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Fiorina: 'I've Accepted' Cruz's Running Mate Offer; Assessing Trump's Foreign Policy Speech; Sanders Campaign Downsizing Its Staff?; North Korea Builds Mockup of South Korean President's Residence. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired April 27, 2016 - 17:00   ET



CARLY FIORINA, TED CRUZ'S VICE PRESIDENTIAL PICK: ... our entrenched political system, our system of crony capitalism, now it works if you're a big company, but it doesn't work if you're a small company. It works if you're wealthy or powerful or well-connected like Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton, just as a "for example," but it doesn't work for the rest of us.

[17:00:21] Ours was intended to be a citizen government. And now we must restore, and a President Ted Cruz will restore power back where it belongs in the hands of citizens! And communities and the states of this great nation.

What is at stake now is the future of our nation, the potential of our nation. Will this be a nation where every American, regardless of their circumstances, has the opportunity that comes from their God- given gifts? Will we be one nation, indivisible, under God, with liberty and justice for all or not?

Our country is being taken away from us by the elites, by the crony capitalists, by the special interests that have captured both parties. They want to take away; they are taking away not only what we treasure about this nation, but what has made this nation great. What has made this nation a place of possibility for so many people. My fellow Americans, people of Indiana, it is time. We must take our country back.

This -- this is the fight of our time, and I believe Ted Cruz is the man to lead that fight. And I am prepared to stand by his side and give this everything I have to restore the soul of our party, to defeat Donald Trump, to defeat Hillary Clinton, and to take our country back.

And so, my fellow citizens, you must stand with us. You must fight with us. We must restore the potential of this nation. We must restore what has made this nation great for so many people, regardless of their circumstances. So the possibilities of this nation, the opportunity of this nation, the rights and liberties of this nation can extend to every American.

Ladies and gentlemen, this is the fight of our times. Ted Cruz is the man to lead that fight! I will stand proudly by his side! I want you to stand with us as we fight. Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome back the next president of the United States, Ted Cruz.

BLITZER: There you have it. The vice-presidential prospect, the vice-presidential candidate Ted Cruz has selected. If, in fact, he gets the Republican presidential nomination, he wants Carly Fiorina, the former HP executive, to be his running mate.

This announcement coming in Indiana. The primary there next Tuesday. It's, by all accounts, a make-or-break moment for Ted Cruz in his run for the White House.

Jake Tapper, you were listening very, very closely to this. I just saw a tweet that Eric Trump, the son of Donald Trump, just tweeted and said, "This is one of the greatest acts of desperation I have ever seen." That's from Eric Trump. Your analysis?

TAPPER: Well, there are two things. First of all, let's analyze the move itself. Whether you think it is a bold stroke, as a Cruz supporter might think, or an act of desperation, it is definitely an interesting move for Ted Cruz to make, to try to pick a running mate long before he's even close to getting the nomination.

He has succeeded, at least for a period of time, of changing the conversation, getting the focus back on him and his struggling campaign, especially after last night when Donald Trump went 5 for 5.

So that's the actual pick. I think it's interesting. Let's see what happens.

It is true that if Cruz-Fiorina win in Indiana and win in California, they can stop Donald Trump from getting the delegates he needs to become the nominee before the convention. That's a tall order. I'm not saying it's going to happen. Trump leads in polls in both states. But it is possible, and it does change the conversation.

[17:05:05] Now, as for the event itself, I think that -- I think that Ted Cruz and Carly Fiorina could take a lesson from Ronald Reagan when it comes to stagecraft. I think that they spoke for way too long. There were people who were going to probably tune in. They were teasing this event all day, "It's going to be at 4 p.m.," all day "It's going to be at 4 p.m." Ted Cruz was supposed to speak for a very brief amount of time. He ended up speaking for 30 minutes.

Carly Fiorina was supposed to come out and give her endorsement. She did something that's probably going to get a lot of attention which is she sang to Ted Cruz's daughters. She had some really good lines in there. She had the line about Hillary Clinton selling access and Donald Trump buying access. But I fear that the singing will overshadow some of the message.

So if I were to grade the stagecraft, I would say that there was room for improvement there. But the move itself, who knows? Maybe more.

BLITZER: Why does he think she would be most qualified to be president of the United States if, in fact, he were elected president and she was the vice presidential running mate? What in her background does he think enables her to be president of the United States?

TAPPER: Well, I believe he thinks that her background in business and her being an outsider are attractive. Obviously, they weren't exactly being subtle in terms of the message they were trying to make to women voters. If you looked up on that stage, I think there were only three males on that stage. It was a sea of girls and women.

