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THE SITUATION ROOM
Trump Spars with Protestors, Mocks Cruz & Clinton; Cruz Predicted Contested Convention; GOP Chair: 'Not Going to Help Anyone' Win Nomination; Democrats Eye Delegate Jackpot in Pennsylvania; U.S. General's New Warning Against North Korea. Aired 5-6p ET
Aired April 20, 2016 - 17:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Happening now, path to victory. Fresh off the big wins in New York, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton turn their attention to the next battleground states. They're closer to locking up their party's nominations and starting to focus in on the general election.
[17:00:10] As for the more presidential tone we saw from Donald Trump last night, forget about it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: That's right, we'll fire Hillary. Hillary, you're fired.
Backup plan: the delegate numbers look bleak for Senator Bernie Sanders and Ted Cruz. With no clear path to victory, can they block the leaders and force battles at their conventions?
The chairman. Donald Trump says he should be ashamed and is hinting he may be replaced. Tonight, we look behind the scenes at the dramatic back and forth, the battle to hold the GOP together.
And un-relenting. The U.S. says despite his latest failures, Kim Jong-un won't give up his quest for more powerful nuclear weapons. A top U.S. general says this isn't time for the U.S. to let up its guard.
I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
Tonight, fresh off their big victories in New York, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton are working to try to finish off their opponents and setting their sights on each other. We're standing by for a Trump rally in Maryland.
During his midafternoon speech in Indiana, the supposedly more presidential Donald Trump that we saw last night was nowhere to be seen. Today, Trump is back to his old name calling and sparring with protesters.
And right now Hillary Clinton is campaigning in the all-important state of Pennsylvania. After her crushing win over Senator Bernie Sanders in New York, Clinton is telling voters victory is in sight. We're also following a dire new warning from a top U.S. general. He
says America shouldn't be fooled by Kim Jong-un's latest missile test failure because North Korea's unpredictable leader is determined to develop long-range nuclear-tipped missiles.
I'll talk live with Congressman Chris Collins, one of Donald Trump's rare supporters on Capitol Hill; and our correspondents, analysts and guests, they will have full coverage of all the day's top stories.
Let's begin with CNN's Jim Acosta who's waiting for the start of the Trump rally in Maryland. Jim, it looks like Donald Trump back to form after last night's big win.
JIM ACOSTA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That is absolutely correct, Wolf. After his blowout win in New York, Donald Trump has some big-time momentum on his side, and today, he's hitting two more key states on the campaign calendar in Indiana and here in Maryland. And he has a new nickname for his rival, Ted Cruz: the spoiler.
ACOSTA (voice-over): In Indianapolis, a victory lap for Donald Trump after taking the checkered flag in the New York primary miles ahead of his dearest rivals.
TRUMP: The vote was incredible. It was record-setting, and it's New York. And you know what is nice? They know me. They know the good, the bad; they know everything. They know me.
ACOSTA: Dubbed King Don by "The New York Post," Trump is not only savoring a big win in his home state...
TRUMP: We're really, really rocking.
ACOSTA: ... where the real-estate tycoon captured nearly every delegates up for grabs, Trump took a massive leap forward toward that magic number needed to clinch the nomination.
A Trump campaign memo boldly projects the GOP front-runner will have 1,400 delegates heading into the Republican convention and attacks the party establishment, saying, "This movement scares the hell out of them and the people scare them, so they will do whatever they can to keep power. This system is rigged to allow party insiders to choose delegates and not the people."
TRUMP: The Democrat system is rigged, but the Republican system is even worse. We've got a rigged system, folks.
ACOSTA: It's a system Trump insists Ted Cruz is just trying to exploit.
TRUMP: We don't have much of a race anymore based on what I'm seeing on television. Senator Cruz is just about mathematically eliminated.
ACOSTA: Trump carried that battle cry onto Twitter, tweeting, "Now all Cruz can do is be a spoiler. Never a nice thing to do. I will beat Hillary."
The response from team Cruz: not so fast.
SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You may have heard there was an election yesterday. And as the media are breathlessly reporting, Donald Trump won his home state. Truly a remarkable achievement.
ACOSTA: The Texas senator notes Trump is still hundreds of delegates short of the 1,237 need to win the nomination, and time is running out.
CRUZ: The math is virtually impossible for Donald Trump. Donald Trump is not getting to 1,237. Nobody is getting to 1,237. He knows that, which means this race is headed to Cleveland, is headed to a contested convention.
