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THE SITUATION ROOM

Trump: Expect a Surprise in Wisconsin; Cruz Confident Ahead of Wisconsin Vote; Trump Campaign: 'Not Worst Week Ever'; Sanders: Clinton 'Nervous' about Upcoming Contests; World Leaders Deny Hiding Billions Offshore. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired April 4, 2016 - 17:00   ET

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


[17:00:11] WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now, looking to rebound after a series of missteps. Donald Trump is trying to bounce back with a win in Wisconsin. Ted Cruz has other ideas, but they both want John Kasich to quit the race. We're standing by for a Trump rally.

Inside Trump's world. Stunning new details from inside the Trump campaign. Does wearing a bulletproof vest wear Trump out? Or is it a lack of sleep? As his daughter plays the role of advisor, is a staff shakeup in the works?

Bernie's battleground. Bernie Sanders is going all out to add Wisconsin to his win column. Will Hillary Clinton set up a defensive perimeter around her adoptive home state of New York? Could their fight go all the way to the convention?

And hidden billions. World leaders now scrambling to deny a report that they've stashed billions in secret accounts. Close associates of Russia's president, Vladimir Putin, have reportedly sent huge sums offshore. What's inside millions of pages of leaked documents?

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

On the eve of a critical primary in Wisconsin, the candidates are out on the campaign trail. They're looking for whatever edge they can get and hustling for every delegate.

Donald Trump and Ted Cruz have been holding dueling rallies. They're each voicing confidence that they will win tomorrow, and they're each calling on rival John Kasich to drop out of the race, but Kasich says he's in it all the way. And the battle may go all the way, as the campaigns plot strategy for what could be a contested convention.

On the Democratic side, Bernie Sanders is going all out in Wisconsin, but Hillary Clinton is looking ahead to New York, guarding her home turf, trying to stop Sanders before the convention.

And world leaders, they are now angrily denying a report that they've stashed billions of dollars in secret bank accounts, emerging from millions of pages of leaked documents. Close friends of Russian President Vladimir Putin have reportedly moved vast sums through offshore companies. The Kremlin is calling it, quote, "a series of fibs." Now the U.S. Justice Department is investigating.

I'll speak with Trump campaign national spokeswoman, Katrina Pierson. And our correspondents, analysts and guests, they will have full coverage of the day's top stories.

Let's begin with CNN political reporter Sara Murray. She's out there on the campaign trail with Donald Trump in Wisconsin. Sara, can Trump move past some of his recent stumbles?

SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, Donald Trump is coming off of a rocky week, and he's facing a tough fight here in Wisconsin, so today he is going back to basics and going after his Republican rivals.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MURRAY (voice-over): Donald Trump fighting to bounce back after a tough week is turning to his old playbook.

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Cruz gets up. He says, "I'm the only one, you know," with his -- I wish he could just talk normally every once in a while. "I'm the only one that has proven that I can beat Donald Trump."

MURRAY: Trump is laying into his rivals and trying to move beyond the uproar over his rapid-fire flip-flops on abortion.

TRUMP: There has to be some form of punishment.

MURRAY: Trump even admitting to "the New York times" that his decision to retweet an unflattering photo of Heidi Cruz was "a mistake." But today, Trump's doubling down on his other eyebrow- raising comments, including his claim in an interview with "The Washington Post" that a massive recession is near.

TRUMP: We've had bubbles. And when they burst, it's not a good thing. And what I said is we're going to go into a massive recession, but I also say if I'm president, that's not going to happen, because I'm going to straighten things out before it happens.

MURRAY: As the long-slog campaign continues, a "New York Magazine" report says it's weighing on Trump, leaving him fatigued by the pace of the campaign as well as the bulletproof vest he now wears. And just a day ahead of the Wisconsin primary, Trump is managing expectations.

TRUMP: If we do well here, folks, it's over. If we don't, if we don't -- if we don't win here, it's not over. But wouldn't you like to take the credit in Wisconsin?

MURRAY: Both he and Ted Cruz are openly airing their frustration with John Kasich.

TRUMP: He's one in 30. He ought to get the hell out, honestly. He's just like a stubborn guy. He doesn't want to leave. They asked him the other day, "Are you going to leave?" "No. Not going to happen." Let me tell you, he hurts me much more than he hurts Cruz.

MURRAY: As Cruz bets the convention rules can keep Kasich from the ballot entirely.

SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The choice will be against me and Donald Trump; and I believe we will win that election if there is a contested convention.

[17:05:04] MURRAY: But the Ohio governor, who admits he will lose in Wisconsin, is hopping ahead to New York and mocking Trump's call for him to step aside.

GOV. JOHN KASICH (R-OH), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: He said, "He needs to get out, because he's getting my votes; and I want to have my votes. This is not fair." I thought we got out of the sand box years ago.

MURRAY: Now, the other story that's been dogging the Trump campaign are, of course, questions about Trump's campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, now that he's facing this battery charge. There have been rumors that there could be a staff shakeup afoot.

I spoke to Corey Lewandowski earlier today, who vigorously pushed back on that. He said everyone on this campaign is exceptionally loyal to Mr. Trump and the other members of this campaign, because we are fighting the political establishment -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, Sara, thank you. Sara Murray reporting for us.

Going into the Wisconsin primary, Ted Cruz says he still has a clear path to the convention majority. And failing that, he says he will win a contested convention in July in Cleveland.

CNN's Sunlen Serfaty is joining us live from Wisconsin right now.

Sunlen, a lot of confidence coming from the Cruz camp right now. What's that based on?

SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: A lot of confidence, Wolf, including notably from the candidate himself. Senator Cruz was just here at this cheese shop, where he toured and tasted the cheese, of course. And he predicted outright that he will win here in Wisconsin tomorrow.

And he's really trying to paint a broader picture of the implications of what a Wisconsin win could do, how it could reshape the race, potentially, going forward. And I caught up with him while he was on this tour here at this cheese shop. And he said he believes Wisconsin will be a turning point. Here's more of what he had to say.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CRUZ: Tomorrow here in Wisconsin, you know. Today Donald Trump announced at a rally he predicted a big win here in Wisconsin. Well, that may be true. But I do think the people of Wisconsin are going to decide that. And I hope the people of Wisconsin have a different result, and I think if they do, it will make a powerful statement all across the country.

No. 1, it will continue to add to our delegates, and we're seeing state after state after state our delegates are growing. But No. 2, I think it will have a powerful impact on the states that are coming up.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SERFATY: And Cruz later went on to say and to make the argument already that the potential momentum that he potentially gets here with a win in Wisconsin would really -- he says won't be temporary, won't be basically a passing thing, really trying to paint Donald Trump in a downward trajectory saying that the trend that he is seeing, this is in his words, that Donald Trump keeps getting a whooping.

Of course, Senator Cruz has an uphill climb to get to 1,237 himself, but for the moment really trying hard to paint Donald Trump on a downward slope -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Sunlen Serfaty reporting from Wisconsin for us. Sunlen, thank you.

Donald Trump also voicing confidence heading into tomorrow's primary in Wisconsin. Joining us now, the national spokeswoman for the Trump campaign, Katrina Pierson.

Katrina, thanks very much for joining us.

KATRINA PIERSON, NATIONAL SPOKESWOMAN, TRUMP CAMPAIGN: Hi, Wolf.

BLITZER: How important is winning Wisconsin for Donald Trump tomorrow? Is there concern after a week, a tough week, shall we say, he won't win it?

PIERSON: Well, Wolf, every state is important, particularly moving forward, and I think Wisconsin is definitely in competition. A week ago before what the media has dubbed the worst week ever, Senator Cruz was up by ten points. Most recent polls today show that margin narrowing. It is about five or six points and dropping. So I think we could be in for a surprise tomorrow.

BLITZER: Your campaign advisor, Barry Bennett, he had a memo that was reported in "The Washington Post." I'm sure you're seen it. Was that an acknowledgement, though, that the Trump campaign was having some real difficulties?

PIERSON: No. What it was, was frustration simply because the campaign is fighting back against a media narrative. And we just want to make sure that everyone understands that even with the Reuters daily tracking poll a week ago, it was a much tighter race nationally between Trump and Cruz. And as of Saturday, Mr. Trump is up 15 points nationally. The latest PPP poll has 60 percent of Republicans who support Trump as the nominee. So this was more reinforcement for our internal staff.

BLITZER: Those are national polls. But we're looking right now at Wisconsin. That's tomorrow. And by all accounts, at least according to the most recent polls, as you yourself acknowledge, Cruz is ahead of Trump in Wisconsin, right?

PIERSON: That's right. Latest polls show about -- depending on which one you look at, it's either five or six points. That's right, Wolf.