And obviously, they are trying to make an appeal to women voters. Donald Trump, obviously, has offended some women voters, not all. He still over-performs with every single demographic on the Republican side. But they're hoping that that will be an opening.

In terms of her qualifications for the office, I think that this was, to a degree, about shaking up the race more than it was about necessarily who do I think, of all the Americans in the world, would be the best president, should something happen to me? This was more about how do I change the conversation? How do I shake it up so that I can actually become president?

BLITZER: Because the critics, as you out, they point out she -- yes, she was the chair of Hewlett-Packard, one of the major companies in the United States, but eventually, the board fired her.

She ran for the Senate in California as a Republican against the incumbent Democrat, Barbara Boxer, lost by ten points, about a million votes. When she was running for the Republican nomination this time, didn't exactly score a lot of points.

TAPPER: She came in seventh in Iowa, seventh in New Hampshire, and won one delegate.

BLITZER: So why does he think this is going to move the needle in helping him in Indiana and later in California and some of these other states?

TAPPER: Well, now you're asking me to decipher the entrails of a rabbit put in front of me. I don't know exactly. I think the idea is that he needs to shake up the race. She's an impressive person who Republicans might find attractive and like the idea of him with her, reconsider Ted Cruz because of this move, specifically what she brings in terms of electoral strength. Obviously, very little. What she brings in terms of a proven record to win an election, obviously not that much.

But Carly Fiorina can be a very compelling speaker. She can be a very effective attack dog against Donald Trump in the traditional attack dog role of a vice-presidential running mate. So we'll see.

BLITZER: She could be a very attack -- very strong attack dog, if you will, against Hillary Clinton if, in fact, that were to be -- that were to happen. And she is a very, very strong woman, a very intelligent woman.

At the same time, hold on for a moment. Mark Preston, our CNN politics executive editor, is getting more information on the behind- the-scenes decision, what led to this moment. What are you learning, Mark?

MARK PRESTON, CNN POLITICS EXECUTIVE EDITOR: Well, Wolf, I just heard from a top campaign official that they started with a list of 50 people. As they went through the vetting process, this campaign official told me that there was no question that it should be Carly Fiorina.

To your point, Carly Fiorina's role is going to be to take it directly to Hillary Clinton and to express how important it is for Republicans to win the general election.

And as far as campaigning, she will be with Ted Cruz tomorrow in Ft. Wayne, Indiana. She'll be out in California this weekend campaigning, as well -- Wolf.

BLITZER: What does it look like in Indiana right now? Because I've seen some recent polls there suggesting that Donald Trump is actually ahead. Does it look like the decision by John Kasich to drop out of Indiana and not go out there and campaign is going to be a net plus for Cruz?

PRESTON: Well, Wolf, a couple of things. One, that decision was made late on a Sunday night. Of course, we know how the Cruz and the Kasich campaigns are certainly the principles. The candidates didn't seem to embrace it oh, so strongly earlier this week. We haven't seen any polling out of there to show that, in fact, John Kasich deciding to leave the state has helped Ted Cruz.

You have to think that it would certainly help in some way, shape, or form, but will it be enough to try to knock Donald Trump out of the lead there as he has right now, as we've seen from previous polling? But Indiana, you know, as we've been talking about it for the past week or so, is very critical right now for Ted Cruz, who is really pushing all of his cards on the table into that state.

[17:10:12] BLITZER: Certainly is. Indiana next Tuesday.

Ana Navarro is with us, as well, our CNN contributor. Ana, you're a Republican strategist. What's your reaction?

ANA NAVARRO, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: You know, it's a mixed bag, I will tell you the reaction. Part of me thinks that this is a smart move by Ted Cruz in the sense that he is getting the media attention that he hasn't gotten. He is changing the narrative. He is trying to portray himself as a nominee. What is one of the things that a nominee does, is pick a vice-presidential candidate.

On the other hand, you know, watching the entire thing, it was a little surreal. I think this is going to get a lot of criticism. It's almost, you know, a lot of this campaign in 2016 has been about theater. Did we just go into the theater of the absurd?

You know, the idea of a premature picking of a vice president, you know, I think is going to have costs and benefits. And, well, you know, we've now seen one candidate barking, and now we've seen one candidate singing. I mean, really -- it really is surreal. We have crossed the looking glass.

