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Trump: Punish Women Who Have Abortions If They're Banned; Trump Clarifies Remark About Abortion & Punishing Women; Sanders Fights for Wisconsin as Clinton Looks to New York; Sanders Push for Debate in New York; Belgians Miss Terror Warning Signs?. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired March 30, 2016 - 17:00   ET

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


TAPPER: All right. Jill Kelley, thank you so much. Appreciate it. The book is called "Collateral Damage," available on Amazon.

[17:00:06] That's it for "THE LEAD." I'm Jake Tapper, turning you over now to Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM. Thanks for watching.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now, punished. Donald Trump sets off a huge new controversy, saying if abortion ever is banned, there has to be some form of punishment for a woman who has one. How will that affect the fight for the nomination?

Broken pledge. Political aftershocks rock the Republican Party after Trump and his challengers abandon their earlier pledge to support the eventual nominee. Is Republican unity shattered beyond repair?

Clinton versus Trump. A newly-energized Hillary Clinton returns to her adopted home state of New York, slamming Trump but also turning up the heat on Senator Bernie Sanders.

And terror targets. Disturbing new information discovered on a computer left behind by the Belgian bombers. Photographs of plans show the terror cell had a list of other targets. Are they still at risk now?

I'm Wolf Blitzer, you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

BLITZER: Let's get right to the breaking news in the presidential race. Donald Trump insisting he's anti-abortion, telling an interviewer that if abortion ever is banned, quote, "There has to be some form of punishment," end quote, for a woman who has an abortion if it were to become illegal. Trump's statement brought immediate and furious reaction from his rivals, including Hillary Clinton and Senator Bernie Sanders.

Trump has just put out a written statement attempting to clarify what he meant.

This huge new controversy is erupting just as new polls show Ted Cruz surging ahead of Trump in Wisconsin. Its showdown primary is next Tuesday. And just a day after Trump shattered his pledge to back the eventual Republican nominee if he doesn't win. Our correspondents, analysts and guests, they are all standing by with full coverage of the day's top stories.

Let's go to CNN's Jim Acosta. He's in Appleton, Wisconsin, right now where Trump wrapped up a campaign rally just a little while ago.

Jim, tell us more about Trump's very controversial remarks about punishing women who have abortions if the procedure were to become illegal in the United States.

JIM ACOSTA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Wolf.

Just as one controversy was swirling around his campaign manager, Donald Trump ignited another firestorm over the issue of abortion. Democrats, like Hillary Clinton, quickly seized on those comments just as Trump's rivals are saying they may never support him as their nominee.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ACOSTA (voice-over): Donald Trump revealed a new hardline position on abortion, saying if the procedure is banned, women who undergo it should be punished.

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC ANCHOR: Do you believe in -- do you believe in punishment for abortion, yes or no, as a principle?

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The answer is that there has to be some form of punishment.

MATTHEWS: For the woman?

TRUMP: Yes, there has to be some form.

MATTHEWS: Ten years, what?

TRUMP: That I don't know.

MATTHEWS: Why not?

TRUMP: I don't know.

MATTHEWS: You take positions on everything else.

TRUMP: I do take positions on everything else. It's a very complicated position.

ACOSTA: Within minutes Trump's potential Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton, pounced, tweeting, "Just when you thought it couldn't get worse, horrific and telling."

Trump's abortion comments come as he's standing firm on another controversy: the conduct of his campaign manager.

TRUMP: Did anybody think it was a horrible thing that happened? I don't get it. ACOSTA: Today he asked for a show of hands to find out if they had

seen the video of his campaign manager, Corey Lewandowsky, grabbing reporter Michelle Fields, an incident that police said amounted to simple battery.

Trump mocked Fields' description of what happened.

TRUMP: Listen to this. This young woman, reporter, who shouldn't have been where she was, and she grabbed me twice. She said, "I was jolted backwards." She wasn't. "Someone had grabbed me tightly by the arm and yanked me down." Did she go down? Did she even go a little down?

ACOSTA: But Ted Cruz, who held an event focused on women today, and John Kasich appeared to have had enough. At a CNN town hall, they all but buried a Republican Party pledge to support the GOP nominee.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: If Donald Trump is the GOP nominee, would you support him?

SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Let me tell you my solution to that. Donald is not going to be the GOP nominee. We're going to beat him.

COOPER: So you're not standing by that pledge?

GOV. JOHN KASICH (R-OH), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I don't want to be political here. I've got to see what happens. If -- if the nominee is somebody that I think is really hurting the country and dividing the country, I can't stand behind them.

