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THE SITUATION ROOM

Donald Trump Under Fire; Clinton Becomes Presumptive Democratic Presidential Nominee; Top Republicans Slamming Trump's Comments, Withdrawing Support; Interview With Tennessee Senator Bob Corker. Aired 6-7p ET

Aired June 7, 2016 - 18:00   ET

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


[18:00:20]

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now, breaking news: restating the case. Donald Trump weighing in late today on the judge he's been slamming, even as new Republicans slam him or say outright they can no longer support him.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Also, state of play. Now that Hillary Clinton has made history as the first female presumptive nominee, where does that leave a race that Bernie Sanders says he is not yet ready to leave.?

We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Anderson Cooper.

BLITZER: I'm Wolf Blitzer, and you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

We begin this hour with Donald Trump's latest word on the judge hearing two cases involving the operation known as Trump University. As you know, he's been taking the kind of heat from within his own party that normally makes a political candidate think twice about whatever he or she said or did to earn it.

And, tonight, a fresh Republican declared he cannot support Donald Trump this fall.

Sara Murray joins us now from just outside New York, where Donald Trump will be speaking later tonight.

She begins our coverage with the breaking news, that new statement from Donald Trump.

Sara, tell us what he's saying.

SARA MURRAY, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Wolf.

Donald Trump put out a very lengthy statement. He slammed the media, saying it was members of a media who were misconstruing what he had to say about this judge. And in some ways, he appeared to try to walk back his comments, but in other ways, he seemed to just double down.

One thing that was missing from this statement, an apology to the judge. And it's the kind of statement that may not go far enough in assuaging the fears of fellow Republicans who have spent the last couple of days distancing themselves from the presumptive nominee.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MURRAY (voice-over): Donald Trump should be celebrating the end of primary season. Instead, he's trying to put an end to a firestorm over what some are calling racist attacks against a federal judge.

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I don't care if the judge is Mexican or not. I'm going do great with the Mexican people, because I provide jobs. So, I don't care about Mexican.

But we're being treated very unfairly, Bill, very, very unfairly.

MURRAY: Tonight, Trump released a lengthy statement saying his comments have been "misconstrued as a categorical attack against people of Mexican heritage."

That's after the presumptive nominee repeatedly claimed the judge in a lawsuit involving Trump University is biased because of his Mexican heritage.

In a statement today, Trump added: "I do not feel that one's heritage makes them incapable of being impartial, but, based on the rulings that I have received in the Trump University civil case, I feel justified in questioning whether I am receiving a fair trial."

Trump says he will no longer talk about the case, but the damage may already be done.

REP. PAUL RYAN (R-WI), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: Claiming a person can't do the job because of their race is sort of like the textbook definition of a racist comment. I think that should be absolutely disavowed. It's absolutely unacceptable.

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), MAJORITY LEADER: It's time to quite attacking various people that you competed with or various minority groups in the country and get on message.

MURRAY: Senator Lindsey Graham telling CNN's Manu Raju that Trump's comments are over the top.

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: You may not think it's un- American. I do. You may not think it's racist. I do. But if he continues this line of attack, then I think people need to really reconsider for the future of the party and the future of the country whether they should support him.

MURRAY: Trump's latest statement comes just a day after he encouraged campaign staffers and supporters to keep up attacks on the judge, even as Trump tried to dismiss the idea that his criticism has anything to do with the judge's background.

BILL O'REILLY, HOST, "THE O'REILLY FACTOR": I think he's an honest guy. TRUMP: I don't care about Mexican or not Mexican. I want him to be -- just -- all I want him to do is give me a fair shake.

MURRAY: Today, at least one supporter is leaping to Trump's defense.

GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: I know Donald Trump. I have known him for 14 years, and Donald Trump is not a racist.

MURRAY: New Jersey Governor Chris Christie insisting Trump has a right to argue his side of the case.

CHRISTIE: People are always going to express their opinions. Those are Donald's opinions. And he has the right to express them.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BLITZER: Sara, some Republicans are reevaluating now if they can actually support Donald Trump, right?

MURRAY: That's right.

We saw very harsh criticism today from Illinois Senator Mark Kirk, who flat out said he cannot support Trump. He said Trump does not have the temperament to be president. We also saw some tough comments from Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval, who said he's not sure if he's going to be able to vote for Trump.

So it's pretty -- it's a pretty historic moment, Wolf, at a time where Donald Trump is closing out these primaries. The last states are voting in the GOP primaries tonight. But instead of celebrating that moment, even though he is set up for a victory party here, he's still trying to unite the party behind him.

And we have seen some of the toughest comments by Republicans against him to date in these last couple of days -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Sara Murray reporting for us, Sara, thanks very much -- Anderson, over to you.

COOPER: Wolf, thanks.