BLITZER: Let me get Jake back into this conversation. Jake, if you look at the numbers, as far as delegates, pledged delegates on the Republican side right now, Trump, as of all of his wins yesterday, clean sweep five states. He has almost a thousand delegates right now. The magic number, 1,237. He has 991 delegates. Ted Cruz is down by more than 400 delegates, 568, Kasich only 154.

So the question is being asked: What is Ted Cruz thinking? Why now, all of a sudden? He's so far behind in the delegate count, on the actual vote count, he is behind by, what, about 3 million votes. Trump has about 10 million votes so far, and Cruz 6,800,000 votes. What is he thinking now? Is this literally, as Eric says, an act of desperation?

TAPPER: Well, I mean, to his critics it is. And certainly -- well, first of all, let's talk about the Trump thing.

Trump is about 240 or so delegates away from clinching the nomination. In order for him to get the nomination before the convention, 1,237 delegates, as you note, he needs to win 49 percent of the delegates that have yet to be awarded. That is eminently possible. It is entirely possible there will not be a contested convention.

Donald Trump needs to perform as well in the remaining states as he has been, as he did last night, and all this debate about contested conventions will be over.

Now, that said, many people in the Republican Party, Mitch McConnell said he was optimistic there would be a second vote -- second ballot. Ted Cruz, John Kasich, others are hoping that there will be a contested convention. The only hope that there is right now for those individuals is to stop Trump, not for Kasich to win or not -- and not for Cruz to win before the convention. That's mathematically impossible. It cannot be done. Cruz need to win something like 130 percent of the remaining delegates, which is, of course, an impossible figure.

So they need to stop him, and they're hoping that this move, whether you think it's desperate or whether you think it's bold, will make people reconsider what Ted Cruz and Carly Fiorina together can offer as a ticket in terms of defeating Hillary Clinton, in all likelihood, and in standing for Republican values as they say Donald Trump doesn't represent.

Is it an act of desperation? Yes, I mean, it is. When you think about the fact that he's desperate in terms of there's really just very -- very little chance that he will be the nominee and very few paths to a possibility. It is possible. He could stop Trump, and he could force there to be a second ballot, a third ballot, a fourth ballot. And then he could emerge. But as you note, he is way behind the delegates, way behind the popular vote, as well.

Gloria Borger is with us, as well. I don't remember a time. Maybe you do when a presidential candidate named someone to be a vice- presidential running mate this early in the contest. BORGER: Well, I can't either. All I can think back to, Wolf, 1976

when you had Ronald Reagan at the convention naming Governor Schweiker of Pennsylvania as a way to kind of attract more people to support him, more delegates to support him at the convention. So that was a bit of a different situation.

Look, I think it's clear to me that Ted Cruz is doing it -- and the length of the speeches is some indication -- to draw more attention to his campaign and what he stands for. And Carly Fiorina is a big part of that. And they are putting, you know, all of their chips in the middle of the table on the state of Indiana.

And this is about last-ditch effort to win the state of Indiana, because he has made it very clear that without Indiana, he doesn't even have much shot at doing well in a contested convention scenario. And right now, the math is impossible for him without a contested convention scenario.

So, you know, this is about naming her, because she can speak to him and to his strengths. And she stood there today very much as a character witness for him on both a political level and on, I would say, on a personal level, talking about what kind of father he is, for example. And you know, in this kind of a situation, when you've got a crisscross the state, two can be -- two can be better than one.

So I think it's all in for Ted Cruz with this state, with Carly Fiorina and just putting it all out there, Wolf.

BLITZER: And there's a lot of people say for him it could be make or break next Tuesday in Indiana. We'll see what happens there.

Everyone, stand by. We'll take a quick break. There's other important political news coming in. All of a sudden, we're learning that Bernie Sanders, the Democratic presidential candidate, laying off hundreds of campaign workers on this, the day after he suffered some serious setbacks in those primaries. Much more right after this.


ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

BLITZER: I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM. We're following major political breaking news right now on several fronts.

We're awaiting a Donald Trump rally in the suddenly critical state of Indiana. It could be a huge change from the more presidential side of Trump we saw earlier today, when he used a teleprompter to deliver a carefully scripted speech about America -- his American first foreign policy.

Also breaking right now, Senator Ted Cruz revealing that Carly Fiorina will be his running mate, if -- if he wins the presidential nomination for the Republican Party. That's obviously a big "if." Cruz is so far behind, some observers are calling this move a desperate political stunt. There's also breaking news in the Democratic race. A senior adviser

confirms to CNN that Senator Bernie Sanders is downsizing his campaign staff. "The New York Times" quoting Senator Sanders as saying hundreds of workers on his campaign staff will be laid off as Sanders prepares to concentrate on California and getting the Democratic Party to embrace his agenda in its party platform.

