Return to Transcripts main page

THE SITUATION ROOM

Trump Shifts Stance on Key Issues; Feds Suing Over Bathroom Law; Tornado Hits Oklahoma City; Do Trump's Plans Add Up?; Clinton: Trump's Rhetoric 'Reckless, Dangerous'; Clinton Hits Back at Trump; Gathering of North Korean Elites. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired May 9, 2016 - 17:00   ET

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


JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: He does not want to be considered Donald Trump's running mate. We'll talk more about that and other things.

[17:00:05] That's it for THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper, turning you over to Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM. Thanks for watching.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now, willing to quit. So far House Speaker Paul Ryan is unwilling to support Donald Trump, and he says he is willing to step down as GOP convention chairman if Trump asks him to. Can they work out -- things out when they meet later this week?

Going for broke. Donald Trump says no one knows more about debt than he does, insisting the U.S. would never have to default, because it prints the money. And Trump is already shifting his positions on the minimum wage and taxes on the wealthy. Is he further alienating establishment Republicans?

Discrimination suit. The U.S. government sues North Carolina, saying its bathroom law amounts to state-sponsored discrimination and violates the Civil Rights Act and other federal laws.

And in-titled. Kim Jong-un already has absolute power in North Korea but now has added the title of party chairman. CNN gains extraordinary access to a rare meeting of the communist elite. We'll take you inside.

I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

A day before primaries in West Virginia and Nebraska, Donald Trump is the only GOP candidate left in the race, and the presumptive nominee is getting ready for November and beyond. He's named New Jersey Governor Chris Christie to head his White House transition team, and Trump is already pivoting toward the general election on the issues, shifting his stance on the minimum wage and taxes on the wealthy.

None of this will ease the concerns of establishment Republicans, some of whom are refusing to support Trump and are even looking at a possible third-party effort. House Speaker Paul Ryan has made it clear he's not yet ready to endorse Trump and now says he would step down as convention chairman if Trump asked him to. The two are scheduled to meet on Thursday as Trump supporter Sarah Palin says Ryan's political career is all but over.

And North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has a new title: elected party chairman of the first meeting of the communist elite in three decades. In a CNN exclusive, we're taking you inside the party congress.

I'll also speak with NAACP president Cornell Williams Brooks. And our correspondents, analysts, and guests, they will have full coverage of all the day's top stories.

But let's begin with our senior White House correspondent, Jim Acosta.

Jim, we're already seeing Donald Trump pivoting on some sensitive key issues.

JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Wolf. He insists there's nothing to see here, but in just the last 36 hours, the likely GOP nominee has shown some big flexibility on some important economic issues that could appeal to middle-class voters and potentially make life more difficult for Hillary Clinton.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ACOSTA (voice-over): It appears the great general election pivot is on.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ABC NEWS: Bottom line, do you want taxes on the wealthy to go up or down?

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: They will go up a little bit.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Donald Trump is now revising his stances on a whole host of issues, telling CNN's "NEW DAY" the lower tax rates he first proposed in his economic plan are negotiable.

TRUMP (via phone): If I increase on the wealthy, that means they're still going to be paying less than they pay now. I'm not talking about increasing from this point. I'm talking about increasing from my tax proposal.

STEPHANOPOULOS: It's a softening of his conservative positions that first surfaced last week, when he told Wolf he was open to raising the minimum wage.

TRUMP (on camera): I'm actually looking at that, because I'm very different from most Republicans. I mean, you have to have something that you can live on.

ACOSTA: Over the weekend Trump said it was more of a local decision.

TRUMP: I would like the see an increase of some magnitude, but I'd rather leave it to the states.

ACOSTA: Either way, it's departure from where Trump was last fall on the topic.

TRUMP: I hate to say it, but we have to leave it the way it is.

ACOSTA: Trump is also sharing his ideas for tackling the national debt.

TRUMP (via phone): This is the United States government. You never have to default because you print the money.

ACOSTA: As the real-estate tycoon put it last week...

TRUMP (on camera): I'm the king of debt. I love debt.

ACOSTA: Advisers to Hillary Clinton are seizing on Trump's comments on fiscal policy as a warning to voters.

