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Police: Baton Rouge Officers Were 'Assassinated'; Interview With Utah Senator Mike Lee; Republican National Convention: Trump Campaign Defeats Convention Rules Rebellion. Aired 6-7p ET

Aired July 18, 2016 - 18:00   ET




UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Without objection, the previous question is ordered. The question is on adoption of the resolution. All those in favor say aye.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All those opposed, no.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In the opinion of the chair, the ayes have it. And the resolution is agreed to. Without objection, the motion to reconsider is laid upon the table.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The chair would remind the hall that it's absolutely critical that we are able to discern the ayes from the nays.

Those in favor of the rules package will say aye.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Those opposed shall say no.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In the opinion of the chair, the ayes have it.


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: CNN's Dana Bash was on the convention floor when all of this erupted.

It was very exciting for about an hour, Dana. It's all over with now. But tell our viewers how it went down.

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, first of all, this was very much a surprise. It was kind of brewing a little bit in the hours before, but it was very much a surprise by the Republican National Committee and the Trump campaign, who have been working hand in glove to try to kind of make things go smoothly during this convention process.

They thought that they had kind of quelled two very strong forces during all of the debate throughout the week last week over the rules governing this convention and, of course, the rules governing the next primary process for the next nominating process in 2020. Those two forces were never Trump, people who wanted to have an ability to have a so-called conscience clause, so ability to get out of their -- being bound to vote for Donald Trump, but then others who are kind of core conservative conservatives, many supporters of Ted Cruz who wanted the rules to be change so that, the next time, the primary and caucus process would only allow Republicans to vote.

Basically, it would effectively mean that the nominee, they hope, would be more conservative. Those two forces aligned kind of quietly before what was supposed to be rudimentary vote here, a voice vote to kind of just approve this large rules package. And so they went around quietly before this moment here, Wolf, and they got nine states, I believe, nine states to say that they were OK with a roll call vote.

The rules here said that, if they had seven, they would be able to have a role call vote. Why would that matter? If they had a roll call vote, then it would open everything up. It would open up the ability for anti-Trump forces to try to push their kind of votes and also the conservatives to have their kind of amendments.

What we saw here was a very concerted effort. Again, the Republican National Committee working hand in hand with the Trump campaign to try to quell that. They got three of those states to rescind their efforts. They were able to stop it. What you just played was a messy process.

First, they tried to approve it by voice vote. It was unclear how that went down, even though the chair said the ayes had it. And I'm told the Republican chair, the party chair, said that he was worried that that didn't look good, so they came out and did it again.

But you very much had a lot of delegates here who are very unhappy that they thought they were going to be able to get an open process and have their voices heard, and they weren't. The two takeaways here are, number one, it was kind of the last gasp of I think the never Trump movement, but also a very real conservative-Cruz aligned group of delegates who were trying to steer the party for the future into a more conservative lane -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Dana, stand by. Dana is on the convention floor. It was pretty exciting. Thank you very much.

That was just part of an eventful day here. Day one is certainly far from over.

CNN's Jim Acosta is joining us now more with on the latest information that we're getting. Jim, this first day of the Republican Convention now officially under

way. There were some notable party absences though, including the governor of this very state we're in right now.


JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Wolf. Some of the biggest names in the Republican Party simply will not be on hand for Donald Trump's moment, becoming the nominee of this party.

Former President George W. Bush will not be here. Mitt Romney, the last nominee of this party, will not be here. John McCain will not be here. In fact, the last nominee of this party who will be here will be Bob Dole. There will be a tribute for him later on tonight. I'm told he will be sitting in Donald Trump's VIP box for that.

But you're right, Wolf. I don't think there's a bigger snub for this event, for this convention than that of Ohio Governor John Kasich. He's hosting this convention after all, you might say, because he's the governor of this state. I have been talking to a senior Kasich adviser today, Wolf, and the Ohio governor has been in Cleveland.

He's been at different delegations talking to people, milling around Cleveland. But, according to this adviser, he's not going to set foot inside this convention hall for the duration of this convention. He feels that strongly that Donald Trump should not be the nominee of this party.

BLITZER: It's interesting that the Republican governor, Jim, of Ohio, John Kasich, he will not walk into this convention center.

But the Democratic mayor of Cleveland, he was here earlier today. He formally went up on the podium and welcomed all the Republican delegates here. Very interesting.

There will be notable speakers tonight, but I guess some of the more anticipated speakers, one of the most anticipated speakers will be the wife of Donald Trump, Melania. What do we expect to hear from her?

ACOSTA: That's right, Wolf.

