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Voting Underway in Wisconsin; Polls Close In Less Than Two Hours. Aired 7-8p ET

Aired April 5, 2016 - 19:00   ET


[19:00:09] ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: Next, breaking news, polls closing in less than two hours in the crucial state of Wisconsin tonight. Could the results be a game changer? The latest exit poll this hour and it's neck and neck for Clinton and Sanders. Could the Vermont senator pull off another major upset as he's stealing the heat after a revealing new interview?

Plus, how Donald Trump plans to pay for his border wall. New details from the campaign tonight. Will it work? Let's go OUTFRONT.

Good evening to all. I'm Erin Burnett. OUTFRONT tonight, Wisconsin votes. It is a crucial primary tonight. We are counting down the polls about to close in the state of Wisconsin. We do have right now the first exit poll results just coming in to CNN. And we're going to get to those in just a moment. Some very, very important information in there. At stake, the bottom-line here, 86 delegates on the Democratic side. Forty two on the Republican whereas we all know, every single delegate matters. The battle lines drawn. Donald Trump signing autographs in Milwaukee today as confident as ever.


DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The polls are busy, huh? You could have a big surprise tonight, folks. Big surprise. I think you're going to have a big, big turnout. You'll have a great surprise tonight.


BURNETT: Ted Cruz also campaigning hard tonight in Wisconsin. And hoping for big win there. That could be a game-changer.


SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: If we end up with a win tonight, it is going to have national repercussions, not just for the 42 delegates at stake here in Wisconsin, but I believe that it is going to powerfully impact the states to come.


BURNETT: And John Kasich under pressure from both Trump and Cruz who agree on one thing, they want John Kasich to get the heck out of the race. He says he is not going anywhere. We have reporters covering all angles of this crucial election night.

And I want to begin with Jim Acosta who is in Milwaukee for us. Jim, you've been following the Trump campaign from state to state across this country. Tonight, you know, you just heard him there say big surprise several times as he was signing autographs. What is the campaign telling you? Is a big surprise an actual win? Are they actually shooting for that?

JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, shooting for that, or perhaps win some districts in the state, in that kind of process they would win some delegates. No question about it, Erin. Donald Trump wants a surprise. But, you know, you're also getting a sense of how the Trump campaign is trying to change the narrative, perhaps put Wisconsin and this bad week they've had behind them. Campaign officials confirm Donald Trump will be delivering some policy speeches in the coming weeks.

So, one campaign source describe to me as, quote, "statements with haft" (ph). Now we should point out, you know, Donald Trump did roll out one of those policies earlier today. And that is how to pay for that wall on the Mexican border, and making the Mexican government pay for it. We should point out giving to this primary tonight, you know, a come there behind victory as Donald Trump would like to see it, that would have a major dramatic impact on this race. It would bolster his calls on John Kasich to get out, as you just mentioned, but Trump's advisers are shying away from making predictions or even handicapping the contest here in Wisconsin, Erin.

And Trump was being cautious about his prospects earlier today, even though he was talking about a surprise. He wasn't predicting victory. But it is clear who Trump will blame if he loses here in Wisconsin. And that is John Kasich. Trump says Kasich is simply staying in this race to play the role of the spoiler. And as for Ted Cruz, he is poised to do something that he hasn't done very often, and that beats Donald Trump in a primary. So, there is that for Ted Cruz if he polls this off tonight.

Now, all of this is about delegates at this point and if Trump losses big in Wisconsin, this race is all but certain, Erin, to go all the way to the end, all the way to California. I talked to a prominent operative in the Never Trump movement earlier today who said if Trump is forced to fight this out at the convention, the party will never give him the nomination. And we should point out, Donald Trump is back in New York tonight. And that speaks volumes. No election watch party later on tonight -- Erin.

BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much, Jim Acosta. And across the town from where Jim is in Milwaukee, the Republican candidate staying in Wisconsin, confident of a win there, for his watch party as Ted Cruz.

Sunlen Serfaty has been traveling with him. And Sunlen, you've been talking to the campaign and they are very confident of an all-out win, again, margin being crucial. How big of a margin are they looking for? SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's definitely right, Erin.

You know, everything the Cruz campaign is saying and doing is projecting confidence, including holding a big election night watch party tonight. The Senator himself predicting an outright win, saying just moments ago in a radio interview that he predicts a strong victory here tonight. Of course no word on that margin as you asked about. But Cruz has been hyping the significance of this night going forward. Really saying that it could have national repercussions going forward. And he interestingly sent a big message to Donald Trump tonight. He is just have a schedule for the next two days. He will be campaigning throughout Donald Trump's home state of New York, he will be campaigning in the Bronx and outside of Albany. That primary coming up in just two weeks. Senator Cruz tonight already looking ahead -- Erin.

[19:05:08] BURNETT: All right. Sunlen, thank you very much. And now our panel. They're going to be with me for our entire hour as we count down to the polls closing.

