Return to Transcripts main page

THE SITUATION ROOM

Trump Expects to Win All NY Delegates; Clinton Hoping for New York Victory; Sanders to Hold Rally at Penn State; Trump Insider Weighs in on Campaign Changes; Kasich Campaign Looking Ahead to Maryland. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired April 19, 2016 - 17:00   ET

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


[17:00:08] WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Happening now, playing the Trump card. Looking for all 95 delegates that his home state has to offer. Can Donald Trump end his slump with a big win tonight?

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Dueling Democrats. Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton locked in a battle and a race that few expected to be so close. Each says they've got the better path to the White House. New York's 247 delegates could make a big difference getting there.

BLITZER: Voter views and breaking news. We're just getting our first exit polling. In moments we're going to show you the data and what it might tell us about how the night's shaping up.

COOPER: I'm Anderson Cooper.

BLITZER: I'm Wolf Blitzer, and you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

For the first time in a long time in presidential politics, New York really matters, in just a few hours we're going to learn exactly how. In just a few minutes, as we said, we will learn what voters are telling our exit pollsters and what early signs they should be looking for that could signal who comes out on top.

Bringing it to all of you, our team of correspondents across the electoral landscape as well as the best political minds in the business. Let's start with Jim Acosta. He's over at Trump headquarters in New York.

Jim, Trump expected to do well in New York tonight. How confident is his campaign right now?

JIM ACOSTA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, they're very confident, and they want a landslide in New York to reset the narrative of this campaign. I talked to a top official inside Donald Trump's delegate operation who said, yes, it is possible that they will beat this 50 percent threshold that they need in New York's congressional districts and statewide to pick up the state's 95 delegates.

And Trump himself all but predicted he will top 50 percent at that event last night in Buffalo. When he noted that Ted Cruz did not beat 50 percent in his home state of Texas. So I asked campaign manager Corey Lewandowski about this earlier today, and he noted the exact percentage that Cruz won in Texas earlier this year: 43.8 percent. Wolf, they want to beat that number badly.

BLITZER: Although he may be doing well in New York City, Jim, he may not necessarily be as strong upstate where his opponents are hoping to run up the numbers tonight. What are you hearing about that?

ACOSTA: Right. And that's why Donald Trump made a point of spending his last night before the New York primary in your hometown of Buffalo, Wolf. And I talked to a top Trump campaign official who said, you know, if they don't get all of these 95 delegates, they don't see it as a setback for the campaign.

I'm told by the campaign that they believe they have now exited the stage of this race that favored Ted Cruz, where caucuses and state conventions were key and have now entered the final stage of this campaign for the Republican nomination, which by the way, puts Trump in some pretty favorable territory, especially here in the northeast, Wolf.

So yes, John Kasich, Ted Cruz, they could peel away a couple of delegates at the end of the day here in the New York primary, but they don't see that as a disaster by any stretch inside the Trump campaign.

BLITZER: Very optimistic night they have potentially in store. Jim Acosta, thank you.

Let's get to Hillary Clinton right now, who voted earlier this morning, along with the former president, near their suburban New York home, declining other voters' invitation to jump the line and reflecting what has been a hard-fought campaign.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I had a great time going around the city in the last couple of days, seeing a lot of old friends, meeting new people, and I just urge everybody, please come out and vote before 9 p.m. tonight. That would be terrific.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: From there, Secretary Clinton traveled to Washington for a conference but will be back in New York tonight. She hopes for a victory celebration.

Brianna Keilar is in New York, covering the campaign for us. She's joining us now, live.

Brianna, Hillary Clinton obviously hoping to cement her front-runner status with a big win in New York tonight. How is her campaign feeling?

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, they are feeling very good about tonight. They're not even trying to manage expectations. You're hearing top aides say publicly that they believe she's going to be victorious. At that point you have her, well, certainly what she's hoping to be her victory party tonight here in New York. We heard the campaign manager for Hillary Clinton, Robby Mook, saying

yesterday, really something that I think we'll be hearing a lot of tonight, if Hillary Clinton is to win, and certainly by a considerable margin. He said that he thinks with this contest the math of this primary becomes overwhelming.

He said, quote, "Bernie Sanders will have a steep and close to impossible path to the nomination." So it's very clear that she's going to try to pivot yet again to the general election. She -- really, her campaign has been painting the Sanders campaign as desperate. They've been painting his candidacy as a potential spoiler. You've been hearing supporters for Hillary Clinton evoke the specter of Ralph Nader.

And specifically, they're also taking aim at Bernie Sanders for alleging that Hillary Clinton's fund-raising arrangement with the DNC, which is the joint fund-raising committee, is not above board. The Clinton campaign says that it is. They've been questioning that the Sanders campaign has been the legality of it. It does appear it is legal, if sort of par for the course in this era of big money and politics that many people find unsavory.