ACOSTA: Cruz argues Trump's, quote, "lap dogs in the media" are trying to declare the race over.
CRUZ: Everyone knew Donald was going to win his home state. And if you look at the frenzied panic that he wants the race to suddenly be over now that he's won in his home state, it shows why Donald is scared.
[17:05:11] CRUZ: Now, that talking points memo from team Trump to his surrogates also claims that their officials are working delegates just as hard as the other campaigns, namely the Cruz campaign, and it tries to push back on that narrative that Trump is too unpopular to win, pointing to the sizeable negatives for Hillary Clinton -- Wolf.
BLITZER: All right. Jim Acosta's in Maryland, getting ready for Donald Trump's next big rally. Thank you.
As we just saw, Senator Ted Cruz is trying to put the best face forward. Best face he can put on his New York loss and predicting no one will reach the Republican convention with enough delegates to win the presidential nomination.
CNN's Sunlen Serfaty is following Senator Cruz for us.
So Sunlen, what is he saying about his strategy for stopping Trump?
SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, his strategy, Wolf, is very clearly and blatantly now all about the contested convention and pushing towards a contested convention.
Senator Cruz and his campaign, of course, now facing this very grim reality that it is mathematically impossible for 1,237 before a contested convention. So we saw a very clear pivot from the senator today, for the first time admitting that, yes, this is where this race he thinks is going. And days ago he would say, in all likelihood, it would head toward a contested convention. He came out very clearly today saying, point blank, this is where the race is going and really starting already to line up his arguments going forward.
Senator Cruz making a surprise and last-minute trip down to Florida where Republican leaders are huddling for a three-day conference. And Senator Cruz already really describing how he believes the state of the race is. Here's what he said moments ago.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CRUZ: What is clear today is that we're headed to a contested convention. Nobody is able to reach 1,237. I'm not going to reach 1,237, and Donald Trump is not going to reach 1,237. We're going to arrive in Cleveland with me having a ton of delegates and with Donald having a ton of delegates. And at that point, it is going to be a battle to see who can earn the
support of the majority of the delegates elected by the people. Donald is a niche candidate. He gets about a third of the votes in any given state, but he can't expand that to being a majority. To win, you've got to have a broad tent.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SERFATY: And coupled with that message, sources telling CNN that the Cruz campaign team, who's already on the ground down there in Florida, including his campaign manager and his delegate manager. They're making an argument to the officials down there. They believe that Senator Cruz would be able to pump up the base and really get more conservatives out to the poll and then past nominees, like Mitt Romney or John McCain would.
So very clear coordination of strategy in the Cruz campaign, really lining up their lines of arguments going forward and pushing potentially towards a contested convention -- Wolf.
BLITZER: All right. Sunlen Serfaty in Hershey, Pennsylvania, for us. Thank you. Pennsylvania next Tuesday.
Joining us now in THE SITUATION ROOM, one of the rare members of the U.S. Congress who's actually endorsed Donald Trump for president and Republican Congressman Chris Collins of New York.
Congressman, thanks very much for joining us.
REP. CHRIS COLLINS (R), NEW YORK: Wolf, very good to be with you. What a great day coming off of our rally on Monday, a big win yesterday. I mean, the excitement in New York, but even coming down to D.C. today and the mood on the House floor with other members, they now realize for sure that Donald Trump is going to be a nominee, and they're going to be behind Donald Trump.
And as I pointed out many, many times, they know Ted Cruz; and they would much prefer to have Donald Trump at the top of the ticket than Ted Cruz. So there's -- there's some good feelings here in D.C. right now.
BLITZER: Because when are they going to do, Congressman, what you've done, actually publicly come out and endorse him. You know, there are a few that -- they're not going to use the word "endorse," Wolf. I mean, everyone is up for re-election this year, myself included. All politics are local, and you're going to have, you know, where Donald carried 62 percent of my district, he didn't carry 100 percent.
So a lot of folks focused on the re-election. They're going to support Donald Trump, but they're probably not going to use the word "endorse," because that carries with it, you know, some other issues. You know, I disagreed with Donald on a couple of issues, as well. And I'm sure my opponent will try to swing me the other way.
So, you know, on good politics, most members are not going to endorse anyone, but they're going to support Donald Trump.
