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Final Campaign Push on Eve of New York Primary; 'SNL' Spoofs CNN Democratic Debate; Bus Explodes in Jerusalem; Another Test Launch Looms from North Korea. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired April 18, 2016 - 17:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Happening now, ending Trump's slump. After weeks of watching Ted Cruz snap up delegates, GOP front-runner Donald Trump is predicting a big win in his home state of New York. Could that put him back on the path to the nomination?

[17:00:18] Showbiz. Trump says the last GOP convention was boring. He says the gathering needs some showbiz. But may be warning of a showdown, saying his supporters will be angry if he's denied the nomination.

Neck-and-neck. Bernie Sanders pulls almost even with Hillary Clinton in the latest national poll, but with Clinton's big delegate lead, is Sanders putting it all together too late?

And rush hour explosion. An apparent bomb blows up a bus, setting off a fire ball in the middle of the rush hour in a major city. Almost two dozen people are hurt. Is it a terror attack?

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

We're counting down to the New York primary. It's critical for both parties, with 95 delegates up for grabs on the Republican side and 247 delegates up for grabs on the Democratic side.

Donald Trump says New York is vital. He's looking to get back on a roll on his home turf after watching Ted Cruz pick up delegates in state after state with a well-organized ground operation. Trump accuses Cruz of wining and dining delegates, accusing GOP officials of rigging the delegate system, and says if he wins the nomination, he may dump the party chairman.

Cruz is predicting a November blood bath if Republicans nominate true [SIC] -- Trump.

Police, meanwhile, say an explosive device set off a fireball on a bus during Jerusalem's rush hour. Twenty-one people were wounded and another bus and a car were damaged. Police say it was an attack, but so far there's been no claim of responsibility.

And a new warning tonight that North Korea is getting ready for another nuclear test. South Korea's president says preparations have been detected. The U.S. is watching closely, with one official saying Kim Jong-un is taking a, quote, "dangerous path. I'll speak with Republican Congressman Adam Kinzinger. And our correspondents, analysts and guests will have coverage of all the day's top stories.

We begin with the GOP race and our senior White House correspondent, Jim Acosta. He's in Buffalo, New York, for us. Jim, Donald Trump playing on his home field. Can he get back on the winning track?

JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Wolf. After losing a series of contests from Wisconsin to Wyoming, Donald Trump is looking to win his first primary in weeks here in New York. He'll be in Buffalo here in a couple of hours, and he's expected to go back after the GOP system of picking a nominee later on tonight. It is a system he calls a sham.


ACOSTA (voice-over): One day before the New York primary, Donald Trump wants the voters to know how much he loves his home state.

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Look at the other folks that are running. They couldn't care less about New York. We do care about New York, and we care about New York a lot; and we care about New York values.

ACOSTA: And how much he hates the Republican Party system for picking a president.

TRUMP: We have a system that's rigged. We have a system that's crooked.

ACOSTA: At just about every turn, Trump is warning the GOP of the consequences of denying him the nomination, if he's ahead in the delegate count but just short of the magic number needed to win.

TRUMP: You're going to have a very, very upset and angry group of people at the convention. I hope it doesn't involve violence. And I don't think it will. But I will say this. It's a rigged system.

ACOSTA: For weeks, he's seen delegates slip away to Ted Cruz in places like Wyoming, where party insiders and activists pick the a winner, and even in states where the real-estate tycoon has won, like Georgia, some delegates are pledging their support to Cruz if Trump fails to win in the first round of voting at the July convention.

TRUMP: The fact that you're taking all of these people out and wining them and ding them, nobody does that stuff better than me. I just don't want to do it.

ACOSTA: Trump's fight with the GOP escalating into a new war of words with Cruz.

SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: If I'm the nominee, we win the general election.

ACOSTA: In a tweet, Trump suggested the RNC is in on the scam, saying, "Lyin' Ted Cruz can't win with the voters, so he has to sell himself to the bosses." Cruz is hitting back, tweeting, "Donald, over 1.3 million people just

voted in Utah, North Dakota, Wisconsin, Colorado, Wyoming. You lost all five in a row by huge margins. No whining."

CRUZ: Donald is not a complicated man to understand. He doesn't handle losing well.

ACOSTA: Trump is sending a message to RNC officials, saying if he's the nominee, buckle up. He told "The Washington Post" he'd like to put some showbiz into the convention.

CLINT EASTWOOD, ACTOR: We didn't check with the Russians to see how they did there for the ten years.

