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Trump Meeting With RNC About Unity; Will GOP United Behind Trump; RNC Meeting Follows Tough Period For Trump; War Against ISIS; Democrats Preparing For New York Primary Battle; Clinton Sick Of Sanders Campaign Lying; Sanders States Clinton Takes Money From Fossil Fuel Industry; Clinton Denies Taking Fossil Fuel Industry Money; New York Primary Battle; Nuclear Summit. Aired 1-1:30p ET
Aired April 1, 2016 - 13:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ASHLEIGH BANFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Have a wonderful weekend. Stay tuned. My colleague, Wolf Blitzer, starts right now.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, I'm Wolf Blitzer. It's 1:00 p.m. here in Washington, 6:00 p.m. in London, 9:30 p.m. in Teheran, Iran. Wherever you're watching from around the world, thanks very much for joining us.
Up first, presidential politics here in the United States. Can Donald Trump and the Republican National Committee mend fences and heal the riffs in the party? We're getting new insight into a closed-door meeting between Donald Trump and the Republican National Committee chairman, Reince Priebus.
Trump has had a tumultuous relationship with party leaders during this campaign. But after yesterday's get together, he tweeted this, quote, "Just had a very nice meeting with Reince Priebus and the GOP. Looking forward to bringing the party together and it will happen." Close quote.
On Fox News, he described the meeting this way.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It's really a unity meeting. You know, we're leading by a lot. We have far and away the most delegates. Millions and millions of votes more than anybody else, than Ted has or than, you know, Kasich has. And we really -- I think they wanted to, really, discuss, you know, unity and I like discussing unity, too.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: A GOP source says much of the meeting was about the delegate process. Trump, right now, leads the Republican field with an estimated 739 delegates but he could, potentially, fall short of the 1,237 delegates needed to clinch the nomination on the first round of balloting.
Let's get some perspective on the Trump RNC meeting from our panel. Joining us now, CNN's Chief Political Analyst Gloria Borger and CNN Senior Political Reporter Nia-Malika Henderson.
Gloria, this has been a tough week for Donald Trump. His campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, was charged with a misdemeanor battery charge. He had all that fallout from his comments on abortion and women. He had the controversial comments about nuclear weapons. And he's now trying to get the party unified. This is no simple mission.
GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Donald Trump's terrible, horrible, awful week. Yes, and now he's got questions about delegates. If this goes to a contested convention, Wolf, and Ted Cruz wins Wisconsin -- and you've seen another poll today saying that it's very likely that there's a 10-point difference with Trump behind Cruz.
Then the question will be, doesn't this have to go to a contested convention? Because who will get to the magic number of 1,237? And so far in this campaign, what we've seen is Donald Trump really waging an air war. He's never been really good at the retail, ground politics and the kind of work you have to do.
And in order to make sure your delegates stick with you, Wolf, it's like mining for gold. It's like just sitting there and doing that kind of leg work and inviting them to meet with Donald Trump. Come to Mar-a-Largo. We want to make sure that you're with us. And this is not the kind of stuff that his campaign has been doing. They've been much more wholesale politics than retail.
BLITZER: And it's a very complex process. These delegates, on the first round, you're supposed to be committed to how the states voted. The second round, a lot of those delegates, they can do whatever they want. In the third and fourth round, almost all of them --
BLITZER: -- can do whatever they want.
NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER: That's right. And I think one of the things that we've seen over these last many weeks is the RNC essentially normalizing what to some is a bit of a radical idea which is that even if Donald Trump gets close to that 1,237 delegates needed to clinch a nomination, it could be taken away from him by whatever this process would be at the convention because of the first ballot bound delegates, second ballot unbound delegates.
And I do say, what's hurting Donald Trump is this lack of a connection to these delegates on the ground who are real people and who are typically party people who are plugged in to the party and have been around a while. And that's why Ted Cruz is doing so much better because he's a movement conservative. He's got people he's been in contact with in these different states.
So, I think it's hurting Donald Trump, at this point. But he is trying to kind of close that gap. He just hired Paul Manafort who ran the floor for Ford in 1976 and was in the same capacity for Reagan later and then Bush and Dole.
BORGER: You know, the last time we had a contested convention was in 1976. And there were two candidates who had (INAUDIBLE) president, Gerald Ford and Ronald Reagan. What happened was that only went to only one ballot. But -- and Ford obviously won and then he lost to Jimmy Carter. They united immediately at the convention. And they were sort of -- they were -- there were lots of hurt feelings but it's very hard for me to imagine Ted Cruz and John Kasich and Donald Trump standing there with their arms in the air uniting after the things they've said about each other.
