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GOP Loyalty Pledge; Trump Speaks to Press after Priebus Meeting. Aired 2-2:30p ET
Aired September 03, 2015 - 14:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[14:00:04] ANA CABRERA, CNN ANCHOR: Now, as a billionaire businessman, Trump, he, of course, could be called the king of contracts, but his signature expected on this document today may be the most scrutinized of his career. If he signs, Trump would promise the RNC that he would not run as an independent if he fails to win the Republican nomination for president.
And this just in minutes ago. A look at where the race stands right now. Of course, you're looking at video of Trump. He's made a lot of appearances in the recent weeks and days. This is a new poll from Monmouth University and it shows Trump has his biggest lead yet, 30 percent, with Dr. Ben Carson closing in behind him at 18 percent.
Let's discuss all of this with chief political correspondent Dana Bash, chief political analyst Gloria Borger, Katrina Kampit (ph), she's a former contestant on Donald Trump's reality show "The Apprentice," and CNN political commentator Ana Navarro standing by. She, of course, is a supporter of Jeb Bush, but she also advises other GOP candidates.
We'll talk to all of them in just a moment. But I want to head right out to Dana in the middle of this media frenzy awaiting what Trump is going to say and what's going to happen at this meeting between Trump and the RNC chairman.
Dana, what can you tell us? What have you learned so far?
DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: CNN can now report, according to a source familiar with the meeting, that Donald Trump signed the pledge. He signed the pledge that he is going to remain a Republican even if he doesn't get the Republican presidential nomination and he won't become an independent. Again, this is according to a source familiar with it. We are waiting to hear that from Donald Trump himself.
Reince Priebus, the Republican National Committee chair, came into this building, the Trump Tower, Trump's home turf, flew up from Washington. He was very cagey, probably is the best word the use, about people seeing him. We tried to get him in a back door. He was pretty fast. He got in without us even getting much of a picture of him, then went up a back way, met with Donald Trump and our understanding is that that meeting is over and that he is actually gone and that Donald Trump did sign this pledge. So that is definitely the headline that I'm told from a source right now, the key headline. So many things to sort of unpack with that headline. The first is the fact that Reince Priebus even had to come up here and get Donald Trump to do that. That he felt the need to do it. I'm told that this comes after weeks and weeks of cajoling, of talking, of sort of careful consultation between the two camps, between the RNC and Trump world and Reince Priebus and Trump himself and culminated into what we saw starting yesterday morning with the Republican National Committee sending this pledge request to all of the candidates and him having to come up, not to the other 15 offices, but just to this one here at Trump Tower to look Donald Trump in the eye and have a final conversation to seal the deal.
Back to you.
CABRERA: And, Dana, we know that this is never been done before, the fact that the RNC has actually sent out some kind of a pledge during a presidential cycle asking all the candidates to jump on board. Is Trump that unique? Is that the only reason that this pledge came to be?
BASH: In a word, yes, he is. The - even the Republican National Committee sources inside say that they don't have any evidence that this has happened before on a national level. On a state level, yes. When you have sort of intra-party fights it has happened. But with it comes to a national race, the presidency, this is the first time it has happened.
Certainly there have been threats from Republican candidates in the past to go their own way. Pat Buchanan, for example, was a Republican at one time and, you know, sort of was part of a primary and then no longer. So it has happened before. But nobody who has the celebrity, the backing, the money, the whole package that Donald Trump has to make Republicans so fearful that if it's not played right and he doesn't get the nomination, he would end up potentially going his own way, running as an independent. And why this all matters, why this frenzy is here, is because Republicans are convinced, and I think the polling bears this out, that if that happened, the Democrat would win the White House.
CABRERA: All right, Dana Bash, stand by with us.
Gloria and Ana are also with us right now.
Gloria, I want to ask you, Trump is, after all, the anti-establishment candidate. He has said all along, I'm not a politician. So does he gain or lose support by signing this pledge?
GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, look, you know, some of his supporters may say, we don't want you to do this. You know, we're - we don't want you to sign on with the Republican Party. But Trump doesn't sign anything that he doesn't think works for him.
Here's how it works for him. First of all, it gives him guaranteed ballot access in a state like South Carolina which says you have to be a member of the Republican Party to run in the primary. A couple of other states are considering that. So, you know, that - that does work for him.
[14:05:10] Secondly, it's not legally binding. We know Donald Trump can be a little litigious. I think if he wanted to get out of this at some point, he clearly could.