BLITZER: We saw a new -- supposedly a new Donald Trump last night in his eight-minute victory speech, one of the shortest he's delivered so far. He didn't take any questions at Trump Tower in New York. He referred to Senator Cruz as "Senator Cruz" instead of "Lying' Ted," as he almost always has done. Today he's back to his attacks on Cruz, calling him Lying' Ted, as he's almost always done.
[17:10:08] What's the strategy here? Is his message to try to become a little bit more presidential now or to continue the attack mode, which clearly has worked so far?
COLLINS: Well, I think, Wolf, you've seen some -- I'll call it continuous improvement in his -- in his staff. He brought Paul Manafort on, a lot of experience there.
I think you will see a more presidential Donald Trump. He and I talked about that Monday night.
Donald Trump is a winner. Donald Trump wants to win. So Donald Trump is going to do what it takes, and clearly, he's done what it's going to take to be the nominee.
So you're going to see, I believe, a shifting into that more presidential mode. And Donald Trump is always going to be Donald Trump. You've got to be who you are in your own skin.
So, you know, you're going to hear some things like "Hillary, you're fired." I think that's spot on. There's nothing wrong with it. Donald Trump can't be somebody he's not. But at the same time, certainly, call it more presidential. We did see some of that last night, and he was expanding his staff.
And I just feel very good about where we're headed, which is to the general election against Hillary Clinton. Because it's not going to be Bernie Sanders. It's going to be Hillary.
BLITZER: As you know, Donald Trump has been critical of the Republican national committee. You say the rules are the rules when it comes to delegates. At some point, does Donald Trump need to make peace with Reince Priebus, the chairman of the RNC, and other Republican establishment leaders? Because he keeps calling the system rigged, corrupt. You've heard all of his complaints. COLLINS: Well, one thing about being a winner and winning big is
Donald Trump does not need to go to Reince Priebus and the establishment. It's actually the reverse.
Donald Trump is president of the United States, he's going to be the leader of the Republican Party. That's a fact.
So it's amazing what happens when you're winning and you win big. The other folks are going to coalesce around you. But Donald Trump being a businessman, being an executive, he's going to welcome them into the tent. He is a uniter and we will unite our party. Hillary Clinton is the great divider of the Republican Party, progressive, liberal, socialistic.
So, no, it's not so much Donald Trump reaching out to Reince Priebus and the establishment Republicans. I'd say it's the reverse. And you're already hearing and feeling some of that coming that way as some of the unity talk is beginning. They realize that Donald Trump is going to be the nominee.
BLITZER: Well, if you listen to Senator Ted Cruz, he now says he's not going to get to 1,237, the number of delegates you need to get that nomination. But he also says Donald Trump isn't going to get to it either. It's going to be a contested convention. They're going to have a big fight on the convention floor. Is Cruz right?
COLLINS: No. What you've got with Ted Cruz, professional politician. Skilled in the pivot. So what did he say for months and months? He's going to get to 1,237. Like the still politician insider that Ted Cruz is, he now knows he's not going to. So a typical pivot to be, well, now my opponent is not going to get there either. You would expect that. I'm sure he sat down with the staff and said, how do we somehow put lipstick on this pig? We lost. He got like 12 or 13 percent.
No one thought Donald was going to get 90 delegates except for me. His campaign thought he'd get 85. I said, you guys are being too conservative. I'm home all the time. He's getting 90 delegates. You know what? He got 90 delegates.
So in our previous math of him getting to 1,237 plus, we have New York in the column at 85. We just picked up five more delegates last night. So I'm feeling very positive about where this is headed. The energy I'm feeling now in D.C. from my fellow members is extraordinarily positive. They know Donald is going to be our nominee. And you're hearing Reince Priebus talking about the unity and bringing our partners together. He knows Donald Trump.
And I bet you Ted Cruz does, as well. Ted Cruz is the only one not acknowledging it at this time.
BLITZER: The optics at last night's victory speeches, Hillary Clinton, as you probably saw, was surrounded by a lot of well-known officials, Democratic leaders.
Trump was surrounded by his family, some close friends. He leads Cruz right now. In the latest numbers -- and you can see it up there on the screen, he's got 8,700,000. Cruz has got six million, 300 -- almost 400,000. John Kasich is down at 3,180,000. Neither Cruz nor Kasich can get the nomination, the 1,237.