ACOSTA: Despite Clint Eastwood's bizarre performance back in 2012. And Trump said RNC chair Reince Priebus could be out of a job. Priebus shrugged off Trump's complaints about the delegate system as hyperbole.

[17:05:08] REINCE PRIEBUS, RNC CHAIR: Since I know what the truth is, I don't really worry about it, because I know what is right and I know what is wrong.

ACOSTA: But Trump is also looking ahead to the general election, meeting with his diversity council to improve his standing with minority voters.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When I say Donald, you say Trump.

ACOSTA: And he's even coined a new nickname for Hillary Clinton.

TRUMP: We have Crooked Hillary. Crooked Hillary, folks.


ACOSTA: Now, despite his recent struggles, Donald Trump is poised to go on a roll over the next couple of weeks. The polls show he is poised perhaps to sweep up all of the delegates up for grabs here in New York.

And then the battle shifts to the northeast and continues to remain in the northeast, where he's in a very strong position to continue gathering delegates. That could put some serious distance between himself and Ted Cruz and John Kasich.

Wolf, if Donald Trump is looking for leverage over the next couple of weeks with the RNC, he may have it with these next contests coming up.

BLITZER: He's getting ready to speak where you are, at First Niagara. Senator, that's the home of the Buffalo Sabres, the hockey team. It seats almost 20,000 people. Are they expecting a crowd like that?

ACOSTA: That's right, Wolf. It's also the home of Wolf Blitzer, if I'm not mistaken. Yes, they are predicting -- they're boldly predicting they're going to fill up this arena where the Buffalo Sabres play, Wolf. This is Donald Trump's home ice tonight, you might say.

Just taking a look at the crowd right now, they don't have the seats filled all the way up to the rafters just yet, but they're hopeful. That would obviously be a very good sign if they can pull that off here in Buffalo later on tonight.

BLITZER: Certainly would. Beautiful Buffalo, New York. All right. Thanks very much for that. We'll stay in close touch with you.

Meanwhile, Senator Ted Cruz is looking past New York state. He's campaigning in Maryland right now. It votes a week from tomorrow, and predicting a blood bath in November if the Republicans were to nominate Donald Trump.

CNN's Sunlen Serfaty is following the Cruz campaign. Sunlen, has the senator completely given up on New York?

SERFATY: Well, Wolf, Senator Cruz is not predicting confidence in any way for his chances in tomorrow's New York primary, not in his rhetoric or, frankly, not in his schedule either. It's all about moving ahead and looking past New York.

A Cruz campaign official telling me today that they do predict Donald Trump will do very well in his home state of New York tomorrow. Their goal is just to be able to pick off a few delegates from him.

Today, Senator Cruz was not campaigning outright in New York, holding no official campaign event, opting more for closed-door fundraisers in New York and around -- TV interviews, no last-minute campaign rallies to shore up any last-minute votes in New York. Instead, he is here in Maryland.

This is a state that votes next Tuesday, April 26, and a state where Senator Cruz believes he can pick up quite a few delegates going forward. And he spoke about the importance of this case to this crowd here earlier today.


CRUZ: Now, Maryland votes just over a week from now. Maryland is a battleground. Maryland is going to have an outsized voice as the nation is looking to Maryland to decide, do we nominate Donald Trump and hand the election to Hillary Clinton?




CRUZ: Or do we unite behind the Cruz campaign and beat Hillary Clinton?


SERFATY: And as a campaign move to rougher terrain for Senator Cruz, that's such a key part of the Cruz campaign strategy: not looking for outright wins in any poll states but rather, according to Cruz campaign officials, targeting specific areas in these specific states where they can really target and turn out key Republican votes and pick off delegates where they can.

A Cruz campaign official saying that not only are they focusing here but in Connecticut, Rhode Island and Indiana. And Wolf tomorrow night, election night, Senator Cruz will not be New York. He will be in Pennsylvania, a state that votes next week, as well -- Wolf.

BLITZER: It's a week from tomorrow. All right. Thanks very much, Sunlen Serfaty, reporting from Towson, Maryland.

Joining us now, Republican Congressman Adam Kinzinger of Illinois. Congressman, thanks very much for coming in.


BLITZER: You haven't endorsed anyone who's still standing, right?

KINZINGER: No, not really.

BLITZER: You're still waiting to pick up your mind?


BLITZER: Are you looking closely at all three of them at some point?

KINZINGER: Yes. I mean, look, I'll tell you, I have a hard time ever getting to yes on Donald Trump. So I know that.

BLITZER: So he's out?

KINZINGER: He's out.

