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STATE OF THE UNION

Interview With Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders; Interview With Former Governor Bill Weld; Interview With New York Congressman Peter King; EgyptAir Investigation; Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump Not Qualified To Be President; Donald Trump And Hillary Clinton Debate Guns In Schools. Aired 9-10a ET

Aired May 22, 2016 - 09:00   ET

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


[09:00:04]

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Bitter battle.

HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I will be the nominee for my party. That is already done.

TAPPER: Hillary Clinton says Bernie Sanders needs to face facts, as the Democratic primary gets ugly.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (VT-I), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I say to the leadership of the Democratic Party, open the doors. Let the people in.

TAPPER: Is Sanders willing to burn down the party to get what he wants? Senator Bernie Sanders will be here in minutes.

Plus: Donald Trump tries to calm conservatives.

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I will not let you down. Remember that. I will not let you down.

TAPPER: But there's a new anti-Trump ticket. Can it work? We will ask one of the candidates.

And inside job? New images of what remains of EgyptAir Flight 804. But what brought down the plane? The latest intel from American officials.

Plus, the best political minds will be here with insights from the campaign trail.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

TAPPER: Hello. I'm Jake Tapper in Washington, where the state of our union is on edge.

The simmering tension between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders seems to be boiling over, with Clinton signaling it's time for Sanders to go and Sanders vowing to stay in through the convention. "Saturday Night Live" spoofed the rivalry last night.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE")

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: Everybody's got to go. That means you, too, sir.

LARRY DAVID, ACTOR: No freaking way.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

DAVID: I'm not going anywhere. I can stay here as long as I want.

(LAUGHTER)

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: Senator Sanders, I'm sorry, but the night is over.

DAVID: No, no, it's not over. It's not over until I say it's over.

(LAUGHTER)

KATE MCKINNON, ACTRESS: Oh, hello, Bernie. I didn't see you sitting behind me, so far behind me, you can never catch up.

(LAUGHTER)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: Clinton is, of course, anxious to turn her full attention to Donald Trump. And a new poll out this morning shows them neck and neck. The new numbers are a statistical dead heat, with Trump at 46 percent, Clinton at 44 percent. That's an 11-point surge for Donald Trump since March.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TAPPER: And joining us now from Las Cruces, New Mexico, is Senator Bernie Sanders.

Senator, thanks so much for joining us. Appreciate it.

SANDERS: My pleasure.

TAPPER: So, let's start with the obvious question. There are a lot of Democratic officials and officeholders concerned that the tone and tenor of this Democratic race have gotten so negative, that it could cost Hillary Clinton, who is likely going to be the nominee, the general election by convincing independents and progressives who support you that she is corrupt, and that the only reason you're not going to get the nomination is because the fix is in.

What do you tell those people when they call you and express this concern?

SANDERS: Well, that's nothing that I have -- Jake, that's not nothing that I have ever said. You know, the last I heard is that we are a democratic country, and

that elections are about vigorous debates over the issues. Secretary Clinton and I disagree. I think we should -- on many issues. I think we should raise the minimum wage to 15 bucks an hour. I think we should join the rest of the industrialized world and have a Medicare- for-all health care program.

I think we have got to have a tax on carbon if we're going to effectively deal with the crisis of climate change. She and I disagreed on the war in Iraq.

TAPPER: Right.

SANDERS: Those are legitimate issues to debate.

What we are trying to do is bring more people into the political process, including many, many independents, young people and working- class people. And I think we have been doing that just fine.

TAPPER: Well...

SANDERS: And what the Democratic leadership has got to understand is that not all of my supporters go to these fancy fund-raising dinners. They're working people who are hurting now, who want real change in the economy.

And I hope the Democratic leadership understands they have to open up the process, bring those people in.

TAPPER: Take a look at what you said about pledged vs. superdelegates when you were campaigning in Santa Fe, New Mexico, on Friday.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SANDERS: Now, we have received up to now 46 percent of the pledged delegates. We have received all of 7 percent of the superdelegates.

(BOOING)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: Now, you were making a point about the superdelegates, but what you left out of that data is that, while it's true, you have roughly 46 percent of the pledged delegates, Secretary Clinton has roughly 54 percent of them.

And what you have achieved is remarkable, and there's no one that disputes that. Yet, at this hour it seems unlikely that you will actually achieve the majority of the pledged delegates.

SANDERS: Well, Jake, two points.

TAPPER: Can you see how that might leave the impression -- can you see how that might leave the impression that...