I think the people it really works for, by the way, are the Democrats because now Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sander cans go out there and say, every Republican candidate has now signed a pledge to support Donald Trump if he becomes the Republican nominee. So they can call it the Trump Republican Party and that works for them. I'm not so sure it works for the other Republican candidates, particularly Jeb Bush, who's been going mono-e-mono against Trump on immigration, for example. I mean Hillary Clinton could use this against Jeb Bush at some point on the issue of immigration saying, wait, you said you would support a guy with an 82 percent unfavorable rating in the Hispanic community because he wants to build a wall. So, you know, I think this works for Trump to a degree, but I'm not sure it works for the other Republican candidates and it sure works for the Democrats.
CABRERA: Well, Ana, let me turn to you because I know you support Jeb Bush. Would Trump signing this pledge, now that he's done it, actually change the race dynamics, do you think?
ANA NAVARRO, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I don't think so at all because I think there is no doubt that every other person on that stage was going to support the Republican nominee. The only person who left it up to a question was Donald Trump. He was the only one person who raised his hand.
So, for everybody else, the other 16, this is not anything new. They are not saying anything new. And I don't think that Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders or anybody is going to be able to paint the Republican Party as a Trump party because there are voices, strong voices, on the stage that are saying, we are not the Trump party and that are taking him on. One of them is Jeb Bush, who's doing it very vocally, but also Marco Rubio, also Lindsey Graham, also Rick Perry.
CABRERA: All right, Ana, we're going to have to - we're going to have to just stop for just a moment.
NAVARRO: So, no, he cannot say - paint everybody with one broad brush.
CABRERA: Excuse me, Ana. Let's listen in to Donald Trump now addressing the audience in this situation.
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The chairman just left, as you probably know. And he's been extremely fair. The RNC has been absolutely terrific over the last two-month period. And as you know, that's what I've wanted. I've wanted fairness. I don't have to be treated any differently than anybody else. I just wanted fairness from the Republican Party.
We're leading in every single poll. A new poll came out today where we're over 30 percent. We've actually hit numbers as high as 35 and 40 percent. And, frankly, I felt that the absolute best way to win and to beat the Democrats, and very easily I think beat the Democrats, no matter who it may be, whether it's Hillary or anybody else, and I think maybe Hillary's going to have a very hard time, frankly, with when's happening, getting to the starting gate - the best way for the republicans to win is if I win the nomination and go directly against whoever they happen to put up. And for that reason, I have signed the pledge.
So I will be totally pledging my allegiance to the Republican Party and the conservative principles for which it stand and we will go out and we will fight hard and we will win. We will win. And most importantly, we will make our country great again because that's what it's all about. We have to make our country great again.
With that, are there any questions?
QUESTION: (INAUDIBLE). Why would anyone (INAUDIBLE) pledge today (ph)?
TRUMP: This is a self-funded campaign. We have our heart in it. We have our soul in it. I don't need money. I don't want money. And this is going to be a campaign like I think no other. I'm not controlled by lobbyists. I'm not controlled by anybody. I'm controlled by the people of the country in order the make our country great again.
TRUMP: Yes, I got nothing. All I have - yes, yes, I really got nothing. What the question was, what did I get for signing the pledge? Absolutely nothing, other than the assurance that I would be treated fairly. And I've seen that over the last two months. They really have been very fair.
[14:10:03] QUESTION: (INAUDIBLE) change your mind?
TRUMP: No, I have no intention of changing my mind.
QUESTION: Mr. Trump, what changed? What changed over the past several weeks since you didn't want to raise your hand?
TRUMP: Well, I think the big thing, Dana, that's changed is - and it's been obvious to all, number one, after I announced, we went up like a rocket ship. Nobody thought I was going to run. And they said, oh, he won't run and he won't put in his papers and he won't do all of this. I did that. The papers - the papers in terms of the company turned out to be spectacular. It's a great company. I've built a great company. And all of the other papers have turned out to be very well received.
And I think the thing that changed is the fact that I went to number one place very quickly after I signed and after I, in this building, notified everybody that I'd be running for president. So I think the biggest thing is that I went early to number one and the RNC has treated me with great respect. So that was very important.
QUESTION: (INAUDIBLE). TRUMP: No, I see no circumstances under which I would tear up that pledge.
QUESTION: Mr. Trump, Governor Christie, today, said that you are so consumed (ph) and that he should be - Reince Priebus (ph) come and meet with him to beg him to sign the pledge.