When you talk to people inside the Trump campaign and remind them about John McCain and Mitt Romney and George W. Bush being missing, they say there's one star of this convention and that is Donald Trump. To add to that star power, they are bringing in his family members.

And Melania Trump will be going first tonight. She will be speaking to the convention hall here. In a very unusual, unprecedented move, Donald Trump is coming here as well. He's going to introduce Melania Trump to these delegates here.

One thing that we have to look out for with introductions, Wolf, is just what Donald Trump is going to say. You will recall on Saturday when he introduced his vice presidential running mate, Mike Pence, that introduction went on for 28 minutes and veered into parts of Donald Trump's stump speech that had nothing to do with introducing Mike Pence.

And so we're going to be looking for that as well. But Melania Trump is going to be talking about who Donald Trump is as a husband. As you know, Wolf, a key weakness for Donald Trump, if you look at the polls and if you look at the numbers, is how he's doing with women right now. These are almost radioactive numbers for Donald Trump right now when it comes to female voters.

And so they're hoping that Melania Trump, Ivanka Trump will start to chip away at that at this convention this week, Wolf.

BLITZER: That certainly is the goal. Jim Acosta, thanks very much -- Anderson, over to you.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Yes, Wolf, I'm here with the panel.

Joined now by the senior Democratic Party official Donna Brazile, who has no doubt been watching this all with great interest.

Donna, let's start off with you, since we're just hearing from you.

In terms of what we witnessed a little bit more than an hour ago, there are some who say, look, it's a sign of disunity, others who say it's the sign of the death of the never Trump movement and a sign that this is Donald Trump's convention.

DONNA BRAZILE, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: When you look at the substance of the fight regarding open primaries or closed primaries, there's clearly a need for the Republican Party to have this conversation.

Unlike the Democrats, and we know this, we look at our rules throughout the four years preceding the convention. So, at convention time, we have an opportunity to have input from all of the states and all of the delegates.

On the Republican side, they have this one opportunity, and you change that. But I do believe this fight was about 2020 and not just right here in 2016.

JEFFREY LORD, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: One of the things you got to be careful with, Anderson, if you remember, the Republicans changed the rule in 2012.

I think it was 40B to zap Ron Paul and make sure his name wasn't placed in nomination. They get to 2016 and this backfired on them, as Rand Paul pointed out. You want to be really careful when you start doing this.

MIKE SHIELDS, FORMER RNC CHIEF OF STAFF: That rule is actually one that the RNC negotiated with the Cuccinelli folks and changed for them because the grassroots -- the grassroots -- first of all, by the way, everyone claims to be a leader of the grassroots.

Everyone who is on the RNC, every delegate is member of the grassroots, but they all try to own that. So, I shouldn't even use that term. But the Cuccinelli folks, they did win a concession. They got rule 40B changed back to five states. That was something that actually happened earlier and helped them.

COOPER: And yet this isn't something that we have seen at a lot of conventions in recent memory, anyway.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: No. We had the Paul walkout, remember? And that was small. We took note of it.

I think what's happening here is much more organic, actually. What we saw was the Republican National Committee really quash it. They kind of said this isn't going to happen at our convention and...


COOPER: But you had the speaker walking off the stage at a certain point.

BORGER: Right.

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: They sent that poor guy out there.

This was a surprise, as Dana reported, the fact that they got all these signatures at the last minute, they want to pull this off. Should the organizers of the event, the leadership of the RNC -- they knew for at least a couple of hours this was coming. Should they have had a better plan at the moment? Clearly, there was a little chaos and how are we going to sort this out?


KING: Please.

SHIELDS: Well, first of all, they were going off the stage to figure out -- this happens in the House all the time.

These are House rules, by the way. Steve Womack is a congressman from Arkansas, did a great job. That's why he is here. And it happens all the time. The parliamentarian wasn't standing next to him. You saw he came out and stood next to him.

This stage is different than the House floor. For him to ask a question to the parliamentarian, he has to walk off the stage and ask the question. The optics of that didn't work out as well.

SCOTTIE NELL HUGHES, DONALD TRUMP SUPPORTER: But here's my question. Why did they not already know they were going to win it? Once again, they have a loss. This is the third time they have lost. That's my thing.

So, if you want to say, this was purely about embarrassment to the candidate, embarrassment almost to the party. That was their motivation. If they knew that they didn't have the solid win, why even bother?

(CROSSTALK) KING: That's dead right. A lot of these conservative forces, they don't like Washington. Some of them still have grievances with Donald Trump without a doubt, but they have grievances with the party.

This is the people -- to Mike's point, they consider themselves the true conservative grassroots and they have their agendas too, as does everybody in this room. We're at a political convention. Guess what? Some people have their own individual agendas and they're looking to make -- but, look, this is part of the challenge.