[13:05:03] BLITZER: Well, speaking about uniting, there's a new poll, a Pew Research poll, Nia. Take a look at this, only 38 percent of Republicans think the party will unite behind Trump --
BLITZER: -- if he's the nominee. 56 percent say divisions within the party will keep many Republicans from coalescing around him. So the question is this, can the party unite around Donald Trump if he is the nominee?
HENDERSON: You know, and, often times, that's often the question after you have these divisive primary fights. In some ways, it's the question about Sanders and Clinton as well.
But this is so different because the fight has been so bitter and, in fact, they're really two (INAUDIBLE) who are very divided ideologically, in terms of where they want to see the Republican Party, what kind of party they want going forward.
I mean, there are Trumps people who might be 38 to 40 percent of the party and then there are the anti-Trump people who are, in some ways, split as well into different factions. So, it's very hard to see that unity. And it's certainly very hard to Trump as the person who can bring that about because he's the object of this (INAUDIBLE) movement.
BLITZER: (INAUDIBLE), Gloria, especially in the aftermath of the CNN town hall earlier this week --
BLITZER: -- when all three of the Republican candidates walked away from their earlier loyalty pledge --
BLITZER: -- that they would definitely support whoever the Republican nominee is.
BORGER: Right. And Trump walked away most --
BORGER: -- you know, most of all. I -- Wolf, I think the real question here is, if Cruz is the nominee, what will the Trump people do? HENDERSON: Right.
BORGER: Because those are the people who have been turning out in great numbers. And how disenfranchised will they feel if they believe that the party establishment, which includes the delegates at the convention -- a lot of them are party establishment who care about winning more than the primary voters did.
BORGER: How will they feel if the party establishment, essentially they say, takes or steals the nomination away from Donald Trump? What will that do to turn out in this election? Because this election is not going to be about persuading anybody. People like Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders are not going to like whoever the Republican nominee.
So, it's not about persuasion. It's about mobilization and getting your voters out there and what will that do to the Republican Party in the fall?
BLITZER: Because whoever gets the nomination, Nia -- let's say it's not Donald Trump.
BLITZER: But they will want the Trump team out there --
BLITZER: -- supporting them.
HENDERSON: Yes, and, you know, even if Donald Trump doesn't run a kind of third party bid, which would be hard to do at this point, --
BLITZER: It would be so late in July --
HENDERSON: It would be so late, exactly.
BLITZER: -- to get on ballots in all 50 states.
HENDERSON: Is he sort of, in effect, a third party bid because he's been shut out of the nomination? So, how do you bring those people in who are so anti-establishment or who are so cynical about the Republican Party?
You know, one of the things you hear is, you know, Cruz might not even be that much better but they -- but Republicans might rather lose with Cruz than risk what it would mean to have a Donald Trump --
BORGER: There's the slogan,
HENDERSON: -- nomination.
BORGER: -- lose with Cruz.
BLITZER: (INAUDIBLE.) All right, guys. Thanks very much.
Up next, Hillary Clinton says she's tired of the lies and she's firing back at claims from the Bernie Sanders' campaign. We're taking a closer look at the finance fight, the upcoming battle for New York state.
Plus, United States and its allies are discussing the strategy to defeat ISIS. New information coming in on this historic, critically important summit that's underway right now right here in Washington.
[13:12:17] BLITZER: Democratic presidential candidates, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, they both consider New York a home state. Bernie Sanders was born in Brooklyn. Hillary Clinton was a U.S. senator from New York. Both believe the result in the New York on April 19th will make a major statement about the state of the race.
Our Senior Washington Correspondent Jeff Zeleny is with me right now. Jeff, we saw some passion from Hillary Clinton at an event last night in New York after someone asked her why she was taking money for her campaign from the fossil fuel industry. I want to play this clip.
JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: OK.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If you protect with climate change, will you act on your word and reject fossil fuel money in the future in your campaign?
HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I have money from people that work for fossil fuel companies. I am so sick --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (INAUDIBLE) --
CLINTON: -- I am so sick of the Sanders campaign lying about this. I'm sick of him.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: So sick of the Sanders campaign lying about this. Those are strong words. Earlier today, Bernie Sanders was asked about the incident.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BERNIE SANDERS (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'm not crazy about people disrupting meetings. But the fact of the matter is that secretary Clinton has taken significant sums of money from the fossil fuel industry.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: All right. So, the question is, is he right? Is she right? Because there's a huge debate underway right now. ZELENY: I think both of them are right. And one thing is clear that
the tensions are rising here. And this whole length of this campaign has gotten under her skin. No question about it.
But let's break it down a little bit. Yes, she does receive money, has received money, from people who work in the industry, from lobbyists in the industry. No, she has not received money from the industry itself. You cannot accept a corporate contribution like that.