BLITZER: What about Cruz?

KINZINGER: Look, you know, Cruz, there's been disagreements with Cruz in the past but mainly over tactics, not really over principle. Some issue differences. So I could be OK with him, and obviously, Kasich, I would really like to see. You know, it's a tough path there, a path that would happen through a contested convention. So yes, I mean, look...

BLITZER: All things being equal, your first choice would be Kasich, second choice Cruz and never Trump?

KINZINGER: Yes. I have a hard time seeing how I ever get to Trump.

BLITZER: Is the process rigged, as Trump alleges?

KINZINGER: No. I mean, look, if the process was rigged, you would not have Ted Cruz and Donald Trump as the two front-runners of the Republican Party right now. You'd have somebody else. So no, it's not rigged. It's just the rules. Each state chooses to do it differently. It's a state. You know, we believe in federalism, the strength of the state. The state can choose -- the state parties can choose how they want to do nominations. We do a primary in Illinois. Some places do caucuses. It's the rules. The rules are known.

[17:10:13] And Donald Trump basically, in all he brags about being able to, you know, bring people together and make deals and all this kind of stuff, he's unable to simply run for president.

BLITZER: Well, Trump says some states do primaries; some states do caucuses; but other states, like Colorado, do a convention where a relatively small percentage of the people, Republicans out there, get to make that decision. He says that's rigged, because the overwhelming majority of Republicans don't even have a chance to vote.

KINZINGER: It's amazing just the amount of whining that comes from him when he's not getting his way. And -- and that's what's happening. I mean, look, he could have gone out and competed in Colorado, in Wyoming. But he didn't have a strong enough team in place to know what needed to be done.

So you know, look, he's running a strong campaign. He is the front- runner for the Republican Party. I'm not going to take that away from him but don't whine when you don't get your way, when you probably could have gone on the Internet and found out what the rules are in each state.

BLITZER: If he wins big in New York -- and that's what the polls suggest -- you know, the polls, they could be wrong. If he wins big in New York and then next week wins big in Pennsylvania and Maryland, Connecticut, some of these other states along the mid-Atlantic states, Northeast, could that propel them to get that nomination on the first round?

KINZINGER: Yes, very possibly. I think it will definitely put him in a better position. You see this is a game about momentum. When Ted Cruz won Wisconsin, he had momentum. Now the momentum's going to shift to Donald Trump after this.

The question is, does he get to the magical 1,237 number? Yes, and look, the math is very tough on that. Ted Cruz, I think, is going to be competitive in California, be able to peel off some delegates. And Indiana, Indiana is going to be a firewall for Ted Cruz.

BLITZER: 1,237, that's the magic number.

KINZINGER: That's right.

BLITZER: He needs -- 1,237 is the magic number he needs in that first round. If he is the Republican nominee, I assume you would prefer him over Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders?

KINZINGER: Donald Trump?


KINZINGER: Yes, I would prefer him over them. I have a hard time seeing how I get to yes on Trump ever, though. BLITZER: Even if he's a nominee?

KINZINGER: It's going to be tough. I'm not a "never Trump" guy, because I never want to say "never" on that. I have a hard time seeing how I get there when I hear him talk about his foreign policy and those knee-jerk reaction is to say no NATO and then he walks it back later and other things.

Look, I put my country above my party. I'll do that any day of the week.

BLITZER: Cruz says if Trump is the nominee, in his words, there will be an electoral bloodbath of Walter Mondale proportions. I guess the bottom line, a lot of Republicans are fearful the Republican Party could really be damaged.

KINZINGER: Yes. And that's the thing. Donald Trump is good at branding. He tries to brand this as, you know, people in Washington being afraid that they are going to lose control. That's not it at all.

It's that people in Washington or folks that are in politics understand that he loses huge to Hillary Clinton. He's the only one getting absolutely crushed by her head to head, and that has implications beyond just 2016. The entire future of the Supreme Court is up, not just in this appointment that has to be filled but in the next four years, there's going to be a number of vacancies. This is a serious issue.

BLITZER: You think Republicans -- you're up for re-election in November. You think, if Trump is the leader of the Republican ticket, the presidential nominee, it could hurt down ballot, people who are running, Republicans who are running for reelection?

KINZINGER: Yes, I definitely don't think it helps. I mean, look, he's got terrible numbers among women, terrible numbers among Hispanics.

Mitt Romney won white men to the proportion that Ronald Reagan did in 1984 and lost by millions of votes. We've got to -- we've got to grow our party. We have to talk about who belongs and not who doesn't belong. That's not Donald Trump that talks like that.

