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Presidential Firestorm; Trump's Foreign Policy; Poll: Clinton Leads Sanders by 12 Points in New York; Trump Meets with Advisors on Provocative Security Views; Poll: Clinton Leads Sanders by 12 Points in New York; State Trooper Shot During Bus Station Gunfight. Aired 6- 7p 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.


[18:00:01]

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: 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?

And piling on. John Kasich seizes on Trump's newest stumbles, declaring the front-runner is not prepared to be president of the United States. Is this a new opening for Trump's rivals to gain momentum?

We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Tonight, Donald Trump has been working in the shadow of the White House to keep his presidential campaign on track to the nomination. We're told the GOP front-runner discussed delegates and convention rules during his meeting at the RNC headquarters. Afterwards, Trump tweeted that he's looking forward to bringing the Republican Party together.

Trump also met today with his national security team, this as critics are sounding more worried than ever about Trump's foreign and domestic policies. His controversial comments on abortion helping to fuel the outrage. Tonight, Trump's GOP rival John Kasich says the abortion blunder is more evidence that Trump is not prepared to be president. Kasich says you can't make wild suggestions as commander in chief, and he also says you don't get do-overs.

We're going to have our correspondents, analysts and newsmakers. They are standing by to cover all the news that is breaking right now.

But, up first, let's go to our senior White House correspondent, Jim Acosta. He's in the next primary battleground state of Wisconsin. He has the latest -- Jim.

JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, with the Wisconsin primary just days away, Donald Trump was in Washington. He just wrapped up a meeting with RNC chairman Reince Priebus. And, meanwhile, his rivals are slamming his string of potentially damaging gaffes on abortion and national security. For Ted Cruz and John Kasich, the hope is that this rough week for Trump marks a turning point in this campaign.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ACOSTA (voice-over): Even with his campaign in turmoil, Donald Trump was all smiles. Crisscrossing Washington in his motorcade, Trump sat down with top RNC officials behind closed doors, later vowing in a tweet that he will bring the party together, even as John Kasich and Ted Cruz furiously tried to block his road to the White House.

GOV. JOHN KASICH (R-OH), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: 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.

ACOSTA: Kasich and Cruz are now tag-teaming Trump over his gaffe that women should be punished if they undergo an illegal apportion, a position he abandoned hours later.

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC: 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.

ACOSTA: On a popular conservative radio show, Cruz attacked Trump as uninformed.

SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think it was just the latest confirmation that Donald has not thought seriously about the issues facing the country and he's willing to say just about anything to try to get elected.

ACOSTA: And while team Trump was brushing off the abortion comments as merely a slip-up...

KATRINA PIERSON, TRUMP CAMPAIGN SPOKESPERSON: There was a misspeak here and you have a presidential candidate that clarified the record. Not once, but twice.

KASICH: It takes restraint, it takes judgment, it takes experience, not wild-eyed suggestions.

ACOSTA: Kasich blasted Trump for another jaw-dropping comment, that he would not rule out using nuclear weapons in Europe.

TRUMP: I would never take any of my cards off the table.

KASICH: It is not the way that a leader of the free world or 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.

ACOSTA: Looking to push back on that notion, the Trump campaign confirmed the real estate tycoon met with his recently announced foreign policy team. GOV. SCOTT WALKER (R), WISCONSIN: And that's why I'm supporting Ted

Cruz for president.

ACOSTA: Back in Wisconsin, the next contest on the calendar, Cruz appears to be widening his lead and running a new ad featuring the state's governor, Scott Walker.

Still fuming over his war of the wives with Trump, Cruz cracked a joke on "Jimmy Kimmel" that revealed the Texas senator is not quite ready to forgive and forget.

CRUZ: And 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 would push.

(LAUGHTER)

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ACOSTA: Now, as for that meeting with Trump at the RNC, a party spokesperson called it productive. They talked about the state of the race and the upcoming convention, but no word on whether that GOP loyalty pledge will somehow make a comeback.

If you listen to Kasich, it doesn't sound likely. But once again, he predicted this race is headed for a contested convention. And, Wolf, as for those comments from John Kasich today that Donald Trump is not prepared to be president of the United States, that video has already been turned into a Web video for the Kasich campaign.

[18:05:00]

It does not sound like he's backing away from those comments at all. He may not clinch the nomination. He may not get those nomination, but those words will probably carry a lot of weight in the Republican Party in the days ahead, Wolf.

BLITZER: I suspect you're absolutely right. Jim Acosta, thank you.

Donald Trump isn't the only opponent of John Kasich who is getting slammed by the Ohio governor. Kasich is also sharply rejecting the idea that Cruz might have a chance of winning the Republican nomination outright without a contested convention.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KASICH: Senator Cruz needs almost 90 percent of the delegates going forward to win the required number and avoid a convention.

