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Trump Strikes Back at NYT 'Hit Piece'; Clinton Hints at Her Husband's Role if She Wins; U.S. Allies Prepare to Face North Korean Missiles. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired May 16, 2016 - 17:00   ET


JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: Wolf Blitzer, who is right next door in a place I like to call THE SITUATION ROOM. Thanks for watching.

[17:00:03] WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now, fighting back. Donald Trump has been dishing it out for the entire presidential campaign, but for the past week, he's been taking it. Put on the defensive by allegations about his behavior, especially around women, now he's hitting back, unleashing a barrage of tweets and even calling the CNN control room.

No way. In a CNN exclusive, his first interview since dropping out of the race, the former GOP candidate John Kasich says he's not interested in a third-party run.

Economic Bill. Hillary Clinton says if she's elected president, she'll put her husband in charge of revitalizing the economy, which soared during his administration. Could he do anything to bring back those days of record employment?

And un-welcome. The U.S. issues a new warning to Americans: Don't go to North Korea and if you do go, don't disrespect Kim Jong-un. That comes as America and its allies gear up to defend against North Korea's missile threat.

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

Donald Trump is not used to playing defense. After sitting through a week of attacks and continuing scrutiny of his record, the presumptive Republican nominee is hitting back. He's slamming "The New York Times" for what he calls a hit piece on his relationships with women. After interviewing dozens of women, "The Times" says Trump has a pattern of crossing the line in his behavior.

An ex-girlfriend says "The Times" got her story wrong, and Trump accuses "The Times" of fraud. But even the National Republican Committee chairman says Trump is going to have to answer for his behavior around women. And the latest flap follows right on the heels of reports and a recording indicating Trump had posed in the past as his own publicist.

Meantime, with a U.S. student facing hard labor for removing a propaganda banner in Pyongyang, the U.S. government is now warning all Americans to stay away from North Korea. And those who ignore that warning are being told to make sure they don't insult Kim Jong-un or his father or his grandfather.

All that comes as the U.S. and its allies get ready for drills to defend against North Korea's growing missile threat. I'll speak with Republican Senator John Barrasso. And our correspondents, analysts and guests, they will have full coverage of all the day's top stories.

We begin with our senior White House correspondent, Jim Acosta.

Jim, Donald Trump has been on the defensive for the past few days, but now he is lashing back.

JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Wolf. Donald Trump is swimming against a tide of negative stories with the attacks on subjects ranging from his relationships with women to whether he pretended to be his own P.R. agent.

But Trump, in a style all his own, is hitting back with some help.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He was very genuine. He was very gentlemanly.

ACOSTA (voice-over): She was a key subject in what looked like a blockbuster "New York Times" article depicting Donald Trump as a playboy who objectifies women. But Roandra Elaine (ph) tells CNN her views on Trump were misrepresented.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't like anything about the story. I'm very upset with "The New York Times" article, because it was completely misleading. They misled me.

ACOSTA: That was more than enough for Trump, who routinely slams the media at his rallies.

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The world's most dishonest people. You see that? That's the press.

ACOSTA: To blast away at "The New York Times," tweeting, "The coming forward today of the woman central to the failing 'New York Times' hit piece on me, we have exposed the article as a fraud."

Trump, who's been laying low since his trip to Washington last week, is now being subjected to the kind of scrutiny that comes with being a party nominee. Take a "Washington Post" story claiming Trump once pretended to be his own P.R. agent, featuring bizarre 25-year-old audio recordings.

"JOHN MILLER" (via phone): Well, I'm sort of handling PR, because he gets so much of it.

ACOSTA: Top Trump aide Paul Manafort has his doubts.

PAUL MANAFORT, TRUMP CONVENTION MANAGER: I could barely understand it. I couldn't tell who it is. And Donald Trump says it's not him, I believe it's not him. ACOSTA: Trump is also taking hits from British Prime Minister David

Cameron, who slammed the real estate tycoon's proposal for a temporary ban on Muslims into the U.S. as stupid.

TRUMP: Looks like we're not going to have a very good relationship. Who knows? I hope to have a good relationship with him, but it sounds like he's not willing to address the problem either.

ACOSTA: President Obama was piling on over the weekend, giving a commencement address at Rutgers.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It's not cool to not know what you're talking about. That's not keeping it real or telling it like it is. That's just not knowing what you're talking about.

ACOSTA: Much of which is why there's still an effort inside the GOP to find somebody to run as a third-party candidate. CNN has confirmed Mitt Romney has asked Nebraska Senator and "never Trump" leader Ben Sasse to consider it. Even outspoken billionaire Mark Cuban is hearing calls.

