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Trump Meets with GOP Establishment Figures; Governor John Kasich Speaks at AIPAC. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired March 21, 2016 - 17:00   ET


[17:00:06] WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now, outsider and insider. Donald Trump visits Washington, he meets with members of the Republican establishment, introduces his foreign policy advisers, and he speaks with me here in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Courting votes. Four of the five presidential candidates are addressing the top pro-Israel advocacy group in Washington offering very different takes on the Middle East to very committed voters.

And President Obama in Old Havana. The U.S. president shakes hands with Cuba's President Castro at the Palace of the Revolution and declares that the U.S. embargo of the communist nation is going to end.

I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN Breaking News.

BLITZER: Let's get to the breaking news right now. We're here in the CNN Election Center, the presidential campaign is moving west with crucial contests tomorrow in Arizona, Utah and Idaho. But the candidates are focusing their attention today right here on Washington. The final five presidential hopefuls are sitting down for interviews right here on CNN.

You'll see my interview with Donald Trump this hour. And you can see all of the interviews later tonight at 8:00 p.m. Eastern right here on CNN.

Donald Trump has been meeting with the Republican establishment figures here in a bid to try to mend fences and show off his leadership qualifications. For the first time he's released the list of his top national security and foreign policy advisers, but he's also creating a stir by suggesting the United States should cut back its involvement in NATO.

Four of the five candidates are speaking today to AIPAC, the American- Israel Public Affairs Committee, which is the country's leading pro- Israeli group. Bernie Sanders is staying out there on the campaign trail.

There are 131 Democratic delegates up for grabs tomorrow in Arizona, Utah and Idaho. Republicans are battling for 98 delegates in Arizona and Utah.

Our correspondents, analysts and guests, they will have full coverage of all the day's top stories.

He's been raising controversy out there on the campaign trail, but today Donald Trump is focused on raising his image in the eyes of Washington insiders.

CNN political reporter Sara Murray is following the story for us.

Sara, what's Trump's mission in Washington today?

SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICS CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, Donald Trump was almost behaving like a traditional presidential candidate today meeting with members of Congress, unveiling a list of foreign policy advisers, but of course it does not come without controversy for a Republican Party that still has deep doubts about its GOP frontrunner.



MURRAY (voice-over): Tonight the ultimate Washington outsider is courting the D.C. establishment.

TRUMP: They can't believe how far we've come.

MURRAY: Trump looking to strike a more serious tone, unveiling foreign policy advisers and holding a private meeting with members of Congress and other Republican power brokers.

REP. CHRIS COLLINS (R), NEW YORK: It's obvious that Mr. Trump will be our nominee. We need to take the fight to Hillary Clinton.

MURRAY: Both Trump and his supporters now publicly urging the GOP to rally behind him.

TRUMP: You have a lot of people out there that you think are against me, and it's just politicians. They want to make a deal. They want to come in and they want to be part of it. People really do want to be part of it.

MURRAY (on camera): What will take for them to join your team publicly then? How do you get them --

TRUMP: I don't think much. They have to embrace what's happening.

MURRAY (voice-over): As Trump and his GOP rivals prepare to deliver foreign policy addresses in front of the country's largest pro-Israel lobby, Trump said it was his Jewish son-in-law and real estate developer Jared Kushner who helped shape his speech.

TRUMP: And Jared used -- spoke to many of his friends from Israel.

MURRAY: While John Kasich trolled Trump on Twitter, highlighting his own lengthy list of advisers. Meanwhile Trump is still facing questions about violence at his campaign events. Now the head of the RNC weighing in. REINCE PRIEBUS, CHAIRMAN, REPUBLICAN NATIONAL COMMITTEE: We're not a

party that believes violence. I think violence begets violence. And I think you ought to leave some of the work in the crowd up to the professionals.

MURRAY: As Trump insists the blame lies with the protesters.

TRUMP: They blocked the road, they used foul language, they put up signs using the F-bomb and all sorts of words that were terrible. These are not good people.

MURRAY: Other GOP contenders aren't letting him off the hook.

SEN. TED CRUZ (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Sadly Donald Trump continues that path of spreading hatred, spreading division, and it's fundamentally wrong.