So, she is right in the sense that she does not receive money from the companies. He is right in the sense that, yes, she has received money from people make money from the companies. But it's really at the root of his whole argument that she accepts these big contributions and he does not.
But it is so clear that, you know, this -- she is angry. She had hoped to be turning her attention to Donald Trump or Republicans by now. Did not expect to be competing so hard in the New York primary.
BLITZER: The New York primary is shaping up to be a major moment. All of a sudden, we're hearing from the Bernie Sanders' camp, unless Hillary Clinton wins by 60 percent or more, it should be seen as a setback for her campaign.
ZELENY: I think we've seen through this campaign a win is a win. And she will accept a win if it's by 51 percent. But the reality here -- I think actually the burden is to touch more on the Sanders' campaign. If he wins or if he runs to a draw, he wins, you know, half of the delegates there.
But I was at a rally with Bernie Sanders last night in the Bronx -- the south Bronx, 18,000 people there. The most diverse crowd I've ever seen yet in this campaign. So, it is a real fight in New York. The progressive sort of streak in the city that got Mayor Bill de Blasio elected a couple of years ago, that is alive and well here. So, the Clinton campaign is not taking anything for granted.
[13:15:00] BLITZER: He's supporting Hillary Clinton.
ZELENY: He is supporting Hillary Clinton, but a lot of his supporters are not. And the people at this rally last night, and really for the next two weeks after Wisconsin coming up next week, it's all New York, which we haven't seen a competitive primary there since 1988.
BLITZER: Yes, it's going to be a major, major event April 19th. Both of these candidates are right now also focusing in on what's called electability in a general election.
BLITZER: Bernie Sanders says he could beat Donald Trump a lot more thoroughly, more quickly than Hillary Clinton can. She says the exact opposite.
ZELENY: Bernie Sanders is almost sounding like Donald Trump at these rallies. He's reading all of his poll numbers, saying I could beat him, you know, by 20 points here or there. He could right now, but the -- the issue for Bernie Sanders is, yes, he is doing better than her against him head to head, but he's not defined yet. Bernie Sanders has not had a lifetime of Republicans running ads against him, attacks against him.
BLITZER: Like she has.
ZELENY: Like she has, no question about it. But there is -- you know, the same anger out in the electorate that is sort of giving rise to Donald Trump is also giving rise to Bernie Sanders. It's being channeled in a different way here. So, you know, head to head, he could certainly do a stronger, but that's why Donald Trump is a central figure in this Democratic race. Hillary Clinton is trying to use him as a bit of a foil to say, look, I'm the only one who can stop him from winning the White House. But I think that's an open question. Perhaps they could both beat them. But they first have to win their own nomination.
BLITZER: Yes, Donald Trump, in almost every speech he delivers, he always makes the point, right now I'm going after my two remaining Republican rivals --
BLITZER: But just wait, you'll see what I can do against Hillary Clinton, or Bernie Sanders for that matter --
BLITZER: If it comes down to that.
BLITZER: Jeff Zeleny, thanks very much.
Coming up, we'll switch gears. Is nuclear terrorism a real threat right now? What are the U.S. and its allies doing to secure nuclear materials? Can ISIS get its hands on what's called a dirty bomb? There's a high-level, critical summit underway right now here in Washington, D.C. The president is hosting it. We're going to update you on what's going on.
[13:21:16] BLITZER: President Barack Obama says nations have made significant progress towards nuclear safety, but the threat of nuclear terrorism is ongoing and evolving, especially when it comes to ISIS.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: There is no doubt that if these mad men ever got their hands on a nuclear bomb or nuclear material, they most certainly would use it to kill as many innocent people as possible. And that's why our work here remains so critical. The single most effective defense against nuclear terrorism is fully securing this material so it doesn't fall into the wrong hands in the first place.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Our global affairs correspondent, Elise Labott, is with me right now.
There's going to be a special summit session devoted to ISIS, the fear of it obtaining some sort of radiological or dirty bomb. What are the expectations as of now?
ELISE LABOTT, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's no doubt that fears of a dirty bomb, ISIS getting their hands on it, is really looming over this summit. I mean we just saw this raid by the Belgian authorities on the home of the suspect in the Paris attacks related to this whole Brussels ISIS cell, video surveillance of a top nuclear scientist. So the concern now is making sure that this radiological material -- this isn't, you know, kept in some very highly secured government location. It's in 130 countries, in hospitals, in commercial and industrial plants. And so there's going to be a lot of discussion on trying to secure it when it's being protected and transporting it and also what happens when you have these people working at these nuclear plants that could be radicalized or try to penetrate in the first place. So another big focus will be trying on vetting these type of personnel to make sure terrorists aren't infiltrating the staff.
