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THE SITUATION ROOM

Model Upbringing; North Korea's New Missiles; Boehner Slams Cruz; Bush: 'Not Even Going to Think' About Trump as Nominee; U.S. Condemns "Deliberate" Strike on Children's Hospital; Urgent New U.S. Focus on Hitting ISIS Leaders and Assets; North Korea Launches Two Missiles, Both Tests Fail. Aired 6-7p ET

Aired April 28, 2016 - 18:00   ET

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


[18:00:04]

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Stand by for Bush's insights on his exit and the state of the campaign right now.

Model upbringing. Melania Trump isn't happy about a magazine profile that digs deep into her family history. I will ask the author what she learned that got the would-be first lady so upset.

And un-successful? New missile tests by North Korea appear to have failed. But did Kim Jong-un succeed at provoking the West again in his quest to be able to launch nuclear weapons?

We want to welcome viewers around the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Tonight, Donald Trump isn't the only Republican who is using eye- popping language to attack Ted Cruz, as the GOP candidates head into a make-or-break primary battle only five days from now. The former House Speaker John Boehner is unloading on Cruz in a new interview, likening him to the devil and calling him a -- quote -- "miserable SOB."

Cruz is accusing Boehner of allowing his inner Trump coming out. The senator firing back at his critics with help of his newly announced running mate, Carly Fiorina. Cruz now throwing everything he can into the upcoming fight in Indiana, hoping it won't be his last stand.

I will ask Trump campaign national spokeswoman Katrina Pierson about the Republican race right now and Boehner's Cruz bashing. Also, our Correspondents and analysts, they are standing by as we cover today's top stories.

Up first, CNN's Sara Murray. She is joining us from Evansville, Indiana, right now, with the very latest -- Sara.

SARA MURRAY, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Wolf. Look, Indiana could be a make-or-break state for Ted Cruz and Donald Trump knows that full well. That's why he spent his afternoon campaigning here and landing some final punches against Cruz in the days up until the Indiana primary.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MURRAY (voice-over): Donald Trump is hoping to finish off Ted Cruz in the Hoosier State.

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: If Cruz sneezes, if he just sneezes, his people leave him. Believe me. In the Senate, he's known as a liar. So we came up with lyin' Ted, L-Y-I-N, boom, hyphen.

MURRAY: Knowing, if Cruz can't stop him here, the odds of blocking Trump from clinching the nomination slim to none.

TRUMP: If I were to beat him, it's over.

MURRAY: All as Cruz brushes aside Trump's criticism of his latest political ploy, choosing Carly Fiorina as his running mate before anyone has won the nomination.

SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Donald does one of four things. He yells, he screams, he curses or insults. I suppose you can start a drinking game on which one of the four Donald is going to respond to any given stimulus that might occur.

MURRAY: Cruz and Trump locked in a two-man race here after John Kasich agreed to stop campaigning in Indiana in exchange for Cruz skipping Oregon and New Mexico. Today, Cruz is denying that Hail Mary pass amounts to an alliance.

CRUZ: There is no alliance. Kasich and I made a determination on where to focus our energies, where to focus our assets, where to focus our resources.

MURRAY: While plenty of Republicans still have reservations about Trump, others are expressing strong concerns about Cruz. Former House Speaker John Boehner blasting Cruz in an interview at Stanford University.

REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), FORMER SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: Lucifer in the flesh. In Washington, I have as many Democrat friends as I have Republican friends. I get along with almost everyone, but I have never worked with a more miserable son of a bitch in my life.

MURRAY: But Cruz appear unfazed by the criticism.

CRUZ: John Boehner had interesting some comments last night. He actually didn't abbreviate what he said. He was a little bit more expressive. He allowed his inner Trump to come out.

MURRAY: Trump may be cleaning up in the primaries, but in the general, his numbers with women could use some work. And, today, he doubled down on his claim that Hillary Clinton is only winning by playing the gender card.

TRUMP: The primary thing that she has going is that she's a woman and she's playing that card like I have never seen anybody play it before.

(END VIDEOTAPE) MURRAY: Now, Donald Trump is out with a new campaign ad in Indiana. It hits Ted Cruz on trade agreements, just a sign that even though the Trump campaign does feel confident about their odds in this state, they're taking nothing for granted and really hoping to deal that final blow to Ted Cruz right here in Indiana -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, Sara, very much, Sara Murray reporting.

While Ted Cruz brushes off John Boehner's very harsh words, he is driving home the importance of Tuesday's primary in Indiana.

CNN's Sunlen Serfaty is joining us live now from South Bend, Indiana.

What are you learning over there, Sunlen?

SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, it is very clear how pivotal a state this is for the Cruz campaign. Everything they're saying and doing from their complete focus down to their really ramped-up rhetoric about the state indicates how pivotal and how critical it is, that it is for them all about Tuesday right here in Indiana.

