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Interview With Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney; Clinton: Trump "Has No Idea What's Best for Women"; Romney: 'I'm Not Going to Run for President'. Aired 6-7p ET

Aired June 10, 2016 - 18:00   ET



BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The man I watched take the last steps to light the Olympic flame when I was president.


CLINTON: And I will never forget it.

I was sitting there in Atlanta. By then, we knew each other. By then, I felt I had some sense of what he was living with, and I was still weeping like a baby seeing his hands shake, and his legs shake, and knowing, by God, he was going to make those last few steps, no matter what it took. The flame would be lit, the fight would be won. The spirit would be affirmed. I knew it would happen.


CLINTON: And then this, the children whose lives he touched, the young people he inspired, that's the most important thing of all.

So, I ask you to remember that. We all have an Ali story. It's the gift we all have that should be most honored today, because he released them to the world, never wasting a day, that the rest of us could see, anyway, feeling sorry for himself that he had Parkinson's, knowing that more than three decades of his life would be circumscribed in ways that would be chilling to the naked eye.

But with a free spirit, he made his life bigger, not smaller, because other people, all of us unlettered, unschooled, in the unleashing, said, well, would you look at that?

Look at that. May not be able to run across the ring any more, may not be able to dodge everybody and exhaust everybody anymore, and he's bigger than ever, because he is a free man of faith sharing the gifts we all have.

We should honor him by letting our gifts go among the world as he did.

God bless you, my friend. Go in peace.

(APPLAUSE) DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: Former president of the United States William Jefferson Clinton wrapping up hours-long ceremony in Louisville, Kentucky.

And as we end this, you can hear people still happy to be celebrating the life of Muhammad Ali and sad at his passing all at once.

No one -- there are orators, and there are orators, and then there's Bill Clinton. And no one does it like Bryant Gumbel, and then he couldn't have picked a better person also as well, his family, I should, than Billy Crystal to eulogize him.

It was an amazing ceremony. Muhammad Ali was known as a number of different things, the Louisville Lift, the Greatest, the Champ. He was extraordinary. He was a lot of things to a lot of people. He was beloved. He was revered.

And at some points in his life, he was even hated. But the one thing he was never, he never did, and that was disappoint. He never disappointed, as you heard the former president say, and he could always read someone their mood and inspire other people when he was not doing so well himself.

He was also very fertile, and he left behind a legacy with beautiful children, one of I which I know, which is Rashida, who is amazing and also gave her eulogy there.

Laila, Hana Ali, Asaad, Maryum, Jamillah, Khaliah, Muhammad, and Mia also -- or Miya also, it is sad they have lost their father, but they gained so much by having the experience of being with him for all those years.

We saw some old faces, some celebrities in the audience as well, but they took a back seat to the family and his beautiful wife, Lonnie, Mike Tyson, Will Smith, Billy Crystal, Sugar Ray Leonard, and David Beckham among them.

But, again, it was a most extraordinary ceremony and it was also, quite honestly, we got to hear vs. from the Koran and see a Muslim ceremony, it was interfaith, but see Muslim practices not on a television show or not when there's a memorial for a terrorist bombing around the world, but in practice, a peaceful religion, people saying peaceful things about Islam.


So, as we wrap it up here, I am in New York, I am Don Lemon in New York. We want to give our praises and our condolence to the Ali family and all of his friends, and, again, an extraordinary few hours that we witnessed on television, the passing, the memorial service of Muhammad Ali.

He will now go to Cave Hill Cemetery for a private ceremony and be buried. The world has lost more than a champ. The world has lost a champion.

I am Don Lemon in New York. Thanks for watching so much.

Our coverage continues next with Wolf Blitzer and his exclusive interview with former Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney -- Wolf.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Don, thanks so much. May he rest in peace.

Happening now breaking news: Romney unleashed.

In my exclusive interview, former Republican nominee Mitt Romney slams Donald Trump for what he calls a bigoted and vulgar campaign. Romney wishes Trump supporters would reject him now and worries that a vote for Trump could lead to -- quote -- "trickle-down racism."

Third choice. Romney says he won't vote for Trump or Hillary Clinton, but reveals he is open to voting for a third option. Who will Romney back in November?

Sticking to the script. Donald Trump's second speech this week using a teleprompter shows he may be yielding pressure from GOP leaders to act more presidential. Can he stay on message?

And Democrats unite. Hillary Clinton huddles with Elizabeth Warren while Bernie Sanders vows to work together to defeat Donald Trump, but are they ready for Trump's latest attacks?

We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. I am Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

BLITZER: Breaking news, the former GOP standard-bearer Mitt Romney slams this year's presumptive Republican presidential nominee, Donald Trump, saying Trump is promoting bigotry.

In my exclusive interview, Romney says Trump should not represent America and fears he will inspire what Romney calls trickle-down racism.

Romney won't wage a last-ditch campaign of his own to stop Trump. He says he can't vote for him, but is not ruling out a vote for a third- party candidate.

Trump may be hearing the appeals of GOP leaders to tone down his harsh rhetoric, and he stuck to a carefully scripted speech today and dropped his attacks on the Latino judge, saying -- quote -- "No one should be judged by their race or color."

And Democrats, they are rallying right now to Hillary Clinton. She now has the president, the vice president, and Senator Elizabeth Warren in her corner, but as she goes on the attack, Clinton may be put on the defensive by new scrutiny about her e-mails during her time as secretary of state.