GEORGE SPERLING, FORMER NATIONAL ECONOMIC COUNCIL DIRECTOR (via phone): This is the most risky, reckless, and regressive tax proposal ever put forward by a major presidential candidate.

ACOSTA: As Trump eyes the upcoming battle with Clinton, more Republicans are announcing that will support him, from John McCain to Iowa's governor, Terry Branstad.

GOV. TERRY BRANSTAD (R), IOWA: He's going to be the nominee of our, party and I'm a team player and I'm going to support him.

ACOSTA: And Trump is so far avoiding a clash with House Speaker Paul Ryan before their meeting later this week. In response to Sarah Palin's warning that Ryan would be run out of office by a GOP opponent if he declined to back Trump...

SARAH PALIN (R), FORMER VICE-PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: I think Paul Ryan is soon to be Cantored, as in Eric Cantor.

ACOSTA: Trump essentially said Palin was going rogue.

TRUMP (via phone): I have nothing to do with that. Sarah is very much a free agent.

[17:05:02] ACOSTA: Trump's next pivot could come when he picks a running mate, a process that's already inspiring new material on "Saturday Night Live."

DANA CARVEY, FORMER CAST MEMBER, NBC'S "SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE": Could it be -- Satan?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Good lord.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I have returned.

CARVEY: Ted is a demon. My God.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I am no longer Ted Cruz. I am Themogulous (ph), Lord of Shadows!

DARRELL HAMMOND, CAST MEMBER, NBC'S "SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE": You sure you aren't lord of the weak chins? (END VIDEOTAPE)

ACOSTA: Only six months to go.

Now, Trump is hardly the first presidential candidate to pivot or even flip on an important issue. Hillary Clinton once praised the Trans- Pacific trade deal as secretary of state. Now she opposes it.

As for Trump's upcoming meeting with Paul Ryan, the speaker told a newspaper in Milwaukee that he will step aside as chair of the GOP convention if the nominee asks. But I'm told by a Ryan aide he was just answering a hypothetical there, Wolf.

BLITZER: Jim Acosta reporting for us. Thank you. Donald Trump's latest statements about debt, taxes, the minimum wage, are likely to make some mainstream Republicans even more uneasy.

Let's go to CNN's Sara Murray. She's joining us now.

What are you hearing, Sara?

SARA MURRAY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, talking to experts and economists, including many Republicans on this, they sort of get the feeling that Trump is floating these proposals that work in the business world but might not work exactly for the U.S. economy.

And looking at the back and forth that he said on debt, on taxes, on the minimum wage, even the suggestion at one point that he might not pay back all of the debt that the U.S. owes. And they're saying, "Look, this is not the kind of thing that inspires confidence in financial markets. Markets like stability. They like predictability, and it's hard to tell from this what Trump would actually do as president." If there is an underlying policy proposal he's still trying to put together here. Maybe he's just inarticulate in explaining or just coming up with these answers on the fly and off the cuff.

I think the other broader point that economists are making to me is you can't get the U.S. out of the debt hole that it's in just by some of these financial tricks, some of these engineerings of debt payments that Donald Trump is talking about. That takes real reforms when it comes to taxes and when it comes to spending.

And so far a number of experts are still looking to see -- for more detail from Donald Trump on how he would do that. They're saying as of right now the numbers just don't add up, Wolf.

BLITZER: We'll see if that detail is going to emerge in the coming weeks. Thanks very much for that, Sara.

Let's bring in the president of the NAACP, Cornell William Brooks. Cornell, thanks for coming in.

CORNELL WILLIAM BROOKS, PRESIDENT, NAACP: Good to be here.

BLITZER: So the last time we spoke, which was a while ago, you said this about Donald Trump. You said, quote, "He represents a kind of Jim Crow with hairspray and a blue suit." He's now the Republican presumptive presidential nominee. Your reaction to the fact that he's going to be the Republican nominee.

BROOKS: This is a sobering moment in the country, in that Mr. Trump is the presumptive nominee. He is running for an office that represents the whole of the United States.

"We, the people" includes all the people, of every ethnicity, every hue, every heritage. So now is the time for him to speak clearly in depth and detail with respect to his immigration policy, with respect to the minimum wage, with respect to his civil rights agenda.

