Return to Transcripts main page
THE SITUATION ROOM
Oregon and Kentucky Vote; Polls in Western Kentucky Closing Momentarily; Democratic Senators Call for Sanders to Exit Race. Aired 6-7p ET
Aired May 17, 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 ANCHOR: We're just minutes away from the first presidential primary results of the night.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: As two more states vote, there's new division among the Democrats and fears of a convention revolt.
NARRATOR (voice-over): A political horse race in the Bluegrass State.
HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Hello, Louisville!
NARRATOR: And a showdown in the Pacific Northwest.
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (VT-I), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It sounds like Salem, Oregon, is ready for the political revolution.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
NARRATOR: A front-runner pushing for the finish and a determined challenger intent on narrowing the gap.
SANDERS: We are in this campaign to win the Democratic nomination.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
NARRATOR: Will Kentucky and Oregon bring clarity or confusion? It's America's choice.
Tonight, in the Democratic race:
CLINTON: I will stand up and fight for you through this campaign.
NARRATOR: Hillary Clinton needing a win, fighting a two-front battle and an onslaught of new questions.
CLINTON: They're really going to throw everything, including the kitchen sink, this time.
NARRATOR: Bernie Sanders looking to add more states to his win column, hoping to build more momentum for a convention upset. SANDERS: We are going to fight for every last vote in Oregon,
NARRATOR: On the Republican side tonight, Donald Trump working to pull his party together, confronting questions about his positions and his past and turning up the heat for November.
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: She can't put the deal away. We can. We know how to close the deal.
NARRATOR: Now it's time for voters to have their say.
CLINTON: Please, join this campaign.
NARRATOR: Americans are choosing.
TRUMP: We're going to win, win, win, and you're going to love it.
NARRATOR: The candidates battle the doubters and each other.
CLINTON: I am looking forward to debating Donald Trump come the fall.
NARRATOR: The sprint to the finish line begins right now.
BLITZER: We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world to a special edition of THE SITUATION ROOM. I'm Wolf Blitzer in the CNN Election Center.
Tonight, the Democrats are battling in two states to be the candidate who goes up against Donald Trump in the general election. Polls are closing in the eastern half of Kentucky right now. We expect the first vote tallies very, very soon.
Less than an hour from now, voting ends in the western half of Kentucky. Once all the polling places are closed, we may be able to project the winner in that state. The front-runner, Hillary Clinton, is looking for a Kentucky victory. She's hoping to bounce back from her big loss in neighboring West Virginia a week ago. Bernie Sanders is aiming for a win in Oregon. He wants to bolster his claim that he still has a slim chance of actually winning the nomination.
A total of 116 pledged Democratic delegates are at stake in Kentucky and Oregon. We will get the first results out of Oregon just after 11:00 p.m. Eastern. The state also has a Republican primary tonight. The presumptive nominee, Donald Trump, is confident he will add to his delegate count with a win in Oregon. That will get him closer and closer to formally locking up the nomination.
Let's go right to CNN's Jeff Zeleny. He is covering the Democrats for us.
And there's truly, Jeff, an escalating dispute right now, pretty ugly within the party.
JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: There is indeed, Wolf.
This long Democratic primary fight relatively civil up until now, it's really exploding into something that we have not yet seen before on this side of the race, all coming out of the Nevada State Democratic Convention over the weekend. We have all seen those ugly pictures from there, people shouting, people throwing things.
Well, now that is really, really coming to a head here. And this is more of an exception than the rule. Most state parties across the country where they actually assign these delegates have been relatively peaceful, but this shows that the Sanders supporters are running out of -- certainly running out of patience as this race moves to an end here.
Harry Reid, the Democratic leader of the Senate, is furious at Bernie Sanders. And he's friends with him. He's one of his biggest allies in the Senate. He believes the Sanders campaign did not do enough to tamp all of this down. And he's calling on Senator Sanders to rebuke this violence even more than he has already.
So look for Senator Sanders to address that tonight. Wolf, he is going to be coming here to California. He believes that he still has a slim chance of winning. He's trying to win states up until then, but June 7 is when California votes, Bernie Sanders competing so aggressively here for that.
But, Wolf, the reality here is, what is causing all this anger is, Hillary Clinton is winning. She's not going to reach her magic number of 2,383 tonight, but her campaign believes she will get even closer to that and could reach it before California.
Now, they are downplaying the possibility of Oregon tonight, but they're holding out for the possibility of a win in Kentucky. Wolf, she's been campaigning there more than she has in several weeks, even as she turns her attention to Donald Trump here.
So the Clinton campaign not having any events tonight at all. They're trying to clearly pivot, move beyond this. But, Wolf, what happens in Kentucky tonight if she gets a win will certainly be a moral victory for her, as this race goes on for about one month longer before she can finally turn all of her attention to Donald Trump -- Wolf.
