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Obama Tells Democrats to Get Behind Single Candidate to Stop Trump; GOP Convention Looking Likely to be Contested; Jewish Leaders to Protest Trump Speech to AIPAC Monday; Economist Magazine Considers Trump Anti-Trade Attitude Threat to Economy; China Claims Rise of Trump Shows Why Democracy is Bad Idea; Top Republican Leaders Claim Trump Threat to US Security; Obama Gearing Up to Increase Election Role; Some Cubans Don't Want Whole Capitalist Package. Aired 11p- Midnight ET
Aired March 17, 2016 - 23:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[23:00:13] What President Barack Obama is saying about Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders. This is "CNN Tonight." I'm Don Lemon.
The President urging Democrats to come together behind one nominee if they want to stop Donald Trump. But, as Bernie Sanders concedes Missouri to Hillary Clinton, does the Senator from Vermont still have a path to victory? Plus, Donald Trump's foreign policy advisor is, Donald Trump. The Republican Frontrunner saying, "I have a very good brain and I've said a lot of things." Just how worried is the rest of the world? Could foreign policy be Trump's downfall?
A lot to get to ahead this hour. I want to begin with the busy day in the fight for the republican nomination. Joining me now is CNN's National Political Reporter, Maeve Reston and Phillip Bump, "Washington Post" Political Reporter.
First to you, Phillip, because everybody is talking about whether Donald Trump can get to that magic number of 1,237, 1237 delegates in a contested convention or it will be contested. California is key here. Can he win California?
PHILLIP BUMP, POLITICAL REPORTER, "THE WASHINGTON POST": He can; but the problem with California is, if you win California, you only get 13 delegates and all the rest of the delegates in California, which is the last state to vote on the West Coast, June 7th, it's going to be fought up down the state, in each of the 53 congressional districts. So if he is 21 shy - yes, after he wins the state of California -- he has to win seven more congressional districts. It can be anywhere in the state. So it could be a late night watching returns, on June 7th, just because we have to see what happens in all of those 53 districts.
LEMON: So he can but it's going to be tough?
BUMP: Oh, yes. Yes, it's going to be tough no matter what.
LEMON: No matter what?
BUMP: Yes. LEMON: Okay. Maeve, religious leaders and conservatives gathered today to plot a strategy to stop Donald Trump. What's the most realistic path, in your mind?
MAIVE RESTON, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER: Well I think the question here is whether or not Donald Trump can win this outright, as you all were just saying; whether Ted Cruz still can, he's got a very tough path to did that, but it is looking increasingly more and more like we are going to so a contested convention because you have all of this anti-Trump money consolidating, you know, with the ads that we saw before Super Tuesday 3, earlier this week, and now the conservative gathering that you're talking about.
Erick Erickson, formerly of redstate.com, meeting with all of these conservatives today, putting together a call for a unity ticket. There's discussion about whether that would look like Ted Cruz and John Kasich or it's not clear exactly what. But the fact that you have the Republican establishment and these very passionate donors pouring this money into an anti-Trump effort, trying to figure out whether they should still continue doing that, and that these conservative activists coming in from the other side, I think it will make it a very interesting couple of months. But, you know, it's very possible that we could end up having this be fought out in California, as Phillip was just talking about. How amazing is that? That we're talking about going all the way to California?
LEMON: Everyone thought it would be over by now, right?
LEMON: Marco Rubio says he is not interested in being vice president, but that would be one way to start consolidating support. Could he change his mind or possibly endorse Cruz, Phillip?
BUMP: I mean, he could. There's been some rumblings he may endorse Cruz. I don't know that Marco Rubio has a lot of value at this point. He just got absolutely clobbered in his own state, a home state where they spent a ton of money against Donald Trump, which (inaudible) we just said. Marco Rubio has some base of support, but I think the odds are good that that base of support has already gone to a non-Trump candidate anyway today.
LEMON: Did you see Lindsey Graham today?
BUMP: I did.
LEMON: It's so weird. He was like, I don't really like any of them but I'm going to - I mean, is it surprising, shocking to you at all to see Lindsey Graham endorsing Ted Cruz?
BUMP: Well it's a little surprising but it's also Lindsey Graham is so firmly imbedded in the Republican establishment; I think that he's doing what he can. But, again, I mean, if we're talking about how Marco Rubio doesn't have a lot of support to give, Lindsey Graham, I mean, he's backed two losers in a row, himself and then Jeb Bush. So -- LEMON: You don't think his endorsements really mean much?
BUMP: This year? No; right? I mean, listen, no one had more endorsements than Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio and both of them got beaten, really badly; so, no, I don't think it does.
LEMON: Maeve, do they?