We have heard scarcely a word from Donald Trump with respect to restoration of the Voting Rights Act, what is his opinion or perspective with respect to police misconduct and police brutality? The point being here is we need to hear him speak clearly at some issues, because here's what we've noticed: what he's been clear about is concerning. What has -- what is of concern to the country, quite often he's not been cheer about.

And so we are extending an invitation to him as we've extended -- as we've extended an invitation to Secretary Clinton to come and stand before, stand flat-footed before the convention of the NAACP, which will be the same week as the Republican National Convention. And so we're asking him to come, as many candidates have before him.

BLITZER: If it's the same week, it's going to be hard for him to leave Cleveland. Where is your convention taking place? In Cincinnati?

BROOKS: Cincinnati.

BLITZER: Yes. So he's going to go from Cleveland to Cincinnati, make an appearance. Is that what you want?

BROOKS: Yes. We want him to make an appearance. He can get there by plane, helicopter, or car. It's not that much of a journey.

The point being here is where we have a country that understands the race relations in this country are at a very fragile point with Voting Rights Act literally hanging in the balance. Mr. Trump needs to stand flat-footed and speak.

BLITZER: Have you personally reached out to Donald Trump?

BROOKS: We have.

BLITZER: Has he called you? Has there been any dialogue at all?

BROOKS: We have not. We have extended invitations to all the candidates.

BLITZER: You just wrote him a letter? Is that what you're saying?

BROOKS: Yes. We have sent a letter to Mr. Trump today, inviting him to the convention. But prior to this point, we extended an invitation to all the candidates to attend a policy briefing that we did with the Urban League. We heard from Secretary Clinton. We had -- did not hear from Mr. Trump. We would like to.

BLITZER: Have you heard from Bernie Sanders?

[17:10:05] BROOKS: We heard from Bernie Sanders. We did.

BLITZER: And?

BROOKS: He attended. He came, and he explained his positions.

But now we have two presumptive nominees: Secretary Clinton, Mr. Trump. This is the point at which we need clarity. Because here's what we've seen heretofore. We've seen policy by tweet. We've seen flammable tweets, incendiary speeches. But now is the moment for him to speak very thoughtfully, substantively, at length, in depth, and in detail, because this is no laughing matter.

BLITZER: So I just want to be precise. You assume that Hillary Clinton is going to be the Democratic presumptive nominee. Bernie Sanders not going to get it?

BROOKS: Based upon what we -- what we've seen, we're making that assumption. But we look forward to the nominee of each party coming before the convention of the NCAA.

BLITZER: You wrote Donald Trump a letter today, hoping he'll attend your convention and that maybe he'll reach out and discuss. What would you like to hear him say?

BROOKS: We'd like to hear him speak very specifically about his policies. What we mean by that is where is he with respect to the Voting Rights Act? He's asking for the people's votes. Where is he with respect to allowing everyone to participate in this election on a fair and equal basis? What is his position with respect to criminal justice reform in this country? The economic development policies in the country. The minimum wage. A living wage. What are his positions with respect to labor rights?

BLITZER: Minimum wage, he told me last week he's now open to seeing that minimum wage go up. It's now $7.25 an hour. He admits that's not a livable wage.

BROOKS: Well, we are glad to hear that, but we need to hear some -- we need some granularity, because it's one thing to say you're open to minimum wage when so many people are living on a nonliving minimum wage. It's another thing to spell out a policy, a roadmap for getting us there. And we're at that moment. We're long past that moment. The primary is over.

BLITZER: He also says he's sticking by his very controversial statement that there should be at least a temporary ban on Muslims coming to the United States until the U.S. can figure out what to do about ISIS, terrorism. The newly elected mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, who is Muslim, he wrote this. He said, "If Donald Trump becomes the president, I'll be stopped from going there by virtue of my faith."

When you hear that, what's your reaction to that?

BROOKS: This notion of a temporary ban does not suggest temporary bigotry, temporary bias. It suggests a long-standing bigotry and bias that this country has in the main decided that we're well past that.

So the point being here is this is not a credible policy solution. It does nothing to address underlying security concerns or terrorism concerns and it's not a serious proposal. That's why we're asking Mr. Trump to offer serious proposals.

But the fact of the matter is the notion, the idea that we could ban an entire group of people based upon their religious beliefs, their ethnic background, on a temporary basis, is just quite frankly irrational and immoral.

