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THE SITUATION ROOM
Deadly Gas Leaks; Interview With California Congressman John Garamendi; Remembering the Fallen; Conservative Trump Foes Say Third- Party Candidate Coming; Leaking Gas Pipelines Posing Deadly Threat; Brazil in Crisis Ahead of Olympic Games. Aired 6-7p ET
Aired May 30, 2016 - 18:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
PAMELA BROWN, CNN ANCHOR: Deadly blasts from aging, leaking pipes claiming dozens of lives over the last decade, the threat at crisis level in cities across the country. Where might disaster strike next?
And remembering the fallen. America honors its war dead on Memorial Day, President Obama marking the somber occasion for the last time as commander in chief.
We want to welcome viewers in the United States and around the world, Wolf Blitzer is off today. I'm Pamela Brown. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
A political shocker on this Memorial Day, anti-Trump conservatives announcing they have found someone to launch a third-party campaign. "Weekly Standard" editor William Kristol taking to Twitter that a -- quote -- "impressive candidate" with he calls a strong team and a real chance will be coming forward soon.
Donald Trump responded with tweets calling Kristol a dummy and an embarrassed loser and warns the Supreme Court is at risk unless Republicans unite around him.
And we are also watching the Democrats and the fierce fight Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders are waging for California, which holds its primary in just eight days from now. Both candidates will be barnstorming the state, with Clinton just announcing a five-day swing ahead of the vote.
We will talk to one of her top supporters in California this hour.
And we are also learning disturbing new details of the deadly threat posed by tens of thousands of miles of aging natural gas pipelines across the country. They're responsible for explosions that have killed dozens of people in recent years. And the danger is growing by the day.
We're covering all of that and more this hour with our guests, including Democratic Congressman John Garamendi of California, and our correspondents and expert analysts are also standing by.
Let's begin with the announcement that anti-Trump conservatives will put up an independent candidate.
CNN chief political correspondent Dana Bash is working that story for us.
So, Dana, the never Trump movement believes it has found the right person. Do we have any idea of who that might be?
DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: We don't.
Bill Kristol e-mailed today, saying the announcement isn't imminent, but he is also very much teasing that someone has come forward and is waiting in the wings.
BASH (voice-over): If you want to make a splash, send a mysterious tweet on a sleepy holiday weekend like this from Bill Kristol.
"There will be an independent candidate, an impressive one with a strong team and a real chance." Kristol, the staunchly anti-Trump editor of conservative "Weekly Standard" magazine, has been working hard to find that third-party candidate. In an e-mail to CNN, he said an announcement is not imminent, but his tweet sure got a lot of attention, especially from Trump, who responded: "If dummy Bill Kristol actually does get a spoiler to run as an independent, say goodbye to the Supreme Court."
CNN is told that Kristol, along with other never Trump Republicans, have done extensive polling and gathered private data, talking to potential candidates and financial backers.
BILL KRISTOL, EDITOR, "THE WEEKLY STANDARD": There's an opening obviously for an independent candidate.
BASH: They point to public polling as proof there is an appetite.
In a survey earlier this month, little more than half of respondents, 51 percent, said they would be satisfied with a Trump-Clinton matchup; 44 percent said they would want a third-party option.
As for just Republicans, target voters for Kristol and other anti- Trump conservatives, 39 percent said they'd want a third-party candidate. But the open question is who?
MITT ROMNEY (R), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Donald Trump is a phony, a fraud.
BASH: Two sources close to Mitt Romney tell CNN the 2012 GOP nominee will still not go so far as to run as an independent. Never Trump forces have also been trying to recruit Nebraska Senator Ben Sasse or retired General Jim Mattis. Sasse sources tell CNN he's still a no.
Jim Mattis also has said thanks, but no thanks. Kristol has also floated GOP Congressman Adam Kinzinger. A source familiar with Kinzinger's thinking tells CNN he would have considered it -- quote -- "literally to save the union," because both Clinton and Trump scare him. But he doesn't think that the infrastructure exists to get on the ballot.
On the stump, Trump mocks Kristol.
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: He can't find anybody. What a loser.
BASH: Most Republicans argue a third party-run would be a disaster for the GOP, splinter the party and help elect Hillary Clinton.
REINCE PRIEBUS, REPUBLICAN NATIONAL COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN: They can try to hijack another party and get on the ballot, but, look, it's a suicide mission.
BASH: Even those who are not big fans of Trump.
