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Bush, Graham Say They Won't Vote for Trump; Nebraska Governor Endorses Trump, Family Funded Anti-Trump Ads; Obama Targets Trump, Questions Billionaire's Seriousness; Trump Won't Self-Fund General Election Campaign. Aired 7-8p ET

Aired May 6, 2016 - 19:00   ET


[19:00:14] KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: OUTFRONT next. Breaking news. Donald Trump comes out swinging, at key Republican leaders. His message to Speaker Paul Ryan, the day after Ryan snubbed him.

Plus, Trump getting a big boost from former Vice President Dick Cheney. Why Cheney is going against his two former bosses.

And President Obama taking on Trump tonight. He says this election is not a reality show. Let's go OUTFRONT.

Good evening, everyone. I'm Kate Bolduan in for Erin Burnett. OUTFRONT tonight, breaking news, Donald Trump unleashed to taking on the growing list of Republicans who say they will not back the presumptive nominee. And just tonight, that list now includes Trump's former rivals, Jeb Bush and Lindsey Graham. Listen.


DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: No, but I won't talk about Jeb Bush. I will not say -- I will not say he's low energy. I will not say it. I will not say it! And I won't talk about Lindsey Graham. He fails with his campaign horribly. He then endorses somebody else. And then he endorses Bush. And then he endorses everybody. He's like bad luck.


BOLDUAN: But one person not forgotten but also not exactly in the same line of fire, House Speaker, Paul Ryan, who says he cannot support Trump, at least not yet. Trump responding to Ryan for the first time in front of one of his big rallies. That's tonight.


TRUMP: Paul Ryan, I don't know what happened.


I don't know. He called me two or three weeks ago, was a very nice conversation. He was congratulating me. This was before we had the ultimate victory, but he was congratulating me on doing so well. I figured routinely he would be behind it. And the other day did a big surprise. (END VIDEO CLIP)

BOLDUAN: So now all eyes are on a meeting between the two. Just announced, for Thursday in Washington. At the very same time Trump's list of supporters just got a big boost. Former Vice President Dick Cheney, throwing his support to the front-runner, despite his former bosses, Presidents Bush and Bush, 41 and 43, saying otherwise.

Jim Acosta is OUTFRONT tonight following the Trump campaign in Eugene, Oregon. So, Jim, Trump is trying to turn to the general election, but he clearly, clearly still has work to do with his own party.

JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Kate. He can't do that just yet, even though he is all but clinched the Republican nomination. Donald Trump is still campaigning in places like Oregon, where people are lined up behind me to see the real estate tycoon later on tonight. But as you said, the presumptive GOP nominee has some more work to do behind the scenes to win over not just the so-called Never Trumps, but folks you might call the Not Right Now Trumps.


ACOSTA (voice-over): Donald Trump came out swinging today, hitting his former rivals hard. For declining to support him.

TRUMP: I won't talk about Jeb Bush. I will not say -- I will not say he's low-energy. I will not say it. I will not say it! And I won't talk about Lindsey Graham. Who had, like, one point -- you ever seen this guy on television? He is nasty. He gets out dealt at all levels of the campaign. He leaves a disgrace. He can't represent the people of South Carolina well. He goes on television -- I've never seen a guy on television knocking me all of the time.

ACOSTA: Trump's fiery comments come as Senator Lindsey Graham and Jeb Bush slam the GOP's presumptive nominee.

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I just don't believe Donald Trump is a reliable conservative Republican. Good luck with Paul Ryan trying to find a conservative agenda with this guy. And I don't think as to temperament or judgment to be commander-in- chief.

ACOSTA: But Trump was more measured after being snubbed by Speaker Paul Ryan.

TRUMP: He was congratulating me in doing so well. I figured routinely he would be behind it. And he the other day just did a big surprise. Because I've had so many endorsements.

ACOSTA: One of his top aides tweeted that the speaker's comments were an insult to the millions of Americans who voted for Trump. Trump has hammered the Never Trump movement as nothing more but belly aching.

TRUMP: Never Trump. You know why it's Never Trump? Because I'm going to stop the gravy train for all these consultants. ACOSTA: But Trump's GOP critics say they're getting heartburn for

good reason. Pointing to his tweet about his love for Hispanics, and taco bowls.



And honestly -- I -- he's trying.

ACOSTA: RNC Chairman Reince Priebus says he knows Trump is trying because he took a call from the real estate tycoon after Ryan's comments.

REINCE PRIEBUS, CHAIRMAN, REPUBLICAN NATIONAL COMMITTEE: You know, it wasn't like furious or anything. It was like, you know, what do I -- you know, what do I need to do? My view is, just relax and be gracious.

[19:05:09] ACOSTA: That's not how Trump remembers the call with Priebus, telling the "Washington Post," "I told Reince that I thought it was totally inappropriate what Paul Ryan said. Reince feels and I'm OK with that that we should meet before we go our separate ways."


