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Ryan Tells GOP: Time to Unite; Obama to "Hear Out" Sanders in Tomorrow's Meeting. Aired 11-11:30a ET

Aired June 8, 2016 - 11:00   ET



[11:00:00] HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We've reached a milestone.


CLINTON: First time in our nation's history that a woman will be a major party's nominee.

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE & CEO, TRUMP ORGANIZATION: If I'm forced to fight for something, I will never, ever back down.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT), DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We will continue to fight for every vote and every delegate --


CLINTON: Donald Trump is temperamentally unfit to be president and commander-in-chief.


CLINTON: He mocked a reporter with disability.

TRUMP: Hillary Clinton turned the State Department into her own private hedge fund.

CLINTON: Calls women pigs.

TRUMP: Putting the security of the entire country at risk.


JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Hello there. I'm John Berman.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Hey, everyone. I'm Kate Bolduan.

Hillary Clinton got herself a nomination, Trump got himself a teleprompter.

BERMAN: Also known as the first day of the rest of our lives.

BOLDUAN: Hillary Clinton making her mark as the nation's first female nominee of a major party and sealing the deal of the major victory over Bernie Sanders last night. Overnight, John Berman got to call it in California, all while Sanders is still promising to fight on.

BERMAN: And Donald Trump, on the teleprompter, says he understands the responsibility of carrying the mantle.

And this breaking news, just moments ago, House Speaker Paul Ryan spoke to Republicans on Capitol Hill behind closed doors. These people inside that closed-door room left with the impression that Paul Ryan was calling for unity, unity with the nominee, Donald Trump. Now the timing here might confuse you. It might be striking to you, because just yesterday, the House speaker said that Donald Trump's attacks on a judge were the "textbook definition of racism." What's going on?

I want to bring in senior political reporter, Manu Raju, on Capitol Hill.

Manu, what was said behind closed doors?

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER: That's right. This is the first time that Paul Ryan has met with House Republicans since he made the endorsement last week and since he did make that rather remarkable comment yesterday, referring to Donald Trump's criticism of a Mexican- American judge not being able to do his job fairly.

But what Paul Ryan said in this meeting is he explained why he made the comments criticizing Donald Trump, but he also stressed the important of party unity. He talked about how it's important to unite. When we talked to members who came out of the meeting afterwards, several of them -- this is what they believe they heard, including Tom Price of Georgia, Bill Flores of Texas. And Flores, I should note, is not a Donald Trump supporter. They heard the speaker make it pretty clear to them that it's time to unite behind Donald Trump. That Donald Trump is the party's nominee. The party is better when it's united against Hillary Clinton in the fall.

Now the speaker's office said that he did not explicitly urge members to unite. He just talked about how important it was for unity heading into the fall.

Will be interesting to see how this plays out. Clearly, the message overall is that all this quibbling is not good for the party. The party is stronger when it is united, even if they don't agree with everything Donald Trump had to say.

Now, I have to say we talked to a lot of Republican members, and a lot are not quite ready to get behind Donald Trump, including ones in very difficult re-election races and some who are more moderate.

One of those moderates, Adam Kinzinger of Illinois. I had a chance to talk to him. I asked if he was feeling a little better with Donald Trump, particularly after last night's speech. Here's what he had to say.


REP. ADAM KINZINGER, (R), ILLINOIS: And I haven't endorsed him yet. And each day, I say I want to get to where I can endorse the Republican nominee, this makes it hard.

RAJU: Do you think that this was a racist comment?

KINZINGER: Sure, yeah. Of course. Yeah.

RAJU: Can you get behind someone who makes a racist comment?

KINZINGER: I don't know how to answer that. It's the question of what's it going to take for you to get behind Trump. I guess, if I see it I'll know it.


RAJU: It really shows how conflicted members are up here, even knowing that Donald Trump will be their party's nominee, including Paul Ryan, the House speaker, who grappled so publicly with how to deal with Donald Trump and eventually endorsing him. And you know, the things that he says carries a lot of weight. Folks thinking -- he's telling them it's time to get behind Donald Trump, but instead he's saying, his office is saying we're talking about uniting the party, heading into the fall. We need to be united headed into fall. We'll see if they're able to do that -- Kate and John?

