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THE SITUATION ROOM
Trump's Economic Plans?; Nuclear Waiting Game; Trump's Gender Gap; Trump Changes Stance on Key Economic Issues; Trump: Clinton an 'Enabler' of Husband's Womanizing; North Korea Says It's Expanding Its Nuclear Force; Iran Test-Fires Ballistic Missile. Aired 6-7p ET
Aired May 9, 2016 - 18:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: 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. Can Trump's attack help him overcome his gender gap with Hillary Clinton?
And nuclear waiting game. With North Korea poised to test a nuclear weapon, the world watches and waits. All signs point to imminent attempt. When will Kim Jong-un pull the trigger?
We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
It is primary eve in West Virginia and Nebraska, but with no Republican rivals remaining, Donald Trump is looking down the road. The presumptive Republican nominee naming New Jersey Governor Chris Christie to lead a transition team that would ease Trump into the White House.
But a more immediate concern is proving problematic, finding a running mate. Marco Rubio is the latest to rule himself out, citing reservations about Trump's campaign and his policies. And Trump is raising eyebrows again, calling himself the king of debt, and saying the U.S. could never default because it can just print more money.
We are following all the latest developments, including the growing nuclear tension with North Korea, now believed to be poised to carry out a nuclear test at any time. And the dictator, Kim Jong-un, is speaking out about his country's nuclear arsenal, and what circumstances might provoke him to use it.
We are covering all of that, much more this hour with our guests, including one of Donald Trump's key supporters, Scottie Nell Hughes. And our correspondent and expert analysts, they are also standing by.
Let's begin with the Trump campaign.
Our political reporter, Sara Murray, has the very latest.
Sara, some are Donald Trump's latest remarks are raising concern about his understanding of economics. What's the latest?
SARA MURRAY, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Wolf.
A number of experts and economists I talked to were a little bit puzzled. They say it seems like Donald Trump is floating ideas that might work in the business world, but don't necessarily translate to handling the U.S. economy. That's after he has taken a number of different stances on debt, on taxes, and on whether to raise the minimum wage.
MURRAY (voice-over): Donald Trump may be the GOP nominee, but he's already giving Republicans anxiety.
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I know more about debt than practically anybody. I love debt.
MURRAY: Professing his Love of debt and making policy proclamations like this one when asked how he would manage making debt payments, telling CNBC: "I would borrow knowing, if the economy crashed, you could make a deal."
Today, Trump is trying to moderate that stance, telling CNN he would try to buy back debt at a discount and adding the country won't default because America can always print more money.
TRUMP: First of all, you never have to default, because you print the money, I hate to tell you, OK? So, there's never a default.
MURRAY: Suggestions economists aren't feasible, could risk America's credit or lead to a spike in interest rates. Trump is also changing his tune on minimum wage, after saying wages were too high during the GOP primary.
QUESTION: So, do not raise the minimum wage?
TRUMP: I would not raise the minimum.
MURRAY: Now he says he is open to an increase.
TRUMP: I don't know how people make it on $7.25 an hour. Now, with that being said, I would like to see an increase of some magnitude. But I would rather leave it to the states.
MURRAY: And then there's the shift on taxes, Trump saying he is willing to negotiate the steep tax cuts he's proposed for the wealthy, but insists rich Americans won't pay more than they do now.
TRUMP: They go then and talk about, like, I am giving a tax increase for the wealthy. I am not. I said they may have to pay somewhat more than my proposal.
QUESTION: I understand.
TRUMP: My proposal is much less than people are paying right now. Do you understand?
MURRAY: A claim that is tough to square with Trump's own suggestion that he would pay more under his tax plan.
TRUMP: It reduces or eliminates most of the deductions and loopholes available to special interests and to the very rich. In other words, it is going to cost me a fortune.
MURRAY: All of this as Trump is still struggling to unite the party, passing today on the chance to echo Sarah Palin's comments about House Speaker Paul Ryan.
SARAH PALIN (R), FORMER ALASKA GOVERNOR: I think Paul Ryan is soon to be Cantored, as in Eric Cantor. His political career is over, but for a miracle.
MURRAY: And while Trump's take on Republican orthodox may leave some in the party groaning, "Saturday Night Live" is already celebrating its good fortune.
UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: Does Johnny ever take a gander at the holy Scripture?
UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: Honestly, I love all the books in the Bible. I do. They're all terrific, Corinthians part deux. Book of Revelations. Too Genesis, too furious.
UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: Well, isn't that special?
MURRAY: Now, "SNL" seems practically giddy about Donald Trump as the presumptive Republican nominee, but for the Trump campaign, it is a much more serious time.
They're building out their infrastructure. They're trying to scale up for a general election and they're even planning for what happens if Donald Trump does win, naming Chris Christie as the chairman of the transition team, which, as you know, it's a huge role that involves building a mini-federal government to prepare for if Donald Trump is, in fact, the president -- Wolf.
BLITZER: All right, Sara, thank you, Sara Murray in New York for us.