ACOSTA: Now, we should point out, Trump is lining up support from key members of his party, like former Vice President Dick Cheney. He also picked up the endorsement of the governor of Nebraska today, there in Omaha. But as for Paul Ryan, Trump is scheduled to meet with the speaker to work through their differences next week. A date has been scheduled for on Thursday. Kate. But as one Trump aide put it to me earlier today, they feel like they'll be old friends by the end of this week, talking about Donald Trump and the speaker of the House. But by the looks of it so far, they're not BFFs just yet.

BOLDUAN: Not BFFs, but if we learned anything in this campaign, a lot can change very, very quickly, even before that Thursday meeting. So, put on your seat belt. Jim, it's great to see you. Thanks so much.

So, OUTFRONT with me now is Jamie Gangel. She is in Washington tonight. Jamie, it's great to see you. You broke the news about former Vice President Dick Cheney throwing his support behind Trump. A lot of people wonder why now?

JAMIE GANGEL, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think, first of all, Dick Cheney knows when he's going to make news. So this was not an accident. He is sending a message and it's a big one. And I think it really comes, look, at a very important time for Trump. Because while all of these others we've mentioned are saying that they're not ready to support him, Cheney is giving Donald Trump his blessing. And, look, this is important, because let's not forget, Donald Trump has made a big deal or a huge deal over and over of saying he opposed the Iraq war, which former Vice President Dick Cheney is considered one of the chief architects of. So you have the very symbol of tough national security policy, a hawk,

Dick Cheney, saying he will look beyond that criticism by Trump. I think it's also important to note that there's been this growing talk that since Hillary Clinton might be running to the right of Donald Trump on national security and foreign policy, that she might be able to pick up some of these conservative Republican hawks, but Dick Cheney is sending a signal to that camp as well. He supporting Trump? It's safe for them too, as well -- Kate.

BOLDUAN: His job is there, even though he's going against George W. and George H.W. on this.

GANGEL: Right.

BOLDUAN: And let's also talk about the other Bush. You sat down with Jeb Bush, you sat down with Jeb Bush for his first interview after he ended his campaign. And then he was seen -- he was still holding out hope for a contested convention. Well, now that's not so and he says he's not going to back Trump and he is not going to vote for Clinton. Is this sour grapes?

GANGEL: Look, there's no question that the campaign -- how shall we say it, got very personal. And I think it's fair to say there's no love lost from the Bush camp to put it mildly. And what Jeb said in his statement today is frankly exactly what he said about Donald Trump for months now. And when he sat down with me just last week, he said Trump was, quote, "not a serious person, that he had not changed his mind about him." So, let's face it. It would have been a bombshell if Jeb Bush had said he would vote for Trump.

That said, I found Jeb's timing very interesting. I think he's been thinking about it for a couple of days. And now saying that he won't vote for Trump, he won't vote for Hillary. Frankly, he represents exactly the same dilemma that so many Republicans are facing. Let's just say, Kate, someone out there may be getting a lot of write-in votes in November. They're not going to vote for either one.

BOLDUAN: Yes. And what this also means for that quote-unquote, "party unity." I mean, it's really astounding. Jamie, it's great to see you. Thank you so much.

GANGEL: Thank you.

BOLDUAN: All right. So OUTFRONT with us tonight. Now, editor of the "Weekly Standard," Bill Kristol, Donald Trump, campaign spokesperson, Katrina Pierson. And now, national political reporter for the "New York Times," Alex Burns. It's great to see all of you. Thank you so much.

So, Katrina, in looking at Donald Trump tonight at this rally in Nebraska. He was quintessential Trump in one regard. He hammered Lindsey Graham. He hammered Jeb Bush. And then when it comes Paul Ryan, he mentions him, but it's very different. Normally when Donald Trump is up against an obstacle, we have seen it time and again, he unleashes. Not against Paul Ryan. What is different with him? KATRINA PIERSON, TRUMP CAMPAIGN SPOKESPERSON: Well, I think because

he mentioned earlier that they had spoken. And they were going to meet. So he was a little taken back by the opposition that came out against his candidacy at this point. They hadn't met yet. So he wasn't quite sure where that was coming from. And they do have a meeting so I think he wants to wait and find out what's going on.

BOLDUAN: Wait and find out, though. Waiting is not something that we have seen with Donald Trump though. Is something different now?

PIERSON: I don't think anything is different right now. I mean, look, we are in a situation where -- and I just want to remind everybody that the Republican Party did not fracture as of June 2015. This party has been fractured since the first Bush. Going into -- even the Obama administration, the party has been fractured. It's just bubbled up. Donald Trump didn't go after Paul Ryan extremely hard, because, again, they had a meeting planned. He wasn't quite sure what was going on. He does want to find out what's going on, because he has committed to unifying the party.