BOLDUAN: Yeah. What is your definition of unification is where this is headed. Let's talk about this and more.

Manu, thank you very much.

Let's talk about this with Tana Goertz, senior adviser to Donald Trump; CNN correspondent, Phil Mattingly; and CNN political commentator and Senator Ted Cruz's former communications director, Amanda Carpenter; and Tim Miller, he's also here, Jeb Bush's former -- ran communications for Jeb Bush's campaign.

What about that? Great to have you all here.

Amanda, Paul Ryan, what do you make of it?

AMANDA CARPENTER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: He needs to get his head screwed on straight. We need to look at the evolution of Paul Ryan over a short period of time. A few weeks ago, he sat down with Jake Tapper, and said he was not ready to endorse Donald Trump. Out of nowhere, even though nothing changed, he said he's ready to get on board. Yesterday, he stood before a press conference and said Donald Trump committed "textbook racism." Now he's behind closed doors telling people to get on board with the nominee? No, Paul Ryan, you are the messaging leader for this party. That's what you wanted to do. We put a legislative agenda on hold so you could teach us how to message. Teach people how to message this problem because we are not going to get to a poverty agenda, we're not going to get to any of those items until we get our heads wrapped around Donald Trump and what we're going do with him. And by all of Paul Ryan's actions so far, he has no clue.

[11:05:44] BERMAN: Tim Miller, we should say that among other things you worked a lot for a never Trump super PAC. To call you not a fan of Donald Trump is an understatement. To Amanda's point, what changed from yesterday? Donald Trump did not apologize at all for his attacks on this American judge who he said could not be impartial because of his Mexican heritage. On the contrary, he said that he feels like his comments were misconstrued. It's our fault that we understood his comments about this judge to be racist. He gave a speech where he did stick to the teleprompter. It was a different tone but he didn't talk about the judge and didn't apologize. For Paul Ryan, what changed?

TIM MILLER, FORMER COMMUNICATIONS MANAGER FOR JEB BUSH PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN: I don't know -- nothing's changed. I feel like I'm in the movie "Groundhog Day." We talk about the Donald Trump pivot every week, like I'm going to behave better this week, next week. Nothing changes. Nothing's ever going to change. He's been the same Donald Trump for 70 years.

You know, I think Paul has a tough job trying to keep the Republican caucus together. And I'm sensitive to that. From my perspective, I think the best thing is for them to distance themselves from Donald Trump, say they're not going to support Donald Trump, go to the convention, and keep open the possibility that delegates at the convention could vote against Donald Trump because this guy's not going to change. If anything, as the poll numbers get worse, his behavior will get worse.

BOLDUAN: Tana, I'll bring you in.

As the poll numbers get worse, his behavior will get worse. What do you say?

TANA GOERTZ, SENIOR ADVISOR, DONALD TRUMP PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN: Absolutely not. The reality here is they're all going to get behind Mr. Trump because this is going to be -- this has already been the election of all elections. This will be the convention of all conventions. Everybody wants to be there. Mr. Trump is the nominee. He has done what no other candidate has ever done. He has set every record. They'll all get behind him. And this is just craziness. This is absolutely craziness.

BERMAN: Tana, as a point of fact, Mark Kirk doesn't want to be there. He just unendorsed Donald Trump. Lindsey Graham doesn't want to be there. John McCain --


GOERTZ: Guess what, folks, we're going to do it without all of them.


BERMAN: Jeb Bush, who Tim Miller worked for, said Donald Trump needs to apologize. That didn't happen. We know they all won't be there. But will more not be there?

Phil Mattingly, what are you hearing? Does the Trump team feel somehow like they've turned a corner here?

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I think they felt like last night was a good step forward. But to Tim's point, the idea that some massive pivot is going to happen and Donald Trump is going to turn into general election Donald Trump, when you talk to Donald Trump's advisers, they knock that down pretty consistently. There was a recognition yesterday, and Kate and I joked about it. Donald Trump was off Twitter for 18 hours. Donald Trump was meeting privately with Chris Christie. RNC sources say Donald Trump had a phone call with the RNC. Yesterday was a reality moment, recognizing you can't keep doubling and tripling down. This is a real problem. Members are publicly speaking out. Donors are losing their minds over it. The reality of losing a robust House majority, a slim Senate majority were on the table. Therefore, Donald Trump needed to do something about it. Donald Trump put out a 700-word statement and did not apologize and seemed discombobulated. Then he spoke on Teleprompters. For Trump maybe facing a rather low bar, he went above it, based on the five days prior.