Our correspondents, analysts and guests, they will have full coverage of all of the day's top stories. But let's get to the breaking news.

I sat down today for an exclusive interview with the 2012 Republican nominee, Mitt Romney, at his E2 Summit in Deer Valley, Utah. Romney has been a strong critic of Donald Trump and he pulls no punches here.


BLITZER: You're being called, in essence, the leader of the never Trump movement right now. The fact is that you say there are principles that come before supporting your party's nominee.

You hoped someone else would emerge as the Republican nominee. That has not happened. So, will you now consider, last ditch, running?

MITT ROMNEY (R), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: No, that's something I'm not going to be doing. I would like to see someone run, but I think that's not very likely.

And the reason for that, of course, is that it is almost impossible for a third-party candidate to receive the 270 electoral votes that are necessary to actually become president or to stop Hillary Clinton or Trump from getting the necessary 270, so I think you're not going to find a credible candidate actually running as a third-party contender.

BLITZER: So there's no possibility, in your opinion?

ROMNEY: Well, I'm not planning on doing that and have no intention to do that.

BLITZER: You're not doing it. All right.

You have said that Donald Trump, in your words, would sink the country into a prolonged recession, that he is not smart on foreign policy, your words, that he is a con man, a phony, a fraud and a fake.

If you feel that strongly, why don't you think you have an obligation to run right now?

ROMNEY: Well, because he has become the nominee of the Republican Party.

And the only way to win the White House, in my view, is to become a nominee of either of the Republican or Democrat Party, and simply running to be a spoiler would not give the American people, I think, the chance to express their own views about Mr. Trump or about Secretary Clinton.


I think they will do so. I, myself, will not be voting for either one of them. I just can't bring myself to vote for Hillary Clinton. I don't think the policies that she promotes are right for the country

And Mr. Trump, I think, is too great a departure from the values of our country for me to sign up as a voter for him either, so I will be writing in someone else's name. It will be probably another Republican.

BLITZER: But isn't that sort of -- you are going to write in some other name that has no chance. But isn't that copping out right now of your responsibility?

ROMNEY: Well, my responsibility was to express to the American people what I believed was right about the potential nominee of our party. And I did so very plainly and clearly.

And the people that made the choice decided to go a different direction. That's their right. But, as an individual, I simply can't put my name down as someone who voted for principles that suggest racism or xenophobia, misogyny, bigotry, who has been vulgar time and time again.

And the most recent attack on Judge Curiel, a racist approach, is one which I think says to me I can't be part of that. I will not sign up for that. I don't want to be associated with that in any way, shape or form.

BLITZER: So, what do you say to people like your vice presidential running mate, Paul Ryan, who is very critical of Donald Trump, does not like any of the words he said about Judge Curiel, called it a textbook definition for a racist comment, but he still says he's going to support Donald Trump?

ROMNEY: Well, I don't argue with people who come to a different conclusion?

They're looking at the two candidates and deciding who they think is best able to serve our country at this time. And I'm sure there are some things they'd like to change in whoever they are going to support. Every candidate has a problem or two or maybe more than that.

But, for me, Mr. Trump's problems are such a dramatic nature, such a departure from the values of our country and my own personal values that I can't sign up to be part of his campaign.

BLITZER: Are you disappointed Paul Ryan has endorsed him?

ROMNEY: I wish everybody in the Republican Party had rejected Mr. Trump and chosen someone else. But my choice is different than that of other people.

And I am certainly not going to argue with them about their choice. Their view is that Secretary Clinton would so dramatically change the nature of the Supreme Court, that that represents a threat to our future. I understand that perspective. But I find that compelling, but also the Donald Trump failures also compelling.

BLITZER: Should Paul Ryan take back that endorsement?

ROMNEY: Oh, look, I wish every Republican who supported Mr. Trump said, I made a mistake, let's go a different direction.

But that's not going to happen. The people have spoken, and we're going to have Donald Trump as the Republican nominee.

BLITZER: Because how can you square what you say racist comments, xenophobia, misogyny, all of these other things, how can you square that with then still going ahead and voting in favor of that candidate?

ROMNEY: Well, I can't. And that's why I have reached the decision I have.

And over the coming campaign, Mr. Trump will probably be able to adjust his rhetoric and follow the script of a written speech in such a way that he won't be quite as offensive on these value issues as he has been in the past. But, unfortunately, what he said already demonstrates who he is and the nature of the character of the man, and, for me, that's something that will not be erased by rhetoric in the coming months.

BLITZER: You don't believe he can change?

ROMNEY: Well, I believe he can change his rhetoric. I believe he can hide who he is. But I believe that who he is has been revealed by his lifetime and by the words in the campaign that he has spoken to this point.

BLITZER: Because he did tone down rhetoric in that speech the other day.

ROMNEY: No question.

BLITZER: He read it from the teleprompter.

Reince Priebus, the chairman of the Republican National Committee, who is here this weekend with you, he called it a great victory speech and the right approach. Trump says it is time to move on right now. Is that OK with you, if he moves on and you forget about all the other stuff?

I don't think you think it is a time to move on.

ROMNEY: Well, I can imagine that Mr. Trump would like to have people move on and forget what was said during the primary process and what's been said over the years.

But we actually take the measure of an individual over their entire career and during the primary as well. And on that basis, we get a sense of the person's character, integrity, honesty, their values with regards to race, and religion, and gender. And Mr. Trump has made that pretty clear through the campaign to this point.