Our political analyst John Avlon, editor-in-chief of "The Daily Beast." Maggie Haberman of "The New York Times." Bernie Sanders supporter Jonathan Tasini. Hillary Clinton supporter Bakari Sellers. Donald Trump supporter Pastor Darrell Scott. Our CNN political commentator Margaret Hoover. And Ben Ferguson, host of "The Ben Ferguson Show" backing Ted Cruz.

OK. Thanks to all of you. Maggie, let me start with you. It's a crucial night. You know what? Everyone says, why do you all keep saying it's a crucial night? Because it is a really crucial night every single time because we just don't know who's going to win.



HABERMAN: This one is actually crucial, though, because this could be -- if Donald Trump comes from behind and wins as Jim was saying, this would really want any momentum that anybody could have in trying to stop him realistically toward the march for the nomination. If he doesn't, there's two thing, one is, how much does he lose by if he loses?


HABERMAN: Can he keep it within, say, ten points. Can he pick up some delegates in Congressional districts? If he can't do either of those two things, and you'll be seeing the first real tangible effects of what has been a pretty rough two weeks for him. We haven't -- we've seen him have bad weeks before. This last seven days I think has been very, very different. His completely self-inflicted wounds on abortion over a couple of different interviews, coming with the fact that he spent several days defending his campaign manager over a battery charge involving a female reporter, none of this is where a campaign wants to be.

BURNETT: That's a good way of putting it.


Let me ask you though because you just heard, you know, Maggie giving the analysis there but Donald Trump himself today saying one, two, three times, maybe even four, that there's going to be a big surprise tonight. Now, he wasn't clear whether the surprise was an outright win, or more what Maggie is saying, a loss but not by very much, but he's not even in Wisconsin tonight for a victory party. Do you still think he can pull off a win?

PASTOR DARRELL SCOTT, ENDORSED DONALD TRUMP: Yes, I do. I think he will pull off a win tonight. And if he doesn't, it would be very close, it would be close to most of what the analyst expects. And what this not being a winner take all primary, he will amass a sizeable amount of the delegates --

BURNETT: He's going to get it?

SCOTT: So, he's going to continue with momentum in Wisconsin. I mean, Hillary Clinton is giving up on Wisconsin. She is focusing on New York, but once he achieves his goals in Wisconsin, and I don't think he's had a bad week, I think he's had a challenging week --


But Donald Trump bad weeks, he doesn't have bad days. And he doesn't have bad --


BURNETT: But he calls that challenges.

SCOTT: Yes. Challenges. But I really think that, and once this is accomplished tonight, he'll go on New York, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Connecticut and the Trump trail will roll on.


BEN FERGUSON, RADIO HOST, "THE BEN FERGUSON SHOW": Trump has a lot more challenging weeks moving forward. I don't think he's going to win tonight. And I think the last two weeks have shown that Donald Trump is incredibly vulnerable with the people that are paying attention. Wisconsin's a place where on paper Donald Trump should have done well. This is where everything that he started with played with the conservative voters there. Abortion was not just a little blunder. It was a massive blunder. And it made Donald Trump look like he was a fraud on moral issues. The other thing with Donald Trump is, that you look at what he said tonight when had says this is going to be a big and huge night.

If you keep saying things like that every week, when things end up not going well, it makes you look like you're completely out of touch reality. Ted Cruz, the numbers matter, 135 delegates is what he's going to be able to close the gap by after tonight and maybe even more than that in the last two weeks. That is completely the opposite of --

BURNETT: Counting the delegates in --


FERGUSON: Yes. I mean, that is a completely flipped from where we were two weeks ago in the words of Donald Trump.

BURNETT: How big is tonight then, Margaret? I mean, part of tonight is, I mean, it is a crucial state. But because there's only one state, nobody can say, I won here but I lost here. I mean, it's all Wisconsin.

MARGARET HOOVER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Either Trump sails to the nomination or there's a highly -- there's a much bigger chance of having a contested and open convention. And if there is an open convention, then this is an all-out brawl. I mean, we know this is, you know, many pretend the end of the Republican Party as we know it. I mean, this is going to look very dramatic. Just keep in mind, Trump is probably, I mean, he's set to win New York, right? New York is in two weeks. So, even if he loses tonight and then he wins New York, looking forward he'll have to win about 60 percent of the remaining delegates. Right now as he had done better in Wisconsin, he would have only had to win about 50 percent of the remaining delegates. Let's not kid ourselves people, I mean, Donald Trump is still --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sixty percent is hard to get to.

HOOVER: Sixty percent is hard. That means your open contested convention is looking a lot more likely. I mean, that's not good for the Republican Party.