BLITZER: The Trump campaign supposedly is looking to hire some more experienced political advisers. You've already hired Paul Manafort, who's well known as a political advisor, dealing with delegate issues, for example; and you've heard all the reports that Corey Lewandowski, the campaign manager, may be pushed aside, at least a bit. I want to get the official reaction from you. You're the spokeswoman for the Trump campaign.

PIERSON: Well, a lot of that is noise. I mean, we've been hearing from the beginning that Mr. Trump isn't serious; he doesn't have a ground game. His campaign -- we've just been hearing all kinds of things, and we have shown that we are winning.

[17:10:09] What is happening now is we are confident Mr. Trump is going to get the delegates received before the convention to be the nominee. We have to start focusing on the general nomination and building up our staff to go up against the Clinton machine, so that's exactly what we're doing.

BLITZER: But if he doesn't get that magic number of 1,237 on the first round, then you need really experienced people, political activists, who are going to go after those delegates on round two, round three, round four or whatever. Are you hiring those people now?

PIERSON: Absolutely, and just like you've mentioned, we've had Barry Bennett. We have Paul Manafort. They're working very hard to ensure that our delegates are out there. And here's the thing, though. We are really focused on winning this thing before it gets to a convention.

The states after Wisconsin are very much in favorable to Mr. Trump. We only need another 501 delegates. There are over 900 left. We are very confident Mr. Trump is going to lock up this nomination, Wolf.

BLITZER: But if you don't, then you really need some experienced people on round two, round three, round four, as...

PIERSON: Right.

BLITZER: ... as we've been saying. And a lot of those delegates, as you know, these are long-time established Republicans. The Republican establishment delegates, politicians, if you will, who will be going to Cleveland for the convention. Here's the question. Does Donald Trump regret alienating a lot of the Republican political establishment?

PIERSON: Well, I think the question you're asking me is does Donald Trump regret telling the truth? And the answer to that is no. We have known for a very long time that, if it was going to be close, we knew the establishment was going to try to play games with delegates. The RNC denied it at the national level, and what we've seen is it

unfolding at the local/state level. That's what we're focusing on now. We do have a ground game in place. We have folks on the ground to ensure that our delegates get seated and we are up for the fight at the convention.

BLITZER: But you need those delegates -- I guess in Wisconsin going after Scott Walker, the governor. Among Republicans, a lot of conservatives in Wisconsin, he's pretty popular. What was the point in Donald Trump hitting him hard as he has over these past several days?

PIERSON: Well, Mr. Trump is a counterpuncher, and that's exactly what we've seen from the very beginning of this campaign. And again, Donald Trump is telling the truth when it comes to specific things, particularly with regards to trade and the economy, which is very important to a state like Wisconsin. And he's going to continue to do that moving forward.

Mr. Trump has been under heavy criticism, but at the end of the day, we now see Senator Ted Cruz propping up Donald Trump's policies. And I think the voters see that.

BLITZER: But didn't going after, let's say, Scott Walker alienate a lot of that Republican establishment in Wisconsin and maybe beyond?

PIERSON: Well, look, there are some of the Republican establishment that aren't going to support Mr. Trump no matter what, simply because Mr. Trump isn't going to keep things the same. And that's exactly why you see a lot of these establishment politicians and pundits say that they would rather have Hillary Clinton. Because with Hillary Clinton, things stay the same for them.

Mr. Trump is focused on the American family and the American worker, so we can't make everyone happy all the time.

BLITZER: How far will he go in wooing the delegates at the convention? For example, there's been a lot of speculation out there that he might fly some of them down to his club in Palm Beach, Mar-a- Lago. Is that going to happen?

PIERSON: I haven't heard anything about that. I doubt it. Mr. Trump does not operate that way. He's very serious. And he's going to put out his vision and what he wants to see happen, and I think people see that. We've already seen that in elections past. He has the most votes out of everyone on the Republican side, and new voters are coming out. And this is an open primary. We're going to see independents, and I think we're going to do really well tomorrow, Wolf.

BLITZER: All right. Stand by, Katrina. We have more to discuss. I want to take a quick break. Much more right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[17:18:22] BLITZER: As Donald Trump looks to bounce back from a series of missteps, we're back with Katrina Pierson. She's the national spokeswoman for the Trump campaign.