SANDERS: No, I assume that most of the people who come to my rallies can do arithmetic. If I have 46 percent, she has 54 percent.

[09:05:08]

The point that I was making is, there's something absurd, when I get 46 percent of the delegates that come from real contests, real elections, and 7 percent of the superdelegates. And the point that I made a few minutes after that is that some 400 of Hillary Clinton's superdelegates came on board her campaign before anybody else announced.

TAPPER: Absolutely true.

SANDERS: It was an anointment. Yes, OK.

And that is bad for the process. It would seem to me that superdelegates want to see how the process unfolds. Who is the stronger candidate? As you well know -- and disagree with me now, if you want -- but virtually every poll taken in the last two months has me doing better against Trump than Hillary Clinton.

TAPPER: Well, OK.

One thing about that poll, a lot of experts I have talked to, political experts, including people who like you a lot, say that, first of all, you can't base an argument about what should happen in November based on polls in May.

But, beyond that, it's just empirically -- you have not withstood the kind of decades-long beating that Hillary Clinton has, not to mention the year-long difficult coverage that Donald Trump has. Do you dispute that? You really think that the kind of coverage has been as piercing and critical of you as it has been on the other two?

SANDERS: Hey, check out some of the TV ads that were run against me in 2006 when I ran for the United States Senate, very ugly, very vicious, and a lot of crap has been out there, dishonest stuff about me.

I believe the reason -- and I say this with all due respect to Secretary Clinton -- I'm not saying she cannot beat Donald Trump. I think she can. I think there's a good chance she can. I am the stronger candidate because we appeal to independents, people who are not in love with either the Democratic or the Republican Party, often for very good reasons.

TAPPER: Right.

SANDERS: And the issues that we are talking about, income and wealth inequality, the influence of Wall Street, the fact that we're the only major country not to guarantee health care to all or paid family and medical leave, those are resonating among people who support me in a way that Secretary Clinton is not getting...

(CROSSTALK)

TAPPER: Senator, so you're out on the trail every day talking about your goal, which remains to secure a majority of the pledged delegates.

Should we assume that that means you believe the candidate who has the majority of pledged delegates by the end of this process should be the nominee?

SANDERS: This is what I believe.

I believe if we -- and, look, I am good at arithmetic, and I understand that it is a very, very uphill fight to go from 46 percent, where we are today, to 50 percent in the nine remaining contests. I got that.

But the other point -- and we're going to try. California obviously is the big race that remains. We think we have a chance to do very well in California, and in New Jersey, et cetera.

But what I also believe, it's incumbent upon some of these superdelegates, people who came on board Clinton's campaign before anyone else was in the race, to take an objective look at which candidate is stronger. And it's not just polls, Jake.

Democrats and progressives win when there is a large voter turnout. Republicans win when people are demoralized and don't come out to vote. Any objective assessment of our campaign vs. Clinton's campaign, I think, will conclude we have the energy, we have the excitement, we have the young people, we have the working people, we can drive a large voter turnout, so that we not only win the White House, but we retain, regain control of the Senate, do well in the House and in governor's chairs up and down the line.

TAPPER: But, with all due respect, sir, she has more votes than you and she has more pledged delegates.

SANDERS: I know.

TAPPER: She has more pledged delegates than you.

And the question is just a simple yes or no. Should the candidate with the most pledged delegates at the end of the process, June 7, after New Jersey and California, the last contests, should the person with the most pledged delegates be the Democratic nominee?

SANDERS: Well, I think if that was the only criteria, then you get rid of all of the superdelegates, which may not be a bad idea. But you do have superdelegates.

You got 700 superdelegates. And I am not a great fan of superdelegates, but their job is to take an objective look at reality. And I think the reality is that we are the stronger candidate. So, we will see what happens, Jake.

TAPPER: So, you actually think...

(CROSSTALK)

TAPPER: You think it would be OK for the pledged delegates, the majority of Democratic voters, to pick one candidate, and then the superdelegates to actually go with a different candidate?

(LAUGHTER)

TAPPER: You're not suggesting that?

SANDERS: Well, it's very funny -- it's very funny that you ask me that question, when you had 400 pledged delegates come on board Clinton's campaign before anyone else was in the race.

That's called an anointment. That's called the establishment talking. That's called the big money interests saying...

TAPPER: Right, but...

[09:10:00]

SANDERS: ... this is who we want to be president.

TAPPER: But the process -- the process is...

SANDERS: We are where we are right now.

