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Trump Faces Fury Over Abortion Comments; Obama Hosts 50 or More Leaders for Nuclear Summit; 7 Hurt by Tornado in Tulsa, Oklahoma; Clinton, Sanders, Campaign in New York; Aired 10-10:30a ET

Aired March 31, 2016 - 10:00   ET



[10:00:01] SEN. TED CRUZ (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I strongly disagree.

GOV. JOHN KASICH (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Of course women shouldn't be punished.

CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: The Democrats' responses even more brutal.

Also --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The risk of nuclear terrorism was real.

COSTELLO: President Obama gathering with world leaders this morning, pushing to lockdown bomb-making materials. Why the goal is taking on extra urgency.

Let's talk. Live in the CNN NEWSROOM.


COSTELLO: And good morning. I'm Carol Costello. Thanks so much for joining me.

Presidential candidate Donald Trump has steam rolled the Republican race and flattened the pundits who got in his way, but today he's fumbling for the reverse gear. The Republican frontrunner igniting a firestorm that has managed to anger both sides of the abortion debate. Here's what he said in an interview on MSNBC.




MATTHEWS: Do you believe in punishment for abortion? Yes or no, as a principle?

TRUMP: The answer is that there has to be some form of punishment.

MATTHEWS: For the woman? TRUMP: Yes, there has to be some form.

MATTHEWS: Ten cents? Ten years? What?

TRUMP: That I don't know. That I don't know.

MATTHEWS: Why not?

TRUMP: I don't know. Because --

MATTHEWS: You take positions on everything else.

TRUMP: I do take positions on everything else. It's a very complicated position.

MATTHEWS: How do you ban abortion without some kind of sanction? Then you get in that very tricky question of a sanction. A fine on human life, which you called murder?

TRUMP: It'll have to be --


TRUMP: Well --

MATTHEWS: Imprisonment for a young woman who finds herself pregnant?

TRUMP: It will have to be determined.

MATTHEWS: What about the guy that gets her pregnant?

TRUMP: And it hasn't been determined.

MATTHEWS: Is he responsible under the law for these abortions? Or is he not responsible for an abortion procedure?

TRUMP: Right. It hasn't -- different feelings, different people.


TRUMP: I would say no.


COSTELLO: Trump's campaign leader back-pedaling saying he misspoke.

CNN's Chris Moody in Washington with a closer look. Good morning.

CHRIS MOODY, CNN POLITICS SENIOR DIGITAL CORRESPONDENT: Good morning. Donald Trump pulled off a remarkable feat yesterday. He took three positions on abortion in about three hours. And he also did something I've never seen before and that is somehow finding common ground between the pro-abortion rights people and people who oppose abortion rights. The only problem was it was against everything he was saying.

The main point of criticism was that the doctor, sort of people who oppose abortion rights would say the doctors should face sanctions, never the woman. This went out on to the campaign trail as well. Let's listen to what the Republicans said in response.


CRUZ: That comment was wrong. And it really, it's the latest demonstration of how little Donald has thought about any of the serious issues facing this country.

I am pro-life. Being pro-life means standing and defending the unborn, but it also means defending moms, defending women, and defending the incredible gift women have to bring life into the world.

KASICH: But of course women shouldn't be punished. I don't -- look, you know, I think probably Donald Trump will figure out a way to say that he didn't say it or he was misquoted or whatever, but I don't think so. I don't think that's an appropriate response.


MOODY: Now, Carol, the Democratic response was even stronger. And you better believe that the comments that Donald Trump said will end up -- if he's the Republican nominee will end up in ads in the general election.

Here's what the Democratic candidates said about what Trump said about abortion.


HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It's very clear that Donald Trump wants to repeal that fundamental right just like all the other Republican candidates. And when he was asked whether women should be punished he said yes, and that is absolutely unacceptable. It is outrageous.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: To punish a woman for having an abortion is beyond comprehension. I just -- you know, one would say what is in Donald Trump's mind except we're tired of saying that. I don't know what world this person lives in.


