Return to Transcripts main page


Republicans Headed for Contested Convention?; Hillary's Math; GOP Moves Closer Contested Convention Possibility; Clinton to Sanders: "You Have to Have a Plan". Aired 4-4:30p ET

Aired April 6, 2016 - 16:00   ET



JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: Pull up a chair, grab a traditional slice of New York pizza from Sbarro's, because this is going to be good.

THE LEAD starts right now.

Turning point? A Ted Cruz win pushes the Republican Party closer to a convention cage match. But could Donald Trump's home state and those New York values crush that possibility?

No sleep until Brooklyn. Bernie Sanders keeps rolling with his seventh win in eight contests, but is Clinton's math more powerful than the Sanders' mo?

Plus, Americans now in striking distance of North Korea's nukes, the scary claim and whether the threat now is real.

Good afternoon, everyone. Welcome to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.

Call it a shellacking. Call it what Donald Trump might call it, a schlonging. Whatever you call it, Donald Trump got his make America great hat handed to him last night in Wisconsin, making it less likely that he will be able to achieve the magic number, 1,237 delegates necessary to secure the Republican presidential nomination before the convention.

So, Trump is currently huddling with his delegate adviser in New York today, while a victorious Ted Cruz looks ahead to New York's primary, today trying to explain just what exactly he meant when he accused Trump of having New York values.

CNN chief political correspondent Dana Bash is live in New York, where Republicans are campaigning today.

Dana, are there any signs that Mr. Trump's loss might prompt him to make some changes in his campaign?

DANA BASH, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know very well, Jake, that Donald Trump exceeded everyone's expectations, maybe even his own, by doing things his own unconventional way, but the campaign is clearly entering a new phase where he needs some new blood perhaps to do some things the old-fashioned way.


BASH (voice-over): The unlikely current hero of the GOP establishment arrived in New York riding high after his big Wisconsin win.

SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It culminated four states in a row in the last two weeks where we have beaten Donald Trump over and over and over again. We won men, we won young people, we won every income group.

BASH: As much as Ted Cruz calls his victory a turning point, privately, Cruz sources and anti-Trump strategists admit the next several contests are more likely to go the billionaire's way, not just Trump's home state of New York, but also Pennsylvania, Maryland, Connecticut, Delaware and Rhode Island.

A new poll in the Empire State from Monmouth University shows Trump with a sizable lead at 52 percent, followed by John Kasich in a very distant second at 25 percent, and Ted Cruz dead last at 17.

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We started off with 17 people. I have now got two left. I call them the leftovers, right?

BASH: Still, the Trump campaign appears to be weighing new moves to avoid squandering his favorable terrain, possibly giving newly hired veteran operative Paul Manafort an expanded role to better organize Trump's small and often scattershot campaign.

Such a move could mean sidelining the embattled campaign manager Corey Lewandowski.

TRUMP: Corey, good job, Corey.

BASH: Fiercely loyal to Trump and crucial to getting the billionaire to the top of the heap.

TRUMP: I don't care about rules, folks. I go out, I campaign, we win, we win. We get the delegates.

BASH: And the man who became front-runner following his gut and shooting from the hip is planning something unusual for his campaign, a series of policy addresses. Aides say he's planning to give speeches in the coming weeks on issues from education to the U.S. military.

Despite Trump's moves to be a more traditional candidate, he is still, well, Trump, issuing a blistering statement aimed personally at Cruz after his double-digit defeat in Wisconsin, saying: "Ted Cruz is worse than a puppet. He is a Trojan horse being used by the party bosses attempting to steal the nomination."

Today, Cruz shot back.

CRUZ: He likes to yell and scream and insult and curse. And his statement last night was consistent with that.

(END VIDEOTAPE) BASH: Now, Jake, you remember when Ted Cruz first went after Donald Trump in this campaign and he did so by talking about Trump's New York values. Well, surprise, surprise, now that Cruz is right here in New York asking New Yorkers for their vote, it's a bit awkward.

He was pressed about that comment at a press conference earlier today, to which he answered, no, no, no, no, no, he didn't mean Republican New Yorkers, just liberals with names like Weiner or de Blasio or Cuomo -- Jake.


TAPPER: OK. Dana Bash, thank you. Appreciate it.

Joining me now, advisers to both Donald Trump and Ted Cruz's campaigns, Cruz campaign chairman Chad Sweet and Trump senior press representative Healy Baumgardner.