[18:05:00]

The panel is back this hour to talk about it, John King, Nia-Malika Henderson, Gloria Borger, David Gergen, plus Kayleigh McEnany, Mary Katharine Ham, Bill Press, Michael Nutter, and Jeffrey Toobin.

Kayleigh, it's interesting that Donald Trump saying he's not going to talk about it anymore. Just yesterday, there was that conference call where he apparently had told surrogates to keep pressing forward on this.

KAYLEIGH MCENANY, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, first of all, that conference call was really misconstrued.

Donald Trump never ordered anyone to do anything. In fact, I have criticized his remarks at times, and I have never been ordered to do anything. And that's unlike most presidential candidates, who do order their surrogates to do things. Donald Trump does not, nor did he do that in that phone call.

But this is exactly what he needed to do today. He needed to come out and say point blank, I do not feel that one's heritage -- this is what he said -- makes them incapable of being impartial. And he goes on to clarify, based on the rulings, he thinks this judge has been unfair.

He clarified where he stood. And it's time to move on. Donald Trump is a good man, as Chris Christie said. He's known him 14 years, doesn't have a racist bone in his body. That's the overarching point. Now it's time to talk about issues.

COOPER: It's interesting, though, Mary Katharine.

You have Paul Ryan certainly didn't seem to be echoing Donald Trump's sentiments, and obviously his statement came out before Donald Trump's statement about it's time to move on.

MARY KATHARINE HAM, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Right.

COOPER: But, certainly, Paul Ryan was commenting about it today and others.

HAM: Right.

I think people feel they need to, especially someone like Paul Ryan, who is interested in reaching the exact audience he was talking to today. And Donald Trump is making that extremely hard and will continue to, because he reflexively self-interested. He's not been a part of the party apparatus, which is what people like about.

And he is happy to be casually authoritarian, racist or sexist in service of that. And, sometimes, yes, it will be like I mis-said something, I was misconstrued.

But he will continue to do it. Here's the thing. And this is what these guys looking at this election are calculating. It's like grizzly man. It's like living with the grizzly. You can do it for a while. You're not going to tame the grizzlies. You might get through a while safe, but they are still going to be grizzlies, and they can still hurt you.

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: By the way, Timothy Treadwell, grizzly man, ended up being mauled by the grizzlies.

(CROSSTALK)

HAM: God rest his soul, and it's an implication that was there, yes.

COOPER: I like that you made a grizzly man reference.

(LAUGHTER) BILL PRESS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I have got to say Donald Trump doesn't look good on this either. But he's not the only one who looks bad, I believe.

I mean, John F. Kennedy wrote this great book "Profiles in Courage." It would be hard to write that book today about the Republican leadership for sure.

If you look at Paul Ryan, if you look at Mitch McConnell, if you look at Kelly Ayotte and these people who have come out and said, well, I disagree with everything he says, I really -- this is racist and everything, but I'm still going to vote for him.

They don't have any backbone. They don't have any principles. They're really putting the party or the hatred of Hillary Clinton over doing the right thing.

(CROSSTALK)

GLORIA BORGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: I think what Mitch McConnell said today was right, which is, why are we -- he effectively said, why are we talking about this civil fraud case in the middle of a presidential campaign?

Today, in Donald Trump's statement -- and Kayleigh is right -- he did try to walk it back. I disagree with you. I'm not sure that he did successfully. But he also was relitigating the case before he said, OK, let's stop talking about it now.

He's the Republican presidential nominee. If he wants to talk about issues, don't -- great. I'm all for that. Don't relitigate the case in the middle of your public statement. Just move and say, OK, now it's time to talk about immigration policy or trade policy or jobs policy.

But that's really not what he did today. That's because it's about business, and he really cares about winning this case, by the way.

MCENANY: But before he relitigated it, he did say the media has misconstrued a lot that has happened in this case. Here's what actually happened. Here is my side of the story, because he doesn't get to tell his side of the story.

(CROSSTALK)

NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Oh, but he does.

(CROSSTALK)

MICHAEL NUTTER, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: It's hard to be misconstrued when you're in a seemingly endless interview with Jake Tapper, who gives you 17 opportunities to either walk it back, take it back, say something else different. It's not like Jake was all over him. He wasn't putting words in his mouth, double, triple, quadruple down on his thing, and then comes back today, as Gloria says, I will give you a little bit on the front, then I'm going to relitigate to continue to make my point. Stop talking, Donald.

(CROSSTALK)

MCENANY: In fairness, cable news across the board and newspapers have spent a lot of time playing the negative statements from people who went to Trump University.

Why haven't we seen the positive statements made by the plaintiffs, captioned headlines?

(CROSSTALK)

NUTTER: Who cares about Trump University right now?

(CROSSTALK)

MCENANY: But the media keeps bringing it up. I agree with you. I want to talk about issues.

But when the media brings it up in every interview -- Donald Trump said last night in prime-time television, I go into an interview, I'm set to talk about jobs, and we talk about Trump University.