MOODY: So as you can see, these are the building blocks of what we will see in presidential campaign ads that either Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders will no doubt run if Donald Trump is the nominee. They've got the sound no matter what he said in a statement afterwards. They're going to be playing that interview with Chris Matthews.

COSTELLO: All right. Chris Moody reporting live for us this morning. Thank you.

So you heard it. Donald Trump had one cataclysmic day. How do we know? He backtracked twice. And gleeful critics pounced. Take a look at the "New York Daily News." "Womb Raider," with pink handcuffs.

Trump's abortion comments come on the heels of his campaign manager being charged with battery, accused of assaulting reporter Michelle Fields. And curious comments about national security, example, Mr. Trump would not rule out using nukes in Europe, and he says the Geneva conventions are getting in the way of fighting ISIS.


TRUMP: We can't water board but they can chop off heads, they can drown people -- 50 people in a cage. A big steel cage, right? And we can't water board. I think we've got to make some changes, some adjustments.

The problem is, you know, we have the Geneva convention, we have all sorts of rules and regulations. Our soldiers are afraid to fight. They don't want to go to jail because they're killing the enemy.


COSTELLO: OK. So just to be clear -- well, let me introduce the panel first.

[10:05:03] With me now, Michael Warren at the "Weekly Standard," Steve Malzberg, host on the conservative Newsmax TV and a Trump supporter, and Sabrina Schaeffer, executive director of the Independent Women's Forum.

I'll start here, Steve. Donald Trump's approval ratings are dismal. "Washington Post"-ABC News poll finds him the most disliked major party nominee in 32 years.

Is it time he stop talking off the cuff?

STEVE MALZBERG, HOST, NEWSMAX TV: Well, I thought the most impressive speech he has given was at AIPAC, when he was reading from a prompter. I thought he did it well and I thought he made his points and he stayed on target. But, look, here's one of the appeals of Donald Trump. He is not a politician. And when he's sitting there with Chris Matthews -- I'm not saying we should feel sorry for him and I'm not saying he was badgered.

He should be able to handle himself, but when you're sitting there and you're talking about abortion. He's pro-life. Most people if asked if it's against the law should the woman who goes to have the abortion against the law be punished, he said yes. That's not the pro-life position. He found that out. He took it back. They want to punish the doctors. And rightfully so.

But I think this is way overblown. And as far as sound bites, let's be real here. Republicans have run away from abortion as an issue in presidential races for year. Hillary and Sanders favor abortion on demand right up until birth. That is not where this nation is. So let's say sound bites and let's see who wins.

COSTELLO: Yes. So -- what I don't understand, though, Sabrina, is why Donald Trump -- I mean, this is an explosive issue in America. It still is a very emotional. Why wouldn't you have your thoughts in order because you know you're going to be asked about the abortion issue when you run for president of the United States, especially if you're running on the Republican side of the equation.

SABRINA SCHAEFFER, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, INDEPENDENT WOMEN'S FORUM: Right. You should have your thoughts in order because it's an important issue. But, look, Carol, I have spent the last four years as the head of a women's organization focused on educating women about liberty and limited government. And a day like yesterday undermines all of what we do to talk to women about how they should increase ownership and control over their health care and education in the workplace and in the marketplace.

All of that gets pushed aside when we have some kind of horrifying, inflammatory comments the way Donald Trump made yesterday. So what I would like to see is this hopefully conservatives and some of the pro- life groups would be able to really push back on this because it reinforces this idea that there's a war on women, that conservatives don't like women, and that somehow society is hostile toward women when we have been working so hard to tell women that's simply not the case.

COSTELLO: Well, Michael, Mr. Trump has a real woman problem right now. In Wisconsin more than 70 percent of women simply don't like Mr. Trump. This is a quote from a GOP strategist, David Carney, it's in the "Washington Post" this morning. He says, "Normally when you're in a hole, the best advice is to stop digging. That doesn't appear to be Mr. Trump's inclination. It's like taking a wagon full of nitroglycerin across the prairie. It's great if you get to the mountains and blow them up for gold but it's pretty unpredictable."