Let's go to CNN's Phil Mattingly. We're getting a look at many different sides of Donald Trump today. What's the latest?

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, this race has become, at least on the Republican side, a tale of two very different perspectives.

Donald Trump clearly moving on. We saw today this foreign policy speech that was very different from the bombast and hyperbole we've often seen on the campaign trail. We also saw Ted Cruz you just saw making a vice presidential pick and Indiana is make or break for his campaign to stop Donald Trump.


DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We have to be unpredictable starting now.

MATTINGLY: Donald Trump barreling toward the Republican nomination. Hours after five crushing wins Tuesday night in a flat dismissal of his rivals, the GOP front-runner taking to Washington to deliver a sweeping foreign policy speech.

TRUMP: My foreign policy will always put the interests of the American people and American security above all else. It has to be first. Has to be.

MATTINGLY: Reading a prepared text from a teleprompter, Trump arguing for a break from decades, central tenants of U.S. foreign policy. From trade and defense pacts to relationships with traditional allies.

TRUMP: A Trump administration will lead a free world that is properly armed and funded, and funded beautifully.

MATTINGLY: Elements of a foreign policy he branded as America first.

TRUMP: We will no longer surrender this country or its people to the false song of globalism.

MATTINGLY: Even as Ted Cruz, trailing Trump by more than 400 delegates, pledges to fight on.

SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Last night was Donald Trump's night. And, today, is Indiana's day.

MATTINGLY: The Texas senator attempting to give his campaign a jolt, announcing Carly Fiorina as his running mate.

CRUZ: She is someone you can be confident in, if the occasion should arise to be commander in chief and keep this country safe.

MATTINGLY: But Trump is now in the driver's seat for the Republican nomination.

TRUMP: I consider myself the presumptive nominee.

MATTINGLY: He's won just over half of the delegates to date. We need to leave 49 percent of the remaining 502 delegates to clench the nomination and eliminate the threat of a contested convention. Trump clearly shifting his focus to his likely general election opponent, Hillary Clinton.

TRUMP: I think the only card she has is the woman's card. She's got nothing else going. And, frankly, if Hillary Clinton were a man, I don't think she'd get 5 percent of the vote.

MATTINGLY: Following up that broadside from his Tuesday night victory speech with a direct assault on Clinton's record as secretary of state. A preview of a general election battle that may already be under way.

TRUMP: I challenge anyone to explain the strategic foreign policy vision of Obama/Clinton. It has been a complete and total disaster.


MATTINGLY: Now, Wolf, according to advisers in both the Cruz and Kasich campaigns, there's no doubt about it. Donald Trump over- performed in the five states last night. And they have a very difficult road ahead to try and block him.

That said, if you look at Indiana, where Ted Cruz will be camping out for the next week, John Kasich already heading out west. They are not giving up on this race.

[17:25:10] The real question is, does Donald Trump even consider it a race anymore? We'll get a hint at that rally later tonight, Wolf.

BLITZER: We'll stand by for that. Phil Mattingly, thanks very much.

Joining us now, Republican Senator James Risch. He's a member of the Foreign Relations and Intelligence Committees. And obviously, someone who's sort of a lukewarm supporter of Senator Ted Cruz. Is that fair?


BLITZER: Lukewarm, that's the key word. Cruz is not doing well right now by all accounts on the actual total votes. We updated after the five big wins from Trump last night. Take a look at this.

Trump now, in all of these 40 contest states that have already had their primaries and caucuses, Trump at 10,062,000, Cruz at 6,857,000, Kasich 3,674,000. Trump is way -- 3 million more Republicans voted for Trump than voted for Cruz. So why is Cruz still in this contest?

RISCH: Well, first of all, Wolf, a lot of us aren't impressed by the raw vote numbers, because as you know, some are caucuses. Some are votes. Some are big states; some are small states.

But having said all that, last night, those numbers that Trump put on the board were impressive. And I think that anybody who watches this, whether you're a Trump supporter or not, has got to concede that he won 54 percent in one state, the other four states. He was up at 60 percent, either close to it or above it. In a three-way race, those are impressive numbers, and you can't deny it.