BLITZER: All right. We will see what happens tonight.
All right, Jeff, stand by.
I want to check in with Jim Acosta. He's covering developments in the Donald Trump campaign.
What's the latest on that front, Jim?
JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right. Well, Wolf, just a little while ago, the campaign manager for Donald
Trump, Corey Lewandowski, told us that Donald Trump will continue to drive the message of this campaign, and he's doing just that, dropping a couple of news bombshells in just the last hour.
After all of those questions about whether or not Donald Trump will release his tax returns, Trump did do something close to that. He did file his personal financial disclosure forms with the FEC, the Federal Election Commission, yesterday, the Trump campaign announcing that today.
We can put these numbers up on screen. According to these personal financial forms filed with the FEC, Trump is saying his latest reported income is $557 million. That's with an M. And a net worth of $10 billion, but we should point out at this point we have not been able to independently look at those documents because the FEC has not released them yet, Wolf, because they were just filed.
And the Trump campaign is referring us to the FEC. Now, as for that other big news bombshell, that is coming in the form of a Reuters interview that Donald Trump did with that news organization earlier today. During that interview, he said he would not make any cuts to Social Security.
That continues to put him at odds with House Speaker Paul Ryan. You will recall, last week, there was a lot talk about whether entitlements would be reformed under a Trump administration, Donald Trump saying about Social Security no cuts.
And then the final thing, and perhaps the most tantalizing news nugget in that interview with Reuters, Wolf, Donald Trump saying that he is willing to talk to this -- to the North Korea leader, Kim Jong-un. That's going to be a very big development in this campaign, Wolf.
I remember back in 2008 when then Senator Barack Obama said he was willing to sit down with the Iranian leader Ahmadinejad, that stirred up a lot of controversy out on the campaign trail. Donald Trump saying that he's willing to talk to Kim Jong-un should do the same on both sides of the aisle -- Wolf.
BLITZER: All right, Jim Acosta over there at Trump Tower, stand by. I want to get back to you as well.
I want to go over to Dana Bash and David Chalian, who are going to e with us throughout the night.
Donald Trump, he gives these interviews and he drops these sort of bombshells that he's willing to have a direct dialogue, if you will, with the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un, that's pretty amazing.
DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: It is pretty amazing, for a lot of reasons.
What's even more amazing is that we're talking about Donald Trump right now as the presumptive nominee, David, and the real political story tonight is the turmoil on the Democratic side. Who would have thunk?
DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: And, listen, where we are is a pretty precarious moment for Hillary Clinton.
As Jeff Zeleny just reported, she is on the path to get to the magic number. Right? She's likely to be the Democratic nominee, barring something none of us can see right now, and yet this contest goes on, not so much that it has to soak up so much of her attention. She clearly has been focusing on Donald Trump.
But as Bernie Sanders continues to have these nights of victories, and his supporters continue to feel more emboldened about this cause that they have been supporting, what we saw in Nevada is sort of the result of that, because this contest is still giving life to their movement, even though the path to the nomination is clearly cut off.
BASH: And they very well could see that kind of fuel going in to their movement because of the results tonight.
Even the Clinton campaign is saying they expect to lose Oregon. We will see. It's hard to track because there hasn't been reliable polling. And Kentucky is a place where Hillary Clinton has advertised, spent money, because she doesn't want that to go to the way of Indiana or Michigan and states where she thought she was going to win, and then ended up getting surprised at the end of the day.
CHALIAN: And without exit polls tonight, we won't really know how this all shakes out in terms of who showed up and why.
But I will tell you that some Clinton supporters are watching to see if something similar is going to happen on the ground that happened in West Virginia, which is that folks who say they're going to vote for Donald Trump in November are there because they are registered Democrats and they can vote in the Kentucky primary and end up casting their ballot for Bernie Sanders.
BASH: It's one of the vestiges of the solid Democratic South. Right? A lot of people who vote Republican are actually registered Democrats -- Wolf.
BLITZER: All right, David, thanks very much.
We have our first Key Race Alert of the night right now coming out of Kentucky. Eastern part of the state, the polls have closed. Right now, 1 percent of the vote is in. Hillary Clinton has a very slight lead. Only a few hundred votes have been counted so far, 49.5 percent for Hillary Clinton, 30 -- just changed -- 50 percent for Bernie Sanders, 37.8 percent for Bernie Sanders.
But you can see only maybe 1,000 votes have been counted so far. We will get a lot more vote tallies coming in over the next hour. All the polls in Kentucky close at the top of the hour. We're standing by for more of those early votes obviously out of
Kentucky. If Hillary Clinton pulls off a new win tonight, how soon might she be able to clinch the Democratic nomination? The delegate race ahead, as we continue this special edition of THE SITUATION ROOM.