Katrina, Donald Trump admitted to "The New York Times," to Maureen Dowd, that it was a mistake to retweet that unflattering photo of Heidi Cruz saying, quote, "Yes, it was a mistake. If I had to do it again, I wouldn't have sent it." Why didn't he say that earlier? What took him so long?

PIERSON: Well, it's something that he was thinking about, and he wasn't sitting down in an interview talking about it either. This is one of those things that you acknowledge and you move on. He is fighting for the Republican nomination and fighting back, by the way. Again to this day, no one's talked about the months that Melania Trump had been under attack before this even occurred.

BLITZER: But he kept defending that decision to retweet that unflattering photo over and over again.

Finally, to Maureen Dowd he acknowledged, yes, it was a mistake. Is he now recognizing that he's losing support, potentially, among female voters?

PIERSON: Not so much from that. I think it's more of how the media frenzy behind the Chris Matthews interview turned out, that there was a lot of pushback on.

But I think now that a lot of the clarification out there, because that's what campaigns have to do when the media tries to create something that's not there, people are starting to understand that it wasn't his intent when he mentioned those comments in the Chris Matthews interview and that the media had been using cut-up clips, trying to create their own narrative.

BLITZER: But he's the one that said it. Whatever he said in that interview with Chris Matthews, it wasn't Chris Matthews who said what he said. It was Donald Trump who said it.

PIERSON: You're absolutely right. But the problem was after the fact, Wolf, the media was chopping up clips of that, saying that Donald Trump wanted to punish women, period. They didn't even talk about the magical context of a ban that they were actually talking about; and that's why the statements had to be issued. And that's what really caused the majority of the confusion. It wasn't the fact that the clarification was made. It was because you had multiple media outlets reporting different things so the campaign just wanted to clarify.

BLITZER: I just want to point out, we always pointed out that he was speaking about a possibility if abortion in the United States were made illegal, which is something he said he supports. He wants it to be illegal. Under those circumstances, not just the doctor, but the woman would be punished, as well. He later walked that back very quickly, right?

PIERSON: Absolutely. And you may have pointed out the original context of the magical ban, but not everyone did, which led to the purpose of the clarification, as well. BLITZER: If he gets the Republican presidential nomination, is he

going to abandon his pledge to self-fund the campaign? Will he start seeking national fundraising in order to fund that national campaign?

PIERSON: Well, Mr. Trump hasn't decided yet. He is looking at options. A lot of people want to invest in the campaign. They believe in Mr. Trump. They believe in his vision and his ideas. And they want to see his policies move forward. So Mr. Trump is going to have to make that decision when we get there.

BLITZER: But he constantly points out that he's the only candidate since Ross Perot, for that matter, who has self-funded. If he no longer is self-funding, then he's backing away from that commitment, right?

PIERSON: Well, he's definitely going to self-fund throughout the primary. And that's the important part here, while you have the other candidates involved who are heavily funded by special interests and global banks and transnational corporations. Donald Trump is not.

But to secure the presidency, he might be considering opening up to other -- other sources of funding just because people want to be invested in Mr. Trump, his campaign and his ideas.

BLITZER: So basically what I hear you saying, Katrina -- correct me if I'm wrong -- if he gets the Republican nomination, let's say Hillary Clinton gets the Democratic nomination, they both will be competing for the same sources of revenue to fund their general election campaign.

PIERSON: Well, I highly doubt Wall Street is going to want to fund Mr. Trump's campaign. But Mr. Trump's going to have to make that decision when he decides.

BLITZER: That's -- but you're leaving that possibility open?

PIERSON: Absolutely.

BLITZER: "The New York Magazine" story, I should say, quoted sources close to Trump as saying they've never seen him so tired lately, that a bulletproof vest adds to that.

I want to know -- and you're the national spokeswoman for the campaign -- I'm sure you've read that lengthy article by Gabe Sherman in "New York" magazine. Is that true? Is he more tired now than he's ever been, and that has led to some recent mistakes?

PIERSON: Well, I haven't seen Mr. Trump tired at all. I mean, he has an amazing energy. He's very invigorated by the support of the people. I mean, you've seen the crowds. So I haven't seen that. I'm not quite sure where that's even coming from.

Mr. Trump does keep a very busy schedule. He's very active, more so than the other candidates, with as far as the number of events that he's had, the number of town halls, the number of press conferences. But I'm sure it does get to the point to where you get a little bit tired. but I've never seen that, Wolf.