ACOSTA: Trump's response: if that's how they want it, same goes for him.

COOPER: You made a pledge, whoever the Republican nominee is.

TRUMP: No, I don't anymore. I don't want to make people uncomfortable. I don't need their support.

COOPER: That fissure threatening to divide the party was blown wide open by Trump's refusal to fire his embattled campaign manager.

[17:05:04] TRUMP: I've fired many people, especially on "The Apprentice." But look what she says, Michelle Fields. I hope, by the way, she's not a baby. OK?

ACOSTA: Dismissing Lewandowsky, Cruz and Kasich argued, is a no- brainer.

COOPER: If he was your campaign manager, would you ask him to resign?

CRUZ: Of course. Look, it shouldn't be complicated that the members of the campaign staff should not be physically assaulting the press.

KASICH: Well, I haven't seen the video, but they tell me the video is real. Of course I would. ACOSTA: But that's not likely to happen as Trump is even pushing back

on suggestions of an apology. As Trump told his crowd in Wisconsin, his sense of loyalty is a presidential asset.

TRUMP: Folks, as your president, you need somebody that's going to be loyal to the country and to yourselves. You need somebody that's going to fight.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ACOSTA: Now, as for Donald Trump's statements earlier today on abortion, we should point out in just the last several minutes his campaign has issued a brand-new statement regarding his position on abortion. We can put it up on screen.

It says, "If Congress were to pass legislation making abortion illegal and the federal courts upheld this legislation or any state were permitted to ban abortion under state and federal law, the doctor or any other person performing this illegal act upon a woman would be held legally responsible, not the woman. The woman is a victim in this case," Trump goes on to say, "as is the life in her womb. My position has not changed. Like Ronald Reagan, I am pro-life with exceptions."

Wolf, considering that fact that you go all the way back to 1999 when Donald Trump called himself pro-choice, this is yet another evolution on the position of abortion for Donald Trump -- Wolf.

BLITZER: But it seems like a significant shift in what he just said a little while earlier in that interview with MSNBC, when he said a woman should be punished if she were to have an abortion if it were to be made illegal. And now, in this new statement he's flatly saying not the woman. The woman is a victim in this case, as is the life in her womb.

So it looks like a total -- a total reversal of that earlier position -- his earlier position that he just spelled out.

ACOSTA: That's right, Wolf. And we have not seen this happen very much during the course of this campaign. Usually, when Donald Trump takes a position, no matter how controversial, he sticks to it. But on this position -- and keep in mind, there were pro-life groups, anti-abortion rights groups who were coming out and saying, "Donald Trump does not understand what it means to be anti-abortion. He would not be saying that the woman should be punished if that were the case."

I think Donald Trump had no choice at this point, especially in a state like Wisconsin, where Catholic Republicans are going to be very key in this primary coming up on Tuesday. He had no choice but to walk back that position he outlined earlier today, Wolf.

BLITZER: But he didn't issue a subsequent statement saying he misspoke earlier; maybe he didn't understand the question. That's why he was saying. There's nothing along those lines. It was just a new statement that was released, right? ACOSTA: That's right. He is not saying here "I didn't understand the

question or I misspoke." He is just completely reversing himself on this, obviously understanding that this -- this was a position that was not going to work with anybody.

You have pro-abortion rights groups who came out very quickly and seized on these comments and condemned them. Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders on the Democratic side. And then even his Republican rivals, John Kasich and Ted Cruz, were saying a woman should not be punished if she undergoes an abortion.

So this was just a no-win position for Donald Trump. And I think it's not really a surprise that he changed this position so quickly, Wolf, even though we don't see this happen very much from Donald Trump.

BLITZER: Good point. All right. Thanks very much. Jim Acosta reporting.

Let's get more reaction to Trump's controversial comments. CNN's Sunlen Serfaty is also in Wisconsin following Senator Ted Cruz for us. Has Senator Cruz responded to Trump's abortion comments?

SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, no, Senator Cruz hasn't responded to this yet, but his spokesman has and made it very clear that they are distancing the Cruz campaign from any of these comments made by Donald Trump.

His spokesman saying today that Senator Cruz shares the views of the pro-life movement, which is focused on punishing those who perform abortions, not the women that have them.

And interesting from the Cruz campaign really picking up that they intend to make this comment a larger issue about what this reveals about Donald Trump's conservative credentials.

