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Possible Broker Convention for Republican Party; Conservatives Plotting To Stop Trump; Conservatives Seek GOP "Unity Ticket" To Stop Trump; Clinton Vs. Trump: How Ugly Could It Get; Clinton Vs. Trump: Then What?; Clinton Vs. Trump: Who's More Electable; Clinton Wins Missouri, Sanders Concedes; Wash. Post: Obama Poised For Major 2016 Campaign Role; N.Y. Times: Obama Signals Move To Back Clinton; SeaWorld To Stop Breeding Orcas. Aired 8-9p ET

Aired March 17, 2016 - 20:00   ET


[20:00:10] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Good evening.

We begin tonight with growing signs of a GOP freak-out over Donald Trump. Breaking news in what was the unprecedented effort by leading Republicans to keep their own primary front-runner from winning the nomination. That battle expanded today to include conservatives gathering in Washington to plot a Trump takedown. Buzz about a Ted Cruz/John Kasich unity ticket, to oppose him, talk of a contested convention and drafting house speaker Paul Ryan to replace him.

There was that and also this. Republican lawmakers who openly deeply and comprehensively detest Senator Cruz are now beginning to endorse him.

CNN's Dana Bash has the latest on all of that. She joins us mow.

So let's talk about this closed door conservative meeting today. Do we know what happened?

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: My understanding in talking to a source I just got off the phone with somebody who was part of that meeting. That there were about 30 people there. These were leaders in the conservative movement both on the social conservative side and the fiscally conservative side. And the discussion was, as you said, how do they, first of all, stop Donald Trump? But tactically what is the best way to go about it.

And my understanding was that behind the scenes, the real feeling is the best way to do it would to be try to consolidate around Ted Cruz. But that given the reality that at this point his biggest opponent or his only opponent left, I should say, John Kasich, doesn't appear to want to get out of the race and has no intention of doing so. It's going to be a very delegate dance to do that.

They do expect if that doesn't happen they are going to go to the convention. It will be a contested convention. There is going to be a lot of kind of towing and frowing (ph) about how they get down to the votes. They will probably several ballot votes through all of these delegates. And it's going to be a lot of political chess in trying to figure out how to stop Donald Trump. If they don't, Anderson, there was a discussion that a lot of these

conservatives who have been the backbone of the Republican Party for the last couple of decades might bolt and go to the libertarian party or go to the constitution party. Others that are already on ballots in all 50 states.

COOPER: Dana, you spoke to Lindsey Graham today who, you know, famously had said that choosing between Ted Cruz and Donald Trump was I think like choosing between getting killed by a gunshot and poison. He has now picked poison.

BASH: He does seem to have picked poison. You're exactly right.

Look. You are right. There was no question about Lindsey Graham's feelings about Ted Cruz. They are Republican colleagues but very, very different in approach, tactics and even points of view. But they are down to the wire here. And for the same reason these conservatives have been meaning to stop Trump, Lindsey Graham has one guy left who he thinks could beat Donald Trump or at least could help stop him and that's Ted Cruz. I asked about that.


SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: The states coming up in terms of voting and I didn't like Trump. I'd vote for Cruz.

BASH: I've known you and watched you particularly with Ted Cruz over the last several years. I'm waiting for pigs to start flying down the street.

GRAHAM: Well, it tells you a lot about where we're at as a party.

BASH: BASH: It sure does.

GRAHAM: It does. I have really doubts about Mr. Trump. I think Mr. Trump is not a republican. I don't think he is a conservative. I think his campaign is built on xenophobia, race baiting and religious bigotry. I think it would be a disaster our party. And as Senator Cruz would not be my first choice, I think he is a Republican conservative who I think I could support.


BASH: And Anderson, it's important to keep in mind, it is not just that he is backing Ted Cruz because unclear how much of an impact that would have for any one senator, especially you know, Lindsey Graham who I part of the establishment to do so. He is going to headline a fund-raiser for Ted Cruz on Monday here in Washington with a lot of Graham's deep-pocket donors who have been very pro-Israel and thought that graham has been with them on that issue. And that matters for somebody like Ted Cruz who needs to go the long haul in order to have potential convention fight and needs to have deep pockets to do so. A lot of money in his coffers.

So having Lindsey Graham help with that is pretty huge. And again, even he you can see was a little surprised that it had come to this moment where he was suddenly helping Ted Cruz with a presidential bid.

COOPER: Yes. I mean, the cliche is politics makes strange bedfellows. I mean, this is, you know, the prime example of that.

BASH: The ultimate.

COOPER: Yes. Dana Bash, fascinating. Thank you.

Now, more on how a stop Trump battle would be fought at the convention in Cleveland and especially who would be on the front lines fighting it.

CNN's Sunlen Serfaty has the latest on what just may become the most exciting political story in generations.


DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We have to bring our party together.

SUNLEN SERFATY, NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Tonight Paul Ryan is brushing off the idea that he could be drawn into the presidential race.

REP. PAUL RYAN (R), HOUSE SPEAKER: It's not going to be me. It should be somebody running for president. People are out there campaigning.