BLITZER: And he's always said, suggested he really doesn't need a lot of sleep, maybe three or four hours a night. A lot of people are recommending maybe he should get a little more sleep. That probably would be healthy for him.

Katrina, thank you very much for joining us.

PIERSON: Great to be here, thank you.

BLITZER: Katrina Pierson is the national spokesperson for the Trump campaign.

Let's take another quick break. New news coming in. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[17:23:13] BLITZER: Following important developments in the race for the White House. On the Republican side, Donald Trump hopes a victory in Wisconsin tomorrow will give him a fresh start after a week of some bad news that wounded his campaign.

Let's get some expert analysis on all of today's top political stories. We're joined by our CNN political commentator, S.E. Cupp; our chief political correspondent, Dana Bash; and our CNN political director, David Chalian.

Also joining us, our CNN political commentator, Peter Beinart. He's a contributing editor for "Atlantic Media."

Dana, you saw that memo saying -- pushing back that he had the worst week ever for his campaign, saying this was all a creation of the Republican establishment and the news media. What did you make of that?

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: What I made of it was that they're trying to push back on the notion that Donald Trump had the worst week ever, and it was a very -- a very clever move. The -- Barry Bennett, who a lot of people know from CNN -- he's on CNN a lot talking about Donald Trump's campaign.

BLITZER: One of the strategists.

BASH: He's a senior strategist, wrote it to Corey Lewandowski, the campaign manager, and others. And it's very short, one page, effectively saying that everybody who dubbed last week the worst week ever doesn't get it, because he cited a Reuters tracking poll that shows that Donald Trump went up and reminded everybody that historically, since June 16 when Trump has announced, all the predictions have been wrong. And they will again.

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: When that memo was written, it probably was never intended to stay completely out of public view.

BASH: Do you think?

BLITZER: You're suggesting what a lot of people suspect: it was deliberately leaked. Is that right?

CHALIAN: That was their message that they wanted out there, right?

BASH: Yes, I can tell you, yes, affirmatively, it was deliberate.

BLITZER: Deliberate because it made the point that he's doing great right now, and it was not a horrible, terrible, disgusting week or whatever.

BASH: Right. I thought it was actually a pretty clever move.

BLITZER: Let me get Peter Beinart's reaction to that. The style, if you will, of Donald Trump right now in reacting to some of that bad news that was creeping up, largely his own self-made bad news, some of the comments he was making, what did you think of the way he handled it?

[17:30:17] PETER BEINART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: It was interesting that he finally apologized for the retweeting of this unflattering picture of Heidi Cruz.

But I think in terms of understanding what's going on, it's worth distinguishing what's happening inside the Republican electorate and the country as a whole.

I think what's indisputable is that Donald Trump has gone from unpopular to deeply unpopular among the public at large, especially women at large. What is less clear is that he's heading for defeat in Wisconsin.

I think it's not so clear that the trajectory in Wisconsin over the past couple of days is trending towards him. I think there's still some possibility he cod pull out a victory in Wisconsin. Now that the expectations are $ lower, that would look like a big win.

BLITZER: It would certainly look like a huge win, especially since it's what they call an open primary in Wisconsin, David. He brings in independents, so-called Reagan Democrats, if you will, working-class Democrats to support him and he pulls out a victory, what's the impact of that?

CHALIAN: Well, that's been -- that has been the Trump model, it is making use of these open primaries to bring people who are not just your constant, reliable, traditional Republican primary voter into the process, and that has helped sort of boost him in many of these contests.

So listen, that should play to Trump's strength. Obviously, Ted Cruz now has the entire establishment behind him. He has the Walker operation him. He has also really fertile ground in that state.

I know people look at that and say, "Oh, blue collar. That's a Trump vote." But Ted Cruz has been working the ground for quite some time. It's a very data-rich campaign. He knew how to find his voters. And by the way, Scott Walker did not get elected three times, win three campaigns statewide without understanding that there are deep conservative pockets that you can motivate to turn out, and now the Ted Cruz operation is learning that.

BASH: And not just learning that, using that. Using the Scott Walker data and...

CHALIAN: Layering it with their own data.

BASH: Exactly.

BLITZER: So you noticed that Maureen Dowd of "The New York Times," the columnist, she got Donald Trump to do something he rarely does: acknowledge he made a mistake.

