Return to Transcripts main page

THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER

Interview With Corey Lewandowski; Voting Underway in Five Key States. Aired 4-4:30p ET

Aired April 26, 2016 - 16:00   ET

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


[16:00:10]

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: It's decision day in five states. Can Trump and Clinton run the table? Does the so-called Pennsylvania loophole make or break Donald Trump? And whatever happened to that Kasich/Cruz pact?

THE LEAD starts right now.

Good afternoon, and welcome to a special edition of THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper, Super Tuesday number four, for those of you counting at home.

It could be the most decisive day so far in the 2016 election. We're awaiting the first exit poll results in just a little while. Voters in five states, Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island, are all going to the polls today. At stake for the Republicans, 172 delegates, for Democrats, 384 delegates.

For Donald Trump, leading in all five states in most polls, a sweep would move him closer to locking down the delegates needed to clinch the Republican nomination and it would also send a big message to Ted Cruz and John Kasich. Trump still incensed their alliance, a so- called pact to help each other in upcoming primaries.

Much more on all that in just a few minutes with my guest, Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski.

A sweep for Hillary could put Hillary Clinton, could get her within 90 percent of the 2,383 delegates needed for the Democratic nomination and it would all but close out any path to the nomination for Senator Bernie Sanders.

Our reporters are stationed up and down the so-called Acela corridor states today.

We begin with Sara Murray. She's at Trump headquarters in New York City.

Sara, the Trump campaign is confident tonight, but there's also a feeling inside the campaign that they have something to prove here.

SARA MURRAY, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Jake, the Trump campaign is poised for a big night. They know that. They feel like they are going to get good momentum coming out of these states, that they could clean up in all five of them.

They are hoping that that momentum will carry them forward to some of these contests like Indiana, where it's going to be a little tougher for Trump, and they are hoping that by winning big tonight and by continuing to win going forward, they will eventually be able to make this case that Donald Trump is inevitable, that there's no point in continuing to fight against him.

But the other thing, like you said, they are trying to prove that they really do have a ground game, they know how to do the work. Pennsylvania is going to be a key test of that. That's one of states tonight that has these tricky delegate rules, a number of unbound delegates. And the campaign has been working hard to woo those.

They want to prove they can put in the work, that they can actually have a ground game and that they can win not just by voters going to the polls, but also in the delegate wooing -- Jake.

TAPPER: All right, thank you so much, Sara Murray, with the Trump campaign.

Sunlen Serfaty has been traveling with the Cruz campaign. She's at Cruz election night headquarters in Knightstown, Indiana.

Sunlen, you have been talking to the Cruz campaign. They're not too confident about this evening.

SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, that's right, Jake. The Cruz campaign is very clearly bracing for what will likely be a tough night for them tonight. We saw Senator Cruz today in a round of radio interviews really predict as much, saying that, point blank, that very likely today will be a very good day for Donald Trump.

Cruz also offering something of a prebuttal of sorts, saying the clump of Northeastern states that are voting today, Cruz saying today, remember, these are states that typically tended to vote farther left politically speaking. So, Cruz and His campaign are focusing right now and almost exclusively this week right on Indiana, a state that votes next week.

And, of course, this state has really grown in importance now, taking almost an most oversized importance for the Cruz campaign with this alliance with John Kasich. So the focus right now of the Cruz campaign, get through tonight, then move towards Indiana -- Jake.

TAPPER: All right, Sunlen, thanks so much.

Phil Mattingly is covering the Kasich campaign.

Phil, here we have another state, Pennsylvania, that theoretically should be a good state for John Kasich, right next to Ohio, it's an industrial state, but like Wisconsin, like Michigan, he's not expected to win it. How is the Kasich campaign going to measure success this evening?

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The state where he was born, no less.

Jake, look, Pennsylvania is not a state where they're expecting to do great. Obviously, with unbound delegates there, the 54 that exist, they feel like they can make some headway there. But their focus is really on Maryland and the congressional district allocation. They feel like they can pick up delegates.

Look, it's a low bar, but they feel, when they go into these races, if they can grab a delegate here, a delegate there, as they did in New York, even though Donald Trump had a dominant performance, that kind of keeps along the narrative of John Kasich being the little train that could. Keeps chugging along, if you will.