Thanks to both of you for joining us. Appreciate it.



TAPPER: So, Healy, let me start with you. The day before the White House primary, Donald Trump said he had a good feeling about Wisconsin. What happened?

BAUMGARDNER: Well, what happened was is, lying Ted and the establishment base, as well as all his super PACs, gathered millions of dollars to spread false advertising. It was a complete intimidation and lie to voters.

TAPPER: Chad, let me take you back to this moment. I think you will remember this. Play this sound, please.


CRUZ: I think most people know exactly what New York values are.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I am from New York. I don't.

CRUZ: Well, you're from New York, so you might not, but I promise you, in the state of South Carolina, they do.


TAPPER: A poll in New York taken before the results last night show Senator Cruz in third place behind John Kasich, 35 points behind Donald Trump. Does Senator Cruz regret his comment about New York values?

SWEET: Look, I grew up in Texas, but I went to college at Columbia. I lived in New York City for over 12 years. And believe me, if you're a conservative in that state or Republican, you know exactly what Senator Cruz is talking about.

It's exactly what, frankly, Donald Trump said himself in an interview with Tim Russert when Tim was asking him about liberal things such as even partial-birth abortion and he basically said, look, I do agree with abortion with no limitations, including partial-birth abortion. Why? Because I live in Manhattan, I have grown up in New York, I have New York values.

And so it's not hard to figure out. And again the New Yorkers who have suffered under liberal policies from Cuomo to Weiner, et cetera, all know exactly what the senator is talking about and are excited to have a candidate like Ted Cruz that can offer a much better solution than what the liberals have offered.

TAPPER: Healy, what do you think?

BAUMGARDNER: I think excited is a drastic word to say anything about Ted Cruz, especially him campaigning in New York.

I think there could be nothing further from the truth. I really equate him at this point to the allegory that Mr. Trump reads during some of his speeches, the snake. And Ted Cruz is a snake in the grass and he will stop at nothing to slither his way into the White House and steal the nomination.

TAPPER: Healy, let me play some sound of you. It's something that a longtime friend of Mr. Trump's, Roger Stone, said about Republican National Convention delegates and what he was calling for, what Trump supporters might do at the convention. Let's play that.


ROGER STONE, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: We're going to have protests, demonstrations. We will disclose the hotels and the room numbers of those delegates who are directly involved in the steal.

If you're from Pennsylvania, we will tell you who the culprits are. We urge you to visit their hotel and find them.


TAPPER: Find the culprits? It sounds like this could get really ugly. Does that plan from Roger Stone have the Trump campaign's approval?

BAUMGARDNER: I think that a lot of tertiary people throughout this election cycle make statements.

No, that's not from the campaign. If anyone is infesting violence, it's the protesters who come to Mr. Trump's events, who stand outside, who harass, intimidate and cause physical harm to our supporters. And our focus is winning the votes in these states coming up and getting enough delegates to where a contested convention won't be the problem.

TAPPER: Chad, let me ask you, how will it be able -- how can Ted Cruz unite the Republican Party if he goes into the convention and neither he nor Donald Trump has the magic number of delegates, 1,237, and somehow even though Trump has more, theoretically, Cruz ends up with the nomination?

How are you going to be are to get all those Trump supporters who will feel like the nomination was stolen?

SWEET: Jake, he's doing it. He's uniting the party already. Just look at what has happened. Five of the former contestants for -- candidates for president have all come and joined him, whether it's Carly Fiorina, Rick Perry, Lindsey Graham, Scott Walker, et cetera.

They're all coming to Senator Cruz. And what we just saw, for example, in the last four races, if you think about Utah, there were over 40 delegates available. He won 40 out of 40. Trump got zero. Then you go to Colorado, the latest opportunities. There were six delegates up for grabs. Cruz got six, Trump got zero.

Look then at North Dakota. Of the 18 -- 19 that have declared support for any candidate, Senator Cruz got 18, Trump got 1. And then we just saw last night in Wisconsin where, as you said, Senator Cruz crushed it, we got 36 delegates, Trump got six.

If you just look at what's just happened, I know people keep saying how do you get to the 1,237? The reality is you have to get to a high percentage, and they say that's impossible. Well, guess what?


If you look at the numbers, by my math, those last four very different states, Utah, Colorado, North Dakota, and Wisconsin, that's 100 delegates Senator Cruz has accumulated to Trump's seven. That's a 94 percent win rate.