SERFATY: But the house speaker is not stepping away from the prospect that his party might be heading towards a contests of convention.

[20:05:02] RYAN: This is more likely to become an open convention than we thought before. So we're getting our mind around the idea that this could become a reality.

SERFATY: Trump's team encouraging Republicans opposed to Trump to rethink their strategy.

BARRY BENNETT, SENIOR ADVISOR, TRUMP CAMPAIGN: We're going to get to Cleveland. And you know, some of these guys are going to have to decide how much damage they are willing to do to the party because they are not going to like that.

SERFATY: The potential for a contested convention is now pushing the GOP candidates into effectively waging two campaigns side by side. Still working to win outright, but also scrambling to prepare their backup plans if the nominating fight is still unsettled before Republicans gather in Cleveland this July.

SEN. TED CRUZ (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Look, if Donald come in - Donald might come in and we are neck and neck and neither of us are at 1,237, then it's a battle for the remaining delegates. Then that's actually how a convention operates.

GOV. JOHN KASICH (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It's unlikely that anybody is going to achieve enough delegates to avoid a convention. SERFATY: The campaigns are also closely watching the delegate math.

Candidates need to get to 1,237 delegates to clinch the nomination before the convention. Based on the current delegate counts, Donald Trump would need to win a little more than 50 percent of the remaining delegates to reach that mark. Ted Cruz would need roughly 80 percent and for John Kasich, it would be mathematically impossible. He would need about 108 percent.


COOPER: And Sunlen Serfaty joins us.

I mean, obviously, Cruz has a closer shot at pulling this off, although it is still a pretty big long. What more can you tell us about his campaign to try to do that is? What is it?

SERFATY: Well, it's interesting, Anderson. The Cruz campaign really is on two tracks right now. And they are very separate. First, they are still trying to win this primary outright by getting to 1,237. Advisers say that they believe they have a better than 50 percent shot of making that happen. And they are focusing really laser focused on the upcoming states that are caucuses, that are closed primaries. All of which they believe benefits them in the end.

But the second track, they are behind the scenes really starting to plot and plan for this to go down to the convention floor. And they are lining up staff who are looking at scenarios of how this would happen and make sure the delegates they have committed to them are firmly in their corner.

Also they are playing a little offense here. Very interesting going after Rubio's delegates, of course. All of this really laying the groundwork if this extends to July -- Anderson.

COOPER: All right. It is fascinating. Sunlen Serfaty, thanks.

On the panel tonight, CNN political commentator and Sanders supporter Bill Press, CNN political commentator and Clinton's supporter Bakari Sellers, CNN chief political analyst Gloria Borger, also CNN political commentators Kayleigh McEnany, Margaret Hoover and Ross Douthat. Kayleigh is a Trump supporter, Margaret is a former George W. Bush staffer and GOP campaign veteran. Ross Douthat is a conservative op- ed columnist for "The New York Times." With us as well is Romney 2012 campaign strategist Stuart Stevens.

Stuart, let's start with you. You obviously have been very much against Donald Trump for a long period of time. You have been very outspoken on this. Where is your head at in terms of what's going to happen over the next couple of months and what an open convention might actually achieve?

STUART STEVENS, FORMER ROMNEY PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN MANAGER: Well, I have to take back everything I said about Donald Trump not bringing people together. If he can bring Lindsey Graham and Ted Cruz together, we are clearly close to the rapture here. Should get on that Palestinian problem next. Look. You know, I wrote a novel that's coming out in June about I set

a brokered convention. I have no idea what actually happened. I would have written it more carefully. I think that it's going to be more likely than not that no one is going to get to 1237. I agree with speaker Ryan, that this idea that someone would come in from outside seems like a moment from another era.

It will be someone who is running, I would think. But this idea, you know, people have actually thought about this before. There's a lot of rules here of what you're going to do. And I think that those rules, as long as we obey those rules and people vote, we just have to let the process play itself out.

What I think Donald Trump, God forbid I should give him advice, but I think that he should look at this as a testing period. I mean, people are really looking to him now in a different way as a front-runner for a presidential nomination. And I think that it gives him a chance here to show that he can handle that moment. I don't think he is handling it very well so far, but this is going to be a high stress moment for everyone and a real test.

COOPER: Let's turn to our Republicans first here over here.

Kayleigh, I mean, to you, the idea of an open convention, of brokered convention, is there any doubt in your mind that Donald Trump should automatically get the nomination if he has the most number of delegates?

KAYLEIGH MCENANY, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: No, there's not a doubt in my mind. And first, I don't think we'll get to a broker convention. He has won nearly 50 percent of the delegates so far.

[20:10:04] COOPER: You think he'll get enough delegates?

MCENANY: I do think he will get enough delegates. We are heading into winner take all territory, winner take most territory. It will get easier for him going forward, I think. If we get to a brokered convention, it's hard to see how if Donald Trump has the most delegates of any candidate, which he will. I think Ted Cruz is going to shrink. He's not poised to do well in the states going forward. It's hard for me to see how anyone else has a greater moral mandate. They don't have the force of the American people behind them. And it's hard for me to see how jockeying for delegates is the new name of winning the Republican nomination, not winning the most of the American people's votes. When the American people speak, that's where it should end.

