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Kasich In Last Place But Staying in Race; Donald Trump Through His Books, Speeches, Television Appearances. Aired 1:30-2p ET
Aired April 1, 2016 - 13:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[13:32:22] WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Of the three remaining Republican presidential candidates, John Kasich is in last place when it comes to delegates but the Ohio governor is touting his decades of public service as reason for staying in the race. What does his record say about his random conservativism?
Our chief political correspondent, Dana Bash, takes a closer look.
DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In a campaign that favors outsiders, John Kasich is an outlier.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Very nice to meet you.
JOHN KASICH, (R), OHIO GOVERNOR & PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I was a state Senator at 26.
BASH: Taking his candidacy from the beginning on his decades in elected office.
KASICH: I know I have the experience and the record and maybe even some of the personal strengths to be able to help this country.
BASH: Appealing to moderate primary voters by positioning himself as a pragmatic conservative, favoring practical solutions over his rivals' rhetoric on issues from immigration to climate change.
KASICH: We have 11.5 million who came here illegally. You want to deport them. I'm not going to deport them either. No, I don't want to either.
I do believe we contribute to climate change but it doesn't have to be either you are for environmental stringent rules or you are not going to have any jobs.
BASH: Kasich scoffs at the notion that he is anything but a conservative Republican.
(on camera): You sound like a Democrat sometimes.
KASICH: I will tell you something weird about this. I balanced more budgets than anybody just about walking the face of the earth. I'm kidding. But I have done that. I have cut taxes every step of the way with the largest tax cuts in Ohio of any sitting governor right now. I'm for school choice.
BASH (voice-over): On issues like abortion, Kasich's record is far from moderate. As governor of Ohio, he defunded Planned Parenthood and signed a law banning abortion after 20 weeks, but his decision to expand Medicaid under Obamacare, making the program more available to constituents, rankled many in the GOP. Kasich defends his action by saying, when he dies, he won't be asked at the pearly gates about government spending, but who he helped.
(on camera): Where else does that principle guide you in your policy?
KASICH: It relates to early childhood education, poor kids, people in prison, giving them a chance to get their lives back if they want to earn their way there.
Come on, give me a big hug.
BASH (voice-over): That passionate conservativism makes him more appealing to Democrats and Independents and has opened him up to attacks to the right. A Ted Cruz super PAC is running this ad against Kasich in Wisconsin.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANNOUNCER: Given John Kasich's liberal record, no surprise his campaign isn't rebounding, because John Kasich won't play in Wisconsin.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BASH: But Kasich's crossover appeal helps make him more competitive when it comes to the general election, according to the latest poll, something Kasich is constantly eager to point out.
KASICH: What good does it do to win a primary in a narrow way and get your brains beat out in the general if I you want to elect the president. I'm the only one who polls ahead of Hillary Clinton.
[13:35:28] BLITZER: Dana is joining us now.
Dana, you have been out on the campaign trail with him. Over the many months, you have seen changes develop. What are they?
BASH: We have seen them in the past few days. The fact is he never mentioned his opponents in hi many town halls, never mind the debates that CNN and others hosted. That changed with his big speech this week going after point by point why he thinks Donald Trump is wrong on the issues, but he is clearly conflicted about it, woman. Just today, he was on the campaign trail and denounced his own super PAC ad hitting Ted Cruz. They don't legally coordinate but he wanted to make a point to say he didn't support it because he doesn't want to use the "l" word, the liar word. He wants to go far enough to contrast with his opponents, but trying to, as he says, not take the low road to the highest office. He even admits it is probable fact that he hasn't engaged made it so he has not been paid attention to that long. Until now he is only one of three people in the race.
BLITZER: He's doing a live event, a town hall as you can see the pictures coming in. Yesterday, he didn't mince words. He said that Donald Trump is not fit to be commander-in-chief, he's not fit to be the president of the United States.
BASH: That's right. It took him a long time to get there. He argues that he's not personally attacking him. He's not going in to the gutter with the kind of language that we have heard, but he is going after him as somebody who he doesn't think should have the job because of the issues. Even that, which is your basic contrast, that every candidate does, he's not wanted to go $ there. He said he wants to talk about himself and not others and that's changing now that he is desperate to make it to Cleveland.