So think about that when you look at the context of uniting the party, bringing people together. And if you look at the exit polls, I just encourage everyone to go to CNN's Election Center Web site, you will see there across multiple demographics, whether evangelicals, or nonevangelicals, urban, suburban, rural, you look at even millennials or over 65, where he beat Trump by over 11 points, again and again and again, the senator is uniting the party across all different groups.

And he's excited to continue to move forward to doing that in the coming contests ahead.

TAPPER: Thanks, Chad. Appreciate it. Healy, appreciate it. Thanks so much.

And 1,237, that is the magic number. And now that it looks more and more likely Republicans need to plan for a contested convention, what will that mean for the candidates? Will it hurt the party in the general election? We will look at that after this quick break.


[16:15:11] TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD. Staying with politics and a growing challenge for Donald Trump to hit 1,237. That's the number of delegates needed for a Republican candidate to secure his party's nomination.

Here's the breakdown right now. Trump has 746 delegates, Ted Cruz has 510. This is after his Wisconsin win last night. John Kasich trailing with 145 delegates. The next big contest is April 19th -- the delegate-rich New York primary.

But there's another key date emerging on your calendars. July 18th. July 18th is the beginning of the Republican National Convention and that could usher in a new round of campaigning as an open or contested convention looks increasingly likely.

Let's talk about that possibility and what it will mean with CNN delegate analyst Mike Shields. He's a former chief of staff for the Republican National Committee.

Thanks so much for being here, Mike. Appreciate it.

So, Ted Cruz is already preparing for this fight. Listen to him during this victory speech last night in Wisconsin.


SEN. TED CRUZ (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Either before Cleveland or at the convention in Cleveland. Together, we will win a majority of the delegates, and together, we will beat Hillary Clinton in November.


TAPPER: Likely for him in Cleveland, it would have to be. What should candidates, Cruz, Trump, Kasich, what should they be doing to prepare for this possibility?

MIKE SHIELDS, CNN DELEGATE ANALYST: I think they are now and I think the Trump campaign is now trying to get up to speed, which is an indication that they believe this might go to Cleveland as well. I mean, let's just say, it isn't mathematically over yet. Trump could still get the delegates he needs.

TAPPER: He needs something like 64 percent, 65 percent of the rest --

SHIELDS: Very high percentage. There's only five winner-take-all states left out of the 17. So, now, what they're doing is running sort of two campaigns. One to voters, to try to get as many delegates as they can, and the other to actual delegates.

The delegates are people, they're going to vote on the floor in Cleveland. There's going to be a ballot. If Trump doesn't get on that first ballot, there's going to be a second ballot. The delegates are then unbound, they can vote however they want. So, you've got to run a campaign to those people to get them to vote for you. And that's now, after last night, you're seeing that's really under way on sort of two tracks. TAPPER: And what are you allowed to do when it comes to winning over

the delegates? Are you allowed to cut them a check or are you allowed to offer them a job?

SHIELDS: Well, that would be reported to the FEC as an expenditure. So, you know, so we're sort of in new territory under the campaign finance laws. But you can't bribe someone to vote for you. That's against the law, but a vote in a convention is a little bit different.

So, I think you're going to see wooing. You're going to see people being asked to parties, people invited to events, maybe promise them to get meetings with people, you're going to have surrogates going and campaigning to them.

I think you're going to cross the line -- unless you hire them and actually bring them onto your staff, paying them is going to be something that will have to be reported as an expenditure and then the press is going to get ahold of that.

TAPPER: Now, this happened in 1976 most recently, very intense fight between Ronald Reagan and incumbent President Gerald Ford. How nasty and bitter did that get?

SHIELDS: Well, you know, that's sort of the last time that we've been faced with a front-runner who went into the convention but didn't have enough delegates. Of course what happened there was Reagan saw it as an opportunity to cut a deal so there wasn't a floor fight there. It was something where they had agreed to be endorsed and for Reagan to come on and give the speech at the end to be introduced by Ford, that propelled his candidacy.

So, some of these situations can turn out to be a planning for the future. This has been a pretty bitter campaign. It's hard to say that right now, but there's a lot of turns still to go.

TAPPER: All right. Thank you so much, Mike Shields, our delegate analyst. That's a cool job, delegate analyst. Thanks so much.