FERGUSON: Well, I disagree. I think an open convention is OK. And I think it's a great debate and you're going to see going into there that --

HOOVER: In theory, absolutely. In reality --

FERGUSON: But what I'm saying is, a lot of the people that are going, they're not afraid of this. I think this is more of the -- people are saying we can't have an open convention because it will be cast. I don't believe it will be cast, first of all, I think it's going to be controlled. And we have conventions for reason. People forget this, conventions are there not to be what they have been over the last --

[19:10:03] BURNETT: But here we are right now, less than two hours away from the polls closing. We do have some exit polls coming in. All right. Just some things that were a lot of share. John Avlon, one of them is immigration. Fewer than one in ten people who voted today on the Republican side say that immigration is a top concern for them. That doesn't sound good for Donald Trump although I will note in Michigan where he won only eight percent of the primary voters, put this as a top issue. But in other states where he's done very well, the number has been significantly higher. How big of a concern is that when you see from the exit polls immigration not that important? JOHN AVLON, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, THE DAILY BEAST: Look, that is a real

issue for Donald Trump. It indicates I think the steepness of the climb he faces tonight. Immigration has been his core campaign message that's connected with the Republican base. And it's interesting because, you know, he's been able to insult his way to the top of the Republican primary polls, as long as he targets people who aren't part of the bases demographic or people on the center right. The gaffe he made this week on abortion went straight to the heart of the conservative constituency. And that's why it had a negative impact where he's been tough on Trump for so many other things. So folks aren't motivated by immigration, coming out to the polls tonight, that is a sign that these are not Trump voters today, and that can be very bad for him.

BURNETT: And we did -- significant evangelical turnout. All right. All of you staying with me.

OUTFRONT next, Bernie Sanders looking for a huge win tonight. The Vermont senator feeling the heat after a revealing new interview.

Plus, is the GOP fight headed all the way to the convention floor? Top RNC official will be OUTFRONT tonight just ahead of the polls closing. And he's been making this promise for almost a year.


TRUMP: Who's paying for that wall? Who's paying? Mexico! Mexico! Mexico!


BURNETT: And tonight he's laying out exactly how Mexico will pay for that wall. Will it work?


[19:14:50] BURNETT: Welcome back to our special coverage of tonight's pivotal Wisconsin primary. Polls close in less than two hours. The race right now too close to call. The Clinton camp acknowledging it's trailing in the polls. And both candidates have moved on pass Wisconsin to campaigning in upcoming contest.

Jeff Zeleny is in New York where he's been out with the Clinton campaign today. Brianna Keilar is in Laramie, Wyoming. Bernie Sanders is looking ahead to Saturday's caucuses there where he expects to do very well.

Brianna, let me start with you. Sanders is hoping to celebrate tonight. He actually is at an event. He and Ted Cruz the only ones who really do. But he's not in Wisconsin. What is he doing in Wyoming?

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: He's pushing forward to Saturday as you said, Erin. And he's going to do so before a very friendly crowd here at the University of Wyoming. You can see this is a crowd that is already stretching around the campus here. This is a state as well as Wisconsin at this point that favors Bernie Sanders. He's banking on support from young people. You have the electorate here, the Democratic electorate here in Wyoming, is wider than the general Democratic electorate across the country. And this format of the caucuses is also something that favors Bernie Sanders. So, even the Clinton campaign will admit this is friendly territory for him.

What he's trying to do, what he's hoping to do is have a good night in the Wisconsin primary tonight. And then be here in a state where he can look forward, look towards hopefully, as he would put it, another win. And then he can make the case that he has the momentum. Keeping in mind, though, he has won the last several states. This has given him a talking point on the trail to say, look, I'm the one who's won these last several states, these last several contests. But he's also, there have been sparse delegates in these races. So this is something that he's trying to push towards not only to Wyoming but to this other bigger contests in Pennsylvania and New York ahead.

BURNETT: All right. Brianna, thank you. And Jeff Zeleny was OUTFRONT with the Clinton campaign today. Hillary Clinton spent the day. Jeff I know in New York. Home turf for both her and Senator Sanders. Obviously, you know, a week ten days ago, the polls looked a little bit better for her in Wisconsin. But she is now pivoting ahead trying to move the focus to New York.

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: No doubt about it, Erin. It's all about managing those expectations. Remember when the Clinton come in loss in Michigan? They did not really telegraph that they though they were going to lose. So that is what they're doing tonight. And we'll find out, I mean, voters may have a different mind of their own here. But she was in New York campaigning for a reason. If there ever was a firewall, if there ever was a critical state for her, it is the New York primary two weeks from tonight. That's why she was out campaigning today in New York. We spent some time with her in Brooklyn. But she had one other person on her mind. His name is Donald Trump.


HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The fellow who's there in New York, I wish he'd get out of one of his towers and actually walk the streets and spend time with the people of this city. Because peddling prejudice and paranoia is not the New York way.


ZELENY: Now, Hillary Clinton talking about Donald Trump. But Erin, I can tell you, her campaign is thinking about Bernie Sanders tonight. And how he's going to do in Wisconsin. But pretty tellingly, she is not holding any events at all tonight either. The first election night she has not done that. So, they simply, one adviser say, look, this is just like any other night for us. We're moving forward here. But Erin, it could be a different night, particularly if she loses Wisconsin considerably, that gives him much more license to go on. But at this point, a fight for delegates, that's why New York is so, so important -- Erin. BURNETT: All right. Jeff, thank you. Panel back with me now.