Today they called this just the latest misstep, the latest fumble, because they say Donald Trump has no anchor in conservative principles.

And we really saw an early telegraph of this new line that they've been trying to make for some time, but I guess you could say they added, doubling down on this line today, with the first tweet coming from the Cruz campaign reacting to this by Brian Phillips saying, quote, "Don't overthink it. Donald Trump doesn't understand the pro- life position, because he's not pro-life."

So making it very clear that they intend to kind of make this case of what this reveals about Donald Trump's conservative credentials. I suspect we will see Senator Cruz argue that sometime on the campaign trail very soon, Wolf.

BLITZER: I suspect you're absolutely right. Sunlen, take a look at the latest polls that just came out today. Ted Cruz doing well. This is a Marquette University Law School poll. Cruz is at 40 percent, Trump at 30 percent, Kasich at 21 percent, sampling error of 5.8 percent. So what's behind Cruz's rise in Wisconsin? SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This really does seem that Senator

Cruz and John Kasich, for that matter, seems to be benefitting from a smaller field once this field has been winnowing down.

If you look below those top line numbers, you see not only that Cruz has jumped significantly in the last month, more than 20 points, but you really see that he's drawing support from those who did support Marco Rubio, those people who did support Ben Carson and, certainly, John Kasich seems to be benefitting from that, as well.

But if you look at Donald Trump's numbers, you see he has not moved at all in the last month. He has stayed exactly the same. Cruz responding to this poll today says he thinks he has momentum in Wisconsin. He has called it a battlefield. Of course, he needs to win here in Wisconsin.

BLITZER: Sunlen, thank you very much. Sunlen Serfaty reporting for us.

Joining us now in THE SITUATION ROOM, Trump senior advisor Tana Goertz. She's in Wisconsin helping the Trump campaign there. Tana, thanks very much for joining us.

TANA GOERTZ, TRUMP SENIOR ADVISOR: Sure. Hi, Wolf.

So how do you explain this flip, this about-face, if you will, saying there has to be some form of punishment for women if there were -- if abortion would become illegal in the United States. Now women should not be punished if abortion were to become illegal. What happened?

GOERTZ: You know, I don't know, Wolf. I was at another rally, and it transpired without me being there so I don't know all the specifics. I know that Mr. Trump loves women, treats women well, wants the best for women. So for all I know talking about, you know, punishment, the social punishment and the mental anguish.

I really don't know. I haven't spoke [SIC] to Mr. Trump about this, so I can't speculate what he was thinking or where Chris was going with the question. I just -- I don't have any knowledge on that subject.

BLITZER: What are his views on abortion rights for women? As you know, since 1973, Roe versus Wade, abortion has been legal in the United States. It's been what they call settled law. He wants to change that. Tell us what his position is.

GOERTZ: Mr. Trump has been pro-life since I've known him. I've known him for 11 years. He's always talked about being pro-life. I mean, I don't know if you know, but he's at the campaign, always at the rallies, talking about how happy he is to be a grandfather and talking about Ivanka's new baby and how he's so thrilled about the new child that was just born.

So I know how much he loves children. I know how much he loves his family. I know he's pro-life. He's always been pro-life since I've known him. So I've never known there to be a shift in Mr. Trump's views of abortion.

BLITZER: He was -- he was pro-abortion rights back in the late 1990s. Even though he said he didn't like abortion, he thought women should have that right. He's acknowledged that his position has changed over these years, but he does say there should be caveats, there should be exceptions as far as abortion rights are concerned. What are those exceptions?

GOERTZ: Rape, incest, and those are the only two that I know.

BLITZER: What about life of the mother?

GOERTZ: Life of the mother, yes, that's another one, yes.

BLITZER: And as far as life of the mother is concerned, would he support even a late-term abortion if it were to save the life of a mother?

GOERTZ: I do not know that. I wish I could answer that for you, Wolf, but I do not speak for Mr. Trump so I don't know that personally.

BLITZER: All right. We're going to have more to discuss, Tana. Stand by for a moment. There are a lot more issues going on. I want your input on these issues. Much more with Tana Goertz when we come back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[17:18:14] BLITZER: We're following the breaking news, Donald Trump igniting a new controversy while campaigning in Wisconsin where a new poll shows him running second to Senator Ted Cruz.

We're back with Trump senior advisor Tana Goertz.