TAPPER: Yes. And where we are...

(CROSSTALK)

SANDERS: We are where we are right now, Jake.

TAPPER: Right.

SANDERS: And that -- and where we are is, we are fighting to win the pledged delegates.

So, before I can answer your question, let's see what's going to happen. But if you do have if your argument is, let's get rid of the superdelegates, that may not be a bad idea.

TAPPER: Well, would you...

(CROSSTALK)

SANDERS: But they are there.

(CROSSTALK)

TAPPER: So, let's talk about that.

SANDERS: OK.

TAPPER: Let's pursue that, because, no matter what, whether you get the nomination or you don't, you are going to have a seat at the table when it comes to what is in the Democratic Party platform. You're going to have influence on what happens...

SANDERS: Right.

TAPPER: ... no matter what, nominee or not.

Should the party do away with superdelegates?

SANDERS: I think they should very much -- I think we need a serious discussion about the role of superdelegates.

Clearly, the current situation is undemocratic. It is ill-advised, and it needs to change. To what degree i would like to see a change, we are talking about that right now. But the status quo clearly is not acceptable to me. And that has got to be changed.

And I think what has got to happen at the platform is the Democratic platform, whether I'm the nominee or not, has got to stand up for the middle class and working class of this country, has got to be prepared to take on Wall Street and the greed of corporate America, the outrageous level of income and wealth inequality in this country, and make it clear to every middle-class family in America we are on the side of the middle class, the young people, the workers of this country, not Wall Street, not the greed of corporate America.

TAPPER: Last question, sir.

Your campaign and many of your supporters have argued that Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the chair of the Democratic National Committee, has not been neutral in her position as chair. Your campaign manager, Jeff Weaver, in particular has been very critical. She is being challenged right now in a primary by Tim Canova.

He's a law professor who opposes the Pacific trade deal that you oppose. He supports you. He's already raised $1 million. You have been calling for a revolution. In Florida, are you with Wasserman Schultz or are you with her opponent?

SANDERS: Well, clearly, I favor her opponent. His views are much closer to mine than is Wasserman Schultz's.

And let me also say this, in all due respect to the current chairperson. If elected president, she would not be reappointed to be chair of the DNC.

TAPPER: Senator Bernie Sanders, it's always a pleasure to talk to you. Good luck out there on the campaign trail.

SANDERS: Thank you.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

TAPPER: Coming up, a new third-party alternative to Trump and to Clinton, can that candidate change the race?

That story next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[09:16:51] (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: You talk about a rigged system. He wins every week, and he keeps losing.

(LAUGHTER)

TRUMP: I think Bernie should run as an independent, OK? Let him run.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

TRUMP: I do. I would love him to run as an independent.

Then it would be the three of us on the stage. I would love that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: And Bernie Sanders has said he will not run as an independent if he doesn't get the Democratic presidential nomination, but Donald Trump might be careful what he wishes for.

In the new "Washington Post"/ABC News poll, 44 percent of the public wants a third-party option, and one is headed their way. Former Republican New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson will run on the Libertarian Party ballot, and this week, Johnson announced he hopes his running mate will be another former Republican governor, Bill Weld of Massachusetts.

Should they persevere at the Libertarian Party Convention coming up next weekend in Orlando, Florida, their ticket will be the only third- party alternative on the ballot in all 50 states in November.

And joining me now is former Massachusetts Governor William Weld.

Governor, thanks so much for joining us.

WILLIAM WELD (R), FORMER MASSACHUSETTS GOVERNOR: Jake, thanks for having me.

TAPPER: So, let me start with the variation of the famous Roger Mudd question. Why do you want to be vice president?

WELD: I have known Gary Johnson of New Mexico for a long time. I love the guy. We served together as governors. I'm very excited about the idea of running on a ticket with him.

I have been a Libertarian for a long time. My speech to the Republican Convention in Houston in 1992 was, I want the government out of your pocketbook and out of your bedroom. And Gary and I represent a mix of policy positions that's not represented by either major party, and we would like to get into the national dialogue.

TAPPER: As you know, there are a lot of Americans that don't like either Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton, but there really are -- is a vocal minority of Republicans led by people like Senator Ben Sasse, Bill Kristol of "The Weekly Standard" and others, looking for a third- party candidate.

Have you pitched to them, the so-called never Trump individuals, that you and Gary Johnson can be a place for them to land?

WELD: Well, no, I wouldn't pitch other pols until we get a critical mass, so it's obviously -- obvious we have something to sell.