The difficulty when you talk to Republicans is as Manu is reporting, as Tim's talking about, is what happens next. Where does he go from here? Can we trust that in 48 hours he will be on the pathway, or are we going back to where we were?

MILLER: We know he's not -- racial divisiveness is -- from Donald Trump's perspective, a feature of his campaign, not a bug. He got into the political limelight by saying the president's from Africa. He announced his candidacy by saying Mexicans are rapists. Throughout the campaign, he's talked about illegal immigrant. He attacked Jeb Bush's wife for being from Mexico. Over and over he's done this and been rewarded in his mind. His poll numbers got better in the primary as he said more and more radical statements. So why would he change now? There's no reason to believe he's going to change when he's been consistent in demeaning and divisive racial comments for over half a decade now.

BOLDUAN: Tana, he didn't say he was sorry in his statement or in the speech. He didn't apologize. Do you think he feels -- does he feel sorry?

[11:10:06] GOERTZ: Mr. Trump was just bringing up that there's a conflict of interest with the judge's ties to La Raza. That's bottom line. We've been down this road a million times. Mr. Trump --


BOLDUAN: No, that's not the case. And you know that. He's the one who first brought up the fact that he says I believe he's Mexican. That's OK. And then he said --


GOERTZ: I'm very aware of how it went down, Kate. And the reality is that Mr. Trump does not run from issues. He will not run and cower and hide and retract and retreat statements when he knows he's right. The American people love that about him. The American voters who have gone out, the millions of them who have gone out, who just did when we finished our GOP presidential primary -- yey -- they have gone out in millions to go vote for this man because it's not his words, it's his actions. He is a businessman who will supply jobs, who will secure our border and strengthen our military. That's the bottom line. It's not his word, it's his actions.

BOLDUAN: So don't listen --


BOLDUAN: No one should listen to what Donald Trump's saying.

BERMAN: Amanda, you're nodding. In agreement?

CARPENTER: It's what's expected from the Trump camp. She's doing a good job representing the candidate. To say that a presidential nominee's words don't matter? This has tremendous impact on the market --


GOERTZ: Actions. Actions.


CARPENTER: You said his words don't matter. We should look at his actions. That's what you said.

GOERTZ: Actions. Actions.


BOLDUAN: You said don't listen to his words, look at his actions. When you are a presidential candidate, there are no actions to look at. You're not president yet.


MILLER: We should open up people from Mexico's mail and confiscate their money. Ban Muslims from coming into the country.


MILLER: The president's from Africa.


GOERTZ: Secure our borders so we can get jobs.


AMANDA: Can we look at what's happening on the Republican side and the Democratic side yesterday? Hillary Clinton is bringing everyone together. We're stronger together. They're all going to fall in line in a way that's around policies and go forward. Tana told us on the air that we don't need them. People can stay home. We don't want you at the convention. That is no way to go into a general election. Nobody from their side is making any overtures to unite the party. It's get over it, get on board. And there are many people like me, like Tim, saying no thanks, we're not getting on that train.

BOLDUAN: Go ahead, Tim.

GOERTZ: And I never said that people weren't welcome. Don't put words in my mouth, please.


BOLDUAN: Roll the tape.

GOERTZ: -- we'll welcome anyone. But you were asking about specific people that don't want to come and don't want to get aboard. That's fine. We're doing with or without you. We'd love to have you --


BERMAN: But, Tana, you said, we're doing it without you is saying we don't need you. Don't -- don't come --


GOERTZ: That is not, no, that is not what I'm saying, not at all. And we'll take all the Bernie supporters that don't want an --


GOERTZ: -- an insider, as well, and all those Bernie supporters that don't like the establishment are going to come over to Mr. Trump's side. You'll see how well we --


BOLDUAN: Real quick, Tana, you -- you are going to -- you don't need them to come? All the --


GOERTZ: I never said that. Never said those words.