(CROSSTALK)

NUTTER: He needs to learn how to be a candidate.

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: Just for accuracy's sake, it was Trump who brought this up initially in speeches.

NUTTER: Yes.

COOPER: Donald Trump is the one who was touting his record of never settling lawsuits. He has repeatedly brought up Trump University.

So, it's not as if this is all completely media-driven. Donald Trump himself in speeches is touting how -- what a tough guy he is in lawsuits, even though he does settle plenty of lawsuits. He's the one who brought up the whole Trump...

[18:10:10]

(CROSSTALK)

NUTTER: And I'm sure that none of us knew that judge's name before the other day.

(CROSSTALK)

MCENANY: A lot of it is redressing media coverage.

And it takes turn to tango. If people don't ask questions, Donald Trump is not going to talk about this. And it's unfair to say, why is he headlining a civil case, when every interview, that is all he is asked about.

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: Let's watch the rally where he first brought it up.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: I can Judge Curiel should be ashamed of himself. I think it's a disgrace he's doing this. The judge, who happens to be, we believe, Mexican, which is great. I think that's fine.

You know what? I think the Mexicans are going to end up loving Donald Trump.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: That was totally unsolicited. He brought this up in a speech.

MCENANY: But prior to that, pundit after pundit has sat on panels and brought up Trump University. We were talking about Trump University back in February. It's been brought up continually. It's been the media bringing up Trump University. He has been reacting to it.

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: Nobody has ever brought up anything about the judge being Mexican.

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: And, by the way, the judge is not Mexican.

(CROSSTALK)

HAM: And his career as a businessman is actually part of his rationale for his candidacy.

PRESS: Thank you.

HAM: So that is part of -- this is a real question that...

(CROSSTALK)

HAM: And he continues to get in the way of his own message by talking about the heritage of the judge.

(CROSSTALK)

PRESS: Maybe we're talking about it because he doesn't have a political background, he doesn't have a record. He has his business record. And this was a big part of it. And he bragged about how good it was, that he wasn't even taking any money for it.

(CROSSTALK)

PRESS: This was a public service, that he was providing this university, which was so phony, they took the name university away from him.

MCENANY: Well, by the way, Clinton had his own university.

(CROSSTALK)

MCENANY: I would urge viewers, because we don't report on it, but go look into Laureate University. Go look into Clinton Global Initiative University.

They did exist. And Bill Clinton got $16.5 million for it. And Hillary Clinton's State Department did a lot of favors for this university.

(CROSSTALK)

MCENANY: So everyone should look into that, if we want to litigate universities on air.

COOPER: David.

DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, OK.

(LAUGHTER)

MCENANY: We can laugh, but it exists.

GERGEN: No, no, no, but it's -- it's fair.

Listen, I think you actually have a point about the people who went to Trump University who liked the experience not being on television much.

But I must tell you, this reflects a weakness in the Donald Trump campaign. He's trying to run a one-man campaign. Hillary has an army that's going up against him right now.

They know how to get people on television. The Trump campaign has no clue, has no clue, as far as I can tell, how to make their case through surrogates, by bringing on all those people, by buying some advertising, by doing the things. And you have got to run -- every Republican faces tough press criticism. Everybody who gets up to the top does.

So do most Democrats. I can tell you, the Clintons hated "The New York Times" for a long, long time.

HENDERSON: And probably still do.

GERGEN: And probably still do. JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The Clintons at the

moment say the State Department general is out to get her, don't believe anything he says about my e-mails.

BORGER: Right.

KING: And what do we do? We cover when the State Department inspector general issues a report. We cover it, because she's running for president. Everything is fair game, everything.

GERGEN: And conservatives can get a fair break in the media if they know what they're doing.

That's why Reagan was so successful. He understood the media. He didn't hate the media, the way the Trump people do. He didn't try to stir up hatred against the media and throw all these things against them. He made them -- he worked with them. He respected them as professionals.

And what did we get? Sidney Blumenthal, so close to Hillary Clinton, so angry about the way the press treated Ronald Reagan, he wrote a book called "On Bended Knee," "On Bended Knee." And that was a description of the press corps and how it responded to Reagan.

It can be done, but you have to do it with some professionalism. And the Trump campaign is not showing the professionalism you need to win a national election.

MCENANY: I agree that he needs to take a different strategy.

So, when asked about Trump University, he should say, you want to talk about Trump University? Well, I want to care about jobs, because that's what people care about. That's the strategy he needs to take.

(CROSSTALK)

MCENANY: But, likewise, the media needs to step back and really ask itself what it's doing when you ask Hillary Clinton in a press conference, her first one in seven months, how she feels about winning Puerto Rico and why..

GERGEN: Hillary Clinton has been banged around.

(CROSSTALK)

MCENANY: The reporter said she had tears in her eyes at the thought of her becoming the first female nominee.