I am absolutely convinced that Reince Priebus is right when he says that Mr. Trump will be able to read from the text and present a different image going forward. But that is not something which is consistent with who he is, as demonstrated by his past. BLITZER: So, you don't think he should get a pass if he stops talking

about Judge Curiel?

ROMNEY: Well, everyone else can make their assessment, he has -- he indicated what he believes in his heart about Mexicans and about race by the comments he made about Judge Curiel.


And he may and try to distance himself from that today, but we know what he believes, based on what he said. An, by the way, he didn't just say it once. It wasn't a slip of the tongue which he went back and apologized for.

First of all, he has repeated it time and time again, and, secondly, he has never apologized for it. So he obviously sticks by what he believes.

BLITZER: What would he have to do to win your support?

ROMNEY: Well, I don't think there's anything I am looking for from Mr. Trump to give him my support.

He's demonstrated who he is. And I decided that a person of that nature should not be the one who, if you will, becomes the example for coming generations or the example of America to the world.

Look, I don't want to see trickle-down racism. I don't want to see a president of the United States saying things which change the character of the generations of Americans that are following. Presidents have an impact on the nature of our nation, and trickle- down racism, trickle-down bigotry, trickle-down misogyny, all these things are extraordinarily dangerous to the heart and character of America.

And so I'm not looking for Mr. Trump to change a policy that more aligns with my own. This is not a matter of just policy. It is more a matter of character and integrity.

BLITZER: You think he is racist?

ROMNEY: Oh, I think his comments time and again appeal to the racist tendency that exists in some people, and I think that's very dangerous.

BLITZER: Hillary Clinton took a page out of your playbook this past week, using Donald Trump's own words against him. She painted a picture why she thinks he is dangerous, he would be dangerous commander in chief, in her words, and temperamentally unfit.

You agree with her on that, don't you?

ROMNEY: I am not sure I'm going to sign with all of her words, but I...

BLITZER: Is he temperamentally unfit to be president? ROMNEY: Well, I have already said, in my view, that the temperament

that Mr. Trump has demonstrated is not consistent with a world which is as combustible as it has ever been during my lifetime.

And if you look around the world, China's assertiveness, North Korea's nuclear capability, Syria, a number of other failed states like Syria, Afghanistan still troubled, Pakistan with over 100 nuclear weapons and so forth, this is a very dangerous world and requires a person who is thoughtful, knowledgeable, curious intellectually, willing to listen to other people, to change their mind based upon the advice of other people.

And I haven't seen those qualities to the extent I would want to see them in a president in Mr. Trump to this point.

BLITZER: You clearly have misgivings about Hillary Clinton, but a lot of Republicans do, but some say she's the lesser of two evils. Would you be in that camp?

ROMNEY: Well, I understand people who have come to a different conclusion than I have, those that support Republicans that support Mr. Trump are saying, gosh, Hillary Clinton would appoint a more liberal court. And that's very troubling.

And her policies are in many cases destructive to the kinds of things that are necessary to put people to work and to get them better wages, and so they're going to vote for Mr. Trump on that basis. I understand that. I am not going to argue with them. I am not going to spend the coming months campaigning against Mr. Trump and attacking him time and again.

I have expressed what my views are, and I will let the American people make their choice.

BLITZER: But, once again, just simply writing in a name, does that demonstrate a lack of political courage, if you will? Because, as you say, it's either going to be Donald Trump, president of the United States, or Hillary Clinton, president of the United States.

ROMNEY: Well, for me, this is a question of my own integrity and character.

And if there's someone that was an anti-Semite, for instance, and they had all of the same positions I had and they were running for president, I simply could not vote for them. I could not. I could not bring myself to do that. And the things that Mr. Trump has said during this campaign and the things he has revealed about himself are such a departure from what I believe in my core that I cannot in good conscience vote for him.

BLITZER: Bottom line, who would be worse for the country as president of the United States, Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton?

ROMNEY: Both of them have enormous drawbacks. I am not going to choose which one is worse. I have expressed my views about both of them. And this is a very critical time for our country, and I think we are in a very unfortunate condition.

BLITZER: And this third-party Libertarian candidate, the former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson, would you consider supporting him?

ROMNEY: Well, I am going to look at what he has to say. His running mate, Bill Weld, is someone who I respect enormously.

BLITZER: Former Republican governor of Massachusetts.

ROMNEY: Exactly. And he was a fine governor, a fine friend, a supporter of mine both in 2008 and 2012.

If Bill Weld were at the top of the ticket, it would be very easy for me to vote for Bill Weld for president, so I will get to know Gary Johnson better and see if he is someone who I could end up voting for. That's something which I will evaluate over the coming weeks and months.

BLITZER: So, you're not necessarily ruling out that possibility?


ROMNEY: I'm not ruling that out.

BLITZER: Have you looked at all of his positions? Some of his positions probably align with yours, but some clearly don't. He, for example, wants to legalize marijuana, legalize drug use. He has got sensitive, controversial issues.

ROMNEY: Yes. It would be very hard to come to support someone who takes those kinds of views. I think the legalization of marijuana on a recreational basis and legalization of drugs would be highly destructive to our coming generations and the work ethic of this country.

I mean, marijuana makes people stupid. And it is just not a good idea to say let's have more people falling prey to that kind of drug.