BLITZER: All right, Congressman, there's other news that I want to discuss with you. I want to take a quick break.

Much more with Adam Kinzinger, the Republican congressman from Illinois, right after this.


BLITZER: During a very brief and unannounced visit to Baghdad today, Defense Secretary Ash Carter announced the United States will send more than 200 additional troops to Iraq to serve as advisers and trainers. Attack helicopters are being sent. We're back with Adam Kinzinger of Illinois. He's an Air Force pilot,

flew missions in both Iraq and Afghanistan. Is this a good idea to start increasing the number of U.S. troops? About 4,000 there now.

KINZINGER: Yes, I think it's a good idea to send more. I fear kind of incrementalism. You know, the idea we're going to send a few more in, just a few more. You know, that brings back a lot of people's fear of Vietnam.

I think, really, what needs to happen is the president just needs to say, "Hey, look," or have a determination between zero troops and, you know, basically World War II level. Somewhere on that spectrum is the amount of force necessary to secure this threat, and we're going to actually implement that now.

BLITZER: That's sad to think about that. You served in Iraq; you served in Afghanistan. I went to Iraq.

The secretary of defense, Ash Carter, he goes there for a few hours. Last week, the secretary of state, John Kerry, was there. Neither one of them can even spend the night in Baghdad, because apparently, too dangerous. They fly in. They don't announce anything. They meet some troops, they meet some folks. They fly right out. They go to Abu Dhabi or whatever, because it's not safe.

What does that say to you? All of these years later, that a defense secretary or secretary of state are not even able to spend the night in Baghdad?

KINZINGER: It's well said. It hurts. I mean, when I left Iraq the last time in 2009 as a military guy, it was -- we had the war basically won. Al Qaeda, Iraq was almost decimated; and Iraq was a fairly safe place. We can revisit what went wrong after that. But you know, it is sad to see.

Now, I'm still hopeful that, in the long run, after ISIS is defeated, when the political situation is figured out, that Iraq will be seen eventually as a success story. That's my hope and that America's sacrifices there, Wolf...

[17:20:11] BLITZER: But the Iraqi military, you know the Iraqi military. You served alongside them. They -- the U.S. spent billions and billions of dollars training the Iraqi military and for now, two years, they can't even retake the second largest city in Iraq, Mosul, a city where a lot of U.S. troops fought and died to take that city and all -- and ISIS is still in control.

KINZINGER: I used to land my plane into Mosul just to refuel. Felt totally safe doing it. And, yes, I mean, it's sad.

And one of the problems we saw with the Iraqi military is you had basically a melting away of good officers. And as with any military, you have to have good leaders, and that didn't happen. It became, in essence, secularized and -- or segregated into a different kind of whatever you believe. And so that became a problem. And the military melted away, and it's

almost like having to rebuild. You have the infrastructure in place, but you don't have the leadership in place. And that's the hope, is to get the leadership in place so that the vast bulk of the fighting can be by the Iraqis, as it should be.

BLITZER: You know Iraq well. You served there. There's the Shiite leadership now, very closely aligned with the Iranian Shiite leadership over there. And then the Sunnis don't trust the Shiites in Iraq. Then there's the Kurds. They basically have their own autonomous area right now and maybe eventually will have their own state.

Can Iraq ever really be a unified democratic place that the U.S. invested so much to help create after Saddam Hussein?

KINZINGER: I think eventually. I think that to imagine that somehow they're going to hold hands and be basically as unified as the United States is -- probably is not realistic anytime soon. I'm sure the Kurds are going to have some level of autonomy in the future. And there's going to be a power-sharing agreement between the Shiites and the Sunnis.

But keep in mind, Iraq looked fairly unified by the time we left. It was when, basically, all this kind of cancer came in and reignited these tensions.

So I think it's something that we can eventually see success in.

The one thing we have to be very careful of, though, is there are people that are suggesting just dividing Iraq into three different places and leaving, three different countries and leaving. That will start, basically, a fire throughout the Middle East of everybody wanting to be their own independent nation and keep in mind there are Sunni and Shiite territories and everything else. I think the result of that would be bad.

BLITZER: Looks like there's a fire in Middle East right now.

KINZINGER: There is a fire.

BLITZER: Even without that. That's going on there.

Very quickly on Russia right now, these close encounters that we've seen between these Russian warplanes and U.S. warships, you're a pilot. You understand what's going on. Very disturbing.

The president spoke with Putin today. Anything positive going to come out of that conversation?

