of the way he has conducted his campaign. He's saying that, Katrina. We're not making this up. He is saying that.
PIERSON: Take this allegation in to consideration. She says she was aggressively grabbed, nearly thrown to the ground. That's the allegation. DUFFY: The police department --
BLITZER: Hold on.
PIERSON: There is a man that has four small children, now having to face charges from this claim that he grabbed a woman, nearly throwing her to a ground, in a press scrum. That is absurd. And you working on a campaign, you know it, too.
DUFFY: Our campaign doesn't get reporters to the ground, Katrina.
PIERSON: Nobody is running up to your campaign trying to ask questions, breaching a Secret Service circle.
BLITZER: I want to point out, Katrina, the statement released by Mr. Lewandowski, he said he is represented by Scott Richardson, of the law office of Scott Richardson, P.A., of West Palm Beach. But the statement goes on to say he is also represented by Kendall Coffey, of Coffey Burlington in Miami. Clearly, he has both representing him.
Katrina, I don't know if you are familiar with the statement that the campaign has released.
PIERSON: Yes, Scott Richardson is his lead counsel, yes.
BLITZER: Lead counsel, but Kendall Coffey is involved, part of the legal team.
PIERSON: I'm sure there are probably a lot of attorneys involved.
[13:35:11] DUFFY: I'm sure there are a lot of attorneys, which is interesting for a campaign for president to have to have attorneys and hire legal eagles to defend a staffer on a battery charge. That's astounding.
PIERSON: In this campaign, it is not astounding.
DUFFY: That's a good point. Katrina, you are absolutely right. For your campaign, it is not astounding.
PIERSON: This campaign has been under attack from every angle. SWEET: It says a lot that -- it says a lot that you would choose a
counsel in any role whatsoever that formally bit a stripper and had to resign as U.S. attorney.
Let's agree on this Katrina. Let's agree that you and we and the Kasich campaign all want to come back to focusing on what matters, which is how are we going to help Americans get jobs, increase take- home pay, increase freedom and, at the end of the day, security. That's what Senator Cruz will focus on tonight.
And, Wolf, perhaps we can get in to what are the issues in the CNN town hall that you think CNN wants to focus on so we can give our solution that our candidates are going to provide.
BLITZER: I think Anderson Cooper and the voters in Wisconsin tonight, each candidate will have basically an hour, starting 8:00 p.m. and 9:00, 10:00 p.m., three hours for this town hall, and I'm assuming almost all of it will be as all three of your campaigns want the most serious issues, domestic, national security, facing the American people right now. A week from today when the voters in Wisconsin go and vote, they will have a better appreciation of these three remaining Republican candidates.
We will leave it on that. Once again, 8:00 p.m. eastern, the town hall begins. I think it will be really important.
Thank you so all of you for joining us.
DUFFY: Thank you, Wolf.
SWEET: Thank you, Wolf.
BLITZER: Up next, the debate over whether the Clinton campaign says no to the Sanders campaign at least for now in their demands for a New York faceoff? We will hear from both campaigns when we come back.
[13:41:28] BLITZER: Live pictures. This is the scene for tonight's CNN town hall with the three remaining Republican presidential candidates. It will begin -- all of it will begin 8:00 p.m. eastern, live from Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
Wisconsin is also the next battleground for the Democratic presidential candidates with a primary scheduled exactly one week from today, next Tuesday. There's a battle brewing between the two campaigns over New York. That primary takes place in April. The Sanders campaign is pushing for a debate in New York before the April 19th primary.
Let's discuss what is going on with Brian Fallon, the press secretary for the Hillary Clinton campaign.
Brian, I'll get to that in a moment, but your reaction to this battery charged filed against Trump's campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski? BRIAN FALLON, PRESS SECRETARY, HILLARY FOR AMERICA: Wolf, I will
refrain from commenting, except to say, if it is true, it is a serious charge that the Trump team will have to answer for. Speaking generally, not about this incident, I would add that every candidate is responsible for the culture they create around their campaign and staff. In recent weeks and months, we've seen Mr. Trump incite violence at his rallies, offer to pay legal fees for people that engage in acts of violence. Hillary Clinton has spoken out on that consistently. Ultimately, as Mr. Trump knows better than anyone, as the head of his business, the buck stops at the top. The candidate has to take responsibility for the conduct of their staff and supporters at their events.