S.E. CUPP, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes. You don't acknowledge a mistake on sort of a political tactic you used. You don't correct on a substantive policy issue like he did on abortion. And you don't send out an e-mail to your campaign staff saying this wasn't that bad a week, and get to claim it was a great week. You don't -- I mean, you can't have all of that happen and then get to spin it that things are going really well, especially going into Wisconsin, where, as both David and Dana pointed out, Ted Cruz is poised to do really well.

When I've talked to Scott Walker, he likes to sort of brag about winning the Obama/Walker voters. People who vote both for Barack Obama in a presidential election and have voted for Scott Walker, essentially, three times. I don't think Donald Trump is poised to win that same kind of voter the way Ted Cruz is.

BLITZER: Because he acknowledged now, he acknowledged after repeatedly insisting it wasn't a mistake, retweeting that unflattering -- unflattering picture of Heidi Cruz, Ted Cruz's wife, that was a mistake; he shouldn't have done that.

BASH: That's right.

BLITZER: Now, is all this designed to try to win over some women support?

BASH: I think it's to try to stop the -- all of the women from fleeing his -- his campaign in a way that, you know, you definitely saw in the past couple of weeks that you didn't see for the past, what, six months of his campaign. I mean, he knows polls better than all of us put together, at least the public polls.

And he, I'm sure, saw the poll that showed 75 percent of women in the general election -- electorate nationally have an unfavorable view of him. That is, as he would say, huge.

CHALIAN: I don't think you can -- it's one thing, yes, to say, wow, Donald Trump never apologizes and he actually admitted a mistake. Yes, that is a reverse. I just think looking after the really rough week he had, we saw Donald Trump cleaning up left and right in ways that we haven't seen at all. He cleaned up the abortion comments as best he can. He did call this a mistake.

So to me it was the totality of how quickly, and he added a ton of political events to his schedule to sort of get back to basics on the ground in Wisconsin, to Peter's point, to really try to make tomorrow potentially happen for him. I think that you saw Donald Trump for the first time in this entire campaign actually adjust in what should be an advantageous way for him.

CUPP: Not to mention, I don't think it's an accident that we have some of these details in that -- in that long profile about him wearing a bulletproof vest, and he's very tired. I think those were strategically leaked to sort of give an excuse for why maybe Donald Trump isn't performing, you know, above par right now.

BLITZER: He may not, Peter Beinart, he may not be doing well among various constituencies nationally, but right now the constituency he's looking for are Republican voters or independents who might vote in a Republican primary. And in those areas, he does well, right?

[17:35:08] BEINART: Yes, the problem is this. If he doesn't get to 1,237, then how he's doing in the general election matters a lot more, because then his ability to convince delegates to come to him is undermined by the sense that he's going to get destroyed in the general election.

Unless he can show that there's some possibility that he can win the general election, I think it becomes -- it's harder for him to win in a contested convention. That's why these polls about the national electorate matter.

BLITZER: Go ahead, Dana.

BASH: Real quickly one thing about Wisconsin, is that it sounds odd, but he's also competing for some sections of the vote with Bernie Sanders, because he also appeals to people who are not traditional Democrats, as we've heard from Hillary Clinton over and over again.

BLITZER: It's a unique phenomenon in this race.

All right, guys, stand by. There's fascinating developments happening on the Democratic side, as well. We'll assess, report the new information when we come back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[17:40:40] BLITZER; Tonight Bernie Sanders is looking confident as voters prepare to head to the polls for tomorrow's Wisconsin primary, but Sanders also likes his chances at a far more difficult contest. We're talking about New York two weeks from tomorrow.

Our senior Washington correspondent, Jeff Zeleny, is following the campaign. He's joining us from New York right now.

So Jeff, what's the latest on the Democratic side?

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, there's no question that Wisconsin is front and center in this race for now, but the bigger payoff is here in New York, where there are 247 delegates in two weeks' time. In politics, like real estate, it's location, location, location.

That's why Bernie Sanders is fighting hard today in Wisconsin. Hillary Clinton is here in New York, defending her turf.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ZELENY (voice-over): As Bernie Sanders fights hard for Wisconsin...

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (D-VT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Between you and me, I don't want to get Hillary Clinton more nervous than she already is.

ZELENY: ... tonight Hillary Clinton is defending her home turf in New York.

HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Too many New Yorkers and Americans face impossible choices.

ZELENY: On the eve of Wisconsin's primary, Sanders told voters there a strong win on Tuesday would shake up the race.