BLITZER: Welcome back.
Let's get another Key Race Alert right now. The Democratic presidential primary in Kentucky still very, very early; 1 percent of the vote has now been counted. Hillary Clinton maintains a slight lead over Bernie Sanders, only 184 votes ahead of Bernie Sanders, but, percentage wise, 51.1 percent to 38 percent for Bernie Sanders.
Very, very early. Just changed again, Hillary Clinton with a slight lead over Bernie Sanders, but it's very early in this contest -- Anderson.
COOPER: Wolf, thanks very much.
Let's talk to our panel.
Gloria, just in terms of what you are looking for tonight and all that's gone on today, certainly in the Sanders campaign and elsewhere, what are you looking for?
GLORIA BORGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, again, as we were talking about earlier, if Sanders wins two more, it's not going to matter in terms of the math, because Hillary Clinton will still be the presumptive nominee heading into the convention with the superdelegate count, et cetera, et cetera
But then we will all be able to say, OK, she hasn't won a primary since April. And that's not a good narrative for her, particularly heading into the state of California. And so she's going to have to figure out a way to continue to address those Sanders people, try and bring them together, and pivot to Donald Trump, and that's not easy.
COOPER: Not an easy thing to do.
BORGER: No. It's not easy.
And this is where I believe at a certain point Bernie Sanders ought to help her out. And at a certain point, the president of the United States, who has so far been hamstrung, will help her out. It's just a question of when he will feel comfortable getting into this race.
COOPER: Carl, as you have said in the last hour, she would like to pivot to a general, she would like to probably tack right to try to get some of those independents, get some of those Republicans maybe who don't want to vote for Donald Trump, and yet she can't.
CARL BERNSTEIN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, right now, Trump is helping Bernie Sanders. And that is a dynamic that we really need to consider, because she is being weakened by the Trump attack.
And, meanwhile, Sanders wants to go into that convention, slim as a possibility as it is, and say, look, I can do better in the general election than Hillary Clinton. And his one shot, aside from if something were to happen with the server or something like that and some fallout, not an indictment, but his one shot is that she is so chipped at by this message, that she is damaged goods walking into that convention, and he can have some credibility in saying, look, I can run a better campaign against Donald Trump than you can. Superdelegates, pay attention to me.
COOPER: And, Maggie, the more she loses, the more damaged she appears before the convention.
MAGGIE HABERMAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I think that is one aspect of it.
I think the other aspect is that Sanders is putting forward an economic message, and it's a clear economic message. And it may not be one that a majority of the country would agree with, and maybe it would, but Clinton has been absent a clear economic message.
And that's been incredibly problematic for her, as she's trying to fend off the attacks from Trump, which really are about character at the end of the day. And this is always the race that gets run against her in some form.
If she was able to sort of articulate clearly a version of what Bill Clinton did '92, they want to talk about my past, I want to talk about your future, she might be able to move past this a bit. But, right now, she appears totally boxed in.
And at the same time, she spent my months saying, I can't wait to take on Donald Trump and fight him. And that's not being shown right now. She is able to say, it's because I'm still in this fight with Sanders, but the fight with Sanders isn't going to change any time soon. It's going to be deadlocked all the way.
BERNSTEIN: She wanted to run against Cruz. That's the reality.
BERNSTEIN: And now she's up against something she didn't want to look at.
HABERMAN: Well, I think actually that -- I think there were people in her orbit who did want to run against Trump. I think she personally may not want -- with all that entails.
But there were people around her who thought Trump would be great. This is the race you get. You wanted Trump, you now have Trump.
COOPER: What you look for. We're waiting for more votes out of Kentucky. The last polls close at the top of the hour. We will see if Hillary Clinton's early lead holds after this break.
BLITZER: Welcome back.
Let's get another Key Race Alert right now.
In Kentucky, the Democratic presidential primary, more votes are coming in. It's still early, though. Take a look at this, 1 percent of the vote right now, Hillary Clinton ahead by 590 votes over Bernie Sanders. She has 54 percent. He has 38 percent. You can see it's still very early in Kentucky. The polls have closed in the eastern part of the state. They remain open in the western part of the state.
All the polls will close by the top of the hour. That's when we might, might be able to make our first projection. We will see what happens.
Let's check in with John King right now over at the magic wall. He has got a closer look at the delegate count and how this night is shaping up -- John.
JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: And, Wolf, as we watch the first results come in, obviously, Oregon on the West Coast, we're going to have to wait a few hours.
But Kentucky results, as you noted, we're only at 1 percent of the vote. You gave the total, Secretary Clinton with an early lead. Hard to make much of that until we get more votes. Here's what she's looking for tonight, though. She wants to get a big turnout here in Fayette County, African-Americans in the Lexington, Kentucky, area. She's ahead by 60 percent at the moment, but just a tiny, minuscule number of votes counted.