HENDERSON: That's one reporter.

(CROSSTALK)

MCENANY: It was several reporters. Eight questions were asked, all of them very complimentary, none of them as hostile and as eloquent as some of the questions Jake Tapper asked...

(CROSSTALK)

GERGEN: Don't you think the Clinton people feel like the e-mail controversy has been overplayed to a fare-thee-well? Do you think they are angry about that?

This is what happens in the big leagues. Welcome to the NFL. You have got a team on the field who knows how to play the game.

MCENANY: The media treats Donald Trump very differently than it treats Hillary Clinton. Hillary Clinton gets a pass. As evidence, people should go look it up.

(CROSSTALK)

PRESS: Two billion dollars worth of free airtime?

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: Well, Mayor Nutter, you're a Hillary Clinton supporter. Do you believe she gets a pass from the media?

NUTTER: Are you serious?

(LAUGHTER)

NUTTER: No, not under any set of circumstances.

But she's an adult. She's used to it. She's been on the field for a long time. Take David's analogy. She's been in the NFL for a long time, beat up by the Republicans for decades. OK?

[18:15:02]

She doesn't whine. She doesn't complain you want to throw a question. And she knows how to handle or respond, or some days not respond to the thing that you don't want to talk about.

(CROSSTALK)

MCENANY: Do you want proof? Here's the thing.

ABC, NBC, CBS, from the beginning of the year, until May, devoted four minutes and 38 seconds to Hillary Clinton's Clinton Foundation scandal. They contributed 38 minutes, 38 minutes alone in the course of a week, to Donald Trump's scandal with was he the press person, did he portray a press person or act like a press person back 20 years ago?

That -- there's proof. Go look at Media Research Center. You see a minute-by-minute breakdown. The media treats Hillary Clinton very differently than they treat Donald Trump.

(CROSSTALK)

PRESS: I'm the media too. And I look at those numbers. If you look at the numbers of the hours of coverage that Donald Trump

has gotten for his rallies, for his speeches, cover to cover, one night, we didn't even break to take -- Hillary Clinton was speaking. I think it was in Florida. We didn't even break to take her. We stayed on Donald Trump.

I'm telling you, Kayleigh, I have said this...

(CROSSTALK)

PRESS: He wouldn't be where he is today without all the free media.

(CROSSTALK)

NUTTER: Yes, come on.

COOPER: Let's just take a quick -- we have got -- just a pause in this conversation for a second.

We will have more on all of this as well. We have got hours ahead. Kayleigh brought up how the media never brings up the positive reviews of Trump University. Coming up next, we will, and with the help of Jeff Toobin and senior investigative correspondent Drew Griffin look closer at those and some of the other factual claims Donald Trump makes in his statement about the case.

Later, how the Clinton-Sanders endgame could play out, as we count down to poll closing time on the final Super Tuesday of the primary season.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[18:20:55]

COOPER: Our breaking news, as you know, a fresh statement from Donald Trump on the judge hearing two cases involving the operation known as Trump University.

Now, because it's a lengthy and elaborate statement, we wanted to see how it stands up point by point to some scrutiny.

Back with Jeff Toobin, and joining us, senior investigative correspondent Drew Griffin.

So, Drew, we have heard Trump's statement on Trump University. You have some information on the points that he made.

DREW GRIFFIN, CNN INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, and it's one of those cases where, where do you begin?

There's a lot of fact-checking you have to do with these, Anderson, but let's just start kind of at the top, when he says this curriculum for Trump University was developed by very high-end professors. He mentions very well-known university and university professors.

The fact is, we know that some university professors and real estate -- quote, unquote -- "experts" did meet early on to develop the curriculum. They had a few meetings with Donald Trump. Under deposition, Donald Trump really couldn't remember exactly who they were or which names went with which schools.

He had trouble remembering exactly what was said in those meetings, other than generally they were talking about real estate and perhaps these professors bringing some of their expertise to it.

But I think what is important is the people who taught the actual classes, these people were not experts. They were not real estate experts. Some of them, we found, didn't even have high school educations. And those were the people who were interacting and delivering whatever education was delivered to the students who are now suing Trump University.

The second one he made, the second case was talking about Tarla Makaeff, this person who was the lead plaintiff in the California case, the lawsuit out in California. Makaeff is no longer the plaintiff. She got off the case. She begged the court to get off of the case.

She says it's because she couldn't handle the stress after six years of being attacked by Donald Trump and at one point being countersued by Donald Trump for defamation.

In fact, I'm reading from the court here at a hearing. She presented medical records which showed that she corroborated her claim she had suffered significant health problems since the case was filed.

The judge granted the motion to allow her to leave the case because of the stress and the financial concerns it was causing in her personal life. She's a yoga instructor in California.

That's why she was legally removed from the case. Trump says she was removed from the case because she was a horrible, horrible witness for the plaintiffs.