Bakari, obviously you are supporting Hillary Clinton. How are you calling this race tonight? You know, a couple of weeks ago, they were much more optimistic of a Clinton win. Obviously now the polls do not show that, she's not in the state tonight.

BAKARI SELLERS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I believe, and Jonathan may find this a little bit surprising, that Bernie Sanders is going to have a good pretty night, going to have a good night tonight. But at the end of the day, this race is about delegates. That is all that matters. In the Democratic Party, we have participation trophies. So, everybody who shows up to the primary or to the caucus, no matter what the result is --

BURNETT: Everybody is a winner party?

SELLERS: Everybody is a winner. So, everybody takes home -- that's right. That's the Democratic Party. Everybody is a winner. Everybody gets delegates. And Bernie Sanders has to win. Tonight is the sixth most delegate rich state left. Then you go to New York, you go to Pennsylvania, you to go California, you go to Maryland and some of these other states, and Bernie Sanders literally has to win those states 60/40. There can't be a 51-49. It has to be 60 to 40. It has to be large amounts. And I'm not sure he's going to meet that anymore.

[19:19:17] BURNETT: All right. So, what do you say John about the mark tonight? What kind of bar is he going to set in Wisconsin?

JONATHAN TASINI, BERNIE SANDERS SUPPORTER: Well, I agree with Bakari. I think we will going to do very well tonight. I just came back this morning from Wisconsin. There four or five days in many, many locations as a huge amount of enthusiasm. I think Bernie is going to do very well and particularly if you look at the two CDs, Madison, 11 delegates and the Milwaukee. Just ten delegates. Over a third of the delegates that are portioned by CDs. If there's big turnout there, and I think people are very enthusiastic, Bernie will do quite well throughout the state.

BURNETT: So, Maggie, what about, again, as you're looking at the ranges, as you and Bakari saying, OK, a win is fine, but a win is not enough. It has to be a very big win consistently for Bernie Sanders. Can you do that tonight?

HABERMAN: The math is the math. What I think has been striking about the way this primary has gone, on both sides by the way, is that nobody -- we all talk about momentum all the time. Nobody has gotten any momentum basically since the first four states. And so, you have had, what Bernie Sanders has done very well in is fund-raising.

TASINI: Well, that's momentum. That's a piece of momentum.

HABERMAN: That is not necessarily going to translate into a bunch of wins. But I just want to finish what I'm saying. That you will have one person win one state and you will have another person win another state. So, Hillary Clinton's wins have not translated necessarily into what follows. Bernie Sanders wins have not necessarily translated into what follows.

What Bernie Sanders does have is this very strong committed low-dollar support base, which is different than what you're seeing with Hillary Clinton. But it is true for both races, the reason that they can inch up this way on the Republican side because it is a multi-candidate race, the Democratic side because it is fairly a split. Nobody is bouncing off the springboard and take -- with it. But the reality still remains that Bernie Sanders has a harder climb than she does in delegates.

TASINI: I would agree with that, but I would say that he has had a springboard. He's won a number of races. He's got a huge amount of resources, which is going to allow him to go all the way to the convention. And that's unusual for an insurgent candidate. And I think that's very important.

SELLERS: And one thing we have to be clear about, no one is saying Bernie Sanders needs to get out of the race. Hillary Clinton hasn't said it, Brooklyn isn't saying. Bernie Sanders had every right --

BURNETT: No, the memo that they put it now was sort of going in that direction, it's pretty clearly --


SELLERS: But I mean, and that is true. I mean, it's highly improbable that Bernie Sanders is going to be able to overtake Hillary Clinton in the number of pledged delegates. That is a fact. To quote Maggie, the math is the math.

TASINI: So, number one, I think the Clinton campaign realized they couldn't try push to him out of the race -- in fact came out. Because there was a lot of pushback from Bernie supporters saying, what do you mean? We have the right to compete. The second thing I'll say which is really important is that neither of them is going to have enough pledged delegates when the convention comes to clinch the convention. So, it's not going to happen.

AVLON: The math doesn't seem to indicate that. There's ironies in this race all over the place, one of which is Hillary Clinton is making someway the same argument that Barack Obama did in 2008.

BURNETT: That's right. That's right.

AVLON: Because, you know, trophies actually may make people feel good, but it doesn't really matter in politics if you come in second. And it's not the same thing as the game, we keep away we're seeing in the Republican Party right now. If Hillary Clinton is in the poll position, heading into the convention and the math does not work, there is no way that Bernie Sanders can get the nomination. At some point you're really running to make a point --

TASINI: No, it's not. Because if nobody has clinched the convention, then there will be a debate among the super -- let me finish -- then there will be debate among the super delegates who to support. And I think there will be a good argument to be made that following the Republican convention, when you look at the polls and show that Bernie Sanders the only one that can compete either against Donald Trump or --

AVLON: But it's not going to be the argument --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's a different --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's a good line.

SELLERS: The irony in this is that Jonathan and John -- in Bernie Sanders, they're all saying the same thing that they weren't saying four months ago when it comes to super delegates.

TASINI: But we might lose the White House with Hillary Clinton as a nominee.

