Return to Transcripts main page


Dan Quayle Talks V.P. Pick; Trump Returning to N.Y. Following Meeting with House Speaker, Senate Leaders; White House Press Secretary Talks Trump Meetings; Bernie Sanders Staying in Race; Trump Meetings First Step in GOP Unity; Is Trump Softening Stance on Muslim Ban; John Boehner Comes Out Strong for Trump. Aired 1:30-2p ET

Aired May 12, 2016 - 13:30   ET



[13:30:00] DAN QUAYLE, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: -- that has stature and really substance that would be a great vice president it would be Senator Rob Portman from Ohio. He would be an excellent choice. There's a couple other Senators and governors. We have a good governor in the state of Oklahoma and New Mexico. There is a big array of people that he can choose from.

JAMIE GANGEL, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: But Rob Portman would be your personal choice?

QUAYLE: Rob Portman, to me, he would be an excellent vice president and somebody that should be seriously considered. He has all the credentials, well respected. He has been in government. He was trade representative. He was director of OMB. He knows government. And he would be a good partner for Donald Trump.


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Jamie is joining us live now.

Jamie, will the former vice president go out there and fully support, endorse, work for Donald Trump?

GANGEL: In one word, yes. He has not met with Donald Trump. He has not spoken to him so there hasn't been any lobbying on Trump's part but Dan Quayle believes unlike Bush 43, he believes, he keeps saying that Trump is a winner and he believes the Republican Party has to rally around him.

BLITZER: 11 million people voted for Donald Trump so far. Given today's very important meetings on Capitol Hill, does Dan Quayle think Paul Ryan, the speaker, and Donald Trump will eventually work together?

GANGEL: He really does. Wolf, it's sort of interesting because we did this interview before the meeting. Now we have heard from after the meeting that it has been encouraging and positive, were the words we were hearing. But Dan Quayle absolutely believes that Paul Ryan will come around and will support Trump. And he says that one of the reasons you heard him talk about Ohio Senator Rob Portman as a perfect vice presidential pick is he is hoping Trump will pick someone like Portman because it will reassure Paul Ryan and other Republicans who are very nervous.

BLITZER: Good work, Jamie.

Thank you very much.

GANGEL: Thank you.

BLITZER: Take a look at these live pictures we are getting right now. Donald Trump has arrived at there you see his plane with the name "Trump." He is presumably boarding that aircraft heading to New York City. He has had a busy several hours here in Washington. We will monitor that. And hopefully get some comment from Donald Trump soon on how he thinks all of these meetings, including the speaker of the House, went today.

Coming up, Bernie Sanders talking as he keeps up the fight for every last delegate on the Democratic side. Why is his camp warning Democrats they would be courting, quote, "disaster" if Hillary Clinton were the nominee?


[13:37:21] BLITZER: Take a look at this, Donald Trump's aircraft on the tarmac over at Reagan National Airport here in Washington, D.C. He is getting ready to fly back presumably to New York City after several hours of very important meetings here in Washington, including with the speaker of the House, Paul Ryan.

Josh Earnest, White House press secretary, is discussing meetings. Let's listen in.

JOSH EARNEST, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I think the reason he may be encountering some difficulty is that he's the speaker of the House. He should already be using responsibility that he has to implement that agenda, and that is not at all what Republicans have done. That certainly is not what Leader McConnell has done and that is not what Speaker Ryan has done on the House side.

There are any number of important critical priorities that Republicans could be focused on in the House of Representatives right now and in the United States Senate that are important part of the job they have right now. Unfortunately, Republicans seem much more focused on the elections than they do on embracing the responsibility to deal with the result of the last elections that gave them the majority in the United States Congress.

Right now, we see Republicans much more focused on their relationship with the presumptive nominee than they are on things like passing a budget or passing funding for Zika Virus to avert a public health disaster or passing much-needed funding to relieve Puerto Rico that's having an impact on three million Americans who live there. But we haven't seen any action in either house of Congress on funding programs to fight opioid addiction. We see the House trying to take victory laps on legislation that doesn't actually provide any money. So if Republicans had much conviction about their agenda, they would

be trying to implement it now, as opposed to trying to convince other members of the Republican Party or the presumptive Republican nominee that what they propose is the right thing to do.

All of the things I just outlined are things that Republicans, at one point or another, have indicated is a priority to them, and all of those are things that I have said President Obama believes are a priority. We have been working hard to try to cajole Congress to act on the budget, Zika, Puerto Rico and opioids. But they haven't.

So I think that's why there might be skepticism both inside the Republican Party and outside the Republican Party that Republicans do have a governing agenda, because they had an opportunity to present it and implement it, and they haven't done it. In fact, on this score card, they haven't done anything.

[13:40:08] BLITZER: You get a sense of what the White House thinks is going on, on Capitol Hill, the Republican majorities in the House and the Senate. Strong words from Josh Earnest, White House press secretary.