The volume is a little higher here. There's tensions. Did all conservatives love John McCain? Did all conservatives love John McCain Mitt Romney? Jeff goes back to the Reagan days, when he had to reach out to the old moderate wing of the party with George H.W. Bush.

It happens at every convention. The buy-in is a little higher here because Donald Trump was an independent not that long ago. He said nice things about the Clintons. It was a bit of a hostile takeover for the party. But he won. And he won today on the floor.

But I want to say, to the point of what we're about to get to, there's always these two missions at the convention. One is to talk to the room. Yes, Donald Trump, there's a lot of skeptics in this room. Are you really a movement conservative? Will you really cut taxes and shrink government? Will you really stand up for the pro-life movement? Will you really be that person given his positions in the past, which he says he has changed?

He does have a mission here. The bigger mission is to the country. I'm fascinated by Melania Trump tonight, in the sense the biggest challenge for Donald Trump in a sense is to convince people out there, like me more. Give me a second look. She's key to that.


COOPER: It's not just Melania Trump tonight. First of all, you have Governor Perry, who, if you remember during the primary season, came out and blasted Donald Trump, was really the first candidate to come out and went after him on questions of faith.

BORGER: He called him a cancer on conservatism, if you recall.

COOPER: And then you have national security people. You have Marcus Luttrell, who wrote the book "Lone Survivor," the movie "Lone Survivor."


COOPER: Rudy Giuliani. You have a number of people who survived the Benghazi attacks who were involved in Benghazi, and also a number of people whose kids have been killed in some way or other by illegal immigrants.

BORGER: That's right. It's national security, strength. And just like Melania is going to attract women, they believe -- in talking to people in the Trump campaign, they believe the strength argument will also attract women voters, because they believe women see a dangerous world and they're national security voters very often to protect their family. They believe this is also a way to get, to bring down those negatives.

In March, he was 70 percent negative with women. It's important.


NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: That's the big challenge. Rebranding Donald Trump.

They want a bump out of this convention. We haven't seen a lot of bumps come out of these conventions over the last couple of days. I think the biggest speeches we will see tonight, Donald Trump and Melania Trump.

If you look back at what former first ladies have done, it's about humanizing the candidates and it's also, if you look at Michelle Obama's speech, for instance, she sort of acknowledged that -- she had this line in her speech that when I met him, he was a guy with a funny name and he was in Hawaii, but he had the same kinds of values that my family had as well.

She was in some ways the translator of Barack Obama to the general public.


COOPER: Michael Smerconish, that's one of the things. I talked to Paul Manafort last night, who was saying essentially that and that every night that's what they want to get out of this.

And by the end, they want to show what Paul Manafort was saying the sort of side of Donald Trump the public hasn't seen in these primary battles, which is the person in the boardroom, the person in private meetings, the person with his family.

We're going to be hearing from pretty much every member of his family, every one of his kids.

MICHAEL SMERCONISH, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: I thought Governor Romney had a beautiful family. They all spoke well. I remember those handsome sons. I also remember the testimonials from folks who were Latter Day Saints. They didn't play those cards.

In fact, I even make it sound cheap when I say it that way. But they were very careful in how much of that they showed. In retrospect, it was probably a mistake. I thought the best moment Donald Trump had in the entire primary process was the CNN town hall where he brought his whole family and he said very little. It will be interesting to see if he can say very little tonight, and I think he's right to play that card.


COOPER: We're going to take a quick break. We got a lot more to talk about as we await Donald Trump's arrival and Melania Trump's moment on the stage tonight.

We will be right back.


BLITZER: Day one of the convention that at least for a few minutes resembled the old-fashioned kind of convention, a rules battle, a demonstration on the floor.

Joining us now, Senator Mike Lee of Utah, who was right in the middle of it all.


What happened there, because you looked pretty angry when the debate was unfolding?

SEN. MIKE LEE (R), UTAH: This was a lost opportunity.

It was an opportunity for the party to unite. Unity happens when people with different viewpoints are respected and we're able to discuss our disagreements.

BLITZER: What was your goal in seeking that vote?

LEE: It's really very simple. We just wanted a roll call vote on the rules.


BLITZER: Why? You knew that Trump had the votes in the end, right?

LEE: Look, this one isn't about Trump. For some people, it is. It's much bigger than that.

It's about our rules. The first order of business in any convention, any convention, at the Republican Convention, as far as I know, in any political convention, is you adopt the rules.

There was disagreement going out of the rules committee about the rules package that was adopted. There were a lot of delegates who for various and sundry reasons wanted a roll call on that. That's all we wanted. And they shut that down.