She's also looking for a very big turnout and a margin here in Jefferson County, 17 percent of the population. That's where Louisville is. Again, the African-American population of the state is centered here. She has done well in Democratic primaries where she can get a significant African-American turnout.
Real quick piece of history here. Secretary Clinton wants to win in Kentucky tonight in part because if Sanders wins, he will point to this. Then Senator Clinton beat then Senator Obama by more than 30 points, 35 points there, in Kentucky back in 2008.
So, just like West Virginia last week, that was a big Clinton state in 2008. Sanders won. You're going to look here to see. If Senator Sanders can pull it off tonight, he will point to that history. But the margins matter, Wolf, because you mentioned the delegate chase. Let's switch maps and move over here and come to the Democratic race. Here's where we start the night. Secretary Clinton, you can do the math at home there, 298, just shy of a 300 lead among pledged delegates.
This is only pledged delegates up on to top. And so even if you pull out the state of Kentucky, assume Sanders wins, for the sake of argument. Clinton supporters think they can pull this state out. But even if Sanders were to get that upset and win 55/45, that's a big win in a state she won in 2008. But he would get a net gain of about five delegates there.
And that's the challenge, Wolf, because Bernie Sanders, even if he won there and even if he got a decent win out of the state of Oregon tonight, let's say he starts to chip in. Maybe it would be a little bit bigger than that, but that's 60/40. But even if that happens, he starts to cut into a little bit, but not enough. And that's the biggest challenge.
Senator Sanders from this point out, including tonight, 11 Democratic contests left. To catch Hillary Clinton among pledged delegates, he needs, Wolf, 67 percent of those delegates, the pledged delegates. So, if he doesn't win by 66, 67 percent in Kentucky tonight, that makes the math harder going forward.
So, can Sanders catch up? It's mathematically possible, but the challenge is not just winning, not just winning, but he has to win with a margin of 67, 70 percent or more.
Anderson, if he doesn't get there in states like that tonight, it just makes the hill steeper as we move into these other contests next week, then June 7. And it ends for the Democrats, of course, June 14, in the District of Columbia.
COOPER: It certainly does make things more complicated.
Mayor Nutter, in terms -- as a Clinton supporter, how much more complicated does it become for her the longer Sanders is in? And there's no -- he's going to stay in through the convention.
MICHAEL NUTTER (D), FORMER MAYOR OF PHILADELPHIA: Right.
And no one that I know of associated with the campaign, and starting with Secretary Hillary Clinton, no one has suggested that Senator Sanders go anywhere or do anything different, other than maybe lighten up the message a little bit. Other than that, he's going to continue to run.
She will win, he will win, they will split, all proportional and all that. Her lead will continue. And it will stay in the 280, 290, 300 range, and then the contest is over.
COOPER: To Carl's point, though, that it's sort of preventing her from perhaps pivoting to the right a little bit, to a general election...
NUTTER: You always want to pivot.
Eight years ago, we were in the same situation. By the way, then Senator Clinton won seven of the last 10 races.
NUTTER: We then went on in Denver to nominate Senator Barack Obama to be the next president of the United States of America.
So, I mean, this is all very, very interesting, and a lot of things kind of play out. She's going to finish strong. She's going to be, I believe, the nominee and will have the required 2,383 and beyond, pledged and superdelegates. And we're going to -- and she's going to get nominated in Philadelphia.
DONNA BRAZILE, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Since I'm neutral, and I can speak as a neutral superdelegate, let me just say this.
COOPER: As a neutral Democrat.
NUTTER: I'm a non-neutral Democrat.
First of all, I applaud Senator Sanders for sticking in the fight. I know a lot of Democrats are uneasy with that, but I don't get a chance to vote until June 14, so allow me to vote, allow Democrats across the country to have their say in this process.
So, that being said, she leads. She leads with more voters, more pledged delegates and more superdelegates. And the reason why I think some people are saying, well, she want to wrap it up, well, you know why? Because you want to reserve your cash. Cash is king. And we're running up against a billionaire. We just learned today he -- how much he is making?
BRAZILE: Anderson, a half-a-billion this year?
BRAZILE: I haven't seen that kind of money ever.
BRAZILE: So, that's why she wants this thing wrapped up.
COOPER: We got to take a quick break. We are going to have more with our panel on this. BRAZILE: Yes.
COOPER: As we wait for votes out of Kentucky, we're learning about new pressure on Bernie Sanders coming from some top Democrats who are angry after unrest by Sanders supporters in Nevada. We will have a report about that right after the break.