Art Cohen, Bob Guillo, these are two guys that he keeps mentioning, talking about how they loved the course. And he's talking about his 98 percent approval rating.

Anderson, we have gone over this with you. These were these forms that were filled out directly after these seminars took place. These seminars were like rah-rah sessions and you would fill out these forms.

But I want to tell you what one of those people who filled out a form told me. George Hanus in California, he said this was like right after you go to a really, really expensive restaurant, and the chef comes out and serves you this great meal, and he says, how did you like it? And you said, man, it was great. It was the best food I ever had.

Well, then you go home and start throwing up and you realize you have been food-poisoned. George Hanus says that's what this was like for him. And nobody asked him when he was throwing up into his toilet how he liked Trump University.

He is part of the lawsuits out in California. And that's a similar response we have gotten from several of these people who are involved in these.

And, finally, Donald Trump said in his statement that refunds were available. He had a refund policy. You could get a full refund at any time, I believe, during or up of the three days you took this course; 10,000 people paid for this course. The fact is, 2,539, so more than 25 percent of the people who signed up and paid for this course asked for and did get a refund.

So, 25 percent of the people didn't like it and wanted their money back. And what our records have shown is many more people tried to get a refund, but they couldn't. So, those are kind of the fact- checks that we went through very briefly on this statement that Donald Trump, again, talking about Trump University, released this afternoon.

[18:25:06]

COOPER: So, Jeffrey, to Drew's point, Trump pointed out two of the students who have been critical of the university expressed satisfaction.

Because they liked their program, does that mean that there wasn't fraud, which is what they're alleging?

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: No, not necessarily.

And this is a point that Trump has made repeatedly about the whole university experience, is that, look, the students gave it good evaluations, there couldn't be fraud.

That's not the law. The law is about what induced, what got students to become -- to sign up for the university? If they were lied to, if they were misled in important, material ways, that is fraud.

Now, if later, they express some satisfaction with the class, that may reduce their amount of damages. That might mean that they're not entitled to much money. That's -- the judge has already ruled that, but it doesn't mean there wasn't fraud in the first place.

COOPER: All right, we will have more on this ahead.

Want to take a quick break, but, first, let's go to Wolf -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, we're going to hear from a supporter, Anderson, who doesn't condone what Trump said, but also believes the presumptive nominee has time to redirect his campaign, Senator Bob Corker standing by to join us live.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: As we've reported just a little while ago, the Illinois senator, Mark Kirk, a Republican, withdrew his support for Donald Trump over Trump's remarks about federal Judge Gonzalo Curiel. Kirk said he's concluded that the Republican presumptive nominee doesn't have the proper temperament to be commander in chief.

[18:31:19] There is also a report out tonight that Nevada's governor, Brian Sandoval, also a popular Republican, is no longer sure he will support Trump.

Other top Republicans are slamming Trump's remarks about Judge Curiel while still vowing to vote for him in November. Among them Senator Bob Corker of Tennessee, who's also a potential -- who's potentially a vice-presidential running mate, we're told, for Donald Trump. Senator Corker is with us.

SEN. BOB CORKER (R), TENNESSEE: I don't know who's telling you those things, by the way.

BLITZER: Has he said anything to you about that at all? Because your name is supposedly on the short list.

CORKER: We've had no discussion about that. No discussion.

BLITZER: Let's talk about the latest developments, Trump issuing this lengthy statement. You've read it. Among other things, he says, "I do not feel that one's heritage makes them incapable of being impartial, but based on the rulings that I have received in the Trump University civil case, I feel justified in questioning whether I am receiving a fair trial."

He's not apologizing at all in this lengthy statement. Should he?

CORKER: Well, look, I mean, the comments that he made cannot be condoned in any quarter. And obviously, it's frustrated a lot of people that realize that, if we want to see a change in trajectory in our country, he is the only instrument for that. And so, you know, people -- there's a lot riding on this. The comment shouldn't have been made. I thought today's statement was the beginning step and a pivot. I mean, he needs to move...

BLITZER: Should he have apologized, though? Do you believe his comments were racist?

CORKER: Those comments should not be condoned. I know in every race, Wolf, there ends up being things said, and people try to classify what they are or what they aren't. They just don't have a place in today's society, shouldn't have been -- don't have a place any time, and should not be condoned. And it's riled lots of people, as you can imagine. And it's made people question. And it's made people wonder whether the campaign can step to the next level.

My sense is this is a very important time for him over the next period of time. The primary ends today. He's got an army of people who would be willing to help with commerce and treasury functions and all those things. His positions obviously aren't as firm as someone like Secretary Clinton, who's been around forever. Yes, yes.

BLITZER: The speaker of the House today, Paul Ryan, he did not mince any words at all. Listen to this.

