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AT THIS HOUR WITH BERMAN AND MICHAELA
Clinton Addresses AIPAC; Trump's AIPAC Meeting Causes Controversy; Trump Meeting with Congressional Republicans; Establishment Super Pac Sends Trackers to Record Trump/GOP Meeting; Names of Some Congressmen Meeting with Trump. Aired 11:30-12p ET
Aired March 21, 2016 - 11:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
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[11:30:00] HILLARY CLINTON, (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE & FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: Some things aren't negotiable. And anyone who doesn't understand that has no business being our president.
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JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Now, Donald Trump is also scheduled to address this group later today. And his appearance has created some controversy, threats of boycotts, possible walk outs from some of the folks attending.
Brianna Keilar is live in Washington for us on Hillary Clinton's speech, which was well received despite sharp words from Clinton during that address.
BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: She was definitely talking to an audience who agreed with her when it came to Donald Trump. You can see that in the way that she got so much applause for the lines. She was talking about some comments that Donald Trump made back in February when he said that he would remain neutral in the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. He clarified that a little later saying he was pro Israel but he would try to remain somewhat neutral with Palestinians so he had a shot at negotiating a deal.
Clinton repeatedly hitting Donald Trump, calling him a bully. Here's more of what she said.
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CLINTON: If you see bigotry, oppose it. If you see violence, condemn it. If you see a bully, stand up to him.
Let us never be neutral or silent in the face of bigotry. Together, let's defend the shared values that already make America and Israel great.
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KEILAR: Hillary Clinton is not completely seeing eye to eye on all issues with AIPAC, with this pro-Israel lobby. For example, she talked about the Iran nuclear deal, struck by the Obama administration, something she laid the ground work for as secretary of state. She, though, explained herself not a lot of clapping for that, obviously, but certainly there were no boos or anything of that sort.
All the candidates will be speaking here at AIPAC, except Bernie Sanders. He's going to remain out west, give a foreign policy speech in Utah. We're expecting the Republican candidates here later tonight as well.
KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: And, Brianna, it was clear where she was hitting Donald Trump in her remarks, America has always been great and talking about the ban on Muslims and so forth. She also seemed to create some distance in her remarks as well between her and President Obama on policy towards Israel.
KEILAR: Yeah, that's right, and specifically in one place where she said that one of the first things she would do as president is to have the Israeli prime minister come to the White House. This certainly was something -- as you know, Kate, the relationship between President Obama and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pretty frosty, so this was something where she was basically saying that her relationship with Israel would be a little more friendly. Of course, she wasn't that specific in hitting President Obama, but there were a couple of places where I think she was trying to show that she would be a stronger ally than the president that really was her boss.
BERMAN: To use a Clinton term, "triangulation" between the White House, Hillary Clinton up here, with the invitation to the Israel prime minister. Also saying the United States would use its veto at the United Nations to protect Israel, another key point, and perhaps a difference with the current administration.
Brianna Keilar, in Washington, thank you so much.
BOLDUAN: Thanks, Brianna.
Coming up for us, Donald Trump is, today, not only going to be speaking at AIPAC, he'll be having a private meeting with a group of influential Republicans in Washington, but at the very same time, an anti Trump super PAC is now issuing a warning to everyone that is going to attend. More on that ahead.
[11:38:07] BOLDUAN: AIPAC isn't the only stop of Donald Trump's Washington itinerary. He's taking a trip into the "establishment." Trump is set to meet with some congressional Republicans in the nation's capitol.
BERMAN: It's mostly Trump supporters in Washington, but there is one Senator, who is neutral in the race, who will be there, Tom Cotton of Arkansas. That is pretty interesting.
Let's to go to Sara Murray live in Washington with a look ahead at the meeting. SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL REPORTER: Good morning, John. It's
interesting to see the mix of folks who are going to be meeting with Donald Trump behind closed doors. What we're hearing is it is mainly rank-and-file members, a hand full of them who have endorsed him. Now, Tom Cotton is interesting. He's neutral in this race so far.