[19:10:38] BOLDUAN: So we will see, Bill Kristol, a man that does not so much love a Donald Trump, to say the very least yourself. So he mentions -- he's treading lightly with -- or with Paul Ryan to this point. But on Twitter, he did go after him. I mean, he did try to say this earlier today. Paul Ryan said I inherited something very special. The Republican Party. Wrong. I did not inherit it. I won it with millions of voters. His top aide saying what Paul Ryan saying is an insult to those millions of voters. You don't love Trump, but does Trump have a point?

BILL KRISTOL, EDITOR, "THE WEEKLY STANDARD": No, he doesn't. I mean, sometimes party loyalty asks too much. John F. Kennedy said. I wish Dick Cheney had thought about that a little more, perhaps, before endorsing a man whom he surely knows should not be president of the United States. But Dick Cheney is a party man, he is been elected as a Republican. Someone like me is in a different position. But I think the big news there is the speaker of the house, a man who has fought for the Republican Party and the conservative causes for his entire adult life.

Something Donald Trump has not done. I would say. And George W. Bush, former president of the United States, Republican president of the United States. Mitt Romney, the most recent Republican nominee for president of the United States, won 61 million votes. None of them supports Donald Trump. That is utterly unprecedented in modern American history. Now the Trump supporters will say, oh, they were the establishment. Romney lost. He only got 61 million votes. George W. Bush, he just won two presidencies, but they don't like some of his decisions.

Paul Ryan, he's only Speaker of the House, one of the most respected Republicans, respected conservatives in the country. But the facts are the facts. Donald Trump is not convinced and he won't convince, people, I think -- not just because of his policy positions, but because of his fundamental character, which is not one that I believe qualifies him to be president of the United States. He got a lot of votes, he ran a good campaign. Congratulations. The rest of us are entitled to try to find someone better.

PIERSON: This is the beltway belly aching we're talking about. Everything he just listed was entitlement. They were entitled to have this nomination. Not the people. You never hear them talk about what the people want. Completely dismissed every single Republican voter. And by the way, 75 percent of Republican voters voted against that establishment. That's why we're fractured today.

BOLDUAN: Bill, have a quick --

KRISTOL: I'm sorry, it's not a conservative principle that if the voters -- if he wins 42 percent of the votes in the first 40 primaries, congratulations. He's the Republican nominee. He's the Republican nominee. Is your position that the rest of us are just supposed to say, ooh, he's won 12 million votes, we have to give up. We're not entitled to any positions --

BOLDUAN: No, but I do expect leaders of the party, if they are leaders to step forward. Like Dick Cheney did. Like Dick Cheney did. And said, look, our enemy --

KRISTOL: You expect leaders -- you expect leaders to be followers.

BOLDUAN: No. Wait. With all of this in mind, Alex, get in on this. What is the likelihood in your -- what is the likelihood in your mind that they're going to come out of this meeting, Kumbayah and best friends on Thursday?

ALEX BURNS, NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER, "NEW YORK TIMES": I think the odds of that kind of success are lower now than they were 24 hours ago. I think that folks in Paul Ryan's camp and around Washington are really found -- Mr. Trump's response to his statement yesterday really bracing and found some of the things that Katrina said today about Paul Ryan as speaker are really sort of jarring. That I think Ryan though that he was coming out to give freedom to his members to sort of handle this election as they saw fit. And to begin a process. And I think it was really jarring, the statement from Trump that I don't support Paul Ryan's agenda. That's a pretty stark thing to say about a guy who has basically been the architect of everything the Congressional Republican Party stands for.

BOLDUAN: And Alex, I've got to get a quick answer from you, Katrina as Alex pointed to. Do you stand by what you said this morning that if Paul Ryan doesn't get behind Donald Trump, he's not fit to be speaker?

PIERSON: Well, yes. Exactly what I said this morning. Is that if he cannot get behind the front-runner, which every other Republican leader demanded --

BOLDUAN: But you stand by, I talked to two people linked to the campaign since you said that this morning who said we wouldn't have gone there.

PIERSON: Well, that's not Trump's position. I was asked my personal position. As someone who has been on the front lines in the grassroots organizations, someone who did not support neither of the nominees in 2008 or '12 but got behind both of them. We were told you do it for the betterment of the party and now they don't want to do the same.

BOLDUAN: I don't see party unity here. I don't know what -- I definitely don't see party unity. Bill Kristol, great to see you, man. Alex, Katrina, thank you so much. We need more time, per usual.

OUTFRONT before us next, Donald Trump getting another endorsement tonight, this one from a governor whose family has spent millions to stop Trump.

Plus. President Obama on the attack telling the nation an election is not an entertainment, not a reality show.

And what could possibly make Trump do this and risk the hair, people?


TRUMP: That is great. My hair look OK?