MURRAY: Now, of course, Wolf, we are waiting to see how Donald Trump fares at AIPAC this evening. He's made some comments that have been unsettling to some of these pro-Israel groups in the past. He's sort of hinted that he's been speaking to advisers and like you heard there, his son-in-law, maybe rethinking some of those positions, so we should hear from him soon, Wolf.

BLITZER: Sara Murray, thanks very much.

[17:05:01] Donald Trump's closest rival, Senator Ted Cruz, is getting ready to speak to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee's convention here in Washington.

CNN's Sunlen Serfaty is joining us right now.

Sunlen, I'm going to be speaking shortly with Donald Trump. We're going to get his sense of what's going on right now, his address before AIPAC. That's coming up later as well. But first, what are your sources telling you we should expect to hear from Senator Cruz tonight?

SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, all signs, Wolf, really point to a much more aggressive Ted Cruz tonight. Campaign officials tell me that he will bring this platform, will use this speech as a platform to draw very clear policy differences and contrasts with Donald Trump over Israel. Specifically they say he will lay into Donald Trump over these comments that he made about remaining neutral on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, something that Senator Cruz regularly brings up on the campaign trail.

Also Cruz campaign officials tell me he will try to connect Hillary Clinton to Donald Trump over policy issues. You know, Senator Cruz was never intended to speak to AIPAC, he only confirmed that he would speak there after Donald Trump cancelled his appearance at the Salt Lake City debate. From the very start Cruz campaign officials said, although this is not a debate setting, very clear that they will bring the heat against Donald Trump tonight. BLITZER: Sunlen, this is really a critical week for Senator Cruz,

isn't it?

SERFATY: It absolutely is and Cruz campaign officials really are not downplaying this notion. A campaign official telling me over the weekend that every week is important but this one is especially important given the time sensitive nature, and that really struck me, of conservatives rallying around Ted Cruz. They really feel that they have the momentum here and -- but of course they need to hold on to it and they point to the support of Senator Graham, they point to Mitt Romney, saying he will vote for Ted Cruz in the Utah primary. But this week is so key for him. Utah and Arizona, if he can do well in those contests going forward, that will be a lot of momentum, a big key argument going forward, and perhaps reshape the narrative around Ted Cruz's campaign -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Mr. Trump, thanks very for joining us.

TRUMP: Thank you.

BLITZER: This is your first day in Washington in quite a while. I know there's a lot of focus today on foreign policy. Let me ask you about U.S. participation in NATO. Do you think the United States needs to rethink U.S. involvement in NATO?

TRUMP: Yes, because it's costing us too much money and, frankly, they have to put up more money. They're going to have to put some up also. We're not -- we're paying disproportionately, it's too much and frankly it's a different world than it was when we originally conceived of the idea and everybody got together. But we are taking care of, as an example, the Ukraine. I mean, the countries over there don't seem to be so interested. And we're the ones taking the brunt of it. So I think we have to reconsider -- keep NATO but maybe we have to pay a lot less toward the NATO itself.

BLITZER: But when you say keep NATO, NATO has been around since right after World War II in 1949. It's been a cornerstone of U.S. national security around the world. NATO allies hear you say that, they're not going to be happy.

TRUMP: Well, they might not be happy, but you know, they have to help us also. We are paying disproportionately and very importantly, if you use Ukraine as an example, and that's a great example, the countries surrounding Ukraine, I mean, they don't seem to care as much about it as we do. So there has to be at least a change in philosophy. And there also has to be a change in the cut-up, the money, the spread, because it's too much.

BLITZER: So you're really suggesting the United States should decrease its role in NATO?

TRUMP: Not decrease its role but certainly decrease the kind of spending. We are spending a tremendous amount in NATO and other people proportionately less, no good.

BLITZER: What do you say to allies who are watching and they're not happy with what you're saying? What do you say to those allies?

TRUMP: Make them happy, Wolf. What, they're not happy. What, we're spending a fortune. We are spending tremendous amounts of money. And you look at countries that circle other countries. They're not as bothered by it as we are. So you have to make them happy. But the kind of money -- look, we owe $19 trillion, it's going to be $21 trillion very soon with the crazy omnibus budget that they just passed, which is ridiculous. We can't afford to do all of this anymore to the same extent. That was a different time, it was a different age.