BLITZER: Let's get another key race alert. In Kentucky right now, the Democratic presidential primary, more votes are coming in but still very early.
[18:34:35] Hillary Clinton maintaining her slight lead, 852 votes ahead of Bernie Sanders. She's got 52.8 percent, 38.8 percent for Bernie Sanders. But you only see maybe 5,500 votes counted so far. A lot more counting to come up.
I want to go to CNN's Manu Raju right now. Manu, there's some ugly developments developing within the Democratic Party right now, resulting from what happened in Nevada. Update our viewers. There's new information coming in.
MANU RAJU, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's right, Wolf. Actually, what we've seen is Democratic senators, colleagues of Bernie Sanders, have really stayed away from Sanders, not really calling on him to quit, saying that, you know, it's up to him; he can make a decision on when he actually should exit this race.
But in light of the episode in Nevada, where we saw those protests really get pretty intense, launched largely by Bernie Sanders supporters, and a growing number of Democrats telling me that they believe that Bernie Sanders, come June 7, when voting ends, assuming that he's still trailing Hillary Clinton, should exit the race.
The latest becoming Dianne Feinstein. She's a senior Democratic senator from California. I asked her in the Capitol today. I said, "Do you think that Bernie Sanders should quit if he is trailing come June 7?"
She said, "I do," and she also added that "I think it would be most regretful if there becomes a schism. That's what Donald Trump should want: a schism in our party. It's the responsibility particularly of Senator Sanders to see that that doesn't happen."
Other rank-and-file senators, Democrats, also tell me the same thing. Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island believes that it's time for the party to come together, for Bernie Sanders to consider a way out.
But all eyes will be on Harry Reid, the Senate minority leader, someone who does have a very close personal relationship with Bernie Sanders. I asked him if he thinks Bernie Sanders should quit. He said, "Not at this point. That's going to be Bernie Sanders's decision." But Reid was very, very angry at Bernie Sanders, the way that Sanders has dealt with the fallout after Nevada. Sanders, of course, blaming party leaders for shutting out his supporters. Reid called that a very silly statement. He thinks Bernie should do better. Whether he changes his tone on how long Bernie should stay in is something that a lot of Democrats in Washington are watching, Wolf.
BLITZER: They certainly are, Manu. Thanks very much.
I want to go over to Dana and David. You know, this fight that developed over the last few days in Nevada and the death threats to the Nevada state Democratic Party chair, all that coming in. It's pretty awful.
BASH: It is awful. And you know, we've heard Democrats kind of, in some ways, not making fun of, but sitting back and sort of doing this, looking at the Republicans over the past however many months, because they had such an intense primary fight. And now we have this going on with the Democrats.
I was just looking at Manu's story from today about this, which was excellent, online about Barbara Boxer, who was there in Nevada as a representative for Hillary Clinton and getting cursed at, shouted at, obscene gestures, vile insults. This is at a convention of her own party.
CHALIAN: Right. I mean, I think that this speaks to sort of this moment in politics that we're in right now. It's sort of like watching Twitter play out in real time with real people. That's kind of what this Nevada convention sort of looked like. The nastiness that we see online, the invective that is tossed around just came to the forefront with actual human beings.
BLITZER: There's some video that we have, David, of what happened. It's pretty ugly.
CHALIAN: It is pretty ugly. And listen, I do think that Bernie Sanders is going to have to continue. I know he's issued a couple of statements. He's denounced the violence. Those are all good things. But I think he's going to have to continue to work at this in very similar fashion to the way that Hillary Clinton had to work at getting her supporters to support Barack Obama.
BLITZER: Let's just listen for a second to this video -- this audio.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There she is.
SEN. BARBARA BOXER (D), CALIFORNIA: If you boo me, you're booing (UNINTELLIGIBLE).
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHALIAN: I think Barbara Boxer was saying, "If you're booing me, you're booing Bernie Sanders, too. We stand for similar things" is what she was trying to get.
BASH: Exactly. And that is Barbara Boxer, the senator from California, the story that we were just talking about. That was that moment.
But I think that you hit on something. The fact that Harry Reid, the Senate Democratic leader, who you know, is close to Bernie Sanders -- may not have endorsed but is close to Bernie Sanders -- is so upset and went out and said to the press, said to CNN that the statement that Sanders released isn't good enough, he needs to do better. Again, really tells you about the intensity, about just the divide and the anger and how this is playing out, but also of the uncertainty by people who are more establishment of how to deal with this kind of stuff.
CHALIAN: Yes. And you heard Manu mention, too, Wolf, earlier about Dianne Feinstein. Do you remember that meeting that Dianne Feinstein hosted in 2008 between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton? She tried to play broker there in her home at the very end of that nomination season. It kind of feels like we're in that kind of moment, where once we get through these contests, somebody is going to have to bring Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders together to -- to figure -- the principals here are going to have to figure out a path forward if the party is to be united come Philadelphia.