But when you look at the list of people we know who are coming and ones not coming, it gives you a sense of the division right now within the GOP. We are not going to see leaders of the House or of the Senate. Paul Ryan will not be there. Mitch McConnell won't be there. And Donald Trump is not stopping by to meet with the RNC while he's in town. Incredible. He's the front runner. He's leading in the delegate fight. But we're not seeing the leaders of the party or Congress here to meet with Donald Trump.
I think he is going to come to Washington. He's going to try to use this as sort of a sign that he is coalescing the party behind him and he's maybe more presidential than he's appeared on the campaign trail. I think he'll do that in the meeting and also in the press conference he's having after.
But at the end of the day, Donald Trump is still a businessman. Once again, his press conference will be held at one of his own properties right here in Washington D.C. -- John?
BOLDUAN: And, Sara, you talk about trying to project that he's more presidential and there is coalescing behind him. When you see that the anti super PAC is sending a tracker, to publicly shame folks heading into this meeting, not the only attempt at publicly shaping people who have endorsed Donald Trump or support Donald Trump. This is a party at war with itself. These are normally tactics saved for the opposition, the Democrats versus the Republicans, and vice versa. What is the Trump campaign saying about these attempts?
[11:40:22] MURRAY: You're right. Every time I talk to the Trump campaign about these anti Trump efforts, they're saying they're wasting the money. The party is coalescing behind Donald Trump. We're leading in the delegate fight. But as you see with these trackers, the anti-Trump super PACs are trying to members of Congress hard, trying to push delegates in the states hard, to say, look, we still have an effort to head Donald Trump off. Maybe don't throw your support behind him yet. Maybe let's see if we can stall him off, not get to 1,237 and beat him at the convention. They're pushing back on this. They feel like, going forward, there are still opportunities. For instance, they believe Donald Trump will be defeated in Utah and that will open an avenue for them to continue their efforts in places like Wisconsin.
It's clear the anti-Trump forces aren't giving up, even though they have been delivered big defeats, especially like the loss in Florida.
Thank you, Sara. BERMAN: We have a big programming note here at CNN. Tonight,
the final five candidates on the eve of Western Tuesday. All five candidates joining CNN for a special prime time forum. It starts at 8:00 eastern. This will be big. It's only here on CNN.
Hillary Clinton now reportedly making her plans to take on Donald Trump. You might be surprised to hear what she is not planning to hit him on. Much more on that ahead.
[11:46:12] BERMAN: We are in the eve of big western primaries. That is Donald Trump preparing to meet with a collection of congressional Republicans, all while getting blasted by Hillary Clinton before a pro Israel lobbying group.
BOLDUAN: All this coming before the final five candidates join CNN for a special prime time forum that is tonight.
Let's discuss the state of play. Let's bring in CNN political commentator and former senior advisor to President Obama, Dan Pfeiffer; also Bill Press, a CNN political commentator and a Bernie Sanders supporter; Christian Ferry, a former presidential campaign manager for Senator Lindsey Graham; and Kayleigh McEnany, a CNN commentator and a Trump supporter.
Great to see all of you.
Kayleigh, first to you.
What we're hearing from Sara Murray, Manu Raju doing some reporting about this meeting of Republicans with Donald Trump before he speaks at AIPAC, and also the fact that there's now an anti Trump super PAC that is planning to send a tracker to the event to basically take account of who enters and exits, and publicly shame them and say we won't forget. All the efforts coming ahead of the primaries. What do you say to that?
KAYLEIGH MCENANY, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: You know, first of all, this is Trump extending an overture to Republicans. I think that's great. I am appalled that the establishment, this super PAC, which is run by a Romney advisor, is sending trackers. Let's be clear about what they're doing. They're sending trackers to a meeting to tape Republican Senators in an effort to then defeat them in a general election or in a tight Senate race if they, in fact, end up embracing Donald Trump. That's appalling. We are one party. We're a united party. We need to come together. This isn't about toppling people within our party. If that's the name of the game, Hillary Clinton will walk into the White House without much of an effort.