New developments also in the suddenly rocky relationship between Trump and House Speaker Paul Ryan, who says he's not ready to endorse Donald Trump. Ryan is also chairing the Republican Convention, but now says he will skip that if Trump wants him to no longer be the chairman.
Our senior White House correspondent, Jim Acosta, is joining us now.
They have a big meeting scheduled here in Washington on Thursday. What are you hearing?
JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Wolf. And so far, both sides are keeping their powder dry about of this big
meeting between Donald Trump and House Speaker Paul Ryan on Thursday. It shows you just how important it is. The latest, earlier today, Ryan told "The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel" that he would step down as chairman of the GOP Convention if Trump asked.
A Ryan aide told me the speaker was just answering a hypothetical when he said that, and wasn't trying to send any more of a message. But as for Trump, considered how measured he was when he was asked about that comment that Sara just played featuring Sarah Palin on "STATE OF THE UNION" over the weekend, when she warned Ryan he could be run out of office by a GOP opponent, primaried, like Eric Cantor was, if he doesn't back the real estate tycoon.
Trump told CNN's "NEW DAY" that's just Palin being Palin.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRIS CUOMO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Do you want Sarah Palin going out and trying to turn people against Paul Ryan? You're supposed to be unifying the party.
TRUMP: Well, Sarah Palin has endorsed me.
TRUMP: And I like her a lot. I think she's a terrific person.
CUOMO: But do you want that. Do you want Paul Ryan kicked out?
TRUMP: Let me finish what I wanted to say, OK? But I have nothing to do with that. That is her -- Sarah is very much a free agent. She's a terrific person. But she's very much a free agent.
And I didn't know about this until yesterday.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ACOSTA: And in the middle of all this is RNC chairman Reince Priebus. He told a talk radio show earlier today that Ryan's decision to not back Trump right away needs to be understood in the proper context. Priebus said he and others in the party didn't expect Ted Cruz to drop out so soon.
So, there are many Republicans, including the speaker, Priebus says, who need time to absorb the idea as Trump as their nominee. Wolf, it seems like all sides in this are trying to lower the temperature as much as possible ahead of this meeting on Thursday.
BLITZER: And Reince Priebus is going to participate in that meeting, the chairman of the Republican Party, on Thursday. Good luck to him.
ACOSTA: It shows just how important this is, that they're trying to keep things calm this early on.
BLITZER: Yes, very important. All right, thanks very much, Jim Acosta.
Let's get some more on all of this.
Joining us, one of Donald Trump' key supporters, Scottie Nell Hughes.
Scottie, Donald Trump says he is willing to raise taxes on himself. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: The middle class in this country is getting decimated. I want -- and I will fight like hell for that.
TRUMP: But I don't mind paying more tax. I don't mind paying more tax. I will be honest with you. I don't mind paying more tax. I have done very well over the last 30 years.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: But then today, he said he meant that the wealthy would be paying less than they pay now.
Can you understand some of the contradictions seemingly there, some people suggesting he is reversing himself?
SCOTTIE NELL HUGHES, USA RADIO NETWORKS: I don't think he is reversing.
It is not policy he's proposing. It is called proposals, Wolf, something that politicians, they go out there and they put out threat policies and then they don't necessarily follow through with them, hence why people don't trust what politicians speak on the campaign trail.
And Mr. Trump has always said that he would more than likely raise taxes on the hedge fund guys and those folks that are sitting there and making money off others, and not necessarily producing jobs to back up their funds. But those are all things that will be revealed as the time goes on and his economic policy continues to be developed as a proposal, because he does want to work with Congress.
And I think he is very optimistic in working with House leaders and Senate leaders on making sure they come up with a budget proposal that they can all agree on.
BLITZER: Well, he is willing to negotiate, clearly, and he is author of "The Art of the Deal." He says his plan is a floor for negotiating with Congress. He said he is more concerned about the middle class than he is about the wealthy. He's calling that his opening statement.
So, here's the question. Donald Trump, is he admitting he's flexible on these positions?
HUGHES: Well, I don't know if flexible -- well, I think you have to have a little bit of flexibility.
I don't think it's a -- I think it's a foolish man that goes out there on the campaign trail and promises all of these things and then they sit there and wonder, and scratch their heads when their constituents go, but you told us this and you didn't deliver, hence what we have seen right now.
So, I think he is saying, you know what? Now that it actually looks like I can be the nominee, I am willing to listen to all ideas and all justifications for it and I'm willing to work with people on it. And that's why I think he is very optimistic in working with the House and the Senate in making sure that we keep a Republican-controlled Congress to work with him, because I think they would definitely work a lot easier than any Democrats in office.
BLITZER: Earlier in the campaign, Scottie, as you well remember, he said he wasn't willing to raise the minimum wage. The other day, he told me he is willing, he's open to raising minimum wage. He says $7.25 an hour is not a livable wage.
But he now also goes one step further, says leave it up to states. They can decide what the minimum wage should be. Is he moving his position, shall we say, to the left by even opening up the door to raising minimum wage?