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: Absolutely not. I'm going to have my say...
BASH: (on camera): No third party?
GRAHAM: No way. And I would advise people not to go down that road.
BASH (voice-over): Still separate from Kristol's efforts, two former support governors, Gary Johnson and Bill Weld, won the Libertarian Party nomination this weekend, the most experienced candidates ever for that party.
BASH: Now, the Libertarian Party is already on state ballots across the country.
One of the many challenges for the kind of independent run that Bill Kristol is envisioning is getting on those ballots. The deadline for the electorally rich state of Texas, for example, has already passed.
A source working on all this tells me they can always stage a write-in campaign or file lawsuits to solve ballot issues, which they can do possibly with enough money, and, Pamela, the right candidate. That's the combination that has eluded these anti-Trump forces for months.
BROWN: Dana Bash, thank you so much for that.
And, meantime, Trump has scheduled a news conference tomorrow about his controversial fund-raising efforts for veterans.
CNN's Phil Mattingly has details of that.
And, Phil, there have been no shortage of questions not only about how much Donald Trump raised, but where that money have actually gone. Have these questions tarnished his campaign at all?
PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's an interesting thought, Pamela. Think about it like this. And this is what I was told from a
Republican operative who worked on the 2012 campaign for Mitt Romney. Imagine that Mitt Romney pledged a certain amount of money to veterans organizations and four months later you weren't sure where the money went, how much of it was actually there, and what the details were of the entire process.
He said Romney would have been eviscerated, his candidacy up in smoke. Donald Trump has won the Republican nomination, and is more or less tied in polling with Hillary Clinton. As to the impact on veterans groups themselves, Pam, veterans groups, many have raised concern about this entire process.
The veterans themselves, not so much. Take a look at what he was saying this weekend to the Rolling Thunder crowd, a crowd filled with veterans.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Illegal immigrants are taken much care, really, are taken much better care by this country, taken care of than our veterans, and that's not going to happen, OK? It is not going to happen. We're not going to allow that to happen any longer.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTINGLY: Pam, an unorthodox pitch, but a pitch nonetheless, that Donald Trump has been making repeatedly on the campaign trail.
Now, when it comes to the issue of the money raised for veterans groups, it is one that's clearly bothered Donald Trump. He has mentioned it repeatedly on the campaign trail, on Twitter, even in an Instagram post criticizing the news media for actually trying to figure out what happened.
He will try to clear all of that up tomorrow at this press conference. Again, a lot of questions remain, Donald Trump trying to clear that up tomorrow at Trump Tower -- Pam.
BROWN: And his senior adviser, Tana Goertz, telling us here in THE SITUATION ROOM that it took this long because they had to vet the foundations and these charities. So, we will wait to hear more tomorrow.
Thanks so much, Phil Mattingly.
And turning now to the Democrats, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders battling for California, which holds its primary one week from tomorrow.
CNN's Sunlen Serfaty has the latest.
A huge cache of delegates will be up for grabs. And that fight is under way for those delegates right now.
SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Pam. It is. This is the biggest left for the Democrats in their primary.
And faced with the polls tightening in the state, the Clinton campaign, they have just added a major five-day, multistop swing throughout the state starting on Thursday, a sign that Hillary Clinton is now taking California seriously.
HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Hello! Hello!
SERFATY (voice-over): Hillary Clinton today taking part in a Chappaqua, New York, Memorial Day parade.
CLINTON: I love it. I love being here.
SERFATY: A reminder her march to the Democratic nomination is not yet finished. Clinton is still facing roadblocks in her ongoing primary battle with Bernie Sanders.
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT), DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Nobody doubts which campaign is the campaign that has the energy and the enthusiasm. That is our campaign.
SERFATY: But is still laser-focused on next week's California primary, one of the last big delegate prizes.
SANDERS: California is the big enchilada, so to speak. Obviously, it is enormously important. And obviously we want to win it.
SERFATY: The Vermont senator is showing no signs of giving up the fight, laying out what he sees as three possible paths forward, which include trying to sway superdelegates who have already sided with Clinton.
SANDERS: There are over 400 superdelegates who came on to Secretary Clinton's campaign eight months before the first ballot was cast, before anybody else was in the race, before they could get a sense of what the campaign was about.
SERFATY: But as he digs in, Sanders is starting to face some pressure from high-profile Democrats, like Clinton supporter Senator Dianne Feinstein.
SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN (D), CALIFORNIA: He ought to be able to read the signposts as well as anybody else. And if he did that, he would know that it's all but over. So, the question comes, you know, why doesn't he do those things which bring all Democrats together?
SERFATY: And making it clear he doesn't think that burden is on him.
SANDERS: If Secretary Clinton is the nominee, it's her job to reach out to millions of people and make the case as to why she's going to defend working families. That's the candidate's job to do.
SERFATY: Sanders, though, is beginning to lay out what steps he would like to see Clinton take if she becomes the nominee, including the type of running mate she should pick.
SANDERS: I would hope if I'm not the nominee that the vice presidential candidate will not be from Wall Street, will be somebody who has a history of standing up and fighting for working families.
SERFATY: And Sanders wouldn't entertain the idea of a party unity ticket and potentially becoming Clinton's running mate, saying his focus right now is on winning the nomination, but also adding that he will see what happens afterwards, so leaving the door open a little bit, Pam.
BROWN: All right, Sunlen Serfaty, thank you so much for that.
And let's get more on all of this with Democratic Congressman John Garamendi of California. He's a member of the Armed Services Committee and he's backing Hillary Clinton.
Thank you for coming on, on this holiday, Congressman. We do appreciate it.
REP. JOHN GARAMENDI (D), CALIFORNIA: Thank you. It's good to be with you.
BROWN: The obvious question is -- on the heels of Sunlen's report, is that Clinton has clearly changed her California plan. She now plans on going out there Thursday, staying through Monday. Is this a sign that there's concern in the Clinton camp that she could lose your state?
GARAMENDI: I don't think she's going to lose. She's always been very, very strong in California.
Certainly, the race has tightened, as you would expect in a very contested situation. But she's been -- she's going to do very well here. And she will probably win this state. Even if the vote were to go 50/50, she still moves very, very close when you take into account Pennsylvania, New Jersey and the other couple of states that are in the primary on the 7th.
And so she will be very close, if not over the top, with the number of pledged delegates. And the superdelegates, they will add on, and she is going to be our nominee. And she's an extraordinary, strong individual. And we have seen that so many times over the years, most recently when she was seven, 11 hours in the hearing room, and just carrying the day.
BROWN: And, like you said, historically, she won in California, but there have been other states, like Michigan, where Clinton was supposed to win and she didn't.
This is a close race, no doubt.
BROWN: Are you confident she can pull off a win in California? And are you worried at all about the perception, the optics of everything going on between her and Bernie Sanders and the fact that there is this ongoing fight, when Donald Trump, in the meantime, has clinched the nomination essentially?
GARAMENDI: Well, you mentioned Michigan. And certainly that was a significant issue, but then you take a look at Washington state. Bernie won the caucus 2-1. And yet Hillary won the vote a month later by 53 percent. And across the nation, she has about three million more votes than does Mr. Sanders.
Now, Senator Sanders is a very good spokesperson. He has laid out some very, very important issues, all of which have been part of the base of the Democratic Party philosophy for years and decades. But he's been very articulate.
Where we are going from here is that it is almost impossible for him to win this nomination. Hillary is going to be our nominee. She's likely to win California. She's going to spend time here. Her message will clearly be heard. And it is a strong message. It's a message about economic reform, about growth, about education. It is about our infrastructure.
It is a message about tax fairness. It's a message about reining in Wall Street in a very, very realistic way. And so she's the kind of person that can be a terrific president because she's got experience, not only as first lady in the White House, but also as a senator, and then also secretary of state, so understanding the international scene, understanding the way in which Congress works, and also taking a look at what it is just to be strong and capable and with the demeanor that's sound.
BROWN: Well, clearly, you're a big Hillary Clinton supporter.
GARAMENDI: Oh, yes.
BROWN: But why isn't California Governor Jerry Brown coming out and supporting Clinton?
GARAMENDI: Well, Jerry Brown, I served with him way back in the 1970s. He is very, very rarely endorsing anybody.
And when he -- he will, I suspect, after the convention, but he's always one of the last to get on board any canoe that is paddling down the stream. And so I wouldn't wait for Jerry Brown at all.
BROWN: So, going back to what's going to happen in California a week from tomorrow, how is it going to look if Clinton loses the California primary, but wins the Democratic nomination the same day? How does that unify the party?