TRUMP: Well, you don't have to be met when you're at 2 percent. It's one of those things. That's the way life works.
TRUMP: And I like Governor Christie, by the way.
TRUMP: Well, the chairman asked if he could come up. You saw him. He was here a little while ago. And I was greatly honored that he did come up, frankly.
QUESTION: (INAUDIBLE) comments about - you said about Jeb Bush (INAUDIBLE).
TRUMP: Well, I think that when you get right down to it, we're a nation that speaks English. And I think while we're in this nation, we should be speaking English. And that's how assimilation takes and that's how - I mean, whether people like it or not, that's how we assimilate and that's how we go on to that next phase and that next stage and that's how people that don't speak - and I'm not just talking about Spanish, I'm talking about from various parts of the world, that's how they will become successful and do great. So I think it's more appropriate to be speaking English.
TRUMP: Well, one of the things I want to do, and I feel very strongly, it's a country based on borders and our country is based on laws. And when people come into the country illegally, we should not allow that. And this is not from South America. This is not from Mexico. This is from all over the world.
When people come illegally, we cannot allow that. And I want people to come legally. I want very much to take care of our border, because our southern border is a total mess. That's been proven. And, interestingly, a couple of months ago when I announced, I made some very strong statements about the crime and the problems that were happening and I've been proven right. And many of the people in this audience actually have apologized to me, which I very much appreciate. Of course they haven't done it publicly, but these are minor details. Some day they will.
The fact is that we are a nation that wants and needs borders. We're a nation that wants and needs and is based on laws. And we will make sure that that takes place. With that being said, I want people to come in to our country legally.
I want to have a big, fat, beautiful, open door. I want people of great talent to come in for Silicon Valley. I want engineers. I want physicists. I want people with great talent to come into the United States. When people graduate from college, you can be number one in your class at Harvard or number one at Yale or the Wharton School of Finance or Princeton or Stamford. And immediately if you're not a citizen of the United States, you get thrown out of the country. We want those people to stay. We want people of great talent to be in the United States to work here and ultimately to become a citizen.
TRUMP: I don't know enough about it to comment on it. Was she jailed? I really don't know much about it.
TRUMP: No, no. Yes, go ahead.
TRUMP: That's absolutely false. I win at golf. I win at golf. That I can tell you.
[14:15:02] TRUMP: Well, I understand how the system works maybe better than anybody. I understand the political system. And I understand also very much a system of coming in for illegal immigrants.
Don't forget, if I didn't bring up the subject of illegal immigration, you wouldn't be asking the question. Nobody would even be talking about immigration. And immigration and in particular illegal immigration has become a very big factor. Now, a lot of bad things have happened with respect to crime since I brought it up. But if I didn't bring it up, immigration would not even be a subject that we're talking about and it happens to be a very important subject.
I have to say this. It can also be a very positive subject because I believe so strongly in immigration and I just - we have to stop illegal immigration and we have to look forward to great immigration done in a legal matter. But if I didn't bring it up, nobody would be talking about it.
No. Go ahead.
TRUMP: Well, there is gridlock in Congress right now and that's because there's no leadership at the top. You have to be able to lead. You have to get people into your office. You have to get people, go to them. Any way you want to do it. But you have to be able to lead. There is no leadership at the top. Signing executive orders is not the way our country was supposed to be run.
Yes, go ahead.
TRUMP: I don't want to talk about that here. It's inappropriate.
Yes, sir, go ahead.
TRUMP: Tom Brady?
TRUMP: Well, I'm - Tom Brady is a very good friend of mine. He's a great guy. For those of you that don't know him, he's a very honorable guy and an honest guy and a truly great athlete. He is really a very good friend of mine and I just spoke to him a little while ago. He's so thrilled and so happy.
Tom Brady, I think what they've done is terrible. And he has been exonerated, as I understand it, because I just heard about it. But I'm very happy for Tom.
As far as the commission is concerned, they're having a rough year. Let's face it. They're having a very rough year.
Yes, go ahead.
TRUMP: Well, in Europe they have tremendous problems where (ph) people going in and storming and it's a huge humanitarian problem and I just say this, the United States has tremendous problems of their own. We have infrastructure that we have to fix. We have bridges and roads and tunnels and everything's falling apart. Our nation's in such trouble. That's why being a builder and a great builder and a very successful builder I think will greatly help.