KINZINGER: Well, it's fine when the president speaks to Putin. Fine. I guess he didn't even bring up these issues of these aircraft. He said, "Well, it's happened a lot in the past."

Look, this is a serious problem. It's one thing to do a show of force intercept. It's another thing to get within 30 feet of a naval vessel and a reconnaissance plane. This is going to lead to an escalating conflict if they're not careful. The Russian military is not as good as ours.

BLITZER: Congressman Kinzinger, thanks very much for coming in.


BLITZER: Adam Kinzinger is a Republican from Illinois.

We've got other news coming in THE SITUATION ROOM. Let's take a quick break. We'll be right back.


[17:27:43] BLITZER: Donald Trump getting ready to hold a rally tonight in Buffalo, New York, as he aims to take in a big haul of delegates in tomorrow's crucial New York Republican primary.

Let's bring in three of our political experts. Joining us, CNN political commentator, the Atlantic Media contributing editor Peter Beinart; also CNN political commentator, Ana Navarro; and another of our political commentators, "The New Yorker Magazine's" Washington correspondent, Ryan Lizza.

Ryan, Donald Trump meeting in New York at Trump Tower today with his diversity coalition, coming out showing he's got minority support, African-American support, Hispanic support. He's trying to show he can bring the country together. How's he doing?

RYAN LIZZA, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, he's not doing so well in terms of bringing minorities into his campaign. He has seen the same numbers that we've all seen and have been talking about for the last month. His -- basically, this spring, his numbers with nonwhite voters completely collapsed. Right? Front page news. Every poll has shown him with 60, 70, 80 percent disapproval among most major nonwhite groups, African-Americans, Hispanics.

So if he is the nominee, and he is going to go into the general election, as it has been pointed out many times, as the most unpopular major party nominee in the history of polling, so he has to do quite a bit to turn that around. So he's got this two-front war on his hands. One, he's still got to beat back Cruz for the nomination. At the same time, he has to completely turn around those disapproval numbers.

BLITZER: Ana, he keeps saying the system is corrupt, it's rigged. He said he could have gone to Wyoming and he's better toys to entice some of those delegates, 14 delegates in Wyoming. He doesn't want to do that. He's above that.

But he's doing really well. He's ahead in the delegates, and he's got about a 2 million margin ahead in the actual popular vote.

ANA NAVARRO, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think he keeps talking about the rigged system and he keeps complaining and whining about this because he's laying out a narrative now that he may need come July during the convention. He wants to make sure that he can apply a lot of pressure on those

delegates, he can apply a lot of pressure on the RNC, he can build the narrative and tell the story that this nomination is being taken away from his hands. If he comes close to the number, the magic number of 1,237 delegates, but doesn't quite get there. He is laying out the conditions so as to create raucous and to be able to create pressure and leverage at that convention.

[17:30:09] But he's going to have to fight and play by the rules, no matter what happens.

BLITZER: Is it -- Peter, if Trump -- he's suggested already that he's the front-runner, he's the all-but-sure nominee, if you will. Let's say he doesn't reach that magic number of 1,237 delegates on the first round. Does he have a precedent there for that argument that he should get the nomination on the first round, even if he doesn't exactly get that number?

PETER BEINART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes, he does. Because in recent memory, that's always been the way it's been. It's always been that we -- it's always been the case of the person with the most delegates, the person with the most votes has gotten the nomination, because they've gotten to that majority number they need.

I think that a lot will depend on how close he gets. If he's -- if he's very close, I think it becomes harder to deny him the nomination.

But I think, at the very least, the Republican Party, if he doesn't get the nomination, would try to do everything it could to try to appease him somehow so he doesn't cause utter chaos. But, you know, given that it's Donald Trump, I think those chances of being able to do that are probably pretty slim.

BLITZER: He also says the convention in Cleveland in July should have a showbiz atmosphere. He says the last one four years ago was sort of boring. What do you think a showbiz atmosphere in Cleveland will look like?

BEINART: You know, look, just -- I think you don't have to worry about showbiz. I think the one thing that we can be pretty sure about is the convention in Cleveland will not be boring. It may be dangerous; it may be violent; it may be frightening; it may be all those things, but it's not going to be boring, given the fact that you're going to have Donald Trump there, basically facing off against the Republican Party.

So I think of all the things they need to worry about, boring is not the problem.