CORKER: Yes.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. PAUL RYAN (R-WI), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: I disavow these comments. I regret those comments that he made. I don't think -- claiming a person can't do their job because of their race is sort of like the textbook definition of a racist comment. I think that should be disavowed. It's absolutely unacceptable.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: "A textbook definition of a racist comment." Do you agree with the speaker?

CORKER: I agree that these comments should not be made. I don't condone them. I was one of the first people to come out and strongly reject them, along with, by the way, the total ban on Muslims coming to our country, period.

So I don't condone those comments. And I think that what you've seen today, hopefully, is the beginning of a pivot towards a campaign that is representative of what a general election candidate should be about.

BLITZER: We know what the Democrats think of Donald Trump. What's the mood on the Hill right now, as far as your fellow Republicans are concerned, about the presumptive Republican nominee?

CORKER: So the mood is this: they know that our country is on our downward trajectory. They know that he is the only person that can change the direction fiscally, economically and foreign policy-wise; and people are concerned. And they want to see -- they want to see him step into another phase.

Look, I'm concerned. You know, but at the same time, they want to see -- when they see that pivot, I think they're willing to really get behind this effort. And so it's raised some questions. There's no question.

[17:35:06] BLITZER: You say he has two or three weeks to fix this?

CORKER: I think he's got a period of time here. Look, he's going to be leading up until the convention, you know, in the middle of July, and I think it's a period of time where he's got to demonstrate a different level of professionalism. His team has do that. We've got to move away from these personality-based statements that are made and move to real policies. I mean, people want to hear about that.

And I think this is a very, very important time. He's got to pivot; he's got to step up. What an incredible opportunity. And I don't think anyone wants to see it slip through his fingers by continuing to make the kind of comments that he's been making.

BLITZER: If he doesn't step up, you won't support him?

CORKER: Look, I -- I want to watch and see. I've always planned to support the nominee. I've done everything I can to encourage when he made a foreign policy -- when he gave a speech that I felt had some substance and pointed to a direction that he was going, I gave encouraging comments. I want to continue to encourage.

But I think all of us, candidly, are owed a sense of -- look, we want to support, but we also want to see a campaign that's willing to step up and conduct itself in a way that American politics needs to be done today.

BLITZER: One final question. Should he have apologized to this federal judge, who really has a stellar reputation?

CORKER: I think -- think that, you know, he made some comments last night on one of the evening programs. He sent this statement out today. I don't -- I'm not talking with them about this, except through the camera, like I am right now. My sense is this is the beginning of maybe a series of steps to try to right something that obviously is fundamentally wrong in the United States.

BLITZER: Senator Corker, thanks very much for coming in.

CORKER: Thank you.

BLITZER: Ahead, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders are within sight of the finish line tonight. Secretary Clinton poised to declare a victory after securing enough delegates to make her the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[18:41:45] BLITZER: Just a little bit more than an hour from now, the first polls on this final Super Tuesday will close in New Jersey. All states, six of them, they're voting today, including California, with 475 delegates at stake.

CNN will be bringing you the results as they come in.

At this moment Hillary Clinton is poised to declare a victory. She began the day with enough delegates to make her the presumptive nominee but hasn't yet officially declared victory.

It's been a long and sometimes bumpy road to this moment, a fiercely fought battle with Bernie Sanders, who's still not giving up. Here's Brianna Keilar.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Hillary Clinton accomplishing what she could not in 2008, becoming the presumptive Democratic nominee.

HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I've got to tell you, according to the news, we are on the brink of a historic -- historic, unprecedented moment. But we still have work to do, don't we?

KEILAR: A very different story than eight years ago to the day when she suspended her run for the White House.

CLINTON: Although we weren't able to shatter that highest hardest glass ceiling this time, thanks to you, it's got about 18 million cracks in it.

KEILAR: But the Clinton campaign is worried some of her supporters in California might stay home, thinking the mission is accomplished. As they fundraised off of the news. "So this just happened," an e-mail asking for donations reads. They also told supporters, "But this primary isn't quite over," as the campaign urges voters in six states casting ballots today to give Clinton a strong primary finish.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (D-VT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think we've got a shot.

KEILAR: Bernie Sanders is neck-and-neck with Clinton here in the Golden State and fighting to win as many of the 475 delegates as possible, criticizing Clinton's climate policies.

SANDERS: It is a global crisis. That is why we need a ban on fracking. And I sincerely hope Secretary Clinton will change her view on that issue and join us.

KEILAR: Despite Clinton about to declare she has reached the magic number of delegates, the Sanders campaign is not ready to concede the race just yet.

JEFF WEAVER, BERNIE SANDERS CAMPAIGN MANAGER: We've polled some super delegates, and at this point, they're supporting Secretary Clinton, but there's a long way to go between now and the convention. A lot can happen between then.

