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The Battle For Delegates. Aired 4:30-5p ET

Aired April 5, 2016 - 16:30   ET



JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Welcome back to a special edition of THE LEAD.

Today, Donald Trump unveiled his plan to make Mexico pay for his proposed wall along the United States' southern border. He says Mexico must make a one-time payment of $5 billion to $10 billion to the United States to construct the wall.

If Mexico refuses, then, as president, he says he would move to block Mexicans in the United States, undocumented and legal, from wiring money to relatives in Mexico, which, collectively, he says, amounts to $24 billion every year.

The Trump campaign put out this plan online. President Obama had this reaction this afternoon:


OBAMA: I think that I have been very clear earlier that I am getting questions constantly from foreign leaders about some of the wackier suggestions that are being made.

I do have to emphasize that it's not just Mr. Trump's proposals. I mean, you're also hearing concerns about Mr. Cruz's proposals, which in some ways are just as draconian when it comes to immigration, for example.


TAPPER: Let's bring in Bob Vander Plaats. He's national co-chair of Cruz's campaign. And Jeff DeWit, the Arizona state chair of Mr. Trump's campaign.

Mr. Vander Plaats, good to see you. Thanks for joining us.

Let me start with you.

You just heard what President Obama had to say about your candidate, Ted Cruz, suggesting that Cruz is harming America's reputation with foreign leaders as much as Donald Trump is. Your reaction?

BOB VANDER PLAATS, CEO, THE FAMILY LEADER: Well, first of all, I think the foreign leaders that I have a chance to visit with and those people that advise them, they're looking for foreign policy leadership that they can count one.

I don't think President Obama's got great standing here. I think Ted Cruz has got a great plan on how to secure the border, how to insist on legal immigration and to enforce the laws that we currently have on the books.

This isn't complicated, but I think what you're seeing, Jake, the American people want to have a solution. And what they're seeing is, they're seeing a guy like Ted Cruz, not only is he outside of Washington, D.C., and taking on both sides of the aisle, but he actually has a plan and a solution to deal with illegal immigration.

TAPPER: Mr. DeWit, thanks for joining us. Appreciate it.

Mr. Trump today revealed his plan, titled "Compelling Mexico to Pay for the Wall." It most threatens to prevent Mexicans in the U.S. legally or illegally from wiring money to relative in Mexico, but Mr. Trump is also threatening to increase tariffs against Mexico, to cancel visas, to increase visa fees.

What would you say to a critic who says that these threats sound like bullying?

JEFF DEWIT, ARIZONA STATE TREASURER: Well, you know, we have to put America first.

And that's the great thing about what Donald Trump is doing, is he's putting his foot down and saying we have to put America first. In a place like Wisconsin, where so many jobs have gone overseas and gone to Mexico and the manufacturing sector there has been decimated, they're looking for an answer.

And keeping jobs here in America, and putting our foot down is one of the only ways to that. So, I don't think that protecting our own national interest is a problem in this case. We have to get the wall built. There are a lot of extra costs that we as a country will save, from incarceration, to medical costs and everything else, if we start to enforce the laws that we have on the books.

And Mr. Trump is the only one standing up and saying he will do so.

TAPPER: Mr. Vander Plaats, what are your thoughts on Mr. Trump's plan?

VANDER PLAATS: Well, Mr. Trump's plan, I am glad that he's Friday come out with a plan, because a lot of times, I think what Mr. Trump has done effectively, Jake, and what we're seeing is he's tapped into the emotion of the American people saying it's broken, it needs to be fixed.

But when it comes to the solution of fixing it, that's usually where he has the disconnect with the people of America. And that's where Mr. Cruz has capitalized on that. I think you're seeing that in Wisconsin. I think you will see that tonight in Wisconsin, the people moving towards Ted Cruz and why he's got this momentum in his campaign and why he's united -- uniting the Republican Party. They see him as a serious candidate with serious solutions to some of

the big issues that we face in this country.