RESTON: I would disagree with that. I do think that Marco Rubio, in some of the earlier contests, did scoop up a fair number of delegates. I think that what could be important here is if he does end up leaning towards Cruz, which is what we're hearing that there may be an endorsement in the offing there, whether or not a lot of people who were still undecided in these states to come, were kind of thinking about Trump but then starting to get cold feet about Trump, whether an endorsement from Marco Rubio behind Ted Cruz could actually make those people start second-guessing their decisions.
I mean, that was the whole goal of the anti-Trump money, was to not necessarily knock out Donald Trump by last Tuesday night, but to continually [23:05:01] freeze that group in the middle of the Republican Party that is not sure about him yet, those voters who think he's amusing but don't feel strongly about him one way or another; and the goal was to continue kind of flattening out his delegate count so you could take it to a contested convention.
RESTON: If you have people like Rubio and Cruz coming together, you know, you very well could bring a lot of those voters, who are starting to look at Trump as more of a threat, who would not be good for the country and the White House.
LEMON: That whole squeezing out thing, I was watching on Tuesday, I was like, well, that didn't work. Did it? It doesn't seem to be working? Either of you.
RESTON: Think about how -- think about the amount of time that all of these donors have been putting this money into defining Trump, though. I mean, the thing that's so amazing is that the republican establishment did not see this coming last Fall, did not plot a strategy, wasn't doing as much polling as they normally would about what his biggest vulnerabilities were.
The donors that I talked to were putting anti-Trump money in, thought that, you know, getting through March 15th, and beyond, if they just had a little bit more time they could do more to define Donald Trump on the bankruptcies, his business dealings, trying to cast him as the corporate titan who worked the system at the cost of the little guy. I don't know, honestly, whether or not we've seen enough of that money sinking in yet. I think that it really could be a factor the further on and on you go.
You could look at what happened to Mitt Romney, for example, in 2012. It took a little bit of time to define him. And what a lot of people -- LEMON: He's not Mitt Romney. This is not 2012.
RESTON: He's not Mitt Romney, but -
LEMON: This is a whole different thing. You know, I'm sitting here wondering where have these people been? I've been sitting here at this anchor desk, every single day, watching this, and all of a sudden they're like, oh, my gosh, what happened? Where have they been, Phillip Bump?
BUMP: They all thought he was going to go away, right? This was the whole thing. Everyone thought he can't do this. He'll say something crazy, everyone will turn against him and he'll start losing votes and start losing contests. But the problem is, he's already been defined. Donald Trump has already been defined by Donald Trump: --
BUMP: -- I'm a winner. Everyone lies about me all the time. So when people who are from the establishment, and obviously from the establishment point of ads, saying Donald Trump is bad, Donald Trump has trained people to be, like, no, they're lying. I'm a winner -
BUMP: -- I'm going to make America great.
LEMON: I mean, he's brilliant. He's already defined himself.
LEMON: Thank you, guys. Thank you very much. Thanks, Maeve. Thank you, Phillip.
All right; some Jewish leaders are planning to protest Donald Trump's speech Monday to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. One of those leaders is Rabbi Jeffrey Salkin of the Temple Solel, in Hollywood, Florida. He joins me now.
Thank you for joining us, Rabbi. How are you doing?
JEFFREY SALKIN, RABBI, TEMPLE SOLEL, via satellite: I'm great Don. How are you?
LEMON: I'm great. You know, you're planning to boycott Trump's speech before AIPAC, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, as we said, on Monday. Why?
SALKIN: We're actually doing something somewhat more complicated than that. We're simply saying that we support AIPAC; we are Rabbis who love Israel and who are passionate Zionists and we actually want to discourage more dramatic and aggressive responses that other Jews are planning. We're simply saying this, AIPAC has a right to invite Donald Trump, as they've invited every presidential candidate. They are hospitable to Trump, but we are not hospitable to his message. LEMON: You know, Mr. Trump has said many things that people find offensive; right? They've say his words offend him, but he's also clearly supported Israel and he's saying he's going to support Israel. What specifically offends you about his views?
SALKIN: Well, how much time do we have here? He has said hateful and demeaning things about women, Mexicans, Muslims, immigrants and the disabled. He has applauded the use of physical violence at his rallies. He has mischievously suggested that there will be physical violence at the convention if he is denied the nomination. He has made statements he wants to weaken our libel laws.
When you say that Donald Trump is supportive of Israel, I have to believe that yes, in the end he will be; though he has said he is planning on being neutral. I think we have to have a conversation here about Jewish values. One aspect of Zionism is to stand up for Jewish values. We're not seeing that in Donald Trump.
LEMON: Do you think he's anti-Semitic?
SALKIN: Absolutely not; look, he has daughter that has converted to Judaism. She is a Sabbath observing Jew. He's hardly anti-Semitic. He has Jewish friends. He grew up with Jews. No, I think he's just insensitive. I think that he has captured the imagination of people, who are bona fide haters; but this is a larger conversation than the fact that he might be anti-Semitic.