BERMAN: We'll do it with them or without them, you said.

GOERTZ: We are going to the convention. I did say we are going to the convention with or without them, yes, I did say those words.

MILLER: Shouldn't the nominee, though, be trying to be putting an olive branch out?

GOERTZ: He is, he is trying.

MILLER: To Republicans who don't like him instead of pushing them away?

GOERTZ: He absolutely is. Absolutely.

MILLER: How? How? GOERTZ: He will not run from the issues. Mr. Trump's welcomed

everyone. He said last night, at his wonderful press conference, at his victory speech, he said, we will welcome all of the Bernie supporters. He is welcoming any of the Republican leaders that want to come aboard. Those that want to go out and say negative things about him, that's OK. Everybody is entitled to their opinion. That's why your shows are so popular. That's why people love to come on and share their opinions because everybody's opinion wants to be heard. So Mr. Trump is all about the more the merrier.

BOLDUAN: Phil, I'm sorry, would you like to have a final thought before we go?

MATTINGLY: I think what Tana's saying, and this discussion underscores the tension that's not just within the Republican Party but within the Trump campaign. They want unity. They want people to come on board. Donald Trump is not going to change what's been so effective for him in the first 12 month of his campaign. He's not going to back down when he's attacked by a Democrat or Republican --


BOLDUAN: Or by someone in his own party.

MATTINGLY: If you want to unify, those are thing you have to trade off on --


GOERTZ: That's not the case.

MATTINGLY: The difficulty here -- you see what's happening with Paul Ryan. His calculation is I have a better chance of moving my agenda forward as a House Republican speaker next year if there's a Republican in the White House. That Republican has to be Donald Trump --


BERMAN: Hold on.

MATTINGLY: I do think this is the entire tension that they're facing now. Paul Ryan's looking at that as the reality and just trying to get his head around it and work day by day.


[11:15:11] BERMAN: Donald Trump, I welcome you all to agree with me.

All right. Guys, thank you very much for being with us.

BOLDUAN: Thanks, Tana. Thanks --


BERMAN: Is that accurate? Tana, you're saying yes? I welcome you all if you agree with the Donald Trump message?

GOERTZ: I was going to say, Kate said that, you know, even within the Republican Party. Mr. Trump doesn't have any problems with anybody in the Republican party. They're the ones that are saying they may have a problem with him. Mr. Trump's not making any attacks. He's actually wants to unify the Republican Party.

BOLDUAN: Factually -- no. Factually, he has problems within his own party. Not necessarily that Donald Trump, he --


BOLDUAN: That's not what I said.


BOLDUAN: OK, we're done. We're done. We're done.


BOLDUAN: We're done here.

Thank you, Tim, Tana, as always, thank you. We're done.

BERMAN: And a report coming up later in the day. Hillary Clinton will be on with Wolf Blitzer in "The Situation Room" at 6:00 p.m. tonight, here on CNN.

Donald Trump doing a lot these days. Among other things, in the speech last night, he promised another speech. This one he says is going to go after the Clintons. All issues surrounding the Clintons, including her time at the State Department. We will discuss what might be in the speech ahead.

BOLDUAN: Deep cleansing breath. And a possible running mate tells Trump that he's got two or three weeks to right the ship. What needs to happen?

Also this, new information just in about tomorrow's meeting between President Barack Obama and Bernie Sanders when the -- and when the president could endorse Hillary Clinton.

We will be right back.


[11:20:30] BERMAN: Big breaking news out of the world of tennis now. The international tennis federation announced just a short time ago it has banned Maria Sharapova from playing for two years for doping. Two years. The Russian athlete tested positive for a banned substance in late January. She claims she had been taking the drug for several years to deal with health issues and did not realize the drug had been banned -- two years, though -- just a big penalty in the world of tennis. I have never heard of such a large penalty for such a big star of the game. This will send shock waves throughout the tennis world. BOLDUAN: Absolutely.

BERMAN: The Bernie Sanders campaign is cutting its campaign staff in half today. Sanders, though, says he's still vowing to fight for every vote and every delegate. After a double-digit loss in California, he's running out of arguments to stay into the race. Many are waiting to see if and when he will fall in line behind Hillary Clinton.