Tana, Cruz now dominating Trump in this latest Marquette Law School poll in Wisconsin. Take a look at the numbers: Cruz 40 percent. He's up 19 percent since February. Trump 30 percent. He stayed the same since February. Kasich up to 21 percent, up from only 8 percent in February.

What do you think Donald Trump needs to do in the coming days to regain more support in Wisconsin in order to win next Tuesday?

GOERTZ: Well, he just got here, Wolf. He's done a lot of rallies, and they've been very well-received. I've been at all of these. The crowds have been ginormous, and there's been no protesting. It's been very, very nice. So I think just doing what he's doing, you know, being here and talking to the Wisconsin voters.

Very excited because we have an open primary, so we'll get the Democrats, the independents, and that's what really is -- Mr. Trump attracts those demographics. So I'm thinking that the numbers will go up, and I feel pretty confident about Wisconsin. They're excited, and they want jobs. That's the big thing I keep hearing here in Wisconsin, is Donald Trump is the only one that will bring jobs back here, and we all need jobs. So he's the only one talking about that.

BLITZER: And that poll does have a sampling error of nearly 6 percent.

Donald Trump also says he's sticking by his campaign manager, Corey Lewandowsky. But I want you to listen to what the White House press secretary, Josh Earnest, had to say about that earlier today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOSH EARNEST, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I am confident that neither President Obama nor President Bush would tolerate someone on their staff being accused of physically assaulting a reporter, lying about it and then blaming the victim. That is completely unacceptable behavior.

[17:20:10] And I'm confident that -- I know for a fact that's not something that President Obama would tolerate, and I feel confident in telling you that that's not something that President Bush would tolerate.

I'm also confident in telling you that nobody is particularly surprised that that's behavior that Mr. Trump doesn't just seem to tolerate, he seems to encourage.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: Very strong words. Your reaction?

GOERTZ: Encourage? Seriously? I've been on the campaign since he came down the escalator, and I've never been involved in any sort of violence. There has not been violence around me.

I've worked with Corey since day one. He's been a professional to me, very respectful. We've never had any problems whatsoever. It's been all on the up and up. So there's been no encouragement of violence during the Trump campaign since I've been a staff member, so I mean, what does he know? He's not here. He's not working on the team, and that's fine.

I'm sure President Obama wouldn't, and that's great if he wouldn't; but there's a lot of things that he does that Donald Trump wouldn't ever do either.

BLITZER: I think what he's referring to is some of the comments that Donald Trump has made at those rallies like, you know, saying he would pay the legal bills of someone who punched, let's say, one of the protesters or go ahead and slug them, if you will, stuff like that that he said on a few occasions. You're familiar with those controversial comments?

GOERTZ: Well, I've been at these rallies, and here's the deal, Wolf. I mean, Mr. Trump is the only one that is doing anything for the veterans. I personally hand-delivered two $100,000 checks. Mr. Trump raised over $6 million for the veterans. You got 50 percent -- maybe not, maybe 40 percent of the audience are veterans. And then there's going to be a protester? Let me tell you what: These

veterans don't play. And if somebody wants to cause a ruckus at his rally, a veteran's going to take of him.

Mr. Trump isn't saying, "Hey, you know, go take care of that person, him or her." I mean, these are people that are getting paid off of a Craigslist ad to come here and cause a scene. And Mr. Trump may say, "Get 'em out of here," you know, with a little more vigor than the average Joe, but you know what? People love and respect that. I personally love a person that's tough, especially a man that's tough that's not going to tolerate, you know, giving us the crumbs that we've been given, you know, by President Obama.

BLITZER: But Tana, you don't want violence to occur. Even if there's a protester screaming out negative words about Donald Trump, you don't want people in the audience, veterans or others, to go ahead and slug that protester, do you?

GOERTZ: Absolutely not. Absolutely not, and I've never seen that happen at the rallies that I've been to. You know, I saw the one where somebody sucker-punched him. That wasn't -- that wasn't a staff member. That was not somebody that Mr. Trump asked to go take care of. That's a dude that's saying, "Hey, guess what? You're going to cause a scene here, I'm going to club you." We're not in favor of that. But that -- you know, that's what happened.

Mr. Trump isn't, you know, in favor of that; and I have never witnessed that at any of our rallies ever. And I've been on the trail for a long time.

BLITZER: You notice that new campaign ad that Hillary Clinton released in New York today. She has an image of that guy sucker- punching the individual at that Trump rally.

Let's talk a little bit about the so-called loyalty pledge. As you know, Donald Trump says he's no longer sticking by the loyalty pledge. The two other Republican candidates, Cruz and Kasich, they're no longer sticking boy that, as well.