GARAMENDI: It's going to look exactly the way President Obama looked. He lost the California primary, went on to become president for eight years. California is an important state. And when it comes to the general
election, California will be strongly behind Hillary Clinton. Yes, she does have to reach out to the Bernie Sanders supporters, but also Bernie Sanders also has to reach out across to Hillary and then together go forward, making certain that we have a Democratic president, and, along the way, bringing along the U.S. Senate and as much of the House as possible.
There's an enormous number of things at play here. And you take a look at the kind of leadership that we want to have, it certainly isn't somebody with Trump's demeanor. This man is just not the kind of person we want.
This is not an Eisenhower. This is not an Roosevelt. This isn't even a George H.W. Bush. Trump simply is not capable of having the appropriate demeanor to become president of the United States. Hillary Clinton, on the other hand, is perfect for that job.
BROWN: And I just have to ask you, because there's been reporting out about the fact that there's sort of -- there's a question within the Clinton camp about how to respond to Trump, and they haven't quite nailed down the best way to respond to this unconventional candidate who is unpredictable. How do you think the Clinton camp should respond to Donald Trump?
GARAMENDI: Well, I think it is a matter of good, solid policies first, and she's done that from the very outset.
Right at the beginning of her campaign, she let out a -- she put out an economic reform program that had all the elements that we need, specific tax policies to help the middle class, to change the wage gap that exists between women and men in the same job, in the same workplace. She has laid out an environmental program, an infrastructure program.
All of those things are absolutely center to the economic policy and will undoubtedly be part of what we will see going forward. And then how do you explain those to the American people? You don't do it with bombast. You don't do it by calling people names. You don't do it the way Trump is even today saying his opponent is a loser and Mr. Kristol is a loser.
That name-calling isn't even allowed in first-grade classrooms. You would wind up in the principal's office calling people the...
BROWN: But he has been doing that name-calling all along, Congressman, and he is the presumptive Republican nominee.
GARAMENDI: Well, there's a certain set of the population that found this reality TV to be interesting.
But we are talking the presidency of the United States of America. We're talking about the most important country in the world. And who is going to be the spokesperson? Who's going to be the person out there that will be presenting to the entire world the American agenda, the American people? Donald Trump? Are you kidding me? No way.
BROWN: All right, Congressman Garamendi, stick around. We have a lot more to discuss right after this break.
BROWN: We're back with Democratic Congressman John Garamendi of California. He's a member of the Armed Services Committee and he is backing Hillary Clinton.
And on that note, you just said, Congressman, that Trump is -- bottom line, he is not qualified to be president. So, why is Clinton having such a hard time expressing that in a way that resonates with voters?
GARAMENDI: Well, I think it's that she doesn't want to get into the bed with him. She wants to be above that. That's basically the kind of person she is.
She is not one to get into a mudfight with anybody. But she's strong. She's very, very aware of what it takes to be a president, which is the demeanor, the way in which you handle yourself, the way in which you interact with international leaders and with members of Congress, some of whom are on your team, others who are not.
You don't go around calling people losers. You can't do that. You have got to have -- you have got to be respectful, and that's the way she is. I'm quite sure there will be others that will point out Donald Trump's problems, of which they're numerous, the fact that he had multiple bankruptcies, the fact that a couple of business are being charged with fraud, the fact that, oh, my goodness, you can go down through the list and spend an hour-and-a-half going through all of his problems.
Now, I'm sure, by the time September, October rolls around, we will all see those things. And those will be pointed out. But Hillary won't do that, nor should she do that. She should be talking about things that need to be done in this country, taking her economic plan, talking about the details of it, how we can rebuild transportation, how we can educate our children, and meet the challenges of the international world.
BROWN: But, Congressman, she's been talking about all that, laying out her policies and talking about the issues. Then why are her unfavorables so high? Why do so many people still dislike her?
You said yourself this is a really close race. If it is a clear choice, why isn't she up 20 points?
GARAMENDI: Well, she has been attacked for 25 years.
For 25 years, she has been under attack, beginning way before her husband was elected president, and then throughout that entire time, and then beyond. And certainly all across this nation, the number of attack ads on her are so numerous and a lot of money behind those attack ads.
And so you would expect, under that circumstance, to find that kind of a negative rating. But when this primary season is over, the Democrats will pull together. Bernie Sanders, I am certain, given the nature -- and he's a good person. He doesn't want the Republicans to win. That's not his agenda, and he will be out there working hard for Hillary Clinton when the time comes.
