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THE SITUATION ROOM

Trump Meets Top GOP Leaders; Trump and GOP Leaders Talk Delegates; Democrats Draw Battle Line in New York; Ex-Wife of ISIS Chief Speaking Out. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired March 31, 2016 - 17:00   ET

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


FARRELL: ... cost. People pay a price for that experience. And it's not something that one should take lightly.

[17:00:07] Major -- you know, Colonel -- I say Colonel. Father Mulcahy lost his hearing. Colonel -- Major Winchester lost his music. Hawkeye lost his sanity for a while. All of those things -- all of those things happen to people in the war. As you indicated earlier, you do a lot of work with vets. I think people don't really fully appreciate what we're asking of people when we send them to war.

TAPPER: Yes. Mike Farrell, thank you so much. Such an honor to have you on the show. Really appreciate it. Tune in for the premiere episode of CNN "THE EIGHTIES" tonight at 9 p.m. Eastern.

That's it for "THE LEAD." I'm Jake Tapper, turning you over to Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Happening now, GOP divide. Donald Trump huddles with the Republican Party's top leaders here in an increasingly bitter campaign and facing the prospect of a convention floor fight. Can they mend the Grand Ole Party's great divide?

Reversing course. Donald Trump reverses himself on punishing women who have abortions and reverses himself on the GOP loyalty pledge. Is this the reversal of his fortune? His opponents, they've been waiting for that.

No do-overs. Ohio Governor John Kasich finally takes the gloves off, slamming Donald Trump and warning that presidents don't get do-overs. Is Kasich's criticism, though, too little too late?

And ISIS leaders ex-wife. She was married to the world's most wanted man and fled after only three months. Now she's speaking out, even though her own life may be in danger.

I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

We're following surprising new developments in the presidential race right now. Donald Trump leading the campaign trail only days before the next crucial primary. Instead of campaigning in Wisconsin, he's here in Washington today, meeting with the head of the Republican Party. We're also getting new information about what they discussed.

All this comes as Ted Cruz and John Kasich pounce on Trump's most recent missteps and controversial statements. More pointedly than ever, they're questioning whether the billionaire businessman is fit to be president of the United States.

We'll discuss the state of the race with the Republican congressman, Sean Duffy. He's from Wisconsin. And our correspondents, analysts and guests, they will have full coverage of all the day's top stories.

Let's begin with CNN's Sunlen Serfaty. She's in Wisconsin right now.

Sunlen, what are you hearing about that meeting between Trump and the Republican Party chairman?

SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, sources tell CNN that this meeting was mostly about convention rules and delegates. This meeting coming as Donald Trump faces significant heat over a string of series of controversial statements which his rivals are now trying to capitalize on, calling into question his readiness to be president.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SERFATY (voice-over): Donald Trump in Washington today behind closed doors, huddling with his national security team and later with officials at the Republican National Committee as the uproar over his abortion comments continues to swirl.

GOV. JOHN KASICH (R-OH), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I have to tell you that as commander in chief and leader of the free world, you don't get do-overs. You need to be able to get it right the first time.

SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Donald's comments, they were unfortunate, they were wrong, and I strongly disagree with them.

SERFATY: Trump set off a firestorm Wednesday after he said that women should be punished for having an abortion if the procedure is made illegal in the U.S.

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: 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: The Trump campaign first tried to clarify by saying the issue should be left to the states. Then it quickly put out another statement completely reversing his initial one, saying, quote, "The doctor or another person performing this illegal act upon a woman would be legally responsible, not the woman."

His rivals, seizing on Trump's stumble.

CRUZ: Really it's the latest demonstration of how little Donald has thought about any of the serious issues facing this country.

SERFATY: Trump's meeting with his national security team comes as he also faces scrutiny for refusing to rule out using nuclear weapons in Europe. MATTHEWS: Just say it, I'm never use a nuclear weapon in Europe.

TRUMP: I am not taking cards off the table.

SERFATY: John Kasich blasting Trump's response was unpresidential.

KASICH: It is not the way that a leader of the free world or the commander in chief of our country to be so casually talking about the use, by the way, of nuclear weapons. It just shows that he's really not prepared to be president of the United States.

SERFATY: Trump also is on the receiving end of Cruz's jokes from the late-night couch.

CRUZ: If I were in my car and getting ready to reverse and saw Donald in the backup camera, I'm not confident which pedal I'd push.