That -- there's a greater chance that you will fly out of this building and land in Midtown than there is -- well, you're in Midtown -- but to fly up to where the ball is that they will dropping at the end of the year than it is for Ted Cruz to have enough delegates to go to a convention.

(END VIDEO CLIP) BLITZER: Let's bring in CNN's Sunlen Serfaty. She is covering the Cruz campaign for us. She's in Wisconsin tonight

Sunlen, any response from the Cruz camp to what Governor Kasich just said?

SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, the Cruz campaign, Wolf, is largely brushing Kasich's comments aside.

A Cruz aide quipping back to me. When I asked them about this today, they said we have been tracking our path to achieving 1,237 much longer than John Kasich has. You know, the strategy for so long with the Cruz campaign has really been to treat John Kasich as a spoiler. They called him that outright, and really try to treat this more as a two-man race and not engage with John Kasich.

We rarely see Senator Cruz take Kasich on. But there are -- seeing some signs of that strategy starting to show, much to do likely because Kasich has been targeting, it seems, Senator Cruz much more. Today in a radio interview, Senator Cruz attempted to marginalize John Kasich, really trying to undercut one of his core campaign talking points, Senator Cruz saying that this hypothetical matchup potentially in a general election with Hillary Clinton where Kasich fares very well, Cruz quipping that nobody -- that's because nobody knows anything about them.

So, some sharper rhetoric than we have heard from Senator Cruz in the past -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, Sunlen, thank you, Sunlen Serfaty in Milwaukee for us tonight.

Joining us now, Donald Trump supporter Scottie Nell Hughes. She is with the USA Radio Networks.

Scottie, thanks very much for joining us.

I know you are well plugged in to the Trump campaign. What is your understanding? What happened at that meeting that Donald Trump had today with RNC chairman Reince Priebus?

SCOTTIE NELL HUGHES, USA RADIO NETWORKS: It was a very productive day in Washington, D.C., for Mr. Trump.

And in that meeting, they did discuss delegates, and from what I'm being told, the same thing that's being released to the public. But I think one point that people are missing is that this week the RNC put out a Web site called ConventionFacts.GOP. And it's a very interesting Web site that sits there and explains the process of how delegates are awarded, votes are awarded, and absolutely opens up the process to the people so there's no question.

And they are encouraging all of the Republicans to go and read the rules and read the facts. Don't sit here and go with the rumors that are being circulated about a brokered convention and the rules that go along with it. Go and read actually what the GOP has right now in their rules themselves.

I think that is why Mr. Trump met with the chairman today, so they could actually get some of the ground rules and kind of reestablish what they consider to be the loyalty to the GOP. You saw the confidence in Mr. Trump. It wasn't like this was something hidden. This meeting was well-pronounced.

Mr. Trump checked in at the RNC, at the GOP on his Facebook status. Made sure he posted twice that he was there. Also posted on his Twitter account. He wants the public to know he wants to work with the RNC, that he wants to unify with Republicans, that he wants to unify this party.

That is much different than the message that we're hearing out of the Kasich and Cruz campaigns that they are continuing to try to splinter and try to divide this party up, so that we would have a brokered convention. And as Kasich points out, the only chance that Senator Cruz and Kasich have of receiving this nomination is to almost guarantee we have this brokered convention and continue the chaos.

BLITZER: But did they discuss, Donald Trump, Reince Priebus, the issue of a contested convention? There will be a contested convention if Donald Trump, for example, doesn't reach that magic number of 1,237, the number of delegates on the first round of balloting that you need to be guaranteed. That's the majority. The rule right now is you need a majority, not a plurality.

HUGHES: No. And I don't necessarily know what officially was discussed in there. But I imagine that was probably on their agenda.

However, the Trump folks I have talked to today are still very, very confident when you look at some of the numbers. Now, Wisconsin, now, in your story, you absolutely pointed out that the lead is widening. I don't necessarily agree with that. The latest PPP poll actually has Trump only below actually Cruz by one point, actually.

And a new (INAUDIBLE) poll came out that actually has Trump above and Kasich actually beating Cruz. So, right now, the polls are all over the place. And in Wisconsin, you have to remember that it's not a winner-take-all state. It's a winner-take-all district, with at-large delegates being awarded to the overall winner.

And go with -- the biggest point of why the state is so important is, we're going into the Yankee primaries after that. But that's right there in Mr. Trump's backyard. And all of the polls, especially here in New York, with Trump having a 36-point lead over Ted Cruz, still are in favor.

[18:10:15]

And so, therefore, you can see why the optimism from the Trump campaign that they are still going to reach that magic number of 1,237 and hopefully start unifying this party, which has been the message of Mr. Trump all day today.

BLITZER: We also know that Donald Trump met today with members of his newly established national security foreign policy team. Do you know who was there, how many advisers showed up to brief the Republican presidential front-runner on national security?

HUGHES: This is where Mr. Trump thrives.