Right now, he is trying to finish up his race as strong as possible. I understand that. I had eight, nine actually -- nine statewide races in California, and it is hard to quit, even though you know you're headed for a loss. But he will come around. And with him will come his supporters, not all of them. Some of them won't, but most of them will.
And they will line up behind Hillary, and there will be an overwhelming victory here in California in November. And that's when it really counts. We will see the same thing, I'm sure, in Pennsylvania, New York, and quite likely Florida, which should also be in play, given the nature of -- well, that's Trump. He likes to think, what is it, Mar-a-Lago or whatever it is, running around in his fancy house.
That doesn't quite match up with the needs of working men and women in Florida or anywhere else in this nation.
BROWN: All right, Congressman Garamendi, thank you very much for coming on. We do appreciate it.
GARAMENDI: My pleasure. Have a great day. Thank you.
BROWN: Thanks. You, too.
Just ahead right here in THE SITUATION ROOM, more on the never Trump movement's mystery candidate. Who might it be, and when will he or she come forward?
Plus, the explosive threat in cities across the U.S. Can these gas leaks be found before the next deadly blast?
BROWN: A potential shakeup in the race for the White House, leading conservative Bill Kristol announcing on Twitter that the "never Trump" movement among Republicans has found a candidate to launch a third- party bid for the White House.
[18:30:15] We want to dig in deeper now with CNN's Sunlen Serfaty; also CNN chief political correspondent Dana Bash; and CNN political director David Chalian. Also joining us, "Washington Post" assistant editor David Swerdlick. Thank you so much to the four of you coming on. We appreciate it.
Now I want to go to you first, Dana, on this tweet from Bill Kristol. How serious is this? What are your sources telling you? Is there someone waiting in the wings to come out as a third-party candidate? What do we know?
BASH: He certainly is suggesting, on this sleepy holiday weekend, that there is somebody out there. Whether or not that person really is as close to coming out there -- you see they just put the tweet on the -- on the screen there. Whether or not that person is going to, you know, come out tomorrow, it doesn't sound like that.
DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Time is ticking on the holiday weekend.
BASH: Yes. Time is ticking. Time is ticking. And that has really been the issue here. It's not that there hasn't been a desire among people who are disgusted with the idea of a Trump candidacy on the Republican side to find an alternative. It's been who is that alternative? And slowly but surely, people who are potential candidates have been taking themselves off the list. So that's the issue.
BROWN: So it does seem a little late in the game, David, for something like this to happen. What is the strategy? What's the game plan for a third-party candidate?
CHALIAN: I think the strategy is to find a credible person who can actually make a stand in one or two battleground states to stop Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton from getting 270 electoral votes. I think that is the strategic plan here. And depending on who emerges will depend on which of those states might make the most sense to make that play.
But this is not a play to find someone, I think, at this stage of the game to actually be elected president in November. This is about preventing Trump or Clinton from getting to the White House in hopes, from Bill Kristol's point of view, of finding a conservative alternative.
BROWN: And you've seen other scenarios like that play out in politics. You remember in 2000, Ralph Nader didn't win any states, but he won enough votes in Florida to potentially deny Al Gore Florida, which we know what happened after that. So could the Libertarian candidate or a third-party candidate deny Trump a win here?
DAVID SWERDLICK, ASSISTANT EDITOR, "THE WASHINGTON POST": Potentially, but the way I see it is that, look, Libertarians sensed an opportunity with their convention this weekend by nominating, on the second ballot, Weld and Johnson, this idea that they can be more relevant than past years.
But I sense that, because of foreign policy especially, they sort of draw voters both from Democrats and from Trump at the same time. So I think it would be hard to say that they're really going to throw any of the big swing states to one or the other right now.
The other problem that Libertarians have, I think, and this is, you know, just one of those things, people remember that in 2012, actually, 2011 Johnson was in the first Republican debate; and he was not a good debater. So even though there is some interest in this ticket, I think they have some hurdles .
BROWN: OK. So the Libertarian candidate, tough to tell who that would help more. But if there is a third-party candidate, couldn't that potentially help Clinton?
SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, it could. And I think that's -- the conventional thinking is that, if there is a credible third- party candidate, someone who actually steps up, and is a credible contender, that it has the possibility of splitting Republican votes and making it a much easier go for Hillary Clinton.
And I think that's why we've seen some response, especially those inside Trump's circle and certainly from Donald Trump himself, responding to this, some level of concern, really lashing out about this potential at these exact time where Donald Trump is trying so hard to consolidate his party support.