BLITZER: Let's talk about what you told "The Washington Post" earlier today. You suggested the U.S. should be noninterventionist but you remember in our last debate you suggested maybe the U.S. would have to deploy 20,000 or 30,000 troops in Iraq and Syria to destroy ISIS.

TRUMP: What I said is that they tell me, the military tells me, you'd need 20,000 or 30,000 troops. I wouldn't deploy 20,000. I'd get people from that part of the world to put up the troops and I'd certainly give them air power and air support and some military support. But I wouldn't ever put up 20,000 or 30,000.

BLITZER: So if a military commander said to you, Mr. President, we need 20,000 to 30,000 troops to destroy ISIS. We've got to send them in to Iraq and Syria, you would say -- you said at the debate, you said you'd listen to the generals.

TRUMP: I do listen to the generals but I would much rather have people in the local area, in the area, put up the troops. To me that's very important. I don't want to send -- we've had -- look, we've spent $2 trillion at least in Iraq.

[17:10:03] We're spending trillions of dollars in the Middle East. You know what we are now? We're further back than we were 15 years ago. We are in such bad shape. The Middle East is a disaster for us. And in the meantime our country is crumbling. We have a country, the roads are no good, the hospitals are no good, the airports are third world airports. You look at LaGuardia and Kennedy and LAX, and all of the airports. And you go to other countries, you go to Dubai and you go to Qatar and you go to these other countries, it's like unbelievable.

Wolf, we have to rebuild our country.

BLITZER: Let's talk about the subject of your speech today at AIPAC, Israel. Hillary Clinton spoke this morning at the AIPAC conference. Listen to what she said. Listen to this clip.


HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We need steady hands, not a president who says he's neutral on Monday, pro-Israel on Tuesday, and who knows what on Wednesday because everything's negotiable.

Well, my friends, Israel's security is nonnegotiable. (END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: She's talking about you. What's your response?

TRUMP: I agree with her on the last statement, it is nonnegotiable. And frankly she is just doesn't know me, she doesn't know my policy, she doesn't know what I'm going to be doing and she certainly doesn't know what I'm going to be saying today at 5:00.

BLITZER: She says you don't have steady hands.

TRUMP: I have steady hands, look at those hands. I have the steadiest hands and far steadier than hers. Look where she got us. I mean, look at Libya, look at the migration, look at Benghazi. I mean, here's a woman that's talk. She's just -- you know, she's just reading it off a teleprompter. She's just -- believe me, they write that for her. Look at the job, probably in history, although I think John Kerry may even be worse, I'm not sure after the Iran deal. But look at what she's done.

BLITZER: She is referring to your comment that you wanted to be neutral as a negotiator to try to achieve an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement.

TRUMP: I would love to be neutral if it's possible. It's probably not possible because there's so much hatred. There's so much going on, I am very pro-Israel. I've always been pro-Israel. I have many awards from Israel, many awards. I'm contributing a lot of money to Israel. There's nobody more pro-Israel than I am. We have to protect Israel. Israel is so important to us.

BLITZER: What do the Palestinians need to do for a U.S. president to be neutral in trying to achieve a peace agreement?

TRUMP: I would love to achieve a peace agreement. You know --

BLITZER: What do the Palestinians need to do?

TRUMP: Well, let me tell you. One thing they have to do is they have to end terror, OK. They have to stop with the terror because what they're doing with the missiles and with the stabbings and with all of the other things that they do, it's horrible and they've got to -- it's got to end.

Now I have many, many friends from Israel and Jewish friends. Everybody wants to see peace. It seems to me the all-time Olympics in peace in a deal. Can you make that deal between Israel and the Palestinians. I think the answer is maybe. I never say that.

BLITZER: What else do they have to do besides stopping terror?