BLITZER: Very quickly, because I want to take a break, but I want to continue this conversation, Dr. Ben Carson, he told me last week he was going to have him vet vice-presidential running mates. Have you been in touch with Dr. Carson?

BROOKS: We have not been in touch with Dr. Carson.

BLITZER: Over the years, not at all?

BROOKS: Oh, certainly we have been in touch with Dr. Carson over the years. He actually won the Spingarn Medal from the NAACP, which is our highest award. We recognized his medical achievements and his humanitarian achievements. So we've been in touch with him but not on this issue.

BLITZER: I assume you will be in touch with him now down the road, now that Trump is the presumptive nominee.

BROOKS: I would anticipate that.

BLITZER: All right. Stand by, Cornell. There's a lot more to discuss. We'll take a quick break. Much more with the president of the NAACP when we come back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[17:18:35] BLITZER: Talking with the NAACP president, Cornell William Brooks. First, there's some breaking news I want to update our viewers on. The U.S. government today filed a lawsuit against North Carolina, saying the state's so-called bathroom law violates parts of the U.S. Civil Rights Act and other federal laws. Let's go to our justice reporter, Evan Perez.

Evan, tell us about this lawsuit.

EVAN PEREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, the attorney general, Loretta Lynch, said this is about dignity for the transgender community. She says that this law, known as HB-2 in North Carolina, her home state, violates three different parts of federal law. That includes employment discrimination on the basis of sex, federal education law, something known as Title IX, and the Violence Against Women Act. Here's how she described it a short while ago.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LORETTA LYNCH, ATTORNEY GENERAL OF THE UNITED STATES: This is not the first time that we have seen discriminatory responses to historic moments of progress for our nation. We saw it in the Jim Crow laws that followed the Emancipation Proclamation. We saw it in the fierce and widespread resistance to Brown v. Board of Education. And we saw it in the proliferation of state bans on same-sex unions that were intended to stifle any hope that gay and lesbian Americans might one day be afforded the right to marry.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

PEREZ: And Wolf, there's no doubt that the attorney general views this -- and the Obama administration in general views this as a civil rights issue.

At issue right now is billions of dollars in federal funding. The attorney general says that if North Carolina does not comply with federal law, they could cut off federal funding not only for the University of North Carolina but other federal funding as well that goes to law enforcement.

[7:20:16] Wolf, we expect that North Carolina will file its own lawsuit. We expect that these two sides will have to work this out in the next few months.

BLITZER: We'll see if they can. Thanks very much for that. Evan Perez reporting for us.

We're back with Cornell William Brooks, the president of the NAACP. What's your reaction to what the attorney general, Loretta Lynch, did today?

BROOKS: The attorney general is standing up for the rights of American citizens. Gays and lesbians, people who are transgendered, have a right to dignity, have a right to be treated like any and all other Americans. And so there -- she is standing up for them, but she's also standing up for the people who love them, who have them as family members. So she's acting and doing what an attorney general is supposed to do, which is to enforce the law.

Be clear. This is not really a bathroom bill. It circumscribes and constrains the ability of towns and municipalities to protect people who are gay, lesbian and transgender. And so this is really a Trojan horse, if you will, of a law containing discrimination on the face, but containing more discrimination within the body of it. And so she did what she had to do.

BLITZER: You're a lawyer. You went to Yale law school. When she makes comparisons to Jim Crow, Brown v. Board of Education, is she right? BROOKS: She is right. If we think about Brown v. Board of Education,

the courts said that separation and segregation does something to the inside of a child. There are ways in which, when we set people aside, when we separate them, when we segment them, when we treat them differently, we do something to their dignity. It's an assault on their dignity as well as an assault on their rights.

And so the attorney general is doing what a tough, smart attorney general is supposed to do, which is to enforce the law fairly. She did what she had to do.

BLITZER: And another issue close to your heart, Ferguson, Missouri, today, swore in its first African-American police chief today. Have they moved on? Are things in Ferguson moving in the right direction right now? Because all of us remember what happened a year ago.

BROOKS: I'm not sure if Ferguson has moved on, but they've certainly moved forward. And the fact that they have a police chief that reflects the community, not in terms of skin color but in terms of policy, in terms of policing that is responsive to the needs of the community, that is a significant step forward.