But there's a top-line point here. The Kasich campaign is looking at the possibility of second-place finishes in all five stated today. They believe that helps their narrative that they pitch to future delegates that they are a better alternative than Ted Cruz, if Donald Trump is not the pick.

[16:05:02]

So they want that. But one other number to keep an eye on, 24. That's how many delegates it will take John Kasich to overtake Marco Rubio in total number of delegates. They're not going to get 24 delegates tonight, but that's a number that being fourth place in a three-man race is something that stings the campaign.

Tonight is another opportunity to pull delegates, creep up further on Marco Rubio and hopefully at some point surpass him and take that away from a narrative that continues to dog him on the campaign trail, Jake.

TAPPER: Yes. Hopefully, he can beat a guy that dropped out of the race two months ago. Thank you so, Phil Mattingly.

Covering this Super Tuesday from all angles, my panel of experts who will be with me for the entire hour.

But, first, joining me now, Donald Trump's campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski.

Corey, thanks so much more joining us. Appreciate it.

COREY LEWANDOWSKI, TRUMP CAMPAIGN MANAGER: Hey. Good afternoon, Jake. How are you?

TAPPER: So, right now, Mr. Trump's about 400 delegates short, a little less, 390 or so, of the 1,237 needed to win the nomination.

How many delegates do you think Trump will pick up tonight? And when do you think he will secure that magic number?

LEWANDOWSKI: Well, I don't want to make a bold prediction, but I think it's fair to say that we anticipate a very good night this evening. Last night, we saw Mr. Trump have a massive rally in Pennsylvania with

16,000 people. We hope for a good night there. We were also in Rhode Island yesterday. We have been in the give states that are having elections today, all in the last three or four days with massive turnout.

We feel very good about our position tonight. But really what it comes down to is, after tonight, Ted Cruz is mathematically eliminated from being the Republican nominee on the first ballot. John Kasich is mathematically eliminated. So, in order to unite the party, after tonight, Ted Cruz and John Kasich should support Donald Trump so that we are clearly focused on winning the Republican -- and putting a Republican back in the White House, so that we don't have four more years of Hillary Clinton or the terrible policies moving forward.

TAPPER: Corey, it's interesting, because Mr. Trump is expected to do really well this evening, but you had Senator Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania tell reporters that he voted for Ted Cruz. Governor Hogan of Maryland said something negative about Donald Trump.

You still don't see the elected officeholders who are Republicans coming around to the cause, no matter how well he does with voters. What do you make of that?

LEWANDOWSKI: Well, it's -- everyone gets one vote. And we see thousands upon thousands of people turn out for Mr. Trump's rallies.

In Delaware on Friday, we had 9,000 people. In Maryland on Sunday, we had 6,000 or 7,000 people. This is what the people want. The GOP establishment and the political elites have run this country so poorly for the last 30 years that the American people are standing up and saying, no more.

And I think what you will see tonight is in these five states, just like you saw last week in New York, people are turning out in record numbers and they're supporting Donald Trump because he's the only candidate that actually has run a national campaign and can win on a national scale.

Donald Trump has now won in the Northeast. He's dominated in the Southeast. He's won in the Upper Midwest. He's won in West. He's won in the Southwest. Ted Cruz is a regional candidate that can't do well. And if our goal is to win the White House as a Republican Party, you need to have a candidate who can win in all of these places.

TAPPER: So, Corey, the new convention manager, Paul Manafort, who has been brought on to the campaign, he appears to be trying to remake Trump's image. There's this recording obtained by CNN. You hear Manafort behind closed doors telling Republican National Committee officials that Trump can and will change. Take a listen. Here's some of what he said.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

PAUL MANAFORT, TRUMP CONVENTION MANAGER: And that's what's important, from our standpoint, for you to understand that he gets it, and that the part he's been playing is evolving into the part that now that you have been expecting. The negatives will come down. The image is going to change.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

TAPPER: But here is Trump last night talking about John Kasich.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: And then you see him eating in the morning. Did you ever see -- I have never seen. He's stuffing pancakes in his mouth like this.

And I'm always telling my boy, take small bites, Barron, little tiny bites. And yesterday he said, daddy, who's that guy on television? That's disgusting.

Did you ever see -- then they talk about presidential. Oh, I see, he's president. He puts pancakes this big in his mouth and he's shoving them in. This is not a presidential person.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: So, first of all, to any children watching, good advice, take small bites.