At one point do Republican leaders, your colleagues in the House and elsewhere, need to consolidate around Donald Trump?
COLLINS: Well, certainly when he's at 1,237, they will, but I have not seen anything from John Kasich or Ted Cruz that would indicate that they're going to get out, and that's fine.
We're going to rock and roll next Tuesday with the five states. We're going to move towards California on June 6. So I don't expect they're going to get out. I mean, perhaps they should, but I don't believe that's going to happen.
[17:15:13] June 6 is the magic day in California. We'll get our 1,237. Then the party is absolutely going to unite. But I'm feeling it here in Washington, Wolf. Right now I've had members say they've already pivoted in their town hall meetings. They're already moving to speaking about Donald Trump, the executive; Donald Trump, who's going to have the best cabinet you've ever seen, the best and the brightest; Donald Trump the decision maker. My fellow members are already shifting that way in their own town-hall meetings and talking to constituents on the campaign trail.
BLITZER: Congressman Chris Collins, I want you to stand by. There's more to discuss. I've got to take a quick break. We'll continue our conversation in a moment. Stay with us.
COLLIN: OK. Good, Wolf.
[17:20:12] BLITZER: Donald Trump reverted to form today. Less than 24 hours after appearing more presidential during his New York victory speech, Trump is back on the campaign trail. He's sparring with protesters, calling his opponents names.
We're back with New York Congressman Chris Collins. He was the first Republican congressman to publicly support Donald Trump.
Congressman, how does Donald Trump focus on developing what's called a better ground game for some critically important races that are still coming up? He leads among Republican voters right now in the latest polls in Pennsylvania and Maryland. According to these Monmouth polls. And you can him right there in Maryland, 47 percent; 27 for Kasich; 19 percent for Cruz in Pennsylvania.
We showed you 44 percent for Trump, 28 for Cruz, 23 for Kasich.
First of all, these two important states, Maryland and Pennsylvania, do you think they're a lock?
COLLINS: I think he -- well, I won't ever use the word "lock," not in politics. But I would say I'm highly confident he's going to carry those states, much like he did New York.
And, you know, what you're seeing is the difference in Donald Trump, the executive, the private-sector guy, doesn't have the hired staff, the ground game that Ted Cruz does. But what he has is an energized grassroots base, the likes of which I don't think we've ever seen in politics.
So in Erie County, New York, my county, Buffalo, New York, where he carried almost 65 percent of the vote, what you had were the grassroots folks doing the ground game work. They were out rallying their neighbors. They were gathering together. There was phone trees and campaign offices open. Not by the Trump campaign but by the grassroots supporters.
And frankly, you know, that's a healthier situation, but Donald has added Paul Manafort. He's spending more money, frankly, in the next couple of weeks leading up to California than he has spent. So Donald Trump understands, you know, this is the end game, and he's not going to leave -- you know, leave anything untouched.
So it's a combination of adding some of his own ground game forces but it's, again, relying on the grassroots, those energized people that filled the First Niagara Center, our hockey arena in Buffalo, on Monday night for one of the most incredible rallies I've certainly ever seen.
BLITZER: And by the way, there's a large crowd gathering right now in Berlin, Maryland, not far from Ocean City, Maryland. That's where Trump is going to be speaking. There's also some protesters there, as well, as there often are outside of these venues.
Congressman, what about Indiana? That's a week form next Tuesday, may 3rd, "The New York Times" reporting that Donald Trump was in Indianapolis today, met privately with the Indiana governor, Mike Pence. What do you think: does Cruz have a chance of winning Indiana?
COLLINS: Well, unlike, I think, as you've mentioned Pennsylvania, Maryland, and certainly, as we're going to head to New Jersey at the end, to use the word locks for Trump, Indiana is a battleground. I think to admit otherwise would not be right. There is going to be a battle in Indiana. I would say it's probably too close to call.
But I can tell you, too, to get to 1,237, you know, Indiana is not a must, but if you're going to get to 1,400, maybe it is.
But, no, Indiana is going to be a battle. Trump camp understands that. And right now, certainly, the focus is on next Tuesday, with Pennsylvania, Maryland and the like, to get those delegates. But not every state is going to be a cake walk from here on in. But certainly next Tuesday it's going to be a great night.