BOLDUAN: The word is Senator Sanders has asked for a meeting with President Obama, and the two will be speaking at the White House tomorrow.

Let's get -- let's go there. More details coming out. CNN White House correspondent, Michelle Kosinski, with more.

Michelle, what are you picking up?

MICHELLE KOSINSKI, CNN WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Hi, John and Kate. Remember, what Sanders said last night was not necessarily that he will stay in the race up until the convention, but he will continue the struggle. What exactly will that mean? Obviously, they're working on their strategy, and the White House is working on its. They're also waiting to see what Sanders will do. The White House is trying to be as tactful, as delicate about this as possible, even though it's the worst-kept secret in the world now that the president is going to put his support behind Hillary Clinton. As soon as that opportunity arises -- they want to maximize the situation. They don't want to alienate everybody. They want to unite the party and make this be a situation where there's not a winner and a loser. It's kind of like, well, everybody's a winner. We can work together on this.

This meeting is happening tomorrow between Bernie Sanders and the president. Sanders asked for the meeting. Remember, the White House has been in contact with both campaigns. The president just spoke to Sanders first on Sunday night, then last night, and now tomorrow we're going to see this big meeting. Will things change after that? That is the question that nobody right now knows the answer to, including the White House. They want this to be a broad discussion. It's likely to be a long meeting, at least an hour. And they're really going to talk about what this looks like moving forward.

This doesn't mean necessarily, too, that if Sanders stays in the race a while longer that the president will wait to endorse Hillary Clinton. It means that it could be a sort of softer rollout of an endorsement. It could look like something different for a little while than the president standing up on a stage, you know, with Hillary Clinton. This is very much fluid, and the White House want to hear Sanders out -- John and Kate?

BERMAN: All right, Michelle Kosinski at the White House. Thank you so much.

Let's talk about this and more now with I think someone who might know some of the answers to those mysterious questions that Michelle posed. Joining us, chief strategist for Hillary Clinton, Joel Benenson. Joel, thanks so much for being with us.


BOLDUAN: We know you know the answer, we'll ask flat-out, when will the president endorse Hillary Clinton? Will we hear those words out of his mouth today or tomorrow?

BENENSON: I don't know when he will endorse Hillary Clinton. I think he's approaching this in a way that -- he's still the leader of the Democratic Party right now as president of the United States. Let these conversations take place, let the dust settle on last night and what happened which was a pretty big win for Hillary Clinton, getting to a majority of pledged delegates. They'll have those conversation conversations, and I think we'll leave it to the president and -- leave it to the president and his conversations with Senator Sanders. And in due time, he'll endorse Hillary Clinton.

BOLDUAN: One of our producers caught up to Vice President Biden on the Hill and asked him about his endorsement and about Bernie Sanders. He said something to the effect of we need to allow him to do this with grace. We need to allow him to do this. What does that look like at this point to you?

BENENSON: We've said all along, Kate, that we want and need Senator Sanders to bring the energy and enthusiasm that he did to the campaign to the general election because the stakes are high with Donald Trump. He's just come through what is pretty much the end of the road. We've got D.C. left. But the results are final pretty much and determined with Hillary Clinton being the nominee. Let him take the time to have that time today with his family and his wife and his staff --


BOLDUAN: Do you think that's the timetable, today?

BENENSON: Then he's going to meet with the president tomorrow. Let's see how these play out. I don't think we have to rush. He's just finished a tough race last night. And you know, he deserves credit for running a very good race. Let's give him time to get there. I'm confident he will because he said and he believes that we have to defeat Donald Trump.

What we've seen from Donald Trump in the last few weeks with the bigoted comment he's made about a judge who's an American and referring to his Mexican heritage, his mocking of disabled people, his ridiculous, outrageous comments on national security, this is a man who is temperamentally and totally unfit to be president of the United States. I think Sanders believe that. I believe there's an economic argument made about how bad Trump would be to people's lives. I think he'll join the fight and do it in the right way and right time.

[11:25:57] BERMAN: You made the pivot from dealing with Bernie Sanders to dealing with Donald Trump.