And so he did make sure that while he as in town, there were 11 foreign policy leaders that were in that room today. Names have not been released. But I will tell you I think people have underreported -- and maybe that's part of the Trump campaign, that's a part of their strategy -- of who all is actually advising Mr. Trump when it comes to foreign policy.

And I think that's the thing. When you look at the strategy of the Trump campaign from the very beginning has not been to inundate all the information, rather to then be in control of releasing the information and be in control of the message, as opposed to the Kasich and Cruz campaign that whenever they're on TV, it's always because they are speaking disparagingly and going negative against Mr. Trump.

You notice we never find sound bites from either one of them based on their own policy or based on an issue that they brought to the public's attention. It's always in a reflection based on something that Mr. Trump has said or done or a policy that he has.

And that right there shows the divide, but also the negativity that is coming out of the other two campaigns. And I think Mr. Trump is trying his best now. If you want to talk about a switch, we're now going to try to start this unification process hopefully going into next week.

BLITZER: He's been very, very severely criticized on national security, Scottie, for what he told Anderson Cooper at the CNN town hall, that he'd be open to Japan and South Korea getting a nuclear arsenal to deal directly with the North Korean nuclear threat. That goes against the grain of nuclear nonproliferation that we have heard since the end of World War II.

HUGHES: No, you're right on that one.

But he also talked about he thought it was time for other countries to start stepping up in international policies. Why is it that America continues to have to police the world? It's not like we don't have a $19 trillion budget here at home that we have to deal with, and a deficit we have to deal with here at home.

I think Anderson Cooper's town hall was fantastic, but it also pointed out -- and this is a big difference between Senator Cruz and Donald Trump where Senator Cruz continues to have this neocon attitude that we need to be the police keepers for the world. All Mr. Trump is doing, not saying pulling out of NATO.

He just wants to renegotiate it. Right now, we have 73 percent of the NATO budget on the shoulders of the taxpayers of the American people. That is not right. We need to sit here and make these other countries, who have probably a lot better shape financially than we are, to step up to the plate and start putting into their own protection and their own security, as much as the United States is.

BLITZER: I don't know about the 73 percent figure, but we will discuss that in a moment.

Let's take a quick break.

More criticism against Donald Trump coming in from his Republican presidential rivals, John Kasich and Ted Cruz.

Much more right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[18:17:26]

BLITZER: Donald Trump, he was over at RNC, Republican National Committee, headquarters here in Washington today as he tries to move beyond some of the new controversies.

We're back with Trump supporter Scottie Nell Hughes.

Scottie, we're talking about U.S. expenditures for NATO. We just did a quick check. The U.S. does spend the most for NATO defense. The U.S. is the main contributor at 22 percent. Germany is second, 14.5 percent, France third, 11 percent, U.K. 10.5 percent. All the other countries -- there are 28 members of NATO. They spend a lot less.

But it's nowhere near -- clearly, the overall U.S. defense expenditures worldwide is a much more enormous number. But specifically for NATO, the U.S. devotes 22 percent. What Trump wants to do is reduce that.

(CROSSTALK)

BLITZER: All right, let's move on and talk a little bit about Governor Kasich. All of a sudden today, he came out swinging at Donald Trump, very uncharacteristically. I want you to listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KASICH: 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: I guess it's fair to say he was motivated to do that at least in part by the blunder, Donald Trump's mistake he made yesterday, his comments to Chris Matthews about punishing women who have abortions if abortions were to become illegal here in the United States. Then he later -- he had a reversal on that and tried to fix it. That was a major mistake, wasn't it?

HUGHES: Well, that's a clarification.

But I would say congratulations to Kasich. This is the first, I think, press conference he got all the media to kind of cover. But it showed -- I think it speaks credence to the fact that it's about a press conference about Donald Trump.

That never speaks well. And it goes to the whole idea if all these folks who go negative on Mr. Trump would spend the time and the dollars that they have spent to go negative on him and put that money back into why they are positive, why they are positive for the United States, they might be doing better in the polls and the delegate counts.

This is not new for me for Governor Kasich. I think this is how I remember him being at the very beginning, when we had 17 people on that debate stage. And he was kind of like the little kid at the end of the stage like huffing and puffing back and forth asking for time.

[18:20:08]

This is the Kasich that I knew from the very beginning. He's shown to be the adult in the room over the past few weeks. But this is exactly who I think he is. Listen, he's a great, great governor. He was a very good conservative when he was actually a congressman.

But I think when you have the ghost of voting for NAFTA, when you have the ghost of being basically pro-Common Core and pro-Obamacare and instating a version of Medicaid, upping Medicaid and Medicare within your own state, those ghosts right there are hard to forget by the Republican voters. He can say and hold all the press conferences he wants. Unfortunately, his voting record and his governing record is always going to haunt him.

BLITZER: Have you ever seen -- and I was trying to think about this -- such a quick 180-degree reversal by Donald Trump on an issue as we saw yesterday on this issue of abortion?

HUGHES: I think it was more of a clarification.