REINCE PRIEBUS, CHAIRMAN, RNC: It's a suicide mission, because you're not only changing and throwing out eight years of the White House, but you're also throwing out potentially generations in the Supreme Court.

[17:05:05] ACOSTA: All distractions for Trump, still weighing who he'll choose as his running mate, with some help from "Saturday Night Live."

BOBBY MOYNIHAN, CAST MEMBER, NBC'S "SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE": Maybe, just maybe, the person you've been looking for this whole time is standing in this room right now.

DARRELL HAMMOND, ANNOUNCER, NBC'S "SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE": You are so right. Ben Carson, you want to be vice president?


ACOSTA: Now, over the weekend, Ben Carson was quoted as naming Chris Christie, as well as Sara Palin, Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz and John Kasich as being on Trump's short list. Carson backed away from those comments on CNN today. And top Trump campaign officials tell me Carson was not speaking on behalf of the campaign. Wolf, the Trump campaign says Donald Trump speaks for Donald Trump -- Wolf.

BLITZER: He certainly does. All right, Jim Acosta. Thanks very much.

Let's bring in CNN's Sara Murray. She's been watching this campaign, what's going on with Donald Trump. Sara, what have you heard from women who have worked with him over these past several months?

SARA MURRAY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, what's been interesting, because you get a sense from many of these women that there is kind of a nuanced relationship when it comes to working with Donald Trump. You know, a lot of them feel like he gave them opportunities that

opened doors in their career that were really remarkable, especially when you're looking at women who were working in construction decades ago. That was essentially unheard of.

But in exchange for those big opportunities, there was a little bit of sort of looking the other way when Donald Trump would make off-color comments, and they were fully aware that he likes to work around young, attractive women. A number of them said that to me.

So it is a little bit of a push and pull when it comes to being, you know, a woman working in Donald Trump's universe.

BLITZER: Is the campaign trying to improve Trump's image with women right now?

MURRAY: Well, it's interesting because he just did an interview with "The New York Times," where he was talking about going to go on the attack against Hillary Clinton, and he said it's not enough just to be nasty against her, but that he does plan to be something of an attack dog. And part of what comes along with that, if you are going on the attack and you're launching grenades against your opponent, that can drive up your own numbers.

And for Trump, particularly among women, he already has a very high unfavorability rating. And what we haven't seen from the campaign is the utter side of that, a coordinated effort to reach out to women or to try to improve his numbers when it comes to female voters. And I think that's one of the things they're going to have to grapple with over the next couple of months if they want to be competitive in November, Wolf.

BLITZER: Yes, I suspect you're right. All right, Sara, thanks very much. Sara Murray reporting for us.

I want to bring in Republican Senator John Barrasso of Wyoming, who is here with us.

You supported -- you now support Donald Trump, right?


BLITZER: Strongly? Moderately? On the fence? How would you describe your support for him?

BARRASSO: Eleven months ago, I said I was going to support -- support the Republican nominee. We have a nominee, presumptive nominee. He's defeated 16 other people who are trying for that. The turnout has been absolutely remarkable. And I will tell you that we cannot afford as a country to have the next four years like the last eight years. I support Donald Trump.

BLITZER: So you're enthusiastic?

BARRASSO: I'm a supporter of Donald Trump in terms of getting the economy growing again. And that's what we need. I mean, he has the hat, "Make America great again." I want to make America grow again. He's the right person to do it.

BLITZER: All right. Let's talk a little about this recent CNN poll. The issue Donald Trump and women that's been in the news over the past few days: 74 percent, Republicans, Democrats, independents, 74 percent of all women right now have an unfavorable view of Donald Trump.

You've heard the criticisms leveled since the weekend story in "The New York Times" which came out. Do comments like this, comments that we've seen in "The New York Times" and elsewhere hurt his chances, undermine his ability to be elected in a general election?

BARRASSO: Well, the election is not for another six months. There's going to be a lot of things happening between now and then.

You know, you talk about polling. Right now, two out of three Americans believe that the country under Barack Obama is heading in the wrong direction, and we need to change direction. That's why you've seen such enthusiasm in the Republican primary process, with so many people turning out.

BLITZER: What does he need to do to get more support among women nationally? It's not just a Republican primary right now. He's got to worry about a general election.

BARRASSO: As you know, I met with him on Thursday. A number of senators did. Some of the women senators who are in that group talked about the fact that women are looking for security -- job security, economic security, national security -- and they don't feel that they get that from Hillary Clinton.