But moving along, Corey, help us reconcile what Manafort is saying about the -- quote -- "part that Trump has been playing" with the candidate that we continue to see at these events.

LEWANDOWSKI: No, what you have is, as you know, Mr. Trump when he goes to an event, he speaks to these massive crowds and he wants to make sure that they understand what his message is.

And so his messaging in those large crowds is sometimes more tailor- made to that large crowd. And in a small audience, as you would anybody else, you have a different way that you speak to people in a smaller crowd.

And I think that's what Paul was crying to get across. So, what you will see tomorrow from Mr. Trump is a detailed foreign policy speech in Washington, and then we will go out to Indiana and we will have a massive rally which coach Bobby Knight is going to be joining us for.

And it's going to be a massive, raucous crowd, which is something that many people on this channel have had the opportunity to see because you cover it so well usually.

[16:10:03]

And so, again, what Paul is talking about in, those smaller meetings, when Donald Trump is one-on-one with someone, he may not be having the same type of loud, verbose conversation, because it's a more private, intimate setting. But the message is the same. And Donald Trump will never change. And the motto of this campaign has been and continues to be, let Mr. Trump be Mr. Trump.

TAPPER: And, Corey, as you know, there's been a lot of reporting about the alleged drama behind the scenes of the campaign. Politico's reporting that Trump is frustrated with Manafort's push to make him presidential.

"Trump became upset late last week when he learned from media reports that Manafort privately told Republican leaders that the billionaire reality TV star was projecting an image for voters and would begin toning down his rhetoric," as we just heard in that clip.

"Now Trump is taking steps to return some authority to Manafort's chief internal rival," and that would be you, Corey, "campaign manager Corey Lewandowski."

What do you make of this? Is that report accurate?

LEWANDOWSKI: Look, the media wants to write a narrative which isn't there.

As you know, we have had a very small campaign and done more and won more races, 22 races so far, with the least amount of money spent, and we're growing the team. And Paul is a big part of that growth, and not just Paul, but Ken McKay and Rick Wiley and the rest of the team that we're growing out, so that we can grow and be successful.

In order for us to keep our eye on the prize, which is first to become the Republican nominee, and then ultimately get Mr. Trump elected president of the United States, we need to have the best team possible. We need to work together. And that's exactly what we're doing.

So, this media narrative that there's some back-and-forth tug-of-war just honestly doesn't exist. And I'm proud and honored to be part of this team that's growing, so that we are better and bigger and stronger, so that we can go forward and win in November.

TAPPER: All right, Corey, good luck tonight. Thanks so much for joining us. Appreciate it.

LEWANDOWSKI: Thank you.

TAPPER: Coming up next, Pennsylvania is the biggest prize tonight, but it's also the biggest wild card, how 54 delegates could make or break Donald Trump.

Plus, should Bernie Sanders take Donald Trump's advice? We will explain.

And we're counting down to the first exist poll results on this special Super Tuesday edition of THE LEAD. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [16:15:53] TAPPER: Welcome back to a special election edition of THE LEAD.

At this very moment, final hours of voting underway in five states. With the biggest prize tonight, the great commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

On the Republican side, 71 delegates at stake. There are 17 delegates go to the winner of statewide vote, but it's something of a mystery as to who will get the remaining delegates. That's because 54 delegates will be picked by congressional district and those delegates can ultimately side with whomever they want, even changing their minds until the convention.

Jason Carroll is live at a polling station in Pittsburgh on the western part of the state.

Jason, what's the Trump campaign doing to win over those potential delegates?

JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I can tell you what we've seen on the ground, they upped their ground game in term of reaching out to some unbound delegates, 54 of them, something that we've not seen in the past. There are volunteers on the ground, some of whom we have spoken to.

They're handing out cards like this one, Jake. Take a look at polling stations like this one. We're here in District 18. On the back, three names, three names of three of the unbound delegates out of the 54 that are dedicated and loyal to Donald Trump. They want to make sure voters who are coming out supporting Trump know which delegates are behind him.

One of the names we've not heard mentioned enough about here and one that we thought we'd hear more of is John Kasich. As you know, he grew up 15 minutes from where we are. And most of the folks that have come out here have said, yes, we like Kasich, we like what he had to stand for, like what he did in Ohio. In fact, there's one kid back there in the green shirt, he's 9 years old, he's a full-on Kasich supporter. Lots of them out there.