TAPPER: Mr. DeWit, take a listen to President Obama speaking out earlier today against Trump, extensively criticizing the plan to build the wall and have Mexico paying for it, calling it a half-baked notion. Here's what President Obama had to say.


OBAMA: The notion that we're going to track every Western Union, you know, bit of money that's being sent to Mexico, you know, good luck with that. This is just one more example of something that is not thought through, and is primarily put forward for political consumption.


TAPPER: Mr. DeWit, your response?

DEWIT: Well, I will agree with Bob that I don't look at President Obama as an expert on foreign relations, by any means, and he's made a lot of missteps in that area.


So I don't look to him as having the right answers. But I will disagree with Bob when I think that the American people believe that Ted Cruz has the answer to that. It wasn't but a few years ago that Ted Cruz was looking to triple the amount of immigrants that come to this country, and in doing so, tripling the amount of Muslims that would come to the country.

So, people know that Ted Cruz is not serious. He's just being a politician and giving a politician answer, whereas Donald Trump has proven that is a man that gets things done. He is a businessman. He does things differently. That's what we need. And he's the one that can take our country back.

TAPPER: Mr. Vander Plaats, I will give you the final word.

VANDER PLAATS: Well, this is the same Mr. Trump, while Ted Cruz was fighting both sides of the aisle, taking on the establishment of our own party, and calling out the Democrats on the other side of the aisle, where Mr. Trump was funding the other side of the aisle, he was funding Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi and even Hillary Clinton.

So to say that you are going to put trust into somebody that is actually funding our opposition, the people that side with Barack Obama, I don't think that's going to be the answer Wisconsin or the American people are looking for tonight.

TAPPER: All right, Bob Vander Plaats, Jeff DeWit, thank you both so much. Appreciate it.

In this country, all eyes on the Wisconsin primaries. Meanwhile, the world is seeing the first casualty of the leak of the

Panama Papers, those 11 million documents reported on by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists alleging that top officials around the world hid billions in wealth through secret offshore companies.

The prime minister of Iceland today resigned in the wake of a government crisis sparked by some of these reports, protesters taking to the streets of Reykjavik. CNN Money has not been able to independently verify the allegations.

We are counting down to the first exit polls in the Wisconsin primaries, plus the battle over what Mississippi is calling a religious freedom bill. Critics call it legalized discrimination.

Stay with us.



TAPPER: Welcome back to a very special edition of THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.

We have some breaking news out of Mississippi today, where Governor Phil Bryant has signed what supporters call a religious freedom bill, but LGBT groups and some businesses are blasting as discrimination, plain and simple.

CNN's Polo Sandoval has the latest.

Polo, this law says that Mississippians will not be punished for refusing to provide services to others if they feel doing so would violate their religious beliefs. But unlike some other laws in some other states, it only protects three specific religious beliefs. What are they?


And that's really what sets this apart, this obviously the law that -- now in place there by the governor that was signed earlier today. And those three beliefs are that marriage is a union between a man and a woman, that a person's sex is determined at birth, and then also that sex is reserved solely for heterosexual couples.

Again, those are the beliefs that are laid out in the law here. And we can go back to that example that we have used several times before, and that is a same-sex couple turning to a florist for help with their wedding. In Mississippi now, that florist would be able to say I do not believe in your lifestyle and then turn them away.

Well, this law now protects them. Supporters of this calling it the protection of people's rights, but then you hear the strong chorus of opponents saying, as you mentioned, Jake, flat-out discrimination.

So, again, just because this is signed today doesn't necessarily mean that that conversation and of course that debate will end.

TAPPER: And, Polo, in Georgia, under pressure from companies like Disney, Governor Nathan Deal recently vetoed a more broadly written bill in his state.

Was Governor Bryant under similar pressure?

SANDOVAL: Absolutely. It's a similar story, but a very different headline here.