[18:05:13]

For the first, we heard Senator Cruz today call this state that could be, he said, a deciding factor, and he called it the single most important, and biggest day of his campaign so far. In a fund-raising e-mail to supporters today, he kind of painted an ominous warning or message about the states going forward.

He said, according to the e-mail, "The bad news is if Donald Trump wins all of the delegates in Indiana, his nomination could all be but determined," determined, such a key word there.

Such a core part of the Cruz strategy going forward is really banking on getting a big boost of momentum and rolling out their running mate choice of Carly Fiorina. She campaigned with him all day here today, Wolf, and the Cruz campaign, they say they will be adopting a divide and conquer strategy in the days going forward, where they really feel they can get double the amount of ground game covered by dispatching each of them on their own, all, of course, leading to Tuesday's big day -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, Sunlen, thanks very much, Sunlen Serfaty in South Bend, Indiana.

Joining us here in THE SITUATION ROOM, the Trump campaign's national spokeswoman, Katrina Pierson.

Katrina, thanks very much for joining us.

KATRINA PIERSON, TRUMP CAMPAIGN SPOKESPERSON: Great to be here.

BLITZER: You hear Senator Cruz really going after Donald Trump, saying he is not going to get the majority, it's going to be an open contest over in Cleveland at the convention. Your analysis right now, what do you say to Senator Cruz, who says Trump is not going to be the nominee?

PIERSON: I think what we are seeing is the Cruz campaign in free-for- all.

This was, just last week, Donald Trump is not going to get the delegates, he's not going to get there, we are going to contested convention. And then just on Sunday, he announced the alliance with John Kasich, trying to prevent that from happening. Then today we're hearing that wasn't the case, and now there's Carly Fiorina.

Who picks a vice presidential candidate 24 hours after being eliminated from the contest?

BLITZER: How important is Indiana next Tuesday?

PIERSON: I think Indiana is extremely important. Mr. Trump is campaigning in Indiana right now.

There are a lot of jobs that are going to be at stake for things like NAFTA. We have TPP on the table, something that Senator Cruz was in support of when he cast his vote for fast track on the Obama trade bill. This is very serious. The people of Indiana are very aware, which is exactly why you see the Cruz campaign frustrated.

BLITZER: But Trump potentially could lose in Indiana, right?

PIERSON: Anything could happen. Mr. Trump has been leading in the polls for the last few weeks. He is doing very welcome there. He is being well received there, just received an amazing endorsement.

I think we are going to do really well in Indiana. Look, we had an amazing night Tuesday. And that sent a huge example, because it is the Trump campaign where you have conservatives, you have moderates, even some Democrats and independents voting for Donald Trump. It is that message of making America great again that's winning.

BLITZER: Are you worried about the so-called deal that was worked out between Cruz and Kasich, that Kasich wouldn't campaign in Indiana, opening up the door potentially for Cruz to get more votes?

PIERSON: No, not at all, because that's not how voters work. And this is what the unfortunate thing is.

You have two establishment politicians trying to make a deal and think the voters are going to fall for it. If there's one thing we have learned this cycle is that people are now paying attention to the system. They're paying attention to the process and they're tired of politics, which is exactly why Donald Trump is breaking records.

BLITZER: I want to play for you the clip. This is former House Speaker John Boehner speaking his mind about Senator Ted Cruz. Listen.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What about Ted Cruz? REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), FORMER SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: Lucifer in the flesh. In Washington, I have as many Democrat friends as I have Republican friends. I get along with almost everyone, but I have never worked with a more miserable son of a bitch in my life.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

BLITZER: A miserable SOB, if you will, very strong word.

You're smiling. You like what you heard.

PIERSON: Well, I mean, just when people are talking candidly without microphones and cameras, they say what they think and they say what they mean. The difference here is Donald Trump just says that to your face.

But it is no secret there are a lot of people who don't like Senator Ted Cruz for whatever reason, but this also goes to show you the difference here between Donald Trump and Ted Cruz. You can't have it both ways, Wolf. They're trying to paint Donald Trump as the establishment candidate.

But just yesterday, the Cruz campaign was saying that they have the candidates behind them, the establishment and the Republicans are coalescing, and that's just not the case.

BLITZER: Mr. Trump keeps saying now in recent days, he is beginning to get a lot of phone calls from people who used to be very critical of him, but now are being nicer, seemingly ready to jump on the Trump bandwagon. Can you name some of these people for us?

PIERSON: I cannot name those people for you, but I'm pretty sure you are going to hear those names quite soon, because there are a lot of people who understand the voters.