COOPER: Margaret Hoover, you look skeptical?

MARGARET HOOVER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes. Look. The guy is a dealer. He wrote "the art of the deal." He knows how to make a deal.

COOPER: By the way co-wrote. Tony Schwartz, the co-writer has written, I think tweeted out, I wrote the book, he read it.

HOOVER: Forgive me. I'm just quoting Donald Trump. I rely on Kayleigh to be the fact checker.

COOPER: I want writers to get the credit as someone who did write a book.

HOOVER: All right. Well, another thing I was going to say is look. I mean, here's the deal. If you are going to be the nominee, presumptively, if you - are in Donald Trump's position, you have to deal with the fact that, you know, somewhere between 35 and 40 percent of people who self-identify as Republicans and show up at this convention say they will never vote for Donald Trump. And that's a starting point. And that is a very tough starting point.

And so, what is he going to do about it? I mean, this Lindsey Graham and Ted Cruz reunion is extraordinary because what Lindsey Graham potentially saying, is I know Ted Cruz is going to lose but I would rather go down losing with Ted Cruz because I know he is a Republican and I know we can rebuild from within if that's the context of the loss. Because if Donald Trump takes over the Republican Party, it's over.

COOPER: Ross, to Kayleigh's point, why shouldn't Donald Trump, if he has won the most states, the most races, has the most legates, I mean, if I was a Donald Trump voter, I would be outraged that suddenly the GOP, you know, grand poobahs (ph) are coming in telling the voters they don't know best?

ROSS DOUTHAT, OP-ED COLUMNIST, NEW YORK TIMES: Well, they are telling right now about 38 percent of their voters, if Trump keeps doing better, they will get up to 42 percent, let's say. So they are telling a plurality of their voters that they don't know best which is how the rules of the convention and political parties have worked basically for 200 years of American history. I mean, we didn't have conventions when it was federalists and Republicans exactly in the 1790s. But - so it is not, you know, there isn't some moral mandate that comes from winning 38 percent of the vote in a contested primary, right?

COOPER: Gloria, go ahead.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: I think where the question would come in is do you take somebody from the outside like a Paul Ryan who keeps saying he doesn't do it. He won't do it. But, of course, he didn't want to be speaker either and now he's speaker of the house. Can you do that? And I think that's a much more difficult, honestly.

DOUTHAT: But I think that --

BORGER: You think that's --

DOUTHAT: No, it's clearly not easier. But if we're talking about moral mandate, right, what Trump supporters can reasonably say is, it would be ridiculous to give it to Ted Cruz since Trump did beat him fair and square. That's the case for saying, well, you need an outsider who can unify the party because clearly these jokers running thus far haven't been able to. BORGER: But even Paul Ryan has said, wait a minute. I haven't

competed. That's not fair. You know, basically Paul Ryan came out and said that.

BILL PRESS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: No, I just got to say. I think I find this whole conversation crazy.

BORGER: Well, it is.

PRESS: The person who gets --

COOPER: Says the Sanders supporter.

PRESS: That's right. And I enjoy -- I've never enjoyed politics more than watching the Republicans eat each other alive. I just have to say that from the beginning. But look. Clearly, whoever, in my mind, whoever gets the most delegates should get the nomination of the Party.


BORGER: Whoever crosses the finish line.

PRESS: I mean, there's contradiction right now that the Republicans are saying Obama, we can't have a Supreme Court nominee from Obama. Let the people decide. And now at the convention, they are saying, no, don't let the people decide. Let the Poobahs decide.

COOPER: Bakari, then we go back to Stuart.

BAKARI SELLERS, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Yes, no. And that's the contradiction that I was going to bring up as well. I mean, what happens is the Republican Party has found themselves in this pretzel of just -- they don't have any moral clarity. And if you risk, if you deny Donald Trump you literally risk taking away all of the energy that you have in this primary season.


COOPER: Let's go back to Stuart. Go ahead, Stuart.

STEVENS: Look. You know, I have been in a lot of delegate hunting meetings before and it's the first word moral has ever come up. This is an amazing conversation. Listen, I mean, think about it. In 2008, Hillary Clinton got more votes than Barack Obama, but Barack Obama got the nomination because he had more delegates. In 2000, some reason to believe that George Bush got fewer votes than Al Gore but he became president because that's the way the system works.

So I hear all these Republicans now who are arguing for Trump, and they should have been arguing for Gore. They are making these arguments. It's the will of the people. It's not the Electoral College. We have a system. We have rules. We should stick to those rules.

MCENANY: The system is broken. That's the point -- STEVENS: That's what they said in 2000 about the Electoral College.

MCENANY: This is why Republicans are rebelling. The voters are rebelling against the establishment because it's been the establishment's will and now for the first time, voters are rebelling against what's the establishment wants and the establishment can't take it. They are having back door closed meetings to topple Trump.

COOPER: We got to take a quick break. We're going to continue this conversation when we come back. Also, we are going to look at John Kasich who launched broadcast against Trump on Trump's favorite battle field, on twitter.