CHALIAN: And the RNC chairman, Reince Priebus, himself calling that a suicide mission at some point. It's not just inside the Trump campaign, which Sunlen is absolutely right, they realize the threat that that poses. But there are Republican Party officials, Reince and others, who haven't necessarily been the most enthusiastic Donald Trump supporters, who also see this as a serious problem if, indeed, a credible conservative alternative emerges.
SWERDLICK: Yes. If you don't get a big name, a showstopper like a Romney, who you're reporting, you just report right there saying, no, not in. And if you don't get some of the Republican donors, a big donor like a Paul Singer or the Koch brothers to sort of bless a third-party run, it's going to be hard to make noise.
BROWN: Let's talk about the strategy here for Donald Trump. Because he had a big week last week. He reached that magic number, 1,237. So you would think he'd be taking a victory lap, David. But instead, he seemed to be going on this grudge tour, really lashing out at people on both sides of the aisle. What -- what do you make of that?
CHALIAN: I make of that that Donald Trump is a candidate who is seeing what worked for him through the nomination season and wanting to repeat that behavior, because it's what's been working for him.
What he hasn't fully adjusted to, and I say fully, because he has done some things differently of late, but he hasn't fully adjusted to the new context of a general election audience, about growing beyond what just worked for him in the nomination season, because nobody can win the presidency just at the same...
[18:35:12] SERFATY: Right, he seems like a primary candidate still. CHALIAN: You actually need more votes than that. You actually do
need to expand beyond what you appealed, what people found appealing in the nomination season. And Donald Trump is very committed to sticking with what worked for him this whole last year.
BASH: That's right. And look, it is a tough balance for him, because it has worked for him. And he has his core supporters, who very much are committed to him because of things that he talked about and the kind of candidate, more importantly, he was back in the primaries.
But you're exactly right, David, he does have to, you know, understand that he's got those people, and we saw through the entire primary season they are -- they were really committed to him. And he did grow them, but beyond that, he's got to change a little bit.
BROWN: all right. Stand by. We have a lot more to discuss. We'll be back right after this break.
[18:40:43] BROWN: Well, 475 Democratic delegates are up for grabs in next week's California primary. But even if Bernie Sanders won them all, it would not be enough for him to overtake Hillary Clinton's delegate lead.
I want to bring in our panel to discuss everything that's going on. And I want to go to you first, David. We were just speaking to Congressman Garamendi, and I asked him what will it take for Hillary Clinton to stave off Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump, come election day. He said she just needs to stay the course, stay above the fray, focus on the issues and policy, but she's been doing that. Her unfavorables are pretty high. Do you think that that's enough in response to Donald Trump?
CHALIAN: Well, they're certainly pleased in Brooklyn that Donald Trump's unfavorables are even higher.
CHALIAN: So they like their matchup that they have. But I don't think she's just been staying the course. I think we've been seeing Hillary Clinton trying to engage Donald Trump much more aggressively than I think that they imagined she would be doing.
BROWN: For her it's aggressive.
CHALIAN: I think that they thought they would be leaving that to some others. But yes, her campaign to me, for the last couple weeks, has been almost completely dedicated to framing Donald Trump negatively as a risky, unacceptable choice for the American people. Much more so, that's been her message of the day, than has been what she was talking about throughout, I think, most of the Democratic primary season.
BROWN: But has that been effective, Dana?
BASH: We'll see. BROWN: Is it resonating with voters? Is that...
BROWN: The problem that she has is she -- right now not only is she fighting a two-front war, even though they say that she's moved on beyond Bernie Sanders, he's still fighting her. I mean, fact of life.
And then the other issue is that she's up against, already, a guy in Donald Trump who is incredibly effective at taking her most vulnerable spots and turning it into a Trumpian phrase. And so she's got to figure out how to kind of calibrate to be who she needs to be and who she wants to be and fight back versus this master at marketing.
BROWN: And just really quickly, talking about Bernie Sanders, he's really focused on California right now.
At the same time, you're hearing Senator Dianne Feinstein saying that, look, he needs -- just needs to throw in the towel, that the nation would be better off if he acknowledged that he doesn't have a chance at the nomination.
What are you hearing about what his plans are, Dana?
BASH: Well, you know, and I'll defer to -- to Sunlen on some of this. Because she was out there campaigning and talking to sources inside the campaign in California and beyond. But my understanding is that they're going to have to kind of wait and see what happens.