It's unfortunate, because we need these people. The people who feel differently about the rules, for whatever reason, are the very same people the Republican Party will need come November to help us win elections, at the top of the ticket, the bottom of the ticket and everywhere in between.

BLITZER: Because they said you needed seven states, the majority of the delegates in seven states, in order get the roll -- they said -- you said you had nine. They did some checking and then you had five or six. You didn't meet the requirement.

LEE: Yes, we believe we had 11 states that had submitted the requisite number of signatures from their delegates.

And then they came back and said three states had withdrawn their petitions. Even if that were true, that would still leave us with eight, more than the threshold of seven that we needed for a roll call vote.

I'm not sure what to make of that. But I will say this. This was a lost opportunity. When people have the opportunity to be heard, they are more likely to work for the party, work for the party's nominees for various offices, whether it's president or congressional seat or senatorial seat or something else. And this was a missed opportunity today to have this vote.

BLITZER: Now, where do you stand on Donald Trump as the Republican nominee? Will you vote for him?

LEE: Look, I'm a lifelong Republican. I have never voted for anyone for president for any party other than the Republican Party.

I have yet to endorse Donald Trump. I have expressed concerns about that. I don't want to rehash those now. But this is an opportunity for Donald Trump to win over the party, win over voters like me, conservatives like me, who would like to have their concerns resolved, who would like to be invited into a discussion.

BLITZER: Because Paul Manafort, the Trump committee chairman, he said to me there's going to be an opportunity in January of next year for the rules committee to meet looking ahead to 2020.

That's what you were really anxious, to change the rules looking ahead, so a conservative would get the nomination, to close the primaries and the caucuses to only registered Republicans and not outsiders. Right?

LEE: Sure. Sure.

This discussion is about not only this year, but also 2020 and 2024.

BLITZER: Was that your real goal, 2020?

LEE: Well, we have lots of goals.

There's lots of things that we needed to discuss in connection with the rules. The one thing we wanted to know is, where are the delegates on this issue? It's the delegates at the end of the day that get to decide that. We knew that there would be a voice vote. We knew that it would be difficult to discern who had won the voice vote and who hadn't.

That's why we asked for simple roll call vote. I have to ask the question, why on earth did the RNC choose to create this toxic environment through four hours of delay and then come back to us after that and say, well, a few of them, after the RNC had lobbied several of these states for several hours, they have now withdrawn their petitions?

Why did they have to do that? Why not just allow for the vote? What are they afraid of? At the end of the day, we would be a better, stronger party if we allowed these votes to occur.

BLITZER: And so I just want to be precise. Going ahead in 2020, you want the caucuses and the primaries to be closed only to Republicans and not let independents or maybe even Democrats register and vote?

LEE: I at least want those states that choose to keep their primaries closed to be recognized for that, to be rewarded, and to have a delegate bonus as a result.

BLITZER: And that was one of the purposes?

LEE: That was one of the purposes.

BLITZER: There was an argument that some had made that you were really doing this for Ted Cruz, looking ahead. You're a Ted Cruz supporter, right?

LEE: I am. I am. Ted Cruz withdrew from this race months ago, a long time ago.

BLITZER: Donald Trump is going to be your nominee, though, right?

LEE: I think he is.

BLITZER: You think?


LEE: Almost certain that he is. And, look, he will be a stronger nominee...

BLITZER: Is there anything you can do even at this last minute to prevent him from being the Republican nominee?

LEE: Probably not. Probably not.

But, look, he's almost certainly going to be our nominee. And because that's the case, he's going to need to get as many people into his tent as he can. And that means uniting the party. That means helping people to feel like they have been disenfranchised today at this convention, the same people that they will need as part of a grassroots network to get out the vote for him in November, he needs those people in his tent.

Let us have a vote. I don't think this is about Donald Trump, though. I don't think Donald Trump did this. I don't blame this on Donald Trump. I blame the RNC.


BLITZER: Was this a Reince Priebus...



LEE: I don't whether it was Reince himself.

But the people who are running this convention made a decision, rather than have a vote, rather than respect the fact that I believe 11 states had submitted the necessary petitions for roll call vote -- let them have a roll call vote.

BLITZER: So, are you going to stay here for the next three days?

LEE: Yes. Look, I'm here. I'm here as a delegate from Utah. I'm going to stay. I'm going to participate.

BLITZER: And when will you decide whether or not you will vote for Donald Trump?

LEE: Well, that's up for me as a voter to decide.

BLITZER: It's still up for grabs?

LEE: Sure.