BLITZER: If he does get the nomination, he's the leader of the Republican Party, and he said in a "Washington Post" interview, you know, he may not keep Reince Priebus on as chairman of the Republican National Committee. It's pretty extraordinary to have this rift between the front-runner of the Republican Party and the chairman of the Republican Party. It would be completely unprecedented, because usually, once the

nominee is decided, there's a great deal of deference given to that nominee. As you say, he's then the head of the Republican Party. And he usually is allowed to choose his own staff at the RNC. He's usually allowed, in a sort of friendly way, to replace the RNC chairman if he wants. I mean, this is an unprecedented situation.

But my understanding is, when you want to change the RNC chairman, you can't just unilaterally do it. There's a process. Right? There's the RNC members that have to decide that. In previous years, the membership might decide it as a deference to the nominee and by going with someone else. But it does not sound like Reince Priebus is going to hand over his chairmanship if Trump is the nominee.

NAVARRO: Well, and the RNC does a lot more than just help elect a president -- presidential nominee.

LIZZA: That's right.

NAVARRO: They also have a down-ballot obligation that they have to fulfill. And I think a lot of people in Congress and the Senate are very happy with the way that Reince Priebus is behaving and are going to be worried about who's going to have fiduciary duty, fiduciary obligation over their account and the money that has been raised for those races.

BLITZER: All right. I just want to play a little clip. "Saturday Night Live," they had a little, I guess, skit if you will, on the Democratic presidential debate in Brooklyn. Watch this.


BECK BENNETT, CAST MEMBERS, NBC'S "SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE": Good evening, and welcome to the CNN Democratic debate, live from Brooklyn, New York. I'm Wolf Blitzer, and believe it or not, I shaved five minutes ago.

Secretary Clinton, we'll start with you. You recently stood by Governor Cuomo as he signed a $15 minimum wage into law, so do you no longer think it should be $12?

KATE MCKINNON, CAST MEMBER, NBC'S "SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE": Yes. Wolf, I have said from the beginning that it should be a combination of 12 and/or 15.

LARRY DAVID, ACTOR/WRITER: No, you didn't. You always said 12.

MCKINNON: And 15. I said 12 and/or 15.

DAVID: No, that's not true.

MCKINNON: Yes, it is.

DAVID: No, it is not. No. No. No.

MCKINNON: Yes, it is. DAVID: Fine.


DAVID: It burns. It burns.

BENNETT: Secretary Clinton, come on, let him go.

MCKINNON: That's how we do it in Brooklyn, baby.


BLITZER: Pretty clever.

NAVARRO: You know, I have to tell you, I know the real Wolf Blitzer; and I think the real Wolf Blitzer has a better beard than that.

BLITZER: He had a good beard.

NAVARRO: These "SNL" writers, these comedy writers, these comedians should be paying the RNC, the DNC to put on this convention, because you can't make this stuff up.

BLITZER: This is -- Peter, this is good stuff, isn't it?

BEINART: That was terrific, and I think bringing -- bring Larry David back to do Bernie Sanders is just an absolute stroke of genius. I mean, it's uncanny how similar they sound.

LIZZA: What would you do if you had two candidates who actually came close? Is there a plan for that?

[17:35:06] NAVARRO: Actually, the question is, would you prefer to moderate a debate between Larry David and -- or Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders?

BLITZER: Larry David, he's really -- all right, guys, stand by. Much more coming up. We'll take a quick break. We'll be right back.


BLITZER: A new national poll shows the race for the Democratic presidential nomination is closer than ever, but Hillary Clinton is hoping a big win in tomorrow's New York Democratic primary will help her pull away from Bernie Sanders in the hunt for convention delegates.

[17:40:09] Our senior political correspondent, Brianna Keilar, is in New York City for us. Brianna, what are the candidates saying in their final pitches to the voters today?

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, they've been all over New York city and the surrounding areas, Wolf, making their final case against each other, really.

Hillary Clinton hitting Bernie Sanders on guns, his college plan and even women's issues. Bernie Sanders concentrating very much on Hillary Clinton's ties to Wall Street and wealthy donors, with a little bit of help from his supporters.



KEILAR (voice-over): Bernie Sanders and Hillary are making their final push in New York.

CLINTON: New York, have my back, and I've always tried to have your back. And I will again if I'm so fortunate enough to be elected your president.

KEILAR: The Clinton camp is feeling bullish, while Sanders, once talking up his chances in New York, is now tamping down expectations on CNN.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (D-VT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: One of the disadvantages we have, as you know, is under New York state law, independents cannot participate in the Democratic primary. We usually win the independent vote 2-1. So we're kind of spotting Secretary Clinton a whole lot in that regard.