I think the biggest question mark among Democrats, writ large, is whether or not Bernie Sanders ultimately, whether it's next week or beyond, does what Hillary Clinton did for Bernie Sanders, which is, "I'm out. I did what I need to do. Now message to the people who supported me: you need to get behind the other person." That's what she did. The question is whether he'll do it.
BASH: And what do you think, David? Is California within Bernie Sanders' grasp?
SWERDLICK: I think it's certainly within his grasp. You see Clinton ramping up the number of events that she's going to have, defined -- spending money in the state to try and win it.
I think Clinton missed an opportunity here to -- when the debate with Sanders, the California debate, was sort of on the table, to get into a debate with him. Because one of the things that Sanders supporters don't like about Clinton is this idea that she feels this nomination is hers and that she's going to be coronated, and Democrats are going to fall in line behind her.
The best thing would be for her to win it. But that's not guaranteed. The second best thing, in my view, would be for her to go down swinging, not losing to Sanders and losing a string of states. She'll have the math, but she will not have the momentum if she loses.
BROWN: All right. We'll have to see what happens. I know Sunlen, you've been working your sources out there. Thank you to the four of you for coming on and sharing your perspective. We do appreciate it. And Meantime, America's dangerous aging infrastructure has been an issue in the race for the White House. One of the greatest threats, thousands of miles of natural gas pipeline, vulnerable to leaks and deadly explosions. CNN correspondent Rene Marsh has more on this.
So is this a nationwide problem, Rene?
RENE MARSH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Pam, I can tell you that these pipelines, they're out of sight, they're out of mind, but there are thousands of miles of these underground pipelines, and they're aging. And they're at high risk for failure.
Tonight we have never before seen video of a natural gas explosion. The story starts in Baltimore, but it is something many cities nationwide are dealing with. There's a warning: the video you're about to see may be disturbing.
[18:45:08] MARSH (voice-over): Justin Worthington (ph) and his friend Troy Douglas seen in surveillance video were walking home from school in 2014 when an explosion shook their Baltimore neighborhood.
Justin's mother, Cynthia Edwards.
CYNTHIA EDWARDS, SON SURVIVED EXPLOSION: They got about halfway to the house, you can see them look at the house and you can see them running.
MARSH: Justin escaped, but 8-year-old Troy Douglas was killed.
EDWARDS: It's like a bomb blew up beside them.
MARSH: The utility company responsible for the pipes, Baltimore Gas and Electric, could not determine the cause of the explosion. Maryland state investigators blamed natural gas, a six-inch pipe from the Great Depression ran adjacent to the building, it was corroded, cracked, and leaking gas. Records show the pipe had been repaired for leaks twice in months leading up to the incident.
Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx oversees pipeline safety regulations.
(on camera): The pipe was repaired but not replaced. Something seems wrong with that, doesn't it?
ANTHONY FOXX, TRANSPORTATION SECRETARY: Yes, it's a tragic situation. Unfortunately, we are seeing these types of tragedies occur in far too many parts of the country.
MARSH (voice-over): There are more than 90,000 miles of pipe in the United States considered high risk. That's like traveling from the East Coast to West Coast 28 times. From 2006 to 2015, pipeline incidents caused an average of 13 fatalities and 59 injuries per year.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have several blocks on fire at this time. MARSH: In 2010, a 62-year-old gas line exploded, killing 8 in San
Bruno, California. The next year in Allentown, Pennsylvania.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Massive 20-foot high flames.
MARSH: Five were killed when an old pipe cracked.
FOXX: Two of the most significant rules that are in process right now that would focus on the standards for pipelines and raise standards for aging pipelines so that the industry would have to respond and fix some of these pipes that we know need to be fixed.
MARSH (on camera): It took more than five years to come u with the recent rule making.
FOXX: Yes, and I'm glad it wasn't six.
MARSH (voice-over): Stanford and Boston University professors rigged this vehicle to detect gas leaks. In Boston, Manhattan and D.C., they found spike levels of natural gas.
And here in Baltimore.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We just passed a leak.
MARSH: We discovered 35 leaks in a span of 7 miles.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Seventy-nine. I think we have to call it in.
MARSH (on camera): Seventy-nine percent means what?
PROF. NATHAN PHILLIPS, BOSTON UNIVERSITY: That's 790 parts per million gas, extremely high level.