BLITZER: Are race relations, everything you're hearing over there, better today than they were a year ago?

BROOKS: Perhaps better but not as they should be. But that's a consequence of Ferguson, the city of Missouri, like much of America, having much to do.

BLITZER: Cornell William Brooks of the NAACP, always good to have you here in THE SITUATION ROOM.

BROOKS: Thanks for having me.

BLITZER: Thanks very much for all your good work.

Coming up, can Donald Trump unify the divisions inside the Republican Party and the country? Our political experts are standing by.

And later, an exclusive report from inside North Korea as Kim Jong-un unveils grandiose new plans and gets a fancy new title. Will they increase the threat his country poses?

And we're also getting word of a tornado right now. We'll update you. This is in Oklahoma, Oklahoma City right now. Take a look at these live pictures coming into THE SITUATION ROOM right now. This is a live image you're seeing right now. Let's listen in for a moment.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Trees have been stripped bare through here. This is not a good thing. The house is through here. There are several from memory, and, yes, they are all just -- it is -- they're just gone right now.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You see that and you see the trees that are debarked here. This is bad. This is a bad, bad, bad situation here for Garvin County. Again, this tornado that has moved right on through. And this

continues to make its way to the east here. Once again a very, very strong storm. And we're going to continue to watch this but also Shelby, look at the most recent message that just came down because we've got to start looking near Moore, as well.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hey, guys...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Looks like there's some rotation on a storm close to Moore. Not a warning yet. A severe thunderstorm, early stages. But look at this storm right here. This is a violent, violent tornado, now making its way towards Wynnewood.

And hey, Chris, you are just -- you're up on the scene now. What are your thoughts....

BLITZER: All right. We'll continue to monitor this situation, very frightening pictures coming in. We'll get that, update you on this and a whole lot more. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[17:29:27] BLITZER: Our breaking news we're getting. Take a look at this. Really incredible pictures of a tornado now on the ground in central Oklahoma near Interstate 35. This was the scene just a few moments ago.

I want to bring in our meteorologist, Karen Maginnis, at the CNN severe weather center. Karen, this is very frightening and life- threatening.

KAREN MAGINNIS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: It is. And, Wolf, we knew that today there was an enhanced risk for severe weather, which included the possibility of isolated tornadoes. We were looking at the atmosphere that was ripe just for this severe weather outbreak.

This particular tornado, we've been watching this on the ground for now close to 20 minutes or so. You can see it's a fairly rural area. It's about 50 miles to the south of Oklahoma City.

[17:30:11] But definitely looks sinister and, in its wake, it is taking down trees. We are seeing -- seeing it just kind of pass over these power lines, and we do see debris that's coming out of the bottom of that tornado.

But this particular cell, as I've mentioned, is currently in this tornado watch area. This is one of the cells that we've been watching, and it literally blew up this afternoon. We first started watching these towering cumulus start to erupt.

It didn't look that ominous at first. But we knew that the weather conditions were ripe. Very warm water -- very warm air temperatures and a saturated atmosphere. We've got that moisture which is coming up from the south, and so -- oh, you can also see it does look as if this is moving rather rapidly. I thought I saw another tornado that looked to be forming there. But

definitely a very ominous look to this system. And the storm chasers, as you can see, seem to be impervious to situations like this. But we have seen at least a half a dozen cars that have been chasing this particular cell -- Wolf.

BLITZER: And the official tornado warning said to the folks out there, you are in a life-threatening situation. Flying debris may be deadly to those caught without shelter. Mobile homes will be destroyed. Considerable damage to home, business, and vehicles is likely; and complete destruction, complete destruction is possible. Very, very frightening images we're seeing. Everyone in that area has got to be really careful.

All right. Karen, stand by. We'll get back to you. We'll continue to monitor the fallout from the breaking news.

We're also following some fast-moving developments in the presidential race, especially Donald Trump shifting explanations of how he'd deal with the country's taxes and debt. With us here in THE SITUATION ROOM, Real Clear Politics national political reporter Rebecca Berg; CNN political commentator S.E. Cupp; CNN political commentator Ryan Lizza -- he's "The New Yorker" magazine's Washington correspondent; and our CNN political director, David Chalian.