KEILAR: But if Clinton's lead in the polls in her adopted home state has her dancing in the street, Sanders has nearly eliminated her lead nationally, trailing by only two points, within the poll's margin of error.

Sanders has been hammering Clinton for her ties to Wall Street and wealthy donors.

SANDERS: We don't want their money. We're going to do it a different way.

KEILAR: He released an ad highlighting his campaign's average donation.




UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Give 27 to transform America.

KEILAR: Saturday, his supporters made the point a different way, throwing money at Clinton's motorcade as she arrived at a $33,000 a head dinner hosted by George and Amal Clooney, the actor agreeing with Sanders on the role of money in politics but making a veiled jab at the senator for focusing on his own fundraising and not other Democrats running for election.

GEORGE CLOONEY, ACTOR: It is an obscene amount of money. The Sanders campaign, when they talk about it, is absolutely right. But the overwhelming amount of the money that we're raising is not going to Hillary to run for president. It's going to the down ticket. It's going to the congressman and senators to try to take back Congress.

BENNETT: I'm Wolf Blitzer.

KEILAR: As the Democratic primary battle reaches a critical moment, "Saturday Night Live" poked fun at Sanders this weekend for his lack of specifics on how he would fulfill a major campaign promise with a guest appearance by a quintessential New Yorker, Elaine from "Seinfeld".

JULIA LOUIS-DREYFUS: But how exactly are you going to break up the big banks?

DAVID: Once I'm elected president, I'll have a nice schvitz in the White House gym. Then I'll go to the big banks. I'll sit them down, and yada, yada, yada, they'll be broken up.

CLINTON: Well, 12/15...

KEILAR: And dinged Clinton for her stance on raising the federal minimum wage.

MCKINNON: I said 12 and/or 15.

DAVID: That's not true?

MCKINNON: Yes, it is.

DAVID: No, it is not. No. No. No. No.

MCKINNON: Yes, it is.

DAVID: Fine.

MCKINNON (GIVING DAVID NOOGIES): Are you feeling that burn?


KEILAR: Now, Bernie Sanders is saying, Wolf, that polls are underestimating his support in New York. The last NBC News/"Wall Street Journal" poll had him trailing Clinton by 17 points. But he would have to be vastly, vastly underestimated in those polls to really have a shot at winning the margin, the big margin that he would need here to move on to these other big contests, to remain viable. At this point, as you know, he is trailing Clinton by more than 200 pledged delegates still.

BLITZER: Brianna Keilar in New York City for us. All right, Brianna, thank you.

Up next, a devastating explosion aboard a bus in a major city. Investigators say there's no doubt it was an attack. Are terrorists behind it?

Also, disturbing new signs indicating that North Korea's Kim Jong-un is getting ready to test the deadliest weapons in his arsenal.


BLITZER: We're following developments as investigators look for clues about today's devastating explosion aboard a bus in Jerusalem. Nearly two dozen people are hurt.

Let's bring in our correspondent Oren Liebermann. Oren is in Jerusalem.

Oren, what are police there telling you? Are they calling it terrorism?

OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Police are still not calling this a terror attack. They are being very careful, very deliberate with their wording. They are saying this was indeed an attack. There was no doubt an explosion charge on the back of one of these buses that detonated. But whether it's a terrorist attack, that remains part of the investigation. Police have not ruled out the possibility that what happened on this afternoon was indeed still a criminal attack.


LIEBERMANN (voice-over): Israel is investigating what appears to be a brazen rush-hour bus bombing. The explosion ripping through this city bus, another bus nearby and a private car in Jerusalem just before 6:00 in the afternoon, as people were coming home from work.

Ambulances converged on the scene to treat the dozens injured in the attack. Thick, black smoke rose into the skyline, visible for miles. A sharp contrast to the bright orange flames coming from the buses.

"There is no doubt this is an attack," says police commander Yoram Ha- Levy. "You're asking whether we know the identity of the one who put the explosive charge, whether we know someone left it or blew himself up, we have two very seriously wounded, whose identity we don't know yet so we won't now say something that is wrong or not accurate."

[17:50:03] Police blocked off the major road in both directions for investigators who are trying to figure out how the charge got there and who set it off. Late today, Hamas on Al Aqsa TV praised the attack but didn't take credit for it. Many here say the devastation could have been far worse. Luckily the nearby bus that caught on fire was empty.


LIEBERMANN: If this indeed was a terror attack, that leaves a number of questions. First, how did an explosive device, how did it charge get on an Israeli bus? And perhaps more importantly at this point, who put it there. Those are all the questions investigators will try to answer late here tonight, Wolf. So perhaps those answers will come first thing tomorrow morning.