HUGHES: Isn't that the problem, though, Wolf, with the Republican Party up to now? They're so black and white, and so closed-minded that they literally alienated so many of the voters that they have -- those folks have gone over and voted Democrat?
I think this actually shows a very open-minded Donald Trump that he is saying. But I think here is the other thing you have to remember. Mr. Trump is a businessman, and hence why he's leaving it to the states. Cost of living is definitely different in New York than necessarily maybe down in other states like Alabama or here in Tennessee, where I am.
So, I think it actually speaks about a great type of diplomacy that Mr. Trump is willing to actually say, you know what? Come to the table, let's talk about it. I think the only thing you need to ask him about is whether he would raise the federal minimum wage. But other than that, he is willing to leave it to the states, depending on what they feel is best for their people. I don't see there's anything wrong with that.
BLITZER: He has caused a lot of controversy by suggesting the U.S. could never really default because the United States could simply print more money.
Economists warn this could lead to hyperinflation, really hurt average Americans who trust the full faith and creditworthiness, if you will, of those U.S. Treasury T-bills, those U.S. bonds. This is a problem for Donald Trump right now, if you listen to so many economists.
HUGHES: Well, I think all Mr. Trump was doing is, he was discussing what all of the other nations are already doing.
He wants to replace short-term debt when it comes due with low-yield bonds that can take advantage of historically low interest rates. This is a better way, a more cost-effective way of handling the U.S. national debt.
And I find it very interesting these same economists, these same pundits that want to criticize Mr. Trump's words have basically been silent as we have gone through QE 1, 2, 3, and Janet Yellen and the rest of the Fed printing money without criticism by the -- towards the Obama administration.
BLITZER: Do you know, Scottie, who Donald Trump's key economic advisers or his key economic adviser is?
HUGHES: At this point right now, there are key advisers on every bit of policy.
And one of the best things about having a businessman at the top of the Republican ticket is that he has got some of the best in the business advising him. We already know about Carl Icahn, but there's Tom Barrack and Andy Beal, just to name a few people who are involved in his finance.
And, obviously, as he continues to grow, he is going to work with different members of Congress and the Senate who have worked on budgets before, who have a realistic approach of how they can actually get something accomplished, where the Republicans don't win just 10 percent or 5 percent, where they have in the past. Rather, Trump actually a 50/50 or 70 percent, because then we would be considered a lot more winning than we have underneath the Obama administration or Republican-held Congress.
BLITZER: But I assume Donald Trump would also agree that what sometimes works, very often works if you're the CEO of a big business, a big company doesn't necessarily work if you're president of the United States running a sovereign nation.
Very quickly, I want to get your quick reaction. Marco Rubio, the former Republican presidential candidate, the senator from Florida, he just put out a statement saying: "My previously stated four reservations about his campaign," referring to Trump, "and concerns with many of his policies remain unchanged. He will be best served by a running mate and by surrogates who fully embrace his campaign. I have never sought, will not seek and do not want to be considered for vice president."
Scottie, your reaction.
HUGHES: I think that's very interesting, because once again we're seeing a flip-flop, because just two weeks ago, three weeks ago, you heard praising statements -- or as praising as they can be out of Senator Rubio and to a local paper there, a local radio station in Tampa, sort of like what we heard with Speaker Ryan, who weeks ago said that he would work with whoever the nominee is and flip-flopped on that as well.
I have to wonder what strings are being pulled behind the doors, saying, guys, you need to start pulling your support. But when it comes to the choice of V.P., it's real interesting. I love all these people turning it down when they officially haven't been asked yet. But why are you so presumptive that you are going to be the one asked?
BLITZER: Will he have a tough time finding a suitable V.P.?
HUGHES: I absolutely do not think so, because I think there's a lot of people very much interested in that spot.
A lot of great people have already surrounded and endorsed Mr. Trump on both the establishment, as well as the grassroots conservative side. I think, when he is ready to choose, it will be that person when he actually asks them will not turn them down.
BLITZER: All right, stand by, Scottie. There's more to discuss. Let's take a quick break. We will resume our coverage right after this.
BLITZER: Donald Trump is launching new attacks against Hillary Clinton, saying she played a role in some of former President Bill Clinton's most notorious scandals.
We are back with one of Donald Trump's key supporters, Scottie Nell Hughes.
Scottie, Donald Trump attacked Hillary Clinton for being in his word an enabler of Bill Clinton's infidelity while he as president. Is that appropriate? Is that an appropriate line of attack? Could it fur impact Donald Trump's standing, which is not good, with women nationwide right now?
HUGHES: Well, you have to realize Mr. Trump was not the first person to use that word enabler. It actually came from one of the 17 women who considers themselves to have been victimized by Bill Clinton, whether he was governor or president of the United States.
And that was either sexually harassed, had an affair with or allegedly raped. Those -- there are 17 women right now that are very upset. Some of them actually went through the court process. Some are still going through the process with it. So, enabler in the fact that Hillary Clinton never did anything to stand up for her husband, yet -- that's on the personal side -- yet, on the professional side, we're coming out and seeing that she did the same thing. She didn't stand up for women within her own Senate office.