Sticking with our politics lead, after being civil, the Democrats are starting to sound as if they're taking a page from the Republicans and they're getting nasty.

Stay with us.




[16:23:25] HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Yes, well -- I mean, it's just ludicrous on the face of it. You know, I have --


TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD. Hillary Clinton literally LOL, laughing out loud, during an interview on CNN earlier today. Why? Clinton was responding to what the campaign manager of her rival, Bernie Sanders, said to me in response to the Clinton campaign may start becoming more aggressive towards Sanders. Both the Clinton and Sanders campaign have been, especially compared with the Republican contests, pulling their proverbial punches, knowing that whomever wins will need the other's supporters.

But starting today, Secretary Clinton is raising more pointed questions and launching tougher attacks on whether Sanders even understands the basics of one of his fundamental campaign promises, for example.

CNN senior Washington correspondent Joe Johns is traveling with former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. He joins us now from Philadelphia.

Joe, just in the last few hours, Clinton seems to be really taking on a tougher tone.

JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Definitely a tougher tone, Jake. But reprising some of the themes she has touched on in the past, the Clinton camp making it clearer than ever that they'd like to close this thing out if they can and start spending their money on the Republicans, but it's also evidence of something else. They need a big bounce-back win after the losing performance in Wisconsin.


JOHNS (voice-over): Hillary Clinton is ratcheting up her attacks on Bernie Sanders.

CLINTON: You've got to know what you want. You've got to have a plan for getting it.

JOHNS: She's trying to blunt Sanders' momentum following his victory in Tuesday's Wisconsin primary.

[16:25:02] SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We have now won seven out of eight of the last caucuses and primaries.

JOHNS: While he has the momentum, the math is not on his side. Clinton holds a lead of 229 among pledged delegates. The margin grows to 681 when super delegates are included.

SANDERS: And I think that a lot of these super delegates are going to be looking around them and that are going to be saying which candidate has the momentum.

JOHNS: The Clinton campaign is hoping to bring an end to the primary fight, launching a new offensive against Sanders, looking to disqualify him in the weeks leading up to the New York primary on April 19th. Clinton today telling union workers in Pennsylvania that Sanders' policies are not realistic. CLINTON: I am concerned that some of his ideas just won't work

because the numbers don't add up. The number of important areas he doesn't have a plan at all.

JOHNS: And questioning Sanders' party loyalty in an interview with CNN.

CLINTON: Senator Sanders by his own admission has never even been a Democrat. He never ran as a Democrat until he started running for president.

JOHNS: Sanders also facing scrutiny for struggling to offer specifics on a key part of his agenda, breaking up the Wall Street banks, during an interview with the "New York Daily News" editorial board.

SANDERS: How you go about doing it is having legislation passed, or giving the authority to the secretary of treasury to determine, under Dodd-Frank, that these banks are danger to the economy over the problem of a too big to fail.

NEW YORK DAILY NEWS: But do you think the Fed now has the authority?

SANDERS: Well, I don't know if the Fed has it.

JOHNS: Clinton today seizing on the stumble. Her campaign even sending the full transcript to supporters in e-mail.

CLINTON: Seemed unclear as to whether he understood how Dodd-Frank worked, how we would go about breaking up banks. So I was, I think, a little bit surprised that there didn't seem to be a lot of substance to what he was saying.

JOHNS: As the race continues to intensify, the Sanders campaign firing off a warning shot to its rival.

TAPPER: Are you prepared for a brass knuckles tough campaign, more difficult charges and accusations from the Clinton campaign?

JEFF WEAVER, SANDERS CAMPAIGN MANAGER: This is what I would say to them, which is: don't destroy the Democratic Party to satisfy the secretary's ambitions to become president of the United States, right? We want to have a party at the end of this that we can unify.

JOHNS: Clinton's response today?

CLINTON: Yes, well -- I mean, it's just ludicrous on the face of it.


JOHNS: The Sanders' campaign has responded to the dust-up in his interview with the "New York Daily News" by suggesting it's much ado about nothing. Hopefully, the candidate will be here tomorrow morning taking some reporters' questions.

Jake, back to you.

TAPPER: All right. Joe Johns in the great city of Philadelphia, thank you.

Ahead, we'll talk to supporters of both Sanders and Clinton.

Plus, a nuclear nightmare that could be closer to becoming a reality. The claim that Americans are now in range of North Korea's warheads. That story after this quick break.