But the Clinton campaign is saying that Sanders is trying -- or is in danger of leading astray, basically, younger liberals to believe that the Democratic Party is corrupt.

You're seeing this fear, certainly, Wolf. You've heard that Donald Trump has sort of unveiled his nickname for Hillary Clinton, Crooked Hillary. And you're seeing, I think, a fear coming from the Clinton campaign that that is something that, with Bernie Sanders leveling this argument, could even take hold here in the primary, and this is something that they would fight in an expected matchup with Donald Trump.

Brianna Keilar reporting for us. Thank you.

Bernie Sanders, who grew up in Brooklyn and campaigned heavily across the city and the state, is already looking ahead. He'll be holding a rally tonight on the campus of Penn State University, which is where we find Jeff Zeleny.

Jeff, more delegates at stake tonight in New York than any other contest so far. What does the Sanders campaign hope to prove?

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, 240 delegates to be exact here. What the Sanders campaign hopes to prove is continuing that momentum. They've had seven straight wins in all of those states across the west and into Wisconsin, being the most recent one. So they hope to continue that momentum tonight in New York.

They're also trying to prove one other thing: to show Democrats that they can continue to take on Hillary Clinton, to show the Clinton campaign that Democrats want something more from them, that they want more of a progressive race here. Those are two of the things that they want to show them tonight, Wolf.

BLITZER: If Clinton does win, but by a slim enough margin, that could still be considered a potential win for Bernie Sanders, correct?

ZELENY: It could be considered at least a moral victory for Bernie Sanders, Wolf. No doubt about that. If the race is close, within a few points or so, even single digits, yes, that's a moral victory.

But Wolf, we're getting very late in the calendar for moral victories. The Sanders campaign needs a mathematical victory. That's why he's in Pennsylvania tonight. He'll be having a rally behind me here at Penn State University. He needs to get some big wins on the board. If it doesn't happen in New York tonight, he's looking ahead to Pennsylvania next week -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right. Jeff Zeleny reporting for us. Jeff, thanks very much.

COOPER: Wolf, thanks very much. Whatever happens tonight in either primary, it's probably not going to come as a total surprise. There are all kind of signs to look for, and as always, our chief national correspondent, "INSIDE POLITICS" anchor John King knows where to find them.

Let's take a look at the Democrats.

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: First, we're going to see what are we going to look for? Right? As the results start to begin, we'll look at our exit polls. We're going to look at turnout. Obviously, we don't have any results yet. The polls are open until 9 a.m.

No. 1, data in the city itself, Anderson, you know it very well. Can Bernie Sanders turn out enough liberal voters to offset what we assume will be Hillary Clinton's advantage among African-Americans and Latinos? Again, we want to see them. Can Hillary Clinton deliver in the minority community in New York, especially in a place where she's run twice before, as she did in other states.

She's also run three times before. Shew was on the ballot here in 2008, a Democratic presidential primary. Remember, this is the state where she got a big win over then-Senator Obama. So can Hillary Clinton do this again tonight? That's what she's looking for. Can she do it with a number up like this, because of the Democratic proportional rules in many of these congressional districts, she actually wants to be closer to 60 percent to get more delegates.

If she wins even 55-45 in many of those districts, she'll split the delegates. So can Bernie Sanders make inroads in the city? And can Bernie Sanders with his trade vest (ph), say Clinton is inauthentic when she says she will fight free-trade deals, can he make progress up here in the states where you have manufacturing? In the past, critical for Bernie Sanders, because obviously, Anderson, they're fighting for New York today, but they're also fighting for the delegate math in the race going forward.

COOPER: Well, and the Clinton campaign is essentially saying, "Look, if she gets a big delegate victory in New York, the race is essentially over." Does the math actually show that to be true? KING: Not by the actual arithmetic but by the moral of the race, the

arc of the race, maybe, in the sense that, if you look now, she's at 229 in her pledged delegate advantage. If she wins -- let's say she has a ten-point win, wins enough of the delegates to get a ten-point win, splits the 247 instead. If she splits it something like that, then she adds 25.

A 25-net gain out of New York tonight would not only allow her to say Bernie Sanders, momentum -- he has won seven in the last eight, not only allow her to say his momentum is stopped; I won a big contest. It would also, if you look at the demographics of the race, if she gets that turnout among African-Americans and Latinos, if she competes in those white areas where the manufacturing jobs have been lost, Hillary Clinton is going to look further ahead to the map down here where we go next week: Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, Connecticut, Rhode Island, and thinking most of those states if she can get the demographic mix advantage she wants in New York, she thinks it projects down there.