She sat there and 72 cents to every dollar for the male that worked in her office is what she paid.
BLITZER: You think, Scottie, this is a smart strategy, political strategy to bring all that stuff up now?
HUGHES: I think the key is right now, if you look at both of them, Wolf, I think they are both a lot alike, in the fact that they have the same arsenal against each other.
They have the personal issues. They also have the professional issues. And I think all that Donald Trump is doing to Hillary Clinton, who has built this platform as the person for women, that he's saying, but, listen, when she had the chance to actually stick up for women, not just her rhetoric on the campaign trail, she chose not to. She actually chose to go against them.
And I think that's all that he is trying to prove here.
BLITZER: In July, Trump said Senator John McCain -- he said this of Senator John McCain, that he likes people who weren't captured. John McCain was a POW for six years in Vietnam.
McCain now tells CNN Trump owes prisoners of war an apology and that he should express his appreciation, he should express his appreciation -- that Donald Trump should apologize for these comments. He would express his appreciation if Donald Trump apologized.
Do you believe Trump, A, should apologize? Will he apologize?
HUGHES: Well, you know, I think there's nobody that's done more for the troops -- who has spoke more about veterans and veterans' rights here in the United States than...
BLITZER: But should he apologize for saying that he thinks that John McCain -- he doesn't like people who were captured, referring to John McCain's POW experience in Vietnam?
HUGHES: Well, I don't think -- you have to separate out the two people. I think his conversation was reflecting John McCain. That wasn't reflective of all POWs. I think Mr. Trump definitely respects all POWs, and he wasn't insulting all POWs.
BLITZER: But his words, he says he likes people who -- people who weren't captured.
Those were his words.
HUGHES: Well, that was obviously not the words that I would have chosen. And I am sure Mr. Trump can decide whether or not he wants to apologize for this. I personally would not have said that.
But I think it also speaks to the fact that who is actually speaking -- whose actions are taking for veterans. And Senator John McCain, time and time again, when you're looking at one of the biggest debacles in this veterans scandal happened in the state of Arizona, and yet that is the senator -- the state that the Senator McCain is.
Maybe he should have spent more time looking for apologies and spending time in his own home state making sure that the veterans of Arizona were taken care of.
BLITZER: Trump is meeting, as you know, Thursday with the speaker, Paul Ryan. Do you think that Trump is willing to give Speaker Ryan and other Republican House leaders the details they're requesting for him in order to win their endorsement?
HUGHES: I think it depends if those House of Representatives and Speaker Ryan are willing to come to the table, and actually say, you know what, and give him the respect for winning the GOP nomination and representing and driving the turnout that he did amongst -- I think these two have to come to the table 50/50, Wolf.
I think they have to be able to speak with not one person basically having a power hold over the other. And I'm very optimistic that that's what we're going to get, because that's what -- that's not only for our party, but for our country. And I think that's what both men have the intentions of achieving.
BLITZER: Scottie Hughes, thanks for coming in.
HUGHES: Thank you, Wolf.
BLITZER: Just ahead, Donald Trump names Chris Christie to head his transition team to the White House if he is elected president, even as more Republicans rule themselves out as a possible Trump running mate.
Plus, Trump attacks Hillary Clinton, saying she enabled her husband's infidelities. How is she responding? We will update you.
BLITZER: Major reversals by the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, Donald Trump, on issues including taxes and the minimum wage.
Let's dig deeper right now.
Joining us, our chief political correspondent, Dana Bash, our senior political reporter, Nia-Malika Henderson, "Washington Post" assistant editor David Swerdlick and CNN political commentator Ana Navarro.
Guys, thanks very much.
Dana, as he's pressed for more details, can we -- should we anticipate more revisions of some sensitive policy decisions?
DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Probably.
(LAUGHTER) BASH: Look, you have interviewed him before. I have. And we have watched a lot, and he definitely seems to be somebody who kind of, as you ask the question, he thinks about it, and he's like, oh, well, maybe X, and not Y.
I'm not saying that these were specifically done on the fly, but it's not unheard of for Donald Trump to change a little bit, sometimes a lot. Traditionally, with a traditional candidate, which Donald Trump has never been accused of being, you do see the changes from the primary to the general kind of moving more to the center.
That could be what the minimum wage change is, and the fact that he ruled it out, and now not so much, and the tax issue, which he had said -- actually, I'm not -- still not entirely clear what he is saying.
NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. It's unclear.
BASH: But he has said -- seems to have opened the door a little bit to raising taxes on the wealthy, although now he's saying that is not what he meant.
Again, that could be a move to the middle. But my sense is that it is still him trying to work through the proposals as a first-time candidate.
BLITZER: What he does deserve some credit for, Nia, is he says all of these policy decisions, these are his opening bargaining positions. He knows if he is president he is going to have to negotiate with Democrats in Congress. He wants to come up with something. It may not wind up being perfect the way he would like it, but he's willing to negotiate.
That's different than some very conservative Republican hard-liners who say take it or leave it.