So, Michael, I'll ask you that same question. Might it be time for Donald Trump to stop talking off the cuff, grant fewer interviews, stop calling into news shows, et cetera, et cetera?

MICHAEL WARREN, STAFF WRITER, THE WEEKLY STANDARD: Yes. I think that's like asking a bird not to fly. I think he's sort of constitutionally unable to do what Donald Trump needs to do, and so I think there's the problem.

Now you asked, should he have had his thoughts together on the abortion question? I don't think Donald Trump has any thoughts on the abortion question. And that was very clear from the answer that he gave to Chris Matthews. It's a question. It's an issue that a lot of people have been working on for decades from the conservative side, and yes, I believe Donald Trump has completely blown that up.

If he's the Republican nominee, certainly if he becomes the president of the United States, all of the gains that the pro-life movement has made over the last several decades is starting to win I think even millennials on this issue is really undone, and I think that's -- it just demonstrates how dangerous Donald Trump even as the Republican nominee is.

(CROSSTALK) COSTELLO: Wait. Steve, you're laughing. Why?

MALZBERG: I mean, this is insanity. He didn't stand up there and give a policy speech and say women must be punished.

SCHAEFFER: Of course he did.

MALZBERG: He was asked a question. He responded. He immediately corrected himself. And all of a sudden --


SCHAEFFER: Yes, but, Steve, there's a much larger problem here.

MALZBERG: Excuse me. This is the biggest gaffe in the history of politics and it's going to set back the pro-life movement forever? Give me a break.

SCHAEFFER: No, but he is going to set back the Republican Party and the conservative movement, which is -- while abortion is an important issue, there are lots of other policies that conservatives are trying to advance right now, and all this does is to sort of mute all of that. No longer are we talking about job creation or economic growth or repealing and replacing Obamacare or giving people freedom and control in education.

[10:10:04] Now we're only talking about this horrifying comment. And so it does -- it plagues the conservative movement, it plagues the Republican Party. And there's a lot more Republicans than Donald Trump out there.

COSTELLO: Well, Steve, I will say, you know, Donald Trump was -- you know, maybe he was like, you know, I don't know, meandering his way through an answer and he told Chris Matthews that yes, maybe women should be punished for having abortions. But when Chris Matthews asked him if men should be punished he said no. He didn't have to think twice about that. And that's what really resonated with many women out there.

MALZBERG: Really? Carol, I'd love to know that because that's the most bizarre thing I ever heard. A man should be punished for impregnating a woman in a legal manner?

COSTELLO: No. What if he participated in the abortion?

MALZBERG: It wasn't rape. I don't understand that at all?

COSTELLO: What if he --

MALZBERG: Well, that wasn't the question.

COSTELLO: What if he brought the woman to --

MALZBERG: Well, that wasn't the question. You know, there's a lot of men who believe that there should be a law against the woman having an abortion if the male who's the father doesn't want it. And women are outraged at that. I mean, I still don't understand how the man fits into this if it wasn't rape and it was legal and the woman goes and has an abortion. How is the guy involved? If he brings her there? That's a different story maybe.

But again, Donald Trump misspoke. And as far as the Geneva convention what he says resonates. We're fighting people who chop off heads and blow up children, and we can't stick their head under water. So when he phrases it that the Geneva convention is doing us harm in our fight against ISIS, guess what?


MALZBERG: That resonates. That most people would agree.

COSTELLO: OK, so, Michael -- Michael, I just want to -- I just want to make it clear to our viewers what the Geneva convention, you know, why -- OK. Let me just read it. So the Geneva convention --


COSTELLO: Prohibits the targeted killing of civilians and it also prohibits torture. And it also prohibits taking the oil from Iraq because that would be an act of war or plundering. That's the Geneva convention. That's what Mr. Trump says -- I'm not even clear, does he want to get rid of it, Michael? Is that what he said?