I think our purpose is to put in front of the country the fact that you can have an administration that's fiscally conservative and socially inclusive and see what the country thinks about that. I think that may be 40-plus percent of the country.

TAPPER: Have you talked to Mitt Romney or the Koch brothers or any of the people that might help you get your message out?

WELD: No, really not yet.

First of all, we have to get nominated next weekend in Orlando at the Libertarian Party Convention. Second, I want to make sure we have got the building blocks of a national campaign all set up before we go around asking others for help.

I think a little bit of fund-raising will probably be the first order of business, just to make sure we can staff this out. But I wouldn't ask another politician to endorse our ticket until I thought I had a winning proposition for them.

[09:20:08]

TAPPER: Even if you didn't win, a third-party candidate can have a huge impact on the outcome of a presidential race.

Some people, for instance, believe that Ralph Nader played a role in helping hurt Al Gore and elect George W. Bush. As a former Republican governor, is that a concern? Would you be comfortable with the prospect of possibly being blamed for tipping the election to the Democrats?

WELD: No, it's not a concern at all.

I think we have our positions. We're going to press them. I would like to ideally nudge the Democrats toward the economic center, get them away from excessive spending. I would like to nudge the Republicans to get away from their anti-abortion stance, their queasiness with gays and lesbians being able to live openly married and peaceably, the unbelievable proposals that have been made in the immigration area to round up and deport 11 million people.

This is really not prime-time, and we don't mind saying so.

TAPPER: Let's talk about immigration. You have obviously differed sharply with Donald Trump in particular on this issue of mass deportation, his plan to deport the estimated 11 million or 12 million undocumented immigrants currently in the U.S.

Now, you told "The New York Times" about that plan -- quote -- "I can hear the glass crunching on Kristallnacht in the ghettos of Warsaw and Vienna when I hear that, honest."

Now, obviously, for those who are watch who don't know, Kristallnacht, or crystal night in English, that's from the Holocaust. It refers to the shards of broken glass that littered the streets after Jewish- owned stores and businesses and synagogues had their windows smashed by angry anti-Semitic mobs.

Is that a little strong, you think, to talk about the Holocaust?

WELD: No, no, no, I don't think so.

I served five years on the U.S. Holocaust Commission, by appointment of President George W. Bush. And, by the way, Israel never had a stronger friend in the White House. And I'm -- that was my request. And I'm absolutely certain that, as we said in those years, if we don't remember, we absolutely will forget.

And you got to forget a lot of things to think it's a good idea to round up and depart 11 million people living peaceably, most of them working, in America, in the middle of the night. No, not the United States. China maybe, not the United States.

TAPPER: Let's talk about guns. Back in 1993, you proposed some of the strictest gun control laws in the country, including a statewide ban on some forms of semiautomatic rifles, a waiting period to buy handguns, a prohibition against gun ownership for anyone under 21.

Do your positions on strict gun control fit in with a Libertarian Party platform that opposes -- quote -- "all laws at any level of government restricting, registering or monitoring firearms"?

WELD: Well, I'm a lifelong homeowner and gun owner, and I don't think the proposals were out of the mainstream at all.

I distinguish between, you know, hunting -- hunting guns and guns that really don't seem to have any hunting purpose or potential purpose. So that was the distinction I was drawing there. But that's an area where I think Gary and I can find common ground. I'm not worried about that issue.

TAPPER: Governor William Weld, thank you so much. Good luck to you and Governor Johnson. We look forward to seeing you out there on the campaign trail.

WELD: Thanks so much, Jake.

TAPPER: Coming up: a stunning new report of a message scrawled on the EgyptAir plane that ultimately ended up crashing. Was it a warning?

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[09:27:57]

TAPPER: Welcome back to CNN's STATE OF THE UNION. I'm Jake Tapper. Officials still cannot say what caused EgyptAir Flight 804 to drop out

of the sky. But a new report in this morning's "New York Times" reports that two years before the crash, Cairo Airport workers had tagged the plane with graffiti, including this message in Arabic -- quote -- "We will bring this plane down" -- unquote.

Is that a clue or just a coincidence?

Here with the latest on what American officials have learned about the crash is Congressman Peter King of the House Intelligence Committee.

Congressman King, thanks so much for joining us this morning.

REP. PETER KING (R), NEW YORK: You're welcome.

TAPPER: "The New York Times" reporting that EgyptAir officials say the plane, the crash was once spray-painted by airport workers with graffiti in Arabic, as you heard me say. It read, "We will bring this plane down."