[18:10:00]

When you have a candidate who has only really been a politician for the last 10 months, who is winning the majority of the votes in a lot these cases and winning delegates for that matter, Mr. Trump has a message of winning. It's a message of putting America first. He is not beholden to Goldman Sachs and the special interests and the lobbyist groups that all the other candidates are. And that's a winning message for today.

BLITZER: We heard from Senator Orrin Hatch, the veteran senator from Utah. He had this to say to CNN today.

I will read it to you. He said, "If he does win," referring to Donald Trump , "I'm going to do everything in my power to help him."

From Orrin Hatch, who really is a Republican establishment leader here in Washington, I am sure that brings a smile to your face.

PIERSON: It does. And we're hearing that from so many people. And I get it. BLITZER: Not publicly, but privately, you're saying.

PIERSON: Yes.

Well, some people are doing it publicly now. We had an endorsement just came out from a Pennsylvania congressman. People are understanding that times have changed. Things post-World War II have been very different. We need to renegotiate some trade deals. We need to get back to putting America first and the economy. We need to focus on jobs right here at home and secure our borders at home.

The American people want these things and there's one candidate that is willing to do that, and that's Donald Trump.

BLITZER: And the decision by Ted Cruz to name Carly Fiorina as his vice presidential running mate, you're smiling about that as well.

PIERSON: Like everyone else, I am still trying to figure out what that even means.

Carly Fiorina is a nice woman, good business background, I presume, but at the end of the day she has been campaigning with him for seven weeks already. And he has gone down in the national polls by 10 points, and she bowed out early, coming in seventh in the early states, so I am not quite sure what value that's added, unless just to attack Donald Trump.

BLITZER: All right, stand by, Katrina. We have more to discuss, including some additional reaction we're getting in right now on Donald Trump's national security foreign policy speech yesterday.

Much more with Katrina Pierson right after a quick break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[18:16:17]

BLITZER: There is certainly a lot of heated rhetoric out there right now on the campaign trail as the Republican presidential candidates head into a pivotal primary in five days in Indiana.

We already heard former House Speaker John Boehner call Senator Ted Cruz "Lucifer in the flesh."

We're back with Trump campaign national spokeswoman Katrina Pierson.

Let's talk a little bit more about this race for the White House.

First, I want to play a little clip. This is Bobby Knight, the Indiana basketball legend who has now endorsed Donald Trump, spoke for him yesterday, spoke for him today. But he has been saying controversial things. I want to get your reaction, because he is out there on the campaign trail for Donald Trump. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BOBBY KNIGHT, DONALD TRUMP SUPPORTER: Harry Truman, with what he did in dropping and having the guts to drop the bomb in 1944, saved, saved billions of American lives.

And that's what Harry Truman did, and he became one of the three great presidents of the United States. And here's a man who would do the same thing, because he's going to become one of the four great presidents of the United States.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: He misspoke. He said billions of Americans. Maybe millions of Americans.

But what's your reaction when you hear talk like that, that Donald Trump would do the same thing, drop the bomb, for example?

PIERSON: I think this is just an example of what people are associating with Mr. Trump's strength and leadership, not the fact that he would actually drop an A-bomb, but the fact that he is not going to draw these imaginary red lines and then back away.

We have a president right now who is not respected in the world, who is not seen as a leader or strong, for that matter, particularly when he spent the very first term apologizing to the world for everything and always putting Americans second or even dead last in some cases.

This was just speaking to the strength and the leadership that he sees in Donald Trump, like so many other people.

BLITZER: In his national security speech, his foreign policy speech yesterday, he had a lot of broad outlines, but there weren't a whole lot of specifics. He left that sort of vague.

Is he going to come up with more specifics in the weeks and months ahead?

PIERSON: Well, what Mr. Trump did is outline his vision.

He wanted to make it very clear that he is going to put Americans first. And he did talk about specifics with regard to some of the alliances we have, with some of the trade deals that we have, how we're spending money on our military defending other nations' borders, but not our own.

These things don't make sense. And I understand that the intellectuals in Washington, D.C., want to keep things the way that they are, but it is not working. Things have changed. A lot of these entities were put in place back in World War II. Things have changed, the world has changed. The threats have changed. And we have not adjusted accordingly.

And that's why Mr. Trump talks about NATO. We spend hundreds of billions of dollars. For an example, when it comes to Afghanistan and Libya, we have taken the lion's share of the burden, even when you have every other NATO member who voted to go into Libya or even to fight in Afghanistan. We cannot continue to do that with $20 trillion in debt. We are spending money, and it is out of control. We have Americans hurting.

BLITZER: Will we see, if Trump is the nominee, America first as sort of a theme, a motto?

PIERSON: Well, the theme is America great again. The vision is to put Americans first in all decisions, unlike we have had with leaders on the Republican and the Democrat side for decades.