BENENSON: Did I, John?

BOLDUAN: Exactly.


BERMAN: Last night, Donald Trump spent time trying to deal with Hillary Clinton, right? He gave his victory speech after the primaries and made a series of charges. He talked about the emails, donations to the Clinton foundation.

Let's listen to a little sound bite of what Donald Trump said.


TRUMP: Hillary Clinton turned the State Department into her private hedge fund. The Russians, the Saudis, the Chinese, all gave money to Bill and Hillary and got favorable treatment in return.


BERMAN: Your response to that?

BENENSON: Look, I think Donald Trump was trying to deal with Donald Trump last night. He's trying to distract what has been a disastrous week or two -- distract from wt has been a disastrous week or two.


BOLDUAN: Are you trying to distract from the charges he's making?

BENENSON: No. These are charges that are old, that have been dealt with, that he's been making his entire campaign. What he's trying to do with last night, when I say Trump, is the bevy of Republicans coming out and saying I'm un-endorsing him, you shouldn't be for him. The speaker of the House, although he says it's a time to unite, yesterday, saying his comments, saying a person can't do his job because of his race or heritage is racist. I don't know how call on people to endorse someone a day after you -- a day after you say he's making racist comments.


BERMAN: -- specific charge about Hillary Clinton at this point.

BENENSON: We're not going to deal with what he throwing out every day when he's trying to distract from the train wreck that has campaign has become. We're going to talk about why he is unfit and unqualified for America. The damage he would do to us in terms of national security, as well as the people's economic lives. Pronouncing himself the king of debt, wanting to raise debt in this country so high that Republican economists say he'd put us in perpetual recession. That's not what the American people want. They want a president who will make a difference in their lives, particularly on the economic front, and keep us safe from the challenges we face.

BOLDUAN: You say he's temperamentally unfit to be president. Let's go to the polls and see what the voters are saying. When you look at -- we're working off the Quinnipiac poll. When you look at them, Hillary Clinton has almost the same Hillary Clinton loses with Independents to Donald Trump. Hillary Clinton loses on the question of honest and trustworthy. Hillary Clinton loses on who is more inspiring, Joel. What are you going to do about that?

BENENSON: Did you read about who fights more for people in the middle class?


BOLDUAN: You don't care that she's not more inspiring?

BENENSON: I want the person at the end of the day will demonstrate to people that she will fight to make their lives better. That's going to be the most driving factor for voters in this election, who will keep us safe, who will make our economic lives better. That's Hillary Clinton. And --


BERMAN: Joel, what does it say that a person -- you said a person who is temperamentally unfit to be president is rated as more honest and trustworthy than Hillary Clinton?

BENENSON: Look, let's see the Democratic party consolidate here, which I believe it will. Hillary Clinton was also leading in that poll, I believe. I -- correct me if I'm wrong.

BOLDUAN: Fact. Fact.

BENENSON: The question you should be asking, I think as analysts, is why is Hillary Clinton leading? She's leading because people are making decisions based on things that may not be asked in that poll. Which one of these people is really going to make a difference in my life? Which will help my kid get an education? Who will get rid of the crushing problem of college debt that's holding back not just Millennials and people coming out of college and going into college today, but people up into their 40s and 50s who are paying off college debt? People are voting on things that are front and center in their lives when it comes to personal security, their economic security, and our national security. In all of those fronts, Hillary Clinton is winning because she's the preferred candidate.

BOLDUAN: Joel Benenson. Joel, thank you very much.

BENENSON: Thanks for having me.

BERMAN: And thanks for the help with the questions. Appreciate it.

BOLDUAN: Exactly. These are the questions you should ask. I wasn't taking notes.


Thanks, Joel. This reminder to all of you, Hillary Clinton will be joining Wolf

Blitzer live today in "The Situation Room," tonight, 6:00 p.m. eastern on CNN.

Coming up, Republican leaders just can't quit Donald Trump. One Senator pulls back his endorsement. Will other follow his lead? The House speaker saying we need to unify.

BERMAN: Plus, we have brand-new information about Donald Trump's speech last night. Who convinced him to deliver it like that, and by like that, I mean on a teleprompter?