What can you tell us about this report? Is this connected?

KING: Well, it is two years ago, so there's perhaps not a direct connection.

But what it does show, Jake, is the extent of the Islamist threat at the airports from insiders. It also showed the anger toward General Sisi. And you -- a combination of anti-Sisi, plus the Islamist movement, the ISIS movement, and the fact that the insiders at the airports all over the world, but especially in countries like Egypt, that is, to me, the -- a greater threat to us than passengers bringing bombs onto a plane.

It's people behind the scenes, those who have access to plane, the airport workers, the cleaners, the scrubbers, anyone who gets -- who, again, does not face the same scrutiny as passengers do. They have access. And that -- that is the real threat here.

TAPPER: Yes, I would -- I would think that that would be right.

There were reports of Arabic graffiti on other planes, including four EasyJet aircraft in France. And I know, at Charles de Gaulle Airport and in France, there was a move a few months ago to get rid of a bunch of airport workers...

KING: Right.

TAPPER: ... who had suspected ties to Islamic extremists. Is this still a threat, even after all those firings?

KING: Oh, it is.

I mean, you figure they have about 85,000, 90,000 employees at the airport. And this was like 70 or 80 that were removed.

[09:30:00] You have to assume there were others they were not able to detect. This was really a late development by the French to realize the threat they face.

So I would say that, yes, you have to definitely be concerned that more were there also in our own country. We've done a lot to correct it. We probably have a million people who have access to planes at our airports and there was an inspector general's report the Department of Homeland Security last year, which said there were a large number had not been properly vetted.

Now there's been a lot done and it's much better with the TSA and Homeland Security but this is an ongoing situation we have to monitor, because of the access that these people would have to the planes, so really it's almost impossible to have too much security. That to me, that behind the scenes insider threat is one we have to be most concerned about.

We're doing a much better job here in the U.S. France obviously was a little late getting started and as far as other countries around the world, they come nowhere near the standards that we have here in the U.S.

TAPPER: And what is the latest that you can tell us in terms of what officials think might have happened to this plane? The last I heard the president of Egypt General Sisi had said that all options are still possible. What's your understanding of the latest?

KING: Again this is unofficial but I would say that right now the indicators are that if you tip the scales it's toward terrorism but the longer it goes without responsibility being claimed it also could be a malfunction on the plane itself, an electrical malfunction.

But I think as more and more of the debris is collected and testing is done we should find out sooner rather than later what this was. I think on the investigations by the way, something like this, we always have to start off with the premise that terrorism is the most likely option and then work our way back from that, not to say for certain it's terrorism but say that that's the most likely and then, you know, work our way back.

TAPPER: The official spokesman of ISIS released an audio message yesterday but in that message there was no claim of responsibility for the attack. What do you make of that?

KING: It could be several things, one that could have been recorded before they were certain who actually carried this out.

ISIS does not have the same type of command and control that al Qaeda had. So this could have been a local affiliate of ISIS that did it. It could have been another Islamist group and before again an acknowledgment is made they want to make sure exactly who did it, how it was done but again -- any number of hypotheses out there. It could have been lone wolves for all we know.

TAPPER: I want to ask you about another subject, there's legislation on Capitol Hill that would let the families of those who were killed or wounded on 9/11 sue the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for any possible role in the terrorist attack on 9/11.

That bill passed the Senate unanimously on Tuesday, despite President Obama's veto threat, now goes to the House for you're a chief sponsor of the legislation. Now White House officials have said that the president opposes the bill because he's concerned it could set a dangerous precedent in terms of foreign individuals suing the United States. If that concern is unfounded as you and others maintain why do you think the president opposes this legislation?

KING: Jake, you know, this was thoroughly debated and, you know, there was an initial concern. So this bill is so finely drawn and tailored, Senator Cornyn, the senator did an outstanding and job, my staff worked with his and Chairman Goodlatte of the House Judiciary Committee. This is very finely drawn to say that those can only be brought against a government if there's evidence that government was responsible in any way for a terrorist attack on another nation.

This is not going to open up to all lawsuits. We're talking about a specific type of threat, a specific type of crime. And so to me, this is a -- the president of the United States overreacting to the Saudis.

Now, in fairness to the president there are some ongoing operations that we're working with the Saudis on. He may feel eight going to hurt us diplomatically but we have to do both. Because listen, these families -- I know these families, Terry Strada, her husband Tommy was killed that day. His father Ernie was a mayor in my district. Ernie Strada, a great guy. These are families -- should know what happened.