Rebecca, Donald Trump now says the U.S. would never default because, as president, you just order more money to be printed. Should this be as some sort of red flag to voters out there?

REBECCA BERG, NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER, REAL CLEAR POLITICS: Well, certainly, you don't want a nominee for president or a presumptive nominee for president from one of the two major parties threatening the country defaulting on its debt.

But you also don't want a nominee for either party threatening hyperinflation, which is what you get when you start printing money to pay off the country's debt. And so it's a very unusual statement from Donald Trump and certainly unprecedented in the modern political era, even in an era when we have seen the debt ceiling, the debt limit become such a political football. No one has really suggested that, as a last-ditch effort, we should be printing more money to deal with it.

And certainly, Donald Trump is making a number of promises when it comes to the national debt, also promising to "The Washington Post" editorial board that he would eliminate the debt within eight years. So one more in a line of very unrealistic statements we've heard from him.

BLITZER: One economic policy analyst, Ryan, told CNN that this strategy of -- he has is the bond equivalent of "We're going to build a wall and have Mexico pay for it. Is this just another strategy in Trump's playbook, the political fallout from this? Because economists are pretty concerned.

RYAN LIZZA, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: He seems to be -- the most generous explanation is he seems to be taking a model from the business world, where renegotiating debt is not unheard of and he has long experience with that, and applying it to government debt, which is sort of sacrosanct.

I think this is the statement that has probably freaked out economists more than anything else Trump has said. Because, you know, in our 401(k)s, I mean, the U.S. Treasuries are the foundation of, you know, arguably the world economy. And any insinuation that we're going to give debtors a haircut or not pay or mess with default in any way is potentially destabilizing.

Now, he is right, we can just print money. I mean, that is technically true. You know, we'll never be like Greece, right, because Greece doesn't control the euro. They can't print money to get out of a situation like that. We could, but as Rebecca points out, that would lead to hyperinflation.

And I think there's just a lot of ambiguity about exactly what he meant. He sort of -- he had about three different positions on this.

BLITZER: Yes. He's going to have to do some explaining in the days ahead.

LIZZA: If he were president, though, and he started talking about default and renegotiating debt and not paying full faith credit, that's problematic.

BLITZER: Yes.

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Instantaneous impact, yes.

BLITZER: You know, he's also, though, moderating some of his earlier positions now that he's the presumptive Republican nominee. On the minimum wage, for example, earlier, as we heard in that report, he was opposed to raising the minimum wage. He told me last week he's open to raising the minimum wage, told me $7.25, which is the federal minimum wage. That's not a livable age. Does that irritate establishment Republicans when he says he's ready to see the minimum wage go up?

[17:35:17] S.E. CUPP, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, look, this is what happens when you really have no undergirding political or economic principles. You're really just very malleable. And so of course, he's been shifting. He's now the presumptive nominee in a general election facing a Democrat.

But what Donald Trump has done, through these economic and domestic policy issues over the course of his campaign, has appealed to two different groups. The fringy alt right, which is this bastion cauldron of racist bigotry, and then actually, mainstream modern liberals. And that's what you're seeing with sort of his economic rhetoric.

Not surprisingly, that has left this huge gap of mainstream moderate Republicans without, really, a party or a candidate they can get behind. That 60 percent of the party is not insignificant. BLITZER: Yes. He makes the point that you know what, these are

opening bargaining positions that he has laid out. He knows...

CUPP: The art of the deal.

BLITZER: It's the art of the deal. He knows that there are going to be Democrats, others in Congress. If he's president of the United States, he's got to negotiate; he's got to work out a compromise. What's wrong with that?

CHALIAN: There's nothing wrong with having a negotiating position knowing that you're going to move to it to get to a deal. I don't think anyone would say there's something wrong with that.

The problem he's having is Donald Trump is having is that he's exploring these policy positions publicly while not yet having his own party locked up with him. And here's what happens.

So today when he clarifies his tax position and actually says, "No, no, no, I'm not -- I have not misspoken here. I am still going to cut taxes even for the wealthiest Americans, I'm just not going to cut them as much as I said I was going to cut them..."

BLITZER: As much as he would cut the middle class.