BLITZER: Oren Liebermann, in Jerusalem for us, thank you. Meanwhile, there's growing concern tonight that North Korea's Kim

Jong-Un is about to take a very dangerous step.

Brian Todd is looking into this for us. What are you learning, Brian?

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, tonight, U.S. officials are telling us they are watching the situation on the Korean peninsula and in particular at this testing site very closely. That comes as America's chief ally on the peninsula issues an ominous warning that it appears Kim Jong-Un is preparing to conduct another nuclear weapons test.


TODD (voice-over): Tonight the latest apparent provocation from North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un once again appears to focus on the deadliest weapons in his arsenal, nuclear warheads. U.S. intelligence official tells CNN Kim is pursuing a dangerous path after this warning from South Korea's president.

PARK GEUN-HYE, SOUTH KOREAN PRESIDENT (Through Translator): Activity has been detected which shows North Korea is preparing for its fifth nuclear test.

TODD: President Park Geun-hye didn't say what activities were detected. A top analyst with the Web site 38 North which has new satellite images of North Korea's Punggye-ri nuclear test site tells CNN his organization is tracking movement there.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What we've seen in recent days is activity near one of the tunnel entrances where North Korea would test. So here's the tunnel entrance here and here's the activity, it's a trailer or small vehicle which could -- could be used for preparation of a test.

TODD: Joe Witt cautions that these satellite pictures may not indicate any preparations for a test, but if they do, what could the vehicles be used for?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, the vehicles could be moving personnel, they could be moving equipment into the tunnel. For example, when you conduct a nuclear test, you have to have diagnostic equipment that can measure what actually happened. They might even be moving the weapon into the tunnel.

TODD: For three months, Kim has consistently rattled his saber, testing nuclear weapons, firing a long range rocket, test firing missiles. He's launched a barrage of threats against the U.S., South Korea and Japan. His media arm even sending out a video depicting Washington, D.C. being incinerated by a North Korean nuclear bomb. Why? Analysts say part of it is to counter large joint U.S.-South Korean military exercises, which have included practicing a decapitation strike designed to take out the North Korean leadership headed by Kim.

Experts say Kim is signaling his people that he's standing up to his enemies, flexing those muscles ahead of an important gathering of his party next month. But tonight those same experts say the risk of miscalculation by the young dictator is as dangerous as ever.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This man is far too risk accepting. And to the extent that he has nuclear weapons capability that he believes is viable and workable against South Korea and perhaps against the United States, I think he begins to engage in riskier and riskier behavior. And there's a real threat then that that gets out of hand and we're off to a full scale war in northeast Asia.


TODD: How can America and its allies stop Kim Jong-Un from being able to deploy a nuclear weapon, analysts say the U.S. has to keep applying economic pressure on North Korea and the U.S. has to have China's help with that to really get Kim to back off on that program. And even then, Wolf, no guarantees that he will.

BLITZER: And, Brian, I understand you've just received a new assessment tonight of how many nuclear weapons Kim Jong-Un has right now and how many he might have within a few years?

TODD: We did get that assessment, Wolf. And it is not good news. Joel Wit of 38 North who tracks this closely along with former U.N. weapons inspector David Albright, he just told us they estimate the North Koreans now have about 20 nuclear bombs. He says given the way that Kim has accelerated his weapons program, they'll likely have at least 50 bombs by 2020. They could produce as many as about 100.

Now the key thing is flight testing the missiles to deliver those bombs, and they're getting better at that. They have not adequately flight tested those missiles yet to see if they can re-enter the atmosphere and not break up, but again they're working hard on that. They've got the bombs, they're flight testing the missiles, and the key is whether they can flight test those to be perfected to reach Guam, the United States, Japan, South Korea.

[17:55:01] BLITZER: The Korean peninsula obviously very, very dangerous place right now.

Thanks very much, Brian, for that report.

Coming up, after watching Ted Cruz grabbed delegates for weeks, the GOP frontrunner Donald Trump now predicting a big win in his home state of New York.

Could that put him back on track for the Republican presidential nomination?


BLITZER: Happening now. Showing the strength. Donald Trump strikes a more presidential posture, holding a diversity council, saying he won't try to influence delegates with his luxury planes and hotels, despite what he calls the GOP's crooked system. We are standing by for his final rallies before tomorrow's critical New York primary.

You're fired? Trump won't rule out dumping the Republican Party chairman who Trump says should be ashamed of the GOP nominating process.