Here's the question for you. If he doesn't get the nomination -- let's say he doesn't get 1,237. That's the magic number of delegates in the first round. Someone else winds up getting the nomination. Do you think he might leave the Republican Party and run as a third-party candidate?

GOERTZ: I don't know, Wolf, because I'm an optimist; and I am staying completely confident and positive that we are going to get that number.

We are working super hard. Mr. Trump has got a great following. I mean, millions of people are voting for him. And -- and I just believe that here's going to get to 1,237, and we aren't going to have to have this discussion. I mean, fingers crossed, that's what I want to happen. And that's what I pray that we can make happen.

And we just have to trust that the process will go smoothly, and we'll be completely ethical along the way and just hoping for the best.

BLITZER: All right, Tana. We'll see what happens next Tuesday in Wisconsin, where you are right now.

Tana Goertz is a senior advisor to the Trump campaign.

Tana, thanks very much.

Coming up, Donald Trump's own words today about punishing women who have abortions if the procedure becomes illegal. Our political experts standing by to weigh in.

Later, a frightening discovery as investigators sift through clues left behind by the Belgium terror bombings. Members of the terror cell apparently had other major targets. Are those places still at risk?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[17:29:16] BLITZER: We're following the breaking news. Donald Trump just now putting out a written statement, trying to clarify his very controversial new remarks about punishing women who have abortions if the procedure ever were to become illegal here in the United States.

Again, Trump now says if abortion ever is banned, the doctor or whoever performs that abortion should be held responsible, not the women.

Before we go to our political experts, let's be careful to get the context. Here's part of Trump's original comments during an exchange with MSNBC's Chris Matthews.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: If you say abortion is a crime or abortion is murder, you have to deal with it under the law. Should abortion be punished?

TRUMP: Well, people in certain parts of the Republican Party and conservative Republicans would say yes, they should be punished.

[18:30:02] MATTHEWS: How about you?

TRUMP: I would say that it's a very serious problem. And it's a problem that we have to decide on. It's very...

MATTHEWS: But you're for banning it.

TRUMP: Are you going to say put them in jail? Are you -- is that what you're talking about?

MATTHEWS: No, I'm asking you. You say you want to ban it. What's that mean?

TRUMP: I am against -- I am pro-life, yes.

MATTHEWS: How do you ban abortion? How do you actually do it? TRUMP: Well, you know, you'll go back to a position like they had

where people will perhaps go to illegal places.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

TRUMP: But you have to ban it.

MATTHEWS: Do you believe in punishment for abortion, yes or no, as a principle?

TRUMP: The answer is that there has to be some form of punishment.

MATTHEWS: For the woman?

TRUMP: Yes, there has to be some form.

MATTHEWS: Ten cents, ten years, what?

TRUMP: That I don't know.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BLITZER: With us now in THE SITUATION ROOM, Real Clear Politics national political reporter Rebecca Berg; CNN political commentator Ana Navarro and "Washington Post" assistant editor David Swerdlick. Guys, thanks very much for joining us.

Since MSNBC released that exchange that Trump had with Chris Matthews just a few moments ago, the Trump campaign issued this statement on behalf of Donald J. Trump.

"If Congress were to pass legislation making abortion illegal and the federal courts upheld this legislation or any state were permitted to ban abortion under state and federal law, the doctor or any other person performing this illegal act upon a woman would be held legally responsible, not the woman. The woman is a victim in this case, as is the life in her womb. My position has not changed. Like Ronald Reagan, I am pro-life with exceptions."

This seems like a major flip within the span of an hour or two.

ANA NAVARRO, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think what it is is a realization that he stuck his foot in his mouth.

I think, you know, Chris Matthews has a very aggressive interviewing style. He was getting peppered with questions, and I think he blurted something out without really thinking about it.

We know that Donald Trump has changed his position on abortion many times before. He has evolved on it, to use his term. And I think what you saw today is a person who really hasn't thought out the policy blurt out an answer and then realize that he had made a grave, grave mistake.

This idea of judging women just does not fly, does not sell in the United States of America. Abortion is not illegal right now. There are some people who wish it were, but the reality right now is that it is not illegal and, therefore, this idea of punishing women, we don't know how. What was he talking about? Tarring and feather them? You know, are we going to flog them in the public square? Are we going to fine them?

You know, it just was an absurd, absurd answer. I am glad that he realized it and that he rectified it and clarified it so quickly.