CHALIAN: So he clarified that. Well, the Hillary Clinton campaign pounced on that immediately, held a conference call with supporters. Hillary Clinton herself was at an economic event today, and starts hammering away that he's doing more for millionaires and billionaires than any presidential candidate in the history of presidential politics.

The problem for Donald Trump is where's the cavalry to back him up in that moment? So the Hillary Clinton campaign comes after him, and there was no RNC conference call or Trump campaign surrogate dispatched everywhere the way we normally see presidential general election combat, because he hasn't yet wrapped up...

BLITZER: But he does say -- he does say he personally would pay more taxes and he's happy to pay more taxes. He makes a lot of money. And rich people like him should pay more taxes.

LIZZA: Look, in theory, if you were designing a Republican candidate who could actually beat a Democrat, what's the big thing? On economics, what was the big -- Romney's big problem, right? The middle class didn't trust him on certain things.

And the two policies that a lot of reform Republicans would go after would be upper income tax cuts. Don't be so -- don't be so set in stone on that, and something on wages.

So he's actually found the sweet spot against the Democrats, but as David points out, he's done it in a way where he doesn't -- he already is leading a divided party, doesn't have support from conservatives, and, you know, it's not like Nixon to China. He can't make these concessions, because he doesn't have his right... BLITZER: All right, guys. Stand by. There's a lot more to assess,

and we will do that.

Also coming up, Hillary Clinton lashes out at Donald Trump as she courts a voting group that will be crucial to both parties in the November election.

And later, new clothes, a new title, and new plans for his country. Is Kim Jong-un more dangerous now than ever? We have exclusive reporting from inside North Korea.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[17:48:04] BLITZER: In the Democratic presidential race, Hillary Clinton this afternoon launched a scathing new attack on Donald Trump, labeling his words reckless and dangerous. Clinton is concentrating on a group of voters that will be crucial in the November election: women.

Let's bring in our senior national correspondent, Joe Johns. Tell us about the latest war of words between these two candidates.

JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, the Clinton campaign today took a two-pronged approach to the attacks of Donald Trump, essentially turning the discord in the Republican Party into a potential weapon against the presumptive nominee, putting out a long list in an e-mail of the Republicans and the conservatives who are blasting Trump.

Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton herself was working to stay on message, at least for now, steering clear of his repeated attempts to bring her husband's past indiscretions into the spotlight.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JOHNS (voice-over): After two days of attacks from Donald Trump seeking to undercut her position with women voters, Hillary Clinton sat down in a room full of women in northern Virginia, talking kitchen-table issues like equal pay but did not mention Trump.

HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We just can't let people claim that it's not a real issue, because, you know, there's a lot of blowback. I raise it all the time, and, you know, I'm accused of playing the gender card and all of that. And the fact is that it's a real problem.

JOHNS: Later speaking briefly with reporters, she repeated her assertion that Trump is a loose cannon.

CLINTON: A lot of his rhetoric is not only reckless, it's dangerous.

JOHNS: And while Trump claims he's a winner with women...

TRUMP: There is nobody that has more respect for women than me.

JOHNS: ... the latest CNN/ORC poll shows more than two-thirds of women view him unfavorably, and that's why Clinton is working hard for their vote.

CLINTON: I know wages need to go up, and then of course, he doesn't think much of equal pay for women because, of course, he doesn't think much of women, it turns out.

JOHNS: It's a fight escalating to fever pitch since Clinton put it in the spotlight two weeks ago.

HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Mr. Trump accused me of playing the, quote, "woman card."

(CROWD BOOS)

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.

JOHNS: Clinton even raising $2.4 million in campaign contributions in just three days and selling an official woman card. But Trump is fighting back, spending the weekend attacking the candidate and her husband.

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: She's married to a man who is the worst abuser of women in the history of politics. Remember the famous, "I did not have sex with that woman?" And then a couple months later, I'm guilty. And she's taking negative ads on me. She was an unbelievably nasty, mean enabler, and what she did to a lot of those women is disgraceful.

JOHNS: Asked to explain his comments, Trump telling CNN today it's retribution for what Clinton said.

TRUMP: She is playing the woman's card to the hilt. It's all nonsense. And you know what, women understand it better than anybody.

JOHNS: The gender war even spreading to late night.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And do you want to play with her? She's a girl. Just like you.