(CROSSTALK)

BLITZER: No, it was a real reversal.

HUGHES: Let's talk about -- never -- I think the one lesson Mr. Trump learned yesterday is never sit there and answer hypothetical questions that aren't necessarily true or could ever become true, or you will get trapped. And the one thing that we have learned is that the liberal mainstream

media that have been anti-Republican and anti-conservatives for so long use the issue of the pro-life/pro-choice abortion issue to trap Republicans, because there's usually a way there's no way to win.

And it's not just good enough for them to say that I'm pro-life, as Mr. Trump has said, with exceptions. They want details. And in this case, Chris Matthews was setting him up with details and once again sitting there and being able to give a sound bite that could be taken out and not put in context.

BLITZER: But, Scottie, you got to admit, he's done a million interviews, Donald Trump. He knows what he's doing when he goes into a one-hour session like this with Chris Matthews or anyone else. He's going to be asked a lot of questions and he's not going to be able to do a do-over, if you will, is what John Kasich was talking about.

HUGHES: Right, but, at the same time, you have to also realize the context of it.

The one thing about Mr. Trump is that I think he realized that this is not an issue that the executive branch necessarily handles. If Roe vs. Wade is supposed to be reversed, that's a product of the judicial branch. The only idea that -- the only influence that the executive branch can have over it is nominating a pro-life judge, which is something Mr. Trump has said over and over and over again.

But other than that, there's a reason why we have the separation of branches. And I think Mr. Trump respects that. I think if Chris Matthews would have focused on issues that the executive branch actually did control and didn't put him up for these hypothetical gotcha questions, it would have been much more successful and we would not have been talking about it right now.

BLITZER: But, Scottie, this is a very important issue, abortion rights for women. Whether you are support abortion rights for women or you're opposed to abortion rights for women, this is a critically important issue.

HUGHES: And he said time and time and has always been for -- during this campaign season, since he started, since 2000, he's evolved into being extremely pro-life.

And as he's been running for president, he has said he will only nominate pro-life judges. What's more do you need to know from a president? He is pro-life. He believes life begins at conception and believes in preserving the life of the baby, except in obviously circumstances that are beyond their control that we all know about.

So, yes, it's a very important issue. But what more do you need to know about Mr. Trump than that he is pro-life? That's the most important figure right there and he's only going to nominate pro-life judges.

BLITZER: You want to run -- you want to be president of the United States, you got to answer a lot of questions, as you well know, Scottie.

HUGHES: But not hypothetical ones, not hypothetical questions.

BLITZER: You can dodge the question and you can say I don't want to get into it and you can move on, but he answered the question. That was his decision that he made. And, clearly, he regretted it and he reversed it a couple of hours later. But that's what happens, yes.

HUGHES: And he misstepped. And he misstepped.

And you know what? And I agree that he probably did. He misspoke and he definitely did not say it the right way that he probably wanted. But you got to give him credit, Wolf. Within a few hours, within the hour, he had the clarification out there.

BLITZER: All right. Scottie, thanks very much for joining us.

HUGHES: Thank you.

BLITZER: Scottie Hughes joining us. She's a supporter, clearly, of Donald Trump.

Just ahead, we're working our sources and we're learning more about Donald Trump's meeting today with the Republican Party officials. What really happened behind those closed doors?

And as the U.S. hosts a major nuclear summit here in Washington, we will take a closer look at Donald Trump's views on nuclear weapons and how they clash with traditional U.S. policy.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[18:28:51]

BLITZER: Donald Trump trying to get into some sort of presidential mode while he's been here in Washington today. He sat down with members of his new national security team after taking a series of provocative positions on national security and foreign policy.

Let's bring in our Pentagon correspondent, Barbara Starr.

Barbara, Donald Trump is sharply at odds with current U.S. policy in several areas.

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: He is, Wolf.

And it goes beyond that even. We have talked to a number of analysts today. Some of Donald Trump's ideas have been out there in one form or another. But the question tonight is, how far do they run counter to decades of Republican and Democratic foreign policy and how much would the U.S. military really support these ideas?

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Two of our closest allies STARR (voice-over): President Obama with Japanese and South Korean

leaders urging a unified front against nuclear North Korea.

OBAMA: We recognize that our security is linked, that we have to work together to meet this challenge.

STARR: Donald Trump has a different idea.

TRUMP: At some point, we have to say, you know what? We're better off if Japan protects itself against this maniac in North Korea.

STARR: Trump says Japan and South Korea should pay the U.S. for security protection or consider building their own nuclear weapons, which would be a major policy reversal for the U.S.

[18:30:11] MICHAEL O'HANLON, BROOKINGS INSTITUTION: Where Trump's comments are most potentially dangerous is, again, getting away from the assumption that, once the genie starts to leak out of the bottle again on nuclear proliferation, we could control where it goes.

STARR: Trump also raising another potential nuclear scenario. He says he wouldn't take nuclear weapons against ISIS off the table.