BLITZER: But at least you're looking at that possibility?

ROMNEY: Well, I will look carefully at people who are on the ballot.

BLITZER: All right, well, you're not looking carefully at Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton.

ROMNEY: I have already had a good chance to see both of them. The others, I haven't spent much time getting to know them.

BLITZER: There are some Republicans who also say it would be better for the Republican Party if Hillary Clinton were elected. You could focus on down-ballot Senate races, House races, gubernatorial races.

ROMNEY: Well, I will be spending my time trying to help on governor's races, House races and Senate races.

I'm working very hard to help Paul Ryan's efforts to raise funds for keeping the House. And, likewise, I'm working for something known as SOS, or Save Our Senate, with the Chamber of Commerce. We're raising money. I along with Lindsey Graham and others, are doing our best to support those Senate races that are close.

This is a very challenging time for my party, as we have the majority of Senate races in contention on our side of the aisle this time. So, I am going to spend my political time associated with those races.

BLITZER: And changing the rules for the convention to have a contested, open convention, you don't think that is realistic?

ROMNEY: I don't think that is realistic.

I certainly sympathize with people who say, gosh, we would love to see a different nominee of our party than Donald Trump, he doesn't share our views on issues in many, many cases, and he doesn't have the personal qualities which we think are appropriate for a president.

I happen to subscribe to that point of view, but I think changing the rules, and denying him the nomination at this point is not likely to happen.

BLITZER: What does it say that almost half of the Republicans who voted in the primaries and the caucuses supported Donald Trump? What does it say about your party?

ROMNEY: Well, it says the people of America are angry and in some respects feel a good deal of resentment.

I think they're angry that Washington has not gotten the job done. And they don't know exactly where to point and who it is to blame, and I think, in my own view, President Obama shares the -- has the lion's share, rather, of the blame for the fact that we have not had leadership in Washington necessary to actually accomplish the great things that need to be done in our country.

And they're angry, they want to see something done. And both on the left, they look at Bernie Sanders, who has been demagogic, and saying, look, it is all the fault of banks and rich people. And on the right, you have Donald Trump saying, on, it is the Mexicans and the Muslims, and so each have looked for their own form of scapegoat.

And people have responded to that in a way populists have always been able to carry their message forward. And I'm disappointed in the nominee that we have and I hope that America is able to make the right decision at some point soon.

BLITZER: After you gave that very blistering speech against Donald Trump, since then, almost 10 million Republicans voted for him in various primaries and caucuses.

He wound up getting more votes than any other earlier Republican candidate in any of these primaries, including you. That must be so disheartening to you.

ROMNEY: Oh, I don't spend time counting how many votes different people got. Obviously, different seasons, and different issues bring people to the ballot box.

But I have to admit that I am discouraged by the fact and disappointed by the fact and troubled by the fact that Mr. Trump has received the degree of support he has. I don't think he got the scrutiny applied to him that typically is applied to a front-runner by the people running against him. Most of them were firing at each other.

BLITZER: But they did their best, whether it was Cruz or Rubio.

ROMNEY: Very late, very late in the process. They said, well, as long as I am going down, I might as well take a parting shot.

But in terms of the leading contenders from the very beginning going after Mr. Trump, they just didn't do that.

BLITZER: So, Jeb Bush had a shot, but he missed it?

ROMNEY: Well, Jeb Bush had a super PAC of over $100 million, and they focused their fire on Marco Rubio and others, as opposed to focusing it on the front-runner. And he hasn't had that kind of, if you will, exposure to the combat of politics, like he will in the general election. And we will see how he does.

BLITZER: You regret you didn't throw your hat in the ring?

ROMNEY: No, I thought it was time for someone new. I'm glad I wasn't out there with Donald Trump.

BLITZER: But what about with hindsight?

ROMNEY: Oh, look, I wish there had been somebody that would have stopped Mr. Trump. And had I been in the race, I can assure you I would have taken him on.

I am sure he believes he would have been able to be successful pushing me aside, just like he did others, in part because I would be seen as an establishment Republican. But I don't spend a lot of time looking back, and trying to rethink decisions that were made.


BLITZER: He went after you, including just a couple of weeks ago.

This is what he said about you, very blistering words.


DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Once a choker, always a choker. I was nasty about it. So now, as retribution: Donald Trump shouldn't run. And he walks like a penguin onto the stage. You ever see him? Like a penguin.


BLITZER: He called you a choker. When you hear those kinds of words from the man who is now the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, you think of your grandchildren, what do you say to them when they hear that?

ROMNEY: Well, I don't know that they have any particular concern about what Mr. Trump is saying.

It reminds me of what was said back in elementary school. And I think that's one of the things people find so -- in some cases, some people find that refreshing. Others find that to be quite troubling that someone would sort of engage in elementary school theatrics to attack and characterize other people.

I think that is unfortunate in our political process. I don't think it will go away now, by the way. I think this is the kind of change in culture that will -- you will see as a result of his candidacy, which it has brought in some respects the political process even lower than it has been in the past.

BLITZER: You say there's a bombshell in his income tax returns. He is refusing to make those income tax returns public. He says he is being audited, he can't do that right now. What do you think he is trying to hide?

ROMNEY: Well, I think he was in some respects correct when he said, if I went on Fifth Avenue and I shot someone, people would still support me.