MARSH: The natural gas industry says it's actively replacing aging pipes. But for the families of Justin Worthington and Troy Douglas, it's too little, too late.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: As I said, he was walking home from school and his life is gone.
MARSH: Baltimore Gas and Electric settled with the Douglas family for an undisclosed amount. The natural gas industry is responsible for paying for and replacing those old pipes and the expenses passed on to consumers. The industry says there's a limit on how fast it can work since there are caps on how much it can raise customers' rates to pay for those replacements. But anyone who sees what happened to the family in Baltimore would say more needs to be done and fast -- Pamela.
BROWN: Absolutely. Truly frightening.
Rene Marsh, thank you for bringing us that reporting.
We'll have much more news just ahead.
[18:54:41] BROWN: Well, it's a monumental undertaking for any country, but Brazil is struggling especially hard as it prepares to host this summer's Olympic Games.
CNN senior international correspondent Ivan Watson is Rio de Janeiro with all the details -- Ivan.
IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Pamela, this has been a particularly rough run up to the Olympic Games scheduled to start here in Rio in just over two months.
[18:55:02] A whole set of challenges facing not only Rio, the host city, but Brazil as a whole.
WATSON (voice-over): It's hard not to be seduced by Rio de Janeiro. This spectacular city soon to be the host of the 2016 Summer Olympics. Two months before the start of the games, construction crews are putting in the final touches at the Olympic venues.
GUSTAVO NASCIMENTO, HEAD OF THE OLYMPIC VENUE MANAGEMENT: Everything is going to be ready on time. We're going to deliver the parts fully commissioned in the 24th of July.
WATSON (on camera): But despite Rio's beauty, the city and Brazil as a whole are facing some pretty daunting challenges. A whole series of unexpected setbacks, leading some to wonder, are Rio's Olympics somehow cursed?
(voice-over): Just days ago, a warning from more than 100 international doctors, calling for the games to be postponed or moved, because the mosquito borne Zika virus could threaten and expected half million foreign visitors.
That view rejected by the World Health Organization, which does advise pregnant women to avoid the Olympics entirely, because of the risk of severe deformities to unborn children.
And then there's the political and economic crisis. Turmoil after Congress suspended Brazil's elected president in an impeachment process last month. And high-level corruption scandals, during the worst economic recession in generations, which has left more than 10 million Brazilians unemployed.
The economic hardship aggravated Rio's endemic problems with violent crime. Daily gun battles between police and drug gangs in the city's impoverished favelas, as well as a surge in robberies. This month, members of the Spanish Olympic sailing team mugged at gun point.
FERNANDO ECHEVARRI, SPANISH OLYMPIC SAILOR: We just turn around to see what was happening. We saw the pistols.
WATSON: Olympic sailors also worried about Rio's notoriously polluted bay, a dumping ground for much of the city's raw sewage.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We don't want to swim in it.
WATSON: Rio's mayor warns this isn't a first world city.
MAYOR EDUARDO PAES, RIO DE JANEIRO: Don't come here expecting that everything will be, you know, perfect. We live in a country that has an economic crisis, a country with lots of inequality. With all the problems we have seen concerning corruption, bribes. But the city will be much better than it was when we got the games.
WATSON: But even one of the mayor's new infrastructure projects is now a deadly failure.
(on camera): This brand-new spectacular cliff side bike path was supposed to be a showcase project for the Olympics. Instead, it became a tragic setback when the waves took out part of the trail, killing two people last month. In the turbulent run up to the Olympics, a virtual storm of bad new that leads you wondering what could possibly happen next.
WATSON: Pamela, despite all these setbacks, organizers of the games, city officials, they insist this will be a big success for Rio, come August. And they're extending invitations around the world to come and experience the world's biggest sporting event.
BROWN: Thank you to Ivan Watson in Rio.
And meantime, President Obama led the nation in observance of Memorial Day at Arlington National Cemetery. He paid tribute to, in his words, those who never lived to be honored as veterans for their service.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The Americans who rest here and their families, the best of us, those from whom we asked everything, ask of us today only one thing in return, that we remember them.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BROWN: And on this Memorial Day, our thanks to all of those who have served and sacrificed.
I'm Pamela Brown. Wolf Blitzer will be back here in THE SITUATION ROOM tomorrow. Thank you so much for watching.
"ANTHONY BOURDAIN: PARTS UNKNOWN" starts right now. Have a great rest of the day.