You know, you saw the last week in the voting in West Virginia, 40 percent of the people, they say in one of the polls who have voted for Bernie Sanders will vote for Donald Trump instead of Hillary Clinton. We cannot, as a nation, afford to continue in this path for the next four years.

BLITZER: So did this issue of him supposedly being sexist come up in that meeting with him last week with Republican -- you're one of the Republican leaders -- come up last week?

BARRASSO: The whole issue of tone in a campaign, tone and discussing issues absolutely came up. We talked about a dozen different issues. The jobs, the economy, the debt, world affairs, what's happening around the world and the United States' role in continuing to be the nation that is the strongest and most respected nation.

BLITZER: Because one of your Republican colleagues, West Virginia senator, Shelley Moore Capito, she said -- she hasn't endorsed Donald Trump yet. She says she doesn't believe his tone right now is productive. She -- I'll give you a direct quote from her: "The other thing is the tone that he has had. I'm going to express that I don't think that's a productive tone for the rest of the campaign, and I think it would affect the intensity in which people campaigned for him.

BARRASSO: Well, as I said, that the issue of tone did come up. That's why you have the election. It's not for another six months. There's going to be a lot of debate, a lot of discussion; and it's going to be about the issues. I think it's much more about the future. That's what voters are worried about: their future life, what they see for themselves and their families.

BLITZER: Do you really think he's going to change his tone? It's worked so far. He defeated 16 Republicans -- governors, senators, some pretty prominent people who spent hundreds of millions of dollars trying to beat him. It brought him this far. Why do you think he should he change his tone now?

BARRASSO: We said that tone matters in the campaign. We're going to see what happens in the next six months. This is going to be about jobs, the economy, what direction our country needs to take.

What we've seen under Barack Obama and a growth in the economy of 1 to 2 percent, this tepid growth, that cannot be the new normal for our country. We need to grow the economy. And to hear that Hillary Clinton says, well, she's going to turn the economy over to her husband, to Bill Clinton, a president just giving the economy to somebody else, well, then he ought to be on the ballot instead of her.

BLITZER: The economy was pretty strong during his eight years as president of the United States. Unemployment was low; productivity was pretty high. That's why when he left office, his job approval number was 59 percent or so. Not because of the personal problems he had; because it was the economy, that he did relatively well.

BARRASSO: Then why is she running for president?

BLITZER: He can't run again.

BARRASSO: Well, so there you have it. Best that the Democrats can do is somebody who's saying, "Well, I want to turn it over to my husband, because the Constitution will not allow him to run again."

We have, in Donald Trump, somebody who knows how to grow businesses, who knows how to grow the economy, who will get America working again and get beyond this 1 to 2 percent tepid economic growth that we've had under Barack Obama where the country believes, two out of three people, we're headed in the wrong direction.

BLITZER: Based on the interaction that you had last week personally with Donald Trump, was he receptive to the recommendations from Shelley Moore Capito, from you, from others that you've got to get a different tone if you're going to be elected president of the United States?

BARRASSO: Everyone who came out of that meeting said, "You know, it was so encouraging. He listened." We felt like he listened to us and the issues that we talked about.

The meeting went for over an hour. He never interrupted anyone during the part of. It was responsive. It was very positive, very productive. I raised the issue of health care, as a doctor who's been so involved

in this. He understands what's happened with this healthcare law, where one out of four Americans say they personally have been hurt by the president's healthcare law. The story in "The New York Times" yesterday, Sunday, the headline, "Sorry, we don't take Obamacare." The premiums are going up massively this year. Companies are dropping out. People can't sign up. That's the big problem with this country and the direction that Barack Obama has taken.

BLITZER: Yes. He says he will do away with Obamacare if he's elected president.

But in the past few days since that meeting last week -- what was it, last Wednesday -- have you seen any evidence that there's been a shift in tone? He still calls, you know, Hillary Clinton names, Elizabeth Warren "Goofy Elizabeth Warren." He's still -- he's still doing the same thing that got him where he is right now.

BARRASSO: Well, he's had a lot of success with the way he's done that. We've raised issues that we think are important. Obviously, the Republican Party is a conservative party. We need to get everyone working together for our nominee against Hillary Clinton. There was the talk of a third-party candidate that you just raised and the effort, I think that is a fool errand. I think it just hands the election to Hillary Clinton. I'm behind Donald Trump.

BLITZER: Stand by. We have more to discuss, including his relationship with the British prime minister. You're on the Foreign Relations Committee. There's a lot to discuss there. He's in a war of words with the British prime minister, the mayor, the new mayor of London, as well. We'll also talk about his refusal, at least so far, to release his tax returns. Much more with Senator Barrasso right after this.