But I think he has calculated that he could get support even if he shot someone, but if he released his taxes, he would lose support. So there's something in those taxes that's even worse than shooting someone on Fifth Avenue.

And that, I think, suggests that there could be all sorts of things that could be very, very troubling there.

BLITZER: Like what?

ROMNEY: Well, your imagination can run wild.

He doesn't pay taxes. He doesn't have much income. He is receiving income from unsavory sources. He has ownership in enterprises that are perhaps associated with unsavory enterprises or nations or groups.

Who knows what it could be. But this is a person who has never had his personal life subject to an audit which can be potentially prosecuted by individuals that are assessing that it is improperly stated.

And the only place that you can get that kind of audit where the penalties for lying are criminal is with someone's tax returns. And that's why, over the last 40 years, the nominees for president have released tax returns, so that people could say, all right, I am getting a clear view of who this person really is.

And he doesn't want people to see that. There's no question in my mind he will never release his tax returns. He will follow one excuse after the other to say why he can't, and he will never release them, because there's something in there that he feels is worse for him than shooting someone on Fifth Avenue. And I think the American people have every right to see what that is.

BLITZER: Let's talk briefly about Experts and Enthusiasts, your E2 summit, your conference that is going on this weekend.

You have brought in your top fund-raisers, but there are some -- a lot of Republicans here, but some Democrats as well.


BLITZER: What is -- this is the fourth year you have done it. This is the first year you haven't invited the presidential candidates to make an appearance. So, tell us a little about this.

ROMNEY: Well, the idea is to bring people together who were supportive of my candidacy, as well as some who were not supportive, but who are leaders in their respective spheres, and to give them a chance to see what's happening in the world of politics, but also in the world of the private sector.

There's such dramatic change occurring right now in the private sector, in technology, in employment, in education, that I want these people to have a sense of what's going on and to share some ideas.

In the world of politics and particularly foreign policy, the change is so dramatic and the consequence of a misstep is so enormous that I want people to have a sense of that. I think a number of them will have influence in the coming presidential administration, whether that's Republican or Democrat, and this is a chance for people to share ideas, and to be exposed to what's happening on a global basis.

BLITZER: And at such a beautiful location.

ROMNEY: Oh, Deer Valley couldn't be a more beautiful spot.

BLITZER: Governor, thanks so much.

ROMNEY: Thanks, Wolf. Good to be with you.

BLITZER: Thank you.


BLITZER: All right, let's get reaction to my exclusive interview with the 2012 Republican presidential nominee.

Joining us now, CNN politics editor Juana Summers, apps editor, I should point out, CNN political commentator and former Romney spokesman Kevin Madden, our senior CNN political reporter, Manu Raju, and CNN's politics senior digital correspondent, Chris Moody.

All right, Manu, let's start with you.

What was your immediate reaction to what we heard from Mitt Romney?

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it was a pretty significant interview, Wolf. I mean, this is really the first time that we have heard Romney really go into depth since, of course, Trump has become the presumptive nominee. We have seen the other folks that he tried to prop up and -- as part of his so-called never Trump movement sort of peter out.

[18:30:14] And we've heard that Mitt Romney's passions really have not cooled down. He really, really does not like Donald Trump. That comment about trickle-down racism, I think that's something that the Hillary Clinton campaign is going to seize upon for months and months on end.

But really, it was interesting to hear you push him about why not run for a third party, since you're leading this effort. There's no significant third-party challenger out there. Why not do it? And clearly, that's something that he does not think would be good for the party.

And not ruling out the Libertarian ticket, too, voting for the Libertarian ticket, also pretty interesting. But it just shows you, Wolf, that there is really just nowhere for those so-called "never Trump" people to go. They know that they don't have a candidate. And if they were to prop up someone like a Mitt Romney, it would only help Hillary Clinton. Is sort of in a bind in the same conversation.

BLITZER: Fair point. Kevin, you worked for the Romney campaign in 2012. What surprised me was how far out he was willing to go and express his opinions. We all knew he didn't like Donald Trump, but he was willing to go public with all that right now. What was your reaction?

KEVIN MADDEN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I think it was, in many ways, why he was going public. And I think he was very firm in his beliefs. He was still very -- he still is very cautious, and I think he was very calculating. I think he made very clear, though, his personal beliefs are separate from some of the judgments he may have about those that are currently supporting Donald Trump, namely Speaker Paul Ryan, who was on the ticket in 2012 with him.

So I think what he made it very -- I think what he tried to do is almost geo fence his remarks about Donald Trump to make sure that they were -- that this was something where he believed that Donald Trump didn't have the character, doesn't have the integrity, doesn't have the temperament to be president and that those are feelings that are -- that he has personally.

BLITZER: Chris Moody, what do you think?

CHRIS MOODY, CNN POLITICS SENIOR DIGITAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's interesting when you asked him the question about Paul Ryan. And I think when you ask that question, you see that Mitt Romney is in a much easier position than Paul Ryan right now as a private citizen.

Paul Ryan is the top elected Republican, and he had to make a calculated, a very difficult calculated choice when he decided to hesitantly endorse Donald Trump. And you asked him, well, why don't you urge Paul Ryan to take back

that endorsement. And it seemed clear that Mitt Romney sees that as a futile gesture. He would have to kind of go after every top Republican and try to convince them to pull back their endorsement, and I think he just doesn't see that's something that would be possible to accomplish.

