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Marco Rubio Talks Senate Seat; Trump Sends Tweet Encouraging Rubio to Run for Senate Re-election; Rubio Would Speak on Behalf of Trump at Convention; Libertarian Party Picking Candidates, Gives Choice Besides Trump, Clinton; Trump to Give Full Accounting of Veterans Fundraiser. Aired 11:30-12p ET

Aired May 27, 2016 - 11:30   ET



[11:30:23] KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Brand new sound this morning from Senator Marco Rubio. This from his one-on-one interview with Jake Tapper on why the former presidential candidate isn't planning to run for re-election in the Senate, but he's also throwing out this word, "maybe."


JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR, STATE OF THE UNION: I know it's not escaped your notice that you still could theoretically run for re-election for your seat, for your Senate seat. I think somebody reminded you of that and you turned around and said, what's the date?


TAPPER: June 24th is the deadline.

RUBIO: It's a joke.

TAPPER: I know it's a joke, but would you ever?

RUBIO: You know, it's interesting. If my term had ended in 2018 instead of 2016, I might very well have run for re-election. One of the things that bothered me the most was that article -- it still bothers me -- in October, saying Marco Rubio hates the Senate, someone who knows me really well told us that. That's not true. I've never said those worlds to anyone in my life. I hated the way Harry Reid ran the Senate. I was frustrated at the way the Senate was operating. But I don't hate my job in the Senate. It's one of the great blessings I have had --


TAPPER: So why are you leaving?

RUBIO: Well, because when I ran for president, I really believed it. I really believed if you run for president, you're running for president, you're not saying to yourself or your team, we're going to be in this race, but, guys, remember I don't want to leave the Senate, so if things don't start working out well, we need to get out of this race as quickly as possible so I can get back to --


TAPPER: I guess that is your position --


RUBIO: And the other is, look, I have a real good friend I have known for a long time who is running for the Senate. I didn't run. I said I wasn't going to. He got into the race. He's the lieutenant governor of Florida. I think he's a strong -- Lopez-Cantera. He's a strong candidate. He's in the race. I'm not -- I think he's put in time and energy to it and he deserves the chance to see where he can take it.

TAPPER: If you didn't have a friend running, might you reconsider?

RUBIO: Maybe. I mean --

TAPPER: But he's an actual friend, not a politics friend.

RUBIO: I have known him since the Dole campaign in '95-'96 as college students. So -- but, sure, maybe. I enjoyed my work in the Senate. I enjoy it tremendously. I always did.


BOLDUAN: CNN senior political reporter, Manu Raju, is live with me from Washington.

I see that smile on your face, Manu. You have been doing a lot of reporting about that Senate race specifically. And for our viewers, they should know that Marco Rubio, he spoke with Jake Tapper, this was before Donald Trump seemed to jump on the bandwagon with the tweet, "Run, Marco." What do you make of what Rubio said?

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER: Well, it's a shift, Kate, and it's a notable shift. Remember, he shut the door firmly when he was running for president saying he would be a private citizen if he lost the White House. But in recent days Republicans have really started to panic about the Florida Senate seat. Party leaders see their candidates there as flawed. They haven't been able to raise money. It's a very, very expensive state. Democrats are spending $20.5 million already. Those candidates are not really well known.

The Republicans have to spend tens of millions in other states to keep the majority. So actually yesterday the pressure got really intense. Majority leader, Mitch McConnell, told his Senate Republican colleagues at a private lunch that if they wanted Marco Rubio to run, that they should go and lobby him directly, and that is exactly what they're doing right now. The head of the National Republican Senatorial Committee told CNN that after he spoke with Rubio on the floor, it's within the realm of possibility that Rubio may run. And Donald Trump, of all people, tweeting last night that Rubio should help save that seat. All forcing Rubio to think about this a little harder, even if he says it's unlikely. BOLDUAN: June 24th. That date might be marked on his calendar


There is a bit of irony here, as well, and I know you know it as well, Manu, that the reason that he wouldn't run for re-election of his Senate seat is because of his very good friend running in the race as well. That did not stop Marco Rubio from running against another one of his friends for president, Jeb Bush.