[17:18:28] BLITZER: We're back with the Republican senator, John Barrasso of Wyoming. He's a member of the Foreign Relations Committee. He was also part of a key group of Republican leaders who met last week with Donald Trump here in Washington.

He's running so much on his business record. Don't you think the American public has a right to see his tax returns?

BARRASSO: Well, I'm someone who's always in favor of transparency. The candidate is going to have to make that decision for himself.

BLITZER: Because he says he can't do it until the audit. There's been an audit of his tax returns. Until the IRS completes that audit. But he could release taxes from earlier years that have already been cleared and audited.

BARRASSO: No, I think it would be a good idea, but he gets to decide that.

BLITZER: So that doesn't bother you that much? BARRASSO: I'd rather have them released. I'm somebody who's in favor

of transparency and openness.

BLITZER: Because when George Stephanopoulos the other day asked him, you know, "What's your tax rate," you know, he said, "That's none of your business." And that's gotten a lot of pick-up, as you can imagine. Is it the American public's business, what his tax rate is?

BARRASSO: Well, the American public, every voter gets to cast that vote. It's a secret -- it's a secret ballot, and you can use whatever you want to use to help inform your judgment on making that vote.

But what we see are many, many people turning out to vote this year, some of whom have never voted before. So we have a year like no other in terms of energized, electric. And for whatever reason -- and I've been wrong for 11 months in terms of the way this was going to turn out...


BARRASSO: ... we have people turning out to vote.

BLITZER: You're not the only one. A lot of people have been wrong for 11 months.

Let's talk about this latest exchange he's had with the British prime minister, David Cameron. Cameron called Trump's Muslim ban, the temporary ban of Muslims coming to the United States, stupid. There's been an exchange back and forth.

[17:20:06] If he's elected president, are you worried that relations between the U.S. and, arguably, its closest ally in the United Kingdom -- maybe Canada is a little closer -- that that could be damaged?

BARRASSO: No, I'm not worried about that. We've talked about foreign relations in our meeting, issues related to NATO, issues related to -- well, issues all around the world. And I know that he's a realist about what role the United States needs to play with our allies as well as with our enemies.

BLITZER: Because the argument is he's alienated a lot of world leaders already with the temporary ban on Muslims coming to the United States. You never supported that temporary ban, did you?

BARRASSO: No, but I will tell you that Barack Obama has alienated many of our friends around the world. He has been just absolutely abysmal in terms of foreign policy. And Jimmy Carter said that he couldn't think of any place in the world that the United States had a better relationship now than we did when Obama took office.

So I think the president has been terrible, his reset with Russia, his red line with Syria. This deal with Iran is absolutely awful or much worse shape now with Israel, with Saudi Arabia. The president has had a terrible record on foreign policy. I think Donald Trump will be much better. BLITZER: Are you concerned about the very nice words he said about

Putin; the Russian president Putin has said nice words about him. Does that at all bother you?

BARRASSO: No, but I think that Putin is very opportunistic. He takes opportunities when he can. He pays a little price for that, and I think he has shown Barack Obama to be very weak. We've seen this with Ukraine. We've seen it with Crimea. We've seen it with Putin going into Syria. We've seen it with what he's doing with Iran. I think if Putin continues to take his opportunities and he has played Barack Obama and the United States in a way detrimental to the United states.

BLITZER: You've seen all of these stories out there. Mitt Romney, among others, saying there should be a third-party candidate, because they really can't stomach Donald Trump right now. Reince Priebus, the chairman of the Republican National Committee, he said that would be a suicide mission. Where do you stand on that?

BARRASSO: I agree with Reince Priebus. I think it would be a terrible mistake for anyone to try to mount a third-party candidacy. We saw it with Ross Perot. I think he is what got us Bill Clinton instead of George Herbert Walker Bush in that re-election. You saw that with Teddy Roosevelt. He ran as the Bull Moose Party and divided the electorate that way, which is what got you Woodrow Wilson. So I think it would be a terrible mistake.

BLITZER: Your No. 1 goal is to make sure Hillary Clinton is not elected president?

BARRASSO: I think we cannot -- this country cannot afford to be the next four years to be like the last eight years under Barack Obama, and Hillary Clinton is a third Obama term.

BLITZER: Senator John Barrasso of Wyoming, thanks for coming in.

BARRASSO: Thanks for having me, Wolf.

BLITZER: Coming up, the Ohio governor, John Kasich, answers conservatives who want him to start a third-party bid to stop Donald Trump.