BLITZER: Yes. You can see some of the protesters there in Berlin, Maryland. And as you saw, according to "The Washington Post," Trumps advisers believe he can actually get 1,400 delegates to secure the nomination; 1,237 is the number you actually need. Do you think that's realistic? COLLINS: I think he can get there. Some of the math that we put
together got to 1265 and very, very conservative. For instance, we had New York at 85. He got 90.
A couple of other states, you know, some winner takes all. I don't know that we put any numbers in. So 1,400 is doable but I can promise you, we'd take 1,237 right now, call it a game and be done.
BLITZER: A win is a win, as they say.
BLITZER: All right. Congressman, thank you very much for joining us.
COLLINS: Yes. Nice to be with you, Wolf.
BLITZER: Chris Collins of Western New York.
Coming up, CNN goes one on one with the chairman of the Republican N National Committee. He promises to be a neutral player at the summers convention in Cleveland. Wo what does he think of Trump's claim that the nominating process is rigged?
[17:29:09] BLITZER: Donald Trump has been an outspoken critic of the Republican Party's nominating process, as well as his chairman. Our special correspondent, Jamie Gangel, spent some time behind the scenes with Reince Priebus as he navigates being of criticized potential campaigns. Or look at history. Hs he faces one of the most contentious campaigns in history.
JAMIE GANGEL, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: I want to do a quick lightning round with you.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK.
GANGEL: Word association.
R. PRIEBUS: Oh, great. Here we go.
GANGEL: These are trouble.
I say John Kasich. You say...
R. PRIEBUS: Great governor.
GANGEL: Ted Cruz?
R. PRIEBUS: Smart.
GANGEL: Donald Trump.
R. PRIEBUS: Big. GANGEL: Meaning?
R. PRIEBUS: Everything he does is big. Lots of attention.
GANGEL: You have no -- you're laughing. Why are you laughing?
R. PRIEBUS: These are -- these are like the unchartered waters of being chairman of the RNC. Spontaneity is not usually your friend.
[17:30:07] GANGEL: And that's the least of his problems.
R. PRIEBUS: Hey, it's Reince.
GANGEL: Without a doubt, Reince Priebus, the mild-mannered 44-year- old lawyer from Wisconsin, has the toughest job in politics this year...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Chairman?
R. PRIEBUS: Good morning.
GANGEL: ... working 20-hour days...
R. PRIEBUS: You should come.
GANGEL: ... preparing for the possibility of a contested convention...
R. PRIEBUS: I think the system is working.
GANGEL: ... and navigating the GOP through the year of Trump.
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The system is rigged.
These are dirty tricksters.
It's a crooked system.
The Republican National Committee. They should be ashamed of themselves for allowing this kind of crap to happen.
GANGEL: Nonstop damage control.
R. PRIEBUS: I find it to be rhetoric and hyperbole. This is a very normal system that we've been using for many years.
Sometimes you can't fix it. Sometimes you can just take a seven-alarm fire and make it a four-alarm fire. It's still burning, but it's not as bad as it was.
Don't you feel sorry for me. I signed up for this.
GANGEL (on camera): You are the man in the middle. You have Donald Trump doing his thing, and then you have the GOP establishment, whatever that is.
R. PRIEBUS: That's a word that apparently no one can quite define. But, yes, I understand it.
GANGEL: Whatever. All those people over there who are not on the same side...
R. PRIEBUS: Right.
GANGEL: ... as Donald Trump. Is saying, "Well, it's all your fault. How did you let Trump -- why didn't you get rid of him?"
R. PRIEBUS: Yes. Well, look, being in the middle, you have to accept the fact that there is a thousand opinions. I mean, I'm so used to it that I don't -- I don't even care. It doesn't bother me.
GANGEL: You're not pulling out your hair?
R. PRIEBUS: Not -- no, I'm not. People assume, oh, you must be miserable. You've got a horrible job. But I don't see it that way. I'm not -- just like I'm saying, I'm not pouring Bailey's in my cereal. I'm not sitting here, trying to find the Johnny Walker. I mean, this is -- this is fun.
GANGEL (voice-over): In fact, the day we spent with him, he raised $1.2 million with just a few phone calls...
R. PRIEBUS: Let's talk about money.
GANGEL: ... took a brief break for hoops...
R. PRIEBUS: All right. I'm going to take you guys down.
We have a shot off this wall.
There we go. Come on.
GANGEL: ... and showed off his prized possessions.
(on camera): The gavel.