But we have so many of our own problems, including the border, including the wall, which we will get built, including all of the things we have, health care, which is a mess. You know, if you look at Obamacare, the premiums have gone up 45, 50, 55 percent. People are saying, this is turning out to be a disaster. Deductibles are through the roof. The deductibles on Obamacare, it's through the roof.
So, we have a lot of problems. We have to take care of our vets. We have to build up our military. Just the other day, General Odierno said that the Army is in the worst shape in its history in terms of preparedness. Now, for them to be in bad shape with the way we are and with the world hating us, and you look at Hillary Clinton and I've said she's the worst secretary of state in the history of this country. Now, in all fairness, because of the agreement that's about to be finalized with Iran, John Kerry may very well take her place. I think that agreement is a disaster for this country, for Israel, for the Middle East. It's going to lead to nuclear proliferation. The 24- day clause, everything about it - we don't even get our prisoners back. You say who negotiates a thing like that? That won't happen, I can guarantee you, with a President Trump.
All right, one or two more questions.
TRUMP: You'll see it later. Yes. They don't want to hear it.
Yes, go ahead.
TRUMP: Could you stand up, please?
TRUMP: All I want them to do - yes, and say hello to Rosanna (ph) and Greg (ph), OK? Great people.
I would say very simply, I just want to be treated like everybody else. You see, I was always the fair-haired boy. I was a big contributor. Nobody knows the system. But I was on the other side. And I was the elite. I was the fair-haired person.
[14:20:06] Once I ran, all of a sudden I was a little bit of an outsider. I became an outsider because I was running, because I wasn't supposed to run. I'm this businessman that people have given me great credit as being a great businessman, but I'm not supposed to be running for office.
The fact is that our country is being killed on trade by China, by Japan, by Mexico, both at the border and on trade. And I'm not knocking those countries. Their leaders are much, much smarter than our leaders. They are absolutely killing us. China, taking our jobs, taking our money, taking our base.
And think of this, we owe China $1.4 trillion. And we're paying them interest. We owe Japan, with all of the cars coming in, the same amount, $1.4 trillion. Now, that's like a magic act. They send the cars in. They take our jobs. They do everything. And we owe them money. That's not going to happen with me.
TRUMP: It's been a long time. Go.
TRUMP: Well, Jeb Bush is a very nice man. I'll be honest. I think he's a very nice person. I think he's a very low energy person and I don't think that's what the country needs. I hear that he's going to spend a lot of money on negative ads on me and, honestly, look, he's getting the money from special interests. He's getting the money from lobbyists and his donors. And they're making him do it because he's - he's crashing in the polls.
So I don't know what's going to happen. If he spends $20 million or $25 million on negative ads, I don't know. I know that my life will continue. I just don't know. I mean nobody's ever spent money on ads against me. But he probably has to do that, although it would not be the way I've done it.
You know, one of the things that I'm most honored about is that so far everybody that's attacked me has gone down the tubes. You have Lindsay Graham attacked me. He was at 3 percent. Now he's at zero. You have Perry attacked me. Now he's getting out of the race. He was at 4 or 5 percent. Now he's getting out of the race. He was at zero. Everybody - Rand Paul attacked me. I see the last poll, the Monmouth poll, just came out today, where I'm leading by double figures and Rand Paul is down to less than 2 percent and he attacked me.
Now, Jeb Bush also just went down in the Monmouth poll very big. So, I don't know. I mean, they're going to spend - he's going to spend lobbyists' money and special interest money. Remember this, they have total control over Jeb and Hillary and everybody else that takes that money. Nobody knows the system better than me. They have total control.
You understand it very well because you've been covering it for a long time. Those people that are putting up those millions of dollars have total control over your candidate. I will tell you this, nobody's putting up millions of dollars for me. I'm putting up my own money. I'm -
In fact, I feel a little bit foolish. People are offering me millions and millions of dollars. You know, when you're in first place, you can collect so much money. And I keep turning them down. I feel like, am I a fool? I feel very foolish.
And when I was in Iowa last week, I said, what do you think, can I take - one man offered me - a big lobbyist offered $5 million for my campaign. I said to the crowd in Iowa, a great crowd, 4,000 people, I said, can I take it? And will you believe, I'm not going to do anything, I promise you, I swear to you, I won't do anything. And they said stood up and said, no, no, don't take it.
The fact is, I'm the only self-funder. I'm putting up my own money. I know there have been some super PACs, five or six super PACs, where people are forming super PACs for Trump. I have nothing to do with them. As you know, you're not allowed to have anything to do with them. So I don't know what they're going to do. Hopefully, if they're going to do something, it's going to be nice, but I don't know anything about them.