SELLERS: Who's saying that?

TASINI: What I'm saying is, there will be an argument to be made --


TASINI: There will be an argument to be made that they will make at the convention. The key thing is that, as we go forward with these competitions, no one is going to come to the convention having clinched the nomination with pledged delegates. That's just a fact.

SELLERS: And at the beginning of this race, Bernie Sanders made it clear that he said that super delegates, whomever else, should not overturn the will of the people. And so now you're saying that there's going to be a robust debate for super delegates. I mean, which way do you want it?

BURNETT: You're now saying you want the super delegates on democratically give it to you and you don't want --

TASINI: I'm saying that there will be a pitch that they will make to the super delegates.

BURNETT: All right. I will hit pause there. No one is going anywhere.

Next, we're going to, of course, take you back to Milwaukee. Voters right now, we're in the last 90 minutes, that is live voting going on in Milwaukee. We'll have the brand-new exit polls breaking after this commercial.

[19:24:11] And new details from Donald Trump on how he would make Mexico pay for that wall. President Barack Obama did not want to get forgotten today, so he weighed in on that.


PRES. BARACK OBAMA (D), UNITED STATES: This is just one more example of something that is not thought through.



[19:28:38] BURNETT: All right. The breaking news at this moment. We are just over an hour away from polls closing in Wisconsin. Democrats, 86 delegates at stake this evening, Republicans 42 delegates.

Martin Savidge is OUTFRONT at a polling station in Milwaukee. Martin, you've had a chance to talk to voters. Obviously, people right behind you voting right now. What are they saying to you?

MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. It's rush hour. I mean, this is a key and critical time. People here are serious and focused about the voting. But they're also excited, because usually at this point, Wisconsin is not so much a player in the presidential primary process. It's a little later down the road. So now they're feeling like, hey, we do have a real say. And not in just one race, but in two races.

So, I think that's what you're feeling here and that is why people at least in this area, where south of Milwaukee, you can gauge that they are pretty much Bernie Sanders supporters. They're coming out in large numbers. They say that 50 percent of the precincts have already voted here. Now those are November kind of numbers but for a presidential primary, you would have to go back to 1980 to see a turnout like that -- Erin.

BURNETT: So, high turnout, obviously something that would make Bernie Sanders exited at the face of it. I know you've also been talking to union members in Wisconsin. They play an important role in the election. Sanders, Trump, Clinton were all battling over them. From people you've been talking to at the station, who are, who are they supporting?

SAVIDGE: Well, the problem with the union voters, of course, you know that there is been a contentious battle between the unions and Governor Scott Walker.

[19:30:03] Due to rights work legislation, the unions are not as powerful as they once were. But, experts believe they could be the difference. That swing between whether it's going to be a Bernie Sanders or a Hillary Clinton victory tonight. You talk to the unions. They are split.

It seems like Bernie Sanders may have a slight edge. They like the way he talks on trade, they like the way that he talks about income inequality. They like the fact that he's a fresh and different face, an interesting point for a 74-year-old man. But it is something that they like about him that they don't see in Hillary, and that is enthusiasm.

So, Bernie Sanders may finally come away with much of the union vote. It still remains to be seen. Milwaukee is the battleground, and here, too close to call.

BURNETT: Too close to call.

All right. Thank you very much, Martin Savidge.

Of course, last week, that was the one group Bernie Sanders told me he was confident that he would win in Wisconsin. He wouldn't bet on the overall win, but he did say that he would definitely win the union vote.

Let's go to Washington now where out political director David Chalian has been going through the exit polls just in from Wisconsin.

We're getting more and more information, and I know you have some new headlines you're able to break about who is voting, and what they want.


Listen, we're talking about the Republican side of the contest here. One of the key factors that we've looked at across all of these primaries and caucuses so far are whether the Republican voters are looking for an insider and outsider.

Take a look at these results. Do they want their next president to be somebody that has experience in politics? Forty-six percent say they want somebody with experience in politics, 48 percent say they want someone from outside the establishment.

So, if you're in the Donald Trump camp, and you are looking for, you know, three-quarters of the electorate saying they want an outsider, that's not the case here. It's pretty evenly split.

Then, take a look at this -- we asked -- this is a new question in exit polls, Erin. First time we're asking it. If no one wins a majority of the delegates when they get to the convention floor in Cleveland, should the party nominate the person with the most votes in primaries and caucuses? Fifty-six percent of Republican voters in Wisconsin say, yes, they should vote with the primary and caucus winner. Forty-two percent say they should go with the person they think is the best candidate. And that means that the delegates on the floor of the convention, these 42 percent of the folks in the Wisconsin primary today, say, hey, they should choose the best candidate.

But a majority say, go with the primary caucus winner. We're going to be curious to see how that question plays out in contests ahead as we get closer to the convention.

BURNETT: Very curious, and, of course, that is not -- that is not how the rules go, right? You don't get it if you have more than anyone else. You get it only if you have a majority.

All right. Thank you very much, David Chalian.