He has made bigoted statements about almost every other group that you can imagine. We have think more broadly than that.
[23:10:03] LEMON: When you said he's attracted the attention of hateful people; he's refused to immediately disavow the KKK. He said he's had his reasons. He didn't quite hear it, but then he disavowed David Duke, a well-known anti-Semite. Some people have accused him to cozying up to racists. Do you believe that?
SALKIN: He's either cozying up to them or he's not vociferously refusing their support. I want Donald Trump to say at AIPAC, I do not want the support of these bigots. I reject their support. I don't want them to vote for me. I know it's a pipe dream, Don, but, I want to be clear --
LEMON: I've said the same thing. I wonder why he was not clear. Many people on this program have said the same thing, even a gentleman, this evening, saying if he could be so dismissive of the people he's running against, why not be that dismissive of the person once was one of the heads of the KKK.
SALKIN: At a certain point we become defined by who our friends are, and it would take great moral courage for Donald Trump to say, even if this costs me the election, I don't want their support; and he hasn't said it.
LEMON: The comparison to Hitler, not here but from other people, is that going too far? SALKIN: I think it's offensive. I don't think Donald Trump is Hitler. I think what he is, is an interesting amalgamation of Huey Long and Father Coughlin, the anti-Semitic radio preacher of the 1930's, with a sprinkling of Mussolini; but he's not Hitler but he does attract haters, and that is why people enjoy making that comparison.
LEMON: Do you think he has the temperament to be president, and the experience?
SALKIN: Absolutely not.
LEMON: You don't?
SALKIN: Absolutely not. He doesn't have the experience. He doesn't have the temperament. I want my kids, in religious school, and I want my children and grandchildren, when I have them, to be able to say this is the president of the United States. I want to behave like that. I want to speak like that.
LEMON: Is there anything -- is there anything he could say, at this point, that could gain your support?
SALKIN: There's nothing he can say that will gain my support. There's something he can say that will gain my respect.
LEMON: And that is?
SALKIN: And that is to vociferously refuse and reject the support of racists and bigots, to clarify exactly what he means when he says that he'll be neutral on Israel and to apologize for the way he has comported himself. That is the mark of a religious man.
SALKIN: And any religious person should able do that. That would gain my respect. Maybe not my vote, but it would gain my respect.
LEMON: Rabbi Salkin, thank you so much. I appreciate you coming on.
SALKIN: Thank you, Don.
LEMON: When we come right back, how worried is the rest of the world about a possible Trump presidency? And, what are they saying about the Republican frontrunner?
[23:16:28] LEMON: Is Donald Trump one of the top risks to global security? That's what some people fear. Here to talk about that is Fareed Zakaria, host of CNN's "Fareed Zakaria GPS."
Let's talk about this "Economist" Magazine report, which has an intelligence unit, right; it tracks the top ten global risks to the world's economy and security. Today they added to the list Donald Trump being elected U.S. president. Here as why they said that, they said "his hostility toward free trade, his alienation of China and Mexico and his militaristic tendencies toward the Middle East would make his election a disruptive force." Is that a stunning assessment for a man who could be leader of the Free World?
FAREED ZAKARIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I think it's actually pretty accurate in this sense, Trump is in some ways a kind of stealth candidate because almost everything he says he's going to do as president, isn't going to happen. We're not going to build a wall. We're not going to deport 12 million people. The U.S. military is not going to go around torturing people. It's not going to kill innocent men, women and children who happen to be related to terrorists. It's not going to carpet-bomb civilians.
So, you ask yourself what is he going to do? It's a little clear, there's almost, like, you want to know what's Plan B since Plan A is all this emotional red meat that isn't actually going to happen? So you're -- sort of part of what's going on here is, the world which looks to America for certainty, for surety, for a certain sense of continuity is wondering what the hell is going on?
ZAKARIA: What should we expect with this knew new guy?
LEMON: So you mean Mexico is not going to pay for a wall?
ZAKARIA: Well if you look at literally everything he says he's going to do, we know with almost absolute certainty, isn't going to happen.
LEMON: The Chinese
ZAKARIA: We aren't going to put a 45-percent tariffs on China. It's not going to work. They'll sue us and the World Trade Organization, the whole world trading system will collapse; and he, probably, somewhere deep down, Donald Trump probably even knows that.
LEMON: Yes. Fareed, the Chinese and the Russians have been speaking out about Donald Trump. Today the Russians said this ad about Donald Trump, released yesterday, demonized Vladimir Putin and their reaction to it is negative. Trump, though, has spoken positive about Putin in the past but he has upset the Russians with this ad apparently. Why is that?