In the case of Georgia, there are several Fortune 500 companies that are based out of Georgia, of course, the entertainment industry, the movie-making industry as well. So, as a result, the governor, while he says that this was -- that he vetoed this legislation for moral reasons, difficult to ignore the pressure that large companies would put on the governor there.

Now, with respect to Mississippi, yes, there are large companies that came forward trying to petition lawmakers and also the governor to not take this through, not to sign this into law, including Nissan, which employs at least 6,200 people in one town, but that despite those efforts, despite that -- those petitions, again, we now have this law.

It will be interesting to see when and if somebody begins to appeal this. We know the ACLU working around the clock to find a way to fight back legally.

TAPPER: All right, thanks, Polo.

My panel's back with me now to talk about the Wisconsin primary. There's been a lot of talk about family values in this campaign. That was really featured in the battle over the candidates' wives. We saw Melania Trump speaking at an event for her husband. Take a listen.


M. TRUMP: As you may know by now, when you attack him, he will punch back 10 times harder.

He's a fighter. And if you elect him to be your president, he will fight for you and for our country. He will work for you and with you.


TAPPER: Kevin, let me start with you.

Donald Trump, according to polls, has some high negative ratings among women, including Republican women in Wisconsin. Do you think that Melania Trump coming out, talking about him, attesting to his character can help?

MADDEN: Well, look, I would say first she's effective. i think she's a very good surrogate. I think people tend to like her.

But I think the damage on Donald Trump with women voters is so bad that I don't think there's many surrogates that will help solve it. Oftentimes, you bring out a surrogate like a wife or a daughter in order to soften the up, or reinforce some of the attributes that you already like about somebody, and why they're a good father, why they're a good husband.

I think, here, with so many of the controversial statements that Donald Trump has done and so many of his offensive actions, the damage is already done. And I think, while she's a likable person, it is not going to reverse the slide or help change the trajectory of the votes, of the polls that we see with women voters with Trump.

TAPPER: Amanda?

CARPENTER: Yes. I would just say, I mean, she is beautiful. It's nice to see her out there. I don't think she's relatable for most women. When your wife is the only one who will defend you, I don't think that's a good thing for the Trump campaign.

TAPPER: There are other women, too.

CARPENTER: Here's what Melania depends on, the Trump campaign depends on is he was able with the answers to unite pro-life and pro-choice women in condemnation of him, that's a big hurdle to overcome among many others.

The other one is that if she were to gain any ground with women she has to depend on him keeping a lid on his id for a couple of days and not saying something else that turns them off and I don't see that happening.

JEFFREY LORD, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: One thing we forget, if this campaign is against Hillary Clinton, there are a number of women out there who have not very nice things to say about Hillary Clinton in terms of her conduct with Bill Clinton and keeping them repressed, et cetera. So you know, this is going to cut both ways.

TAPPER: Hold on. Hold on. We are going to take a quick break and we'll come right back. Pick that up where it is. Stay with us. We are going to take a very quick break.



TAPPER: Welcome back to a very special edition of THE LEAD. My panel is back with me now. If you were watching before the break, Jeffrey Lord threw a little grenade on to the table here. Sally, I know you want to respond to Jeffrey's argument that if it comes down to general election between Hillary Clinton and her husband Bill, versus Donald Trump, the woman thing comes in to play more because of past allegations, et cetera, against Bill Clinton's and Hillary's role.

SALLY KOHN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Clearly feminist women and men are choosing which candidate to pick between they're going to go with Donald Trump over Hillary Clinton. This argument is so inflamingly absurd. The idea that Hillary Clinton, her husband who by the way is not running, her husband's personal offensive, however offensive they may be, dealings with women is remotely the same thing, on the same planet as Donald Trump calling women fat pigs and slobs and disgusting creatures.

Saying that women, one out of three, having abortions should get some form of punishment. He's repeated not only personal but policy insults towards women, that's him, he's the candidate, that's who we're voting for.

And Hillary Clinton goes without saying has a strong record of policy support for women and girls. There's no contest here and that is desperate and frankly sad argument.