[19:19:08] TRUMP: Tonight, Donald Trump is picking up another unexpected endorsement. Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts. The reason it might be unexpected, is that Ricketts comes from a major donor family that spent at least $5.5 trying to stop Trump all along the way. And it's not just Washington to split on how to handle his campaign.

Jeff Zeleny is OUTFRONT from Omaha where Trump just wrapped up a big rally. So Jeff, we've been hearing a lot from party leaders now who say they can't back Trump. You've been talking to voters across the country. Where do they stand?

JEFF ZELENY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Kate, there is a disconnect between Washington and the electorate. Not surprisingly, that is what this whole rise of Donald Trump is all about. But when you talk to voters today in the wake of this Donald Trump ascension to basically, you know, becoming the nominee, they are with him. Of course, there is some nervousness about what he may say. But again and again, people say, look, it's a choice election between Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump. He won fair and square.

He beat all of the other candidates in the race. So Kate, there's far less consternation among Republican activists, among conservative voters than there is party leaders in Washington. Which I think, you know, is a big metaphor for this entire campaign psych he for the last year.

BOLDUAN: Absolutely. I mean, we heard when Donald Trump said Paul Ryan, I heard boos. You heard Lindsey Graham and Jeb Bush, I heard boos.

ZELENY: It was striking. I mean, when you listen to that, Donald Trump is trying so hard, Kate, to hold his tongue, to be presidential. We'll see if that lasts.


ZELENY: He feeds off crowds. And I think he heard tonight the crowd wants that from him. But, look, these supporters of his want to hear that. So that meeting next week, so fascinating. Donald Trump does not need Paul Ryan. He knows that. But there is some down ticket candidates who are running for the Senate, other races, who actually want to be on Donald Trump's coattails now. Because they need those kind of voters. So it's a split electorate, 50/50. But more Republicans out here in America, Kate, I can tell you, are morphine with him than those in Washington.

BOLDUAN: Yes. He might not need Paul Ryan now. But if he does become president, he will need that House speaker, that's for sure.

ZELENY: For sure, but that is a long way from now.

BOLDUAN: A very long way. We don't even know what's going to happen tomorrow. So, sure, it's a long way. Great to see you.

OUTFRONT tonight with me, Republican Congressman, Lee Zeldin of New York. He endorsed Donald Trump just this week. Congressman, it's great to see you. Thank you so much for coming in.

REP. LEE ZELDIN (R), NEW YORK: Great to see you as well.

BOLDUAN: So big discussion, of course. And it's still kind of floors me that when Paul Ryan came out and said that he could not support Donald Trump, at least not yet. You work with Paul Ryan. You support Donald Trump. Do you think -- what do you think of Paul Ryan?

ZELDIN: Well, for some people, it will take a day. For others it might take a few days or a few weeks. I'm excited about next Thursday's meeting between Mr. Trump and Speaker Ryan. It's going to be an important meeting to talk about --

BOLDUAN: Do you think that it's going to change?

ZELDIN: Well, it depends on what they talk about. How it goes. I mean, about substance, they need to ask each other, what do you think the future of our party should look like? What should the future of our country should look like? They should get into issues. What's your vision for foreign policy or the economy, or education or health care. Because where they can find common ground, they can get great victories together. Because they're both passionate about the future of our country. They're not going to agree with each other all of the time. But where they can find common ground -- it's -- it's going to be Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton in the White House next January. So it's important for them to have this conversation now, because hopefully they'll have the opportunity to work together.

BOLDUAN: I want to get to those issues in one second, for sure. Do you think Donald Trump needs Paul Ryan?

ZELDIN: For -- to win? BOLDUAN: Do you think he needs him?

ZELDIN: Well, I think if Donald Trump is the president of the United States, Paul Ryan is a Speaker of the House. The way our process should be working more -- the current president signs executive orders and goes around Congress and that's a lot of the debate --

BOLDUAN: Of course.

ZELDIN: -- between the executive branch and the legislative branch. But hopefully if everything is working the way it should in restoring article one powers like Speaker Ryan wants to do, then they would need each other.

BOLDUAN: Before then. Do you think Donald Trump needs the highest- ranking elected Republican in the country to back him?

ZELDIN: The way Donald Trump is running his campaign, he is connecting with a broader audience that quite honestly, I've had Democrats tell me that they are -- they've always been Democrat, they don't agree with Donald Trump on just about anything. But if he's a Republican nominee, I'll vote for him. What? They say the reason is, because he speaks his mind and he's not beholden to anyone. And the fact is, that the way he's run his campaign he seems like he doesn't need, you know, anyone other than the voters. Now, I think it helps very much so. So, it's important for him to accomplish his agenda as president --


ZELDIN: And for him to win in November to get together with Speaker Ryan next Thursday, have a great conversation and try to find that common ground and win in November together.

BOLDUAN: What do you think -- because Katrina Pierson, campaign spokesperson, she was out here just a second ago. And she is not backing down on what she says. If it Paul Ryan doesn't get behind Donald Trump, he's unfit to be speaker. Do you agree?