ZAKARIA: Look, the Russians, like everyone else here, I don't think they know what to make of him. So far, actually, Russia is the one country where Trump has gotten very good publicity. Russian news anchors have spoken favorably about him. There are Op-Ed's in favor of him, all because Russia is a totally controlled state-run media and Putin, if you recall, had said very nice things about him. He has called him the bright and talented man who is - what did he call him, like the absolute leader or something like it?
ZAKARIA: So in these places you can't tell much about popular opinion. This is -- what you're watching is what the Kremlin picks. LEMON: They like his authoritarianism, so to speak?
LEMON: But on this one they're not so happy because it doesn't put Putin in a positive light?
ZAKARIA: Exactly, and the Chinese reaction to Trump is actually even more interesting. There's a Chinese state run newspaper editorial which says the rise of Donald Trump is exactly why democracy is a bad idea. So they're using Trump as the case study for why China doesn't need to become democratic.
LEMON: You know, the former First Lady, Laura Bush doesn't usually speak about politics, right; but she spoke about Donald Trump and some of the controversies, some of the issues swirling around him. This is on "USA Today." Here's what she said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If Donald Trump is the republican nominee, are you going to vote for him?
LAURA BUSH, FORMER FIRST LADY, UNITED STATES: Susan, I'm not going to answer. Don't ask that.
[23:20:01] UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And yet in your book it's clear that you don't think Islam hates America, that you don't think all Muslims should be banned from entering the United States. Is there a point where you would feel compelled to come off the sidelines, to speak against --
this is what I want Americans to remember, what our real values are. One of the very first things, one of the reasons we're a country is because we believed in freedom of religion.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: Is that gentle criticism, you think, from the former First Lady?
ZAKARIA: I think it's gentle criticism. I honestly think it should be stronger criticism. Look, if the republican party believes it is a party based on a certain set of ideas, you know, and Ronald Reagan essentially tried to remake the Republican Party and his ideas were free markets and free trade, less government, a certain social conservatism on issues like abortion, open immigration, free, open attitude toward immigration, expansionist view of America, and a generous view of America, you know, spreading our values around the world.
Trump descents from almost every one of those things. Ronald Reagan's political career began on entitlement reform. The speech that launched Reagan's career was Medicare reform, essentially an attack on Medicare. Trump is essentially against almost every one of the core Republican Party's beliefs. LEMON: He compares himself to Ronald Reagan, though.
ZAKARIA: Yes, because he doesn't know history; but the odd thing is when are republicans going to say this guy is an interloper and, most importantly, we will not vote for him? If you don't - if you just keep up with this gentle criticism, --
ZAKARIA: -- it hasn't worked so far and I don't think it's going to work.
LEMON: The establishment has said, inasmuch -
ZAKARIA: There is one senator who has said he will not vote for Trump, if elected. That's it. All the others say things but when asked, Marco Rubio says he's a con man, like a third-world despot but I'll vote for him. what kind of criticism is that?
LEMON: You know, it true. How can you say we don't want him, we had the stoptrump movement in our party but yet and still, I'm going to vote for him? It doesn't make sense, does it?
ZAKARIA: Well and how can you say, this guy is advocating torture; he is calling for a collective punishment of all Muslims; he's calling for collective punishment of Mexicans; he's going to tear up the foundations of the ideas that we think this party, and in some cases this country is based on, but, you know what, if he becomes our nominee, I'll campaign for him?
LEMON: One quick thing before I move on, but he does speak for a lot of Americans it appears because aren't those the sentiments of many Americans? We talk about, well, you know, the party wants to stop him, yet they're going to vote for him, but he's gotten a lot of Americans riled up.
ZAKARIA: Look, we all have within us fears and anxieties, our darker feelings, and these are uncertain times. The question, as a politician, is you can choose do you want to bring out people's worst sides? Do you want to bring out their fears, anxieties and focus them on hating other people, saying your life is in trouble and it's because of Mexicans, it's because of Muslims, it's because of the Chinese or do you want to draw the better angels of our personality? That's a choice every leader faces and we see what choice Trump has made.
LEMON: The biggest fear for a lot of people is that he will have the nuclear code, you know, he will have access to the nuclear code and he hasn't released any information on a foreign policy advisor. You know, he says, I don't want to give my hand to anyone. Here's what he said just yesterday in an interview.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP (R) REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE, via telephone: I'm speaking with myself, number one, because I have a very good brain and I've said a lot of things. So, I know what I'm doing. And, I listen to a lot of people.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: He has brought up Richard Haas. You know him well. He's on the Council of Foreign Relations. He's met with Trump. He hasn't really talked about anyone else. Does this concern you he's really not saying who advises him on foreign policy?
ZAKARIA: Richard Haas will be on my program this Sunday; so, stay tuned for that. We're talking about this but, look, of course it's troubling because part of what's going on here is from this defying the conventions of politics, of having actual policy proposals, having list of advisors, all of this is done to reassure people that there are some - that there are plans in place, that he has an idea of what he's going to do, and that's partly to come back to what you were asking at the beginning.