SERFATY: That as a new front has opened in the GOP fight between Cruz and Kasich, Kasich jabbing Cruz for having a steep delegate climb to clinch the nomination before the convention.

[17:05:12] KASICH: There's a greater chance that you will fly out of this building and land in midtown.

SERFATY: And getting help from a pro-Kasich super PAC with this Wisconsin TV ad.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If Ted Cruz's mouth is moving, he's lying.

SERFATY: While Cruz argues that Kasich's strong position in some hypothetical general election polls is due to the fact he's unknown.

CRUZ (via phone): Part of the reason he does well in national polls against Hillary is nobody knows anything about him.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SERFATY: And Donald Trump is off the campaign trail for the next two days. He is anticipated to return here to Wisconsin over the weekend. The latest poll here shows him ten points behind Senator Ted Cruz and, of course, important to note that that poll was done entirely before this latest string of controversies -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, Sunlen, thanks very much. Sunlen Serfaty reporting from Wisconsin.

As we just saw, the Ohio governor, John Kasich, he came out swinging at Donald Trump today, taking special aim at Trump's comments on abortion and nuclear weapons. The governor explained why he's so uncharacteristically departing from his earlier commitment to try to stay positive and not directly criticize his opponents.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KASICH: I continue to -- to be positive, but when I see a number of these things that have been said, I have to say something about it. If I don't say something about it, then I really feel as though, as a public official, that I'm not doing my job. But I don't want to live in this mode. But there are times when I have to speak out.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: And he did today. CNN's Jim Acosta is joining us from Wisconsin right now. Jim, is the Trump campaign showing any signs right now of serious vulnerability?

JIM ACOSTA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, Donald Trump was all smiles when the cameras caught up with him in Washington today, but I talked to a slew of GOP sources today who said Trump's comments on abortion were very damaging.

John Kasich, as you heard, went even further today and said that that comment, along with Trump's remark that he won't rule out using nuclear weapons in Europe, meant the real-estate tycoon is not fit to be president of the United States.

Trump appears to have his work cut out for him here in Wisconsin, Wolf. The latest polls show he is trailing Ted Cruz by double digits. If he loses here in Wisconsin and then in Colorado, which holds a caucus, which does not play to his strengths, he could go limping into his home state of New York, even though a poll there shows he's got a pretty healthy lead in New York later on next month, Wolf.

BLITZER: What do you know about the meeting that he had today over at the Republican National Committee headquarters here in Washington regarding the loyalty pledge? It's certainly gone away as far as not only Trump but all three Republican candidates. They clearly are backing away from a commitment to go ahead and support whoever the Republican nominee is.

ACOSTA: Absolutely. Trump emerged from that meeting with RNC chairman Reince Priebus. He tweeted out that he's looking to unite the Republican Party, something he said in that tweet will happen.

But an RNC official told me not a whole -- you know, not a deep dive into what happened in this meeting, Wolf, but that Trump and Priebus had a, quote, "productive meeting" about the state of the race. The convention did come up. As Sunlen was saying a few moments ago, that suggests there was a discussion about delegates. There was a discussion about what happens if Trump falls short of the magic number of 1,237 delegates that he needs to clinch the nomination.

But as for that loyalty pledge, Wolf, I think all three candidates have essentially buried it. I have talked to RNC officials about this pledge. All they will say at this point is that they are confident that the party will rally around whoever is the Republican nominee to defeat the Democrats later on this fall, but they're not saying at this point, Wolf, that the pledge is alive and well. They're certainly not saying that, Wolf.

BLITZER: All right. Jim Acosta reporting for us, thank you.

Let's get an insider's view of the contest in the Badger State. We're joined by Wisconsin Republican Congressman Sean Duffy.

Congressman, thanks very much for joining us.

REP. SEAN DUFFY (R), WISCONSIN: Thank you, Wolf. Good to be with you.

BLITZER: And I just want to be up front. You have not endorsed any of these three remaining Republican candidates, at least not yet. Is that right?

DUFFY: That's correct. I was first with Walker, then with Rubio. I'm the kiss of death, Wolf, so I'm not endorsing any of these candidates. If I did, I'd probably endorse Hillary Clinton, as the kiss of death. So no, I'm not in this Republican race.

BLITZER: So you're not going to be -- before Tuesday, the primary in Wisconsin, you're not going to tell your supporters out there who you like?

DUFFY: I'm not. And if you look at my district, Wolf, I'm the central to the northwestern part of the state. It's about a third of the state in land mass. It's pretty evenly divided, probably goes a little bit towards Trump. And both sides of my Republican Party are split. And they're passionate, and they're very engaged in this race. And I don't think it's my position right now to step in and try to influence one way or the other, so I'm going to stay out.