JOHNS: "Saturday Night Live" poking fun at Clinton with a sketch advertising a new Barbie doll.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: President Barbie even comes with accessories like sunglasses and a smartphone with SnapChat. Do you like her now? Huh? Do you?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It feels like she's trying too hard.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

JOHNS: Not to be overlooked is the fact that there is still a contest going on among the Democrats running for president with voting in West Virginia tomorrow. Bernie Sanders today was campaigning in Atlantic City and also recorded a cameo appearance for the late show with Stephen Colbert that is scheduled to air tonight, we're told -- Wolf.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Joe Johns reporting for us. Thank you very much.

Coming up, we have an exclusive look inside an event that hasn't taken place in North Korea in nearly 40 years. Has it made Kim Jong-un even more dangerous?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[17:51:30] BLITZER: An extraordinary gathering of North Korea's communist elite brings more power and new title for Kim Jong-un.

CNN's Will Ripley gained extraordinary access to that meeting. He's in the capital, Pyongyang.

WILL RIPLEY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, today is a day of celebration here in Pyongyang after four days of the Workers Party Congress ended with a new, bigger title for the supreme leader, Kim Jong-un. There's supposed to be what North Korea calls the spontaneous celebration of the people in the streets showing their happiness and loyalty to the leader, although spontaneity is the overstatement of the year since we've been seeing people practicing in the city ever since we arrived. And the parade which hasn't been officially confirmed is probably the worst kept secret in town.

Another thing that was kept secret was the decision to send a small group of journalists, including CNN, into the Workers Party Congress for those final moments.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

RIPLEY: This is where the Seventh Workers Party Congress of Korea is being held. We went through about a 90-minute security check before boarding buses. We got a police escort. We walked through very ornate marble hallways into this waiting area, and now we're about to head inside we believe to see the closing events of the first Workers Party Congress in 36 years.

This is the first time the Western media has been allowed into an event of this caliber here in North Korea. This is a highly secretive country and in this room are 3400 people who are the ruling elite, members of Workers Party who are voting in the seventh party congress, and they're waiting for the supreme leader, Kim Jong-un, and top party leaders to take the stage.

We are only allowed to film for about 10 minutes. And we learned the party has created a new, bigger title for their leader, chairman. Though it's hard to imagine how much more power you can give to someone who already holds absolute power here in North Korea.

You see framed portraits of North Korea's founder and president Kim Il-Sung. His son called the great leader, Kim Jong-Il, and the current leader, the supreme leader, Kim Jong-un. And when you walk down this ornate marble halls, you realize that all of this, this whole building, this country, is built around the image of these three leaders.

(END VIDEOTAPE) RIPLEY: And perhaps to show the world just how seriously they take any mention of the man they call their supreme leader, North Korea announced in a surprise news conference here in Pyongyang that they have detained a BBC journalist, Rupert Wingfield Hayes, as he was trying to get on a flight out of the country, North Korean authorities grabbed him at the airport and they questioned him for eight hours before making him and his crew sign apology letters before allowing them to leave the country.

The reason, reporting that North Korea deemed disrespectful of the supreme leader. Now I have been severely reprimanded several times for reporting about the leader of this country, never have been detained. But it just goes to show the situation that journalists face, the dangers of working in North Korea when you're talking about a country that is so sensitive about the way its leadership is referred to -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Will Ripley in Pyongyang doing some really excellent reporting for us -- unique reporting I should say at the same time. Thank you, Will, for that.

Coming up, Donald Trump says no one knows more about debt than he does, insisting the U.S. would never have to default because it prints money. And Trump is already shifting his stance on some issues like the minimum wage, taxes on the wealthy.

[17:55:00] Is he further alienating some mainstream Republicans?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Happening now, Trump's stakes. They couldn't be higher for the presumptive GOP nominee as he looks for a running mate but many potential candidates are already saying no, thanks.

Now that he's named former rival Chris Christie to lead his transition team, is Trump too toxic to attract the most qualified people?

Spin cycle. After making a series of startling statements, Trump spins his answers on America's debt, minimum wage and taxes. Why are some experts calling his economic policies reckless?

The enabler. Trump slams Hillary Clinton saying she was dismissive of women who had affairs with her husband. Meanwhile, Clinton is courting suburban women voters.