SANDERS: She's already under a lot of pressure. So don't tell her this. But I think we win here, we win in New York state, we're on our way to the White House.

ZELENY: That's why Clinton is looking to build a New York firewall for the state's April 19 primary and big batch of delegates.

CLINTON: We all have a right to be proud of New York.

ZELENY: The race for the Democratic nomination is still an uphill climb for Sanders. He trails by 239 pledged delegates. But a Wisconsin win would add to his momentum.

At a union hall today in Janesville, Sanders hit Clinton hard on trade and jobs.

SANDERS: I'm glad that she's going around the country talking about the need for more manufacturing. Well, that's a great idea, but maybe she should have been there 20 or 30 years ago when we started hemorrhaging manufacturing jobs in this country.

ZELENY: But Clinton still spent more time focused on the bigger picture and the larger prize.

CLINTON: Donald Trump has said that wages are too high. And a lot -- a lot of members of his party agree. Right?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He's fired.

CLINTON: He's fired, that's funny.

ZELENY: Civility between the Sanders and Clinton campaigns has all but disappeared, with one petty fight after another. The latest scrap, where and when to have a New York debate.

CLINTON: You know, we've proposed Thursday, the 14th, which gives people more time to digest what happens in the debate. Is he in?

SANDERS: I think what we want is to look at the maximum viewing audience. And any time and any venue that works that has that viewing audience will be good.

ZELENY: And Clinton bluntly suggesting Sanders is crashing the party, the Democratic Party.

CLINTON: And I'm also a Democrat and have been a proud Democrat all my adult life.

ZELENY: Sanders argues that he, not Clinton, is bringing new blood to help Democrats hold the White House.

SANDERS: The fact that we are bringing millions of young people into the political process, we're redefining American democracy.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ZELENY: Also redefining how you raise money for campaigns, Wolf. Now, the Sanders campaign raised some $44 million in March. The Clinton campaign announced late today that they had raised $29.5 million. That's about $15 million less. But the Clinton campaign may just have more money going forward here: they have about $30 million cash on hand.

But Wolf, all that means one thing: that this Democratic race will go on. He has the support and the money to keep going. That's why Hillary Clinton will be coming to a rally here behind me just in a short time. She has to fight for her home state of New York -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right. Thanks very much, Jeff Zeleny reporting.

David Chalian, why can Bernie Sanders raise $15 million more last month than Hillary Clinton? What does he have that she doesn't have?

CHALIAN: Well, he has a lot of donors who are giving less. She -- they raise money very differently. He turns on the Internet. He says, "Hey, BernieSanders.com, there you go. I just had a fund- raiser."

CLINTON: How come she doesn't do it?

CHALIAN: Because her supporters are more traditional Democratic Party donors. She goes into ballrooms. She gives a speech, and they write very large checks.

He's doing it at a very small clip.

[17:45:00] Now they're trying to lower that donation as well on the Clinton side, but he can just do it so much more easily. And also just from a scheduling perspective, she's got to build in days where she goes and does these big fundraising events to remain competitive. It's not that she can't raise the money, it just requires a different level of candidate time. Then he, he could be out -- continue to stay on the campaign trail and just turn on the spigot. BLITZER: Apparently some folks in the Clinton campaign are getting

increasingly nervous, but some of their strategists say if she can win in New York and the following week in Pennsylvania and Maryland, a bunch of other northeastern states, they will then wrap it up. Is that true?

BASH: It depends how you define wrap it up. First of all, let's just start with the beginning of your sentence, that -- if she can win in her home state of New York. Really? I mean, this is something that they never wanted to have to deal with, that she's literally defending her home turf at a time when Bernie Sanders is reminding everybody about something that they know every time he opens his mouth, that he has New York roots very much.

So it's something that they clearly didn't want to have to deal with. But assuming she does win New York and Pennsylvania and the other states that you just said, she's going to be in a much better position delegate wise, but he's still, as you said --

BLITZER: He's got the money.

BASH: He's still got the money and he's got these energies --

BLITZER: What does it say to you that she has to worry about carrying her adoptive home state of New York?

CUPP: Well, you asked -- you asked David what does he has that she doesn't have. Well, the kid's got charisma. I mean, this is a guy who has managed to really attract the enthusiasm of not just the far- left but new voters in the party, as he likes to point out. And so whether it's New York, her home state, or anywhere else, he's challenging her in ground -- on the ground, in places she never expected.