OUTFRONT now, our chief strategist and communications director -- sorry, for the RNC, Sean Spicer. Sean, OK, so that is the crucial point, that David Chalian just made.

The majority of Wisconsin Republican voters today in exit polls are saying if someone doesn't win the majority, they've got more than anyone else, the party should go with that person, go with the person who has the most votes in the primaries, even if they don't have a majority. Not have this go to the delegates.

What do you say? That's not the rules.

SEAN SPICER, RNC CHIEF STRATEGIST AND COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR: That's right, if this is up to the delegates. That's what it's always been about, and that's what it will be about again.

We follow the same process since the 1800s. We're going to continue to follow the same process, which is we allow delegates to be elected. Those delegates go to the convention, and a majority of them, 1,237 make that decision. Whatever 1,237 delegates say, once someone gets that majority, they become our nominee. Nothing short of that gets you there, though.

BURNETT: All right. So, forget what the voters say. You're going to go with the rules. OK.

But let me ask you this. Tonight, everyone is saying this is a crucial state. And as Maggie Haberman just pointed out, it is. Every state we've come to has been the most important because we don't know who the winner is going to be. Tonight, it's Wisconsin.

If Donald Trump loses Wisconsin, do you think we will not know the GOP nominee until the convention in July, if he doesn't win tonight?

SPICER: No, I think we still have about 800 delegates to go. Tonight, there are 42 at stake in Wisconsin, as you guys noted. Donald Trump needs just under 500 to clinch the 1,237 that he needs.

So, it's still possible, absolutely. He's still well within the mathematical possibility of getting to 1,237 bound delegates that he needs going into a convention. But as each contest goes by, that likelihood of someone not achieving the 1,237 does get a little bit greater, and that we continue to prepare more and more for the potential of that open convention.

BURNETT: All right. So, you're preparing for the potential and you're saying you're going with the rules, which means if someone doesn't have a majority, that's where it's going to be decided, by the delegates.

Therefore, so is it possible, Sean, in your view, that there may be a nominee not named Donald Trump or Ted Cruz?

SPICER: I think it would be highly un -- I don't think believe so, no. I think -- what you're going to see is that -- Governor Kasich, potentially, I mean, he goes. It will be up to the delegates there to decide who gets 1,237.

[19:35:00] I don't think that -- it would be unimaginable to think that it's not one of those three individuals. And again, I think the odds are going to be with the individual that has more delegates. Right now, you know, Donald Trump leads the pack. But Ted Cruz is well -- is in the fight. And I think those two definitely mathematically are closer to 1,237.

Governor Kasich is going to make his pitch to the delegates as well. I don't see anyone outside of those three being in contention.

BURNETT: So, there's a battle for delegates in your party. There aren't a lot of rules. I mean, that seems to be the confusion here. There aren't a lot of rules on what private citizens who become delegates can take in exchange for their votes at the convention, right? You know, you can -- someone could buy them travel, or, you know, we were joking, could you do an Oprah style, buy them a car.

But the point is, there aren't a lot of rules. There aren't a lot of rules here. An election law expert we spoke, Ken Gross (ph), who used to work at the Federal Election Commission, says the legal term for this would be an S star star star show. Hopefully you can spell.

Your response, Sean?

SPICER: Well, it's all -- I mean, probably as Ken would have noted, I think the FEC would ask that anything that is expended needs to be reported. And then I think most of this is frankly going to be up, there's not just a legal piece of this, right? There's also the perception piece for this. So, if word starts getting around that one candidate, one campaign is engaging, is buying delegates, then they've got to understand that there's also a perception issue.

So, there's the legal or reporting and disclosure piece of this that would have to be part of this in terms of the FEC. But then, the campaign's got to make a decision as to what that payment or gift would look like, whether or not that's something they would be comfortable with as well.

BURNETT: Whether it passes the media sniff test.

All right. Thank you very much, Sean Spicer.

Big night obviously on the GOP side. Next, we're counting down. The polls closing in Wisconsin set to close in less than 90 minutes. Trump's wife Melania hitting the campaign trail as he was trailing in the polls. Can she help him with women voters?


[19:40:57] BURNETT: We are just over an hour away when polls close in Wisconsin tonight. We have new details about Donald Trump's plan to build a wall along the border with Mexico of the maybe feeling some of the heat from the polls. Today, he came out with a lot of details, the most detail frankly that we have seen yet.

Trump says he will force Mexico to write a check for up to $10 billion. If not, undocumented Mexican immigrants in the U.S. will be barred from sending money back to families in Mexico. President Obama says the plan will go nowhere.


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.



And, Tom, this is the most detail we've gotten yet from Donald Trump. Obviously, President Obama saying there's no way it will work. How does Donald Trump say that it will work?

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Erin, this is the outline the Trump campaign has. One day, they say, they'll propose a rule making it illegal for anyone who is not an American citizen to wire money to anyone outside of the U.S.

Day two, they expect the Mexican government to protest. But also assess the potential impact, noting that it could mean, according to the Trump campaign, losing about $24 billion a year that is sent to Mexico this way.