A good part of the reason the world is so freaked out by the prospect of Trump is he has produced no plans, no proposals. What little he has is nonsense, and even the plan to ban Muslims, Don, it says we are going to have a ban on Muslims until our politicians figure out what the hell is going on. What kind of plan is that for a president? How will we determine when we have figured out what is going on?
[23:25:00] LEMON: Are people like Richard Haas even saying they would work with him?
ZAKARIA: I think you'll have to watch my program on Sunday.
LEMON: I figured you would say that; thank you, Fareed Zakaria. Appreciate it.
When we come right back, is Fareed right or would a President Trump actually be able to do anything of the things he promises?
[23:29:10] LEMON: Donald Trump's foreign policy positions under a microscope tonight and some people don't like what they see. I want to dig into this a little bit deeper with political commentators Jeffrey Lord and Buck Sexton.
Jeffrey joins me via Skype. Jeffrey, thanks for coming back. Buck, good to see you this evening.
So, Jeffrey, you just heard in the last segment, what Fareed Zakaria said; almost everything Trump wants to do as president won't happen. What do you have to say to that?
JEFFREY LORD, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, you know, presidential candidates of all stripes, I mean, President Obama, as I recall, promised that the oceans would be lowered and all of this kind of thing. Hello! It hasn't happened. You can keep your doctor if you want your doctor, all that sort of thing.
Let me say one thing to Fareed and to you: I see today, in terms of foreign policy, that Donald Trump has asked Senator Jeff Sessions, who has agreed to be his foreign policy advisor, here, to put together a foreign policy team for him.
[23:30:08] Senator Sessions has served in the U.S. Senate for quite a long time. He's been on the Armed Services Committee. He's -
LEMON: Has he agreed?
LORD: I'm sorry?
LEMON: Has he agreed?
LORD: Yes, he has. Yes, he has. So -- and he is busily at work, as I understand it, this minute. So - you know, and I tried to indicate this before, that when presidential candidates get to the point where they're sort of on the verge of a nomination, they begin to really take on a whole team that mimics the presidency, and the institution of the presidency itself. That is, in fact, what's happening to Donald Trump; and while I can't say, because it was confidential conversation, I know of another very prominent American, in another field, who has been approached by Donald Trump himself to discuss policy issues. So, I mean, this is happening.
LEMON: I want to get Buck Sexton in on this because everyone thinks they know how to be president, Buck, until they actually sit in that seat and, like, whoa! They don't really know. Do you agree with Fareed Zakaria, that pretty much none of what Donald Trump says he's going to get accomplished is going to be get accomplished?
BUCK SEXTON, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes, a lot of it is bluster. It's the kind of promises you would expect there to be on the campaign trail, to get the base, or in this case the Trump base, which is kind of its own political entity fired up, in a certain way.
Look, you can look the Trump foreign policy at this point, as empty or you can think it's a blank canvas. I mean, it's sort of still in formulation. They're actually some things that he says that are kind of cross purposes as what you would usually expect. For example, he those talks about air strikes and he made those comments about civilian casualties, going after families -
SEXTON: -- but also said we don't want to get bogged down in the Middle East --
LEMON: Here's what he said -
SEXTON: -- he's anti-interventionist side of things.
LEMON: He's advocated for the use of torture methods again prisoners; take out innocent families of terrorists; ban Muslims from entering the United States; seize Syria's oil. It's helpful, the rhetoric; I'm wondering, is it helpful to our overall Middle East policy and for counterterrorism efforts? You should know, former --
SEXTON: Formerly of the CIA. I know, it's not helpful as somebody who hopes that Cruz somehow pulls off -
SEXTON: -- actually getting ahead of Donald Trump. I'm in kind of an odd position here, but I will say this: his rhetoric, at this point, as a presidential candidate rhetoric, I don't think that can be taken as having a major effect on world policy right now. He doesn't actually have any power, and I don't think that he would do some of the things that he's sort of eluded to.
Look, a lot of what he does is sort of performance art. He's going off the cuff at these press conferences. He says some things that some people love, some people think are totally crazy. It's not a promise. It's not written in stone. I think that when he did, I shouldn't say when. If he did, in fact, take up the job, then he'd have to face the realities of a very complicated, very dangerous world. He's a smart enough guy that he would know that we can't nuke Sweden because they look at us strangely. I mean, that's a fair point I think.
LEMON: Jeffrey, you know, you mentioned Jeff Sessions, right, but over 100 Republican experts and former officials, including Michael Chertoff, Mike Mukasey, (Inaudible) Townsend, have signed a petition saying Trump's views on global affairs would be a threat to our national security. They write, "Mr. Trump's own statements lead us to conclude that as president he would use the authority of his office to act in ways that make America less safe and which would diminish our standing in the world." How can Donald Trump be so right if these experts say he is so wrong?