Democratic presidential candidate, Bernie Sanders, is talking to voters at a community meeting in South Dakota right now. You are looking at live pictures. Earlier, Sanders stopped by Mt. Rushmore where he did some sightseeing. Their candidate is in the race all the way to the convention. And in July with an e-mail to supporters saying this. Let me read the quote. "Then we will have a contested convention where the Democratic party must decide if they want the candidate with the momentum who is best positioned to beat Trump or if they are willing to roll the dice and court disaster simply to protect status quo for the political and financial establishment of this country."

Strong words.

Our senior Washington correspondent, Jeff Zeleny, is with me now.

He believes he would do, based on recent polling, better as a Democrat against Donald Trump than Hillary Clinton. To suggest disaster, those are strong words, assuming he thinks if she gets the nomination that is what would happen.

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: They are strong and historical words. What Jeff Weaver, the campaign manager, was trying to do there is harkens back to a line many liberal Democrats remember, when Bill Clinton said election of Barack Obama would be a roll of the dice. It was a play on that. Jeff Weaver, who is the campaign manager for Bernie Sanders, backing a little bit from that. He said it would be a disaster if Donald Trump were to win. He said it would not be a disaster if Hillary Clinton were to be elected. That was implied in there.

What they are trying to do with this is fire up fundraisers. They need more money to keep going on. They want to have ads on the air in California and New Jersey. They are trying to make the case they're still alive, but mathematically speaking, as we talked about so much here, it is just virtually impossible for him to overtake her at this point. That does not mean he should not continue. Everyone has a right to vote for him if they want here. But those are strong words. At the end of the day, a lot of Democrats are ready for this to wind down.

BLITZER: Interesting that they are back tracking, suggesting the words are directed to a Trump presidency. Interesting.

Thanks very much for that, Jeff Zeleny.

Take a look at live pictures of Donald Trump's aircraft over at Reagan National Airport. He is getting ready to take off soon after a series of important meetings with Republican lawmakers, including the speaker of the House.

Coming up, how is Donald Trump softening the stance on banning Muslims from entering the United States? Is he softening his stance? We will have that and a lot more when we come back.


[13:47:00] BLITZER: Once again, Donald Trump getting ready to leave Washington, D.C. I believe he is heading back to New York City. You can see the plane on the tarmac here at Reagan National Airport outside of Washington. We will monitor what is going on.

And we're standing by to hear if Donald Trump offers additional comments on his important series of meetings with Republican leaders.

By all accounts, Trump's meetings with Republican leaders seem to have gone pretty well. It will take more than one meeting for the speaker of the House of Representatives, Paul Ryan, to formally embrace the presumptive Republican nominee.

Let's discuss all of this. I'm joined by CNN political commentator, Trump supporter, Kayleigh McEnany; and CNN political commentator and our senior contributor and the senior contributor for "The Daily Caller," Matt Lewis.

Thank you for joining us.

Matt, this is clearly an important first step. We didn't hear a formal endorsement from the speaker for Donald Trump. Were you surprised?

MATT LEWIS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I was not surprised that an endorsement didn't come but surprised by how much Paul Ryan wants this to work out. I thought Ryan aside from not endorsing him really is Bending over backwards to try to make this happen. He is sort of balancing a couple of things. On one hand, Ryan wants the Republican Party to defeat Hillary Clinton. Ryan, obviously, as the speaker, has a prominent role in the Republican Party. But he is also the head of a conservative movement that could go in exile during a Donald Trump regime. I think he has to worry about preserving his status, not letting Trump's populist version, rougher version of Republicanism tarnish Ryan's reform conservatism message.

BLITZER: Kayleigh, they did issue a joint statement after the 45- minute meeting, among other things, saying, "We had a great conversation this morning," this is Donald Trump and Paul Ryan. "While we were honest about our few differences we recognize that there are also many important areas of common ground."

Sounded like a diplomatic communique following a summit meeting going on. There are clear differences between these two men.

KAYLEIGH MCENANY, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Sure. It was definitely carefully worded. The message was unity. I am pleased to see Speaker Ryan try to join the rest of his party. McCain come out and say Republican leaders would be foolish -- he used the word "foolish," a very strong word -- not to listen to voters who send a clear message in every CNN exit poll that they feel betrayed by the Republican Party. John McCain understands the Republican Party does not exist if they don't have voters. To see Speaker Ryan come over to the Dick Cheney, to the John McCain, to the Mitch McConnell point of view -- he's not quite there but he is almost there -- it is a very encouraging step for future of the Republican Party and for this election.

[13:49:50] BLITZER: Matt, do you think he's softening, Donald Trump, his stance on banning Muslims temporarily from coming to the U.S.? Paul Ryan clearly disagrees with him on this. I'm going to play two clips, one, when he initially announced the ban on Muslims coming to the United States, and then what he said yesterday. Listen to this.


DONALD TRUMP, (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE & CEO, TRUMP ORGANIZATION: Donald J. Trump is calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States.

No. It was never meant to be -- I mean, that's why it was temporary. Should back off on it. I would like to back off as soon as possible because, frankly, I would like to see something happen.


BLITZER: Is he softening his stance there or is it just nuance if you will?