KEILAR: Meanwhile, Clinton picked up an endorsement from California's most prominent politician, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), MINORITY LEADER: I'm a voter in California, and I have voted for Hillary Clinton for president of the United States and proud to endorse her for that position. But I hasten to say that it's not over until it's over.

KEILAR: The first woman to be speaker of the House, Pelosi also said she likes the idea of Clinton picking Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren or another woman as her running mate.

PELOSI: We've had two men over and over again for hundreds of years. I think that two women, whoever they may be, that would be fabulous, as well, but Hillary Clinton will choose a person that she feels most comfortable with.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BLITZER: And Brianna Keilar is joining us now.

Brianna, how optimistic is the Bernie Sanders campaign about California?

KEILAR: Well, they know that this is going to be a tough race, that it's up for grabs.

[18:45:01] In fact, Wolf, the senator touching upon this just a couple of hours ago saying, we have a good shot. At other times, he certainly sounded more confident, perhaps an acknowledgment that this is a very close race.

You look at the polls. Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders within the margin of error, but this is for Bernie Sanders to continue that push to the convention as he has said that he wants to do, winning in California very important to that. If he loses tonight in California, in New Jersey, he's going to face even more pressure to get out of this race.

BLITZER: All right. Brianna, thanks very much.

Anderson?

COOPER: Secretary Clinton and her supporters are holding a victory celebration in Brooklyn. It will include a video of the history she's making as the first female presumptive presidential nominee.

He just released it to us. We want to play a little bit because it does give a little bit of insight on what her campaign message might be against Donald Trump.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED GIRL: I'm a little feminist growing up to help women with equal rights.

I hope you can be the first woman president of the whole United States.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Dare to compete, Mrs. Clinton. Dare to compete.

HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Women and men, young and old, Latino and Asian, African-American and Caucasian, rich, poor and middle class, gay and straight, you have stood with me, and I will continue to stand strong with you.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: A partisan video no doubt about it, a history making moment.

Back with the panel.

Mayor Nutter, what do you expect to here from Hillary Clinton tonight and how much is about the position she now finds herself, how much do you think she's going go after Donald Trump?

NUTTER: Well, I would expect, first and foremost, she's going to thank the millions and millions of people who have participated in this entire process, whether this they voted for her or Senator Sanders. It's been an incredible experience.

The timing, you know, this date, very different experience than literally eight years ago and I was with her then and with her today, so there is a history and a nostalgia, but also an emotion that goes with that and I'm sure she's going to talk about that as well. Again, politics is very, very personal.

There has to be I would expect, expression of praise to Senator Sanders for what he has done in this race and what he has brought to it, the people he's brought, the issues he's brought and he's run for president of the United States of America and that needs to be recognized as well.

I don't know what she's going to say possibly about Donald Trump. It may just be the night for the Democrats, for herself, for supporters, there's always many, many days going forward to do -- say whatever you want about Donad Trump.

COOPER: Bill, for Senator Sanders, some tough days ahead in trying to figure out what he wants to do moving forward.

PRESS: Yes. First, I mean, I want to echo something the mayor said, this is the night the history books are going to be talking about, you know, that we are going to see tonight and I think she has every right to seize the moment and recognize the significance of this moment of a woman leading a major ticket in this country.

And in a sense, I think Bernie Sanders may have a more difficult role. I mean, I've run for office. When you win, hey, when you don't quite make it, you know, you've got to figure out what is your message going forward and I think that's where Senator Sanders has a right to take a little time and the same what Hillary did in 2008, take a couple of days, maybe even a week, to figure out where he wants to go, and what's the best way to get there. I know he'll be behind Secretary Clinton. I know this party is going to be very, very united going against Donald Trump.

The question is when and how I believe it will be before the convention, but that's the senator's decision to make.

COOPER: The fact that you have President Obama perhaps coming out as early as tomorrow to endorse Secretary Clinton, that puts pressure on him as well.

BORGER: Right. He's not waiting very long. He's chomping at the bit to get out there. This is his legacy that's on the line. He clearly believes that Hillary Clinton is the person to carry that legacy forward and I think he's always believed it. He's kind of had to restrain himself.

I think the difficult thing for Bernie Sanders to do and tell me if I'm wrong, Bill, is that he has to figure out a way to get his devoted supporters to believe that Hillary Clinton will actually represent them because right now, about a quarter of his supporters say there is no way they're going to vote for Hillary Clinton. We know that can change. We saw that in 2008 when Obama was running against Hillary Clinton.

But he's got to do that and so what he needs is proof. So, he needs proof from team Hillary that he's going to be able to say to change the process of the nominating process or they're going to be for raising the minimum wage to 15 bucks an hour. Those kind of things at the convention might get his supporters on board, but it's up to Bernie Sanders to figure out how to do that.

PRESS: And for the Clinton campaign to respond, too.

BORGER: Exactly.

PRESS: Both have to.