Also, a pointed new warning to travelers as the U.S. and its allies prepare to defend against possible missile attacks from North Korea.


[17:27:16] BLITZER: Donald Trump right now back on the attack, lashing out at "The New York Times" for reports saying he has long crossed the line in his dealings with women.

Let's bring in our CNN political reporter, Sara Murray; our CNN senior political reporter, Nia-Malika Henderson; our CNN political commentator, Hilary Rosen -- she's a Democratic strategist; and CNN political commentator Ana Navarro. Guys, thanks very much for joining us.

Nia, the overall picture painted in "The New York Times" is one that's been painted before.


BLITZER: I don't think there was a whole lot new, except some specific quotes from women. Some women critical but some women saying he really did a good job of promoting women in his company. What's going to be the impact of this?

HENDERSON: You know, I think it's sort of to be determined at this point. We see Donald Trump, obviously, coming out and trying to discredit the reporter, discredit the article. And some women who have read the article and were quoted in the article also saying they feel like the reporters misinterpreted what they said. The reporters are standing by what they said.

I think the main problem with his argument -- with this article is that, as you said, this is nothing new. And so far it has been a problem for Donald Trump. I mean, we see his approval ratings among women. Something like 70 percent disapprove of him. You look at the head-to-head match-ups, the hypothetical match-ups between he and Hillary Clinton, she's winning, like, 60 percent of women. He's, like, 35 percent of women.

So he, I think, has got to figure something out, how to turn around this narrative that has been out there so long and is already being a drag on his candidacy.

BLITZER: How does he do that, Ana?

ANA NAVARRO, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, you know, look, I think he's -- I think that a lot of the people, Wolf, are frankly numb to all these type of allegations and all this type of information coming out about Donald Trump. We've been hearing about it for months and months. We've seen him on the campaign trail where he hasn't exactly treated a lot of women with silk gloves for months and months, and it seems not to have had much of an effect with his base.

I think, you know, women who dislike him are not going to dislike him any less. Women who like him are not going to like him any less. But there is that wedge of women in the middle, those folks that, you know, might be figuring out where to go who are wondering what to do now.

And you know, I -- when I read that article, I almost wondered. If he didn't have a clue that it was coming down, and isn't that why about two weeks ago, ten days ago, he brought out the Bill Clinton allegations to kind of neutralize this issue?

I just don't think there is anybody in America who thinks Donald Trump is Mr. Rogers. And I don't think there is anybody in America who thinks the Clintons are Ward and June Cleaver. Both of these candidates have had checkered paths and have long histories. Some good things, some bad things.

BLITZER: Hilary, I want you to weigh in. Go ahead. [17:30:02] HILARY ROSEN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think there was

something in that article for everyone. If you want to be for Donald Trump, you're going to find a couple of women who worked for him, who said he was supportive of women.

And if it just creeps you out that this, you know, older guy was essentially hunting these festival -- these, you know, pageant contestants, then -- then you're going to be creeped out.

I do think that the swath of independent women that Hillary Clinton needs to convince will not like this about Donald Trump, but we have to really get to the economic issues. I really think that that's going to end up being the soft spot. "Is he on my side?" is what women are going to start to say. And that means, you know, did he -- was he a cheater in the bankruptcies? Did people get out of work? What happened with Trump University? I feel like those sorts of, you know, kitchen-table issues are going to end up mattering more to independent women.

MURRAY: And I think that that is what is interesting, though, is we haven't seen the Trump campaign crack this counter-narrative yet and say, "Look, I promoted all of these women in the Trump organization. I gave women opportunities that didn't really exist." He's said it occasionally on the campaign trail, but if you want to fight back what is going to be an onslaught -- let's being honest, this is going to be an onslaught from Hillary Clinton and her allies with Trump on this women's issue. And you need to have some way to hit back at that. And we haven't seen the Trump campaign do that in any really real or sustained way.

HENDERSON: Yes. And we've -- I mean, we've covered the Mitt Romney campaign, right? And we remember him trying to sort of do better among women, hit Obama specifically.

ROSEN: The notebooks full of women.

HENDERSON: Yes. The binders full of women. He went on sort of a tour, highlighting the way that the Obama administration had hurt women in terms of the economy and jobs.

So I think you're right. He's got to figure out a way how to craft a message. But we also know that that's not sort of Donald Trump's way. Right? He's always sort of freelancing and speaking off the cuff.

NAVARRO: I will -- I will tell you that...

BLITZER: That is true. Reince Priebus -- hold on one second, because as Reince Priebus himself in that committee that reviewed why they lost in 2012, the Republican candidate has got to do better with women, with young people, with minorities. That was an initiative they took. And Trump is going to have to do a lot better with them if he's going to win some of those states.