LEWIS: Softening and now saying it's just a suggestion. But the problem is that if Donald Trump can flip flop both ways and so he might be able to moderate and temper the rhetoric enough to get people like Paul Ryan to support him, there's no guarantee he'll stay there. He could go back to the harsh rhetoric. Again, this is why I think it's very -- it's a very dangerous spot for Paul Ryan because six months from now Donald Trump could be a losing presidential candidate, and you could have a Republican party with three consecutive losses, saying maybe we need to attract Hispanics, maybe we need to have a more compassionate message. And if Paul Ryan has allowed his reform version of conservatism to be co-opted by Donald Trump, he's not in a position to lead in that moment. BLITZER: Let me let Kayleigh weigh in.

What do you think? Is he softening the stance, Kayleigh?

MCENANY: I don't think. Punditry calls it a total ban on Muslims forever always because this faction of the party doesn't like the group of people. That was irresponsible to characterize it as such. That was never the motivation. Donald Trump was very clear from the beginning, this is a temporary ban. We have a problem when someone gets to this country on a legal visa and kills more than a dozen Americans, which is what happened in San Bernardino. We have a problem when the FBI director says we can't properly vet these people. Donald Trump's been clear from the beginning. This is temporary, and the motive is to protect Americans, that includes Muslim Americans, and Americans of all religions, colors, ethnicities. So he's been clear from the beginning. And some empty punditry have been simplifying this. I think this is not a change at all. This is what he's been saying from the get-go.

BLITZER: Stand by. We have much more to discuss.

And I just want to point out, in the next hour, Democrats up on Capitol Hill reacting to what we have heard so far. Stand by for that. They're getting ready for a news conference up there.

We're showing you another live picture from Reagan National Airport, Donald Trump's aircraft on the ground, getting ready to go back to New York after a series high-stakes meetings here in Washington. Much more with our political panel right after a quick break.


[13:55:50] BLITZER: He's still on the ground, Donald Trump. That's his airplane at Reagan National Airport. We'll continue to monitor the takeoff of that plane.

I want to bring back our panel right now, our political commentator, Trump supporter, Kayleigh McEnany; and CNN political commentator and the senior contributor for "The Daily Caller," Matt Lewis.

Matt, does it make any difference if Trump releases the tax returns or doesn't release his tax returns --


BLITZER: -- between now and November?

LEWIS: It makes zero difference to his supporters. You know? And but it is interesting because this is like the latest example of kind of Trumpian hypocrisy, how he was criticizing Mitt Romney not that long ago for not doing it, just get it behind him. This is like the latest of so many issues where Trump has given other people advice he is now not taking.

BLITZER: Yeah. Kayleigh, we just heard from John Boehner, the former speaker of the

House, saying he endorses Donald Trump for the presidency. He also says that anyone who thinks he can't win the presidency just watch. I'm paraphrasing him. Along those lines. Are you surprised Boehner has come out as strongly as he has for Donald Trump?

MCENANY: I'm not. He kind of indicated to us when he called Ted Cruz Lucifer and more comfortable seeing Donald Trump the nominee. I'm not surprised. And John Boehner, like Paul Ryan, will eventually get there. I know John Boehner is there. Paul Ryan will because they don't want to see Hillary Clinton in the White House, so I'm not surprised by him and not surprised to see Paul Ryan come around, either.

BLITZER: When Donald Trump, Matt, said he could put blue states in play in a presidential contest, whether Pennsylvania or -- Ohio's sort of a purple state shall we say -- but Michigan, Wisconsin. And he says even New York State -- he is from New York -- that could be in play. You think he's got a point?

LEWIS: I think he has a point and New York might be a bridge too far. Some is the running mate. Occasionally, running mates can deliver states.

BLITZER: Occasionally --


LEWIS: But John Kasich, in Ohio, we would imagine, or if he has someone like a Jim Webb, a Democrat, to sort of reach out to working class whites and the Rust Belt. I do think Donald Trump could win states like Michigan and Ohio, that Republicans really need to win, especially if you're going to lose --


BLITZER: Winning those states, it's over, right?

LEWIS: I'm not concerned about Donald trump. I am not concerned about him winning. I think -- in other words, I'm not predicting he'll win, but he has a good shot.

BLITZER: I'm sure, Kayleigh, you agree.

MCENANY: I do. We saw those polls come out and people shocked. In the Quinnipiac polls indicating he is doing extremely well in Ohio, Florida and California. They said if he were to win, he'd likely win the White House. And a lot of us weren't surprised because, like Matt's pointing out, he appeals in this crossover sort of way, and voters who never voted Republican and perhaps never voted at all, that I think we'll see come out.

BLITZER: Kayleigh, thanks very much for joining us.

Matt, thanks to you as well.

MCENANY: Thank you.

BLITZER: Once again, in the next hour, a response from Senate Democrats of what's going on in Washington, Donald Trump's series of meetings here.

I'll be back 5:00 p.m. eastern in "The Situation Room."

For our international viewers, "Amanpour" is next.

For the viewers in North America, NEWSROOM with Brooke Baldwin starts right now.