BASH: That's right. And Bernie Sanders has a lot of leverage, which clearly he doesn't want to give up when it comes to his key messages -- Wolf.
BLITZER: All right. Stand by. We have another key race alert I want to get to. Two percent of the vote now in Kentucky is in. Hillary Clinton maintains a lead. She's at 48.8 percent; Bernie Sanders, 43.5 percent. About 10,500 votes have been counted. She's up by 619 votes right now, but still, once again, very, very early -- Anderson.
COOPER: Wolf, thanks very much.
Let's turn back to our panel. Maggie, I mean, how big a problem is this going into the convention for -- for the Democratic Party, this sort of schism between Sanders supporters and Clinton supporters?
HABERMAN: It's not ideal, and you certainly saw in Nevada a version of it, you know, heightened tensions and exacerbated over fairly low stakes. Right? We're not talking about a huge number of delegates.
I think that it is going to be a problem -- it has been a problem, I think, just in general as a -- as a talking point for the Clinton campaign that Trump's nomination wrapped up before hers did, that this is -- mathematically, yes, it's going to be very hard for Sanders to get -- impossible for Sanders to get there with the remaining pledged delegates. But that doesn't matter, that these images still go on.
I think that you are going to have -- you have two -- if Clinton is the nominee and Trump is the presumptive nominee, you have two nominee -- major party nominees with very, very high negatives. Trump's are historically high. Clinton's are not as high, but they are high. And so it is basically going to be running a version of a race featuring two pretty unpopular politicians, and it's all about galvanizing your base.
And so when people are not energized, when you know, I'm not certain how extensive Democratic voting registration efforts are. This was a big conversation last year. They don't seem to have mobilized to the degree they had hoped at this point. All of those things do add up.
That having been said, the flip side is, if you are Trump, you know, on the one hand he has an enormous ability to manipulate the media and manipulate the narrative. But he also believes that -- you know, has operated by the idea that all press is good press from a long time. That's not true in politics. All press is not good press in politics.
BORGER: Hillary Clinton has not had a "never Hillary" movement. I mean, that -- that is something that maybe the Bernie Sanders people believe in, but she hasn't had that at this point.
And I think that, at a certain point -- and I remember how tough it was in 2008 between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, and then they had that moment at the convention where she called for Obama to be nominated unanimously. They started the roll call. Of course, it was all choreographed. And of course, he helped pay off her campaign debt and all the rest. But there was that moment where everybody was watching that, and suddenly everything seemed to melt.
Now I don't know whether that's possible to happen this time. A lot depends on Bernie Sanders. A lot depends on Hillary and the president of the United States. And it also depends on the person they are running against. And they may not have a good mobilization effort yet, but Donald Trump may be their best mobilization.
KAYLEIGH MCENANY, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: She's right that -- Gloria's right that there's never been a public "never Hillary" movement, but there has been something bustling under the surface. We saw in the West Virginia exit polls last week that 44 percent of Bernie Sanders supporters said that they would vote for Donald Trump.
HABERMAN: That's in West Virginia. That's a different state.
MCENANY: In every poll there has been a significant number who have said that they would not necessarily get behind Clinton. And I think that Nevada is emblematic of something happening in both parties.
BRAZILE: That's small compared to what Donald Trump has been up against.
MCENANY: There's insider...
COOPER: Let her finish.
MCENANY: There's insider versus outsider going on here. And if you step back, none of us have asked why were Bernie Sanders supporters acting that way? It's reprehensible the way they were acting, but why were they acting that way? Nevada has a three-tier caucus system. The second tier, Bernie
Sanders won. Well, the rules were changed at the caucus to essentially nullify the second tier of the caucuses. Also, there were 54 Bernie Sanders delegates that were decertified, just enough to give Hillary Clinton those final delegates. A lot of Bernie Sanders supporters, like Donald Trump supporters, felt disenfranchised.
COOPER: Mayor Nutter.
NUTTER: Well, first and foremost, we have 69 days before the convention starts in Philadelphia, so a lot of things will happen. There will be contests; there will be conversations, some public overtures and many private conversations.
Certainly, the president of the United States of America, who is eager to be in this election, will help to bring all of the various parties together. That's always happened over the last few years. And eight years ago, I was in a different position as a Hillary Clinton supporter. Ultimately, everybody was on board for then-Senator Barack Obama.
But again, I'll go back and say Senator Sanders has to deal with what just happened. That's not what democracy looks like. That is not going to be tolerated in Philadelphia. You can be energetic, but you should not engage in virtual anarchy. There is a difference.