And if the government of Saudi Arabia is responsible then that should come out. This is not going to compromise any intelligence at all and the Saudis have to realize that while right now they are cooperating properly for their own good, they doing it, they realize they have to because of the threat but that can't wipe away if they have any responsibility at all for what happened back on 9/11. They have to assume that responsibility. If there's no responsibility they have nothing to worry about.

TAPPER: Congressman Peter King, Republican of New York, thank you so much. Appreciate your time.

KING: Thank you, Jake.

TAPPER: Coming up, Hillary Clinton's changing tune when it comes to attacking Donald Trump. What is her strategy for trying to leave a mark on Teflon don?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[09:39:00]

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: Do you think Donald Trump is qualified to be president?

CLINTON: Well the voter will have to determine that. I'm going to lay out my qualifications.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Do you think that Donald Trump is qualified to be president?

CLINTON: No, I do not.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: What a difference three weeks makes. That was Hillary Clinton changing her tune on Donald Trump's qualifications to be president, in just three weeks, less than a month.

What's behind this change of tone? Let's talk about this and much more with our panel, Bill Press who is the national syndicated radio host and Bernie Sanders supporter, Congressman Marsha Blackburn, Republican of Tennessee, S.E. Cupp, CNN political commentator, and Congressman Xavier Becerra, the House Democratic Caucus Chair who's firmly in the Hillary Clinton camp.

But let me start with you, congressman, what gives? Why did Cuomo get the scoop? I asked the exact same -- it was literally word for word the exact same question.

REP. XAVIER BECERRA (D), CALIFORNIA: Jake, maybe you should shave a little different next time.

TAPPER: Maybe. Why the change in strategy, why one week that's up to the voters and next week no, he's not qualified.

BECERRA: Donald Trump says enough in three weeks to help you clarify in your mind where he stands and wait another three weeks and he'll make you change your mind again because he changes his mind.

[09:40:10]

But it has become very clear this is not a guy who would make the right decisions to be command in chief, it is not someone we can trust on taxes, because he's not willing to even reveal his own tax returns. And certainly we're not sure if he's for or against guns in classrooms.

And so this is a guy who can cause you to say one day he's one thing, another day he's another. The problem will be as a president you do need to know where your president stands.

TAPPER: S.E., I wonder if this reveals a little bit of the fact that the Clinton campaign, like every single other person Donald Trump has run against doesn't really know how to run against him.

S.E. CUPP. CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes, because there's so much material. It would be very difficult to figure out how to go.

Do you go on character? Do you go on inexperience? Do you go on tone and discipline? There's a lot there.

I personally think it would be a mistake for her to go on character. I think she is a terrible vessel to attack him on his character. I think she should stick to experience and that's what I'm hearing mostly from her now is pointing out what he doesn't know, what he is not ready for, what he is not prepared for. I think she's on much stronger footing there.

TAPPER: Congressman I know you are in the Trump camp, correct?

REP. MARSHA BLACKBURN (R), TENNESSEE: Yes, I am, and I think that Hillary has a problem talking about experience, because what she has is exposure through her life, not necessarily experience.

She has been there as the secondary to Bill indeed the top issue in the campaign, jobs and the economy, what did she say this week? I want to outsource that to Bill Clinton --

TAPPER: She was the senator for eight years and secretary of state for four.

BLACKBURN: Well, yes, she was but what were her accomplishments within those opportunities that she was given? And you know, when people say a Bill Clinton economy, do you want another tech bubble? Do you want to have NAFTA again? Do you want wage stagnation? I mean to have Bill Clinton, you would have to have Ronald Reagan come tee that up in order for what Clinton saw as the success in the first term of his presidency.

TAPPER: Bill?

BILL PRESS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, for Bill Clinton economy I would take 23 million new jobs which is what we got in the longest period of sustained economic growth in the history of the country...

BLACKBURN: Because of what Reagan did.

(LAUGHTER)

PRESS: ... because Bill Clinton was president of the United States at the time, not Ronald Reagan.

But back to your original question, I think the difference is that Donald Trump is now the presumptive nominee. And when you talk to Hillary, he wasn't quite. And the other thing difference is that Democrats understand and Hillary understands not to take this guy for granted, not to make the same mistake that the Republicans made in the primary, and you know, just consider him an easy take, an easy fall, they're going to go I think from full bore from the very beginning against Donald Trump on the fact that he is not qualified to be, whether it's temperament or whatever to be president.