BLITZER: Let's talk about what happened today here in Washington. Donald Trump, he met with the RNC chairman, Reince Priebus. A Republican source telling CNN the meeting was about convention rules, delegates. Here's the question. Do you believe that the person, the candidate who has the most delegates going into that convention should be the nominee?

[17:10:20] DUFFY: What I believe is we should follow the rules that are going to be made by the delegates when they get to the convention. And so on round one if we don't have -- whether it's Cruz or Trump that have enough delegates to win, I think we're going to have to go by the rules of the convention.

Now, I think if -- if Donald Trump has more delegates, I think he'll probably win the convention. But if not, you know, it could go to -- it could go to Ted Cruz.

Wolf, I think what's important to note here is, when -- when Reince engages the top candidates, it's important for him to make sure that they understand the RNC is going to treat each of them fairly. They're all going to know what the rules are. They're all going to be able to play by the rules, and there's going to be no funny business and no shenanigans.

I know there's a lot of outside commenters -- commentators who like to say that the RNC is going to pick the candidate. I know Reince. Reince is from Wisconsin. Reince is going to make sure the process is fair and everybody gets in. That was probably the content of the conversation that took place today between Reince Priebus and Donald Trump, to put Donald at ease that he'll know the process, and it will be fair to him.

BLITZER: And the point being, though, 1,237, that's the key number you need, the number of delegates you need in order to get the nomination. Let's say he gets very close, he's within 100 but Cruz is much further behind and he has millions more votes. His supporters are going to be very frustrated if he emerges without the nomination.

DUFFY: Absolutely his supporters will be frustrated. But also we're a -- we're a Republican Party that's bound by the rules of the party. And so the way you clinch the nomination is you get 1,237. If you don't get 1,237, you go to a second round, and then many of these delegates are free to vote for who they want.

BLITZER: Is that what you want, Congressman? Do you want a contested convention?

DUFFY: Listen, frankly, I think Donald Trump is probably going to win the 1,237, as an outside-viewer of what's going to happen. But I also look at, if Trump doesn't get 1,237 and you look at the Cruz campaign, Wolf, Ted Cruz has done a really good job of organizing delegates in all these different states.

And so if you look at the ground game at convention, if Donald -- if Donald Trump doesn't clinch the 1,237, I look at Ted Cruz, who's been focusing and working on delegates. I think it will be tough to beat Ted Cruz with the delegate count in the second round, because he's been focusing and working with his organization on making sure that, if it's a contested convention, that he actually wins the second or third round.

BLITZER: Yes. Many of those pledged delegates, they become free agents in the second and even more become free agents in the third round if it goes to three or four rounds.

Here's another question for you. If Donald Trump is the Republican presidential nominee, are you ready to commit to supporting him?

DUFFY: I am. And the reason is that I look at the progressive, liberal, socialist agenda of Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders. Donald Trump, John Kasich, Ted Cruz, all of them are better than President Hillary Clinton. So hands down, I'm going to pound signs and work for whoever our nominee is, because we can't have another four years of progressive policies like we've had with Barack Obama. So I'm going to work for them.

BLITZER: All right, Congressman, we have more to discuss, if you could stick around. I'll take a quick break. We'll continue our conversation with Congressman Sean Duffy of Wisconsin. The Wisconsin primary next Tuesday. Stick around with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[17:18:10] BLITZER: We're following some surprising developments in the presidential race. With only a few days left until the Wisconsin primary, and his polls show Donald Trump some ten points right now behind Ted Cruz. Trump today spent much of the day here in Washington where he met with the top leaders of the Republican Party. We're back with the Republican congressman Sean Duffy of Wisconsin.

You saw that Marquette Law School poll that has Cruz ten points ahead of Donald Trump right now, 40 to 30 percent for Trump, 21 percent for Kasich. Do you think Trump can come back and win on Tuesday?

DUFFY: Wolf, I would say yes, he could, but for the fact that just recently you saw Scott Walker endorse Ted Cruz. Now that, in and of itself, is not a big deal in Wisconsin.

However, Donald Trump then started to attack Scott Walker. And I know Donald Trump has been successful in other states attacking elected state officials, but that won't play well in Wisconsin, because, listen, if you think back to the big protests at the state capitol when Scott Walker did all of his reforms, conservatives all over the state stood up and fought with Scott Walker and they won with Scott Walker. They love this guy. And they might not agree with his endorsement of Cruz, but they get really angry if you start to attack him. And that's exactly what Donald Trump has done in the last couple of days.