That's exactly right, Wolf. Compromise is essentially a dirty word. And a lot of these folks went into office essentially proposing ideas that never would fly, but certainly were music to the ears of some folks in the conservative electorate.
On this issue, I think one of his problems is that he doesn't really have a lot of backup so far from establishment Republicans.
[18:45:01] And when he is saying, for instance, that he would be willing to pay more taxes, that he might raise taxes on the wealthy, even though that's not exactly clear what he would do, he doesn't really have the cavalry coming to his beck and call. And then he leaves an opening there for Hillary Clinton.
They had a conference call today where they talked about his tax plan. They called it reckless and risky. And this sort of underscores what their approach to him will be, which is that he doesn't know what he is talking about, that he's a danger and that he's unpredictable.
BLITZER: He is open now to raising the nation's minimum wage. Earlier, he was opposed to it. He told me last week he's open to it. He says $7.25 minimum, that's not livable wage.
But now he's going one step further, saying, "You know what? Let the states decide. New York, a higher standard -- higher cost of living than other states. The states are better positioned to come up with the minimum wage. But it's still an opening. It's still a shift from some earlier positions.
SWERDLICK: It's an opening and it's a shift. I think, as Dana said on taxes, his position is a little more -- I want to say nuanced, or maybe he's just an opening gambit.
But on minimum wage, I'm going to mark that down as a flip-flop. In the debates, he said he was against raising minimum wage. He wanted to be on the side of small business people that often say if the minimum wage goes up, they're going to have to lay people off. Now that he's looking at the general election, I think Trump is trying to position himself on the side of working-class folks, who say, "We can't live on the current minimum hourly wage."
BLITZER: And Ana, you heard him also say that the Republican Party doesn't necessarily need to be united for him to win the presidency.
NAVARRO: Well, good, because we're not. You know? If he doesn't need the Republican Party to be united, then maybe he will win the presidency. Because right now, if anything, it looks like the friction and the factioning is getting worse, not better.
Let me tell you, there's three types of Republicans. There's actually the Trumpians, the people who genuinely, legitimately love this guy. He walks on water for them. There's the elephants, the folks who are true blue Republicans that will vote for whomever has an elephant and "R" behind their name, no matter who it is. And there's the ostriches. Those are the people like me who have our heads in the sand, and who don't think he's an ideological loyalist to Republican values, to conservative values, and he represents conservative values, find him objectionable on so many different counts, whether it's morality, whether it's the way he treats women, whether it's the things he says about Hispanics or POWs, and just cannot bring ourselves to fathom voting for him.
BLITZER: Very quick, because I know you know Marco Rubio well. Were you surprised by his flat statement to Donald Trump: "Don't even consider me for the vice presidency"?
NAVARRO: NO, I'm not. I've been saying it over and over again, there's just no way that I could see Marco Rubio reconciling himself to this. More than that, I've always said there's no way Jeannette Rubio would let Marco Rubio reconcile himself to Donald Trump.
BASH: But the thing -- Ana just laid out very clear lines within the Republican Party. The issue is, as you well know, there are no clear lines. For example, Terry Branstad, who is a -- as establishment as they
come, given the fact that he is very well-regarded by all factions, most factions in Iowa. And the longest serving governor in the history of this country, he said he supports Donald Trump.
And so you have that kind of Republican. You have Sarah Palin and sort of everybody in between. And so the lines really are -- they're more zigzag than clear, which makes it a lot harder.
BLITZER: What does it tell you, Nia, that he selected the New Jersey governor, Chris Christie, to serve as his chief of his transition team if he's elected to the White House?
HENDERSON: I mean, I think it goes to their long-standing relationship. They've been friends going back a decade now. Chris Christie was one of the first to come out in February to endorse him. He finds, in Chris Christie, somebody who's been loyal to him, going back to that endorsement, and going out there and really, I think, giving something of sort of establishment credentialing line to his campaign. It hasn't worked with the other establishment.
But I think in that way, it's in some ways sort of a topic changer, too. Right? I mean, here he is in the middle of all these conversations about the establishment not coming around to him. And then he can say, "Look here. I've got Chris Christie," who's going to lead his transition team.
BLITZER: Yes. He said that Chris Christie...
HENDERSON: A little premature, though.
BLITZER: ... will lead his transition team. Dr. Ben Carson will help lead his team vetting a vice-presidential running mate. A son-in-law is going to help him with cabinet selection. So he's getting ready; he's gearing up.
Stand by. We have more to discuss about that.
Also taking a closer look at the Democratic side, what's going on right now. Hillary Clinton versus Donald Trump. New information coming into THE SITUATION ROOM. Get ready. We'll be right back.
[18:39:22] BLITZER: The battle for the Democratic presidential nomination continues tomorrow with the West Virginia primary. But tonight, the sharpest attacks against Hillary Clinton aren't coming from Senator Bernie Sanders but rather from Donald Trump.
Our senior Washington correspondent, Jeff Zeleny, is joining us for the latest. Jeff, Trump is trying to cut into Hillary Clinton's dramatic lead, at least right now with women voters.
JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Indeed, Wolf, and it is a substantial lead, but Donald Trump is following his own instinct, which has served him well so far, by attacking Hillary Clinton and attacking her hard, calling her an enabler, saying that she enabled her husband during all those Clinton scandals some 20 years or so ago.
But campaigning in Virginia today, we caught up with Clinton to find a different argument that she's making to these critical swing voters.
ZELENY (voice-over): Hillary Clinton isn't taking the bait.
CLINTON: I have nothing to say about him and how he's running his campaign.
ZELENY: Donald Trump is running his campaign by reviving old Clinton controversies.
TRUMP: She's married to a man who was the worst abuser of women in the history of politics. She's married to a man who hurt many women, and Hillary, if you look and see a study, Hillary hurt many women, the women that he abused.
ZELENY: Today in Virginia, Clinton says she isn't responding to that.
CLINTON: Well, I'm answering him all the time, answering -- no, I'm answering him on what I think voters care out.
ZELENY (on camera): You're responding with substance.
CLINTON: I'm running my campaign. I'm not running against him. He's doing a fine job of doing that himself. I'm running my campaign. What I want to do as president, what I stand for, what I've always stood for.
ZELENY (voice-over): Her battle with Trump already heartening in their fight for women voters.
CLINTON: There still is a challenge with equal pay for women which is real, not made up.
ZELENY: Trump defending his comments on CNN's "NEW DAY," telling Chris Cuomo that Clinton played the woman card first.
TRUMP (via phone): She's playing the woman's card to the hilt.
ZELENY: Women, always a pivotal vote, even more so this year. She leads Trump 61-35 nationally among women, according to the latest CNN/ORC poll.
Clinton is taking her message to small groups of voters.
CLINTON: It's good to meet you.
ZELENY: Like this gathering today at a cafe in Virginia.
CLINTON: You know, I'm accused of playing the gender card and all of that, and the fact is that it's a real problem.
ZELENY: She won the Virginia primary two months ago.
CLINTON: Hello, Virginia.
ZELENY: But she's back with the general election in mind.
CLINTON: It's clear that there are so many challenges facing young families today that we have got to come to grips with.
ZELENY: The path to the White House goes through suburbs like here in Loudoun County, Virginia. Clinton visited for this reason. President Obama carried the county by 8 percent in 2008, and only three points four years later.
But in the 2014 midterm elections, Republican Barbara Comstock won the congressional district by 17 points. Now she's torn, telling "The Washington Post," "I can't support Hillary Clinton and I won't be, but Donald Trump needs to earn the votes of me and many others."
These swing voters here will be key to the fall election. Clinton is still trying to build excitement around her history-making candidacy to be the first woman president, particularly wooing women, an effort mocked by "Saturday Night Live."
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Feels like she's trying too hard.
ZELENY: So clearly Hillary Clinton focusing on substance, talking here about health care, child care, education, not being drawn in.
But Wolf, the question here is from one top Democrat I talked to late today, what is Bill Clinton going to do? How is he going to respond to this? That may be what Donald Trump is trying to do, trying to draw Bill Clinton into this fray, because he certainly would have something to say about it.
But Wolf, these northern Virginia suburbs, one of the places where this election is going to be won in the fall. That's why Hillary Clinton was here today.
BLITZER: Making her case over there. All right. Thanks very much, Jeff Zeleny reporting.
By the way, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, they have a big contest coming in West Virginia tomorrow. Bernie Sanders by no means giving up yet. We'll have all day coverage of that West Virginia primary. That's coming up tomorrow.
Let's talk a little bit about what's going on right now.
Dana, this whole notion of an enabler, if you will, Donald Trump accusing Hillary Clinton of being an enabler, is that -- how is that going to play out with that key group, women voters? BASH: You know, I mean, look, the first instinct of everybody who
covers politics would be pre-Trump, well, it's probably not going to help him with women, because it's probably not the kind of thing that women want to hear.
But whenever anybody thinks about the conventional reaction of voters with Trump, it tends to be the opposite, because he has this sixth sense about how voters are going to respond.
Having said that, I think, you know, thinking about this today, that when it comes to Hillary Clinton and her response -- Wolf, you know this, because you covered the Clinton White House -- you know, she's seen this movie before, maybe not...
NAVARRO: So have we.
BASH: Maybe not with 3-D glasses, as she's going to see now. But my sense is what's going to drive her up the wall the most is her inability to nail Trump down on policy issues, which she is very specific on and enjoys having policy discussions. And maybe that will be the thing that trips her up as much as, if not more, than the whole question about whether she's playing the woman card.
BLITZER: Do you think his new line of attack, which is really an old line of attack against the Clintons, by Donald Trump is going to help him with those women voters?
HENDERSON: We'll see. It is an old line of attack, but it is a new line of attack in the sense we have never seen it played out in this Twitter-verse and wall to wall cable news and blogosphere.