And if that happens -- if that happens -- Hillary Clinton is hoping next Tuesday night looking at a map like this, and her lead starts to stretch out closer to the 300 from the 229 it is now up to 300. And by end of April she wants to say, "Senator Sanders, mathematically, sorry, it's impossible."

[17:10:15] COOPER: All right. Lots to watch. More tonight. I want to bring you the panel after a quick break. When we come back, our first batch of the exit polling. What New York Republicans have to say about the choice they made as our primary coverage continues.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: WE have breaking news coming into THE SITUATION ROOM, the first signs of how New Yorkers are voting. First batch of exit poll data.

[17:15:08] CNN Politics executive editor Mark Preston has been going through the numbers for us. What do you see?

MARK PRESTON, CNN POLITICS EXECUTIVE EDITOR: Well, Wolf, certainly talked a lot about anger in politics, certainly this election year. Let's take a look at these numbers right here, what they're specifically looking for when it comes to what they're looking for in a president.

Right now, experience in politics, only 32 percent of voters right now want experience in politics from their nominee.

However, look at that, 64 percent want somebody from outside of the establishment. That certainly has played well for Donald Trump, as well as Texas Senator Ted Cruz, not so well for John Kasich, the Ohio governor.

But the nastiness of the race, though, is not being embraced by Republican voters. Take a look at these numbers right now. Republican campaign has mostly divided the party; 57 percent of Republicans now are saying that this primary has been very divisive. Only 39 percent believe that it has energized the party -- Wolf.

BLITZER: We're just getting numbers in. We're going through a lot more. We'll be getting more coming in shortly. Mark Preston, thanks very much.

Anderson, over to you.

COOPER: Wolf, thanks. A lot to talk about as more exit polling comes in and we learn more about the shape of the electorate today. Joining us, our team of political commentators and observers and analysts: Bill Preston, Bakari Sellers, Sanders and Clinton supporters, respectively; John King; chief political analyst Gloria Borger; Trump supporter Kayleigh McEnany; former Cruz communications director Amanda Carpenter; Mary Katharine Ham, senior writer at "The Federalist"; and senior Democratic Party official Donna Brazile.

Clearly, just those little exit polls that we've been seeing results does play well for Donald Trump. The idea of somebody outside the establishment.

BORGER: Sure. And that's what we've been seeing.

COOPER: Time and time again.

BORGER: That's what we've been seeing time and time again in these exit polls. I think what's interesting that we're seeing in these early exit polls is that these seem to be less conservative and less angry Republicans, as well. We saw a lot of angry Republicans, more so in the south in the early polling. And now less conservative in the state of New York, as you might -- as you might also think.

One other thing's kind of interesting to me. We look at these -- we look at these early numbers, just like in the state of Wisconsin, about 3/4 of the people here believe that, if you're really ahead, heading into the convention, then you probably ought to get the nomination. That's something we'll be talking about a lot, I think, in the weeks ahead.

KING: Forgive me, but in sports, you want to play on your home field. And I think the fact that when you get that home-field advantage, when it happens matters, too, and that it happens at this point in the campaign is very advantageous for Donald Trump and perhaps Hillary Clinton in the sense that Bernie Sanders has momentum. Hillary Clinton wants to stop him. Donald Trump, as the only Republican with a feasible chance -- it's a steep hill, but a feasible chance to get to 1,237, with the 95 delegates at stake tonight, if he can take 80 or more of those delegates tonight, it lowers his odds. It gets the momentum into the rest of the night.

This is a giant test for Donald Trump. And this is one state where, A, it's his state. He knows the city very well, but he also has a team that understands the statewide politics a little better. We've looked back on some past states, the ground game wasn't quite up to par. They do have -- their team knows New York, if they can deliver tonight at that congressional district level, get above 80, then Donald Trump is -- after a lot of complaining about the rules -- has some winning at his back.

COOPER: Of course, for Hillary Clinton, a victory tonight would be very welcome, given the success that Bernie Sanders has had of late and the latest polling that, on a national basis, shows them very close, if not statistically tied.

BAKARI SELLERS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think tonight we're going to see what many have been saying for the past few weeks, that this race in the Democratic Party hasn't been as much about momentum as it has been demographics. I think tonight what you'll see is the number of Hispanic voters, the number of African-American voters that come out, that is where Hillary Clinton does extremely well.

And if she is able to do extremely well with those same categories again tonight as she's been doing throughout the campaign, that bodes well going forward into Maryland, into Pennsylvania, and some of these other states coming down the pipeline.

One thing that Bernie Sanders has to do and he has not been able to do this entire campaign, is expand his base. You know, when we had this discussion about the burning momentum from Iowa and New Hampshire, he has not been able to expand his base. So he's going to have to start to expand that base tonight. If he doesn't, then the fat lady will be warming up.

COOPER: Bill, is there any evidence...