Also tonight, more breaking news. Hillary Clinton's good Super Tuesday showing just got better. Late word on results in the show me state.


[20:19:45] COOPER: Welcome back.

Marco Rubio saying Donald Trump would fracture the Republican Party and conservatives calling for a unity ticket or even a third party effort to stop him. And Republicans who generally and sometimes categorically dislike Ted Cruz are beginning to actually endorse him. We are getting pretty deep into the GOP nightmare's scenario.

Former George W. Bush speech writer Michael Gerson posting on Facebook, put it this way. Republicans, he writes, are looking to the abyss when it comes to Donald Trump. Senate minority leader Democrat Harry Reid says the party is simply reaping what it sowed.


[20:20:14] SEN. HARRY REID (D), SENATE MINORITY LEADER: Republicans' leaders created the drought conditions. Donald Trump has simply struck the match. Republicans began charting the path to Donald Trump eight years ago.


COOPER: You can certainly disagree or agree with the diagnosis. However, as we have been seeing a sizable portion of the Republican Party is now treating this as a potentially deadly infection.

Back again with the panel. I mean, the notion that, Bakari, the Democrats relish the idea of Trump being the Republican nominee. But the fact is you don't really know what to expect with him.

SELLERS: Well, you do understand that he is going to be a drag on the ballot. We were just joking. But there are going to be a whole lot of United States senators that are now going to be lobbyists from Kirk to Ron Johnson to Rob Portman.

COOPER: You think he'll bring down senatorial candidates? SELLERS: That is the calculus that Lindsey Graham is going through.

I believe the Republican Party for all intents and purposes is giving up on winning the White House in 2016. I think they are trying to save the party because they understand that they really don't have a good shot at winning the White House with Donald Trump or Ted Cruz. Ted Cruz actually is an easier candidate I do believe for Democrats because he fundamentally does not change the map and Donald Trump changes the map because you did have to defend the areas where trade is a big issue in the Midwest. But Donald Trump is an anchor beyond anchors, beyond anchors on the rest of the ticket.

BORGER: Not necessarily in house races, though. I have to tell you. I talk to a lot of Republicans who say that Donald Trump runs very well in their conservative districts. In the Senate, the control of the Senate is at stake and that's why you see Harry Reid tying Mitch McConnell to Donald Trump because as much as he is playing for control of the Senate.

PRESS: Just a quick point to my friend Bakari and other Democrats. I think I've got to be careful about being too cocky or too overconfident against running against Donald Trump.

COOPER: A lot of GOP candidates, about 16 of them I think, who were very, you know, confident about it.

PRESS: This man has broad appeal today because of economic injustice out there, whatever it is. He's speaking to some issues that resonate and particularly the blue collar workers, white collar Democrats, Reagan Democrats, whatever, Donald Trump could be a real danger.

COOPER: Stuart, do you believe that Donald Trump is a drag on Senate candidates in the GOP?

STEVENS: I think he is an absolute crushing blow to the Senate candidates.

Look. If you look in 2012, only one Senate candidate in a serious race won in a state that Romney lost. That was Heller in Nevada and he won by 0.03 percent in a three-way. So you have to really ask yourself, how are these Senate candidates going to do at a top of the ticket if they -- if that top of the ticket isn't winning or doing very well in these states.

I'm of the opinion that Donald Trump is going to be a historically weak candidate. I don't see his ability to expand the base. And for all these white males that he is getting and he is getting some more that are registering, you are also losing white voters.

And look. You know, this is what I call the last -- lost tribe of the amazon theory. That if you just sort of paddle up far enough up the amazon and beat the drums loud enough that they will come to the river and vote for us. They are just not there. There's not enough white voters out there in America today to put together a winning national coalition.

Mitt Romney got 59 percent of the white vote. That's more than Ronald Reagan got at a higher percentage of the white voting. He carried 24 states. Ronald Reagan got 44 states with 57 percent of the white vote. We just can't get there without building a broader coalition in today's America.

COOPER: Kayleigh, what do you say to that? He makes a tough argument against Donald Trump.

MCENANY: Well, I think Donald Trump can do exceedingly well among minorities. I talk to minorities every single day who say they are supporting Donald Trump because they think he will bring back jobs. People underestimate the fact that a lot of minority communities, a lot of millennials, two big voting blocs that Donald Trump does needs to win part of are facing still double digit real unemployment. These are big issues. And I think --.

COOPER: You think he can do better among minority groups than mitt Romney did?

MCENANY: Yes, absolutely. I absolutely think he can.

SELLERS: I fit in that category. I'm going to throw that out there. Being like a minority and a millennial, I do fit in that category. And what he is going to do is be the best go TV candidate that the Democratic Party has had in a very long period of time. There's so much anger in this day for the xenophobia, the race baiting. And you know what, I'm quoting Lindsey Graham saying that.

COOPER: Right. I mean, I was really struck by the comments of Lindsey Graham. I mean, the words he is using against Donald Trump, I mean, that the words the head of the NAACP was using. And these are, you know, to hear Lindsey Graham using these words against a GOP candidate.