[19:24:12] ZELDIN: Well, no, I think that -- I believe in a balance of power and I believe that Speaker Ryan has some very strong convictions on a lot of really important issues that they need to talk about. Speaker Ryan was chair of ways and means. He wanted tax reform.

BOLDUAN: Even beyond taxes. They are so -- they are diametrically opposed. We're not talking about tone. We're talking about the ban on Muslims entering the country. Donald Trump believes in it. Paul Ryan, it was ones of the few times he's come out and said, this is not conservatism. Is there middle ground between those two on this?

ZELDIN: On that particular issue, it depends on what the rest of Congress, what the rest of the House may say. Speaker Ryan hasn't had, you know, that conference with us just talking about that one issue. So I would be interested to see where all my colleagues are on it. Because I have seen Speaker Ryan firsthand since he came in as speaker. And it's a very bottom-up approach as opposed to a top-down. So if the president of the United States whether it's a President Trump or now we have President Obama.


ZELDIN: When they have a policy Speaker Ryan wants to meet with his conference and see which direction the conference wants to take it.

BOLDUAN: But do you think on that -- I mean, it seems pretty stark. This is the one issue where they have really come out. Is there common between a temporary ban on Muslims entering the country and what Paul Ryan says that is not conservatism? I don't see the middle ground.

ZELDIN: Well, so I was a former intelligence officer, and I would say that it's important to consider all of the different factors. When you are looking for Middle Eastern male that's at that 25-years-old and we are searching the 85-year-old woman in a wheelchair at TSA at the airport, that kind of disturbs me a little bit. I don't believe that religion should be the sole determining basis of deciding who comes in and who doesn't. But we would be foolish to not consider -- consider someone's religion when we're looking for a threat, someone connected to ISIS, someone who is Syrian, who is 25-years-old who may be a threat. Religion is something to consider even if we don't make it as Mr. Trump proposes, the sole basis.

BOLDUAN: Before heading into this meeting, he may want to consult you on how to find some flexibility in that position if he wants to get Paul Ryan on his side. Congressman, it's great to see you. Thank you so much for coming in. Thank you very much.

OUTFRONT next, Hillary Clinton taking the stage in California, right now. And she is using every opportunity to attack Donald Trump.

Plus, despite Trump's billions, he is scrambling now for big money donors.


[19:30:31] KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Right now, Hillary Clinton is holding a campaign rally in Oakland, California. She may not be the Democratic nominee yet, but already today, Clinton got some help from the White House in her quest to take down Donald Trump.

Joe Johns is OUTFRONT.


JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): President Obama lending Hillary Clinton a hand today, challenging Donald Trump's seriousness to be commander in chief.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We are in serious times and this is a really serious job. This is not entertainment. This is not a reality show.

JOHNS: That as Clinton runs on a pledge to protect his legacy.

HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We cannot let Barack Obama's legacy fall into Donald Trump's hands! I'm running to build on the progress that President Obama has made. I am proud of that progress.

JOHNS: It's an embrace that could benefit Clinton come November, if the president's poll numbers hold. A new CNN/ORC poll showing 51 percent of registered voters approve of the job the president is doing, while 46 percent disapprove.

Clinton is shifting her focus to the general election, repeatedly targeting the GOP front runner in the days since he became the party's presumptive nominee, taking aim at his views on immigration.

CLINTON: Now, every election is a choice, and just yesterday, Donald Trump doubled down on his plan to create a deportation force to round up millions of people. That's actually what he said.

JOHNS: But Clinton has not sealed the nomination just yet. Bernie Sanders remains in the race, despite the long odds against him.

OBAMA: I think everybody knows what that math is. And I know that at some point, there's going to be a conversation between Secretary Clinton and Bernie Sanders about how we move towards the convention.

JOHNS: A long-time Clinton ally Paul Begala penning a column for CNN saying Sanders should actually stay in the race to help Clinton attack Trump, writing, "You are in a uniquely powerful position. You can either force Hillary to fight a two-front war or force Trump to. I am urging you to choose Trump as your target."


JOHNS: Even as Hillary Clinton continued to zero in on Donald Trump, her Democratic opponent today was saying not so fast and threatening a floor fight over the rules of the Democratic National Convention. Bernie Sanders warned the party chair in a letter today not to stack the deck against him and supporters in Philadelphia this summer. Though, it is clear there is growing urgency on the Democratic side to unite and put the focus on the Republicans -- Kate.

BOLDUAN: Great to see you, Joe. Thanks so much.

OUTFRONT now, CNN political commentator, Bakari Sellers. He's a Hillary Clinton supporter. Alex Burns and Katrina Pearson are back with me, as well.

Guys, thank you so much.