But in terms of the voters, many of them telling us, instead they're going to vote for Donald Trump because they feel like Kasich can't take it all the way. They feel like Trump can. Some voters also telling us not very happy with that deal that Kasich struck with Cruz.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Desperation.

ERNEST COHOLIC, TRUMP SUPPORTER: Desperate. Certainly an act of desperation. I think -- I think they see the writing on the wall and after today, they're going to find the writing on the wall. Only thing I'm worried about is that Cruz might steal their delegates and that would be --

CARROLL: Here in the state?

COHOLIC: Yes. And that would be against the will of the people.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CARROLL: As you know, Jake, Trump way up in the polls here in the state of Pennsylvania. What he's hoping is that improved ground game will not only win him the popular vote, it will win him with those 54 unbound delegates as well -- Jake.

TAPPER: All right. Jason Carroll, thank you so much.

I'm joined now by panel. Host of "The Bill Press Show", Bill Press, the mayor of Philadelphia, Michael Nutter, chief national correspondent and host of "INSIDE POLITICS", John King, chief political analyst Gloria Borger, Trump supporter and CNN political commentator, Kayleigh McEnany, senior writer at "The Federalist", Mary Katharine Ham, Trump supporter Jeffrey Lord, who served as political director in the Reagan White House, and Democratic strategist Donna Brazile.

John, let me start with you. Did you hear anything from the interview we just did with Corey Lewandowski that raised your eyebrows?

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It's a fascinating moment. There's a story, as you noted in "Politico" today, suggesting that Donald Trump is mad at his new convention manager and his new campaign guru, Paul Manafort, and that power's going back toward Corey Lewandowski after some of it has been stripped away from Corey Lewandowski.

I'm told on very good authority, Mr. Manafort is not happy with that story. He believes it has fingerprints of Mr. Lewandowski and Roger Stone, a mischief maker, I'm being polite, who is associated with Mr. Trump for a long time. And he's mad, taking it personally, because it's about him, and also thinks it complicates the job of trying to reach out to the Republican establishment and calm them down.

And a fascinating moment, we're talking about internal dissension in a Trump campaign at a moment when Trump looks like he's going to win five states tonight and get closer and closer to 1,237, and I think make it near impossible to stop him if tonight goes as we think it's going to go.

TAPPER: Let's talk to a couple of Pennsylvania voters, because we have two here.

Jeffrey, let me start with you. You voted outside Harrisburg.

JEFFREY LORD, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I did.

TAPPER: Are you concerned at all, the ground game that Mr. Trump has had or not had about delegates has been wanting. We saw in that report from Jason Carroll that they're trying to up the ground game. Are you at all concern about the ability to get these 54 unpledged delegates out of Pennsylvania? LORD: Based on my experience, I'm in the 4th congressional district,

they do have quite a good operation.

[16:20:01] We've got phone calls, we got pieces of paper, we got sites on the Internet that said specifically of all the delegates running, which were the three who were the Trump delegates. They had a Trump convention or a campaign headquarters, they're really at. And as we speak, I just see that the head of that, a guy by the name Steve Johansson has been out there all day, they're doing well with the stuff. So, I do think that they're doing much better.

TAPPER: Let's go to the other Pennsylvania voter we have here, former Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter. You are a Hillary Clinton supporter.

MICHAEL NUTTER (D), FORMER PHILADELPHIA MAYOR: Yes.

TAPPER: She won. She beat Obama handily eight years ago in the Pennsylvania primary by ten points. That's the ten I was looking for. Tell me what about her ground game, how do you think she's going to do in the commonwealth of Pennsylvania?

NUTTER: Well, they're active, not only in Philadelphia but across the state. Good turnout as I understand it this morning. Obviously, I voted already. Thunderstorms in Pittsburgh, a little concerned about that, and activity consistent across Pennsylvania. Expect a good night, good day for Hillary Clinton in Pennsylvania.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Can we just explain to our viewers how crazy this is on the Republican side? Because if you win statewide, you get those 17 delegates. But there are 54 the most sought after people in American politics right now, these uncommitted delegates. But you can't just go into your voting booth and say, oh, which is the Trump one?

TAPPER: Doesn't give them --

BORGER: It doesn't say. So, what Trump people are putting out, I presume other campaigns are doing as well, is a list, you know, congressional district by congressional district who their delegates are because otherwise if you step into a voting booth, you have absolutely no way of knowing who you're pushing the lever for.