BLITZER: And now, just a few moments ago, we got a statement from Senator Ted Cruz on this issue. I'll read it to you, Rebecca.

"Once again Donald Trump has demonstrated that he hasn't seriously thought through the issues, and he'll say anything just to get attention. On the important issue of the sanctity of life, what's far too often neglected is that being pro-life is not simply about the unborn child. It's also about the mother and creating a culture that respects her and embraces life. Of course we shouldn't be talking about punishing women. We should affirm their dignity and the incredible gift they have to bring life into the world."

So he's getting -- he's getting hit, Trump, obviously, from his Republican presidential rivals but also from the left.

REBECCA BERG, NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER, REAL CLEAR POLITICS: Right. And so the subtext of that statement from Ted Cruz is that Donald Trump doesn't understand the pro-life movement, that he's come by this position very recently for political gain but doesn't actually understand what true pro-life Republicans and conservatives believe.

And I would actually disagree a little bit with you, Ana, that Trump just blurted out what he said, because you could tell that he was thinking about this maybe in a logical way. If something is banned, if something is illegal, of course you would punish the person who committed this offense. But this is not how pro-lifers think about it at all. They think that the woman is not culpable for this, that it is actually the abortion provider. And now we see Trump recognizing that in his new statement.

But I think we're going to see Ted Cruz continue to emphasize that he thinks, at least, Donald Trump doesn't really understand what pro-life Republicans believe.

BLITZER: And the point is you're absolutely right. On that side of the abortion issue, the doctors, the nurses, the others who perform the abortion, they should be punished if it were to become illegal, not the mother in that particular case.

How's this going to play out, do you think, in the short term, and next Tuesday is the Wisconsin primary?

DAVID SWERDLICK, ASSISTANT EDITOR, "THE WASHINGTON POST": I don't think it's going to have a huge impact long term, Wolf. I think it might just give Cruz a little more momentum. It's very close in the polls in Wisconsin right now.

And look, this is the kind of thing that happens to even the best of politicians. You know, President Obama other the course of two presidential campaigns double flip-flopped on gay marriage. Donald Trump sort of did a flip-flop within a flip-flop. Going back several years ago he was pro-choice. Now he said today to Chris Matthews that he's pro-life but that he wanted to punish the woman. And within a couple of hours, as you said, changed that.

BLITZER: Why not simply say, "You know what? Let me be specific. I misspoke. Here's what my position is." Why can't he simply say that?

[17:35:05] SWERDLICK: It's not his brand. He doesn't say he misspoke about anything. He always charges forward.

It's like with the situation that we've talked about so much about his campaign manager, Corey Lewandowsky. Instead of saying, "Oh, we didn't see the tape," instead of saying, "Oh, maybe Michelle Fields exaggerated," they charge ahead, saying that she -- that she essentially lied about the whole situation. That's his brand. I don't think it's going to affect how his core supporters see him, but it might hurt him on the...

BLITZER: If he were to get the Republican nomination, how would this whole issue of abortion rights for women play out in a general election, let's say against Hillary Clinton?

NAVARRO: You know, Wolf, I think it's just one more spot on the leopard at this point. I mean, you've got polls showing that he's got 74 percent disapproval from women in a general election. How much lower can he possibly go?

So I think he does have a core group of women in the Republican base who are with him and who will stay with him no matter what he says, no matter what he does. They are very enthusiastic about Donald Trump.

But I think that the vast majority of women -- at this point it's now almost three-quarters of American women -- find him offensive in some way or another. He has done enough things and said enough things already right now, even without this last episode, where I think a lot of women would find it very, very difficult to vote for him because of his temperament.

BLITZER: Take a look at the new poll that just came out in Wisconsin, Rebecca. This is the Marquette University Law School poll. Right now Cruz is at 40 percent, Trump at 30 percent, Kasich 21 percent. Cruz is up 19 percent since February; Kasich is up 8 percent since February.

Trump has remained even. He was at 30 percent in February, still 30 percent right now. Six days to go until this primary in Wisconsin, 42 delegates at stake. Obviously, with a 6-point, 5.8 percent sampling error, things could change. What do you see?

BERG: Well, it's certainly going to be very close, Wolf, and anything can happen at this point. But what is so interesting to me about these latest numbers is exactly what you mentioned. A month ago Donald Trump was at 30 percent, but this is when many more candidates were in the race. In that previous Marquette University Law poll, 31 percent went to

other candidates who are no longer in the race, and we see in this poll that that 31 percent has gone entirely to John Kasich and Ted Cruz. So we see the anti-Trump vote coalescing in those numbers, and that's going to be playing out in Wisconsin.