BILL PRESS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think the fat lady better stay backstage for a while, because there's a long way to go. Even after tonight, there's 1,675 pledged delegates to go in the states to come.

Look, we talked a little bit about this last night. New York is Hillary territory. I think we can expect that Hillary's going to do well, probably win New York. I think it's the margin that counts.

I would say that with everything she's got going for her, entire establishment, the fact that it's her home state, the fact that she ran there and won twice as senator, beat Barack Obama there by 17 points, that it's a closed primary -- da, da, da, da, da, right? If she doesn't win by at least ten points, anything in single digits for Bernie Sanders, I believe, is a win and an embarrassment for Hillary Clinton.

COOPER: Kayleigh, what are you expecting tonight? What are you looking for?

KAYLEIGH MCENANY, TRUMP SUPPORTER: I think what John said is really important. We need to see Donald Trump get above this 50 percent statewide, above 50 percent in congressional districts. He needs to get the will of the people on his side. It's always been there, but he needs to win commandingly in order to bring that margin of delegates down.

[17:20:14] He needs something like 494 right now. To bring it down by 80 delegates would be very good for his chances. And really, I expect him to do -- to soar in New York, do exceedingly well. But here's the thing: when the people get to vote, Donald Trump wins. When the state party apparatus gets to decide, Ted Cruz wins.

Tonight, the people of New York get a chance to speak, and I fully expect Donald Trump to win.

COOPER: Amanda, what are you looking for tonight? Ted Cruz, your old boss, has been really focused on a lot of other states, trying to pick up delegates wherever he can.

AMANDA CARPENTER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes. I think this will probably be the best night that Donald Trump has before the convention. So the question for me is how does he use it? What is he doing to do in his victory speech tonight? Are we going to hear more divisiveness, more accusations of the party being rigged, dirty tricks, you know, surrogates accusing others of bribery, even among other campaigns?

So does he go that route, continue to pick these fights that make people angry and repel people against him, or does he finally try to campaign on some kind of issue? He hasn't done it yet. If he doesn't do it tonight, he never will, and I don't see him getting the nomination.

COOPER: Mary Katharine.

MARY KATHARINE HAM, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think both Clinton and Trump, as they have been all along, are winners with worries. But this is going to be a good night for both of them.

I think there's an interesting difference in the expectations-setting game here, where the Clinton campaign is being over-the-top pretty positive, and the Trump campaign is saying, "Yes, we'll lose some delegates here and there." That is interesting to me, because the name of the game for the Republican primary is out hustling for delegates, which we have seen Ted Cruz do. And it will remain the name of the game as we move forward, even when Donald Trump is having a good night.

The fact that they anticipate on the home turf losing a couple of those, because of the outhustling, to these other guys is important.

COOPER: Donna Brazile.

DONNA BRAZILE, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, as you know, on the Democratic side, we started off as like Fred and Ethyl. Everybody was dancing; everybody was happy. And the race has gone on and on.

And so what I'm looking for, enthusiasm, passion, turnout. Of course those congressional districts in and around New York City will matter a little bit more than the upstate because of the way we weigh proportionality. I'm looking to see that the Democrats are going to enjoy this next couple of weeks, as the ride will get a little bit more bumpy, and Fred and Ethyl decide to split apart (ph).

COOPER: Fred and Ethyl from the -- "I Love Lucy"? Didn't they argue a lot? Were they always having fun and dancing? I always thought they were always fighting. Sorry.

(CROSSTALK)

SELLERS: What show is this again?

BORGER: Over all, for both of these, for Trump and for Hillary Clinton, there's an opportunity here to totally reset the narrative for their campaign. I mean, Trump has had a terrible time after Wisconsin. Some of it he did to himself. Some of it was losing in the state of Wisconsin badly, and, you know, Hillary Clinton has lost 7 out of the late -- last 8 contests.

COOPER: Has it been successful, though? I mean, you said Donald Trump, you know, had a bad run.

BORGER: Yes.

CUOMO: But he's been refocusing attention on that bad run by complaining about the delegates, complaining about the way the system works and, you know, in some of these past days.

BORGER: But it's also worked for him. Honestly, he's got Republicans fighting with each other in the RNC.

COOPER: Right.

BORGER: He's got people saying overwhelmingly if you're ahead going into the convention, you ought to win. So actually, all of his complaining and whining has worked.

KING: So has the break. So has the break. Ted Cruz had momentum coming oust Wisconsin, where he ran a good campaign, plus he had the help of Scott Walker. Every party establishment -- everybody Republican in Wisconsin went against Trump and for Cruz.

Then you had his break. And I saw some polling, not conducted in the presidential campaigning but Cruz ahead by almost double digits -- by double digits two weeks ago in Indiana, and now it's a single digit, Trump almost a dead heat tie. The space has helped Trump.