DONNA BRAZILE, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: It's called the loophole primary.

(CROSSTALK)

KAYLEIGH MCENANY, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: But you think it's a vote, you think it's a vote as opposed to Colorado where the delegates weren't even voted on. I think that Donald Trump will do well in the -- with these 54 delegates. CNN did a poll and they found 20 percent will support Trump, 33 percent will go with their congressional district. That's, you know, if he could get 26 delegates in addition to 17 he's likely to get in Pennsylvania, that is huge towards getting to that 1,237. TAPPER: Mary Katharine, let me just ask you. We're looking at

results tonight. We have no idea what the results are going to be, but nobody's predicting anything other than Donald Trump will likely win all five states. At what point does this just become silly for Cruz and Kasich?

MARY KATHARINE HAM, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, it doesn't -- well, Kasich is the more silly one because he's got the thing where he's fighting to be third in a three-man race, he's now fourth.

TAPPER: Now fourth.

(LAUGHTER)

HAM: But look, once they have gotten this far, and I think it was a forgone conclusion a while ago that they weren't going to make it to 1,237, the idea was to get to the convention, you keep going to the convention. I don't think you make the decision to turn.

The interesting thing to me is John noted, is about the Trump campaign being on a really good streak here, and yet having this turmoil at the same time. Generally, you see a campaign that's doing extremely well at that moment, feeling good about themselves, and patting each other on the back.

Perhaps the alliance, only alliance more troubled than Kasich/Cruz is Lewandowski/Manafort at the moment.

TAPPER: Bill, let me go to you about Bernie Sanders, not anticipated to have a great night but we don't know, he still could win in a few states. What's the message to his supporters?

BILL PRESS, THE BILL PRESS SHOW: You know, I'm a great believer in Jesse Jackson, keep hope alive but it's getting hard somewhere harder to keep hope alive in the Sanders campaign.

The note of reality is, this is basically Clinton territory. I mean, she's got a big momentum coming out of New York, these are four out of five are closed primaries. She's won every closed primary. Bernie has not won one yet. She's got the party establishment in every one of those states.

So, I think, realistically, Bernie would do well if he wins Rhode Island and comes close or upsets Mayor Nutter in Pennsylvania. I think that's most you can expect.

(LAUGHTER)

TAPPER: Donna, what are you looking for in Pennsylvania and other four states voting?

BRAZILE: Well, first of all, I wanted to -- Gloria mentioned the process of the Republican side. They have a loophole primary, where you pick delegates and there's a presidential beauty contest. So, good luck with that, also by CD. I love the Republicans because their rules make you want to go back to grade school. Now, What I'm looking for, we're in a final stretch. I'm hoping that

we're in the final stretch. We have six weeks, 13 contests left on the Democratic side. Big delegate haul. The last big haul until we get to California on June 7th.

So, I'm looking for a vigorous conversation tonight in terms of who really has momentum, how far are we from getting this thing ended on the Democratic side so that we can sit back with popcorn, beer, wine, watch the Republicans.

TAPPER: All right. On that point on those beers.

And tomorrow on "NEW DAY", don't miss Donald Trump and House Speaker Paul Ryan. That's tomorrow, starting at 6:00 a.m. on CNN.

Coming next, we're counting down to the first exit poll results coming any minute now. And Jane Sanders challenged to release more Sanders tax returns lays down a challenge of her own.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JANE SANDERS, WIFE OF SENATOR BERNIE SANDERS: What's interesting is we released 2014, Secretary Clinton hasn't released a transcript yet.

[16:25:06] So, why don't we wait and see what happens?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: Hmm, the plot thickens. Which candidate will blink first? I'll ask my guest, Clinton supporter, Senator Bob Casey.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

TAPPER: Five pivotal primaries this afternoon, contests that could be key to the final outcomes in this election. Hillary Clinton 1,954 delegates and a strong showing will move her within striking distance of the Democratic nomination.

Meanwhile, it's a critical night for Bernie Sanders. The Vermont senator acknowledging he now has a narrow path to victory. And just short time ago, Donald Trump tweeted this message to Sanders, quote, "Bernie Sanders has been treated terribly by the Democrats, both with delegates and otherwise. He should show them and run as an independent."