And so he has been forceful out on the campaign trail, talking about many of the issues. He has incredibly important and soaring rhetoric. We need some of that same fervor about tamping down this kind of behavior.
[18:45:03] It is unacceptable. I call on him, he has to say it, and then help people get themselves together.
BERNSTEIN: Of course, this has to be done, but let's not elevate this to the level of Abbie Hoffman and yippies in Chicago in '68. Really, we're not anywhere near that level of division, of incitement. This is pretty low-level stuff. It needs to be addressed by the candidate, you're absolutely right and I would imagine he will.
NIA MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. I mean, it will be interesting to see what Sanders does.
NUTTER: Whatever happened back in '68, was it on TV in five seconds?
BORGER: Actually it was.
BERNSTEIN: In '68, it was.
NUTTER: On television, we have the social media. I mean, I know it was on TV, I saw it, but you didn't have the level of communication ability in 1968 that you have in 2016 to really get people energized and excited.
BERNSTEIN: It's in Bernie Sanders' interests to shut this down too and he ought to very quickly. COOPER: I just want to point out, it looks like we're having a
tightening race right now in Kentucky. Hillary Clinton took an early lead in Kentucky, but just about 3 percent of the vote in, not a lot of the votes in, but Hillary Clinton ahead by only 459 votes, 47.9 percent to 45.5 percent, a tightening race. The last polls close in the states coming up. The last polls close just at the top of the hour.
So, we're going to have a lot more ahead in Kentucky. Will we be able to project a winner at the top of the hour? Stay with us to find out.
[18:51:23] BLITZER: Welcome back.
Let's get a key race alert. Take a look at this right now. Bernie Sanders has now pulled ahead of Hillary Clinton with only five percent of the vote, slightly ahead, 46.9 percent, 45.8 percent for Hillary Clinton. Bernie Sanders up now by 362 votes out of about 30,000 votes that have been counted so far. Relatively still early, but this is the first time Bernie Sanders has now pulled ahead of Hillary Clinton.
We're closing in on the top of the hour right now. That's when the last polling places will close in Kentucky. We may be able to project a winner in the Democratic presidential primary. The front runner, Hillary Clinton is looking for a win in Kentucky to add to the all important delegate count that would take her closer to clinching the nomination. Bernie Sanders won in West Virginia a week ago that might give him momentum in the state next door.
Fifty-five Democratic delegates are up for grabs in Kentucky. The Democrats will split proportionally heading into night. Hillary Clinton just 140 delegates short of the number she needs to lock up the nomination. That's counting pledged and superdelegates. Sanders trails her by more than 700 total delegates right now.
The Republicans all but certain nominee Donald Trump won the Kentucky GOP primary, by the way, back in March.
Let's go to CNN's Jeff Zeleny. He's covering the Democratic race for us right now.
What's the latest over there, Jeff?
ZELENY: Wolf, if there is anything keeping Hillary Clinton's spirits up during this last month of the race, it's a bit history. I'm told by two top advisors that she remembers well in 2008 how Barack Obama was losing in the final stretch of ten contests. We sort of forget this now, but he only won three out of the last ten contests. Of course, she won six out of the last ten contests and they tied one, but that was not enough to put her over the top.
She believes a similar series of things are unfolding now and that she will not win as many as Bernie Sanders going away but she will still of course hold on her delegate lead. That's a reason her campaign is down playing these primary nights. They are not holding an event tonight. She's not doing anything at all about this but watching the results.
But, Wolf, she believes that mathematically speaking tonight she'll be within 100 delegates needed to reach that 2,383, that magic number of reaching that party's nomination here and I'm also told she's not as worried about party unity as some of these other Democrats. The Clinton campaign is watching reports of what happened in Nevada over the weekend but someone who talked to her today told me, Wolf, she believes Bernie Sanders will come around just like she did and she remembers all too well in 2008, the first ballot at the Democratic convention in Denver, it went for her.
Her delegates were able to voice their support and then she, of course, put Barack Obama's name in nomination. So, she believes Bernie Sanders will come around here. They are not worried about that but they need to get through the next three or four weeks of contest before she finally moves on to Donald Trump -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Yes, California, June 7th, and final contest a week later, June 14th, the District of Columbia.
ZELENY: That's right.
BLITZER: Let's get to Jim Acosta right now. She's covering the Trump campaign. He's outside of Trump Tower in New York. What's the latest on that front?
ACOSTA: Well, Wolf, today, Donald Trump got a taste of what the general election campaign is going to be like with those Priorities USA super PAC ads aimed at the real estate tycoon, of course, those ads put out by a pro-Hillary Clinton super PAC.
And I was told by a top Trump adviser earlier today that they know these attacks are coming, that they weren't caught off guard by them in any way.