BLITZER: Because that -- America first brings back memories of the '30s. You have heard this now, when there were isolationists who fought to prevent the United States from getting involved in World War II, so there's controversy around that phrase America first.

PIERSON: Wolf, but there's controversy around everything.

But the good news is, it is not the 1930s, and the great news is, we have a candidate that can actually fulfill some of these ideas to put Americans first with regard to the economy, with foreign policy and with jobs, for that matter. Donald Trump is that candidate.

[18:20:03]

BLITZER: I was looking at these numbers, and they're pretty impressive from your perspective, from the Trump campaign's perspective.

Trump, he's got more than 10 million votes so far in all the contests, 40 states, Cruz 6.8 million, Kasich 3.6 million. More importantly, on the delegates so far, by our estimate, Trump 991, Cruz 568, Kasich 154.

Normally, if someone is ahead by those margins, that individual is the nominee, the other candidates understand they're not going to be the nominee and they drop out. But this time around, that's not happening. Why?

PIERSON: Right.

Well, it is because candidates want to stick around, even though they have been mathematically eliminated. But this is nothing new either. The last two cycles, we have had the establishment force a candidate down our throats, and they told us you hold your nose and vote for this candidate. Now, all of a sudden, that didn't work.

The people have chosen a different candidate, and now they don't want to accept it. But I do believe, after Indiana, we're going to see the party come together. Mr. Trump has been saying this for months. He is the presumptive front-runner at this point, whether you look at the delegates or whether you look at the popular vote.

BLITZER: He is certainly the front-runner. But he says he is the presumptive nominee. Is that what you think?

PIERSON: I do. I would definitely say that. Mr. Trump is going to get the delegates prior to the convention.

Even if it does go to the convention, he is going to win on the first vote. He is a man who has brought a broad spectrum of voters, new voters, independent voters, young people, even women. And we saw that play out on Tuesday.

BLITZER: Katrina Pierson, thanks for coming in.

PIERSON: Great to be here.

BLITZER: Katrina Pierson, the national spokeswoman for the Trump campaign.

Just ahead, Jeb Bush may be out of the presidential race, but he hasn't stopped hammering Donald Trump. Stand by for the exclusive CNN interview with Jeb Bush and his reaction to the growing likelihood that Trump will be the nominee.

Plus, what has the U.S. learned from North Korea's new missile test and Kim Jong-un's latest failure after launch?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[18:26:45]

BLITZER: Tonight, one of Jeb Bush's worst political nightmares may be coming through with Donald Trump potentially closing in on the Republican presidential nomination.

Jeb Bush is speaking out now for the first time since he quit the race, talking exclusively to our special correspondent Jamie Gangel.

Jamie is joining us now live from Miami.

Jamie, has Jeb Bush's view of Trump changed at all?

JAMIE GANGEL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Not at all, Wolf. Look, Jeb Bush is breaking his silence for one reason. He's hoping to help Ted Cruz get to a contested convention and, of course, to stop Donald Trump from reaching that magic number of 1,237.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GANGEL: Do you think the race is over? Is he the presumptive nominee?

JEB BUSH (R), FORMER FLORIDA GOVERNOR: No, not yet. I am a Ted Cruz supporter, because I want to support a consistent conservative that actually could win. I don't think Donald Trump could beat the Democratic nominee.

GANGEL: Do you think there's still a viable stop Trump movement?

BUSH: My personal belief is if Donald Trump is the nominee, look, my views have been pretty consistent about this, we will lose the Senate and we will lose the presidency in a landslide and our country can't afford that.

GANGEL: Do you think the Republican Party should get around him if he's the nominee?

BUSH: I think they should support Ted Cruz.

GANGEL: So, yesterday, Ted Cruz announced that his vice presidential pick would be Carly Fiorina.

BUSH: Yes.

GANGEL: Was that a Hail Mary pass?

BUSH: Picking a candidate that is talented, tough, you know, she takes on Trump really well, I think, and she takes on Hillary Clinton very will as well, someone who has got a proven record and who has been vetted as a candidate, I thought, was a smart move by Ted Cruz.

GANGEL: You think it was the right pick?

BUSH: Yes. Yes. I do. I think -- I'm impressed with her.

GANGEL: You have said in the past that you didn't think that Donald Trump was ready to be president. But if he is the nominee, will you support him?

BUSH: I don't think he's a serious person.

GANGEL: You haven't changed your mind?

BUSH: No. I have seen nothing -- the speech, you know, recent speech about foreign policy was -- you can't -- I don't know which Donald Trump to believe, the one that read from a teleprompter a speech that was inside the lines, or the one that wants to build a wall and make Mexico pay for it.

Which Donald Trump is the one that is expressing these views? There's two of them. And I think we need a president with a steady hand.

GANGEL: It sounds like you wouldn't vote for him.

BUSH: I hope I won't have to be faced with that dilemma.