BLITZER: He crushed the other two Republican candidates. So forget about the popular vote. Look at the delegate count right now. The magic number once again, 1,237. Trump is almost at a thousand right now, 991. Cruz, 568. Kasich, only 154. That's, what, 400 more delegates. It's impossible for Cruz or Kasich to get the nomination mathematically on that first round. Trump has a good chance of doing it.

RISCH: From a technical standpoint, it's still possible that they could deny him the 1,237. But from a practical standpoint, every day that goes by, it becomes less likely; and next Tuesday is going to be a real watershed day.

BLITZER: Trump, in the remaining contests, whether Indiana, California, New Mexico, Oregon, Trump only need 49 percent of the vote, whereas, Cruz, he would need 133 percent. You can't get that. Kasich, 216 percent. Can't get that.

RISCH: But in a three-way race...

BLITZER: Forty-nine percent is very doable.

RISCH: It is doable, but it's also a possible to come off the tracks. But again, every day that goes by, every one of these contests, Trump is showing more strength. And like I said, I think Tuesday is going to be very critical.

BLITZER: You know your fellow Republicans. Are they beginning to sense that it is Donald Trump who will be the Republican nominee? They're going to jump on the band wagon fairly soon to unite the party and try to focus in on the general election?

RISCH: Ordinarily, use anecdotal testimony in that regard, but I don't have it. What you can look at in this regard, and that is objectively. Donald Trump is showing substantially more strength than he's shown early in the contest. So the chances are that there are people who are warming up to Donald Trump.

BLITZER: Are you warming up for him?

RISCH: I'm not there yet. Let's get through this and we will make decisions at that particular time. But from an objective standpoint, it appears that is the case. And then when you move to the general, Donald Trump has got to be praying that -- that the general electorate does the same thing and warms up to it. The numbers don't show it at this point.

BLITZER: What did you think of the decision by Ted Cruz to name Carly Fiorina as his vice-presidential running mate?

RISCH: Well, you know, Gloria's memory on this was right on. In 1976, you recall Ronald Reagan chose Richard Schweiker.

BLITZER: He thought it would help. But he did that at the convention.

RISCH: He did that at the convention.

BLITZER: The delegates were there. They had a contested convention. He didn't do it in April.

RISCH: He -- that's true. But, at that point, Reagan was looking at this, and Ford was very strong. It was apparent they were getting to the end of the line. It's possible that that's what's going through Cruz's mind right now.

I think Indiana, as I said next Tuesday, is going -- it could be the end of the line. So maybe that's what they're thinking is they're thinking they need to change the trajectory. There is no question about it. And it's difficult...

BLITZER: If Trump wins Indiana, is it over for Cruz?

RISCH: It may be over now, but boy, it gets closer every day. And it will be -- if, indeed, that happens in Indiana, I would -- I would think that people are going to start closing the book.

BLITZER: I know you listen carefully to Donald Trump's 40-minute carefully scripted speech on national security, foreign policy. You're an expert in those areas. Your colleague, Lindsey Graham, who doesn't like Donald Trump, obviously, reluctantly, like you, has endorsed Cruz. Lindsey Graham tweeted this: "Trump's foreign policy speech not conservatism. It's isolationism surrounded by disconnected though. Demonstrates lack of understanding threats we face.:

[17:30:03] Final thought on Trump's foreign policy speech: "Ronald Reagan must be rolling over in his grave."

Are you as critical of Trump as Lindsey Graham is?

RISCH: No. First of all, let's all concede that foreign policy is not Donald Trump's strong suit. Having said that, what -- what you take away from this on a positive side is that it is scripted and he stayed on script and didn't go off script, and that, for Donald Trump, is very, very helpful.

The -- a person who would be looking at this from the outside would take a look at the speech of a Republican and say, "Well, you know, that's not so bad." You deal with it every day, certainly the soup was a little thin for people who deal in this every day. But, again, he's got somebody who wrote a speech that -- that was at least livable, and he didn't go off script.

BLITZER: I think it was a team, I think. It wasn't just somebody.

RISCH: I'm sure.

BLITZER: He's got a bunch of national security advisers that have been helping him, including your colleague, Senator Sessions from Alabama, who has endorsed him. He and some of his staff have been helping him, as well. We will be speaking to Senator Sessions in the next hour.

Thanks very much, Senator Risch, for coming in.

RISCH: Wolf, thank you for having me.

BLITZER: Always good to have you here.

Stay with us. We're standing by for the start of the Donald Trump's campaign rally in the critically important state of Indiana. What will he have to say about Senator Cruz's decision to pick Carly Fiorina as his running mate?