BLITZER: There's no chance you are going to vote for Hillary Clinton?

LEE: No, there is not.

BLITZER: Is there a chance you could vote for Gary Johnson, a third- party candidate?

LEE: Look, I don't know.

Right now, I'm a delegate to the Republican National Convention. And it's always my instinct to want to support Republican candidates.

BLITZER: One final -- what would it take for you to vote for Donald Trump?

LEE: Great question.

I would love to see Mr. Trump come out with an aggressive reform agenda, one that focuses on the structural protections in the Constitution. Some of the structural protections, which I discuss in my book "Our Lost constitution," including principles, federalism and separation of powers, the notion that most government decisions are supposed to be made locally, at the state and local level.

Instead, they have been taken to Washington. And within Washington, too much of that power has been sucked into the executive branch, where an administrative regulatory system costs the American economy, mostly America's poor and middle class, $2 trillion a year.

If he started talking about restoring federalism and separation of powers and about what he would do to do that, I think he'd be very appealing to a whole lot of conservatives like me who have yet to hear that kind of aggressive, consistent messaging from him on a conservative core principle.

BLITZER: The Mike Pence selection didn't impact you?

LEE: I think Mike Pence is a great choice. I would love to hear more messaging like we hear from Mike Pence out of Donald Trump.

BLITZER: Senator Lee, thanks very much for joining us.

LEE: Thank you.

BLITZER: Just ahead, we will get the latest from Baton Rouge, Louisiana. The police chief there is standing by to join us live. There are new developments.

We will be right back.


BLITZER: As the Republican convention was getting under way here, the -- with tonight's themes of law and order, national security, authorities in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, were briefing the public on the killings of three law enforcement officers.

[18:31:53] The headline: they say it was an ambush, and it could have been even worse if not for the heroic actions of the other officers.

Joining us now is the chief of the Baton Rouge Police Department, Carl Dabadie.

Chief, thank you so much for joining us. I can't imagine how hard it must be for you and your department in dealing with this horrific, horrific loss. How are you holding up?

CHIEF CARL DABADIE, BATON ROUGE POLICE DEPARTMENT: Well, we're hanging in there. We -- we're very proud of our department. We're very proud of our men. We're very proud of our city. And our city's support has been overwhelming to us in our time of need. And we're thankful for their support, and with their support we'll get through this.

BLITZER: What can you say about the officers you lost in this horrific attack?

DABADIE: I lost two police officers, one a ten-year veteran and one just a one-year veteran who -- who had served three tours in Iraq before becoming a Baton Rouge police officer. So I've lost two very good police officers whose heart, compassion, dedication and professionalism to law enforcement is unsurpassed.

And, you know, one of these officers, you know, like I said, served his country for three tours in Iraq, and his service led him to be a Baton Rouge police officer, where he continued to serve his community and his country.

BLITZER: I know Montrell Jackson, one of the police officers who was shot and killed, he gave you a pep talk just a few days earlier. What did he say?

DABADIE: Well, I was going through the -- through the department, trying to lift everybody's spirits. We've been 12 -- 10, 12 days into the protest, and was just trying to give them some words of encouragement and shook Montrell's hand. And he looked me in the eye and started giving me a pep talk about keeping my head up and that we were going to get through this and that this community supports this department. And it just ended up being a very somber moment for me with Montrell.

BLITZER: We also learned today how the officers lost their lives. How one of the officers was actually tending for another -- another officer who was wounded when they were both killed by the shooter. What does they say about the bravery of these men?

DABADIE: Well, it goes without saying. I mean, I don't have the words to explain their courage, their bravery, their dedication and professionalism to each other and the compassion that they had for each other in this community. To -- to come out from behind cover when you're receiving fire to tend to another officer is just -- just unspeakable heroic act.

BLITZER: And there was a very long shot that eventually took out the shooter. Right? Tell us about that.

DABADIE: Could you repeat that again? I'm sorry. My ear piece fell out.

BLITZER: I understand -- I understand the shooter, when he was eventually killed, it was the result of a very, very long shot by one of your men.

[18:35:04] DABADIE: It was a shot from one of our SWAT team members, who actually happened to be right down the road and responded to the call. He pulled in the parking lot and drew his weapon, knew that he had to take the suspect out then, that we couldn't wait. It was approximately a 100-yard shot that ended up taking the taking the shooter out. So it was a very clutch shot. I don't know. Maybe God had his hand on him when he pulled the trigger, but it stopped the threat immediately.

BLITZER: And you have no doubt this shooter came to Baton Rouge, and his mission was to ambush and kill as many police officers as he possibly could, is that right?