TRUMP: Well, I think -- I think a primary thing is stopping terror. If you look at what's going on, I think a primary thing is stopping terror. And by the way, in another hour, I'm going to be explaining exactly what I think they have to do and what Israel has to do and I think you'll be very surprised by what I have to say. But look, one thing they have to do is they have to stop the

stabbings, the weapons, the military. What they're doing is incredible. They killed a young man who -- a young soldier last week. They stabbed him for -- this is crazy. Now from the time they're born, they're educated a certain way. It's got to change. It's a bad mindset going on, Wolf.

BLITZER: Back in December you seemed to question whether Israel would be willing to make the concessions it would need to make to achieve a two-state solution, Israel and Palestine. What are you expecting from Israel? What kind of concessions?

TRUMP: I can say this, I can say this. I believe that Bibi and I believe that almost everybody over there wants a deal. Wants some deal done. That's what I'm going to be discussing in one hour.

BLITZER: Which concessions -- for example, would you want Israel to stop building settlements in east Jerusalem and the West Bank?

TRUMP: I'm going to discuss that in one and a half hours from now.

BLITZER: Can you give us a sense?

TRUMP: I really can't. I mean, I will tell you. The biggest thing from my standpoint is there has to be a different way. There has to be a different attitude. Because of all the deals that I've ever seen, this is the one that's the most difficult. Not the Iran deal, which was a horrible deal, and we wouldn't want to have a deal like that. One other thing, I don't like the United Nations getting involved in the negotiation. This has to be a deal between the Palestinians and the Israelis. This has to be that.

You can't force a deal down the throats of both, but you know it will be a bad deal for Israel if they do that. So I would veto a deal with the United Nations. If the United Nations forces a deal, I would veto that deal immediately.

BLITZER: You would use the U.S. veto at the Security Council?

TRUMP: I would use the veto -- I would absolutely veto that deal. That's not what deal-making is about. That's not what you could -- they have to make their own deal. And I will try as president. Now everybody has failed. Everybody. But I will try as president to work out a peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians.

[17:15:03] BLITZER: Will you recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital and move the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem?

TRUMP: Well, I'm going to discuss that in an hour, but the answer is yes, I would.

BLITZER: When? How quickly after you --

TRUMP: Fairly quickly. I mean, it's a process, but fairly quickly. I mean, the fact is I would like to see it moved, and I would like to see it in Jerusalem and I will be talking about that in one hour. BLITZER: Hillary Clinton at the AIPAC meeting today, she also said

this, referring to you. Listen.


CLINTON: Encouraging violence, playing coy with white supremacists, calling for 12 million immigrants to be rounded up and deported, demanding we turn away refugees because of their religion, and proposing a ban on all Muslims entering the United States.

If you see bigotry, oppose it. If you see violence, condemn it. If you see a bully, stand up to him.


BLITZER: She's talking about you.

TRUMP: I guess. I mean, look, we have to be vigilant. Our country is under siege, we're under attack. We're under attack in virtually every way. Our economy is falling apart, we're sitting on a big fat bubble. Our trade deals are no good, our health care is no good, our security is no good.

Look what happens in our country. Our security is no good. People are pouring across the border. People that are convicted criminals are pouring across the border. We have to be vigilant, we have to be smart or we're not going to have a country any longer.

BLITZER: As you know, dozens of rabbis and other Jewish religious leaders, they're protesting your speech at AIPAC. Among other things, they say as Jews we must take a stand against hate. We denounce in the strongest possible terms the bigotry, racism, xenophobia, and misogyny expressed by Mr. Trump.

What do you say to those rabbis and others?

TRUMP: Well, I've heard about it. And I'll have to see what happens. I mean, are they going to leave or are they going to want to see what I have to say? Because I have a very good chance of getting the nomination. I have a very good chance of --

BLITZER: But on the substance, what do you want to say to them?

TRUMP: I think --

BLITZER: Because those are strong, strong words.

TRUMP: I think -- well, look, I mean, you know, I've heard words. I've heard Hillary's words, which are largely false, by the way, although I will say this. We do have to practice vigilance, we have to be smart. We are not being smart, we're being very foolish right now. We can't take in the Syrian refugees. We don't know where they come from. I don't know where they come from. There's no paperwork, nobody knows. Are they ISIS? Are they ISIS related?

BLITZER: But what's your message to these rabbis and others who are so concerned about the words they have heard from you over these many months?