RAJU: That's right. But I'm told in this situation it's highly unlikely Rubio would run if Lopez-Cantera, the lieutenant governor of Florida, doesn't step aside. I'm not getting the sense that Lopez- Cantera will drop out. Even if he did, Rubio still would have to begin raising a lot of money, have to worry about the other candidates in the primary field. Plus Rubio lost Florida big to Trump and he's been criticized for missing many, many Senate votes when he was running for president. And if he wants to run for president again in 2020, if Trump loses, it may not make sense for him to run for re- election. So those are all big things that Rubio has to consider between now and June 24th -- Kate?

BOLDUAN: That door is not so much slammed anymore. Opening up ever so slightly.

Manu, it's great to see you. Thank you.

RAJU: Thanks, Kate.

BOLDUAN: Back with me now to discuss is Boris Epshteyn and Kevin Madden.

Guys, thanks for coming back.

What was going through your head when you were watching that, Marco Rubio saying that?

KEVIN MADDEN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: The first thing I thought was if you were to do a political translation of what he said --


BOLDUAN: Yes, please.

MADDEN: In politics, "maybe" means I really want to get to yes. When somebody says maybe I want to be president, maybe I would vice presidential ticket, and that means they want it. And so -- but I do think that there is -- I think there is a genuine -- he's genuinely struggling with the idea of having his friend there.

To the point you were talking about with Manu, I think Senatorial ambitions are very different from presidential ambitions.

[11:35:27] BOLDUAN: Good point.

MADDEN: Having been there, I think he's much more willing to have his lieutenant governor friend make the decision and he's genuinely struggling with that.

BOLDUAN: That's a fair and very important point.

Kevin -- "Kate Bolduan, you're wrong," is what Kevin just said to me.

So Donald Trump is now the president of the "Draft Marco" movement. This is the same man who said Rubio could not be elected dog catcher in Florida. As a Trump supporter, do you like that Donald Trump is now saying he wants Marco to run for re-election?

BORIS EPSHTEYN, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST & DONALD TRUMP CAMPAIGN SURROGATE: Absolutely. It was a tough primary, a spirited contest, but now the party is coalescing, coalescing behind Donald Trump, and Donald Trump is returning the favor, right? And he had said that even in the night when Rubio dropped out, Trump gave a nice speech and said something to the effect that this was a very difficult race but it's a tough race and it's tough to run for president, so I'm not surprised. But what is interesting is how much affect just one tweet from Donald Trump is, right?

BOLDUAN: That's not a surprise anymore, please.

EPSHTEYN: It's not a surprise but --


BOLDUAN: Sad, but true.

EPSHTEYN: I think it's great. It's speaks to the strength of the candidate and the fact that money is not as much of a necessity in this race as it is in others because he's getting so much publicity just by sitting on his couch and tweeting or wherever he was.

MADDEN: There's political expedience here as well though. Donald Trump runs weakest with Hispanics. He's going to need Marco Rubio to bring out the Hispanic vote. Without him on the ballot, Donald Trump is in trouble. And without Florida, the electoral map gets that much more challenging for Donald Trump against Hillary Clinton.

BOLDUAN: He's in California now, he doesn't need Florida. I'm kidding. I'm kidding.

EPSHTEYN: But the lieutenant governor is Hispanic as well, though, right. So --

BOLDUAN: There is a very -- there is more to this.

MADDEN: And the other thing, too, is one of the big, you know, ingredients here that Marco Rubio is frontally wrestling with is the idea of having to raise $20 million between now and the election. Now, he has $2 million in debt. He could probably wipe that away. And he has a very sizable audience of folks that are now big Rubio supporters that will open up their wallets and, hopefully, support him for a Senate race but those are some serious challenges.

BOLDUAN: I need to get your take, because another part of Jake's interview is fascinating. I will play this quick for our viewers. This is Marco Rubio and Jake Tapper talking about the GOP convention.


TAPPER: Donald Trump asked you to speak on his behalf, you would do so?

RUBIO: I'd certainly -- yeah. I want to be helpful. I don't want to be harmful because I don't want Hillary Clinton to be president. If there's something I can do to help that from happening, and it's helpful to the cause, I'd most certainly be honored to be considered for that.