So I think the numbers actually would be tighter except for the fact that Donald Trump is -- is attacking our golden boy in the Republican Party, Scott Walker, and I think that's going to have a negative impact on him.

BLITZER: And you had originally endorsed Scott Walker yourself. But correct me if I'm wrong. Wisconsin is what they call an open primary, meaning independents, even Democrats, they can go in and vote for the Republican primary. Is that right?

DUFFY: It's true. And I think you're going to see a lot of traditional Democrats cross over and vote in the Republican primary.

BLITZER: So that could help -- that could help Trump. That could help Trump, right?

DUFFY: Yes. So in my district, again, I'm in central northern Wisconsin. We have a lot of union guys that are coming out, and they're going to support Trump, because they love him. They think he's the only one that's looking out for them.

[17:20:10] And so you have this unique divide in our state. So in the southeast corner, which is the greater Milwaukee suburb area, Ted Cruz has been lifted up by conservative talk radio. Donald Trump has been bashed for months. So you see those numbers consistent with, you know, Ted Cruz in the lead, Donald Trump far down.

But as you go up to my part of the state, which still has a lot of voters, though it's more rural, that's more Trump territory. These are people who feel disenfranchised. Even that Marquette poll that you referenced, they call us as "everywhere else." They had Milwaukee, Madison, Green Bay, and everywhere else. People are sick are being considered "everywhere else." They're mad as hell that this economy hasn't worked for them, their government hasn't worked for them. They're mad about what's happening overseas. And they want someone who's going to fight for them. And you have Donald Trump that's come out and said, "You know what?

I'm not about ideology. I'm about you. I'm about America, and I'm going to do what's right for you, not what's right for the Republican Party or the conservative movement. And so if I think trade is bad, and it's going to hurt your job, I'm going to stand with you and fight with you to make sure you keep your job and your good salary. I'm not going to support a bad trade deal."

I think people in my district -- I know people in my district -- they love that.

Now, there's another wing to Wisconsin. You know, they call it a purple state. It's not purple because we have a lot of moderates. It's purple because we have a lot of far lefties and a lot of far righties. And a lot of my righties are very conservative Republicans. And they don't think that Donald Trump is a conservative.

They look at Ted Cruz, they might not like his preachy southern style, but they look at him and go "This guy is a true conservative. He believes in the same principles that I believe in and so I'm going to support him." And that's where we have this unique divide in Wisconsin.

BLITZER: It could be very close. How do you think his controversial comments yesterday on abortion rights for women, saying one thing, revising it, then coming up with a totally different statement a few hours later, how is that going to play in your state of Wisconsin?

DUFFY: It doesn't help him, I'm tell you that. And the reason is we have one of the best pro-life organizations in the country in pro-life Wisconsin. And even they have come out and said, "Listen, the pro- life movement is about pro-life for little babies and for women. We don't want to start, you know, a big war on women with the Trump comments. You're setting us back, Mr. Trump."

And I think this goes to this additional point that Donald Trump shoots from the hip, and people like that. But you've got to actually spend some time and think through the issues about what your policy position is so you don't get caught in the tough interview that he had with Chris Matthews.

And it's not just on the abortion issue; it's on what's happening in Europe, and in the Middle East, and with Russia and China. Those are all problems that Donald Trump, if he's going to be our nominee, one, has to start acting more presidential, but also he has to work on the policies so he can communicate these ideas effectively and not have the gaffe like he had yesterday on the abortion issue.

BLITZER: Sean Duffy, the congressman from Wisconsin, thanks very much.

DUFFY: Thanks, Wolf.

BLITZER: Coming up, after generating so many controversies, has the Trump campaign finally, though, reached the tipping point? Our political experts, they are standing by. Also ahead, an astonishing interview. The ex-wife of the leader of

ISIS talking candidly about what it was like being married to the world's most wanted terrorist.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[17:27:43] BLITZER: We're following important new developments in the presidential race, where Donald Trump is uncharacteristically keeping quiet, relatively quiet, at least on this day. After meeting with the head of the Republican Party here in Washington, a wave for reporters is all we've seen from the Republican front-runner, at least so far.

Joining us in THE SITUATION ROOM, our senior political reporter, Nia- Malika Henderson; our chief political correspondent, Dana Bash; CNN political commentator Ana Navarro; and "Washington Post" assistant editor David Swerdlick.