So, Bakari, to you. When it comes to President Obama and his role as we move into a general election, if the nominee is Hillary Clinton, do you see President Obama as a secret weapon for Hillary?

BAKARI SELLERS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, it's not so much of a secret. But Barack Obama is going to be the unifier in chief. He and Michelle Obama are extremely popular. I mean, just today, we announced we had 160,000 jobs created in 74 straight months of private sector job growth.

But the problem that Barack Obama, like many others, whether or not it's 41 or 43 in terms of President George Bush and President George Bush see in Donald Trump is that he's anti-intellectualism personified. I mean, when you talk about dealing with Putin and you can deal with Putin because of the fact they had a Miss Universe pageant in Russia, or you want to talk about his first endeavor into tackling the national debt today and he says we should just default on that. I mean, he went from making America great again to making America grease again.

This is where the president is going to fill in and say this is a serious role. And Donald Trump is simply unqualified to handle it.

BOLDUAN: So if he's taking on Hillary Clinton in a general, he's not only taking on Hillary Clinton, add in the current president, and a former president, her husband, Bill Clinton. On paper, that's a whole lot of the presidents who have won a whole lot of elections in the past. How do you plan to take him on?

KATRINA PIERSON, DONALD TRUMP CAMPAIGN: Well, we can look at the Republican budget that was passed under Bill Clinton that the Democrats take credit for. Republicans have done a very poor job at explaining exactly how House Speaker Gingrich was able to get that done.

Moving forward, the Russian reset I don't think has been a great thing. We can look at foreign policy. We look at today, now we hear him going into another recession.

The problem we have is you have the Democrats with the exact same arguments.


[19:35:02] PIERSON: We have been hearing reports that we're heading down. There's been no growth. It's been very poor this first quarter. So, what is it? Are we going to continue to settle the same path that we want a third term of Obama? I think the answer is no.

BOLDUAN: So, where -- you've got, you know, the country very divided, yes, Alex. Where does President Obama help Hillary Clinton and how? When you look at the math?

ALEX BURNS, NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER, NEW YORK TIMES: I think the difficulty for Republicans and not just Donald Trump, but any Republican who came out of this primary, said the country is divided, but it's divided slightly in favor of the Democrats.

So when you look at the swing state map, the conventional swing state map, not the new states that Trump and Clinton may hope to put in play. In almost any of them, North Carolina, Virginia, Ohio, Florida, Obama is an asset to Clinton and certainly more of an asset to her than he may have been even to himself four years ago when he was a more controversial figure and when his policies were somewhat less popular than they are today.

And I do think that -- more than anything, Bakari alluded to this. But the place where the Democrats are most comfortable going after Donald Trump, because they feel like it's not a partisan argument, is just about basic preparedness for the job. And they're going to be able to, you know, have a pretty good spokesman, a couple pretty authoritative spokesmen on what it takes to be president. Because the Bushes have declined to endorse Donald Trump, it's going to be trickier to respond from that Republican side.

BOLDUAN: How do you respond to preparedness, because it's going to come up again and again and again?

PIERSON: Sure it will. But there are policy differences with Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.

The vision is different. You have Hillary Clinton, who is campaigning with no intention on enforcing current laws on the books, whether it's immigration or bringing up new entitlements.

The preparedness is a factor, because he's never had public office before, which is why people like him. He has run a business. He has signed tens of thousands of paychecks. He has been able to get things done. He has built things all over the world.

These are all good things in the minds of voters, particularly the working class.

BOLDUAN: Bakari?

SELLERS: But yes. When you want to look at policy, there is no there there. The fact of the matter is, in November 11th, Donald Trump came out and said wages were too high and then two days ago, he goes back and says, maybe I'm open to looking at the minimum wage.

March 26th, Donald Trump says that NATO is no good, or NATO is a good thing, excuse me, and on March 26th, he says NATO is obsolete.

The fact of the matter is, there is absolutely no substance there. And to believe that Donald Trump is prepared to be commander in chief simply because he had a few bankruptcies and ran a Trump Tower, that doesn't qualify you to be president of the United States. And if you want to talk to Democrats about foreign policy, I suggest you go ask Osama bin Laden.

PIERSON: Well, but with regards to Osama bin Laden, this is what's fascinating too. We do have an interesting foreign policy going on, should we talk about Libya? Should we talk about Benghazi?

We are going to have those discussions. And it's going to be a pretty intense discussion, considering how we have Hillary Clinton and her secret server with classified information that's been hacked. And then we have the Clinton Foundation who has been taking tens of millions of dollars from these hostile nations overseas.

(CROSSTALK) PIERSON: Donald Trump has a common sense pro-American foreign policy, and that's going to make a huge difference.

BOLDUAN: Battle lines clearly being drawn. But when you just look at it, I ways found it interesting when Hillary Clinton had -- she said she acknowledges that President Obama and her husband, Bill Clinton, they are better -- they are more natural politicians than her. When she says that, it made might wonder, is there a risk of them overshadowing her? That could be a problem for her?