WARREN: I don't know. I mean, Steve says that, you know, Trump misspoke on the abortion question or that, you know, sometimes he stumbles on these things. That implies that Donald Trump even knows what he's talking about or even has a core position on these issues. I think what's clear from both of these instances, very different issues, is that Donald Trump doesn't actually know what he believes. You can see him searching for an answer on that abortion question.

You know, he kind of sputters off about what happened -- you know, how the Geneva conventions are holding us back, you know, or that America needs to engage in torture. And he equates that with water boarding? Well, wait a second, a lot of Republicans spend a long time in the Bush administration arguing I think rightly that water boarding is different from torture. It's an enhanced interrogation technique.

And so again, you see here Donald Trump sort of comes in with his bluster. His lack of actual knowledge or core principles on these issues and blows up a lot of what Republicans and conservatives and smart people who have been thinking about these issues for a long time have been working toward.

MALZBERG: You mean the establishment.


SCHAEFFER: And let me add to --

MALZBERG: You mean the establishment.

SCHAEFFER: No, I mean, the establishment, that's just nonsense. Look. Mike makes a very important point, which is that too often Trump is making statements. Sometimes you might agree with him, sometimes you don't. The bottom line is that there's no consistent policy. In foreign policy, he wants to support Israel but he doesn't want to pick sides. He wants us to fight ISIS, he wants everyone else, too. He wants them to fight themselves but he thinks that we should ban Muslims.

This is so convoluted. It undermines all of the hard work that many people have been doing in this town. Everybody is not corrupt, everybody is not sort of self-interested here. I mean, I think that unfortunately it's going to put a lot of American lives in danger.

COSTELLO: All right, I have to --

MALZBERG: And a lot of American lives -- now you're sounding like Obama. I mean, really, give me a break.

SCHAEFFER: Steve, I like you very much but this is ridiculous.

COSTELLO: All right. I have to leave it there. Michael Warren, Steve Malzberg, Sabrina Schaeffer, thanks to all of you.

Still to come in the NEWSROOM, President Obama calls on world leaders to help fight the threat on nuclear terrorism.


[10:18:08] COSTELLO: Today the threat of nuclear terrorism will be front and center as President Obama welcomes more than 50 leaders to the nation's capital. He's getting ready to host the final nuclear summit of his presidency. The goal to keep nukes away from terrorist groups like ISIS.

Athena Jones has more for you from the White House. Good morning.

ATHENA JONES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Carol. Nuclear security has been one of the president's top agenda items when it comes to foreign policy throughout his administration even more urgent now in the face of these attacks from terror groups.

Let me read for you some of what he wrote in an op-ed in the "Washington Post." He said, "Achieving the security and peace of a world without nuclear weapons will not happen quickly. Perhaps not in my lifetime. But we have begun. As the only nation ever to use nuclear weapons, the United States has a moral obligation to continue to lead the way in eliminating them. Still no one nation can realize this vision alone. It must be the work of the world."

And that's he's gathered together leaders from more than 50 organizations -- nearly 60 organizations and countries from around the world to talk about these issues like keeping nuclear weapons out of the hands of groups like ISIS but also to talk about North Korea's provocations. To talk about progress being made in implementing the deal, the nuclear deal with Iran. He'll be meeting today with Japan's prime minister, with South Korea's president, with Chinese president Xi Jinping. And also the president of France, Francois Hollande. And of course, all this comes at a time when one of the candidates who

hopes to occupy the White House, GOP frontrunner Donald Trump, has been making headlines over the last several days with several provocative comments about nuclear issues, starting on Tuesday night at CNN's town hall when he said he'd be open to having Japan and South Korea have nuclear weapons which goes against decades of nuclear nonproliferation efforts, and then later saying on MSNBC that he wouldn't rule out using a nuclear weapon in Europe. So this event comes at a very interesting time. A lot to cover today -- Carol.