HAM: I would say, picking his fights does help Trump, but it doesn't help anyone else down ticket. It doesn't give any other Republicans who run on issues-based going against Democrats in a general election.

So if you're just a Republican sitting in the Senate or the House, you're saying, what is Donald Trump going to do for me? I want to, you know, simplify the tax code, make the country more secure. Whatever issues are important to them.

Donald Trump has not focused any time on that since the Wisconsin. Very little time throughout the campaign. Until he learns how to talk about those issues, he's avoided one on one with Ted Cruz because he doesn't know how. He can only win if the chaos continues.

MCENANY: And that's the thing, nearly 3/4 of the New York electorate in the exit polls say that they think whoever has the most delegates going in should be the nominee. We see this in in Wisconsin. We see this in national polls. For Donald Trump, it's about enfranchising the people, getting them their voice back.

SELLERS: And those sitting United States senators, those sitting congressmen, they have a problem. Because of course they want issues, but they also want voters. And one thing that Donald Trump has done very well is win. And he's winning those voters, to Kayleigh's point.

[17:20:03] COOPER: We've got to take a quick break. We're going to have much more ahead with the panel. I think we're only on for, like, nine hours tonight. So we're going to try to squeeze it all in. We're going to hear from both the Trump and Kasich campaigns about what they are expecting tonight. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: After he voted in New York this morning, Donald Trump said he thinks he'll do well in today's primary but didn't make any big predictions. In order to get all 95 delegates, he has to get more than 50 percent of the vote throughout the state and in each of the 27 congressional districts.

Trump also said his campaign's reorganization is going great, very smoothly, he said, even as he has consistently complained that the whole nominating process is rigged.

[17:30:07] One top campaign aide quit. A couple of veteran Republican strategists, they've been brought in to take on bigger roles as the primary season marches on.

Joining us now is Michael Cohen. He's the executive vice president of the Trump Organization and special counsel to Donald Trump.

Michael, thanks very much...

MICHAEL COHEN, EVP, TRUMP ORGANIZATION: Hi, Wolf. How are you?

BLITZER: ... for joining us. Thank you.

COHEN: My pleasure.

BLITZER: What are your expectations for tonight? Can Donald Trump win big enough in New York to get most, if not all, of the delegates?

COHEN: I mean, you're talking about Donald Trump's hometown. This is his backyard; he's very much loved here in New York. His name adorns both skylines, West Side and East Side. He's been campaigning very hard here in New York. And I just suspect he's going to have a very good night tonight.

BLITZER: Tana Goertz, a woman you know, a senior adviser for your campaign, a former "Apprentice" contestant, she accused Ted Cruz, in her words, of "stealing, lying and bribing" people to become delegates. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) TANA GOERTZ, SENIOR ADVISOR, TRUMP CAMPAIGN: Delegates stealing,

lying, and bribing people to become delegates. This is the corruptness, the rigged -- the rigged system that Mr. Trump talks about. I've seen it in action here in Iowa.

I have seen shady behavior, let's just call it that. And until we get the specifics of what actually transpired in the shady behavior that I've witnessed with my eyes, then I'll come back on your show and tell you more about that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: All right, Michael, do you have any specifics on this charge, what does she...

COHEN: Well, first if all, I don't know. I don't know what -- I don't know what Tana is referring to that's personal to her. What I can say is, this notion that it's OK to meet with deletes when this process is going on, to wine them, to dine them, fly them to places in order to peel them away from the person who had the popular vote, it just seems wrong. I think it seems wrong to all viewers that are out there, and everybody's saying, "Oh, you know, Donald Trump is just whining and complaining." No, he's not.

Donald Trump is winning. He's beating Ted Cruz by over 200 delegates. After tonight, it will be close to 300. Mathematically, that would then put Cruz out of the race. Kasich has been out of the race now for a very long time mathematically. So I think Donald Trump is doing just fine.

BLITZER: Michael, as you know, there are reports of change within the campaign structure. The national field director, Stuart Jolly, resigned. We're seeing reports Corey Lewandowski, campaign manager's role, has been reduced to scheduling, assisting Mr. Trump. Is all of that true? Does he have a reduced role right now?

COHEN: So I don't know the answer to that. I'm not part of the campaign. What I will tell you is Mr. Trump, being the, you know, uber-billionaire businessman mogul that he is, what you need to do is you need to improvise, adapt to different situations.

Right now there is an attempt by the Cruz camp and others to deprive Mr. Trump of what the people want, and that's for him to be the nominee for the Republican Party. So he brought in additional people. It's no different than on a construction site. If, in fact, you need more people to build faster, so that you come ahead of time or under budget, that's what Mr. Trump does. He improvises, and he's incredibly successful and astute at doing things like this.