BERMAN: Bill Press getting choked up at the thought.
Christian, I'll put this to you. This is heavy handed stuff, sending trackers to a Republican
event with Republican congressional figures, meeting with a Republican candidate. We have Amanda Carpenter, who comes on our show, she says she's keeping a list of everyone who is supporting and endorsing Donald Trump. Tim Miller, who works for Our Principles Pac, one of the super PACs going after Trump, says that he wants to do opposition research on anyone supporting Donald Trump. This is pretty serious infighting we're seeing right now.
CHRISTIAN FERRY, FORMER CAMPAIGN MANAGER FOR SENATOR LINDSEY GRAHAM & FORMER DEPUTY CAMPAIGN MANAGER FOR MCCAIN-PALIN 2008: It is. I think it's a nice play by the anti-Trump PACs to get some attention on themselves. We're all talking about it today. They're getting what they wanted.
But at the end of the day, Donald Trump has an opportunity potentially to be our nominee. It makes a lot of sense that people in Washington want to take the opportunity to get to know him and ask him questions, to ask him questions about foreign policy and other national interests because he hasn't given a lot of specifics on the campaign stump. These people want to ask him questions and find out where exactly he stands on the issues.
BOLDUAN: Christian, can I ask you if you think thse anti-Trump efforts can successfully stop Trump if both John Kasich and Ted Cruz are still in the race. Your former boss, Lindsey Graham, thinks not. Listen to him.
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SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM, (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: John, if I thought you could win, I'd be behind you. Because you are the most electable candidate. Work with Ted to deny Trump the 1,237 or 1,239, whatever the number is. If you're not willing to work with Ted, then you're hurting the cause. By Kasich going to Utah, you're making it harder for Ted to get 50 percent.
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BOLDUAN: Christian, how well would you have received a message like that when you were running his campaign still?
[11:49:55] FERRY: I think each campaign is going to make the decision that's best for them.
But one of the things we've seen this election cycle is the outside groups have not been very effective in accomplishing anything, whether it's propping up their candidates or taking down Donald Trump. It just hasn't worked yet.
The way to beat way to beat Donald Trump is to coalesce around an alternative. Some people think that is Ted Cruz. Some think it is John Kasich. Until we have that head-on-head match, I think Donald Trump will continue racking up delegates and coming close to winning the nomination, if not winning it outright. BERMAN: Dan Pfeiffer, there are some details coming out over the
last few days about how the Clinton team does plan to take on Donald Trump in the fall. It's not all personal attacks. The idea has been keeping her separate from this. Make her seem presidential. Do you think that is wise or do you think you need to go in and punch him in the nose.
DAN PFEIFFER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: They have to be aggressive, making a case against Donald Trump. And they have to do it earlier in the cycle than the Republicans did in the primary elections.
But there are a couple of lessons there. One, don't try to out- Trump Trump. What happened to everyone, whether it was Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, is they got in the mud with Trump. Some percentage of the Republican electorate is OK with Trump seeming ridiculous. They're not OK with Rubio and Jeb Bush looking ridiculous. That hurts their brand.
The other thing that is crucial is to understand the normal rule of politics don't apply to Trump. You can't rerun the Democrat strategy against Mitt Romney from 2012 against Donald Trump. The public will accept negative information about Trump and be OK with it in ways they are not with other politicians.
The idea, whether it is accurate or not, the Clinton campaign is talking about undermining the idea that Donald Trump is ready for the Oval Office or fit for office, is a good idea.
BOLDUAN: We're just looking at video of Hillary Clinton speaking at AIPAC. Bill, I want to ask you about Bernie Sanders. He's the only one not speaking before AIPAC. Misstep? What do you think? Why?
BILL PRESS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: It was a tough call for Bernie. Hillary Clinton was very well received. I think Bernie would have been well received as well. Look, it was his choice to stay on the campaign trail. I'm not going to second guess it.