LORD: Well, let me just respectfully suggest that if these experts, when they were in office, were so right, why is our standing in the world so low? Let me also ask this, let's get specifically to the question of taking out terrorist families. This actually has been done by an American president, and that president's name is Barack Obama; and a terrorist by the name of Osama bin Laden, lost his family when, he also deservedly lost his life. I think it's one of the few things that President Obama did right, but, of course, they also killed his family. Now, are they suggesting here that President Obama is what, a war criminal or he was totally wrong to do that? I mean, I'd love to hear the explanation for this.
LEMON: Well you say that our standing in the world is so low but if you look at the polls, it shows our standing in the world now is higher than when George Bush was in office, because we are no longer in two wars.
LORD: Well, you know, that's a very good point. As you know, I worked for Ronald Reagan, and Ronald Reagan had the unfortunate experience, which he learned from, of having the -- you know, he sent American troops on a peacekeeping mission to Lebanon where they were -- 243 of them were killed which by a suicide bomber. He wrote in his memoirs that what he learned from this is you don't start sending your troops all over the world on the slightest whim. That you believe in peace through strength, but you don't run every troop you've got into every country in the world here. That was the different, in essence, between American foreign policy in the Reagan era, with conservatives, and the Bush era, with neo-conservatives. So, Don, my friend, you do have a point.
LEMON: I never would have guessed - thank you for that concession, but I never would have guessed that you worked for Ronald Reagan. I mean, [23:35:05] considering he's over your right shoulder. How could I have guessed that?
So listen, Donald Trump is constantly talking about deals, how bad the ones we have are; the much better ones that he's going to make; but, will he really be able to negotiate the kinds of deals that he says he can, given what his tactics are, his bucket, you've talked about - because these kinds of negotiations are so complex, Buck.
SEXTON: Well, I want to say, there's a saying in the State Department that presidents come and go but the Department is forever. A lot of foreign policy is essentially on auto pilot. The president is not getting involved in the day-to-day of the latest trade agreement or democratization project in every country in southeast Asia or sub- Sahara Africa. There's a lot that the State Department, the various Government Agencies do that have career civil servants running them or have political appointees at the top. So there's only so much the president really taking on himself and handling at any given time.
So, I don't people - I'm not as concerned about - people being so concerned about Donald Trump's rhetoric, at this point, I have to say, it's too early for them to say he's going to destroy the world. he's just a candidate for the office of the presidency.
LEMON: You're a conservative.
LORD: You're concerned about Ronald Reagan's -
SEXTON: I am?
LEMON: You are a conservative?
SEXTON: Yes, sir.
LEMON: And you've said some pretty damning things about Donald Trump.
SEXTON: I have indeed.
LEMON: And you're going to vote for him -
SEXTON: Over Hillary Clinton?
LEMON: -- if he is indeed the nominee?
SEXTON: I am part of - hopefully I can start the neverHillary movement. That's the oldest neverTrump movement among my fellow conservatives. I'm like, what are you doing, and they get mad at me for this, but, no, I'm firmly in the neverHillary camp. We should be talking about how Libya is a failed state now, which was the centerpiece of her tenure as Secretary of State, --
LEMON: There you go.
SEXTON: Oh, we can turn right in to this right now.
SEXTON: Hillary Clinton, with all this foreign policy experience, what is all her accomplishment? Silence.
LEMON: So for you it's who you hate less, right? Correct?
SEXTON: I mean, well, hate is a strong word.
LEMON: I'm being told we have to go, but, thank you.
SEXTON: I was just getting started.
LEMON: I know you were. I appreciate both of you. Thank you very much.
LORD: Thank you, Don.
LEMON: Coming up: in the wake of her win in Missouri, Hillary Clinton - right, there we go, Buck -- has almost twice as many delegates as Bernie Sanders. Does he - does she - does he still have a path to victory, I should say?
[023:41:03] LEMON: President Barack Obama has not officially endorsed a candidate for president, but he's gearing up to be an active role in the campaign. Joining me now, Democratic Strategist, Hilary Rosen; and, Van Jones, CNN Political Contributor. Hello to both of you.
HILARY ROSEN, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Hello, Don.
LEMON: Hey; we're going to start with Hilary Rosen first. A "New York Times" report today that President Obama told donors in a private fundraiser it's time to unite behind Hillary Clinton. White House Press Secretary, Josh Earnest, though, says that the President did not explicitly back Clinton or call for Sanders to exit the race but rather called for Democrats to be mindful of the general election as they continue through a competitive primary process. So, should it surprise anyone, given President Obama and Secretary Clinton's history, that he might lean her way, Hilary?