DABADIE: Well, we do believe that his mission was to come here and harm police officers. We haven't confirmed all of the data through his social media and through other parts of the investigation. But we do believe that he came here to kill police officers and -- and, unfortunately, he succeeded to an extent.

BLITZER: Chief Dabadie, once again, our deepest condolences to you and to everyone else in Baton Rouge. Our hearts go out to the families, as well. Thank you so much for joining us.

DABADIE: Yes, sir, thank you for your thoughts. BLITZER: Thank you.

And just ahead from here in Cleveland, we have some new polling. How Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump compare in voters' eyes on key issues and who voters think is most trustworthy. John King is standing by to break it all down for us. We'll be right back.


[18:41:25] BLITZER: We're back. It's day one of the Republican convention here in Cleveland. Let's go to Dana Bash. She's got a special guest there on the House -- on the convention floor -- Dana.

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right. I have Governor Perry here. Do you want to say hello?

And Newt Gingrich. Hello.

That's what happens when you're on a live convention floor. But Governor, thank you so much for joining me.

First, I just want to ask you. I know you were just coming here tonight, but you heard about the fracas here and the fact that a lot of people who wanted to have their voices heard, they said, a roll call vote, were shot down. What does that tell you as a longtime member of the party?

FMR. GOV. RICK PERRY (R), TEXAS; Well, it tells me that that's the way the process works. I don't get confused that sometimes democracy can look a little bit muddled. It can be a little bit confusing.

If you've ever been in the legislature and you've followed all the Roberts rules of order and the things that occur, they happen. And democracy, at the end of the day, sorts it all out. And that's what we're doing here. Sometimes it gets a little heated.

BASH: So Governor, you were Donald Trump's competitor in the race for the White House. You were the first one to say, I believe, that -- that he and his candidacy was a cancer on conservatism. But here you are on the floor, obviously ready to back him, and you're even speaking tonight. Why have you changed in a way that so many of your -- most of your competitors have not?

PERRY: Well, I'm a big competitor for one thing, and I'll be real honest. Donald Trump wasn't my first choice to be the president of the United States. I was.

But the process works. I was eliminated, along with 16 -- well, 15 others. And Donald Trump is standing at the end of that. I totally respect that process. And it's down now to between two choices, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.

I try the keep it pretty simple. The central focus for me is the Supreme Court and decisions that will impact this country for 40 years are going to be made by that Supreme Court. And I'm a lot more comfortable with Donald Trump making that decision than I am Hillary. BASH: As you know, this state's governor, John Kasich, is not even

coming to the convention in his own state, and others are following suit. So what do you think they're not getting that you think you are about this process?

PERRY: Well, I would be here, were I them. You know, if they don't want to endorse, that's their call. But, you know, home-state governor ought to be here, frankly. And you know, John's got to explain that to the convention folks. He's got to explain that to his...

BASH: You think he's making a mistake?

PERRY: I would -- if I were the governor of Ohio, I would be at the convention, if I were a Republican, at the Republican convention. And you know, missing an opportunity -- if you have some grievances, if you have some things to say, a lot of TV cameras here. A lot of ways to say, "Here's what I believe in and here's what's not getting done."

But all of this splitting of hairs, if you will, I -- I think people need to be really careful about it. Because at the end of the day, Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, Supreme Court.

BASH: That's what you think it's all about?

PERRY: Well, I think that is -- from my perspective, that is a big story that needs to be told.

Is it about building the military back up? Absolutely. When Marcus Luttrell talks tonight, after I introduced him, we'll talk about the military and about our veterans, getting this economy going.

[18:45:02] There are a lot of things that are important but Donald Trump has addressed them all. I'm very comfortable not only as a governor of a state that I think unquestionably was as successful as any of the country during the last decade. His economic outlook, his economic package is one that will get America back on track again.

Those three times, if you've got something over and above outside of those, God bless you, but what's more important than those three things.

BASH: Thank you so much. Good luck speaking tonight. We'll be watching from down here. Thank you so much.

Anderson, back to you.

COOPER: Dana, thanks. Governor, thank you.

Over the next two weeks here in Cleveland, of course, then in Philadelphia, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton will do their best to try to seal the deal with any undecided voters. Tonight, there's a new CNN poll of polls showing Hillary Clinton leading Donald Trump by four percentage points, 45 percent to 41 percent. The recent polls have shown the race tightening in several battleground states, including, of course, Ohio. Tonight, there's also CNN/ORC poll on how the two candidates compare on a number of measures. Our John King breaks it down for us now.

So, John, in looking at both the issues and experience, how do Trump and Clinton match up?