BLITZER: Take a look at this. Live pictures coming in from Indianapolis. Donald Trump getting ready to address a big crowd there. Big rally. This is going to be a Donald Trump rally kind of speech, as opposed to earlier today when he delivered a very carefully crafted foreign policy speech here in Washington. Stand by. We'll have live coverage.

We're following the breaking news, the political news. Ted Cruz has just named Carly Fiorina as his running mate.

Meanwhile, Trump is billing himself as the presumptive nominee after a five-state clean sweep on Super Tuesday yesterday.

Let's bring in our political experts for more analysis. We're joined by politics executive editor once again, Mark Preston; our CNN political commentator, Ana Navarro; our senior political analyst, Ron Brownstein. He's a senior editor at "The Atlantic" here in Washington. And our CNN political commentator Peter Beinart, who's a contributing editor at "The Atlantic," as well.

So Ron, he swept all five states. He's calling himself the presumptive nominee. Is he?

RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: That may be a tad premature, but we're certainly heading in that direction. Last -- last eight days or something have been something different. Donald Trump is beginning to do what he had not done before, which is consolidate the party, Wolf. Up until New York he had not won 50 percent in any state. He's now won more than 50 percent in six consecutive states now.

And not only was there the depth of the victory but the breadth of it. He put up his best numbers in any exit poll yet among the groups where he's been strong: men, non-college voters. He also put up in New York, Connecticut, Maryland and Pennsylvania, his best numbers yet among groups where he has been weak: the college-educated Republicans and women.

So all in all, I think you are seeing the beginning of a consolidation. Could this just be a regional blip? Maybe, but it feels like something is changing in the Republican race.

BLITZER: Certainly does. Mark Preston, you've been looking carefully at the numbers. He's getting ready to speak before a big crowd in Indianapolis. Ted Cruz trying to find some sort of way to stop Trump's momentum.

Even if Trump were to lose in Indiana, there is still a clear path for him to reach 1,237. He's got more than 400 delegates ahead of Cruz right now.

MARK PRESTON, CNN POLITICS EXECUTIVE EDITOR: Yes, Wolf, you know, I've been looking at the remaining ten states and just looking at different scenarios, running them.

Right now, Donald Trump needs to win 246 of the remaining 502 delegates. Now, even if Ted Cruz were to do very well in Indiana, you would expect that Donald Trump is going to pick up some delegates, but just goes to show you what the Cruz campaign is thinking. They will be there this weekend. Ted Cruz and Carly Fiorina will be in the state of California. That is the big state with the most delegates left on the table. And they know that, not only do they have to stop Donald Trump in Indiana, but they really have to hurt him when it comes to California.

And also worth noting is New Jersey, a state, of course, that is right next to neighboring New York, is also going to hold a contest, 51 delegates. Donald Trump is clearly going to be the favorite candidate in that contest.

BLITZER: Yes. The mid-Atlantic northeast. New Jersey, very similar to Pennsylvania and New York and these other states that Trump won yesterday. Maryland, Delaware, Rhode Island. All of them.

Ana, Cruz announcing that Carly Fiorina is going to be his running mate this early in the contest. He has no mathematical chance of becoming the nominee on the first round. He can't get that -- to that number, 1,237. Is this just a stunt?

ANA NAVARRO, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: It's part of the theater of 2016. I think that there's been a lot of theater in 2016.

Look, on the one hand, he manages to change the narrative. He manages to get media attention. He manages to project himself and portray himself as a potential nominee.

On the other hand, you know, one of the things he does is take away his ability to horse trade with a John Kasich or a Marco Rubio, who do have delegates, over a hundred delegates each to their name, at a possible convention, at a possible brokered convention.

He does also, on the positive side, double what he can cover. He's got himself a very good surrogate and advocate in Carly Fiorina. She's proved to be very good in media interviews. She's proved to be very good in debates. She's proved to be good on retail. She's proved to be good with donors. So he just doubled the ground that he can cover by appointing her even now.

[17:40:15] And you know, at the end of the day, Wolf, what does he have to lose? What does he have to lose? What does Carly Fiorina have to lose?

He probably could have gotten a governor or a senator. He's not the best liked in the Washington or the best liked in Republican circles to, you know, play along with him on this role. But I think that this is a positive for Carly, definitely, who likes the limelight and who's good at it. And I think for Cruz, it is a hail Mary. What does he have to lose?