GANGEL: Do you think there's a case to be made for Republicans voting for Hillary Clinton if he is the nominee?

BUSH: No. No. I mean, a third term of Barack Obama's hyper- aggressive use of executive power to create massive uncertainty for our economy...

GANGEL: Let me try it one more time. You're not voting for Hillary Clinton?

BUSH: No way.

GANGEL: And you don't think Republicans should vote for Hillary Clinton to stop Donald Trump?

BUSH: No, I don't think we should support Hillary Clinton.

[18:30:02] GANGEL: Looking back at the campaign, how do you feel about how you did, what you did?

BUSH: Yes.

GANGEL: And...

BUSH: Wow.

I mean, I don't think about it too much. I concluded that whatever mistakes I made -- I certainly made them -- probably wouldn't have changed the outcome.

GANGEL: What do you think happened?

BUSH: Definitely a crazy year. Look, Donald Trump was, still was a phenomenon.

GANGEL: If Donald Trump is the nominee for the Republican Party, will you rally around him?

BUSH: I am hopeful that he won't be the nominee.

GANGEL: Do you think you'll ever run for politics again?

BUSH: Who me? I've learned to never say never but, you know, this was my chance. This was the chance, and I ran into a storm.

GANGEL: No regrets?

BUSH: No, none at all.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

GANGEL: I thought it was fascinating, Wolf, that he was not rule out a future run but look, the facts are the strategy here, the reason he spoke today is he is trying to do everything possible to help Ted Cruz win Indiana or do well enough there. Indiana is considered the fire wall -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Jamie, excellent interview. Thank you so much for doing it. Really appreciate that. Jamie Gangel in Miami.

Let's bring in our chief political analyst, Gloria Borger; CNN politics editor Juana Summers; and Julia Iaffe. She's a contributing writer for "The New York Times" magazine and a columnist for "Foreign Policy Magazine," as well.

Juana, first of all, welcome to CNN. Good to have you here on our team. Let's talk about what we just heard from Jeb Bush. What did you think?

JUANA SUMMERS, CNN POLITICS EDITOR: I agree with Jamie, first of all. I thought it was interesting. He's not saying never would he run again. He says he has no regrets, maybe not.

But the thing I thought was most interesting is the fact that he wouldn't go outright and say, "I'm not going to support Donald Trump." What he said is "I don't think Republicans should nominate Donald Trump." Those are two really different things. So seeing what people like Jeb Bush and other establishment Republicans who are a little bit closer to traditional party orthodoxy do if Donald Trump does, in fact, clinch the nomination, it's going to be really fascinating.

I think a lot of people are going to be looking to the Jeb Bushes and the Paul Ryans of the world and asking them a serious question: What do you do next, and is there a candidate on perhaps a second ballot if he does not, in fact, clinch the nomination. That could step in and capture Republicans like that.

BLITZER: Yes. Gloria, you know, there are some signs that the Republicans are looking to join team Trump right now. Trump himself says he started to get calls from individuals who previously criticized him. Today Senator Orrin Hatch told CNN that, if Trump does win, he said, quote, "I'm going" -- in his words, "I'm going to do everything in my power to help him."

Are we starting to see the party rally around the frontrunner?

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL STRATEGIST: Look, I think -- I think you're starting to see the beginning of it, Wolf. I was talking to a senior Republican strategist who does a lot of work with Senate races and is in touch with a lot of Republican senators constantly.

And he said to me, "Look, you cannot underestimate what Tuesday night meant to people." When somebody wins with 59 and 60 percent margins in three-way races, you have to pay attention to reality. And the reality is -- and these are his words -- "that everybody is waking up to the fact that Donald Trump is likely to the nominee in the Republican Party."

Jeb Bush still holding out hope, as Jamie showed us, but most people on Capitol Hill are understanding now that this is, you know, this is likely to happen.

So what are they going to do? Are they going to run against their own nominee, or are they going to figure out a way to work with him and, hopefully, as this Republican said to me, help him shape his policy platform so it is something that they can run on. And they believe that they can have some impact on that, unlike with Ted Cruz, who's kind of set in stone. And they believe that Trump is a little more malleable, and they're starting to get used to this idea.

BLITZER: I think you're right on that. Juan, I know you're looking closely at the numbers in the upcoming races. Forty states have already had their primaries and caucuses, ten states to go. At what point, based on all of the indications you're seeing, does Trump have the delegates necessary to be the nominee?

SUMMERS: Spent a lot of time crunching numbers for the new politics app we just released. And what we found is that he needs about 246 more delegates. That's roughly 49 percent of the remaining available delegates to go. And we looked at his patterns and states that are up next, most notably Indiana, which has 57 delegates up for grabs on Tuesday.