BLITZER: Is that -- do you agree with that?

SWERDLICK: Yes. I mean, if I were a betting man I might be tempted to place a small wager on Cruz in Wisconsin, but I don't think we can't say that with any certainty. It's just too close.

What's hurting Trump right now is some of these stories that have been circulating around the last week has him off his core message of "I'm a winner. I'll defeat ISIS. I'm better than everybody else." And with fewer candidates in the race, I think it's harder for him to sort of spread that message around. Cruz can come back, and Kasich can come back in a more effective way.

NAVARRO: I am a gambler, and I am going to put a bet on Ted Cruz in Wisconsin.

BLITZER: OK, how much?

NAVARRO: A hundred bucks and dinner.

BLITZER: I'll take that.

BERG: Not 10,000?

NAVARRO: No, we don't say $10,000 anymore.

BLITZER: Stand by, guys. There's a lot of other news coming into THE SITUATION ROOM right now. We'll take a quick break. We'll be right back.

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[17:42:44] BLITZER: The Democratic presidential candidates, they are fighting very hard for next week's pivotal primary in Wisconsin, but Hillary Clinton is already looking ahead to an even bigger prize, New York state. Clinton is hoping a large delegate haul in that state would stifle Bernie Sanders' winning streak.

Our senior Washington correspondent, Joe Johns, is following the Democratic campaign for us. What's the latest there, Joe?

JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, Hillary Clinton kicked off her campaign for New York in the historic Apollo Theater in Harlem with the idea of a potentially risky debate in that state still on the table, risky because her Democratic opponent, Bernie Sanders, has strong ties to New York of his own; and he's pulling out all the stops now to try to catch up in the delegate race.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It is wonderful to be back home in New York.

JOHNS (voice-over): Tonight Hillary Clinton looking for a home-state boost in her fight for the Democratic nomination.

CLINTON: Now, my opponent says, "Well, we're just not thinking big enough." Well, this is New York. Nobody dreams bigger than we do.

JOHNS: She's calling out Bernie Sanders for offering what she says are unrealistic policy proposals.

CLINTON: My opponent and I share many of the same goals, but some of his ideas for how to get there won't pass. Others just won't work.

JOHNS: While Clinton keeps one eye on her Democratic challenger, she's also waging a battle on another front, readying her arguments for a potential general-election contest with GOP front-runner Donald Trump.

CLINTON: Our diversity is a strength, not a weakness. New York represents the best of America, and together we can face down the worst.

JOHNS: Her campaign is echoing that message in a new television ad targeting Trump's controversial proposals.

CLINTON: So when some say we can solve America's problems by building walls, banning people based on their religion, and turning against each other, well, this is New York. And we know better.

JOHNS: Sanders is hoping to keep the Democratic primary battle alive with a win in next week's Wisconsin primary. A new Marquette Law School poll released today shows the Vermont Senator with a narrow 49- 45 percent lead over Clinton among Badger State Democrats.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT), DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You are human beings living in a democratic society. If you want to change the status quo, you can change the status quo.

JOHNS: And like Clinton, Sanders also intends to bring his fight to New York, publicly calling on Clinton to agree to a debate in the Empire State. His campaign releasing a statement overnight making it seem like the debate was a done deal, citing Clinton's agreement to debate Sanders in New York. Sanders even telling CNN's Erin Burnett that the two sides were in agreement on a location.

SANDERS: My understanding is she would like to do it in Brooklyn. I was born in Brooklyn. Let's do it.

JOHNS: But as of Tuesday, the Clinton campaign said the event was not yet finalized.

HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think our campaigns are talking about that.

(END VIDEOTAPE) JOHNS: The Clinton campaign has suggested this debate over another Democratic debate is bogus, though it's gone on for weeks and weeks. Privately they say the two campaigns have been talking it over and there should be something more definitive in a matter of days -- Wolf.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Stand by for that.

All right, Joe, thank you very much.

Coming up, as Belgium recovers from those devastating terror bombings, CNN is learning new details about the warning signs that may have been missed.

What clues did the Belgian authorities overlook?

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[17:50:34] BLITZER: Tonight we're learning disturbing new information about the terror attacks in Belgium. The series of missed clues and missed opportunities by Belgian authorities now raising an important question, could the bombings have been prevented?