Dana, what are you learning about Trump's meeting at the RNC with Reince Priebus, the chairman, among others?

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, they're being, as you said, extraordinarily tight-lipped. What I was told from a source familiar is that it was a lot about delegates. Some about convention rules and how that will work, depending on various scenarios. It was a very small meeting and obviously with Reince Priebus.

But what's unclear still at this point is what precipitated this. Whether it was what Trump said at the Republican -- excuse me, at the CNN town hall the other night, going after the Republican convention, whether -- excuse me, going after the Republican Party; whether it was his threat to sue over what happened in Louisiana; or maybe all of the above.

BLITZER: He tweeted after the meeting -- this is Donald Trump -- "Just had a very nice meeting with Reince Priebus and the GOP. Looking forward to bringing the party together, and it will happen." That was what he tweeted. Will it happen?

DAVID SWERDLICK, ASSISTANT EDITOR, "THE WASHINGTON POST": I think at a minimum, Wolf, these -- the two sides, if you will, are stuck with each other. I don't have Dana's reporting on what happened in the meeting today. But that pledge, even if it starts to fall apart now, it served the purposes for Chairman Priebus that he needed it to.

If Donald Trump leaves the party at this point, everyone sort of knows that Trump will have his followers. The Republican Party will have another candidate, maybe Senator Cruz, and that will split the conservative or Republican vote. And that will clear a path for the likely Democratic nominee. So both sides now have to sort of figure out a way to work this out.

BLITZER: He wasn't speaking publicly today, but he was tweeting. He said, "The Trump doctrine" -- he now calls it the Trump doctrine -- "peace through strength." And he was saying that he, like Ronald Reagan, had this policy of peace through strength.

Relatively quiet today. Are you surprised?

ANA NAVARRO, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes.

[17:30:00] We haven't had a relatively quiet day on Twitter from Donald Trump in a very, very long time. I think some of it may have to do with the fact that he stuck his foot in his mouth yesterday when talking about abortion.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Is that why he's not really speaking out today?

NAVARRO: Well, yes, because he doesn't want to address it. There's been a lot of surrogates out there saying that he misspoke but he himself has not said that he misspoke. I'm very glad that there was this meeting today between the RNC and Donald Trump because it almost felt the other in the CNN town hall that he was laying the groundwork to make the charge against the RNC, that they were going to be unfair, that they were going to do something untowards him at the convention.

It is very important because there may be a lot of controversy in that convention that both sides, that the RNC be absolutely transparent with all the candidates who may be involved.

BLITZER: You know, the -- it's very interesting that, you know, he hasn't really spoken out, but John Kasich all of a sudden came out today swinging at Donald Trump.

I want to play a little clip for you.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. JOHN KASICH (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I just want to take a few minutes to -- I usually don't have notes. As you all know, I pretty much speak right off the cuff, but I had to list five things that continue to prove that Donald Trump is clearly not prepared to be president of the United States, commander in chief, leader of the free world. It appears as though when he does these events and people press him, he becomes unmoored and then has to spend a lot of time trying to figure out how to correct all the mistakes that he made.

And I have to tell you that as a commander in chief and leader of the free world, you don't get do-overs. You need to be able to get it right the first time.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: That was uncharacteristic for John Kasich. He's stayed away from that kind of direct tough criticism of his Republican rivals. At least until now.

NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, and any time you kind of see these rivals who have all of a sudden discovered Donald Trump and discovered ways they should criticize him, it comes across as a little disingenuous because for a long time they stood on the sidelines and didn't want to criticize him. That was kind of part of Kasich's identity. He was the nice guy, he didn't want to mix it up and get in the gutter with the other folks.

He of course is doing that now. He wants to present himself as the adult in the room. He in some ways as always run sort of a resume election. He can name drop Ronald Reagan and Strom Thurmond because he served in Washington when they were both around. But so far the voters haven't taken to that argument. He's won one state, he's behind at least in these Wisconsin polls so far. That should be a state that you would think he might be able to win.

(CROSSTALK)

NAVARRO: And you know --

HENDERSON: The blue-collar white voters.

NAVARRO: But if we're going to label this tough criticism, really, we've all seen 5-year-olds on the playground wage tougher criticism at each other.

HENDERSON: Yes.

BLITZER: Well, he says he's unmoored and he's not qualified to be commander in chief. That's pretty tough.