We're thinking that he can probably get there around June 7. That's the final day of voting, when you have states like California with its stock of delegates. Three hundred three delegates are at stake. Then, if he stays his course, that is when he can clinch the nomination, barring a big event, or perhaps John Kasich or Ted Cruz are able to take some of those delegates away from him. But right now, if he keeps going the way he does, it looks like he's on track.

BLITZER: New Jersey is June 7, as well, a state that Trump presumably could do well in.

[18:35:06] Julia, you wrote a really fascinating article about Melania Trump in the new issue of "GQ" magazine, and you saw some similarities there between her father and Donald Trump. Tell us about that.

JULIA IAFFE, CONTRIBUTING WRITER, "NEW YORK TIMES" MAGAZINE: So this is not something I was expecting to hear. I went to Slovenia to Melania Trump's home country, to her hometown, which is a very small manufacturing town called Semita (ph). And all her neighbors, all the people who knew her family or her when she was a young girl, everybody said, "Did you ever notice that her father looks a lot like Donald Trump? You know, they're both" -- and they showed me pictures.

BLITZER: They were showing pictures of their...

IAFFE: Yes, they're both tall, kind of blond. They're always wearing suits. They're businessmen, salesmen, very hard charging. They have -- everybody says about both of them they have business in their veins. They like the finer things in life.

Viktor Knavs you're seeing on the left there. Melania Trump's father has an extensive collection of Mercedes. He had -- he did quite well for himself even in communist times. He had two apartments, a house, an antique Mercedes.

He also, like Donald Trump, is very litigious when it comes to his former lovers. There was a -- we found that Melania Trump has a half- brother that apparently she did not know about. Her father had an affair with a woman before he met Melania's mother, and a child came out of that union. He fought, Melania Trump's father fought the mother of the child, who sued for child support three months after the child was born, that he fought it all the way up to the highest appellate court in Slovenia, trying not to fight these -- not to pay these child support fees.

BLITZER: Melania Trump's not happy with that article.

IAFFE: No, she's not at all.

BLITZER: She reacted negatively.

All right. You also have an article in the new issue of "Foreign Policy" on Donald Trump's foreign policy speech yesterday. Your bottom line?

IAFFE: My bottom line is it's, you know, a very eclectic array of ideas, many of which don't really go together. You heard a lot of isolationist themes, that it's always going to be America first, which as many people have pointed out, is an echo of Charles Lindbergh and people who said Nazi Germany was not that bad; we shouldn't fight them.

You also heard things like we shouldn't confuse our oldest friends, our oldest allies by making nice with our oldest adversaries. But then, in the next turn, he said -- and he said we should stick up to China. Then in the next turn of phrase, he said, "Let's cozy up to China. Let's cozy up to Russia. Let's strike an alliance with them."

Most things he -- It was full of contradictions. And if you kind of zero things out, I'm not really sure where it remains at the end.

BLITZER: All right, guys. Stand by, because there's more news coming into THE SITUATION ROOM, as well. Let's take a quick break. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[18:42:30] BLITZER: Tonight Hillary Clinton is planning to make an even harder pivot to the general election and a likely one-on-one faceoff with Donald Trump. We're getting new information about her strategy as this primary season winds down and Bernie Sanders concedes the delegate math isn't necessarily adding up the way he would like.

Our senior Washington correspondent, Jeff Zeleny, is here in THE SITUATION ROOM. Jeff, what are you learning?

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, it's clear that one of the biggest signs this campaign is turning a corner is the first day since last August, when Hillary Clinton did not air a single television commercial anywhere in the country. In fact, she spent the last two days off the campaign trail at her home in Chappaqua, where I'm told she and top aides had some of the more serious conversations yet about how to run against Donald Trump.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ZELENY: Hillary Clinton, exhaling after one long fight, preparing for another.

HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Thank you so much.

ZELENY: For the second straight day, she's off the campaign trail, taking a break and writing her game plan for the fall. That plan revolves around entirely around Donald Trump. Aides tell CNN the campaign is spending little time on any other opponent.

TRUMP: Everything I said I do, folks. OK?

ZELENY: Her campaign releasing this video today, offering an early look at their strategy. Clinton is playing up Trump's greatest hits, closing with this message: "Stand together to stop Donald Trump."

The writing is on the wall with Democratic delegates and super delegates. Clinton is just 215 shy of crossing the threshold. Sanders is behind by nearly a thousand. The Sanders campaign is laying off hundreds of workers, downsizing from a thousand at the peak of his success to about 300 now. Sanders still rallying supporters today in Oregon.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (D-VT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This is one thing that Secretary Clinton and I do agree on: we must not have a Republican in the White House.

ZELENY: The Clinton campaign is already eyeing these general election battlegrounds, but Trump saying today he'll fight hard in states like Michigan and Pennsylvania, long in the Democratic column.