BURNS: Well, I think when she said that in debate with Bernie Sanders, it was generally considered to be one of her stronger moments, in those debates, right? Because it was -- it was authentic. It was not seen as something that was really carefully planned out. It was a -- personal disclosure that she doesn't necessarily feel comfortable doing this.

But look, people are showing up to see a really exciting rally with somebody who is a spell-binding speaker. They're probably not, you know -- that's probably not why they're showing up to the Hillary Clinton rally. I do think it does point to this struggle she has had throughout the campaign to put forward an agenda of her own, message of her own that people find really exciting, just on its own terms and not necessarily because of the other cultural signaling and the other political allies she surrounds herself with.

BOLDUAN: With the map. The map is an important thing to remember, and where the president helps her and what the map looks like going forward. We're going to talk about the map in just a second.

Thanks, guys. Great to see you. Thank you so much.

OUTFRONT next, Donald Trump has bragged about his billions. Tonight, he is the one looking for money. And it's a state the Clintons have won in the past. But are voters now switching sides and supporting Trump?


[19:43:30] BOLDUAN: Tonight, the race for wealthy donors is on. Donald Trump, who largely self-funded his primary campaign, now says he's looking for donation for the general election, the billionaire possibly courting other billionaires.

Sunlen Serfaty has tonight's big number.


DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'm self-funding, so it's a big difference, folks. I don't care. I'm going to do what's right for you.

SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Donald Trump could be saying so long to self-funding.

TRUMP: So far, I'm in for like $40 million or $45 million. SERFATY: Facing an expensive general election battle, the GOP front-

runner is now opening the door to raising cash for his campaign, and the Republican Party.

TRUMP: I do love self-funding. And I don't want anything for myself. But we do need money for the party. I'll be asking money for the party. And really, it's something that we're going to start on right away.

SERFATY: This setting off a scramble to secure support from the deep pocketed donors within the GOP.

SHELDON ADELSON, GOP DONOR: Donald Trump will be good for Israel.

SERFATY: Trump getting a major nod from the single largest Republican contributor from 2012, casino magnate, Sheldon Adelson, one of the richest men in the world, telling the BBC Thursday night --

ADELSON: Yes, I'm a Republican. He's a Republican. He's our nominee. Whoever the nominee would turn out to be -- any one of the 17, and he's one of the 17. He won fair and square.

SERFATY: Throughout the primary, though, Trump has publicly trashed wealthy donors, even calling out some by name.

[19:45:02] TRUMP: A guy named Singer. Who the hell ever heard him? I'll tell you -- I'll tell you a little secret. I saw -- I was surprised, because I thought I was friends -- Koch brothers. I thought I was their friend. But somebody said they're linked to a certain PAC.

SERFATY: Decrying their influence over politicians.

TRUMP: When their special interest calls, when their lobbyist calls, when their donors call and they have a stake in the deal, they're not going to do what's right for you. I didn't take any money.

SERFATY: But now, the presumptive GOP nominee is hitting some robots with these Republican rain-makers. According to a survey done by CNN, a substantial number of other big-money Republican donors are still sitting on the sidelines, withholding their money from Trump.

Like the mega-wealthy Koch brothers.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Some of the Republican candidates, before we could support them, we would have to believe their actions will be quite different than the rhetoric we've heard so far.

SERFATY: Unhappy with Trump, many donors now planning to redirect their money elsewhere, investing in down ballot candidates to help Republicans in Senate, House and gubernatorial races instead.

KEVIN MADDEN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: The biggest challenge in that sense is going up against a very well-funded opposition. Not only does Hillary Clinton have a ready and able fund-raising machine, but so many of the Democratic outside groups, the DNC. So you put all of those together, and it is a formidable opposition.


SERFATY: And the Clinton campaign is already sensing an opening, that there is potentially some real money left on the table. They have reportedly gone after former donors to Jeb Bush's campaign, trying to reach out to those moderate Republicans to support and invest in her over Donald Trump -- Kate.

BOLDUAN: Absolutely. Sunlen, thank you so very much.

OUTFRONT next, Donald Trump pulling out all the stops, it seems, to win over voters, even putting on a miner's hat and playing the part of a coal miner to try to woo voters in his state that historically maybe wouldn't have gone his way. Will that be enough to sway them?


[19:50:50] BOLDUAN: Tonight, the battle for West Virginia. It's a state Bill Clinton won twice, but what does that mean for Hillary Clinton? Donald Trump is surely trying to make a play for the state now.

Martin Savidge is OUTFRONT.


MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): At Big Daddy's off highway 50 outside Grafton, it's open mike night. And they're singing the blues.

It's no secret Donald Trump is the favorite here. During a break, John Haddix tells me why.