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Would there be a time when it could be used? Possibly.

STARR: The deputy commander fighting ISIS doesn't think nuclear weapons are a good idea.

MAJ. GEN. DOUG CHALMERS, DEPUTY COMMANDER, COMBINED JOINT TASK FORCE, OPERATION INHERENT RESOLVE: No, that's a conversation up front I've never heard discussed amongst any of our coalition members at any stage.

STARR: Also raising eyebrows, Trump's belief troops are afraid of being held accountable under the international rules governing humanitarian treatment of the enemy in time of war, which enemies like ISIS don't obey.

TRUMP: The problem is, you know, we have the Geneva Convention. So we have all sorts of rules and regulations. Our soldiers are afraid to fight. They don't want to go to jail, because they're killing the enemy. They were too tough. So we have all sorts of, really, restrictions and regulations. They have none.

STARR: It's not a new argument, but commanders say there is no direct evidence of that.

CHALMERS: I've never heard of soldiers afraid to fight because of Geneva Convention in that regard. We regard it very much as a sense of basic principles which guide our behavior in battle and to live within those rules, I think, is good for both our soldiers and, indeed, the very population that we fight on behalf of.

STARR: And another military challenge from the top American officer to Trump's view that NATO is obsolete. GEN. JOSEPH DUNFORD, JOINT CHIEFS CHAIRMAN: I think that question

probably is a question that might have been asked 15 years ago, but it's hard to think about asking that question today when you look at the challenges in Europe.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

STARR: The Pentagon has been trying to stay out of the political campaign, but the questions keep coming. They get tougher for them to sit on the sidelines -- Wolf.

BLITZER: I anticipate the questions are going to intensify in the coming weeks and months.

All right, Barbara, thanks very much.

Let's bring in our CNN politics executive editor Mark Preston; CNN senior political reporter Nia-Malika Henderson; our CNN Politics senior digital correspondent, Chris Moody; and our senior legal analyst, Jeffrey Toobin. Guys, thanks very much for joining us.

Mark, as you know, Donald Trump says the U.S. might be better off if South Korea and Japan did get a nuclear capability to deal directly with the North Korean nuclear threat. How do you think this will impact the vote out there starting next Tuesday in Wisconsin?

MARK PRESTON, CNN POLITICS EXECUTIVE EDITOR: Right. Well, let's go back about 30 days, and we'd asked this question on a CNN poll. We said, you know, who would be most qualified to be commander in chief, which of course, would be in charge of our armed forces, would have to deal with foreign policy. Donald Trump at the time got 48 percent support from Republican voters at that time. Second place, Ted Cruz at 17 percent. So right now Republican voters, or at least 30 days ago, they had confidence in him.

However, when you have John Kasich out here today, making the case that he is not somebody who should be able to put his finger on the button, that could be problematic.

Here's the thing about Donald Trump. His greatest asset up to this point, certainly with primary voters, has been his ability or his willingness to speak his mind. That could become one of his greatest liabilities heading into the general.

BLITZER: And Nia, as you know, he also said, Donald Trump, he didn't rule out the possibility of using tactical nuclear weapons in Europe if necessary. Maybe to fight ISIS or whatever. That prompted the Ohio governor, John Kasich, today to really slam him, saying he would not have confidence with his finger, with Trump's finger on the nuclear button as commander in chief. He really came out swinging.

NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: He did. He had the sort of top five list of reasons why Donald Trump shouldn't be president.

I think you have Kasich here really trying to position himself as the kind of Republican candidate that the Republican establishment has always known and loved. Right? I mean, he is a hawk. He favors a no-fly zone in Syria. He wants troops on the ground, as well. So he's trying to, I think, really carve out a line and a path in this -- in this campaign, differentiating himself from Donald Trump, differentiating himself from Ted Cruz, who is much more libertarian than John Kasich. And so we'll see if this works.

So far it hasn't worked him in terms of racking up wins and racking up delegates. But that's the path he's trying to carve out and also saying to the Republican establishment, "I'm the one who most likely can beat Hillary Clinton in the general election."

BLITZER: And Jeffrey, you're our legal analyst. Let's talk about international law, the Geneva Conventions regarding warfare. Trump said some changes, some adjustments need to be made at the Geneva Conventions, because soldiers right now, they're afraid to fight. When you heard that, what was your reaction?

TRUMP: Well, the Geneva Conventions are a law, a treaty that the United States signed, and the United States Senate ratified. So if there were to be any changes under our obligations under the Geneva Conventions, they would have to be negotiated and passed by the Senate.

So you know, we can have a debate about whether the Geneva Conventions can be changed, but President Trump, like any president, is not allowed to do it unilaterally.

[18:35:26] Plus, the military has always been a very strong supporter of the Geneva Conventions. They believe it's the most effective way to fight a war, and it also protects our soldiers from other countries that honor the conventions, as well.