But just in a nutshell, I'm funding my own campaign. Nobody else is. When people advertise, and I hope the voters can see this, every negative ad they see about me is paid for by lobbyists and specialist interests. So just remember that.
Yes, go ahead.
TRUMP: Our country can be doing much better. We have deficit that are enormous. We have all bad trade agreements. We have an Army that the head said is not prepared. We have a military that needs help, and especially in these times. We have nuclear weapons that you look at "60 Minutes," they don't even work. OK. If anybody saw that report. The phones don't work. They're 40 years old. They have wires that are no good.
[14:25:00] Nothing works. Our country doesn't work. Everybody wins except us. We need victories in this country. We don't have victories anymore.
All right, our country will be great again. But right now, our country has major problems.
TRUMP: Who is? Who?
TRUMP: Yes, Carly. I think it's great that she's in the debate. I was in favor of her being - I think she should be in the debate. I don't like that fact that there are 11 people now, as I understand it. They're not getting rid of Rand Paul or somebody. But - and they should because there's too many people. Because when you have 11, you're not going to hear me and you're not going to hear other people talking and I think that's too bad. I think 11 is lot of people. But I was very happy that she got into the debate because, frankly, she deserved to be in the debate.
QUESTION: Mr. Trump, (INAUDIBLE) Vice President Biden gets into the race (INAUDIBLE).
TRUMP: I think maybe he's inclined not to get into the race. I think it's going to depends on what happens with Hillary Clinton. A lot of people think that she will not be able to make it legally from a criminal standpoint to the starting gate. I don't know that to be true. But I think it depends on what happens with her. I think if she gets out, he will get in. I think if she stays in, he might not. Who knows?
QUESTION: Mr. Trump, Jeb Bush's campaign (INAUDIBLE) said yesterday on Twitter, you're tearing apart the GOP. Jeb Bush today on "Good Morning America" said you don't believe in tolerance. And the RNC chairman did come here, but where is he?
TRUMP: Well, he's - he's not supposed to be here because he was here. He was up in my office and he got the pledge and we're very happy about that. We don't want anything - and I told him. I said, I don't know if it's appropriate, Reince, for you to be here because I don't want anything - you know, you guys will end up saying he's endorsing Trump. That would be inappropriate for him. So I suggested, frankly, that - I'm fine with him not being here because I don't want anybody to think he's endorsing.
As far as Jeb is concerned, I watched him this morning on television. And it's a little bit sad. Don't forget, he was supposed to win. And he just doesn't have the energy. But what he does have is a lot of - a lot of money that was given to him, again, by special interests, donors and lobbyists. And I just hope that if he spends money on ads, which he may not. If I were him, I'd spend money on positive ads about himself because if he knocks me, assuming people leave and maybe they're at a point where they're not going to leave because they're fed up with what's happening in this country, but I think they're going to go to people other than Jeb.
Yes, go ahead.
TRUMP: I don't know. I'm - I'm - right now I'm interested in jobs. One thing and one of the groups, it was actually CNN, I shouldn't say that, but they did a very massive poll and I came out number one in leadership, number one on the economy, number one in jobs producing, and I don't mean by number one, I mean like number one by many, many times. And I am so intent on putting people back to work in this country.
You know, we have 93 million people that are not in the workforce right now. Ninety-three million. When they give up looking for a job, they take them off the stats. They take them off the statistics. We have 93 million people. We have 50 million people between poverty levels and welfare and all - our country can be great again. We have to put people back to work.
All right, one or two more.
TRUMP: OK. Would I bring my children into the administration? I will tell you, they are very capable. The answer is probably not. But having them in would be very good. They're very, very capable children. The second part I won't bother answering because it's no longer pertinent.
OK, yes, back there. Go ahead.
TRUMP: Kanye West? You know what, I'll never say bad about him. You know why? Because he loves Trump. He loves Trump. He goes around saying, Trump is my all-time hero. He says it to everybody. So Kanye West, I love him.
Now, maybe in a few years I'll have to run against him. I don't know. So I'll take that back. But you know what, he's been so nice to me.
I sort of - you people have sort of seen, because I've been a counter puncher. I only hit people when they hit me. Only. And Kanye West has been so great. I would never say bad about him because he says such nice things about me.
[14:30:10] TRUMP: No. My supporters are really supporting me because I'm very competent, because they know that I'm not going to let China rip us off.