TRUMP: My message to the rabbis is that I'm going to be great for Israel. I am very pro-Israel. You know, I was at the Grand Marshal of the Israeli Day Parade a number of years ago when nobody else would have done it because it was a very bad and very dangerous time for Israel.

I will be very good for Israel. Now President Obama, the worst president that Israel has ever -- I mean, there's been nothing -- probably one of the worst things that's ever happened to Israel is President Obama's election. So if the rabbis want to leave, if some of them want to leave, that's OK. But the people that really understand me and they understand Israel, they know I'm going to be the best --

BLITZER: Their condemnation, they're not talking about Israel, they're talking about bigotry, racism, xenophobia and misogyny.

TRUMP: Or let's call it intelligence. We have to be careful. We have to be careful who we allow into the country. We've had tremendous problems. Look what happened in California recently with a woman who comes in, radicalizes the guy. They walk into their workplace. They killed 14 people. Look what happened in Paris, France. We have to be careful, Wolf.

BLITZER: I know you've disavowed David Duke and the Ku Klux Klan several times now.

TRUMP: I have.

BLITZER: But why do you think these white supremacists, these various white supremacists out there are supporting your campaign?

TRUMP: I don't know because I am the least racist person that you'll ever meet, so I don't know. And I don't know that they really are. I mean, you're telling me that. So I don't know that --

BLITZER: Well, the ADL put out a whole list of 10 white supremacists, neo-Nazis they called them, and anti-Semites who are out there working, supporting your campaign.

TRUMP: I just don't know. I mean, you're telling me this but I don't know why. I am certainly the least racist person.

BLITZER: But you condemn them?

TRUMP: Of course I condemn them. Always. I've always condemned them.

BLITZER: You don't want their support?

TRUMP: I don't want their support. I don't want their support. I don't need their support.

BLITZER: Let's talk a little bit about Cuba right now. Historic moment. The president of the United States is in Cuba as we speak right now, the first time in 88 years an American president has gone to Cuba.

If you're elected president, would you continue to normalize economic and diplomatic relations with Cuba?

TRUMP: Probably so, but I'd want much better deals than we're making. For instance, I read where Cuba expects to be bringing a major lawsuit against us for all of the problems that we've caused them over the last long period of time. For billions and billions of dollars. Naturally before I did anything as to normalization, I would absolutely make them sign something that no way that suit is going to be brought.

I thought it was very disrespectful when the president of the United States flies into Cuba last night and Castro wasn't there to meet him. Wasn't there to meet him. Now he met the Pope. He meets other leaders of much smaller countries, much -- frankly less important countries and he wasn't there to meet the president getting off of Air Force One.

[17:20:07] I thought that was a very big slight, I'll be honest. I don't know how Obama felt about that. I think that was a very, very big slight.

BLITZER: All right. So you say you're going to continue to try to normalize diplomatic and economic relations. Would you open a Trump Hotel in Havana?

TRUMP: I would, I would. At the right time, when we're allowed to do it. Right now we're not. I wouldn't do it on the basis that you get a 49 percent interest because right now you get a 49 percent interest. Nobody knows even what the economics are or what they're going to do. And maybe it won't work out. But I will tell you, I think Cuba has certain potential and I think it's OK to bring Cuba into the fold, but you have to make a much better deal and you have to get all liabilities.

You don't want to be sued in a year from now or two years from now for $4 trillion because they say we destroyed Cuba. It has to be part of the deal.

BLITZER: You're here in Washington, once again, first time in a while. You met with members of Congress today. You're seen as an outsider. Is there a turning point that you see right now happening in your race for the White House as a result of your success?

TRUMP: Well, I think the turning point has already taken place. I won Florida by 20 points against a very popular sitting senator. I won other states. I've won now just about 22 plus islands.

BLITZER: But are you anxious now to work with the so-called establishment, with members of the Senate, members of the House and try to --

TRUMP: Many of them want to work with me. They're calling my office. People that I see --

BLITZER: But the people today were not the leaders. They didn't come to the -- there were other --

TRUMP: The leaders have called me. We'll see how the leaders react, but the leaders have called me. I've been -- I've spoken to Mitch McConnell, I've spoken to Paul Ryan. We'll see what happens. It's a process.