JOHN HADDIX, RETIRED AIRCRAFT MECHANIC: I think he can change things. I think he can make things better for our town, for our state.

SAVIDGE: Look around the clock. It's a microcosm of West Virginia. Overwhelmingly white, mostly older, less college educated and earning less than the rest of the country.

SCOTT CRISHOLWO, POLITICAL SCIENCE EXPERT, WEST VIRGINIA UNIV.: We fit Donald Trump's demographics to a T. And in terms of his message, his message is about turning back to a greater America. And a lot of West Virginians do feel like they haven't gotten a fair shake.

SAVIDGE: It's all about coal. West Virginia coal helped to make America great the first time.

DIANA BARTLEY, BUSINESS OWNER: Because our coal is what fire manufacturers. It's what lights up our cities.

SAVIDGE (on camera): That business is --

BARTLEY: It's decimated. SAVIDGE (voice-over): Concerns over climate change have the EPA

cracking down on coal's use. As a result, according to a study by West Virginia University, coal production here has plummeted by more than one-third in just seven years, with some counties seeing job losses of 25 percent to 33 percent in just the last three to four years. The latest state economic numbers show West Virginia back in recession.

No wonder Trump's promise for a return to past greatness means so much here.

TONY UJHELYI, DONALD TRUMP SUPPORTER: We always were a powerful nation in the world. We need to be and we need to be a leader in the world.

SAVIDGE: Coal's decline not just changed lives. It's changed politics. Time was West Virginia's coal fields were some of the most consistently Democratic voting areas in the country. In 1992, Bill Clinton won the state with 48 percent of the vote. In '96, 51 percent. Twenty years later, campaigning in the state for his wife, this is what Bill Clinton got.


SAVIDGE: Many here blame the party they once loved for turning its back on coal. And when Hillary Clinton outlined her clean energy policy on CNN, well, this is the only part many people in West Virginia heard.

HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We're going to put a lot of coal miners and coal companies out of business.

SAVIDGE: Clinton has since said her comments were taken out of context but the damage was done.

HADDIX: When you come out and say you're going to close the coal mines, it's not been received too well.

SAVIDGE: These days in West Virginia, there are two kinds of trains, coal trains and the Trump train. And for the latter, it's all aboard, because in this state, they're tired of the blues.


SAVIDGE: Kate, it's important to remember the coal industry here is far more than just a business and a lot more than just jobs. It's part of the culture, and it's deeply engrained. So, to sort of let that all go as one woman who grew up in the coal fields told me is akin to going through the grieving process. And, of course, the final stage is acceptance. She believes that many in her state are still stuck in an earlier stage -- denial.


BOLDUAN: Martin Savidge, thank you so much. Fascinating piece.

Joining me now, CNN's senior political analyst Ron Brownstein.

Ron, it's great to see you.

So if you look at the map, look past West Virginia, though, Trump, he does if you look at the map, he needs to turn blue states red to win the White House. He told Wolf this week he's sure he can win Pennsylvania, Michigan, Florida and even put New York in play.

Can he?

RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, good luck. Look, there are 18 states that voted Democratic in the past six consecutive elections, what I've called the blue wall. They have 242 Electoral College votes, Nevada and New Mexico are not part of it but might as well be part of it. That's 253.

A Republican really can't win without trying to dislodge some of those blue pieces from the wall. Donald Trump's best chances are those heavily blue collar states, predominantly white states in the Midwest, some of which are in the blue wall, some of which are beyond -- Ohio, Iowa, Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania.

[19:55:06] Of those, I think Ohio and Iowa are his best shots. The other three are pretty tough because it's hard to win them just by improving among blue collar voters alone. And Donald Trump is facing some pretty daunting numbers right now among college educated white voters. Some of the weakest we have seen among Republican candidates in decades.

BOLDUAN: Yes, looking just at that point, the demographics in West Virginia, he's appealing to white blue collar voters. But polls show kind of look around the country in the general, he faces big disadvantages with minorities and women.

Can Donald Trump turn out enough of those blue collar white voters to make up the difference?

BROWNSTEIN: Demographically, it would be extraordinarily difficult. The white share of the vote has declined in every election since 1980, except one. If Hillary Clinton holds the average Democratic vote among minority voters, even if you give Donald Trump Ronald Reagan's vote among white men from 1984, which is the high point of the Republican Party in modern times, he would still have to win 58 percent of white women to get to a national majority. And that is more than Mitt Romney won in 2012 and a lot more than he's polling today.

So, without improving among minorities, the math is very daunting for Republicans, and that is why so many felt the party had to reach out post-2012. Instead, they are betting on a different theory they can win by mobilizing more white voters.

BOLDUAN: You laid really well how much work there really is to be done. Ron, great to see you. Thanks, man.

BROWNSTEIN: Thank you. BOLDUAN: We'll be right back.


BOLDUAN: Thanks so much for joining us.

"AC360" with John Berman starts right now.