BLITZER: It was interesting, Juana, that he's not necessarily ruling out supporting the Libertarian third-party ticket. He wants to take a closer look. You heard that.

JUANA SUMMERS, CNN POLITICS APP EDITOR: I did, and it was one of the most outstanding parts of this interview, to think that Mitt Romney, who was the face of what appeared to be, four years ago, a very united Republican Party, he and Paul Ryan running on that ticket. And now he's saying he dislikes and disagrees with his party's nominee so deeply that he, in fact, would consider voting for a Libertarian candidate, a third-party candidate rather than get into the race himself.

It makes me think will there be other voters do the same way. We saw a FOX News poll that we reported on that showed that candidate, Gary Johnson, with 12 percent support. You know, it only takes about 15 percent average to get on a debate stage in the general election.

So will we see significant movement or folks who simply decide they're so far "never Trump" that they just stay home? It's just not clear yet.

BLITZER: Were you surprised by that, Kevin, that Mitt Romney is not ruling out supporting Gary Johnson/Bill Weld, the Libertarian Party ticket?

MADDEN: I did. Particularly when you take Mitt Romney out of the equation, and you just ask yourself somebody who was just the -- who was the nominee in 2012, the fact that they would, only -- only a few years later, then potentially open themselves up to endorse another party was somewhat of a surprise.

I think that -- that you're going to see a lot more of conscientious objectors inside the Republican Party begin to look towards that. But I think, to Manu's point earlier, I think that does indicate that these efforts that are being led by some of the "never Trump" folks to find and stand up a third-party effort is not -- is not really looking very realistic right now.

If anything, I think it will start to put more of an end to any more of that chatter. And the idea that, in the next few weeks, that we could see a nominee be stood up and actually, you know, being -- competing across 50 states.

BLITZER: But Kevin, he also said a third-party candidate wouldn't have a chance. So wouldn't that be a waste from his perspective?

MADDEN: Potentially. And I think this is something that so many folks who do not support Donald Trump continue to wrestle with. And the charges from so many of those that do support Donald Trump, that not voting for Donald Trump would somehow be an effort to support Hillary Clinton or would lead to Hillary Clinton being elected. Many Republicans across the country, not only those in party leadership position, but many -- many voters across the country are wrestling with that -- that right now.

[18:35:28] BLITZER: Chris, Romney speculated that Donald Trump's tax returns could be more damaging to Trump than actually shooting someone on Fifth Avenue, as we remember, he said he could do without losing voter support. Do you believe Romney is right when he says we will never, never see Donald Trump's tax returns?

MOODY: When I was listening to your interview, I was struck with a memory of when Harry Reid said what he said a few years ago about -- about Mitt Romney, suggesting that he hadn't paid taxes. And I said, "Oh, my goodness, Mitt Romney is Harry Reiding Donald Trump now," in a way we probably wouldn't have imagined seeing him do four years ago.

Donald Trump has made it pretty clear he has very little interest in adopting norms on running for president, and this seems to be one of those areas. I think it's going to take quite a bit of pressure, not just from Hillary Clinton but from the media and from voters, to request and demand that he release these documents. But I don't think anyone is very hopeful that he will give in on that.

BLITZER: Manu, the Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell, was asked about who Donald Trump should choose for a running mate. And he said -- and I'm quoting now -- "He needs someone highly experienced and very knowledgeable, because it's pretty obvious he doesn't know a lot about the issues."

That's a pretty remarkable statement about the Republican presumptive nominee.

RAJU: It really is. It's almost like piling on after such a terrible week for -- for Donald Trump. And Mitch McConnell said it himself.

I mean, Mitch McConnell has made it very clear that Donald Trump was not his first or second or third choice, and clearly, one of the reasons why is that, when Donald Trump says things, sometimes it, you know, raises some eyebrows, especially when you talk about issues.

I mean, one of the things that Mitch McConnell has been pushing Donald Trump to do is to speak more -- stay on message. To read from teleprompters, to talk about the Republican issues, like repealing Obamacare, the economy, things that actually unite the Republican Party and show a contrast with Democrats.

And we start to -- we saw a little bit more of that today, Wolf, actually, when Donald Trump was in Washington, addressing social conservatives. He read from a teleprompter. He talked about the main red-meat Republican base issues. That is something that Mitch McConnell, Paul Ryan and the Republican leadership want Donald Trump to continue to do.

So perhaps if he does that, he can alleviate some of the concerns that we've been hearing from folks for weeks now.

BLITZER: You're absolutely right. Juana, can -- can Donald Trump, though, stick to teleprompters, to scripted speeches?

SUMMERS: That's really the question here, is whether or not the temperament can be consistent. We saw Donald Trump come out earlier this week, as he did today. He used a teleprompter. He gave a somber speech that sounded like a more traditional candidate.

And then we saw this morning, he goes on Twitter, he attacks Elizabeth Warren, calling her, again, Pocahontas, saying that he hopes she's the V.P., something about her mouth. So the question is, sure, he can do this in the moment. But whether or not he can sustain it until voters go to the polls in November is an open question. And I think will make this election in the general against Hillary Clinton, who's the presumptive Democratic nominee, that it's about temperament versus trust. Can people stomach Donald Trump's temperament, and can people trust Hillary Clinton?

BLITZER: All right, guys. Everybody stand by. I want to bring into the conversation Donald Trump's campaign national spokeswoman, Katrina Pierson. We're going to get reaction from her.