TAPPER: And yet it does seem as though the Republican Party is unifying around Trump.

This new poll showing an 11-point swing toward Trump in a head-to-head matchup. And Donald Trump got an endorsement, despite whatever misgivings gun owners and gun activists have had about him he got an endorsement from the NRA, take a listen. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: To get the endorsement, believe me, is a fantastic honor. I will not let you down. Remember that. I will not let you down.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: S.E.? You're a gun enthusiast.

CUPP: Yes. NRA member.

TAPPER: And an NRA member and you're also not a fan of Mr. Trump. What do you make of this?

CUPP: Well, this is huge.

I mean, I talked to folks at the NRA after he spoke and they said that he had that room eating out of the palm of his hand. I've spoken to that room. It is a big group of people. They loved him. A lot of these people -- here's why it's significant, a lot of these people are single-issue voters. For the gun control crowd they wish that their constituents were single issue voters. We have those.

So if these are people who many of them for the first time going to go and vote just to keep the second amendment protected from Hillary Clinton, and they have Donald Trump, he has their support, that's significant for him. This was a big -- this was a big moment in his campaign.

TAPPER: Congressman, Hillary Clinton doing something that a Democratic presidential candidate hasn't done in a long time, making further restrictions on gun ownership a big part of her campaign, usually Democratic presidential candidates run away from that because they fear losing states like Pennsylvania or West Virginia or Ohio. Do you think it's a good strategy?

BECERRA: Well, she's certainly going to stand up to the gun lobby and she's going to make a clear distinction.

She is for making sure that everyone goes through a background check, before you get a weapon, and she's going to say you can have a weapon but go through the gun background check. There's a big difference between saying go through a background check, whoever you are, and saying you can actually carry guns into a classroom, which is what Donald Trump is saying.

So there's a distinction I think most responsible gun owner will say, yes, I think everyone should go through a gun check. I'm not sure everyone is going to say we should have guns in our classrooms.

[09:45:04]

CUPP: But she also wants to make it legal to sue gun manufacturers which would effectively obliterate an entire industry, at least that's what Bernie Sanders says and he's right. BECERRA: The only way you win a lawsuit is if you've been irresponsible so if a gun manufacturer is not willing to go through the test of whether you've been irresponsible, then shame on America if you don't let us go after --

(CROSSTALK)

TAPPER: Let's touch on the issue you just talked about because you brought up the issue of guns in schools because Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump this weekend have been debating back and forth on that and a few hours ago Donald Trump called in to "FOX and Friends" and tried to clear up the issue of where exactly he stands on the issue of guns in schools.

Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: I don't want to have guns in classrooms although in some cases teachers should have guns in classrooms frankly.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: OK, congressman, you're going to have to help me with this. "I don't want to have guns in classrooms though in some cases teachers should have guns in classrooms frankly."

What does that mean?

(LAUGHTER)

BLACKBURN: Let me tell you where I think this is going. Many times you will have teachers and principals say they would like for the police officer or some designee in the school to be able to have a firearm. Someone who has a carry permit. Someone who can respond if there is an unfortunate occurrence.

So I hear that from teachers and Donald Trump has been good about listening to what people want to see, and I think that's what he is responding to is that do you have educators who would like the ability to be able to protect their school and their children in case they're called upon to do that.

TAPPER: Bill, Bernie Sanders has been painting himself this election season this primary season as somebody who can bring gun rights activists and gun control activists together, given the fact that he has worked with both as a senator from a state with a big tradition of hunting and very few gun laws.

PRESS: He also has a D-minus rating from the NRA so despite being somewhat reasonable on that issue -- by the way I disagree with him on the issue as a Sanders supporter, that hasn't won him much support on the NRA, but I think this is going to be one of the key issues in this 2016 race because I haven't seen any candidate take the gun issue as far as Hillary Clinton. I totally support what she's sayings that been willing to do. On the other hand I haven't seen anybody take the NRA position as far as Donald Trump is.

I mean, guns in the classrooms -- congresswoman, come on. What is the teacher going to do with is t? That's irresponsible.

(CROSSTALK)

BECERRA: Jake, I still haven't heard. How do you explain having guns --

(CROSSTALK)

BLACKBURN: Oh Bill for goodness sakes.

TAPPER: It's true.

BECERRA: But Donald Trump is expert at saying one thing to one audience and another thing to another audience. They are totally in conflict.

TAPPER: Well, just to be fair -- to be fair this was one thing and another thing to the same audience within the same paragraph.