Ana, you were going to -- making a point.

NAVARRO: You know, I just -- I just think Donald Trump is so, so media savvy. I think any time we are discussing these issues, and he is discussing these issues, these kind of tabloid, sensationalistic issues, he's winning. He knows how to counter-attack, how to counterpunch when it comes to these issues. He is much more comfortable dealing with this than he is dealing with policy issues, serious policy issues, be it national security, foreign policy, domestic policy. I think this is his comfort zone.

And I think we did see a preemptive strike from Donald Trump on this woman issue a couple of weeks ago when he brought up, when he initiated the enabler charge against Hillary Clinton and brought up the charges against Bill Clinton from 25 years ago. This guy is very savvy. Let us not underestimate him.

BLITZER: And he keeps making the point that he only did that after Hillary Clinton referred to him as sexist. He says he's a counterpuncher. You do that to him, he's going to hit you harder.

All right. Everyone stand by. A lot more to discuss. We'll take a good -- a good little break right now. When we come back, we'll also take a look at the Democratic side. There's a big contest, two big contests tomorrow for the Democrats.


[17:37:56] BLITZER: In the Democratic presidential race, Hillary Clinton and Senator Bernie Sanders, they are looking ahead to voters of Oregon and Kentucky tomorrow. But Hillary Clinton is looking further ahead, ridiculing Donald Trump and hinting about her husband's eventual role if she wins the White House.

Our senior political correspondent, Brianna Keilar, is in Lexington, Kentucky. She filed this report.


BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Hillary Clinton is barnstorming through the Bluegrass, courting Kentucky voters before they go to the polls tomorrow, mocking Donald Trump for not being specific about his policy proposals.

HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: So let's suppose here's the question, "So what is your plan to create jobs?"

His answer is, "I'm going to create them. They're going to be great. I know how to do it."

Maybe in the preliminaries, like the Republican primary, that's all they wanted to hear. But Americans take their vote for president seriously. And they are going to be looking at that TV screen and saying, "He still doesn't have anything to tell us? Wait a minute."

KEILAR: Clinton is also promising to bring back the prosperity of the '90s with a little help from her husband.

CLINTON: My husband, who I'm going to put in charge of revitalizing the economy, because you know, he knows how to do it. KEILAR: But that pledge has many questioning how involved Bill

Clinton would be in his wife's administration. Clinton dismissed the suggestion he might have a cabinet-level role. A spokesman saying, "It would be getting ahead of ourselves to talk about any sort of formalized role for anyone in her administration."

As Clinton takes on Trump, she's still fending off Bernie Sanders, who took the campaign trail to Puerto Rico.


KEILAR: Many of the final states are friendly territory for Sanders, and despite a nearly insurmountable delegate lead, Clinton is trying to avoid a string of losses at the end of her primary battle. As the Clinton campaign tries not to alienate Sanders supporters, emotions between the two sides are raw.

[17:40:10] Sanders backers got upset during the state convention in Nevada as more delegates were awarded -- unfairly, they felt -- to Clinton.

Donald Trump is reveling in the chaos, tweeting, "Bernie Sanders is being treated very badly by the Dems. This system is rigged against him. He should run as an independent. Run, Bernie, run."

On CNN, Senator Jeff Merkley, a Sanders supporter, batted down that idea.

SEN. JEFF MERKLEY (D), OREGON: Listen, he said, "There's no way I'm going to be Ralph Nader. We're not going to split the party. We're not going to empower the Republicans." He understands the damage that Bush did to this nation, and he's not going to allow Trump to follow on and do even more damage.


BLITZER: Brianna Keilar's report from Lexington, Kentucky.

Let's bring back our political experts. Very quickly, Hilary, this notion that Bill Clinton is going to be in charge of revitalizing the economy. Do you think that was a smart thing for her to say?

ROSEN: No, but I think it was sort of an off-handed thing for her to say. Look, you know, really, actually, Bill Clinton did create, you know, 23 million jobs in this country. He did give us eight years of real prosperity that George Bush ended up ruining. But -- and so he does know some things about the economy.

But I think later she said, "Look, he's not going to be in the cabinet," but he will be a helpful person. Hillary Clinton is smart enough to know that she should get input from lots of people.