NAVARRO: I don't know that given what we've seen between Trump and Cruz in the last several weeks --

BLITZER: I mean, not as personal but he's basically saying he could not support this guy to be president, that he's the Republican frontrunner right now.

NAVARRO: I think if they're going to draw a contrast, if John Kasich is going to draw a contrast he's going to have to draw blood at some point. He's going to have to --

BLITZER: Kasich has no mathematical chance of getting to 1237, the number of delegates you need to be the Republican nominee.

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Correct.

BLITZER: His only hope is that if there's a contested convention it goes to round two or three, all of a sudden he could emerge as the Republican nominee.

Here's the question. Is that realistic?

BASH: Is it realistic? You know, if you're John Kasich, yes. Is it possible? Or maybe his top aides, yes. Look, it's not just from the perspective of the Kasich campaign. It's not just that, you know, that they hope that things could change in the convention.

What they're banking on is that everybody is going to look around at the convention and say, wait a minute, don't we like want to win in November and that they're going to look at polls, which do show that he at this point has the best shot of all the Republican candidates to beat Hillary Clinton. But that's a lot of hypotheticals to get to their ultimate goal. The one thing that I will say that is important to point out about the whole question of Republican rules and the convention is the rules last time around four years ago said that you had to win eight primary -- or eight contests in order to even get the nomination.

He's won one. Ohio. We'll see what happens in the next couple of weeks.

BLITZER: They can change that rule a week before.

NAVARRO: They can change the rule.

BLITZER: The rules committee comes in and they can create any rule they want.

BASH: Absolutely. But you bet. Bet -- bet that both Donald Trump and Ted Cruz are going to scream bloody murder and their supporters are going to scream even more if they try to change it, even though that is what happens every four years.

BLITZER: Right. They put that rule in only last time to prevent Rand Paul from getting a vote.

(CROSSTALK)

HENDERSON: Yes. Ron Paul.

BLITZER: I mean Ron Paul from getting a vote. Yes. All right, guys, stand by. We have a lot more.

There's excitement and new developments on the Democratic side as well. We'll update you on that when we come back.

[17:35:03]

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, they can of course both claim strong ties to New York state, but only one of them will walk away with a victory in the state's crucial primary. The contest will offer one of the biggest delegate hauls of the campaign and both candidates seem eager to sharpen their differences before the vote.

Let's go to our senior Washington correspondent Jeff Zeleny who's joining us from New York City. He's in the Bronx right now.

Jeff, what's the latest?

[17:40:02] JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, Bernie Sanders was born in Brooklyn and Hillary Clinton was elected here twice to the Senate. There is no question this New York race is so important. And it's really touching on all the themes of the national race as well. Income inequality, Wall Street, economic injustice, racial reform.

But, Wolf, it is so central to Clinton's candidacy to win here. That's one of the reasons Bernie Sanders is trying so hard to stop her.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ZELENY (voice-over): Now playing in New York, Hillary Clinton --

HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: He goes around telling young people he's going to give them free college.

ZELENY: Versus Bernie Sanders.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Secretary Clinton has supported virtually every one of these disastrous trade agreements.

ZELENY: Tonight, the Democratic rivals dueling on their home turf for a whopping prize of 247 delegates.

SANDERS: I grew up in Brooklyn, New York.

ZELENY: Their fight is also now revolving around that other New Yorker, Donald Trump.

CLINTON: Just yesterday Donald Trump said women should be punished for having an abortion.

ZELENY: Both Democrats seizing on his comments about how women should be punished for seeking an abortion. He recanted his words but that did little to stop the firestorm.

CLINTON: Let's remember this, all the Republican candidates want to make abortion illegal. If you make abortion a crime, then you make women and doctors criminals.

ZELENY: Sanders tweeted, "Your Republican frontrunner, shameful." By now the Clinton campaign had hoped to be focusing on Trump and Republicans alone, but at a rally today not far from her Chappaqua home, Clinton found herself tangling with Sanders supporters who disrupted her speech.

PROTESTERS: If she wins, we lose.

CLINTON: I know. The Bernie people came to say that.

ZELENY: As Clinton loyalists rally to her aid she had the last word.

CLINTON: What I regret is they don't want to hear the contrast between my experience, my plans, my vision, what I know I can get done and what my opponent is promising.

ZELENY: It's a stark reminder the Democratic primary is also boiling hot. In Wisconsin, which votes Tuesday, Sanders leads Clinton by four percentage points. Here in New York, Clinton holds a 12-point lead but she's not resting easy, even dispatching former president Bill Clinton to Union Halls across New York City.