BLITZER: Michael Cohen, thanks very much for joining us.

COHEN: Hi, Wolf. Be well.

BLITZER: Thank you.

John Kasich, who ran second in the New York polls going into tonight, he's in Annapolis, Maryland, right now holding a town hall. It gets under way 30 minutes from now. Joining us, Trent Duffy, Governor Kasich's national communications advisor.

Trent, thanks very much for joining us. What are Kasich's expectations for New York? Maryland is a week from today. What about New York tonight?

TRENT DUFFY, NATIONAL COMMUNICATIONS ADVISOR, KASICH CAMPAIGN: Trump's going to have a good day in New York, but we don't think he's going to have a great day.

John Kasich has been campaigning hard in a lot of the congressional districts. As you know, they award their delegates based on who comes in first and second. We're looking for victories in Albany, Rochester, Ithaca, and elsewhere in the city. So we think that's the strategy going forward: get delegates where we can and move on.

BLITZER: So if he gets, let's say, 50 percent plus 1, statewide, he gets those 14 delegates, but there are 27 congressional districts. How many of those do you think you might win?

DUFFY: Well, we're looking at three or four, probably, maybe more, if -- if our...

BLITZER: You're not going to get 15 percent?

DUFFY: No.

BLITZER: So if you get under 50 percent, then you would get two, somebody would get one?

DUFFY: Precisely. We still get delegates.

BLITZER: Bottom line, how many delegates?

DUFFY: We're not going to have a number, but we're hoping to get -- continue to get more delegates, and we're confident that we're going to do that. And then we're going to move on. We're polling second in Maryland, as you mentioned. That's why the governor's there, and are polling well in Connecticut, Rhode Island, elsewhere. And I think that's really the strategy.

One thing that's going to happen tonight is that Ted Cruz is not going to be able to secure 1,237 delegates for the nomination.

BLITZER: Kasich hasn't been able to do that for a while, either. Both of you, what you're saying, are going to have to hope that Trump doesn't get it on the first round.

[17:35:06] DUFFY: That's absolutely right, and that's part of the strategy. And going forward, we're pretty confident we can do that.

We do want to see a little bit more help from the "never Trump" movement, which actually kind of was silent in New York, and we think we could have done better if we'd have had some of their help. But I think, you know, going into the convention, 63 percent of

Republican and independents have not voted for Donald Trump. And if Trump were to clear that 50 percent number in New York, it would be the first time he's ever done that in the primary. So this is a still a very fluid kind of a conversation going on.

BLITZER: Representative Peter King, Republican of New York, out in Long Island, he obviously does not like Cruz at all, doesn't like Trump. He actually likes Kasich, but in his words, he said he's not -- he doesn't have a viable chance to win the nomination. Why is Peter King wrong?

DUFFY: Well, it's just because he's not looking at the same information we're looking at. John Kasich is the only one that can beat Hillary Clinton in November. He's on a 15-poll winning streak when it comes to that. The delegates, who have to protect not only their own seats but those down-ballot races in the Senate and elsewhere, are going to look at that and have a long thought process.

There's 90 days to go before the delegates gather in Cleveland, and people are going to start to see who's best able to represent the party. And we think that they're going to come to the view that John Kasich is that person.

BLITZER: Trent Duffy, thanks very much.

DUFFY: You got it.

BLITZER: We're getting some more exit polling information coming into THE SITUATION ROOM right now. We're going to check in with polling stations throughout New York, at the same time on this very important primary day. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: The polls are open in New York, very important primary day. We're getting some more exit polling data coming into THE SITUATION ROOM right now. Our politics executive editor Mark Preston going through the numbers.

What else are you finding out?

PRESTON: Well, Wolf, just a short time ago, we talked about how 57 percent of Republicans in New York believe that this primary has been divisive.

But on the other side, Democrats have a different view. Let's take a quick look at these numbers right here. Sixty-eight percent believe that this primary between Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton has energized the party. In many ways, we've seen that ourselves in the large rallies from Bernie Sanders at a time when he is down in the delegate count.

Now, let's take a look at these next numbers, though. The continuation of Barack Obama's policies. Look at that. Less than 50 percent right now want to see a continuation of Barack Obama's policies. At the same time, nearly 4 in 10 want the next Democratic nominee to be more liberal.

So, again, another reason why I think we're seeing Bernie Sanders' candidacy, Wolf, fueled at a time right now when a lot of people are trying to get him out of the race.

BLITZER: Interesting numbers, indeed. All right, Mark, thanks very much.

Anderson, over to you.

COOPER: Back now with the panel. John, Gloria, the numbers, last one seemed to play well for Bernie Sanders.