And day three, Trump's White House says we'll cancel the plan if you pay for the wall. If Mexico does not immediately agree, the administration would put pressure on legal immigration rights, jack up the cost of visas to pay for the wall and look at trade tariffs, and so on, Erin.

That's the basic plan.

BURNETT: There's the plan. The basic -- the core part of this, though, making it illegal for anyone who is not an American citizen to wire money. Therefore, you would have to know who is and isn't an American citizen and you have to be able to make that illegal and stop those transfers.

Would a President Trump have the power to do that to enforce that?

FOREMAN: We talked to a trade law expert at American University who says, maybe the laws used to fight terrorism and enforce embargoes could be stretched to cover such a plan. It would be a creative interpretation of the law, he points, to be sure.

But the bigger question is, how would it be enforced? This would fall under the Treasury Department presumably. It is unclear how they would descend on countless little shops selling money orders to people, or for that matter, to stop people from stuffing money into envelopes and mailing it.

Of course, the Trump people think all this can be worked out and that Mexico will want to cooperate because the United States is a huge trading partner. But as you know, Erin, Mexican officials have already indicated they will not go along with any version of Trump's plan, and trade wars, of course, can cut both ways -- Erin.

BURNETT: All right. Tom Foreman, thank you.

The panel back with me. OK. So, let me just start with you, Ben. I know you don't like the idea, but he did come out with the most detail that --

FERGUSON: We've got two whole pages from Donald Trump for a wall. That's impressive for him. I will give him kudos, two whole pages. And this is going to put all the bad, and here's your plan. This is going to work.

Go into a Western Union -- news flash for Donald Trump -- they don't ask you if you're an illegal immigrant when you wire money to anywhere in the world. And they will not do it, because it would affect their bottom line.

The idea is so insulting, in my opinion, to the voter, that he thinks because of a memo that he telegraphs six months in advance, seven months in advance, that it will stop illegal immigrants from sending money to Mexico, when they walk into a Western Union or a Wal-Mart, and they're going to say, excuse me, are you an illegal immigrant? If you lie, then what happens?

BURNETT: Why would he take this path? This is the harder path.

FERGUSON: This is the hardest path you can create. It is the hardest path.

SCOTT: He's not saying if you're an illegal. They're, not doing it --

FERGUSON: That's what he said today. He said he would stop illegal immigrants from sending money.

SCOTT: All the money from going legally or illegally. Look, Trump is saying no money transferred -- Mexico is going to pay directly or they're going to pay indirectly.

FERGUSON: It's a talking point.


SCOTT: It reminds me of a friend that I had years ago. OK? Let me say this for the record before they say a Trump surrogate (INAUDIBLE)

He said, you're going to give me my money or I'm going to break your legs and you're going to give me my money. Mexico will pay for the wall or Trump will break them down and they pay for the wall.

FERGUSON: We're not 12 years old. This is not your lunch money.

SCOTT: I'm tired with that 12-year-old stuff. They're going to pay it directly or indirectly. Putting a tax on Western Union transfers is not unreasonable, to Mexico.

FERGUSON: Do you know how many actual laws -- wait, wait, let me finish.

SCOTT: Do you think all money -- do you think all money --

FERGUSON: This is important --

SCOTT: Do you think all money being sent to Mexico is sent to help widows or orphans?

FERGUSON: I've been saying this for two years, the number stimulus of Mexico's economy is illegal immigrants sending money back to Mexico. It is outpacing their oil production.


SCOTT: Many of it from illegal activity as well.


BURNETT: Make your point.

FERGUSON: There are massive laws that you would have to pass to be able to --

SCOTT: Name them.

FERGUSON: Not just one.

SCOTT: Name them.


HOOVER: Every small business that wired money to Mexico, you have to first look at somebody's legal status, and then as a small business, you are now no longer allowed to wire money to Mexico. Two laws, not one, but two.

FERGUSON: You have no idea what you're talking about.

SCOTT: You don't know what you're talking about.


BURNETT: Why not just say, I'm going to say, I'm going to make the trade policies tougher and because of that, the trade deficit will narrow by about $10 billion. And that narrowing pays for the wall. That's the simple way to do it.


BURNETT: OK. Go ahead, Ben.

FERGUSON: Donald Trump had a really, really bad couple weeks. And he's smart. He went back to the one issue that he fell into that connected with voters. And I'm sure his campaign said, we're losing momentum, what are we going to do?

We're going to go back to the wall again and we're going to give a two-page memo, and somehow that's going to help us in the campaign. When you have no idea how the laws would even affect it. This is the most impossible --

BURNETT: OK, hold on one moment.

SCOTT: Trump's bad week is another candidate's best week. That's what you need to understand. Donald Trump's bad week would have been Jeb Bush or Marco Rubio's best week.


BURNETT: Now, hold on. Let's just -- again, taking a step back, if you needed --

SCOTT: He's potentially going to win this primary tonight, after a bad two weeks.