(LAUGHTER)

PRESS: Got to a new level.

(CROSSTALK)

BLACKBURN: The parents just want to make sure that their children are safe --

PRESS: Quickly, I think Barack Obama --

BLACKBURN: The parents just want to make sure that their children are safe in a school setting. They want to be certain that they're safe in

(INAUDIBLE).

(CROSSTALK)

BECERRA: So guns in the classroom?

BLACKBURN: It's why national security is one of top issues.

PRESS: You don't put guns in every classroom.

(CROSSTALK)

BLACKBURN: There's things said about guns in every classroom, Bill. And you know --

(CROSSTALK)

PRESS: ... heard Donald --

TAPPER: He said in some cases -- in some cases. BLACKBURN: Talking about allowing someone that's --

(CROSSTALK)

TAPPER: I want to move on to one other thing which is -- what Donald Trump has gotten very personal in some of his attacks about Hillary Clinton and specifically Bill Clinton.

Chris Cuomo asked Hillary Clinton about it the other day, take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CUOMO: Do you ever feel compelled to defend your honor, the honor of your husband...

CLINTON: No.

CUOMO: ... with the statements that he's making that go to the core of the relationship?

CLINTON: No, not at all. I know that that's exactly what is fishing for, and you know, I'm not going to be responding.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: What do you think, congressman, about when Donald Trump takes on Bill Clinton, and scandals in his past? What do you make of it as a Trump supporter?

BLACKBURN: Well, Hillary has scandals in her past, scandals in her present, and people worry about scandals in her future, and it reminds people to be wary.

TAPPER: I'm not talking about her scandals, talking about his scandals, her husband's.

BLACKBURN: Scandals in the past. Scandals in the present. Look at what has happened with the Clinton Foundation, and the money that is there.

TAPPER: All right, great panel. Thank you so much.

Coming up, dirty politics Canadian style, elbows thrown, apologies demanded. Have they taken one too many cues from the U.S. congress? It's the subject of this week's "State of the Cartoonion" coming up next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[09:53:22]

TAPPER: The Washington memoir. It's often on occasion for festivus style airing of grievances. And this week the book that has everyone buzzing is by Senator Majority Leader Mitch McConnell who has some tough words for his Democratic counterpart Harry Reid. It's the subject of this week's "State of the Cartoonion."

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TAPPER (voice-over): Long before Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid was in politics, he was a Boxer. In fact, his first Nevada statewide victory was as lieutenant governor to his former boxing coach. All that said, Reid is not the only Senate leader who can throw a punch. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell in his new memoir "The Long Game" says his rival Reid -- quote -- "has a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde personality."

In person McConnell writes, Reid can be thoughtful, friendly and funny. But as soon as the cameras turn on or he's offered a microphone, he becomes bombastic and unreasonable, spouting things that are both nasty and often untrue. This lack of restraint goes against what is expected from a party leader. These two have so much history and bad blood between them, Taylor Swift could write a breakup anthem about it.

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R), SENATE MAJORITY LEADER: My friend the majority leader is going to be remembered as the worst leader of the Senate ever.

SEN. HARRY REID (D), SENATE MINORITY LEADER: And under Senator McConnell's leadership, Senate Republicans almost came within hours of shutting down the Department of Homeland Security.

TAPPER: Despite many reports to the contrary, the two Senate leaders swear that they're friends, or at least frenemies.

REID: Mitch McConnell and I are friends.

MCCONNELL: I think there is a tendency to think that you can't have political arguments without personal animosity. And I don't have any toward my friend.

[09:55:00]

TAPPER: But at least they've managed to avoid actual physical contact, which is more than we can say for our normally peace-loving neighbors to the north, specifically Canadian heartthrob/prime minister Justin Trudeau, who had to apologize this week to members of parliament after man handling two of them during a heated debate.

JUSTIN TRUDEAU, PRIME MINISTER OF CANADA: I completely apologize. It's not my intention to hurt anyone.

RUTH ELLEN BROSSEAU, OPPOSITION LAWMAKER: I was elbowed in the chest by the prime minister. It was very overwhelming.

TAPPER: Thankfully, it has not gotten that far with Reid and McConnell yet, but we hope they patch it up. After all, Reid is retiring, and next year we'll be talking about the McConnell/Schumer relationship.

(END VIDEOTAPE) TAPPER: Thanks for spending your Sunday with us. I'm Jake Tapper in Washington.

"FAREED ZAKARIA GPS" is next.