I mean, Donald Trump acts like he needs no advisers. Hillary Clinton is not going to do that. Advisers are a good thing. And the other thing that I think she was right about today with Trump

was she said, "Look, when people are running for president in the general, it's Hillary versus Trump." You know what? A lot of these theatrics are going to be exciting, but people are actually going to take it a little more seriously. They are going to look at both of these people fresh. And we think they -- you know, that they're the most -- two well-known people in this country but actually, voters are going to give them a fresh look.


ROSEN: Substance matters.

BLITZER: Ana, I remember in 1992 when Bill Clinton was running for president and Hillary Clinton, obviously, was a highly trained lawyer down in Little Rock, Arkansas. The argument was you get two for the price of one. I suspect they're going to make the same argument this time around: you vote for Hillary Clinton, you get two for the price of one. Is that going to work?

NAVARRO: You know, I was thinking exactly that as I was hearing the story, and it struck me that, No. 1, 25 years have gone by since then. And No. 2, there's obviously a gender difference and gender role difference going on here.

I think a lot of people back then were troubled by this idea of two for the price of one, and when she actually had a policy portfolio as first lady, health care, a lot of people didn't like it. There was a fair amount of backlash to it.

I think Bill Clinton has the advantage of having -- 25 years have gone by. And I do think that there might be a double-standard that benefits him. I don't think folks are expecting him to be picking out china or, you know, the flowers for a state dinner.

I think that it's a good thing for Hillary Clinton to try to keep the man busy. He's at his best when he's busy. Bad things happen when -- when Bill Clinton goes idle.

BLITZER: He is impressive, though, on the campaign trail.

NAVARRO: Keep him busy and keep him supervised.

HENDERSON: He has been, I think, historically more impressive when he is campaigning for people not named Hillary Clinton. Of course, you saw Obama in 2012 really roll him out as part of a convention, and then campaign in different states. And Hillary Clinton has done the same thing. He's been in Pennsylvania when that state was contested. He was there something like 18 times. She was only there 13 times.

In Kentucky, remember, this was a state where she's campaigning now. We'll see what happens tomorrow. He won that state twice in the general election. So his name carries a lot of weight.

And I also just think Democrats really like Bill Clinton. They remember those 22 million jobs. His approval rating, not just broadly but certainly among Democrats, is pretty high.

MURRAY: But I also think let's not ignore the other more awkward side of this, which is that there are some voters who are not going to be totally comfortable with the idea of the first female president. There are some voters who are going to hear that and say, "OK, well, Bill Clinton will be with her in the White House, and he did a pretty good job as president, and I'm comfortable with him. And so that makes me more comfortable with her."

And maybe it's an awkward thing to acknowledge, but it's true. There are some people, that might make me feel more comfortable.

HENDERSON: Yes, I think that's right. And I hear that from voters all the time, who they like Hillary Clinton's experience. They voted for her. But they also say, "Listen," they feel like Bill Clinton will be there, talking to her about the kind of -- advising her in sort of an informal way.

BLITZER: And you hear from a lot of Republicans -- you heard it from Senator Barrasso a little bit -- it's not necessarily that they love Donald Trump that much, but they really don't want Hillary Clinton to be the next president of the United States, because they argue that would be four more years of the Obama administration.

ROSEN: Well, I think Hillary Clinton has been pretty clear about where she agrees with President Obama and where the Obama policies need to keep going and be improved upon.

[17:45:11] And look, the president is going to be the first person to say we have turned the economy around and now we have to make it work for more people. And I think you will hear that message from her loud and clear. I think people will hear it.

MURRAY: And I think a great example of that has been on foreign policy where Hillary Clinton has made it very clear where she'll put President Obama. She's been a little bit more proactive than what she was pushing for when she was secretary of state and in many ways has positioned herself to the right of Donald Trump on a lot of these different issue which sort of sets for an interesting general election conflict when it comes to foreign policy.

BLITZER: Is it smart, Ana, for Hillary Clinton to sort of mock Donald Trump right now knowing his penchant to counterattack?

NAVARRO: You know, she's got to get press attention and I think that we're going -- you know, get used to it, folks, I think we're going to be seeing a lot of impersonations between now and November. You know, Donald Trump, God knows he loves to impersonate folks and I think Hillary Clinton is trying to catch up to him on the authenticity and impromptu and almost comic relief and entertainment value that he brings to this race and that she sorely lacks.

ROSEN: Loosening up is a good thing for a candidate.

BLITZER: Yes . ROSEN: Particularly now when people are taking her so seriously

against him being such an entertainer, to show that she really has a funny side is a good thing.

BLITZER: We'll see how she does tomorrow against Bernie Sanders in Kentucky and Oregon as well.


BLITZER: All right, stand by.

NAVARRO: The impression wasn't all that good, though, Hilary. Work on that.