[18:45:05] So, I think we'll have to see what actually happens. I think for Donald Trump, he really needs to start doing well among white women. If think about a state like Virginia, for instance, Mitt Romney won 20 points over Obama among white women. So, he's got to do better than that in many ways if he wants to win a state like Virginia. So, I think in some ways he's kind of testing out what is his line of attack in terms of denting some of Hillary Clinton's support among women.
BLITZER: Ana, you heard Republican Congresswoman Barbara Comstock. She's from Northern Virginia, saying Donald Trump needs to earn her vote. You're a Republican. Are you hearing that increasingly from a lot of Republicans out there who are not yet ready to endorse you or not yet ready to work for you, show us the goods, if you will?
ANA NAVARRO, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes, where's the beef. Absolutely.
Look, I think that Donald Trump is not a guy who's got a deep history within Republican politics. We have a hard time understanding what he stands for, where he stands on positions and issues. It is a changing evolution that happens with him constantly.
Then, we have these character issues, these, you know, tactics issues, the decorum issues. So I think that everybody may end up being the nominee including on the Democratic side is going to have to earn votes.
I got to tell you this woman thing I find it very, very bothersome. It might have worked, it might work with a small minority of Republicans who voted in the primary, we are an entirely different ball game, and it is a heck of a thing for a guy who's had the personal life of Donald Trump to be making these charges and not to be making them against Bill Clinton, that would be something entirely different. He is making them against the wife, against the spouse. I just find that very hard to swallow. I don't see how it will help him.
BLITZER: A lot of us remember, David, that when Bill Clinton left office, that final year in office, his approval numbers were very, very good. He was a very popular president, despite impeachment and sexual indiscretions and all of that. He left the White House pretty popular.
DAVID SWERDLICK, ASSISTANT EDITOR, THE WASHINGTON POST: Yes. Clinton left the White House popular and the issue was seen in a way at that time, Secretary Clinton was seen at that time as a victim of that entire circumstance. Times have shifted partly because Trump has framed it as saying, look, if you're going to call me sexist, I'm going to call sexist back on you and President Clinton, and framing it as a counter punch.
I wonder why Clinton's camp hasn't fashioned a response around this where she simply says, look, my husband and I had struggles, we are still together. I want the voters to judge me on my record as a senator, on my record as secretary of state. You can't get in to a race to the bottom with Donald Trump because he'll always go one lower, Wolf. So, there's no win.
BLITZER: Very quickly, Nia, Bernie Sanders, he's still very much in this race. He might win West Virginia tomorrow. How is this impacting, let's say Hillary Clinton gets the nomination, general election contest against Trump?
HENDERSON: You know, I think it continues to gin up his supporters and give them hope for their platform, if not for him actually winning the nomination, he'll raise more money and just lengthen the time that he's able to stay in thing as a credible candidate.
BLITZER: We'll have coverage of that tomorrow. An important race.
Guys, thanks very much.
Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, they battle it out to see who will face Donald Trump. Watch our coverage all day tomorrow. The Nebraska and West Virginia primaries. Our coverage tomorrow.
Just ahead: North Korea's Kim Jong-un detailing how he would use his country's nuclear arsenal. Is another nuclear test in the mix?
BLITZER: New details tonight of North Korea's plan to expand its nuclear arsenal, with more and even deadlier weapons. And now, the dictator, Kim Jong-un, is speaking out about how he might actually use them.
CNN's Brian Todd is working the story for us.
Brian, the nuclear tension with North Korea clearly ratcheting up.
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Certainly is, Wolf. And U.S. officials telling us tonight they are watching the situation on the Korean peninsula very closely and preparing for a provocation. One U.S. official telling me, flat out, the United States will not accept North Korea as a nuclear state.
But tonight, Kim Jong-un appears to be brushing off those warnings and moving to build his arsenal even more.
TODD (voice-over): Appearing in a dark business suit, Kim Jong-un signals to his enemies what could provoke him to launch a nuclear warhead.
KIM JONG UN, NORTH KOREAN LEADER (through translator): Our republic will not use a nuclear weapon unless its sovereignty is encroached upon by any aggressive, hostile forces with nuclear weapons.
TODD: But would Kim only play defense with nuclear weapons? His regime has declared it is expanding its nuclear force, quote, "in quality and quantity."
DAVID ALBRIGHT, INSTITUTE FOR SCIENCE & INTERNATIONAL SECURITY: It doesn't appear that North Korea wants to slow down its nuclear weapons program. It appears that they want to make more nuclear weapons and they want to make those weapons more deadly.
TODD: Tonight, U.S. officials tell CNN, they're preparing for a provocation from North Korea. A U.S. intelligence official says it's expected the regime will again test a nuclear bomb. The monitoring group 38 North released new satellite images of the Punggye-ri nuclear test site, which it says indicate a test could come soon.
ALBRIGHT: There's still vehicles at the test site, but there's reduced activity at the test site. And that could be an indication of overall clearing out in preparation for actually conducting a test.
TODD: The latest assessment from weapons experts is that the ambitious, unpredictable North Korean leader now has between 10 and 20 nuclear bombs and as many as eight types of missiles, which can deliver them. He likely can miniaturize his warheads to fit on medium range missiles that can hit South Korea, Japan or the U.S. territory of Guam.