BLITZER: Very tough yesterday. He's got no chance of getting 1237, the number of delegates you need on the first round.
BASH: Mathematically impossible.
BLITZER: Mathematically impossible for him to do so.
His only hope is that no one gets the 1237. There's a second, third and fourth round and then the delegates are free to pick whoever they want. He could emerge -- that's what he believes -- as the nominee, because he says he is the most electable in a general election against Hillary Clinton.
BASH: That's his strategy, to go to the convention in his home state of Ohio, to get there and, assuming the first ballot fails and there's no nominee, that the delegates will look around and say what you heard him say at the end of the piece there, which is he is the only one that polls show can beat Hillary Clinton. There's a lot of problems with that, but the biggest one is that current rules left over from the 2012 convention say you have to have won eight states to be considered for that. He's won one so far. Those rules are changed every four years by the rules committee, but this year is so different, things are so volatile, it would be hard to see if they actually change that.
BLITZER: He's only won his home state of Ohio.
BASH: That's right.
BLITZER: We will see how he does on Tuesday, in New York, Pennsylvania and other states where he could do well. We'll see if he does.
Dana, thank you. Good work.
BASH: Thank you.
BLITZER: Dana Bash reporting for us. Up next, Donald Trump in his own words, words like revenge and trust. We will look at the common themes in his books and interviews over these many decades. How are they playing in the presidential campaign right now?
[13:42:55] BLITZER: Donald Trump has come under fire this week for changing his answers on abortion. But that's not the only issue he's changed stances on over the years. He has been in the spotlight over a quarter century and he's been open about his thoughts, expectations and his expertise in business.
I want to bring in CNN national political reporter, Maeve Reston; and our justice reporter, Scott Glover.
The perception is that America knows almost everything about Donald Trump. The two of you did amazing work the past several weeks. You went through thousands of pages of his books, speeches, television interviews over the past three decade and written an amazing article on CNN.com.
Let me start with you, Maeve. What clues surprised you the most in the research about Donald Trump?
MAEVE RESTON, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER: Well, we have been looking in his behavior for clues about what kind of president Donald Trump would be. His writings over the last three decades, a lot was business tips and Trump trivia, and a lot about his decision making process and how he views the world and some amazing quotes. One of my favorites is when he talks about how he makes creative choices. He said, "I try to step back and remember my first shallow reaction. The day I realized it can be smart to be shallow was for me a deep experience." So, it's a lot of in to the way he thinks, he way he goes with instinct as he makes decisions. He talked about feeling early on that he was able to express his opinions forcefully, even tells of giving a music teacher a black eye in the second grade and almost getting expelled. And he said in that case, "Now I like to think with my brain instead of my fists." It was a fascinating way to look at Donald Trump. And a lot of it jives with what we see on the campaign trail.
BLITZER: Scott, you both said there were a number of recurrent themes that crept out throughout the writings and interviews, themes including revenge, distrust. Tell us about that.
[13:45:11] SCOTT GLOVER, CNN JUSTICE REPORTER: There is an entire chapter devoted to the theme of revenge. It begins with the line, "I always get even." He goes on to tell the story of a woman he had hired from a government job where she was making peanuts, and a nobody in this job, and I turned her in to a somebody. When he was facing tough times in the early '90s and needed a favor, he asked this woman, who had a close friend in the banking industry, to reach out on his behalf. In the book, it says, "Donald, I can't do that." And he felt horribly betrayed and he got rid of her, as he put it, and then went on to talk about her losing her home and her husband and how he was happy that had happened, and anytime anyone called for a recommendation that it was a bad recommendation, and he just couldn't stomach the disloyalty that he considered this act to be. If that didn't make the point quite enough, at the end, there was a key point about what to do when exacting revenge. And he said, go for the jugular, that way people who are watching won't want this to happen to them.
BLITZER: They won't want to mess with you, his specific words.