Before a nighttime rally in the Bronx, Sanders stopped in Pittsburgh. SANDERS: What an extraordinary turnout.

ZELENY: He lashed out at Clinton's support for trade agreements and ties to Wall Street.

SANDERS: I just don't know why Wall Street has not invited me to speak before them. You know, I've got my cell phone on, I'm waiting for the call.

ZELENY: The acrimony between Clinton, Sanders and their supporters is alarming some Democrats. In the end, Clinton said the party must come together.

CLINTON: When this primary contest is over we've got to unite and make sure we have a Democrat in the White House in January.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ZELENY: Well, Wolf, that is really the open question here and many Democrats I talk with are concerned about these two sides coming together.

Now you can see the crowd gathering here at -- here in the Bronx for a rally really in about an hour or so. It's time where Bernie Sanders is going to try and make his case. Now most of his supporters are young supporters of Bernie Sanders, but he has supporters of all ages here. They're really trying to stop or slow this momentum, so many delegates at stake here in New York -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Jeff, thanks very much.

Nia, is she really worried about her home state of New York?

HENDERSON: You know, in some ways I was surprised that the poll was so close, right, 54 percent to 42 percent with Clinton with that 12- point lead. I don't think she's going to see a kind of Vermont-style victory in the way that Sanders won his home state overwhelmingly. I was texting back and forth with a Sanders supporter. They feel very good about where Sanders is now. They feel like he'll go into that contest with the wind at his back, possibly picking up a Wisconsin win and probably Wyoming, too.

So they're aggressively playing for New York. I think if you look at those internal numbers, Clinton does have something to feel good about. She's essentially tied among white voters. She's 35 points ahead among black Democrats. And she's also essentially tied among white men. If she can keep there, I think she's in a good position. But again, Sanders folks think that he's a good closer and that he can quickly close big gaps in the end in the way that he did in Michigan.

BLITZER: She has to always worry that if she gets the nomination, she needs those Bernie Sanders supporters to come along and help in a general election. That why she's got to be very careful in how far she goes in alienating them potentially.

NAVARRO: I think she's got to stay worried throughout this until she clinches this nomination. We thought that Bernie Sanders would be deflating by now. He's not. If anything, he's gaining steam. And I think Nia is absolutely right. We don't know what level of momentum he's going to leave Wisconsin with. Should he win, how big his margin might be should he win. The biggest mistake probably that Hillary Clinton made early on was taking Bernie Sanders for granted, not taking him serious low and trying to nip it at the bud when it started happening.

[17:45:11] It's too late now. He is a real force. He is the person that is carrying a mantle for the progressive movement and she will absolutely need his supporters. It's her weak flank.

BLITZER: And, David, he's raising a ton of money right now, relatively small contributions, not big sums, but former Representative Barney Frank, all of us know him, he was a Democrat from Massachusetts, in an interview he said that Sanders had little to show for his 25 years in Congress. He really was pretty critical of Sanders. How's that going to play?

DAVID SWERDLICK, ASSISTANT EDITOR, THE WASHINGTON POST: Yes. So a lot of times when members of Congress leave Congress they speak more frankly. Barney Frank is someone who sort of spoke frankly even when he was in Congress. Well, I think he was expressing the view that he has, that others like Senator Al Franken have, that even though there's this movement and this message that Bernie Sanders is taking out there for progressives, and as you say, he's raising a ton of money, and Sanders is not going to wilt, but party insiders are still behind Clinton.

They think she's the more viable candidate in the general. And I think that if -- it's going to sting if she loses Wisconsin, but if this was a case where there was no rancor on the Republican side, I think this would hurt her more. But with what's going on the Republican side, Democrats can afford a little internal spite.

BLITZER: She's got that cushion with the super delegates.

SWERDLICK: Yes. Right. Right.

BLITZER: She's got more than 400 super delegates. He's only got about maybe 30, if that. So that's going to be her cushion.

NAVARRO: I don't know that you want to win with super delegates.

BLITZER: You know what?

NAVARRO: How un-Democratic does that sound?

BLITZER: You want to win. Just you want to win.

(LAUGHTER)

BLITZER: The key is to win. It's all part of the rules of the Democratic side.

HENDERSON: I don't criticize. Super delegates have done it. BLITZER: She'll also point out she's getting millions more votes than

him too in all these contests. All right. At least a million more or whatever.

Guys, stand by.