ROSEN: No, and he's probably remembering back in 2008, right around this time, during the primary, when his lead was actually quite bit less than Hillary Clinton's lead is over Bernie Sanders, where he and his team were really pushing Hillary out of the race aggressively. So maybe it's a little bit of guilty payback here. You know, I think Hillary Clinton is being pretty respectful of Senator Sanders and the camp is not pushing Sanders one way or another. But I think this thing about the President is really that he's just itching to go after Donald Trump. He's itching for this general election fight and I think he wants to get on with it.
LEMON: Do you agree with that, van?
VAN JONES, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: I think he does. Now, I remember it slightly differently in 2008. There were certainly a lot of supporters of Obama that were telling Senator Clinton get out, get out, get out. As I remember it, President Obama - well, now President Obama, said, you know what? Give her time. Let her make her decision. So I do think that is good counsel right now with Bernie Sanders. Give him time.
First of all, we're only halfway through. He has some very good states ahead of him. He's going to do very well -- he's going to go on a winning streak. Now the reality is, these are small states that won't, probably, let him catch up to Hillary Clinton, but he's got a lot of supporters out there who have not had a chance to vote. It would be very, very bad for anybody to tell him sit down, shut up, get in line prematurely. He might want to consider directing less hostile fire at Clinton, more at Trump. He might want to did a rebalancing here but I think who should stay in and keep that energy level high. That would be good for the Democrats going forward.
LEMON: The upcoming states, if you map up, on Tuesday, they do boast demographics that are much more favorable for Sanders. Do you think he has a chance, Hilary?
ROSEN: You know, I don't think he's going to be the nominee. I think he'll have to --
LEMON: Do you think he should drop out?
ROSEN: No, I agree with Van; and I think Senator Clinton is doing exactly what we're saying. I think she is giving him space and is, -- importantly, her supporters are giving her space, which was my point about 2008 was not the case.
I do think, though, that despite some demographics, on paper, looking good for Sanders potentially in these upcoming states, there are a - you know, democratic momentum is starting to take some hold and I think that many voters in those states are going to want to see the focus on Trump, are not going to want to see the eventual nominee get beaten up more by other Democrats. So I do think that momentum will work against him, even if some of the demographics work for him.
LEMON: Yes, I've been saying for a while, Van, that Hillary Clinton is already shifting her tone. Her message is towards the general. She rarely mentions Bernie Sanders, which is probably - which is something --
JONES: I think that's smart.
LEMON: -- which is something that people on the right say that Donald Trump should do as well; that Hillary Clinton is playing large ball; Donald Trump is playing small ball. If he would just focus on and move forward without looking in the rearview mirror, talking about Rubio, talking about other [23:45:03] people, talking about other candidates, talking about commentators and others; but Hillary Clinton, she is moving forward. She's, like, in her rearview mirror everybody else. She tops Trump, 51 to 38-percent. How worried are you about this matchup?
JONES: I am very much worried; I'm so glad you mentioned it. First of all, Hillary Rosen was correct, I think, in saying President Obama is itching to get out there because 51 to 38 is not that impressive. Let's not forget, Hillary Clinton was up over Bernie Sanders, he was like 2-percent, or negative 3 -- Bernie Sanders wasn't heard of, and he was able --
LEMON: And lots of people have underestimated Donald Trump; go on.
JONES: Hey, listen: the only guy I know who has not under estimated Donald Trump is a guy with a TV show named Don Lemon. Everybody else has said, you know, from the very beginning, he was a joke, et cetera.
Now, in the house of Don, I just want to say you were right. We were wrong; but the Democrats are now doing the same dag 'um thing the Republicans did. The Republicans sat there and said it can't happen. It can't happen. It did happen! Democrats, same thing. Oh, he's not going to be able to get in.
LEMON: What should they do then? What should they do?
JONES: Listen, first of all, African-Americans, 70-percent of African-Americans don't like Donald Trump; that means 30-percent do. If he gets 15-percent of the black vote, he's president. So democrats need to get serious about making sure that we define Donald Trump to the base in a way that he can't cross back over. I am afraid that there are some people taking him too lightly in the Democratic Party.
LEMON: Hilary, I'll give you the last word. I'm up against the clock.
ROSEN: I think that's right. I think the challenge is going to be, for Democrats, is how do you change up the strategy in a way Republicans weren't able to? That's where I think the President comes in handy. You know, he does have sort of a sophisticated, bigger mouthpiece than anyone. I think him taking on Trump in a general, and making fun of him the way he has done so effectively in the past, actually could have an impact.
LEMON: All right; thank you very much. I appreciate both of you. Coming up, it's only a 90-mile trip, but it's world's away. President Obama is going there, and CNN's "The Wonder List" kicks off its second season in Cuba. Host, Bill Weir joins me next.
[23:51:07] LEMON: President Obama arrives in Havana Sunday on his historic first visit to Cuba. But Bill Weir travels ahead of the President for the second season premiere of the CNN hit show "The Wonder List." Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BILL WEIR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It looks like a trendy boutique you might see in SoHo or Melrose District of Los Angeles, and then right across the street, you have people raising chickens on their balcony.