TRUMP: I'll be encamped in Michigan, because I think we can win it. So we're going to win states that nobody thought were winnable as a Republican.

ZELENY: Democrats disagree, but the Clinton campaign is bracing for Trump to start using Sanders' attack lines against her.

TRUMP: I am going to be taking a lot of the things that Bernie said and using them.

[18:45:01] When he said bad judgment, I said, soundbite!

ZELENY: Sanders is pressing forward. If not to win, to influence the party's agenda.

James Sanders speaking to Wolf sided with Clinton in Trump's ongoing attack over gender.

JANE SANDERS, WIFE OF SENATOR BERNIE SANDERS: She's hardworking. We just different on ideas and solutions for the future but to demean her that way, it's just not acceptable.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ZELENY: So, the question is how long Senator Sanders stays in the race. He pledges to take it to the Democratic convention, but it is just that, a movement.

Senator Jeff Merkley of Oregon, the only one senator -- fellow senator to support him told my colleague Manu Raju today on Capitol Hill, it would be a mistake for Sanders to stay in the race through the convention, Wolf. He said the Clinton model from 2008 is one Sanders should follow, drop out immediately after the final contest in early June.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: To try to build up her support for general election. And he's got a lot of support. He's done well.

ZELENY: He has.

BLITZER: If he can rally them behind her, that's going to be a huge bonus.

ZELENY: It would. And that's exactly what Senator Merkley said. He said he's had a huge support here. He should put that to help elect a Democrat.

BLITZER: I think increasingly they're conceding it is unlikely he will get the nomination, but they want to influence the platform and party.

ZELENY: No doubt. But Senator Merkley said he was clear when Manu asked him again, he said he should drop out to make it clear to Democrats it's Hillary Clinton's turn.

BLITZER: Jeff Zeleny, thanks very much.

ZELENY: Thanks, Wolf.

BLITZER: Just ahead: The U.S. says an airstrike on a hospital that killed dozens of people, including children, appears to have been deliberate. What could it mean for the war against ISIS?

And what if anything will the U.S. do to punish Kim Jong-un for a new provocation by North Korea?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[18:51:21] BLITZER: Tonight, Secretary of State John Kerry is expressing outrage over an airstrike in a children's hospital in Syria. He says it appears to have been deliberate and he's suggesting the Syrian government may be to blame. It's a dangerous new factor as the U.S. steps up its fight against ISIS in Syria and Iraq.

Let's go to our Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr.

Barbara, what are you learning?

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Good evening, Wolf.

The focus now is very much on targeted military action doing whatever it takes against ISIS to stop another Brussels, another Paris, or even an attack here at home.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

STARR (voice-over): Vice President Joe Biden arrived in Baghdad, as the U.S. is dramatically stepping up the fight against ISIS across the region.

In Aleppo, Syria, distraught families after an air spike on strike on a pediatric hospital. No confirmation who launched the attack.

An urgent U.S. focus now is on hitting key ISIS leaders, and assets that could be used as part of future attacks against the West.

There is a new intelligence effort to go after ISIS in Africa, especially in Libya. The goal?

GEN. JOSEPH DUNFORD, JOINT CHIEFS CHAIRMAN: To further develop the intelligence that we would need to support operations in Libya and throughout Africa. We're also working closely with the French in West Africa and with the coalition in East Africa.

STARR: There are now about 6,000 ISIS operatives in Libya, just a few hours south of Europe. The Pentagon under orders from the president to also go after the heart of ISIS in Syria and Iraq.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We can no longer tolerate the kinds of positioning that is enabled by them having headquarters in Raqqah and in Mosul.

STARR: The U.S. believes top ISIS leaders are hiding in both cities, plotting attacks, and after Brussels and Paris, still using those Mideast bases of operations, trying to send operatives back into Europe.

In Syria, the next target is Raqqah, where ISIS has been using shades like this to hide movements from aircraft overhead. U.S. officials can't verify the photo, but say they have seen the shades for months, and it has had some impact on targeting air strikes. Some say Defense Secretary Ash Carter's plan for Mosul, Iraq, may be too optimistic.

ASH CARTER, DEFENSE SECRETARY: The thing we're focused on is collecting and positioning before Ramadan commences, the forces for the envelopment of Mosul.

STARR: The Islamic holy month of Ramadan just five weeks away. It may take more than 25,000 troops to liberate Mosul, many who still need to be trained.

The good news: the number of new foreign fighters in Syria and Iraq is down to about 200. A 90 percent drop on average from last year.

Some ISIS fighters are not getting paid, some even deserting, U.S. officials say. One reason the U.S. continues to bomb, ISIS cache storage sites. In a strike against a cache site in Mosul, for the first time, the used a controversial Israeli tactic called a knock on the roof used to get civilians out of the way.