Actually, Katrina, stand by. I need to take a quick break. We'll get the official reaction to what we just heard in my exclusive interview with Mitt Romney from the Trump campaign right after this.


[18:43:20] BLITZER: We're back with the national spokeswoman for the Trump campaign, Katrina Pierson. She's here to respond to Mitt Romney's very strong condemnation of Donald Trump's message when the 2012 Republican presidential nominee sat down with me for an exclusive interview today.

Katrina, Governor Romney told me he's worried a Trump presidency would cause what he calls "trickle-down bigotry, misogyny, and racism." Obviously, a very serious charge from the former Republican presidential nominee. Respond to that.

KATRINA PIERSON, SPOKESWOMAN, TRUMP CAMPAIGN: Well, you know, Wolf, I have to say that if you ever wanted to know what stripping power from an elite politician is, it unfolded on your show. This is someone who couldn't find three sentences to criticize Barack Obama when he ran for office, but somehow magically wants to criticize a candidate that not only had about 15,000 more votes in his own home state but broke the record in Republican primary turnout and has essentially won over a lot of the American public, something that Mitt Romney could not accomplish.

This is someone who's run for office several times and lost. And you know, honestly, these attacks against Donald Trump, I think Mitt Romney is really just upset, because when he did attack Donald Trump on his business, Donald Trump let the whole world know that he had a Gucci store that was worth more than Mitt Romney. So this is just sour grapes. BLITZER: But he's saying that Donald Trump has not apologized for his

comments. If Donald Trump is talking about racial harmony, at least on this day, why hasn't he at least apologized to that federal judge for the comments he made?

PIERSON: Well, there's nothing to apologize for.

Again, we're talking about the comment out of context, out of the judicial activism, which by the way, a lot has been reported on that since that discussion.

[18:45:04] But I will say that this again is just sour grapes from the establishment who have had the power stripped out of their hands by a candidate they don't like because he has managed to do something they have been unable to do for decades.

BLITZER: Did you see the interview that he did with Jake Tapper, nothing was really out of context. It was very clear what he was saying.

PIERSON: Well, it was very clear what he was saying. Interviews prior to that, he was talking about a lot of decisions that were made in that case, and including some context around associations of that judge, which it is my understanding more of those associations have been revealed on Breitbart, but I don't want to get into that.

I want to focus on Mitt Romney, because there's somehow a concept that being against Donald Trump is somehow against your values, against your integrity because last time I checked, if your values included surrendering the Supreme Court, giving up the First Amendment, the Second Amendment and all those that follow, i4 those are your values, then maybe you should vote for Hillary Clinton because that's what's going to happen if the Republicans don't support their nominee which is what they asked all of us to do when it was Mitt Romney.

BLITZER: Romney says, "Trump appeals to what he called racist tendencies that exist in people." That's a quote. Why hasn't Donald Trump done more to condemn some of the white supremacist supporters out there, why hasn't he told them he doesn't want their support?

PIERSON: You know what, Wolf, a lot of those supporters are fake. Mr. Trump is not wasting time applauding and appeasing to the media or a lot of Republican detractors. He has one focus, that is the American public, it is the voters.

Believe it or not, the majority of Americans are not watching cable news all day every day like the rest of us. There are hundreds of millions of people out there who are sitting at their kitchen tables, and they are talking about their jobs or lack thereof. They're talking national security. Are they safe in their neighborhoods as they bring in ISIS infiltrated refugees?

They don't care about partisan politics and Republicans that are claiming that Donald Trump shouldn't be the nominee. But guess what, he is. He has touched a lot of people. He has sparked inspiration in a lot of people that were never even involved. He has grown the Republican Party.

They should be embracing Donald Trump's candidacy. I'm not saying they have to agree with everything he says or does, but they at least need to agree it is time to grow the party, time to move forward and now, it is time to beat Hillary Clinton.

BLITZER: Wouldn't it be smart, wouldn't it be important for the Republican presumptive presidential nominee to deliver a speech condemning the white supremacists, anti-Semites out there that are supporting him, and say bluntly, flatly I don't want your support?

PIERSON: You know, Wolf, I believe it was CNN who asked the question at a press conference with Mr. Trump and he said, I condemn all of it. I don't condone any of that. I condemn it all.

How many times does he have to do it?


BLITZER: Why not deliver a speech and make that?

PIERSON: Why not Hillary Clinton? Why are we not talking about Hillary Clinton? Why are we not talking about Hillary Clinton, going out and condemning violence at some of the Trump rallies?

BLITZER: You're the spokeswoman for Donald Trump. Do you think it would be important for him to make a firm public speech along those lines and say to white supremacists out there who are backing them, to say to anti-Semites that are backing him, you know what, I don't want your support?

PIERSON: He has said that and Mr. Trump will continue to say that but he's not on the time line of the media or the left. Mr. Trump is going to continue to do what he has been doing. He has been accessible. He has been holding press conference.

Hillary Clinton -- not so much. In fact, I don't think she's really been asked to denounce hardly anything at this point and we need to see that change as well.

Mr. Trump has been very vocal about a lot of these cases simply because he is told these people are supporting him. Come to find out, there are websites dedicated to creating robot accounts online to pretend to support Mr. Trump, and they're not even associated with white supremacy groups. It's just something the media loves to talk about.

BLITZER: Well, what about David Duke, he is public and everybody knows who he is?