R. PRIEBUS: The gavel. This is when I -- this is when I actually won in 2011.
GANGEL: Ever attempted to use it?
R. PRIEBUS: Well, I don't have to try that hard. This is a chair that Clint Eastwood spoke to, actually, at the convention. So this is the one...
R. PRIEBUS: Yes. So when this all happened, you know, I obviously was perplexed when I was watching it.
GANGEL: You and everyone else.
R. PRIEBUS: And then when I leaned over -- because I was down behind the stage most of the time. I leaned over the balcony to look and see the center teleprompter, and it was blank. And I thought, "Oh, my gosh, there's nothing on that screen. He's just winging it."
And then I remember going back. I left, went back behind the stage and I told the chief of staff at time, I said, "Get me the chair."
GANGEL (voice-over): He also keeps three items nearby that he says are critical for getting through the day: the Greek Orthodox liturgy, the Republican Party platform...
R. PRIEBUS: This is my safe zone.
GANGEL: ... and this.
R. PRIEBUS: And, of course, I've got the Brewers schedule on top, because I will put on, you know, MLB-TV and have that in the background if I need to not watch the news.
GANGEL: Other escapes? Time with his family.
R. PRIEBUS: Try to eat with cameras in your face.
GANGEL: And he plays the piano, really well.
R. PRIEBUS: So you just goof off. That's what I do. That's how I play.
GANGEL: But Priebus admits he's always been a proud political nerd as early as third grade he was lobbying classmates to support Ronald Reagan, and he even used the GOP to woo his wife.
(on camera): You went to prom together but, Sally, on your first date, he took you to a political dinner. He took you to the Lincoln Day dinner, swept you off your feet.
SALLY PRIEBUS, WIFE OF REINCE R. PRIEBUS: Right.
GANGEL: What kind of first date is that?
S. PRIEBUS: It's crazy. I think he tricked me. I think he tricked me, and I ended up at the -- at the political event, which I didn't know about it at first, because he told me we were going to the movies. But, you know, it was pretty boring. It's pretty bad. But we did go to the movie afterward, and we had a -- we had a great time.
GANGEL: And he says you can't say you didn't know what you were getting into?
S. PRIEBUS: Right. Right. I did.
[17:35:09] GANGEL (voice-over): That said, neither one ever thought their lives would be consumed by the roller coaster of Donald Trump.
S. PRIEBUS: Reince is very strong. He has a thick skin. He lets it roll off his shoulders. He's -- you know, he's tough. He doesn't tolerate a lot of drama.
GANGEL: Including rumors that he might try to convince one of his best friends, Speaker Paul Ryan, to be a so-called white knight candidate in a contested convention.
PRIEBUS: He would kill me; and I wouldn't do it, and I agree with him. I don't -- you have to want to actually be president of the United States. He doesn't want to be right now. And he's not going to have a floor operation to get it done. It won't happen.
GANGEL (on camera): He said, "If I do that, he'll kill me."
REP. PAUL RYAN (R-WI), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: Yes. Yes.
GANGEL: You would kill him?
RYAN: Yes, I would. Yes, I would.
GANGEL: An old political pro told me, to be RNC Party chairman, you're either the bravest person in town or the craziest person in town. Which is it for...
RYAN: It probably requires a little bit of both, would be my guess, especially these days. Reince is -- I'd put him in the bravest category.
GANGEL (voice-over): Brave or crazy, Priebus insists his only concern is being neutral.
(on camera): For the record, are you conspiring against Donald Trump?
PRIEBUS: Of course not. Of course not.
GANGEL: Is there a plan to steal the nomination?
PRIEBUS: No. There's nothing to steal. I mean, either you have the votes or you don't.
GANGEL: And you will be at peace if he is the nominee?
PRIEBUS: I'm going to be at peace with whoever the nominee is, because I know that whoever the nominee is is going to beat Hillary Clinton.
BLITZER: And Jamie Gangel is joining us now live from New York.
Jamie, do you expect Reince Priebus will continue to engage in this back and forth with Donald -- Donald Trump?
GANGEL: You know, Wolf, I think it's going to be one day at a time. But if Trump keeps charging that the party is corrupt or up to shenanigans, watch out for some late-night tweets. You know, Priebus is concerned about one thing, and that's the party's reputation. And he's going to hit back if he thinks something is unfair.