Seen here in Gaza in 2014, first a missile is exploded on a roof, a warning to civilians to escape. A minute later, a larger explosion destroys the target.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

[18:55:01] STARR: And all of these U.S. military operations are going to have to be backed up with Iraqi and local forces, and U.S. artillery, air power and hundreds of special forces now headed to the battlefield -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Barbara, thanks very much. Barbara Starr reporting for us.

Let's bring in our chief national security correspondent, Jim Sciutto, and our global affairs correspondent Elise Labott.

I guess with this intensified effort right now to go after ISIS, one of the key questions is, can the U.S. target those ISIS commanders if you will, that need to be in the words of U.S. officials, taken out?

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: They can, and they are, with really remarkable and increasing success over the last several months. We have seen those strikes in Syria and Iraq and even in Libya and other countries where they're combining the intelligence and capability and taking them out.

Now, the trouble is, over the medium and long-term, that, of course, affects the operations of the organization. In the short term, and perhaps even longer, the concern is, as you focus energy there, they're going to try to show their relevance and show strength by attacking overseas. And that's part of the driving force behind this increased effort in Brussels, in Paris and elsewhere.

BLITZER: Today, we also learned that 16 U.S. military personnel will be disciplined because of that U.S. air strike on that Doctors Without Borders facility in Afghanistan last fall. That kind of stuff sometimes has an impact on morale.

SCIUTTO: It, does certainly, on morale. I mean, you know the U.S. military makes enormous effort to avoid civilian casualties. The rules of engagement, in fact, some of the military say they're too restrictive, right, because of this. But because the U.S. has a history of this, there have been mistakes, and there is an enormous cost of those mistakes and now, you have 16 soldiers being disciplined as a sign of this.

But we also see other efforts, one that Barbara mentioned there, adopting this Israeli tactic of the knock on the roof to try to get civilians out of there. What U.S. commanders will say is no one makes more of an effort than we do. But these are big bombs being dropped from the sky, they're dangerous and civilians die.

BLITZER: It's a war, and I'm sure that they try their best. But it's not by perfect, by any means. Let's talk about North Korea. At least you have been doing some serious reporting.

How worried are U.S. officials right now about the tests that Kim Jong-un's military keeps taking?

ELISE LABOTT, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Well, they're very worried. I mean, you saw a barrage of missiles in the last few weeks. Of course, this is in the run up to next week's much anticipated Workers Party Congress, Kim Jong-un is really supposed to consolidate really trying to project a lot of military might.

Today, you saw two intermediate range missiles fired. They weren't successful. But every time the North Koreans test, they get a lot of knowledge about their program. They've had some other successes, launching a missile through a sub which they have never done before. They also have these mobile launchers, which are more dangerous, because they're more spontaneous. They can launch a missile very quickly.

And so, the U.S. seems almost rudderless to stop it. You had in recent months, the toughest sanctions by the U.N. Security Council. That's only seems to be emboldening Kim Jong-un. Now, the deputy secretary of state said today, they're thinking of trying to deny the regime revenue by going after remittances by North Korean workers, but it really doesn't seem anything is going to stop Kim Jong-un. They are expecting a fifth nuclear test before this party conference.

And a very stern warning from the Chinese President Xi Jinping today, China will not accept war on the Korean peninsula. I think it is a reflection of the concern that this is really spiraling out of concern.

BLITZER: Because Trump and others say you really want to contain North Korea, China, they have the influence, they have the capability to get the job done. Will they do it?

SCIUTTO: Well, China looks at this strategically and say they don't want a nuclear North Korea, but they want less is a unified Korean Peninsula, with U.S. forces and, in fact, U.S. ally on their border. They also don't want a big outflux of refugees, a collapse of the system.

So, in their world, that's a bigger danger than a nuclearized North Korea.

LABOTT: And also, I think their influence at this point is really limited. I mean, you have seen in recent months angry, they're starting to implement sanctions. But it's only emboldening the regime. Relations with China and North Korea at an all-time low right now.

I think when everyone looks to China to do more, they have been taking steps in recent months and it doesn't seem to be making any difference.

SCIUTTO: And they're embarrassed.

BLITZER: If they do another nuclear test, they might be doing another -- that potentially could further exacerbate the tensions.

SCIUTTO: No question. It's a drip, drip of progress. And you have what successive presidents have said they would allow -- a nuclear North Korea with missile technology that could hit the U.S.

BLITZER: Yes, that's a very dangerous situation.

All right, guys. Thanks very much.

That's it for me. Thanks very much for watching. Remember, you can always follow us on Twitter. Please tweet me @wolfblitzer. You can tweet the show @CNNSitroom. We'll see you tomorrow right here in THE SITUATION ROOM. Until then, thanks for watching.

"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.