But let's not forget, as big of a juggernaut as Hillary Clinton is, as much as she's the most admired woman in the world and incredibly famous and successful, she already lost a primary to an unknown senator, a junior senator from Illinois, among Democrats. Democrats don't always love Hillary Clinton. So I actually wouldn't be that surprised if Democrats in New York picked the more progressive liberal over her. In the end, I still think she's going to be the nominee.

BLITZER: All right, guys. Stand by.

CUPP: But --

BLITZER: Stand by. We got more news coming out. Also coming up, a series of missteps. Donald Trump is trying to bounce back with a win in Wisconsin, but Ted Cruz says he has a clear path to the nomination and John Kasich says they could both forget about him quitting the race.

Plus world leaders scrambling right now to deny a report that they've stashed billions of dollars in secret accounts. What's inside the millions of pages of leaked documents.

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[17:52:09] BLITZER: World leaders and officials, they're scrambling right now to deny a report that they've been stashing billions of dollars in secret bank accounts.

Brian Todd has been digging into this story for us. Brian, what are you learning?

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, these allegations tonight are simply staggering. These reports say that one influential law firm in Panama has been responsible for helping dozens of the world's most powerful people hide their money. Now in some cases these reports allege these people laundered money, evaded taxes, dodged international sanctions.

This law firm denies wrongdoing and leaders from Russian president Vladimir Putin to Iceland's now beleaguered prime minister are saying they've been unfairly maligned.

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TODD (voice-over): It is the first and most startling reaction to allegations tonight of billions in secret money.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You are accusing me of something --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, I'm just asking you questions.

TODD: Money held in secretive bank accounts kept offshore by world leaders. The prime minister of Iceland walking out of an interview. He's one of several world leaders responding with anger and denials of wrongdoing to allegations they hid billions of dollars in clandestine offshore companies and accounts.

The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists and more than 100 news organizations spent a year looking through some 11 million documents leaked from a powerful Panamanian law firm which allegedly helped set up the shell companies.

GERARD RYE, INTERNATIONAL CONSORTIUM OF INVESTIGATIVE JOURNALISTS: The range of people in the entire data is -- ranges from everyone from mafia figures to fraudsters to prime ministers and presidents.

TODD: The reports say several friends of Russian President Vladimir Putin operated a secret network which moved at least $2 billion through banks and offshore companies. To be clear, the reports say Putin's name is not on any of the accounts. And the Kremlin has dismissed the allegations as, quote, "a series of fibs designed to attack Putin."

WILL POMERANZ, THE WOODROW WILSON CENTER: Vladimir Putin, if he needs resources, has access to those resources and has various ways of directly and indirectly suggesting to his friends to give him those resources.

TODD: One example, Sergei Roldugin, a concert cellist who has been a friend of Putin's since they were children. The reports say Roldugin made hundreds of millions of dollars in profits through those offshore companies.

POMERANZ: I think it shows that Mr. Roldugin might be a better investor than he is a cellist.

TODD: Sergei Roldugin told the "Guardian" he was connected to those businesses a long time ago, quote, "before Perestroika," when Russia became more open to the West in the late 1980s.

The accusations stretched beyond Russia's borders. Saudi Arabia's King Salman allegedly used a company in the British Virgin Islands to take out $34 million in mortgages for his London homes. There's nothing to suggest anything the king did was illegal.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He may be looking to these offshore accounts as just a safer place to hold their money.

TODD: But the perception inside his kingdom, analysts say, may hurt him.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I can imagine that the people on the ground in these countries are likely seething as the optics are rather horrible.

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[17:55:02] TODD: Now CNN tried to get a response from the Saudi government several times to these reports. We tried both in Riyadh and in Washington. They have not responded.

The Panamanian law firm denies doing anything illegal. It's possible that at least some of the alleged corrupt transactions could have used the U.S. financial system which would be illegal under American anti- corruption and money laundering laws. The Justice Department has told CNN it is aware of these reports. It cannot comment specifically about them, but it is looking into them.

Wolf, these are staggering allegations. This has the scope of -- it's said to be about 150 times larger than the WikiLeaks expose.

BLITZER: Eleven million documents. All right, Brian. Thank you.

Coming up, amid reports of a looming shake-up in his campaign, can Donald Trump bounce back from a series of missteps? He says look for a surprise in tomorrow's Wisconsin primary.

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