TAPPER: That's from the Sanders supporter at the table. Mr. Mayor, you wanted to weigh in?

MICHAEL NUTTER (D), FORMER MAYOR OF PHILADELPHIA: I would add that this continued argument, this continued accusation, if you will, against Hillary Clinton that somehow because she defended her husband, she then has to take on whatever things were going on or somehow it's her fault. Husband, wife, you know, when your husband, you know, you'd be lucky to have your wife defend you.

TAPPER: We'll come to you, Jeffrey, just hold on.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: There are some wonks who looked at numbers and we know both Hillary Clinton and Trump are polarizing. We know they both have high unfavorable ratings.

But given his 70 plus percent unfavorable rating among women now, there are people who say that Donald Trump, if he were the nominee would have to win 70 percent of white men in this election.

Now maybe that's doable. They've never been Hillary Clinton strength in elections. But it seems like a really high bar, unless he changes his act and his tune, which I what to bring it full circle, Melania Trump was trying to do at that event.

TAPPER: Jeffrey, you are forced to defend things that I've never heard you remotely say at this table all the time. Do you wish that the candidate you support would watch his step a little bit more?

LORD: Sure, yes. Absolutely. I think it -- I think I'm not alone. I think his family and some others, I think there are ways to say things and ways not to say things. To clarify, if I may here, the accusation from the women it's not simply about Bill Clinton's conduct, it is about Hillary Clinton's conduct as an enabler and they were threatened. I'm just saying what they're saying. When you talk to --

KOHN: Feminists, Hillary Clinton, I will take that any moment and I am largely --

LORD: If you accusing her of -- KOHN: When the Republican Party wants to support paid family leave

for all, do something about wage equality, ensure that women have affordable quality access to health care, including reproductive freedom, then we can have this discussion.

I'll be fine to have this discussion, but if you want to use this as a fig leaf to try and attack Hillary and Democrats in general for being hard on women or bad for women --

LORD: It's not me. It's women who are making the accusation.

NUTTER: These women say this, these women say that. She defended her husband in a very tough family, personal situation. It should be left at that. Whatever else is going on, that's between them.

TAPPER: OK. Potential preview of the general election. John, I want to ask you specifically about what Gloria talked about when it comes to numbers and challenges Donald Trump might face, should he get the nomination, which he is still favored to do.

Does he need to get 70 percent, 75 percent of the white male vote? What are challenges? Both of them are polarizing, Donald Trump more so according to current polls.

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Structurally, if you look at Donald Trump's numbers now and we are talking in the first week of April. We are not talking in October as we head into the general election.

So he would have to dramatically change his numbers particularly his standing among women, African-Americans and Latinos. If numbers he has today among women, African-American, Latinos, if Hillary Clinton can turn out the Obama coalition, she wins, period.

[16:55:03]She puts a couple of other red states back in play. If the election were tomorrow, Hillary Clinton right now, versus Donald Trump, everything on paper, tells you she would win and win convincingly.

TAPPER: What states would be in play, North Carolina?

KING: North Carolina would come back into play. There was one poll in Utah, I don't believe it for a minute. But it just shows you that states that Republicans don't ever have to think or worry about, they would have to double-check the math one or twice.

Are they in double play? I think not. But today, Hillary Clinton, the math, if you have Donald Trump/Hillary Clinton election tomorrow, the map would look a lot like 2008, 2012.

TAPPER: Of course, it's not tomorrow, it's November. Rigt now, we're focused on the Wisconsin primary. Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton aren't even the nominees. Thanks, everyone. Appreciate it.

Stay with CNN for complete coverage of the Wisconsin primaries throughout the night. I'll see you in one hour. Be sure to follow me on Facebook and Twitter @jaketapper or tweet the show @theleadcnn.

That's it for THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper. Turning you over to Wolf Blitzer and a special guest, Anderson Cooper in "THE SITUATION ROOM" in just a moment.