HOOVER: Look. (INAUDIBLE). I mean, if you are Donald Trump and you look at the polls and the polls tell you you're winning, you know, you also have to look at the polls. And if you believe that you have to win additional -- you can't just get the missing white voter which is what, frankly, Ted Cruz premised his entire campaign on was that if you can find those white voters who didn't turn out for Mitt Romney and get them to the polls you'd be able to win. Donald Trump succeed in finding them. And they are coming out. They aren't voting for Ted Cruz. They are voting for Donald Trump. But the problem is it's still not enough. And if you look at --

[20:25:24] DOUTHAT: I mean, the reality is I will disagree a little bit with Stuart here. There were a lot of white voters in Midwestern states who stayed home in 2012 who were turned off by sort of the image of Mitt Romney, the corporate raider but also didn't want to vote for Barack Obama. And if Trump could just take the Romney coalition and add those votes, he may not get over the top but he would get a little bit closer. The problem is that in the course of winning some of those voters, he's not just burned bridges everywhere else. He has torched them, pushed them up the river and --

COOPER: Stuart, you talk about this lost tribe of the --

STEVENS: Anderson, can I speak to this?

COOPER: Let me just ask you, though. You talk about this lost tribe of the amazon theory. There are millions watching Donald Trump debate and GOP candidates debate who probably never watched before. Aren't some of those people, no doubt, Trump supporters who have yet to vote and are going to come out to vote? The viewership, the interest in this is huge.

STEVENS: Yes, but you just start running up against these historic levels. How many white voters are going to turn out? You have to start looking at things are going to happen that have never happened before. Look. Mitt Romney got 17 percent nonwhite vote. By most calculations, you're going to have to knock that upwards to at least 25 percent, probably 30 percent to win an election. So here you have Donald Trump. How is he doing? He has the highest unfavorable ratings among African-Americans and Hispanics in the history of polling.

But why? It's not necessarily his policy on immigration. Because others have the same policy. Guess what? It's because he's calling Mexicans rapists. And you know, they consider that sort of like a negative thin. And it's because he's out there with this sort of snarling campaign of hate. And telling people, he's even threatening Republicans that we're going to have a riot at the convention if you don't let him win, even though he doesn't have the delegates.

This is an absolute road map to a disaster electorally. He can go out there maybe and a nomination, but it's not going to be enough to win a general election.

COOPER: I know everybody wants to get in on this. Stick around. We are going to continue this discussion. A lot more to discuss.

Also on a breaking news, the growing efforts by GOP conservatives to stop Donald Trump.

Plus, what a matchup between Trump and Clinton might look like if it comes to that. Both sides bracing for that possibility. Who would have the edge in a general election? Bakari Sellers seems optimistic. Should he be? John King breaks it down by the numbers.


[20:31:57] COOPER: Tonight's breaking news, of course, Republicans trying to stop the leading Republican vote-getter from getting the nomination and to stop Trump meeting today in Washington and Lindsey Graham endorsing Ted Cruz. And the overarching reality of possible Clinton/Trump face-off in November is looking more and more probable. They both are clearly bracing for potential match-up. Now, if it happens, buckle your seatbelts.

Suzanne Malveaux reports.


SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Brace yourself for a battle you've never seen before.

HILLARY CLINTON, (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Our commander-in-chief has to be able to defend our country, not embarrass it.

DONALD TRUMP, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: She's been involved in corruption her whole life, whether it's white water -- I mean her whole life is corruption.

MALVEAUX: Forget about the snarky retorts of the 2008 campaign.

BARACK OBAMA, U.S. PRESIDENT: You're likable enough.

MALVEAUX: Or the relatively mild-mannered exchanges that made debate audiences roar.

CLINTON: I did not mention his name.

OBAMA: Your husband did.

CLINTON: Well, I'm here, he's not.

OBAMA: OK. Well, I can't tell who I'm running against sometimes.

CLINTON: And, you know, well. When you were practicing law and representing your contributor, Rezko, in his slum landlord business in inner city Chicago.

OBAMA: No, no, no, no.

MALVEAUX: This general election will likely resemble a cage match with Donald Trump relentlessly pummeling Hillary Clinton over her honesty, energy and e-mails.

TRUMP: She shouldn't be allowed to run. What she did was a criminal act. She doesn't have the strength or the energy.

MALVEAUX: Clinton is already going after Trump's character.

CLINTON: Well I think all Americans should be concerned. He is trafficking in hate and fear. He is playing to our worst instincts.



MALVEAUX: Anti-Trump Republicans are fueling the feud, by using Trump's own words against him.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is how Donald Trump talks about our mothers.



MALVEAUX: As both candidates prepare to go mano-a-mano, they're sharpening their attacks over national security.

CLINTON: When he embraces torture, that doesn't make him strong, it makes him wrong.

TRUMP: Hillary is a disaster, OK. Hillary is a disaster. And she is a disaster. Just ask Hillary about Libya, if you just look at what's happened.

MALVEAUX: The attacks are also playing out online. This on Trump's Instagram. A pro-Clinton Super PAC delivering this counter punch.