BLITZER: Do you think you should have invited the congressional leadership, Paul Ryan, Mitch McConnell to this meeting today?

TRUMP: This was just a meeting. This was a meeting of some very respected people. Senator Jeff Sessions is a tremendous man, one of the most respected senators in the country. And a meeting of some senators, some congressmen and women. I think it was a very good meeting.

BLITZER: John Kasich, the Ohio governor, the Republican presidential candidate, said this on CNN. Listen.


GOV. JOHN KASICH (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Everybody has got to face the fact that we're going to an open, multi-ballot convention. I won Ohio because of my message and my record and guess what, as a result of that, Donald Trump is going to go -- not going to go to the convention with enough delegates.


BLITZER: Your response?

TRUMP: Well, I disagree. First of all, I almost beat him and he's been there a long time. He's been there many, many years and I almost beat him, came very close. Had I had one more day or two more days, I would have beaten him.

Second of all, that night I won five states, between states and islands, I won five. Nobody has I don't think ever done that. And it was a very, very close race. But because I won so many others, it really nullified it, neutralized, as you know, because I've watched your reports. And I think I will win and perhaps easily without having to go through the machinations of the --

BLITZER: Well, let's say you show up in Cleveland, at the Republican convention, and you don't have the magic number of 1237 which is the number you need to be guaranteed on the first ballot if you're going to be the Republican nominee. Let's say you're 20 or 100 short. The chairman of the Republican Party, as you know, Reince Priebus, he says that that's not the rules. They would have to go along with the rules. What would happen if you're just short?

TRUMP: Well, I heard him say that. Number one, I don't think I'm going to be there. I think I'm going to be -- I don't think I'll be --

BLITZER: Will you go along with the rules? TRUMP: Let me explain something. It's a little unfair because I have

been competing against -- we started with over 17 people. Then we go down to 15 and then 12 then 11 and 10. And I had many, many people that I'm competing with. So, you know, when you talk about the majority plus one, it's a very unfair situation because we had so many people running for office. So one would get 2 percent, one would get 4 percent, one -- and I was always in the lead. I mean, just about from the beginning I've been leading.

But it's very unfair when I have all of these people running. It's not like I'm running against two people or three people, Hillary is running against one person. So I think that's very unfair, number one. Number two, I think I'm going to get the majority anyway.

BLITZER: But if you don't --

TRUMP: No, but despite that --

BLITZER: Will you abide by the rules?

TRUMP: Well, I think this. I've had many, many people running against me, which, really, you understand what I mean. Mathematically it's unfair. It's almost impossible to believe that I should do that, that I would be able to do it. I think I'll be able to do it. But I will say this, if I was at 1190, so I'm a little bit off, and we -- and I have millions of votes more than anybody else, because right now I have two million votes more than anybody else who's running for office, OK, by a lot. It's not even close.

BLITZER: So are you calling on the RNC to change the rules if you're close, you should still be the nominee?

TRUMP: I'm not saying this. I'm not saying this. I think it's going to be very hard for them to do. I have millions of votes more than anybody else that's running, millions of votes. And again, that's also with a lot of people running. So, you know, it's more difficult. But I'd say the majority -- it's a tough thing when you have all these people. I mean, I had races, I guess, it started off where they actually started the primaries where, what, there were 12, 14 people, something like that, maybe even more than that. And then I'm supposed to get half? So mathematically it's unfair. But I still think --

[17:25:06] BLITZER: But those are the rules.

TRUMP: Well, it's -- look, you're supposed to have three people, two people, one person. You're supposed to have people, you're not supposed to have 17 people running. I think I'll do it anyway. I think I'll do it. I may do it easily because I think we'll have a big night in Arizona and I think we'll do well in Wisconsin. But I do say this. It's mathematically unfair.

Now if I have millions of votes more and if I have 1100 and somebody else is down at 400, 500, I think it's awfully tough to take all of these people out of the system.

BLITZER: Because I want to play for you what the House Speaker Paul Ryan said about the -- you used the word riots if that were to happen. Listen to what he said.