Brian Todd is working this story for us. Brian, what are you learning?

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, tonight new information about two terrorist brothers who blew themselves up in the attacks last week. We're told that before the attacks the brothers were hiding in plain sight and Belgian authorities couldn't find them.

Also tonight, there are new concerns that future attacks could be in the works based on evidence recovered from one of the Brussels terrorists.

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TODD (voice-over): The Belgian capital reeling from the devastation of last week's terror attacks and tonight bracing for another possible strike. A source close to the investigation tells CNN photographs and plans for a number of Belgian government buildings were found on a computer belonging to Ibrahim el-Bakraoui who is believed to have blown himself up at the Brussels airport. The computer discovered in a garbage can outside the terror cell's bomb factory in Brussels. The buildings on the computer suggest that at one point this was a larger plot.

PAUL CRUICKSHANK, CNN TERRORISM ANALYST: They recovered photos and plans of the prime minister of Belgium's office in Brussels suggesting that that was targeted potentially by the cell they were looking to target that in an attack.

TODD: Security at the Belgian parliament building also stepped up tonight over information that it could be the next target.

And tonight, new questions about clues Belgian authorities missed before the bombings last week. CNN has learned the Belgians had been looking for Ibrahim and Khalid el-Bakraoui, the brothers who blew themselves up at the train station and the airport months before the Brussels attacks. Belgian officials say in December this red notice from Interpol went out seeking the arrest of Khalid el-Bakraoui on terrorism charges. They were looking for his brother on suspicions of criminal activity. Where Belgian authorities failed, they simply couldn't find the brothers.

CRUICKSHANK: They were hiding in plain sight in Brussels in a common Schaerbeek district where the bombs were made. The Belgians clearly did not know this.

TODD: Another missed clue, last summer Turkey deported Ibrahim el- Bakraoui after he was arrested near the Syrian border. According to a top Belgian broadcaster the Belgians asked the Turks if Ibrahim was involved in terrorism. They were told he was known for criminal activity but it's not clear how much more information the Turks gave the Belgians.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Obviously it turns out that he was a hard-core jihadist. The fact that they're not sharing the exact information and how the laws to actually put these guys into jail suggests that there's a huge miscommunication between intelligence agencies, between law enforcement.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

TODD: And another major clue seems to be eluding Belgian authorities tonight. CNN is told Belgian officials do not know where this man, the third terrorist at the Brussels airport, where he is. The man in white. He's believed to have left a bomb at the airport and taken off.

We're also told the Belgians don't know who he is and there's major concern tonight that this man and more than a half dozen other suspects from the same cell still at large could be planning another attack -- Wolf.

BLITZER: And Brian, I understand these suspects at large, there's reason for Americans to be directly worried about them as well. What do you know about that?

TODD: That's right, Wolf. Analysts tell us a lot of these suspects have European passports. That means they can travel freely to the U.S. without visas. If they're not on a terrorism watch list and if they haven't been flagged by Interpol or other organizations, they can get on a plane and fly directly to the U.S. with no problem.

BLITZER: Very worrisome development indeed. I know you're staying on top of this for us.

Brian, thank you very much.

Coming up, we'll get back to the latest breaking political news we're following. Donald Trump trying to do major damage control right now after saying if abortion ever becomes outlawed in the United States, a woman who has one illegally should be punished. He's now released a statement reversing those remarks.

We're going to talk to Hillary Clinton's chief strategist for her campaign's reaction to the growing controversy.

And as ISIS suffers battlefield defeats, what's being done to prevent its killers from attempting new terror attacks in Europe as well as here in the United States?

Also, disturbing reports indicating the terror group might have a desire to obtain what's described as a dirty bomb.

I'll talk with President Obama's point man in the fight to destroy ISIS.

[17:55:03] All that and a lot more coming up.

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BLITZER: Happening now, breaking news. Trump on abortion. The GOP frontrunner is doing an about-face after controversial comments about punishing women who get the procedure if it were to become illegal. This as a new poll suggests Trump is now far behind in the next big primary.

Pushing back. Trump downplays the battery charge against his campaign manager, more than a dozen influential conservative women, they are now saying it's time for Trump to say, you're fired.

Defending her turf. Hillary Clinton ramps up her fight to win the New York state primary with a TV ad that ignores her Democratic opponent but takes direct aim at Donald Trump.

And dirty bomb fears. Are ISIS terrorists prepare to use a makeshift nuclear weapons in their next --