(CROSSTALK)

HENDERSON: In talking to some folks in the Clinton circle, one of the things they're most concerned about is how Bernie Sanders communicates to his supporters that this is a nomination that Hillary Clinton earned, that the system wasn't rigged, that the system wasn't unfair, that he didn't lose it because of some back room deal.

[18:50:11] So, that's something they are concerned about. It's also true that a lot of people in the Clinton ask circle they were on the losing end last time. They know what it means to come together. Some of them were on the Jessie Jackson campaign in '88. They know what it means to become an insurgent candidate, who then has to come together with the victor.

So, they're really sympathetic to the Sanders --

COOPER: David?

GERGEN: Yes. I think this is a moment of opportunity for Hillary Clinton. Regardless of where you come from, to have a woman ascending these heights, it's going to send a warm ripple. It's nothing like an electrifying moment when Barack Obama broke through, but it's still there's a warmth about this and something good about the country, if she can take advantage of that and stop writing a campaign which is essentially an anti-Trump campaign and start delivering a positive message what the next Clinton years would be like, I think this is the time to make that pivot.

I don't think she had a theme that draws people together and says, let's go forward. Mostly anti-Trump.

KING: You watch a snippet of the video it is instructive. We talk about the people think Republican strategists, why won't Donald Trump change. We always say, from Trump's perspective, if it ain't broke don't fix it, he's winning.

That is the testament right now. The Democrats have won the last two presidential elections in overwhelming Electoral College sweeps, and that is African-Americans, Latinos, the gay and lesbian community, Caucasians, that is the Obama coalition, that's what she is saying right there, it ain't broke, don't fix it. If we can protect the Obama coalition, we win again.

BORGER: She's also not well liked. Donald Trump isn't well liked. Hillary Clinton isn't well-liked.

So, this is a moment as David was saying for her to present herself in a positive way to the American public, this is a woman who's been on the political scene for decades and her fortitude and tenacity is well-known to everybody, but she has to present her positive view. She's already presented her negative view Donald Trump will get plenty of that.

(CROSSTALK)

HAM: Didn't mean to interrupt you.

Couple thoughts here. It's a storybook ending for Hillary Clinton but for many people in America, a storybook ending is like a really uninspiring dishonest storybook. I mean, that's how many people feel. It's not going to work for me, it's going to work for other people in a different way.

But I think also, we shouldn't expect on either side the coming together of these parties to be conventional, 2016 has not been a conventional year, and in both cases, the outsider candidate has essentially joined the party apparatus recently to run for president. Donald Trump still refers to the GOP as "they." This is like their first priority is not necessarily party unity. So, that might look different than it's looked in the past and it's OK for Bernie to slow walk it.

NUTTER: Just to -- I mean, she has come back, eight years ago, delivering a different kind of speech. And so, to Gloria's point the tenacity of sticking with it and America does love a kind of comeback story and I think the second is, in a general election, you get to present yourself to a wider array of people and they get to know her better.

COOPER: I thank everybody on the panel. Coming up what to watch for in tonight's results. We'll be right back. A lot more ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[18:57:48] BLITZER: Six states voting today. The final Super Tuesday and a ruckus primary season. The first polls close in a little or so hour from now.

Our political director David Chalian has been following the exit polling this entire primary season. He's joining us now.

David, you broke the numbers down by gender. Tell us what you're finding about who voted for these candidates.

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: So, Wolf, what we've done here is we've looked across all 27 states where we had exit polling throughout the whole nomination season on the Democratic side, to take a look at what are some of Secretary Clinton's strengths, and what did she need to work on. So, gender you noted right there.

She split the male vote in Democratic primaries this year with Bernie Sanders. She has an overwhelming advantage with female voters. Now, obviously, the Democratic electorate is different than what it will be in November for the general electorate, but that advantage will be huge for her, but clearly, she is going to have to work on support among male voters.

Let's take a look at the next demographic we look at here, young voters. This has been an unbelievable strength for Bernie Sanders, again, across all 27 states where we have exit polling. He averaged 71 percent to her 28 percent.

This is going to be critical mission number one for her when she formally wraps up the nomination process to bringing young voters on board, a key piece to bring together Sanders part of the party in her fold to be in a position to head into the fall.

And then we look at independents voting in Democratic primaries, so it's a little different than what we see in November but it's been a deficiency for her and a strength for Sanders. Sixty-four for Sanders, 34 percent for Clinton. Now, you know, Mitt Romney was able to best Barack Obama among independent voters and Barack Obama still won the election.

But this is something that Hillary Clinton is going to pay close attention to in a race against Donald Trump, is making sure to run even or not lose by much that independent vote and you can see throughout the nomination season it's been a struggle for her among these Democratic primary voters.

BLITZER: Certainly has.

All right. David Chalian, thanks very much.

We're standing by to hear an historic speech by Hillary Clinton and very important remarks by Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders as well.