TRUMP: I'm speaking with myself, number one because I have a very good brain and I've said a lot of things.

MALVEAUX: While both candidates are testing their themes --

TRUMP: Make America great again.

CLINTON: Make America whole again.

MALVEAUX: -- political strategists are firing warning shots.

ANA NAVARRO, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I would advise Hillary not to go down the gutter with Trump. Somebody has got to stand on that stage and be the adult in the room. I think that Hillary Clinton needs to resist the temptation of trying to out Trump, Trump.

MALVEAUX: Trump has warned Clinton that nothing is off the table in their battle for the White House including criticizing her for her husband President Bill Clinton's alleged past sexual indiscretions.

[20:35:07] To that, Secretary Clinton has said, "So far, I have no response."

Suzanne Malveaux, CNN, Washington.


COOPER: Trump's rivals like to point out the polls show them doing better against Hillary Clinton in general election match-up. But let's imagine that come November, it is Clinton versus Trump. What is the math actually looks like for each when it comes to winning the White House?

John King is here to show us by the numbers. So if it's Trump and Clinton, one thing we do know is that it's going to be fought on a different math than Obama versus McCain or even Obama versus Romney, right?

JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR, "INSIDE POLITICS": Oh, without a doubt, Anderson. Let me try to give you a medium energy walk through of what we're going to see.

First, let's focus on the numbers, now, seven months plus to Election Day. So don't put too much stock in these. But the real clear politics average, Hillary Clinton consistently now with an edge over Donald Trump in national polls. We elect president state by state. But in national polls, she has about six to seven point lead consistently.

The Clinton campaign can also take some solace in the fact that she has the lead in some of the battleground states where we've seen poll. And these are NBC/Wall Street Journal/Marist poll plus eight for Clinton in Florida, plus six for Clinton in Ohio, plus 25 for Clinton in Illinois. Again, healthy leads but it's only early in the race.

Let's go back and Stuart still watching my apologies. But let's go back to the presidential race in 2012 now to take a closer look at this. Without a doubt, you see Michigan blue. Michigan's been blue since after Dukakis/George H. W. Bush. It has been blue for a long time for Democrats.

What is Trump argue, that up here in the suburbs of Detroit, blue collar Macomb County. The place where used to be Reagan Democrats. Donald Trump thinks, "I can create some Trump Democrats."

Next door, Oakland County. Obama carry that too. That's where Mitt Romney went to school as a child. Obama carried it by eight points. Trump thinks, "I can change these people into Trump Democrats." That's one place he thinks he can put Michigan in play. That's just one.

Let's pop over here. He also thinks he can put Pennsylvania in play. How? Donald Trump thinks he'll do better. Maybe he won't win the Pittsburgh area, but he'll do better with blue collar voters.

And in the Scranton, town here in the eastern part of the state, you see all that blue. Donald Trump thinks the old former steel part of the country, coal part of the country, steel part of the country out there that he can do better with blue collar workers.

And anecdotally, there's some evidence that he could do better. Not that Hillary Clinton couldn't counter him, Anderson, but so that puts Michigan, maybe Pennsylvania on the map as well, meaning Republicans would contest them in ways we haven't seen in a while.

Ohio is another state Donald Trump thinks he can put in play. Now this one's always the battleground in presidential politics. 51-48 last time, it's gone to the Democrats twice in a row. Donald Trump thinks he can win in places like this whether you have blue collar voters and there's some reasons to believe that.

Let's just take a look at what happened the other night. Even when John Kasich was winning his home state, Donald Trump did very well in the Youngstown area. Blue collar voters here and across the southern part of the stat too. We have a lot of conservative Democrats down here, white conservative men who were key in the Hillary Clinton/Barack Obama primary years ago.

One more place. Let's just pop it out and then we can continue the conversation. It's the State of Florida, Donald Trump just won it of course in the primary. If you come back to 2012, you look at the presidential race, again, always a battleground there, Anderson, 50 to 49 in the Romney race with Obama.

Donald Trump of course, his base is down here in this part of the state. He thinks he can do a little better and put that state in play. Will he? That's seven months away. He doesn't have the nomination yet. But would the map be different? Without a doubt.

COOPER: If Trump put some traditionally blue states in play for Republicans, is there a flip side? Does Trump being the top nominee and danger any red states?

KING: Without a doubt, that also changes the map. Now, this is just a Trump/Clinton race. It's even a different dynamic for some reasons conservatives decide to launch it independent third party candidacy, that would change even a lot more. But if Trump is the nominee, here's one thing, Nevada and New Mexico, I'm circling them in a reverser order, traditionally swing states in presidential politics, they've gone blue the last two times. If Trump's the nominee, because of the high Latino percentages, Democrats think they're off the table. They're ours. We won't have to dedicate a lot of resources there.

So then you start looking at other states on the map and you look, here's one right here. North Carolina, let me turn this up in close up. North Carolina, Romney won 51-48. When it was John McCain, Obama won it 50-50 just barely.