BURNETT: If you need a proof he had, as you call it a challenging week, as some would say, a bad week --


BURNETT: -- you need look no further than last night when he actually put his wife out on the campaign trail when he's been loathed to do and he did. Here's what Melania had to say last night.


MELANIA TRUMP, DONALD TRUMP'S WIFE: No matter who you are, a man, or a woman, he treats everyone equal. He's a fighter. And if you elect him to be your president, he will fight for you and for our country.


BURNETT: How much will that help him?

HOOVER: It definitely softens him. Melania is a classy woman. Everybody likes her. It's nice to see her out there.

But nobody votes for the first lady. You're voting for the man. That's 75 percent unfavorable rating with women.

He's got to win at least -- I mean, Mitt Romney only won 44 percent of the female votes. Republicans do badly with women. He has to do at least what Mitt Romney did better. That is too much work for one woman to turn around.


FERGUSON: Even with a last name Trump.

(CROSSTALK) BURNETT: Pause. OUTFRONT next, last-minute voting underway. We are just about an hour away. Ahead, we're going to check back. All of you going to give your big key headlines of what you're looking for in the next hour.

We'll be right back.


[19:52:54] BURNETT: Welcome back to a special edition of OUTFRONT.

At this moment, the final votes are being cast in Wisconsin's presidential primaries. We're an hour away. The first results will be coming in to CNN after a full day of voting.

Get our closing thoughts from our panel on this crucial night. So, let's start with the Republican side. We'll start with our analysts.

So, John Avlon, on the GOP, what is the most important thing to watch for tonight?

AVLON: Four years ago, Mitt Romney won by 17 points in areas particularly suburban and urban. If Ted Cruz can pull after his first win in an open primary state, how does he do with urban and suburban voters? How does he do with independent voters? That's the test of his electability in the fall, any argument he can make.

BURNETT: Whether he really turns this around.


HABERMAN: I totally agree also. I think for me, as I said earlier, the margins in terms of Trump, is he able to keep it within ten, does it go outside of that? This is a state which is comprised of a lot of movement conservatives. That is not a crowd he's done particularly well with throughout this primary cycle, and he's been savaged on talk radio over many, many days. We will see if how much of an impact that had.

BURNETT: What the margin is, whether it's a big surprise.


FERGUSON: I think you're going to see Ted Cruz have a big win tonight. I think it's probably going to be ten points or more. This is going to be a huge shock to Donald Trump's campaign and this is going to continue on for a long time. The momentum behind Donald Trump and the lack of plans and I think the abortion question hurt him more than anything else this week, it was not authentic and he changed four times and it hurt him.

HOOVER: I think to me, this is either a reset of the race, or this is just a stumbling block for Donald Trump, and what you're going to see is that if Cruz wins, this is essentially the establishment codifying as an anti-Trump movement. They don't like Ted Cruz. Let's be clear. Ted Cruz is not going to

do incredibly well against Hillary Clinton in November. But what the establishment has done is picked their poison and they decided that he's the only guy that can keep the Republican Party at least intact through the convention.

BURNETT: Pastor Scott, tonight?

SCOTT: I expect Donald Trump to be successful tonight. This is not a winner-take-all state. So, if he does not outright win, he will pick up a sizable number of delegates to keep the Trump train going.

I really believe there's a conspiracy against him. I've never seen anything like this in all my years where they just conspire. I've never seen any election where one candidate says don't vote for me, vote for him to keep him from winning.

[19:55:03] It reminds me of a version of a spades game called cut throat, when losers get together to stop the one that's in the lead.

But he's going to do all right. He's going to do all right tonight. He's going to do all right going forward and he will be the nominee.

BURNETT: And you do raise the point, of course, that it isn't a winner-take-all state. That does give him the possibility of getting delegates.

All right. On the Democratic side, obviously a very big night. Bakari, for Hillary Clinton what needs to happen tonight?

SELLERS: Well, I think Hillary Clinton will have a sizable amount of delegates as well. I think that Bernie Sanders is going to squeak out a victory or have a victory tonight, but the race will go on. This race in the Democratic side as Maggie was saying earlier is not as much about momentum as it is demographics moving forward. Those bode very well for Hillary Clinton.

But I think one thing Jonathan and myself and I think Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton supporters are beginning to tell, if we haven't realized already, by the discussions that my friends had on the other side of the table, is that we really are in a battle for the soul of this country. And when Donald Trump comes out with plan you can't take seriously, it means our side needs to come forward and make sure a Democrat is the 45th president of the United States.

BURNETT: All right. Jonathan?

TASINI: Our side will come together because the other side is just wacky.

Second and fourth district in Wisconsin, Madison and Milwaukee, big turnouts tonight will mean a big night for Bernie. It's going to be based a lot I think on the trade issue, Bernie Sanders opposed bad trade agreements for a long time. Hillary Clinton has supported those. He's going to roar into New York and I think he's going to win. BURNETT: And exit polls tonight do show people worried about trade,

think it is taking away jobs on both sides of the aisle. So, we'll see what that means for everyone.

All right. Thanks to all. We're counting down to those polls closing in Wisconsin. Stay with us. We'll be right back.