[10:20:05] COSTELLO: All right. Athena Jones, reporting live from the White House. Thank you.

When it comes to the global fight against terror, the president of Turkey says Europe has failed and allowed ISIS to spread. In an exclusive interview with CNN's Christiane Amanpour, Turkey's president criticizes Belgium's quote, "negligence," leading up to the attacks in Brussels. He says authorities missed critical red flags about one of the bombers.


CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Why do you think they did not pick up your intelligence, and particularly the Dutch say that your government did not alert them to the fact that he had jihadi tendencies?

PRES. RECEP TAYYIP ERDOGAN, TURKEY (Through Translator): Of course both the Netherlands and Belgium. For someone having a jihadi intention or not, first they need to know what jihadi intention means. You have to identify whether these are foreign fighters or jihadists. The Netherlands nor the Belgians seem to have understood what jihadi stands for. We've been calling the nations for common stance against terrorism, and many of the European member states seem to have failed to attach the significance that this call for action deserves.


COSTELLO: The Turkish president says his country remains committed to fighting terrorism.

Still to come in the NEWSROOM, they both have roots in New York but which one will voters embrace in the presidential primary? Big stakes in New York state.


[10:25:58] COSTELLO: More tornadoes are possible today as severe weather moves east through Mississippi and Alabama. This is what it looked like last night as a funnel cloud touched down near the airport in Tulsa, Oklahoma.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Seriously. Look at that. It's going to hit the zoo. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's right over the zoo, dude.


COSTELLO: The powerful storm snapped trees and brought down power lines. Seven people taken to the hospital. One person listed in critical condition. The tornado took at least one resident by surprise.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The winds started pushing and things started flying. And you heard this big noise, sounded like a train. Man, we -- this is the first time I've experienced this. I mean, this is something that I expect to happen in other neighborhoods, not here in north Tulsa.


COSTELLO: Chad Myers is tracking the storm front. Good morning, Chad.

CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Never heard it sound like a choo-choo train, Carol. But they do -- they do sound like a train, just a bigger roar than I think he was maybe making the noise.

Six tornado reports yesterday, although four of those tornado reports were the same tornado. Just a very large tornado north of Tulsa. It was a lot bigger than even that picture showed eventually as it moved north of Tulsa toward Owasso.


COSTELLO: All right. So folks should be careful. Chad Myers, thank you so much.

MYERS: You're welcome.

COSTELLO: And good morning. I'm Carol Costello. Thank you so much for joining me.

Just five more days until the next big test in the presidential race. Voting gets underway in the Wisconsin primary. According to this new poll from the Marquette University Law School, the Democrats are too close to call. Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton are in a virtual tie when you factor in the margin of error.

Sanders is hoping for another big win, though, in the upper Midwest much like his upset victory in Michigan. And he needs it. Sanders is lagging far behind Clinton in the all-important delegate count. So today both candidates are stumping in New York state where some 250 delegates are up for grabs next month.

CNN's Joe Johns has more on that for us. Hi, Joe.

JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Carol. Both of these candidates have New York ties, though the latest Quinnipiac poll suggests Hillary Clinton, a former senator from New York, currently holds a 12-point home state advantage over Sanders and a wide lead in a hypothetical matchups against Republican frontrunner Donald Trump we well as Ted Cruz. Secretary Clinton was out slamming the Republicans in New York just yesterday.


CLINTON: On the Republican side what we're hearing is truly scary. When Donald Trump talks casually about using torture, and allowing more countries to get nuclear weapons, or when Ted Cruz calls for treating American Muslims like criminals and racially profiling predominantly Muslim neighborhoods, that doesn't make them sound strong. It makes them sound in over their heads.


JOHNS: Bernie Sanders just a few ticks ahead in a neck-and-neck race in Wisconsin, once again hoping his appeal for higher turnout will put him over the top in a state that is sometimes progressive friendly.


SANDERS: I'm a little prejudiced about this.