In the Clinton campaign analysis, they think this goes back to a race where they can turn out more African-Americans because Donald Trump is the nominee. They think they can put the 2008 Obama coalition back together and put that North Carolina back in the map.

The other ones get a little bit more dicey. Democrats often talk, "If we gin up African-American, turn that a little bit more, maybe we could get Georgia." That didn't work for Obama, it was 53 t0 46. If there's a third party conservative candidate, keep an eye on Georgia.

One other place is Indiana. Traditionally, a conservative state, but remember in 2008, Obama was able to win it very narrowly. Again, Democrats think if you have a high African-American turnout in response to Trump and especially, if there is a third party conservative candidate, that's a place to put into play. But without a doubt, without a doubt for the Democrats, their idea is defend Florida and Ohio. They think that's the path to protecting no matter who the Republican nominee is.

COOPER: And translate that into 270 electoral votes.

KING: All right. Let's go over and we have to switch map to do that. But let's try to do it very quickly and bring up this map.

Look, let's just start again. This is 2012, right? Obama won with 332 -- 206. What if Donald Trump really can put Pennsylvania in play?

[20:40:01] What if he can put Michigan in play? Then all he would have to do is win the state of Florida. That's all he would have to do. If Donald Trump could win Florida and take Michigan and Pennsylvania, it's game over. I'm not saying that's easy. Clinton would obviously say, "I can win those sates but he could do that, it is over."

So, for Democrats who think, "This one's in the bank," it's not so much in the bank. The Republicans would only have to change a few states, three in this case, to get it done, Anderson, not impossible.

COOPER: All right. Fascinating. John King, thanks very much.

Just ahead, we have more breaking news. Two more prizes for Hillary Clinton, one in Missouri where Tuesday's primary race has finally been called. The second from President Obama, will tell you what he reportedly told some key Democratic donors and show how it could help Clinton's campaign.


COOPER: More breaking news tonight, Hillary Clinton has won the Missouri primary by a narrow margin. And Bernie Sanders says, he won't ask for recount. The victory gives Clinton a clean sweep in Tuesday's five primary races, including big wins in Florida, North Carolina and Ohio. Clinton now has a virtually insurmountable lead in delegates.

Tonight, the "New York Times" is reporting that President Obama told a group of Democratic donors that the time is coming to unite behind Secretary Clinton, but White House is denying that report.

Also tonight, "The Washington Post" is reporting that President Obama and his top aides have been strategizing for weeks about how they can help Democrats keep hold of the White House in 2016.

[20:45:07] So a lot to discuss with the panel. I mean, on the one hand, Gloria, President Obama obviously needs to be sensitive to Sanders and his supporters. On the other hand, at a certain point, he's going to have to take a side.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Right. And you've known her early on -- some time in January, he came out and sort of said "Hillary Clinton is qualified on day one to be president."

COOPER: Right.


BORGER: Then he had to meet with Bernie Sanders to kind of kiss and make up.

It's very clear that this President supports Hillary Clinton. Hillary Clinton is the candidate, if she wins, who carries on his legacy. She carries on one of his biggest issues which is ObamaCare and Bernie Sanders doesn't want ObamaCare.

So he's for Hillary Clinton. There is no doubt about it. I think the question inside the White House, people I talked to is, how do you put together the Obama coalition again without Obama? And one way you do it is, you put him out there on the campaign trail. And that is exactly -- he's chomping at the bit to get out there but he has to have a candidate, right?

SELLERS: And that's the fact. And the Democratic Party is vastly different from the Republican Party in this one major key. And that we have a broker. And we have a bully.

At 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, Barack Obama's job and Michelle Obama's job is going to be the go after Donald Trump or Ted Cruz or whoever that nominee is and Hillary Clinton's going to be able to play on this elevated playing field.

But I think you're right and he's chomping it a bit. Because one thing that Barack Obama does very well and he has a 51 percent approval rating in Gallup's recent polling, the one thing he does really well is campaign.

And minority groups, especially that coalition, they love Barack Obama, we love Barack Obama and they'll be galvanized by ...

COOPER: You also don't -- Bill Press, he's a Sanders supporter. I mean, as the president, you don't want to alienate the Sanders supporters. You're going to need them in the general action.

BILL PRESS, SANDERS SUPPORTER: But first of all, breaking news, right? The Democratic establishment top to bottom is for Hillary Clinton. It's been in that way.

I go to the White House briefings everyday. I've heard Josh Earnest, Gloria, time after time, deny that the President has taken sides and yet four cabinet members have endorsed Hillary Clinton. That doesn't happen unless for President Obama says, "Sure, you can endorse her because I'm for her."

That said, I think the President, he's brilliant campaigner. He'll be very, very helpful in the fall. I think it would be a big mistake for him to make an endorsement. Let the people decide again.

COOPER: Before the convention.

PRESS: Let this process play out and then after the convention, really jump in and in support of the nominee.

SELLERS: But he's not endorsing anyone now. What all he simply doing is ...

COOPER: When do you expect him to actually ...

SELLERS: I don't expect him to full fledge endorse anyone. I think there's no need to. I mean, there's no reason -- yes, there's no reason to come in now where the lead --

PRESS: It's the fact that we have, Bakari.