BLITZER: I want to talk about the meeting -- the meeting that we learned about today. And I want you and Chris to weigh in on this, the RNC meeting, Reince Priebus meeting with Donald Trump in Washington.

First of all, what are you hearing? What happened?

PRESTON: Right. So I just spoke to somebody who's very familiar with the conversation that took place today. A couple things. Once is this meeting had actually been on the books for several days.

BLITZER: It had been.

PRESTON: It had been on the books for several days for a couple reasons. One, the Secret Service has to go in and have to secure the building. So this wasn't just a drop-by by Donald Trump.

I heard the meeting, you know, was very cordial. And what we've heard so far that they talked about delegate process. They didn't go too far into the details, is my understanding. But they did talk about that, and they talked about the need for unity coming out of Cleveland. We've spent a lot of time at this table, talking about how the Republican Party is fractured and how are they going to deal with it in Cleveland. Apparently, that was front and center in this meeting today. Apparently, all went well. And we saw Donald Trump say afterwards, "Had a great meeting with Reince Priebus. Really liked the staff over there." It was pretty interesting.

BLITZER: Tweeted something along those lines, as well.

Chris, what about the whole issue of these three remaining Republican presidential candidates backing away from their earlier pledge that they would work for, they would support whoever the Republican nominee is?

CHRIS MOODY, CNN POLITICS SENIOR DIGITAL CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, CNN reporters have been working sources about this meeting, like Mark Preston, like myself, and we haven't seen any evidence of that. A lot of people inside...

BLITZER: It came up during the meeting?

MOODY: That it came up. But the RNC has been pretty tight-lipped about what was spoken in that meeting.

But the fact that we're really just asking the question shows how toxic this presidential race has become, especially when it comes to how the other candidates have treated Donald Trump, saying that, you know, this movement that was percolating in the conservative movement called "never Trump." That people would never vote for Trump, even if he's the Republican nominee. Now building up into the nomination process. The nominees are saying it. That's going to be a problem for the RNC that they will have to deal with.

Imagine, if you will, they nominate Donald Trump, and top Republicans will not come out in favor of the nominee. That's a problem for the RNC. And if they didn't deal with it today in a meeting, they're going to deal with it later if there's a problem.

BLITZER: Presumably, they may want to boycott the Republican convention if -- some of these guys, if they're going to nominate Donald Trump to be their -- their candidate.

HENDERSON: Yes, I mean, there are two wings of the Republican Party at least. I mean, there's the Trump wing and the anti-Trump wing. Trump came out today and said, "Listen, the party is going to unite. It will happen." It seems to be more of a prayer and a wish and a hope than anything based in what is actually happening right now and the toxicity that's been building up over these last many months, with Trump forging ahead, close to, you know, the majority of the delegates. Might not make 1,237.

But seeming united party is very hard. And if Trump ends up not being the nominee, somebody else is able to come in there, it all -- even if he doesn't run as a third party, you wonder where this movement he's built, where those supporters go.

BLITZER: Could be a lot of angry Trump supporters there. We'll see where they wind up. All right, guys. Stand by. There's much more coming up. We'll also

take a look at what's going on in the Democratic race for the White House. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[18:43:19] BLITZER: We're back with our political team. The Democrats battle for one of the biggest primary prizes coming up. We're talking about New York state. The new poll there shows Hillary Clinton has a 12-point lead right now over Bernie Sanders.

Our senior political correspondent, Brianna Keilar, is joining us now live with more. What else are you learning, Brianna?

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi, there, Wolf.

Bernie Sanders getting started in the Bronx here in just a little bit. Hillary Clinton was a little farther outside of New York City here in Westchester County today as he tries to stop Bernie Sanders from gaining momentum in the Empire State.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KEILAR (voice-over): Hillary Clinton campaigning for the second straight day in her adopted home state, where a group of students interrupted her rally.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She wins, we lose!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She wins, we lose!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She wins, we lose!

HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Oh, I know the Bernie people came to say that. We're very sorry you're leaving.

I have earned 9 million votes in this election already. I have 1 million more votes than Donald Trump. And I have 2.5 million more votes than Bernie Sanders.

KEILAR: Clinton is fighting on two fronts, turning to the general election even as Bernie Sanders challenges her in Wisconsin which holds its primary on Tuesday.

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

KEILAR: Her campaign releasing a new video.

CLINTON: What Donald Trump said today was outrageous and dangerous.

KEILAR: As Sanders also takes aim.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (D-VT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: To punish a woman for having an abortion is beyond comprehension. I don't know what world this person lives in. KEILAR: But Clinton is trying to cast Sanders as out of touch with

the concerns of women.

[18:45:03] CLINTON: Senator Sanders agreed that Donald Trump's comments were shameful, but then he said they were a distraction from, and I quote, "a serious discussion about the serious issues facing America."

(BOOS)

To me this is a serious issue.