Maeve, one chapter subhead said, "Do Not Trust Anyone," in one of his books. How has that played out in his life?
RESTON: You think of just that theme over the last, even thinking of the events in the last week, we have seen him go through a difficult time with his campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, who is -- you know, has been accused of grabbing a female reporter. What is really important to him is loyalty and people he can trust. He talks about how earlier in his life he used to hire the best people. But he learned over time, through shenanigans, to hire the best people, but don't trust them. I thought it was a fascinating way in which he looks at the world, and one in which we have to start to wonder what kind of a White House he would have? What kind of inner circle he would have? Whether it would be insular decision making, who he would reach out to. He talks in his book about how it is OK to be paranoid. He said some of the most successful people are paranoid. The Trump theme, I think, is something we should explore with him in the coming months and how he feels he will be able to get the right advice and trust the right advice going forward.
BLITZER: It's interesting because I thought the piece you guys wrote was fascinating. He is 69 years old, Scott, and people supposedly mellow as they get older. Did you see any evidence -- it is hard to believe some of the things that come out in the course of the campaign. I've interviewed him many times over the years. It seems, hard to believe, a bit more mellow than 10, 15, 20 years ago, but what's your impression?
GLOVER: Yeah. You know, there was a bit of back and forth throughout the books, some kind of contradictory positions on things. There were times when he would seem a little softer on these tones. He talked once about talking about the notion of revenge in front of a group of priests and he felt a little bad afterwards. He backpedalled that a little bit. He came back to sometimes you have to do it. So I guess it depends on the day and the book.
BLITZER: Great work, guys. Thank you very much.
To our viewers out there, you can read the excellent article on Donald Trump's words over these many decades. Go to CNN.com/politics. This is definitely worth your while. You should read this article.
Let's discuss what we just heard. I want to bring in my panel to talk about these themes embraced by Donald Trump, our CNN political commentators, Tara Setmayer and Kayleigh McEnany, are with us. Kayleigh is Trump supporter, Tara not so much.
Guys, thanks very much.
Kayleigh, you read the article. What did you think?
KAYLEIGH MCENANY, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think that Donald Trump, if he was that bad of a guy, so evil, all of the efforts to do this, if he were that bad, I think you would have droves of people saying this is a bad guy, here's my experience. In fact, we don't see that. We see one or two people from the Trump University come out. We don't see that. In fact, we see people say the opposite, he was a great boss, I liked him a lot. So I think the narrative on him doesn't support what we're seeing among his former employees.
BLITZER: What did you think?
[13:50:00] TARA SETMAYER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think it is a window into who he is as a person. These are his own words. So if we are to believe what he actually says, then what are we supposed to believe? Is it all an act? Is it sincere? Do we pick and choose the things we do like about what he says, or do we focus on the consistent record of things he says? I find a lot of what was reported, I've read one of his books, I've read "The Art of the Deal," and it's interesting, everything he says in there, he is doing in his campaign. I've said this before, out of the abundance of the heart, so a man speaks. So to sit here and dismiss what Donald Trump is saying in his own words, I think it defies logic. It's clear that his behavior does comport with what he says. I mean, you see, he does it over and over again. Now, for the people who don't come out, we don't hear about them, well, perhaps he's threatened to exact revenge on him. Perhaps he's done as documented, he sues people into oblivion to keep them quiet. He's a big bully in business. Perhaps the people who work for him are happy with the money they're making so they're not going to talk out against their boss. Those aren't excuses for the kind of things that Trump has done --
BLITZER: In this campaign, Kayleigh, he's been very blunt. He says, you know what, you slug me, I'm going to slug you a lot harder.
MCENANY: One of the things people appreciate about his campaign is that he is authentic. You see with Donald Trump the good, the bad and ugly it all too often you see candidates would come out and they're mannequin candidates. They perfectly craft the exact narrative they think the voters they put forward this false pretense of who they are. With Donald Trump, he goes on every show he's asked to go on. You see the good, you see the bad. It's refreshing.
SETMAYER: There's a lot of ugly going on. Only 37 percent of Republican voters have actually voted for Donald Trump.