[18:55:02] Analysts say they can probably fit a warhead on to a long- range missile capable of hitting the U.S. but they haven't flight tested those missiles to survive reentry.
The danger: even when a North Korean test fails, this regime succeeds.
ALEXANDRE MANSEUROV, JOHNS HOPKINS UNIVERSITY: Every time they conduct a nuclear test, they resolve technical puzzle or they overcome a technical problem, which they have before.
TODD: This comes as Kim closes his Workers Party Congress. Analysts say this event, following his bloody purges of top generals, crowns Kim's effort to shift power away from his military and toward himself.
KEN GAUSE, NORTH KOREA LEADERSHIP EXPERT, CNA: The military has been for all intents and purposes, neutered within the leadership. The key positions of power within the leadership turned over multiple times. So, I see it highly unlikely that the military can challenge Kim Jong- un at this point.
TODD: In fact, this Workers Party Congress is seen as a sort of coronation for Kim. But he elevates his own power and the generals lose theirs, experts are worried at a moment of crisis, there may not be a top general with enough power, enough influence to warn Kim against using a nuclear weapon -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Pretty alarming stuff. Brian, thanks very much.
I want to get to more on North Korea.
Our chief national security correspondent, Jim Sciutto, is with us here THE SITUATION ROOM.
Is the U.S., I know you're well-plugged in, bracing for potentially another nuclear test by the North Koreans?
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: No question.
I spoke with the senior U.S. military official today. They are still watching very closely the Workers Party event on Friday was a natural time for this to happen, based on past practice. North Korea often uses these public spectacles, party events, to show the prestige, whether it'd be a missile test or nuclear test.
But the fact it didn't happen then certainly doesn't take away any of the alarm. The trouble is, they can watch a lot from the satellites, but because these are underground tests, they can't know certainty when that test is about to happen?
BLITZER: Does China still have a lot of influence over North Korea? Because it seems if you speak to U.S. officials, they're really hoping that China can tamp things down.
SCIUTTO: They have a lot of influence, but it's influence that North Korea frankly has ignored, not only the frustration of U.S. officials, but to the frustration of Chinese officials, as well. And to be frank, there's a level of pressure that China is unwilling to place on North Korea. They will place economic sanctions, they will squeeze them, but not too hard, because their principal fear is not the nuclear program, it's the collapse of the North Korean state.
BLITZER: You see Kim Jong-un wearing a business suit, looking extremely confident.
SCIUTTO: He wore glasses.
BLITZER: Extremely confident, shall we say, about his power in North Korea.
Let's talk about Iran for a moment. It looks like they have launched another ballistic missile test right now. The U.S. thinks this is a violation of, what, of U.N. Security Council resolutions?
SCIUTTO: They do. To be clear, the U.S. will say repeatedly that this is not a violation of the nuclear agreement with Iran, because the nuclear agreement by design did not cover Iran's ballistic missile program. They say these tests -- they haven't established this test has -- in fact, the White House said today that they're still assessing. But the past tests, it's been a U.S. judgment that they violate previous U.N. Security Council resolutions.
The only lever for power for the U.S. there is that a U.N. Security Council resolution, but the most recent attempt in March following previous Iranian missile tests was vetoed by Russia.
BLITZER: So, if Iran violates U.N. Security Council resolutions but not the Iran nuclear deal that the United States and other permanent members of the U.N. Security Council put together, if they violate U.N. Security Council resolutions, given the protect they have from Russia, they're not going to be punished, penalized, no more sanctions, is that it?
SCIUTTO: There is precedent for getting unity in the U.N. Security Council in the past on previous resolutions, but most recently following these most recent missile tests following the nuclear agreement, you have not had that unity. And without Russian support, you can't get punishment there. There is certainly leverage that the U.S. can do and they have targeted sanctions in response to the missile test but not a unified U.N. response.
BLITZER: So, is Iran being very, very careful right now that could violate U.N. Security Council resolutions but they're adhering to the Iran nuclear agreement?
SCIUTTO: Exactly. And from their view and frankly this is the administration view as well, those missile tests fall outside the nuclear agreement, but there is a read that there is pressure in effect inside Iran to set off these tests as a show of strength following the nuclear agreement, which is not popular with the hardliners, Iran. So they say they made a deal with the West on the nuclear program, but we will still show our conventional military strength with these missile activities.
BLITZER: And U.S. officials, top ones you're talking to, they say Iran is adhering to the nuclear agreement. SCIUTTO: Adhering to the nuclear agreement, yes. But these missile
tests they are in violation. It's their view of the previous U.N. Security Council resolutions.
BLITZER: All right. Jim Sciutto reporting for us. Thank you very much.
And to our viewers, remember, you can always follow us on Twitter. Please tweet me. Love to read your tweets @wolfblitzer. You can always tweet the show @CNNSitroom.
Please be sure to join us right here tomorrow in THE SITUATION ROOM. Until then, thanks very much for watching. I'm Wolf Blitzer in Washington.
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