BLITZER: Peter, let's talk about Trump's foreign policy speech today. I know you listened to it very carefully. It was intriguing that Zalmay Khalilzad, the former U.S. ambassador of the United Nations, to Iraq, to Afghanistan, the highest ranking Muslim official in the U.S. government, Fareed Zakaria pointed that out to us earlier in the day, that he was selected to introduce Donald Trump at that speech. First of all, what did you think of that and what did you think of the speech?

PETER BEINART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I think that was a wise move. The speech had a certain kind of, you know, Rand Paul anti-interventionism in it, kind of Pat Buchanan anti-global institutions, protect our sovereignty, anti-free trade. But mostly, it was just gibberish.

I mean, it started out by saying -- Donald started out -- Trump started out by saying his guiding principle will be America first. And then two sentences later, started by talking about how terrific it was that America defeated Japan and Germany in World War II. The man does not know, evidently, that the America First Committee was established in 1940 for precisely to keep America out of World War II against Germany and Japan. And there was -- there was kind of -- there was absurdity after absurdity.

Again, if this is the idea of a serious Donald Trump speech, really, I'd hate to see what unserious is.

BLITZER: Ron Brownstein, what did you think of the speech?

BROWNSTEIN: Well, I thought -- look, that really jumped out at me, too, you know, citing World War II after picking up the America First label that was designed to keep us out of World War II.

But I give it a little more credit. I think there was at least a north star here. You know, it is this kind of defensive nationalism where you talk about building up the American military but deploying it more sparingly. The whole idea of not getting -- rejecting nation building as a goal of American foreign policy.

To me, what really struck me was on so many different fronts, it was a rejection of where the consensus has been in the Republican Party, certainly since at least Ronald Reagan. And it's just a reminder on how many issues Donald Trump is executing a revolution from within the Republican coalition.

BLITZER: Mark Preston, a lot of analysts say, "You know what? It may not have been appealing to the foreign policy elite, the think tankers here in Washington, among others, but to the rank and file, the Republican conservative base, when they hear America first, they like that kind of stuff."

PRESTON: They absolutely do. I mean, look, that speech wasn't directed towards the likes of us or certainly towards the likes of the foreign policy gurus in and around the Beltway or in New York City. It was directed directly at the folks who are out in the heartland who have been supporting Donald Trump, who like to hear things that "I'm going to make America great again. I'm going to make sure that we are going to have our allies pay their fair share. I'm going to make sure that we have a robust military," which at some point I had to acknowledge, as everyone has, he was -- he would say one thing and then he would trip up and say another thing in the speech.

But having said that, he really did these broad strokes, and that is what has helped Donald Trump so well in this campaign up to this point, and that's what he did today.

BLITZER: All right. Everyone stand by. There's much more to assess, and we're getting more information coming into THE SITUATION ROOM at the same time. We'll be right back.


BLITZER: : We're following breaking news. Senator Bernie Sanders downsizing his campaign staff after losing four out of five states on super Tuesday.

Let's get right to our senior political correspondent Brianna Keilar. Brianna, what is the latest?

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi there, Wolf. I just spoke to Bernie Sanders campaign manager Jeff Weaver and he said they are downsizing the staff by about 200 to 225 people.

Just to give you some context on this. At one point, the Sanders campaign had a staff of over a thousand earlier this year. He said they went down to 550. Now they are going down to about 325 or 350. This does come as Bernie Sanders had a major setback last night but Jeff Weaver told me that that is not why they are doing this. He said this is the natural evolution of any campaign, that there aren't as many states going forward and so they are downsizing their field operation. As Bernie Sanders is saying that he is going to keep campaigning all the way to the end.


HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: With your help we're going to come back to Philadelphia for the Democratic National Convention. KEILAR (voice-over): Hillary Clinton riding high after winning four

of Tuesday night's five primaries. Now only 215 delegates from clinching the nomination.

CLINTON: I applaud Senator Sanders and his millions of supporters for challenging us to get unaccountable money out of our politics and giving greater emphasis to closing the gap of inequality. And I know together we will get that done.

KEILAR: Clinton extended an olive branch to Sanders supporters.

CLINTON: Because whether you support Senator Sanders or you support me, there's much more that unites us than divides us.

[17:50:12] KEILAR: But Sanders isn't backing down.

BERNIE SANDERS (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We are in this campaign to win and become the Democratic nominee.

KEILAR: Though he is acknowledging the math leaves him an almost insurmountable challenge.

SANDERS: I am very good in arithmetic, and I can count delegates and we are behind today. But you know what? Unusual things happen in politics.

KEILAR: The Vermont senator now laying the groundwork for a campaign that is focused on influencing the party's platform.