KEILAR: The Vermont senator is trying to take on Clinton in New York, where Democrats vote in a few weeks. At stake, a whopping 247 delegates. A new Quinnipiac University poll shows Clinton with a 12- point lead here, but Sanders is promising a challenge, buoyed by a potentially strong showing in Wisconsin next week and union support that he has been courting.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We call that a steel worker small.

KEILAR: As he did today in Pittsburgh.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Not only did I oppose NAFTA, I stood on picket lines with workers in opposition to this disastrous trade agreement. Secretary Clinton supported NAFTA.

WILLIAM JEFFERSON CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT: I thank you for your votes for her.

KEILAR: Bill Clinton tried shore up his wife's backing from labor visited with four different union groups in New York City today.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

KEILAR: Bernie Sanders is trailing Clinton when it comes to delegates, but not when it comes to money, Wolf. He has raised $40 million this month, according to his campaign. They are trying to best his $43 million haul from last month when he outperformed Hillary Clinton by several million dollars.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Yes, he's got a ton of money he's raising. A lot of it in small contributions.

All right. Brianna, thanks very much.

Jeffrey, you're in New York right now. What does it look like from your vantage point? You're in New York City. Not in upstate New York.

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Well, you know, it's weird because there are two, sort of, New York candidates running against each other. Hillary Clinton, of course, was the senator here, even though she hasn't lived here very long, and Bernie Sanders is from Brooklyn. Hillary Clinton is very popular in this state. I'm not surprised to see her 12 points ahead in this poll. But Sanders has closed the gap in many states, and this could be a close one as well.

BLITZER: You agree, Nia? You think this could be close in New York? She's ahead now with 12 points.

NIA MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER: Yes, she's ahead by 12. But, listen, I mean, if you look at what Bernie Sanders was able to do in Vermont. He blew her out there.

BLITZER: That's his home state.

HENDERSON: That's his home state. So much so that she didn't even compete there. Here you have Bernie Sanders going in there and looking strong. I mean, 12 points isn't a lot of distance. He's got weeks to kind of catch up. Three weeks or so before this primary comes.

She's, of course, ahead among black Democrats. She's doing well among women. I think she's 20 points ahead. She's tight among white voters. She's looking pretty good with male voters as well. It's essentially tied.

So, that looks good for her. But again, I mean, Sanders is going to give her a fight.

BLITZER: It's April 19th, the New York primary. But this Tuesday is Wisconsin. Bernie Sanders got some momentum going. He's won most of the most recent contests. If he wins in Wisconsin, he'll get some more momentum.

CHRIS MOODY, CNN POLITICS SENIOR DIGITAL CORRESPONDENT: He certainly will. He'll get more momentum. He'll get more money. But at this point in the race, it's a game of inches. By that a game of delegates, not so much who wins or who loses a state. That's was a lot more important back when we were back in Iowa and New Hampshire to really get that momentum going.

But looking at the map, Hillary Clinton really only needs to keep Bernie Sanders from getting about just over 60 percent in each state in order to rack up the delegates he needs. That -- and she knows that, and that allows her to walk and chew gum at the same time, campaign a little in New York, campaign in Wisconsin and just hold Bernie Sanders back under that threshold. While as the challenge for Bernie Sanders is that he has to get to that threshold and really not only win but dominate.

BLITZER: And he's got to start tearing away some of those so-called superdelegates that she has. She has a tremendous advantage. She has a real significant advantage over him on those superdelegates. Is it realistic to think he can pull some of them away?

MARK PRESTON, CNN POLITICS EXECUTIVE EDITOR: I mean, he would have to start winning by very large margins, (INAUDIBLE) margins. What we saw Barack Obama do back in 2008. You know, certainly, first couple of months where we saw the Hillary Clinton superdelegates peel off.

But I would tell you, one of the big stories that will come out this election on the Democratic side will be, should superdelegates be done away with. Barack Obama tried to do it. The DNC members, who have been ensconced in there for many, many years, fought back against it. Hillary Clinton fought back against it, but I guarantee you that will be on the table after --

BLITZER: Yes, these are party leaders and elected officials, and they want that power.

PRESTON: Right.

BLITZER: It's going to be hard --

MOODY: Although they never turned over an election to someone who didn't have a majority.

BLITZER: Yes. Well, we'll see what happens.

All right, guys. Thanks very much.

Just ahead, we're also getting new details right now about a shooting at a bus station. We'll update you on the casualties.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[18:54:00] BLITZER: We're following breaking news and a frightening situation for travelers in Virginia's capital city. One man is dead and a state trooper is fighting for his life after a shooting at a Richmond bus station.

CNN's Brian Todd is monitoring the situation for us.

Brian, what happened?

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, from every indication we're getting tonight, this officer was targeted by the shooter. Virginia state police say at about 2:45 p.m. Eastern Time this afternoon, a state trooper encountered an individual just inside the Richmond Greyhound bus station.