KING: Well, Anderson, you come to a convention and you're Donald Trump, what do you want to do? You want to shore up your strengths and you want to address your weaknesses. We know it's a very competitive race. So, let's go through this and take a look at some of this right now.

Here on the big issues facing the American people. Who do voters trust more in the economy? Donald Trump. Who do voters trust more on terrorism? By six points, Donald Trump. Who do voters trust more to defeat ISIS? By 13 points, Donald Trump.

Those are three great strengths for Mr. Trump coming into this convention on big issues. The economy is always issue number one. Terrorism and ISIS are sadly in the news quite a bit these days.

So, Donald Trump wants to fortify the strengths especially the nick number. You just heard Rick Perry, the former governor of Texas talking about that.

But Mr. Trump also has some weaknesses. Look, on race relations, Hillary Clinton has a 30-point advantage. That obviously sadly in the news quite as bit as much.

On abortion issues, Donald Trump, this is more of a women, in the gender gap, Hillary Clinton has a huge advantage. On health care as well, and on overall foreign policy.

This is an interesting split. Trump wins on terrorism and ISIS. Clinton wins on overall foreign policy.

If you look at these top three, especially the economy, Anderson, yes, Hillary Clinton has a slight advantage right now, but Trump comes into this convention on the issues and with the dynamic in the country for change with advantages. He needs to deal with likeability and the trust issues. If he can do that, he can do some business here.

COOPER: And we're going to hear about those issues in particular tonight.

When it comes to the theme of trustworthiness, who fares better?

KING: Let's go look, because this is an issue on which both candidates have problems, honest and trustworthy in our new CNN/ORC poll. Look at this right here.

Clinton, 34, yes, she's honest and trustworthy. Sixty-five percent, no, she's not. Donald Trump, 38 percent, yes, 61 percent no, he's not honest and trustworthy.

So, for both of these candidates, this is a problem. Donald Trump's convention is this week, Hillary Clinton's next week. You can be certain, again, part of Melania Trump, part of the Trump family to make the case, this is a nice guy. This is a good guy. You can trust him. Take a second look.

It's a problem, no question about it for both of them, but we start here in Cleveland.

COOPER: We talked about Bernie Sanders supporting going over to Hillary Clinton. In terms of non-Trump Republicans actually coalescing around him, what is the poll show?

KING: Let's look at some more numbers at that point. You look right here. I just want to start this one. Here is another one as they go forward.

Who has the right experience to be president? This is a problem for Donald Trump. Two-thirds say he does not have the ability to be president. He has to deal with that, Anderson, here in Cleveland this week.

And to the point you just made, this is good news for Donald Trump. A lot of debate already in the convention hall, a lot of debate as the party unifying among Donald Trump, look at this, these are non-Trump Republicans. People who voted for people like Governor Perry, Governor Kasich in the primaries, where are they

In June, only 67 percent said they will vote for Trump. It's now up to 74 percent.

Hillary Clinton's support among non-Trump primary Republicans was 17 percent in June and it's dropped to 8 percent. So, Donald Trump is making progress in unifying the party. Doesn't mean there's not more work to be done. But over the last month, he's improved, and now, he has four days right here in Cleveland to try to unify the party even more.

COOPER: John King, thanks very much, breaking down those numbers.

Back with the panel.

Gloria, certainly, in this age where we're seeing terror attack after terror attack, Donald Trump doing very well on that issue compared to Hillary Clinton.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, that's what we're going to hear about tonight. Talk about that or at the convention they will talk about it much more, because the security issues they believe will help with women. They're going to try and say Hillary Clinton had her chance. They will talk about Benghazi, for example. They're going to raise that.

They're going to say that Donald Trump projects strength and Hillary Clinton projects weakness. That's going to be their simple choice.

COOPER: Right, leadership. We see this in tweets. Leadership, leadership, leadership BORGER: Right. And, you know, that's what Trump is also quite

frankly trying to do on the economy, trying to say, you know, given my business background, I know how to lead.

[18:50:05] And I'm not going to lead you into a ditch on the economy. I mean, there is a difference in the Republican Party, particularly, between Donald Trump and Paul Ryan, for example. Paul Ryan is saying, you know, in order not to lead us into an economic ditch, you have to get -- you have to cut these entitlements. And Donald Trump has said, look, I'm not going to touch Social Security, right?

COOPER: It's not just Paul Ryan. Even Governor Pence.

BORGER: Governor Pence, too, exactly.

MICHAEL SMERCONISH, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: What's interesting to me about those numbers, and let's give Donald Trump credit for this, according to fund-raising and organization, it's an absolute mismatch. She has him at such a disadvantage in terms of the field operation that she has nationwide and the amount of money that she's been spending in the swing states. He hasn't spent anything. And yet, it's within the margin of error.