BLITZER: It was an attempt.

NAVARRO: It needs a little work.

BLITZER: Guys, stand by. There's other important news we're following here in THE SITUATION ROOM including an urgent warning for all U.S. citizens to avoid traveling to North Korea amid new preparations to defend against possible missile attacks from Kim Jong- un's military.


[17:51:17] BLITZER: The United States and its allies are gearing up right now to defend against a possible North Korean missile attack as the U.S. is warning its citizens to stay away from the hard line nation.

Brian Todd has been looking into all of this for us. What are you learning, Brian?

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, tonight a very pointed warning to Americans from their government regarding North Korea. The State Department has been very frustrated over the fact that so many Americans have been traveling to North Korea taking tours and then getting into trouble. So tonight a blunt, detailed warning from the State Department telling Americans they should avoid going to North Korea.

Now this comes as America and its allies are taking new steps to prepare for Kim Jong-un's new aggressive behavior.


TODD (voice-over): America and its allies gearing up tonight to defend against Kim Jong-un's aggressive missile threat. U.S. and South Korean officials tell CNN American Aegis warships will join South Korea and Japan to conduct anti-missile drills off the coast of Hawaii next month. South Korea's Defense Ministry says the warships designed to shoot down longer-range missiles won't actually be targeting a missile that's fired.

According to South Korean media reports, they'll be tracking a plane, standing in for a missile. Sharing intelligence on its direction and trajectory. Perfecting their capability if Kim attacks.

THOMAS KARAKO, CENTER FOR STRATEGIC AND INTEGRATED STUDIES: If one of them detects a missile launch it can pass it off to the other country if it's headed their way.

TODD: Analysts say this is a clear response to Kim's aggressive nuclear and missile tests. He detonated a nuclear bomb in January. Test launch a long-range rocket a few weeks later and then last month he fired a ballistic missile from a submarine and blasted a medium range missile off a mobile launcher, a test that has experts worried.

RICHARD FISHER, INTERNATIONAL ASSESSMENT AND STRATEGY CENTER: With this Chinese made truck, this missile has mobility. North Korea can take it to multiple locations and launch practically undetected.

TODD: A key question tonight if Kim launches multiple missiles simultaneously, could the U.S. and its allies shoot them down?

KARAKO: With one or two or three, we have greater confidence. But with a greater number, a greater saturation, it becomes obviously more difficult.

TODD: And that's just the threat from longer range missiles. The most immediate threat to South Korea and the 28,500 American troops there is Kim Jong-un's artillery and short missiles which wouldn't be detected in advance.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There is a no warning scenario that keeps everybody awake at night. There's very little you can do about it other than to maintain a really strong intelligence picture.

TODD: As the military standoff simmers with North Korea, diplomatic tensions escalate. The State Department issues a pointed warning to Americans -- don't travel to North Korea.


TODD: Now the State Department has been so frustrated with Americans going to North Korea and getting arrested. But thus warning comes with details, it comes with a list of things that can get Americans arrested in Pyongyang. Showing disrespect to Kim Jong-un or his father or grandfather. Any religious activities. Taking pictures that you shouldn't. Shopping at stores where you shouldn't shop. And in a clear reference to detained American Otto Warmbier's case the State Department says you'll be arrested for removing or tampering with political signs.

Wolf, as you know, he just got sentenced to 15 years hard labor.


TODD: Doing just that.

BLITZER: I know. Regarding the anti-missile drills next month, Brian, what's really extraordinary is that South Korea and Japan, they are teaming up along with U.S. naval forces, right? TODD: That's right, Wolf. South Korea and Japan essentially have

hated each other since well before World War II when Japan annexed Korea. The fact that they are now teaming up militarily for these drills, that's an indication of just how seriously they take this man and the threat from his missiles.

BLITZER: It's truly extraordinary when you think about it. All right, Brian. Thank you for that good report.

[17:55:04] Coming up, for the entire campaign, Donald Trump has been dishing it out but for the past week he's been taking it. What other defense about allegations about his behavior especially around women. Now he is hitting back.


BLITZER: Happening now. Damage control. Donald Trump pushing back hard against a "New York Times" article alleging his behavior toward women has crossed the line for decades. And now we're learning details of his plan to go after Hillary Clinton. Is anything off limits?

Suicide mission. As the deeply divided GOP struggles to unite behind Donald Trump, some top Republicans are now scrambling to find a third party alternative. But the GOP chairman warns that would ruin the party and the country for decades. Trump himself is now floating the idea. Who does he want to see as an independent candidate?

Al Qaeda on the run.