That said, perhaps more important is how hard he's trying to show that the party is neutral. That's really the reason I think he let us come behind the scenes. He wants -- the word "transparent" is his favorite word right now.
BLITZER: It's a good word. Certainly it is. As we get closer to what could be a contested convention in Cleveland, Jamie, what's his plan for the next few months?
GANGEL: I would think two things, Wolf. I think he's ordering heavier body armor. Those attacks are not likely to stop. And even though he told us that he isn't pouring Bailey's on his cereal yet, I took a peek in the fridge in his office. Let's just say it is well- stocked. He is prepared.
BLITZER: Good piece. Jamie, thanks very much.
GANGEL: Thank you.
BLITZER: I didn't know he was such a good pianist either. I learned something about Reince Priebus. I follow him on Twitter, @Reince, and he's always got something interesting to say. I'm sure he will continue that. Jamie Gangel, thanks very much.
Coming up, Bernie Sanders is regrouping tonight after a disappointing finish in New York. Is the Democratic challenger ready to retool his strategy ahead of critical batch of primaries next Tuesday?
Plus, a new warning from a top U.S. general on North Korea. He says a recent missile test failure doesn't make Kim Jong-un any less dangerous.
[17:43:14] BLITZER: Senator Bernie Sanders is facing a much narrower path to the Democratic nomination after his double-digit loss to Hillary Clinton in New York. The candidates are now fighting for nearly 400 delegates in five states preparing to vote next Tuesday, including the biggest prize, Pennsylvania.
Our senior Washington correspondent, Joe Johns, is following the contest. He's in Philadelphia for us.
Joe, what's the latest?
JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Here at the Fillmore in Philadelphia, Wolf, waiting for an event. Again, just across town, Hillary Clinton is at an event, at an African-American church with former attorney general Eric Holder. This is a high-profile event talking about guns with a high-profile Democrat, who bridges two Democratic administrations. A subtle message to Democrats that it's time to come together behind Hillary Clinton.
But one Democrat who is not listening tonight is her opponent, Bernie Sanders.
HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You've proved once again there's no place like home. JOHNS: Tonight, Hillary Clinton is taking a big step forward in her
bid for the Democratic nomination after her resounding victory in Tuesday's New York primary.
CLINTON: The race for the Democratic nomination is in the home stretch, and victory is in sight.
JOHNS: Clinton, with an eye on unifying the party, is reaching out to those backing her rival.
CLINTON: And to all of the people who supported Senator Sanders, I believe there is much more that unites us than divides us.
JOHNS: But still throwing subtle shade at Sanders for his lack of policy details.
CLINTON: We have seen that it's not enough to diagnose problems. You have to explain how you'd actually solve the problems.
[17:45:03] JOHNS: Even as she remains locked in a fight with Sanders, Clinton is looking past him, ramping up the attacks on her potential general election rivals.
CLINTON: Donald Trump and Ted Cruz are pushing a vision for America that's divisive and, frankly, dangerous.
JOHNS: Clinton's victory netted her 31 more delegates than Sanders and leaves her just 453 shy of the total needed for the nomination with super-delegates factored into the equation.
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I congratulate Secretary Clinton on her victory.
JOHNS: Despite facing a steep climb in the delegate count, Sanders insists he still has a path to the nomination.
SANDERS: There are five primaries next week. We think we're going to do well and we have a path for victory which we are going to fight to maintain.
JOHNS: Another 384 delegates will be up for grabs next Tuesday when five eastern states will hold primaries. Sanders campaign is conceding that it will need to up its game if it hopes to put a dent in Clinton's delegate advantage.
TAD DEVINE, SENIOR MEDIA ADVISER, BERNIE 2016: If we do well next week, then we can get back on course to have a pledged delegate lead by the time the voting ends.
JOHNS: After Tuesday's loss, Sanders returned to Vermont.
SANDERS: I miss Vermont. And we need to get recharged and take a day off.
JOHNS: While Clinton is charging ahead with campaign stops in Pennsylvania, she's focusing on gun control, holding an event with former attorney general, Eric Holder, and releasing an ad featuring the daughter of the slain principal at Sandy Hook Elementary.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No one is fighting harder to reform our gun laws than Hillary Clinton.
JOHNS: The Sanders campaign may have taken the day off but they are showing no signs of slowing down. They have three events here in the state of Pennsylvania scheduled for tomorrow beginning with a stop in Scranton and the e-mails for fundraising continues. So Bernie Sanders sending signs that he wants to fight on.