SANDERS: Our job, whether we win or whether we do not win, is to transform not only our country but the Democratic Party.

KEILAR: Meanwhile, Clinton is shifting her focus to a potential general election battle with the Republican frontrunner.

CLINTON: The other day Mr. Trump accused me of playing the, quote, "woman card."

KEILAR: Trump repeated the charge Tuesday night after sweeping five primaries.

DONALD TRUMP (R), REPUBLICAN CANDIDATE: If Hillary Clinton were a man, I don't think she'd get 5 percent of the vote. The only thing she's got going is the woman's card.

KEILAR: Hillary Clinton fighting back on Twitter, "Caught your speech Donald Trump about that woman's card." And sharing a video of her Tuesday remarks.

CLINTON: Well, if fighting for women's health care and paid family leave and equal pay is playing the woman card, then deal me in.


KEILAR: And Hillary Clinton is now fundraising off of those comments, Wolf. She sent an e-mail out to supporters today highlighting some of the things that Donald Trump said and looking for donations.

BLITZER: Brianna Keilar, thanks very much.

We're going to stay on top of today's breaking political news as it develops. But we're also following important news out of North Korea right now where the regime appears to be making an extremely specific and dangerous threat against its neighbors to the South.

Brian Todd is tracking the latest developments for us. Brian, what are you learning?

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, tonight, U.S. intelligence officials telling us they are closely monitoring this threat. One U.S. official calling it part of Kim Jong-Un's belligerent gestures toward his enemies. We have learned that the North Koreans have constructed this mock-up of the South Korean president's home and they are planning an assault drill.


TODD (voice-over): It has the sweeping layout of the South Korea's version of the White House, but this complex isn't in Seoul. It's near Pyongyang. A South Korean Defense official tells CNN this mockup is designed for North Korean forces to launch an assault exercise. The simulated attack on the so-called Blue House where South Korean president Park Geun-hye lives could come at any moment.

CURTIS MELVIN, JOHNS HOPKINS UNIVERSITY: Commandos could do training exercises where they enter the facility and try to capture it. Also this facility was built at a well-used artillery range, and it's quite possible they just want to blow it up for maximum media impact.

TODD: The South Korean official says the assault drill is intended to instill fear among South Koreans. Analysts say Kim Jong-un likely knows an attack on his South Korean rival would bring massive retaliation from Seoul and Washington. But President Park is familiar with these kinds of attacks on the most painful, personal levels.

MELVIN: Because of Park Geun-hye's family history and her position as a president of South Korea, it's very important for the security services in South Korea to take the necessary precautions to guard her safety.

TODD: Kim Jong-un's family which has led North Korea since 1948 has a long history of brazen assaults on South Korean presidents, trying and failing at least three times to assassinate them. One of those attempts in 1974 targeted President Park's father.

DEAN CHENG, THE HERITAGE FOUNDATION: The one you see here. And in that particular case, unfortunately his wife, the mother of the current president, got in the way and was killed.

TODD: Park Geun-hye was just 22 at the time, and had to become South Korea's first lady after her mother died. Park's father had also been targeted six years earlier in 1968. More than 30 elite North Korean commandos infiltrated across the DMZ and stormed the Blue House. The attack failed. Most of the North Koreans were killed.

The man who ordered all those attacks, Kim Jong-un's grandfather, Kim Il-sung, who the young dictator is said to be obsessed with imitating.

MICHAEL GREEN, CENTER FOR STRATEGIC AND INTERNATIONAL STUDIES: Kim Jong-un appears to be calling up images of his grandfather's brazen attacks on the South to intimidate the South and I think to demonstrate to the North as he prepares for this big party Congress that he's an even greater leader than his father.


TODD: Now one analyst says if the North Korean forces stage an assault on this mockup of the Blue House, we may well see it. He says this facility was built in an artillery testing area where Kim Jong-un frequently goes to watch military exercises.

[17:55:07] Those drills are sometimes shown on North Korean television and the U.S. and its allies are often surveiling this site from satellites, Wolf, so we can see this assault when it happens.

BLITZER: Lots of news going on. We'll stay on top of it. Lots of surveillance video I am sure.

Coming up, we're standing by to hear from Donald Trump, the Republican presidential frontrunner trying to sound more presidential after sweeping super Tuesday, delivering a major foreign policy speech earlier today. Will Trump maintain his change in tone?


BLITZER: Happening now. Breaking news. Presumptive nominee Donald Trump declares himself the Republican pick for president after sweeping five primaries.