Coming up, very different story we're following right now. The former wife of the head of ISIS is breaking her silence in a new interview. We're going to have details on her brief marriage with the world's most wanted terrorist.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[17:51:27] BLITZER: Tonight the former wife of the head of ISIS is speaking out in a brand-new interview. And she could be leaving important clues for officials on the hunt for the world's most wanted terrorist.

Brian Todd is gathering details for us. Brian, what are you learning?

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, tonight analysts are telling us that this interview may give western intelligence agencies information about Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi's personal interactions with others. Now it may not give many clues about where Baghdadi is physically but we've gotten information on that from a top White House official.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TODD (voice-over): A new warning from top U.S. officials to the terrorist leader of ISIS. We'll find you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi's days are numbered.

TODD: President Obama's anti-ISIS envoy says Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is most likely hiding in the ISIS stronghold of Raqqa, Syria.

Could U.S. intelligence have just picked up crucial information on Baghdadi from his ex-wife?

Saja al-Dulaimi has just given a videotaped interview to a CNN Swedish affiliate Expressen.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (Through Translator): Why did you leave?

SAJA AL-DULAIMI, ABU BAKR AL-BAGHDADI'S EX-WIFE (Through Translator): I wasn't happy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (Through Translator): Did you love him?

AL-DULAIMI (Through Translator): No.

TODD: Al-Dulaimi says it was a traditional arranged marriage after her previous husband had died. She said she was married to Baghdadi for just a few months in 2008. At that time, Al-Dulaimi says he was a university lecturer who went by a name Hisham Mohammed. She says she didn't know he had terror connections at that time even though Baghdadi had been held by the Americans at Camp Bucca years earlier.

MIA BLOOM, "BOMBSHELL:WOMAN IN TERROR" AUTHOR: It is conceivable he was living a double life, and the fact that he didn't tell her anything and he was mysterious was because she was not privy to the real side of him. The mujahid side of him.

TODD: Saja Al-Dulaimi says she was shocked when she later found out her ex-husband is the most wanted man in the world.

Baghdadi is said to have sexually assaulted American captive Kayla Muller repeatedly, according to U.S. officials. But in her interview, al-Dulaimi describes him as a, quote, "family man."

AL-DULAIMI (Through Translator): He was the children's ideal father. The way he was with children, he was a teacher. You know how teachers are, he knew how to deal with children better than how to deal with the mother.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (Through Translator): Did you dare have discussions with him?

AL-DULAIMI (Through Translator): No.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (Through Translator): Why not?

AL-DULAIMI (Through Translator): He has a mysterious personality.

TODD: She says their relationship was shallow, that Baghdadi would boss her around. Al-Dulaimi says his other wife whom he'd married first resented her. After just three months of marriage, she says she left him but not before becoming pregnant with the terror leader's now 8-year-old daughter, Haggar (PH). CNN is not revealing her face. Analysts believe that she may be in danger.

BLOOM: I think that these children are very much in danger, if not just from agents of al-Baghdadi who might try to kidnap them, also people who are opposed to ISIS who may try to use them against Baghdadi.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

TODD: Saja al-Dulaimi's other children are from other husbands. As for the 8-year-old daughter she had with Baghdadi, al-Dulaimi says the terror leader did tell her he would take the child back if she remarried, which she has.

U.S. Intelligence officials are not commenting on any insights they may have gotten from this interview, but one counterterror official told me the fact that al-Baghdadi is a bad husband should come as no surprise -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Brian, if this interview might have put her and her children in danger, what would she have to gain from doing it?

TODD: Well, analyst Mia Bloom says she thinks this interview might have been a plea from Saja al-Dulaimi to live somewhere in the West. Al-Dulaimi did say in the interview she wants to move to move to get a better education for herself and her children.

[17:55:02] Right now she and her current husband reportedly live somewhere near the Syria-Lebanon border.

BLITZER: All right. Brian, thank you very much.

Coming up, the Donald Trump. He comes off the campaign trail, meets with the top leader of the Republican Party here in Washington. Our reporters are working their sources. Stand by for more on what took place.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Happening now, party time. Donald Trump makes a surprise visit to the Republican National Committee headquarters as his campaign deals with one dust-up after another. Now that Trump has ditched his party loyalty pledge, can he and the GOP leadership see eye-to-eye?

Plus, Trump's firestorm. Critics in both parties are pouncing on his stunning remark about abortion and his awkward reversal. Will Trump's Teflon hold or will this controversy stick?