Wolf, back to you.
BLITZER: All right. Joe, thank you. Joe Johns in Philadelphia.
Coming up, a very stark new warning from the men in charge of countering North Korea's aggression. He says Kim Jong-un is just as dangerous as ever. How can the United States stop the young dictator without provoking a violent retaliation?
[17:51:49] BLITZER: New tonight, American military officials are warning that North Korea is likely to overcome recent setbacks to its ballistic missile program and then attempts to stop the regime may lead to dangerous retaliation from its violent young dictator Kim Jong-un.
Brian Todd is tracking the latest developments for us. Brian, what are you learning?
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, tonight we've learned U.S. officials are anxiously watching what's going on with North Korea because right now we're in a very dangerous window of time. In just two weeks, there's going to be a massive communist party gathering in Pyongyang. At that gathering, Kim Jong-un is going to likely claim to have solidified his power. So it's believed that between now and May 7th, Kim is going to make some dangerous moves, possibly displaying the advances of his nuclear program or his improving missile capability.
TODD (voice-over): The American commander who will soon be tasked with countering Kim Jong-un has a dire new warning, North Korea's missile threat is real. Don't be fooled by a recent test that failed.
GEN. VINCENT BROOKS, U.S. PACIFIC COMMAND: This is like watching someone ride a bike and falling off of it, but eventually could become a BMX champion. So we can't underestimate the hazard that is emerging on this.
TODD: General Vincent Brooks says Kim and his commanders will be able to fire long range nuclear armed missiles, quote, "if they're not stopped." (On camera): Sanctions have not stopped him. How do you really stop
LT. COL. TONY SHAFFER, FORMER SENIOR U.S. MILITARY INTELLIGENCE OFFICER: We have to look at their cyber problem. We recognize that they have been able to develop one, we have one much better. We can overmatch them rapidly. That's something worth targeting.
Secondly, their global concern of essentially black market, they are lacking hard currency. Every embassy, every concern that they have worldwide is focused on trying to bring hard currency home to North Korea. If we can interfere that, with that something fierce.
TODD (voice-over): And there's another option. According to former U.S. military intelligence officer Tony Shaffer, sabotage.
SHAFFER: The best approach would be is using special operations forces, is to go about sabotaging their technology development as well as creating circumstance for the failure of the tests to set them back further and further.
TODD: But that brings risk of retaliation from the unpredictable North Korean leader. On that front, General Brooks has his own blunt assessment of Kim Jong-un tonight, saying he, quote, "appears to be more risk tolerant, arrogant, and impulsive than his father."
Kim is a young man the general says who has no voice of reason by his side.
BROOKS: The potential of having anyone who can counter balance him or provide advice, that potential is going down and it is not evident that he is able to receive advice.
VICTOR CHA, CENTER FOR STRATEGIC AND INTERNATIONAL STUDIES: Anybody who seems to disagree with him or offer advice, they get executed. They get purged.
TODD: A staggering number of officials in Kim's inner circle have already been taken out. More than 80 according to South Korean intelligence. It's that recklessness that has officials and experts worried.
CHA: There may be an accident. There may be a miscalculation. He may fire a missile, pieces of which land on territories where there are populations.
TODD: Now experts say an important understanding that his father and grandfather had that young Kim does not appear to have is the idea of deterrents. The realization that if North Korea really provokes the U.S. or South Korea, they're going to be hit hard in retaliation.
This leader, experts say, either doesn't get that, isn't being told of that danger, or simply doesn't care -- Wolf.
[17:55:05] BLITZER: Brian Todd reporting for us. Thank you.
Coming up, Donald Trump returns to form, reviving his nicknames for Ted Cruz and Hillary Clinton, and sparring with protesters as they try to interrupt his speech.
Can he lock up enough delegates out of the convention to win the Republican nomination?
BLITZER: Happening now, charging ahead after a resounding win in the New York primary. In a moment of sounding more presidential, Donald Trump returns to the stump, once again lets the insults fly.
Hillary Clinton also winning big, and saying she's going all the way. She and Trump are now both turning their eyes toward the general election. We're standing by for a Trump rally, set to begin.
Recharging. Bernie Sanders suffers a crushing defeat in New York, goes back to Vermont to recharge and is vowing to stay in the race all the way to the convention.