BLITZER: He's got two million more votes than Ted Cruz and many million more than Kasich.
SETMAYER: That may be true, but we're not done with the process, number one. Number two, it's more than just, you know, people voting. We also have delegates. We have a process. Donald Trump is upset about that. Rules of the game he signed up for. You don't get to whine and complain if the rules don't go the way you want them to. That, oh, it's not fair, all these people are voting for him, they're going to take it away. No, those are the rules. Those have been the rules. You have to win a majority. Help has yet to do that. We're not going to fall in line behind someone that exacts revenge on people, that is so petty he can't let things go and continues to make offensive statements for women.
BLITZER: You're a Republican, right?
SETMAYER: I'm a life-long conservative.
BLITZER: Here's the question to you. If he's the Republican nominee, will you vote for him or will you vote for the Democrat?
SETMAYER: I will not vote for the Democrat, and under no circumstances will I vote for Donald Trump.
BLITZER: She's blunt about that.
You want to respond?
SETMAYER: I do. I think a vote for Donald Trump -- or not vote for Donald Trump or sitting on the sidelines is a vote for Hillary Clinton. I think the attitude of let's all look to the rules, which by the way, many of the rules are made the week before the convention. When you take a hard look, you see it elevates the will of the delegates over the will of the people. This is why voters are turning out to vote for Trump. They're sick and tired of an establishment saying this is the guy we want, like it or not. For the first time, people are standing up and saying --
BLITZER: How do you explain, Tara, he said so many controversial things over these many months but he seems to have this Teflon coating that he keeps on going and going and going.
SETMAYER: Yes. I think it's a couple of things. I think the psychology behind voters today, there's such blind rage and this angry populism has overtaken logic and common sense on this. They make excuses for him because I think they're emotionally invested. I think that's dangerous. Protest votes are dangerous. In history, we've seen the result.
Also to give Kayleigh a little bit of a history lesson, if people are upset about delegates, I guess you Trump supporters are going to have a problem with the Electorate College, because that's how the Electoral College works. You don't win by popular vote. You win by the delegates in the Electoral College. Is he going to sue the Electoral College?
SETMAYER: Exactly. It's the same concept in the conventions.
MCENANY: No, it's not the same concept.
SETMAYER: Yes, it is.
MCENANY: It's not.
SETMAYER: The rules that do change have to do with little minor things but the rules have never changed with the majority.
SETMAYER: You must have a majority of the delegates to win, and everything else, you know, the other parts of the rules that have changed are not the big deal, the majority of the rules have not changed.
MCENANY: Right now, in the Republican Party, you have unbound delegates appointed by the RNC that sit on the sidelines. If they don't like the candidates selected by the people, they can go elsewhere. The Electoral College, you don't have a group of unbound delegates as a check on the American people off to the side in case the American people choose incorrectly.
SETMAYER: Those delegates are not necessarily bound, if it ever comes down to a vote in the House of Representatives. There's all kinds of checks and balances within the Electoral College. This whole thing about the one person, one vote, is actually not the way it is. Our founding fathers put a framework in to protect us from ourselves sometimes --
[13:55:11] SETMAYER: -- if that's necessary to do. So you guys better get -- this argument about the rules I think is weak. Either you win or you don't. You go back to -- let's take football, for example. You don't get to change the goal line --
BLITZER: All right, very quickly --
SETMAYER: -- because you don't make a touchdown.
MCENANY: I just want to point out the American people disagree with you.
(CROSSTALK) The Monmouth poll shows 54 percent of people think if Donald Trump falls short of the 1,237, so people disagree with you.
SETMAYER: -- the American people.
BLITZER: Let's see what happens on Tuesday in Wisconsin.
SETMAYER: He's going to lose.
BLITZER: Thanks very, very much.
That's it for me. Thanks very much for watching. I'll be back, 5:00 p.m. eastern in "The Situation Room."
For our international viewers, "Amanpour" is next.
For our viewers in North America, NEWSROOM, with Pamela Brown, sitting in for Brooke Baldwin, will start after a quick break.