BOLDUAN: Just because we can, let's take a quick walk down memory lane. Watch this.


RUBIO: What we are dealing with here, my friends, is a con artist.


RUBIO: He is a con artist. He has spent his entire career sticking it to the little guy. And this guy bankrupts a casino. How do you bankrupt a casino?


This is a con job. He's never faced any struggle. Donald Trump was the first guy that begged for Secret Service protection. If he had not inherited $200 million, he would be selling watches in Times Square.

The commander-in-chief cannot be someone who thinks that nuclear triad is a rock band.

We have a con artist as the front runner of the Republican Party.

Friends do not let friends vote for con artists.



BOLDUAN: But, yeah, I'll speak on his behalf of the convention? What?

MADDEN: Yeah. Look, this was -- this is emblematic of some of the struggles many Republicans are going through right now, particularly our elected officials. That some of the things that they said inside the course of a primary, they're now in an effort to try to unify the party for a general election, they're singing a different tune. But it is something that I think that you're going to continue to see where you have past statements being challenged by current statements, and, you know, that is something that I think we're just going to continue to see more of.

BOLDUAN: I guess we're going to have to because there are a lot of statements that were made in that primary, you'll remember.

Boris, Kevin --


EPSHTEYN: Bush/McCain primary was very tough, too.


MADDEN: Not as tough as that.

BOLDUAN: The small hands, wetting the pants? That did not happen --


MADDEN: I will say this --


MADDEN: Don't underestimate the unifying force of Hillary Clinton.

[11:39:51] BOLDUAN: Kevin Madden with the one-liner.

Thanks, guys.

An important note, you can catch Jake Tapper's entire interview with Marco Rubio this weekend on "State of the Union." That's Sunday morning, 9:00 eastern, only on CNN.

Coming up still for us, the third-party threat. Record unfavorable ratings for the front runners are sparking serious interest in another option. We're live from the site of the Libertarian Party's big convention.

We'll be right back.


BOLDUAN: So it is party time in Orlando, Florida. We're talking about the Libertarian Party, holding its national convention this weekend and picking its presidential nominee. Libertarians are hoping dissatisfaction with the major party candidates could mean a real opportunity for them in November.

Let's go to CNN's Ryan Nobles, who is live in Orlando with much more on this.

So, Ryan, what is happening there this weekend? What are you hearing?

RYAN NOBLES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Kate, Libertarian Party members here are really enthusiastic. They think they have a historic opportunity in this 2016 election because of exactly what you were talking about, the overall dissatisfaction with Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump as the nominees of the two major parties. And the Libertarian Party, in particular, has an opportunity because they are the only alternative party that will be on the ballot in all 50 states. And as a result, their candidates are popping up in polls. A recent FOX News poll shows that Gary Johnson, who was their nominee four years ago, is at 10 percent in a match-up against Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. Now, Gary Johnson is the front-runner her to win the nomination again, but he has some work to do. He's running against two candidates who have pretty big bases of support here as well, so they're going to hash this out over the next couple of days. They hope to emerge with a candidate who they believe could make a serious impact on the overall vote when it comes to November -- Kate?

[11:45:57] BOLDUAN: Absolutely. And important. And a "Washington Post"/NBC News poll conducted earlier found that 44 percent of registered voters want a third-party option if the major party choices are Clinton or Trump. So you really see the opening there that you're talking about, why they see an opening this cycle more than others in the past.

Ryan Nobles, great to see you. Thank you so much, Ryan.

NOBLES: Thanks, Kate.

BOLDUAN: Coming up for us, so where is the money? Donald Trump now explaining what happened to millions of dollars that he said was pledged to veterans' charities. What Trump is telling CNN now. That's coming up.

And in California, supporters and some protesters are gathering ahead of Donald Trump's rally in Fresno. Police there, they say they are ready if a repeat of violence and chaos that they saw earlier this week, if they see that happen there. Donald Trump, live in California, coming up.


[11:50:46] BOLDUAN: After a long wait and a lot of questions, Donald Trump says the full accounting on his veterans fundraiser, which he skipped the debate in January for, will now be revealed on Monday. His campaign boasted that $6 million was raised, but the exact amount and the groups in line to receive it remained a bit of a mystery for months.