COOPER: Well, particularly, recently, Nia, in battleground states -- I mean, in Florida, it's gone upside down for Hillary Clinton.

NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER: Yes. It's hard to know. Some of the polls are all over the place and say two different things. One has him up in Pennsylvania. There's another has her up in Pennsylvania.

I think we're going to see a split between those Rust Belt states. That is his only path to the White House. He essentially has to get 64 more electoral votes to add on to what Mitt Romney was able to do in 2012. I think his path is in the Rust Belt. Hillary Clinton's strength is in states like Florida, Virginia, Colorado, Nevada and North Carolina.

His real challenge is he's got to bind the wounds of the Republican Party but also expand it. There's no path that can rely just on white voters for Donald Trump, because at this point he is actually underperforming among white voters compared to Mitt Romney.

COOPER: You know, I just want to go back to roll call, because, Scottie, I saw you were shaking your head when we were hearing from Mike Lee, I think talking to Wolf. Mike Lee said with this -- this party would be stronger if they would have allowed a roll call. Do you believe that's the case?

SCOTTIE NELL HUGHES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I really don't, because we know going into this, there was a lot of controversy about how these delegates were picked. Not every single delegate out of that floor tonight was elected by the people to represent the people. A lot of these were chosen, that were at large delegates, all of these were folks chosen by the establishment or by well-organized grass campaigns like what we saw in Georgia. That was Ted Cruz. We know that there are a lot of these delegate slots were Trump filled

by supporters of other candidates. That's why a roll call vote necessarily would have been representative of what the people had voted.

COOPER: We've got to take a quick back. Up next, Melania Trump is gong to have her biggest moment yet as we wait for her prime time speaking appearance, we'll look back at her other moments on the campaign trail.

We'll be right back.


[18:57:06] BLITZER: We're awaiting the arrival of Donald Trump and his wife, Melania here at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland. In a couple of hours, he is expected to introduce her before she addresses the delegates and millions of viewers around the United States and the world.

She has certainly spoken before on behalf of her husband, but never on this kind of stage to such a broad audience.

For more, let's go to CNN's Randi Kaye.


MELANIA TRUMP, WIFE OF DONALD TRUMP: Good evening. Isn't he the best?

RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Melania Trump, addressing her husband's supporters in South Carolina, impromptu appearance at the mike, her first more than five months into the campaign.

It wasn't until the Wisconsin primary in April that Melania officially stumped for her husband.

M. TRUMP: I'm very proud of him. He is hard worker. He is kind. He has a great heart. He is tough. He's smart.

KAYE: On the campaign trail, Melania is more often seen than heard, at the 9/11 Museum in April, at Trump's daughter Tiffany's graduation in May, and at a campaign fund-raiser in June. Though, she did surprise reporters early on when she fielded questions in the spin room following a debate.

M. TRUMP: Great evening, yes. Just the way it was handled was very fair and elegant.

KAYE: Melania says she stays off the campaign trail mainly to look after the couple's 10-year-old son Baron. The Trumps reportedly have a cook but no nanny. Melania may not say much in public but she is known for giving her husband advice in private.

M. TRUMP: Do I agree all the time? INTERVIEWER: Uh-huh.

M. TRUMP: With him?


M. TRUMP: No, I don't. And I tell him that. I tell him my opinions. I tell him what I think. Sometimes he listens, sometimes he don't.

KAYE: She admits he doesn't always listen. Still, as Melania told Anderson Cooper, she does not try to change him.

M. TRUMP: He's an adult. He knows the consequences. And so I let him be who he is. I give him my opinions many, many times.

COOPER: You do?

M. TRUMP: Yes.

KAYE: In a CNN town hall, Melania defended her husband's eyebrow- raising criticism of other others, including women.

M. TRUMP: He treats everyone equally. So if you're a woman and he attacks -- they attack him, he will attack back.

Melania Knavs as she was formerly known is a Slovenian immigrant who became naturalized citizen in 2006. At 5'11", she was once a successful model, meeting Donald Trump at a New York fashion week party back in 1998.

As she told "People" magazine, she thought he had, quote, "sparkle". Melania would later become his third wife. And now on the campaign trail, one of his greatest cheerleaders.

M. TRUMP: And if you elect him to be your president, he will fight for you and for our country and together we will make America strong and great again. Thank you.

KAYE: A sales pitch that Melania Trump is now perfecting for prime time.

Randi Kaye, CNN, New York.


BLITZER: That does it for us this hour.

COOPER: We'll be back one hour from now.