BLITZER: And we're also talking about loose nukes. There are leaders from 50 nations here in Washington right now at the invitation of the president. Why isn't the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, here?
LABOTT: And one of the most important people.
BLITZER: If you want to control loose nukes, you would think you would want the Russians on board.
LABOTT: That's right, Russia have, along with the U.S., the greatest stockpile in the world. I think that it's a symptom of the tensions between the U.S. and Russia right now. You know, President Putin very -- and President Obama not getting along.
BLITZER: He was invited, Putin.
LABOTT: He was invited and he was going to come but tensions over Syria, tensions over Ukraine, I think it's a symptom of that. And, I mean, the U.S. and Russia are still cooperating on nuclear issues. But the fact that one of the greatest stockholders of the greatest stockpiles in the world isn't here, it does -- the optics are not very good and it does eliminate the chance of a real breakthrough here and it does dampen the momentum.
BLITZER: And for President Obama, this is his final year in office. This is a legacy issue, if you will, this whole nuclear issue, as he sees it.
LABOTT: That's right, and he really tried to make nuclear proliferation the summit, every two years, the center -- one of the centerpiece of his foreign policy. And I would say it's a mixed record. You know, you did have this historic nuclear deal, curbing Iran's nuclear program, but North Korea, the North Korean threat is still looming large. And you have -- a lot of countries have eliminated -- more than a dozen countries eliminated all of their nuclear stockpiles. But you have unsecured material in 25 others. So it's a little bit of a spotty record. I think one of the highlights you'll see is 102 countries signing on to a provision of a treaty to really safeguard a lot of this radiological and civilian nuclear material, which is really the big threat and is really vulnerable to theft by terrorists, Wolf.
BLITZER: ISIS terrorists get their hands on a dirty bomb, a radiological bomb, and place it in a huge urban center --
BLITZER: That would be a disaster. That's what their nightmare scenario is that they're working to prevent.
BLITZER: All right, Elise, thanks very much.
Turkey has come under fire for his treatment of journalists. This month, Turkish authorities seized control of the country's largest newspaper. And on Friday, two journalists went on trial for espionage after publishing a video that allegedly showed Turkey's intelligence agency sending weapons in to Syria.
[13:25:08] CNN's chief international correspondent Christiane Amanpour sat down with the Turkish president, President Erdogan, to ask him about the arrests.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRISTINE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I'm a member of the press. I'm also a UNESCO ambassador for freedom of expression. And I don't understand why somebody who's as secure as you are and has such a -- a record when you were prime minister of democratizing Turkey, why you have gone to war with the press in your country? What's the point of it?
PRESIDENT RECEP TAYYIP ERDOGAN, TURKEY (through translator): Well, I'm not at war with press. We have to define what war against press stands for in your point of view and in my point of view.
AMANPOUR: Well, getting -- having them fired, going to jail, putting them on trial, closing down newspapers, for instance.
ERDOGAN: Espionage, do you think it is a freedom of expression or freedom of press?
AMANPOUR: Mr. President, every time we have this conversation, they get -- they get turned into spies and terrorists. You know --
ERDOGAN: Please answer this to me. AMANPOUR: Nobody else says that.
ERDOGAN: Is espionage part of freedom of press?
AMANPOUR: Well, I mean, of course not, but -- but that's not what we're talking about. We're talking about press, independent press in your democracy. I guess the way I can say it is this, the EU has said freedom of expression is a nonnegotiable condition for joining the EU, as you want to do, and you're in all these -- all these talks with the EU. Are you going to allow your press to be free?
ERDOGAN: Well, my country has laws in place. If a member of the press or an executive of a newspaper engaging in espionage disclosing a country's secrets to the rest of the world, and if this conduct becomes a part of a litigation, that litigation will result in a verdict. Wherever you go around the world, this will be the case. Engaging in actions which are not allowed by law should have certain prices to pay. And that price will not be paid by the president of any different country. And regardless of where you are at around the world, there are very similar laws in place. There are many similar litigations going on. That's why, in Turkey, not myself, nor my government, we have never done anything to stop freedom of expression or freedom of press.
On the contrary, the press in Turkey have been very critical of me and my government, attacking me very seriously. And regardless of those attacks, we have been very patient in the way we responded to those attacks. This used to be the case when I was the prime minister and this is still the case as a president.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Up next, we'll get back to the race for the White House. John Kasich, one of the Republican presidential candidates, he's fighting hard for his place at the Republican convention in July in Cleveland. Are we seeing a change in tone, a dramatic change in tone, from the Ohio governor who promised to stay above the fray?