BLITZER: What you are saying is Donald Trump deserves some of the responsibility for this charge filed against Corey Lewandowski?
FALLON: I'm making a statement in general about the fact that every campaign has to be accountable for the culture they create. But we have to wait and see about this allegation and charge we learned about today.
BLITZER: How is the Hillary Clinton going to do a week from today? Wisconsin?
FALLON: She's been contesting the state furiously. Last poll showed Sanders slightly ahead. And a few factors in his favor when it comes to the state of Wisconsin. It is an open primary we have seen him successful in past open primaries. Obviously, aggressive-leaning state. The primary electorate in Wisconsin is less diverse than other states coming up like New York on the 19th and regionally it is in the middle of Michigan and Minnesota two states that Senator Sanders have won. We know Sanders will have a strong position but we will fight hard over the coming days and at the end of the day, whoever edges out the other in terms of getting the win in Wisconsin, delegate wise it probably won't shake up the complexion of the race that much. We expect to have a larger delegate lead regardless a week from now, larger than the largest lead that Senator Obama ever had over Clinton in 2008. I think the more decisive states will come later in the calendar. If you look at New York and Pennsylvania, those are two of the four largest states delegate-wise, that remain. I think at that point, if Senator Sanders is not able to win those states and winning big, and I mean 58 percent or higher, there's no path remaining for him in terms of the math.
BLITZER: He wants to debate before the New York primary.
BLITZER: Your campaign says, not so fast. What's wrong with having a debate between these two Democratic candidates before the New York primary?
[13:45:01] FALLON: To be honest, Wolf, this is a faux controversy. There is a process for adding to the debate schedule. The campaigns get together privately, are discussions in coordination with the DNC. That process is underway and we should let it play out. There's plenty of time between now and the New York primary, which isn't for three weeks. Four weeks until the states that vote April 26th. There's plenty of time to consider and negotiate the potential site and date of a debate. Hillary Clinton loves debate formats and has given commanding performances in debates so far and she looks to campaign across her home state of New York. This is a manufactured controversy that arose in the last couple of days because the Sanders campaign jumped the gun and publicly issued a letter to our campaign trying to hasten along the process. I don't think it was necessary. I think there's plenty of time to work things out.
BLITZER: Brian Fallon, press secretary for the Clinton campaign. Thank you for joining us.
FALLON: Thank you, Wolf, for having me.
BLITZER: Coming up, a different perspective from Bernie Sanders' campaign manager. Jeff Weaver is standing by and will respond to what we heard. And we'll also get his reaction to the charge against the campaign manager for the Donald Trump campaign. Much more when we come back.
BLITZER: Once again, a reminder to tune in later tonight for a CNN town hall with the three remaining Republican presidential hopefuls. It all begins 8:00 p.m. eastern live from Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Right before that, by the way, at 7:00 p.m. eastern, Erin Burnett will interview candidate Bernie Sanders. Four hours of important TV from 7:00 to 11:00 p.m. eastern coming up later tonight.
Right now, we're joined by Jeff Weaver. He's the Bernie Sanders campaign manager.
Jeff, thanks very much for joining us.
I want to talk about what's going on in the race. Let me give you a chance to respond to the simple battery charges filed today against Corey Lewandowski from the Trump campaign. He's the campaign manager for the Donald Trump's campaign. You're the campaign manager for Bernie Sanders' campaign. What's your campaign's reaction?
JEFF WEAVER, CAMPAIGN MANAGER, BERNIE SANDERS PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN: Look, Wolf, I think Bernie Sanders has been very up front about condemning the kind of -- what I would call thuggery that happens at many Trump events where Donald Trump advocates the physical violence against protesters and people who don't support him, offering to pay the legal fees of people who sucker-punch protester. This is what happens. It looks like it pervades the campaign both amongst supporters and staff. I obviously can't speak about the legal issues because there's a legal proceeding going on, but I do think the kind of advocacy of violence by Donald Trump is unacceptable, and this is what it leads to.
[13:50:25] BLITZER: Let's get back to the Democratic race for the White House. You just heard the press secretary for the Hillary Clinton campaign say, you know, why not just talk about another me place else, but do it behind the scenes as opposed to what they call your campaign from doing Bernie Sanders -- they say he was engaged in a publicity stunt. How do you respond?