PIERSON: We have been through that circle a number of times. Mr. Trump did condemn. Again, it was a CNN reporter asked him at a press conference and he condemned it. He said I condemn, period.

BLITZER: Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell now says it is pretty obvious, those are his words, that Donald Trump, once again I am quoting him, "doesn't know a lot about the issues." This is the Senate Republican, majority leader saying that the Republican presumptive nominee doesn't know a lot about the issues. As a result he wants him to read scripted speeches on teleprompters.

That's pretty humiliating, isn't it?

PIERSON: No, not at all. I think it goes to show how separate and far the establishment is from the people because it is the issues that came out -- the voters came out for in the Republican primary because they don't support trillions of dollars of spending.

[18:50:00] They don't support amnesty. And they don't support a number of the policies that the establishment GOP was supporting.

Mr. Trump wants to get back to common sense policies. He wants to put the American public first. He doesn't want to send people overseas. He wants to do things right here at home.

And so, you're right. This is something that Mr. Trump doesn't agree with when it comes to the GOP because they have done everything but put the American voter first, which is exactly why they're voters rejected them.

BLITZER: Katrina Pierson, thanks very much for joining us.

PIERSON: Great to be here, Wolf. Thanks.

BLITZER: We're also following important developments on the Democratic side of the presidential race as the parties' top leaders now unite behind her. Hillary Clinton is using Donald omen to launch a blistering new attack.


[18:55:26] BLITZER: Tonight, Hillary Clinton is arguing that women will be put at risk if they put their futures in Donald Trump's hands. The new presumptive Democratic presidential nominee is intensifying her fight to try to unite her party, even as there's new fuel for the controversy about her private e-mail server.

Our senior Washington correspondent, Joe Johns, has a lot more on what's going on.

Joe, what's the latest?

JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, no readout yet on what Hillary Clinton talked about in that meeting at her house in Washington this morning with Senator Elizabeth Warren. But the understanding from aides was that one of the things they were going to talk about was campaigning against Donald Trump.

As far as the speech in Washington went, Hillary Clinton talked about women's health issues today, including contraception and abortion, along with the Supreme Court. But the target of the speech, once again, was the presumptive Republican nominee.


JOHNS (voice-over): Hillary Clinton's first campaign appearance after securing enough delegates for the Democratic nomination was on friendly turf before the Planned Parenthood Action Fund, talking about women's issues and hammering her Republican opponent.

HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESUMPTIVE PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: We are not going to let Donald Trump or anyone else turn back the clock.

JOHNS: Front and center, the issue of abortion, and Trump's suggestion, which he later walked back, that women should face some form of punishment if the practice were ever banned.

CLINTON: That's someone who doesn't hold women in high regard, because if he did, he would trust women to make the right decisions for ourselves.

JOHNS: The event a preview of the general election fight to come. Do we want to put our health, our lives, our futures in Donald Trump's hands?

Clinton firing up the liberal wing and closing out a good campaign week after a round of major endorsements yesterday.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: In fact, I don't think there is ever been someone so qualified to hold this office.

JOSEPH BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: God willing, in my view, it'll be Secretary Clinton.

JOHNS: She also got the support of Senator Elizabeth Warren, whose loyal following on the left could help energize the party's progressive base.

SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D), MASSACHUSETTS: I am ready to get in this fight and work my heart out for Hillary Clinton to become the next president of the United States.

JOHNS: Warren's endorsement comes as a divisive primary fight with Senator Bernie Sanders is ending. And she is already fully engaged in a vicious war of words with Donald Trump, hammering him in a speech last night.

WARREN: Donald Trump is a loud, nasty, thin-skinned fraud who has never risked anything for anyone and who serves no one but himself.

JOHNS: And as the speculation continues over whether Warren could be the pick for vice president, the two met this morning. Only hours after Warren said in an interview, she is ready for the Oval Office.

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC ANCHOR, THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW: Do you believe you would be capable of stepping into that job and doing that job if you were ever called to do it?

WARREN: Yes, I do. JOHNS: But as Clinton is riding high, questions about her ethics are

swirling again. CNN has learned that among the multiple e-mails found on Clinton's private server, a series of messages dealing with a classified CIA drone program regarding a potential drone strike in Pakistan.

And there was more embarrassing controversy for the campaign today, after reports of a donor who gave at least $1 million to the Clinton Foundation was selected to serve on a key State Department intelligence board in 2011 and received a security clearance while Hillary Clinton was secretary of state.

Newly released e-mails show the man was placed on the list of appointees by a top Clinton aide. The man withdrew his name two days later, after an ABC reporter started asking questions.


JOHNS: CNN has asked the Clinton campaign about this latest allegation involving the donor and the Clinton Foundation. The campaign so far, Wolf, has not responded.

BLITZER: Joe, you were over at that Planned Parenthood event today, where Hillary Clinton spoke. What was the buzz there about a potential ticket -- Hillary Clinton/Elizabeth Warren?

JOHNS: I got to talk to a number of people in the crowd, and, of course, this is the base. These are some of Hillary Clinton's most loyal supporters. And almost all of the people I talked to said they thought Elizabeth Warren on the ticket would be a great idea. One of the key questions, of course, whether Warren on the ticket might actually upset or turn away red state America. They said she's not going to get red state America anyway.

BLITZER: Joe Johns reporting for us. Joe, thank you very much.

That's it for me. To our viewers, thanks very much for watching. I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM.

"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.