CNN's Drew Griffin has been digging on this story for months as well.

Drew, Donald Trump called you last night. What happened?

DREW GRIFFIN, CNN NATIONAL INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT: We'd been nagging the campaign for the figures. He said a couple of things, Kate. Number one, he said the figure will be very close to, if not, $6 million. He says he will release a full accounting of that on Monday. Now, his campaign staff told me it would take place Tuesday, but he insisted it would be Monday, Memorial Day.

And as for why this has taken so long, he doesn't think it took that long, but says some of the checks were not coming in from people who pledged, so he had to remind people of their pledge. And he said it's perfectly understandable, that these are very busy people, some even located overseas.

But apparently now, the checks are in, Kate, and we're expecting a full accounting of that to take place Monday, which is, of course, Memorial Day.

BOLDUAN: That's right. And he has pledged money himself. It makes me wonder, when you talk about the phone call, the fact he got on the phone with you about it, about these questions, it sure seems this has gotten under his skin. Did you talk about it? Did he say why this bothers him so much?

GRIFFIN: He complained about the media coverage of this. He said, look, I'm the only guy that can raise $6 million for a good cause and then get criticized over it. I tried to explain, it's not that. He made a huge deal out of this, and then, all of a sudden, it was a mystery where this money was going.

I think he understands both sides of this, and using his advantage both sides. He'll complain about the media coverage and then he will get positive media coverage when and if he releases the money.

As for his donation, we confirmed he gave a $1 million check to a charity, a very good charity, I might add, that supports the kids of fallen Marines and fallen federal law enforcement officers. So that check from Donald Trump is in the bank at that one charity.

BOLDUAN: We'll learn more on Monday, or maybe Tuesday. We'll see.

GRIFFIN: Who knows?

BOLDUAN: Drew -- we'll find out.

Drew, great to see you.

GRIFFIN: Thank you.

BOLDUAN: It is becoming a now-familiar scene. Anti-Trump protesters gather outside of a rally in California while lines are forming as well for his supporters to head into the rally. The police chief there says they are prepared for the worst. We'll take you there, live coming up.


[11:57:50] BOLDUAN: As we remember fallen heroes this Memorial Day weekend, we want to tell you about everyday people doing heroic deeds as well. Anderson Cooper explains how you can nominate a "CNN Hero."



ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST, A.C. 360: Tonight, we're recognizing some incredible acts of compassion and kindness. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ladies and gentlemen, please join me.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Please join me in honoring.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Please join me in honoring --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- in honoring --





COOPER: This year marks the tenth anniversary of "CNN Heroes," celebrating everyday people changing the world. How do we find these extraordinary people? With your help. You can nominate someone right now at Maybe they're caring for children. Helping our veterans, or protecting the environment. Whatever their cause, nominating a "CNN Hero" is easier than ever. Go to on your laptop, your tablet or your Smartphone. Click "Nominate," fill in the form and tell us what makes your hero extraordinary. And be selective. Those honored as "CNN Heroes" are truly dedicating their lives to serving others. When you're finished, click "Submit." You'll see this message that confirms we received it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I mean, this is great. Yes.

COOPER: Being recognized the "CNN Hero" can help the person you admire continue their life changing work. But it all starts with you. So nominate someone deserving today.



BOLDUAN: As Anderson said, you can nominate someone right now. Go to to do that.

Thank you so much for joining us AT THIS HOUR.

"Legal View" with Ashleigh Banfield starts right now.

[11:59:37] ASHLEIGH BANFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. I'm Ashleigh Banfield. Nice to have you with us for "Legal View."

"California love," that's the theme today in the race for the White House. The three presidential candidates making stops in the Golden State. All of this ahead of a big primary on June 7th.

Here's a look at what you can expect. At any minute, expected to hear from Hillary Clinton. And this is a live picture now from her event in Oakland, California. We are going to be bringing you her comments once she takes the stage. That's coming in our next hour. Then also, take a look at the time clock. Donald Trump holds the first of two of his rallies today.

Also making --