We're going to show you a closer look at that. That station is located on North Boulevard in downtown Richmond, just across from a Minor League Baseball stadium called the Diamond. The police say the trooper was speaking to the individual, again, inside the bus station right here when the suspect pulled out the gun and shot the trooper.

Now, at that point, two other state troopers nearby opened fire on the suspect. The male shooter is dead. Two civilians nearby were also shot. They were transported to the Virginia Commonwealth University Medical Center for treatment. Police say they've got non-life- threatening gunshot wounds.

[18:55:01] But the state trooper who was shot, according to police, is at that same hospital and he does have life-threatening injuries. He's fighting for his life at this hour.

State police say they are trying to reach that officer's family -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Has anyone been identified, Brian?

TODD: At the moment, neither the shooter, Wolf, nor the three victims have been publicly identified. Police say the deceased suspect is a male. State police say this is an active investigation. This Greyhound bus station tonight, Wolf, remains closed at the moment. We're expecting a news conference pretty shortly by Virginia state police. Hopefully, we'll get an update then.

BLITZER: All right. Brian, thanks very much.

I want to switch gears dramatically right now and take a closer look back at a decade of change in America. Tonight, CNN debuts its original series "The Eighties." The premiere episode looks at television of the era and the rise of cable, including this network.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TOM BROKAW, NBC NEWS: A special segment tonight. The network news, the first in a two-part series on the profound changes taking place in television news, changes being brought about business, competition, and technology.

JOHN HEILEMANN, MANAGING EDITOR, BLOOMBERG NEWS: There are a variety of reasons why people who worked at the broadcast networks were freaked out in the 1980s. One of them was CNN and the rise of cable. Another was being taken over by foreign entities in corporate America.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: We're joined now by our CNN media analyst Bill Carter who remembers the decade well as do I.

Bill, television news really changed dramatically in the 80s, specifically the creation of CNN on June 1st, 1980.

BILL CARTER, CNN MEDIA ANALYST: Well, of course, because all of a sudden, you could get news on the television around the clock. That was a radical change.

The three networks had totally dominated the news on television for 30 years, 30-plus years. Now, all of a sudden, there was a competitor that could do it all the time, and that made them sort of obsolete in terms of breaking news at least.

BLITZER: I always like to say that Ted Turner, our founder, who created CNN created the concept of 24/7 cable news. He literally changed the world by doing so. Look at how many 24/7 cable networks there are here in the United States and indeed around the world right now. He had that vision and he did it.

But it wasn't just in the news period. The 80s was a decade when cable television generally expanded so dramatically.

CARTER: Well, it made people have choice. They didn't have choice before. There was very limited options.

And, all of a sudden, you had things like ESPN and MTV. And people were saying, you know, I'm willing to look -- I'm willing to pay money to get more choice. That was really the crucial change. They're willing to say, cable is going to charge me money, but I want that. I'm willing to pay. And once that happened, that opened up the floodgates for all kinds of change.

And, look, it's never stopped. It was an explosive change then. The pace has only picked up from there.

BLITZER: And I like to think all of that had an impact in terms of what was going on in the world throughout the '80s. Remember, this is a decade when we saw the end -- the beginning of the collapse of the Soviet Union, the end of the Cold War. And I'd like to think that the news business, the creation of cable news, CNN and others brought the world a little bit closer together.

CARTER: Well, there is no doubt about that because it was an avenue of opportunity for people. They could see what was happening immediately, as it was happening all over the world. You know, television works best when it puts you in the historical moment like the Kennedy assassination, for example. But now, it is happening routinely. And the Russians who were so good at tamping down dissent, it became much harder in the Soviet countries to prevent people from seeing what was going in the rest of the world.

BLITZER: I remember that decade and you do well. And I remember how, whenever I would travel around the world in those days, people would say, "I saw it live on CNN" and that had a huge, huge impact.

All right, Bill. Thank you very much. Bill Carter helping us appreciate the 80s.

This note to our viewers: Don't miss the premiere on the new CNN original series "The Eighties." It begins tonight 9:00 p.m. Eastern, only here on CNN.

By the way, you want to check out what I looked like in the 1980s? Here's a little picture. Very pensive, if you will. I was pondering whether to watch "MASH" or "Miami Vice". That's me in the 1980s.

Finally, we want to welcome the newest member of our extended SITUATION ROOM family. Brody Davis Shenkman made his big entrance last night, measuring get this 22 inches and weighing at eight pounds, six ounces. His dad, CNN legal counsel Drew Shenkman tells us Baby Brody and Mom Patty, they are doing just great.

Congratulations to the parents and the whole family. Brody, welcome. Welcome, welcome.

Thanks very much for joining us. Remember, you can always follow us on Twitter. Please tweet me @wolfblitzer. You can always tweet the show @CNNSitroom.

We'll see you here tomorrow in THE SITUATION ROOM. Until then, thanks very much for watching. I'm Wolf Blitzer in Washington.

"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.