KING: Striking to me. On the first one, I want to know what they're drinking or smoking, ones who think that this is more energized and hasn't divided the party. Because I do think in the last week or two, we've seen more of a fracturing in the Democratic race. And maybe the Democrats just are optimistic, more optimistic than Republicans, they'll get it back together, which is good for them.

COOPER: We saw that in 2008, where there was a lot of vitriol.

SELLERS: This is not 2008, and I think people understand that. I think Democrats understand that. One thing that we've seen is that, even when the Democratic debate, the battle in Brooklyn got hot and heavy, it was hot and heavy over substantive issues. They weren't going to character issues. They weren't going to...

KING: Judgment's not a character issue?

SELLERS: Well, I mean, judgment is a character issue, but we move from that very quickly. You had these barbs at the beginning, but we moved from that very quickly.

In 2008, you were seeing exit polling where 50 percent of those who supported -- Indiana, North Carolina, 50 percent of those who supported Hillary Clinton would not support Barack Obama. You had the PUMAs, the Party Unity -- you have to Google what that means. But we had a group of people who were out there who adamantly were opposed to Barack Obama. At the end of the day, came together. You don't have that this year, and I think this is very good for the party.

BORGER: I think overall, Democrats are happier as a lot than Republicans are, you know. They've had two terms of a president they like very much. They have two candidates they say they could live with, right? And so I think that, overall, when you compare them to the Republican Party now, which is much more divided, Democrats are like, well, OK, if it's either one of these guys...

COOPER: John, finish your total (ph).

KING: I just think 4 in 10 Democrats want to keep going left. And you have a Hillary Clinton in the race. Bill Clinton ran on what he called the New Democratic Party. He thought it was a new Democratic Party. It turns out it was an eight-year passing phase; it was his Democratic Party. But I don't mean that with any disrespect. He thought he was building a New Democratic Party; he was going to put in a more pro-business, a more pro-trade position.

Barack Obama moved the party back to the left, and now a woman named Hillary Clinton is competing with Bernie Sanders to go even further left of Barack Obama and way left of Bill Clinton.

COOPER: Bill.

PRESS: For me, the best news of this primary is that the two candidates are in a contest over which one is the better progressive or which one is more to the left, which as a lefty myself, I love.

But I think these numbers are really good for both candidates, for Hillary and for Bernie, and for the party itself, because this is a very, very healthy primary. The fact that 4 out of 10 want to move more to the left certainly bodes well for Bernie.

Got to get this out there, though. There's one thing that works against Bernie, which is New York's crazy rules, where independents cannot vote. Kayleigh said earlier, when more people vote, Donald Trump wins. True on the Republican side. When more people vote, Bernie Sanders wins.

There are 3 million New Yorkers who cannot vote today, because they didn't change by last October. I think that's bad for the party. We should be welcoming these people in to both parties. Actually, I want them to go to the Democratic Party and they can't.

COOPER: As someone who says you're a lefty, it's interesting to see you sitting on the far right tonight.

(LAUGHTER)

COOPER: First time in your life. You go to the far right.

PRESS: I don't choose the seats. I take whatever seat they give me.

KAYLEIGH MCENANY, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: The good news for Democrats, though, is by and large, they are happy with the system. You done see this groundswell of Democrats coming up against the DNC.

PRESS: You just wait.

MCENANY: Now with the superdelegates if the popular vote was to go Bernie's way, and the superdelegates broke the other way, you would see an uprising like what you're seeing in the Republicans Party. But by and large, Dems are happy with their party. They feel like they get a chance to speak. But I understand what you're saying. More votes is better. I agree, I'd like to see an open primary on your side rather than a close one.

COOPER: Donna, does it surprise you to see that exit poll of so many Democrats saying they want to see more liberal policies than Barack Obama's policies?

DONNA BRAZILE, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: No, I'm not surprised. Look, I'm sure progressive liberals, they are frustrated at the fact that President Obama who has really espoused lots of progressive views and ideas, look, take on immigration reform which was argued yesterday in the court. I mean, he has faced a lot of obstructions, a lot of partisanship. I'm sitting next to three wonderful, remarkable Republican females, and I'm making them even more phenomenal by being with them.

(LAUGHTER)

BRAZILE: But the truth is, I think, no, this is a healthy party, a vibrant party, a party that can see beyond this election and what they are projecting is the future that they want. And that's why Bernie has had a lot of momentum, that's why he has a lot of energy, but that's also why Secretary Clinton is also doing well with regular Democrats. And I'll get into later why the New York primary -- many of these primaries are closed. Nothing to do with and the parties. It has everything to do with state politics.

AMANDA CARPENTER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: And I'd say one reason the Democrats are probably generally happier than the Republicans right now is because you don't have, you know, the frontrunner like Donald Trump insulting the party activists, the people who go in the general election, either the state party activists, the people who become delegates, who work on the ground, and wave signs in the general election, they're not being insulted by the party's frontrunner.