[18:55:06] As this one advisor put it to me earlier today, Wolf, we know where these attacks are going to be coming from and know what Donald Trump's weaknesses are. But in the words of this advisor saying to the Clinton campaign, they're going to have to be careful about this, rejecting the notion that these attacks are going to be effective and saying quite frankly, Wolf, people out there, voters know what Donald Trump's relationships with women have been like, that this is not a major, you know, urgent news bulletin coming out of the Clinton campaign or out of these ads.
When I talked to this advisor, he was stressing that people have to look at what Donald Trump has done throughout the course of his business career. Look at the people he's hired. Another notion that was backed up by Trump's personal attorney Michael Cohen who was out here in front of Trump Tower earlier this evening saying throughout Donald Trump's entire history of being a business tycoon in the city, nobody has really attacked Donald Trump on who he's hired at his company, Wolf.
BLITZER: All right. Jim Acosta over at Trump Tower -- thanks very much. Take a quick look at the count right now. Six percent of the vote is
in. Bernie Sanders has a lead. He's at 47.3 percent. Hillary Clinton 45.5 percent. He's up by 681 votes. Very, very close right now. Six percent of the vote is in.
Let's walk over to Dana and David right now.
Very close contest, Dana, right now in Kentucky. Six percent of the vote is in. We're beginning get some real numbers.
BASH: We are. At least at the very beginning, as you said, it's not looking great for Hillary Clinton. Even as looks like it is possible, under score possible, it is early, she could lose both of the contests tonight, she is waging a two-front war. She's still and her super PAC are aggressively going after Donald Trump who is kind of, you know, out there as the last man standing on the Republican side.
CHALIAN: And take a look at the timing of that. Obviously, the super PAC and the campaign aren't allowed to talk, but the super PAC launches the first attacks against Donald Trump to define him and the Clinton campaign is going hard after Donald Trump's taxes. It seems as if the Clinton campaign may want us to not focus on election returns tonight or those supporting her and they would rather us focus on this battle they are trying to wage and get ahead of to define Donald Trump early.
But here is the problem, Dana. Unlike -- some of what they are doing is looking at the playbook of how the Obama campaign successfully defined Mitt Romney in 2012 but the problem for the Clinton folks here is that Donald Trump had a very successful year branding himself.
BASH: That's right.
CHALIAN: And it is very hard now for the Clinton folks to get in and try to redefine somebody who's already been defined in the American imagination.
BASH: No question about that. But as much as he's defined himself, he also has been up against people on the Republican side who have tried to define him. Not a Democrat trying to kind of point out what they believe are his weaknesses when it comes to the general electorate, which is quite different.
BLITZER: Yes, a lot of pressure on Trump to continue doing what has worked so far for him rather than sort of pivot, if you will.
Let's go over to John King. He's taking a closer look at Kentucky right now. What are you seeing, John?
KING: Wolf, you see the map as we pull out so far, 26-20 so far, Clinton with 26 wins, Sanders with 20, 11 contests left, including this evening, Kentucky and Oregon.
Let's look, up to 7 percent of the count. So, we're just getting started, because of a very close so far. Senator Sanders, though, as you noted a few minutes ago has opened up a very small modest lead in the state of Kentucky. What are we going to look for here?
Number one, we're going to look here in the Louisville area, Jefferson County, the largest county in the state, and the most important in a Democratic primary in this state, African-American and other core Democrats here in the Louisville, at the moment. Secretary Clinton with the lead, Wolf, but 320 to 264, just a very modest number of votes counted there as we wait for the rest of the polls to close.
Then, you come in to the central part of the state here into Lexington, Fayette County, nearly 7 percent of the state population again, African-American base of the Democratic Party of Kentucky here, Secretary Clinton with a 10-point lead at the moment. She'll need a cushion like that if she's going to withstand Sanders in state tonight, but it's very early.
One interesting to look at is, remember, 2008, Obama won those two counties I just mentioned, then-Senator Obama won the two count counties with significant African-American vote and Secretary Clinton ran it up in the wider rural counties across the state of Kentucky. Watch tonight as the map fills in. If she can win both in the Louisville area and Lexington area and hold her own as you see in the very early results, essentially trade the rural parts of the states with Senator Clintons, that will keep her competitive.
In the end, though, Wolf, as you know, the margin here would be embarrassing for Secretary Clinton to lose the states she won in 2008, but she wants to keep the margin close. Senator Sanders needs big wins to close the pledge delegate gap. So, Hillary Clinton wants the victory. If she can't get that, Wolf, she wants to keep it close.
BLITZER: The polls closed in the eastern part of Kentucky and the last hour the top of the last hour, they are about to close in the rest of the state right now. Will we be able to make a projection? Or if not, let's take a closer look right now.
We got a pretty close contest shaping up in Kentucky among the Democrats. Let's get a key race alert.