SELLERS: -- the lead, now that Hillary Clinton has over Barack Obama is two times. I mean -- excuse me, has over Bernie Sanders' two times that of which Barack Obama had over Hillary Clinton. I mean, so this race, and don't get me wrong, Bernie Sanders can stay in the race as long as he wants to. He needs to stay in the race. So we're still having this discussion. It's not just Trump, Trump, Trump, Trump, Trump, Trump.

BORGER: Well, what the President can do is try and get the base excited because we've seen in turnout numbers that the base isn't that excited. The Republicans have had --

SELLER: Right.

BORGER: -- much higher turnout. And what President Obama can do is start to gin it up again because there are questions about Hillary Clinton. He could be her chief character witness and say, "I trust her," which is a problem she has. And excite people about what will be a third Obama term.



PRESS: For the record, I do have to say, it could be Bernie Sanders versus Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders actually beats Donald Trump in all the polls higher than Hillary Clinton does, it's possible.

COOPER: We're got to take a quick break. We're going to hear more from the panel on the next hour in "360."

Just ahead down this hour, a whole new world, a new world for SeaWorld. The company has announced it's going to stop breeding orcas saying, "Society is changing and they're changing with it." How much of this is due to backlash from that CNN documentary "Blackfish." We'll look into that, next.


[20:52:44] COOPER: Hard to imagine a bigger 180 for a brand synonymous with killer whale shows. SeaWorld has announced that no more orcas will be born in captivity at it parts the animals that are already there will be the last generation.

The company says, it's ending its breeding program because it's "Changing with society". Now, SeaWorld is facing increasing criticism for his treatment of orcas particularly after the CNN films documentary "Blackfish" came out in 2013.

If you saw it, it probably stuck with you. The filmmaker calls SeaWorld's announcement a defining moment.

Martin Savidge, reports.


MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The announcement is as big as the creatures it's about. SeaWorld says it's retiring its star performer killer whales after decades of shows and years of controversy over orcas in captivity.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Happening now ...

SAVIDGE: The company revealing the surprise in a video tweet.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The company who helped the world fall in love with orcas will end all orca breeding and transition away from theatrical orca shows.

SAVIDGE: Speaking this morning on CBS, the company CEO said, "Public attitudes have changed.''

JOEL MANBY, SEAWORLD CEO: It's about where society is shifting. We -- I have seen clearly that society is changing their attitude about these unbelievable majestic animals being in human care.

SAVIDGE: For years, animal welfare groups have blasted SeaWorld for their killer whale program saying the mammals were too large, too smart and too social, a creature to be kept in theme parks.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hi, this is sheriff's office.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We need someone to respond for a dead person at SeaWorld. A whale has eaten one of the trainers.

SAVIDGE: But it was the CNN documentary film "Blackfish" focusing on the death of SeaWorld trainer Dawn Brancheau. And question regarding how captivity might have turned Tilikum, one of SeaWorld's biggest attractions into a real killer. That was a turning point.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There will be no more admission tickets.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No more teddy bears.

SAVIDGE: SeaWorld never recovered for the public backlash. Attendance declined, so did its stock price.

Now SeaWorld says it will focus more on its animal rescue and rehabilitation efforts, even partnering with one of its fiercest opponents, the Humane Society.

MANBY: We've been talking for the last three months very quietly.

[20:55:00] SAVIDGE: Marine biologist Naomi Rose has worked more than 20 years for this day.

NAOMI ROSE, MARINE BIOLOGIST: This is really stunning news.

SAVIDGE: She's thrilled but says, "Killer whales can survive for decades and wonders where and how the remaining 28 orcas at SeaWorld will live."

ROSE: We need to get out of those tanks. I don't think those tanks are good for them. And so I would like to continue a dialogue that explores options such as seaside sanctuaries, coastal sanctuaries for these animals where they'll be in more space and a more natural habitat.

SAVIDGE: SeaWorld hasn't said specifically how it's going to care long term for its orcas.

Right now, it's just content with taking a big step toward hopefully solving an even bigger controversy.


COOPER: Martin Savidge joins us now. I mean, the orcas have a long time left in their lives. Releasing them to the wild, what that's not an option?

SAVIDGE: No, not according to the experts, they say for a number of reasons. Number one, they've been raised in captivity. They wouldn't know how to defend for themselves in the wild. Two, they've been exposed to disease and other issues, including humans. And the way they've been bred, if they mix with the wild species, well, it could be very bad. So nobody wants to see that. So unfortunately, they will have to remain captive some way for a long, long time.

It is worth pointing out that the benefit for SeaWorld was pretty quick. Their stock was up more than 9 percent by the end of the day. Anderson.

COOPER: All right. Martin Savidge, thank you. If you missed it or want to see it again, the CNN Films documented "Blackfish" airs this Saturday at 10:00 p.m. Eastern.

Up next, another hour of "360, "more on the breaking news from the Republican Presidential race, conservative leaders meeting in Washington to discuss how to take down Donald Trump.

We'll hear from the spokesman for conservatives against Trump, when we continue.