How is life in Havana these days?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's really hard, man.
WEIR: It's hard?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. Some people think change, the future; I hope so.
WEIR: You hope so? you don't think so?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Maybe change for business, for the government.
UNIDENTIFED MALE: But for the people? I don't know.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: Joining me now, Mr. Bill Weir, the host of -- I can't wait to go -- of "The Wonder List." I can't wait to go. So the new --
WEIR: You've got to go.
LEMON: -- season starts on Sunday.
LEMON: You were there in Cuba.
LEMON: American's can visit. What do you think?
WEIR: It blew my mind in a dozen different ways.
WEIR: You know, because, yes, we're Cold War kids, right? We remember Cuban Missile Crisis, Bay of Pigs. You can now scuba dive in the Bay of Pigs. You can stay in these little casa particulars, these little bed and breakfasts because airbnb is spreading across Cuba in these Hemingway-esque villages. You can have lobster and cold beer, air conditioning for $30 a night; coolest people. But, what blew my mind is, (a) just how broken the country is. You know, the old cars are charming.
WEIR: The '57 Chevy's are charming. The '57 water and power -
LEMON: The one right behind you, which one is this?
WEIR: That is a '59 fuchsia Ford Fairlane that we took for a wheel past the U.S. Embassy. Now, there's a little bit of Detroit in Havana. It wouldn't be Havana without a little bit of Detroit.
WEIR: But, what's interesting about these car is, they keep them together with basically duct tape and spit.
LEMON: And glue, yes.
WEIR: It's Cuban resolviendo. They have to make due, but the people who keep grandpa's car running, they make $40 an hour. The average Cuban makes $20 a month.
LEMON: That's just - the guy you were speaking to, he's a bit skeptical because he doesn't think it's going to be great for the average Cuban --
LEMON: -- correct? Are they leery of Americans?
WEIR: Very much so; and that was the other thing that blew my mind. I thought -- I went down there sort of thinking they can't wait until the Castro's kick and they're going to turn this place into this playground once again. But many, almost every Cuban I talked to, especially the ones who had been to America, aren't so sure they want the whole capitalist package, the consumerist idea of America.
They know the floodgates are opening. I mean, how is this for perspective? Cuba and Florida, same size geographically. Cuba, right now, gets 2 million visitors per year. Last year, Florida got 100 million.
LEMON: Oh, my goodness.
WEIR: So, even if ten-percent of those start going further south, it's going to change everything, but it's not going to turn in to Cancun or Miami overnight just because the infrastructure is shocked.
LEMON: I am hearing from the cool kids in Brooklyn, it's like, the hottest restaurants are there; the art. You know what I mean? And that's -
WEIR: There's one or two, here and there -
WEIR: -- but, you know, they don't have enough to take 4 million or 8 million new tourists, to handle it. So the tourists who go down there, if you go down, and I think everybody should because it's amazing, you kind of have to go in with the mindset of, let's let the Cubans decide their fate for a change, for the first time in 50 years, and go with that flow. It's a little grittier than what most people are used to.
LEMON: So, season two of "The Wonder List", I know everyone tells you that you have the best job in television. WEIR: I hear that, yes.
LEMON: What's your favorite part?
WEIR: Of the sea - of the show -
WEIR: -- in general?
LEMON: Or Cuba, or whatever?
WEIR: I'll tell you, my favorite moment in the world is when the seatbelt [23:55:01] sign on the airplane goes off in a place I've never been, because you walk out and its new smells and its strange signs and I'm trying to organize how these people have set up their society and why it's different from ours, inferior, better. At the end of the day, I come away knowing that as human we are - we have so much more in common than we do differently.
WEIR: And that's why I kind of love that this season is airing in this heated tooth and claw political season.
WEIR: So, one hour a week we can come up for air and look around the world with a little more curiosity than suspicion.
LEMON: I'm up against the clock, but are they watching the election here?
WEIR: They are watching the election everywhere.
WEIR: We went to Bhutan, where they just got television like, five years ago. They've never seen black people. They've never seen the ocean. I go to a 200-year-old farmhouse, a woman asks me, what's the story with Donald Trump? Is he for real?
LEMON: I thought you were going to say Don Lemon.
WEIR: That wouldn't have surprised me either.
LEMON: Next time take me, that'll be fun.
WEIR: Come along, man. You got to carry a tripod.
LEMON: Always a pleasure; I'm ready.
WEIR: Your welcome, any time.
LEMON: Bill Weir; don't miss the season premiere of "The Wonder List". It's Sunday night at 10:00 p.m. Eastern. That's it for us tonight. I'll see you right back here tomorrow
night. "ac360" starts right now.