WEAVER: Let's respond to it this way. Let's understand the genesis of these debates that are coming up. Back right before New Hampshire when Secretary Clinton was under water in New Hampshire, they desperately wanted to have a debate, a late scheduled debate. And we said yes, we're happy to do that, as long as you agree to three more debates. One in March in Michigan, which we had, one in April and one in May. They said yes. Now it looks like they're trying to go back of having these April and May debates. To now go back on their word and try to get out of doing these other two debates.
BLITZER: How did we --
WEAVER: We have been negotiating --
BLITZER: Go ahead.
WEAVER: We have been negotiating with them behind the scenes. We said let's have one in New York state. New York is a pitch tall state in this contest. The secretary was elected U.S. Senator there twice. And what they're response was about having a debate in New York was it's a nonstarter. So there was no way to get this on the table without bringing it to the attention of the American public.
BLITZER: What's the difference between New York or let's say a week later in Pennsylvania?
WEAVER: Well, why deny the people of New York, Wolf, when New York is going to play such a pivotal role in this contest? Why would we want to deny the people of New York the Benefit of having had this debate between Secretary Clinton and Bernie Sanders?
BLITZER: People in New York, except for the people who are physically in the debate setting in the auditorium, they're all going to watch it on television anyhow.
WEAVER: The other contests are a week later. Having a debate after the 19th, it doesn't really help the people in New York.
BLITZER: Let's say you had a debate before the 19th, would you be OK with that?
WEAVER: I think we'd like to see the debate in New York. I don't know why the Clinton campaign is afraid to debate in New York.
BLITZER: How are you going to do next Tuesday in Wisconsin? I had Brian Fallon from the Hillary Clinton campaign. He's sort of downplaying their chances. What's your analysis?
WEAVER: We're fighting very hard there. I think it is a very close race now. I think sander has a lot of the momentum. He's one six out of the last seven contests. Three he won with just enormous margins. Margins frankly we didn't even think were possible. We're in much better shape now in terms of our path to victory because of the margins of those wins. The margins don't have to be quite as large. So we're feeling very good. I think there's a lot of wind at our back. The Senator's there spending a lot of time talking to people in Wisconsin, and I think we're going to do well there.
BLITZER: Jeff Weaver, the Bernie Sanders campaign manager, thanks very much for joining us.
WEAVER: Always a pleasure, Wolf.
BLITZER: Thank you.
Up next, President Obama arrives in Atlanta to talk to Dr. Sanjay Gupta about prescription drug abuse. You're looking at live pictures. Sanjay Gupta standing by live as well. We're going to discuss what's going on. This is a critically important issue.
[13:58:01] BLITZER: In just about 30 minutes, President Obama will address the National Prescription Drug Abuse and Heroin Summit. You're going to see it live here on CNN.
The discussion will be moderated by CNN's chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, who's joining us now from Atlanta.
Sanjay, tell us why this is so important to our viewers, not only here in the United States but around the world.
DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I'll tell you, Wolf, it's really the numbers. They really tell the story. In the United States, some 28,000 people die of accidental, accidental opioid overdoses every single year. That's one about every 19 minutes. We also know the consumption of these types of pain pills here in the United States, we take about 80 percent of the world's supply of pain medications in the United States. We don't have 80 percent of the world's pain, but we take 80 percent of the world's pain medications, and we are 5 percent of the population. And we have been paying the price for this for some time.
The president has talked about this. He's been moved by this from previous town halls. Today, he's going to come here and talk about it, including introducing some new legislation to try and make a dent in it. It's a pretty big effort on behalf of the president and really the entire federal government -- Wolf?
BLITZER: And the president, the White House invited you to moderate this discussion. You felt very strongly that this was critically important, right?
GUPTA: I do. I mean, look, there are so many problems that we talk about, s many problems around the world that don't have any obvious solutions. And this is a complicated situation, who get caught in- between. There are people with addiction, who get caught in-between. But this is a fixable problem as well. As a doctor, as a journalist, as a human, you think to yourself, this is relatively low-hanging fruit. We can prevent so many of these deaths. So it's a tragedy what is happening with opioids, heroin. We know that 80 percent of new heroin users start off using pain pills. So, again, this is a manmade thing. We can fix this.
BLITZER: And we'll have live coverage.
Sanjay, thanks very much for doing it.