Now a few clips ago we had two representatives, people at the Trump campaign, accusing the -- Cruz campaign of bribery. That is a very serious charge. And at some point -- and those (INAUDIBLE), again and again, where is the evidence? You know, the legal term, habeas corpus, produce the body. Where is the evidence of this? To continue to espouse this anger and mean-spirited stuff is just -- does long- term damage to the party. And we probably should just quit pressing them for evidence because they don't have any. And just draw the conclusion that if they get any ounce of federal power they will continue to do this kind of stuff from the White House and that will only be destructive for Republicans but everyone else from every political party in America.

MCENANY: First of all, bribery is permissible under the rules. You're permitted to bribe delegates. We've been through this --

(CROSSTALK)

CARPENTER: Are you saying --

MCENANY: I am.

CARPENTER: Are you saying the Cruz campaign is doing that? Do you have any evidence?

MCENANY: I have no evidence. I'm not privy to this information but I'm saying if you're unhappy with bribery --

CARPENTER: Who is? Do you think that someone should be accused of that? MCENANY: You've got let me finish.

(CROSSTALK)

CARPENTER: No, you let me finish.

MCENANY: You're unhappy with bribery --

CARPENTER: Do you think someone should be accused of it without any evidence? Do you think that's good practice?

MCENANY: I'm not sure.

CARPENTER: Then bring it.

MCENANY: Corey Lewandowski was charged without evidence. Everyone was acting as if he was guilty of a crime that he was --

(CROSSTALK)

MCENANY: But my point is, bribery is permissible under the rules. So if you're unhappy with bribery, then perhaps we should change the rules.

CARPENTER: No one wants to see bribe the delegates. There's no evidence anyone is. So why would you say it?

MCENANY: Well, first of all --

(CROSSTALK)

BRAZILE: They're not considered bribery --

MCENANY: During the Ford years, delegates were bribed, they were invited to state dinners with the Queen, they were invited to the East Room to have drinks. Bribery is permissible under the rules. I don't like it --

CARPENTER: Well, how about --

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: Whoa, whoa, whoa. I mean, wasn't Donald Trump giving rides to people on his airplane at state fair and rides on helicopters? They weren't delegates. But, I mean, doesn't seem like anybody is above trying to reach out to people.

MCENANY: But we should be above it and that's the thing. The rules should change because we should be above bribery.

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: OK. Let's -- one at a time. Amanda.

CARPENTER: Yes, but also -- well, in the wake of Wisconsin loss that Trump suffered, he also accused the Cruz campaign of illegally courting the super PACs. He also accused the Cruz campaign of conducting voter fraud. This continues. It's a new lie every week.

COOPER: OK.

CARPENTER: And it's a lie --

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: We're going to continue this conversation. We got to take a quick break. I got much more with the panel ahead, which is over three hours of voting to go. We'll check with polling stations around New York to check on the turnout. We'll be right back.

[17:49:30]

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Polls are open in New York for just about three hours, more closing at 9:00 p.m. Eastern. Let's go to a voting location in Brooklyn right now.

CNN's Brynn Gingras is joining us now. Brynn, I understand there have been some questions raised about voter errors.

BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's right, Wolf. We're actually seeing and hearing that in this borough, in Brooklyn, there are voters who are coming, trying to vote, wanting to, and their names are not being found on certain lists. And what this is a purging issue.

Mayor de Blasio released a statement expressing dissatisfaction with this and how this happens essentially is sometimes the voters move, sometimes voters haven't voted for several years so their names sort of go missing on certain lists and this is something that de Blasio was saying is not OK with the Board of Elections and he's now calling for an investigation into this, which the comptroller's office is going to conduct.

But in some cases, Wolf, we're hearing that entire buildings in Brooklyn are missing when voters actually show up to the polls. So not moving quite smoothly but I do want to mention at this particular polling place they are seeing record turnout which is good news from this particular polling spot -- Wolf.

[17:55:05] BLITZER: And very quickly, Brynn, does it seem that one candidate has a stronger bit of support there?

GINGRAS: You know, we're seeing a lot of people for Hillary, Wolf. We're seeing those people who are incredibly passionate about her dedication, her service, saying she's actually the candidate that will get things done. That isn't to say we're not seeing any Bernie supporters, but we're seeing certainly fewer of them as they come in and it's possible that's a fact that there aren't many people that can get in here and vote for Bernie as we just mentioned in that particular case. But certainly more Hillary than we are seeing Bernie at this point.

BLITZER: All right. Brynn, thanks very much.

Much more primary coverage coming up. The frontrunners Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump each hoping to hold victory parties tonight, or could an opponent take that away from them? We'll have new exit polling information coming in a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)