But I will second what Dan Pfeiffer said here. Look, we -- I think Democrats have to recognize, whether Hillary is the nominee or Bernie Sanders, that Donald Trump is a real threat. He's a serious threat. They have to take him seriously with his appeal to blue collar workers. And they have to do what Republican candidates did not do. They can't ignore him. They can't be nice to him. They have to define him early and destroy him early, I believe, and do it in a substantive strategic way. You are not going to hear Hillary or Bernie accuse him of wetting his pants. They are doing research to show he is not fit to be the president of the United States. It is important to do it now.
BERMAN: Might have heard our last small hands joke on this campaign.
BOLDUAN: Oh, no.
BERMAN: Dan Pfeiffer, one more question on AIPAC, the Israel speech there. Hillary Clinton tackled Donald Trump. But to use another football analogy, she gave the stiff arm to President Obama and the White House over their Israel policies. She's saying that she'd invite Netanyahu to the White House right away and use the U.N. veto to protect Israel. How much distance is it safe for her to create here with this White House?
PFEIFFER: Look, on the campaign trail, she's going to have to create distance on some issues. They don't agree 100 percent on all things. That's acceptable. I think she was making more of not a criticism of the specific Obama policies that AIPAC has had concerns with, most notably the Iran deal, more in her approach to the current Israeli government would be. It is more style over substance, but it's smart politics in front of AIPAC today.
BOLDUAN: Guys, great to see you. Thank you so much.
BOLDUAN: We're also just getting in new details --
BOLDUAN: Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you.
New details about who will be in the meeting with Donald Trump. We will have that after the break.
[11:57:12] BOLDUAN: Just into CNN, new details about who will attend an important meeting with Donald Trump in Washington. We have heard members of Congress would be there with him, but which members of Congress.
Let's bring in our senior political reporter, Manu Raju, who is breaking the story wide open.
Manu, it seems like mostly Trump supporters, yes?
MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER: That's what we know of right now. John, there aren't many Trump supporters on Capitol Hill, particularly on the Senate side. This was organized by the lone senator endorsing Donald Trump, Jeff Sessions, in Alabama, who will be at the meeting. But also a number of house members who have endorsed Donald Trump, Chris Collins from New York is one we are told, also Duncan Hunter from California, and Elmhert (ph), who voted for Donald Trump in North Carolina primary also attending. This is what we are seeing, mostly Trump supporters as of now. We will see who decides to attend. Tom Cotton, the Senator from Arkansas, an influential Senator on the foreign policy side of things, who is neutral in this race, has decided to attend the event which is interesting. We will see if he decides to endorse after this. That will be significant if Donald Trump wins over Tom Cotton. We don't know if that will be the case now.
What we do know is the Republican leadership will not be attending the meeting. House Speaker Paul Ryan, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn, are not attending.
We are not certain how big of a crowd this will get. The House -- a lot of members are traveling back today. And the Senate is on recess. I don't think many members are planning to come back for this, particularly, members who are nervous about a Trump candidacy.
We will see who decides to come. Right now, looks like Trump supporters, very few of them, will be in attendance, guys?
BOLDUAN: Manu, real quick, there's been too much hype about the meeting. What is the point of the meeting and how did the invitations go out?
RAJU: The point was to get the outreach. Trump really has not done any outreach on Capitol Hill. In fact, he talked to a lot of members of Congress and they don't know Donald Trump. Jeff Sessions, the Alabama Republican, is the one who organized the meeting, we're told. He started to build some outreach. We will see if he reaches out to the leadership types. Did call Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell earlier. One other thing, Newt Gingrich, former house speaker, will be in attendance.
BERMAN: Interesting, but still only outreach to people who are supporting Donald Trump, except for Tom Cotton.
Manu Raju, thanks so much for being with us.
BOLDUAN: Thanks, Manu.
RAJU: Thank you, guys.
BOLDUAN: A quick reminder, tonight, the final five candidates will join CNN for a primetime forum. The three-hour event starts at 8:00 tonight only on CNN.
Thank you for joining us AT THIS HOUR.
BERMAN: "Legal View" with Ashleigh Banfield starts now.