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THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER
Interview With Former Arizona Governor Jan Brewer; Trump Meets With Republicans; Candidates Address Influential Pro-Israel Group; Sanders Only Candidate to Skip AIPAC; The Latest Twitter War: Trump Vs. Warren. Aired 4-4:30p ET
Aired March 21, 2016 - 16:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Break out the Cohibas. THE LEAD starts right now.
Keep your friends close, your enemies closer, or, if you're Donald Trump, throw them all in the same room. The GOP front-runner in the nation's capital to try to smooth things over with the very establishment his voters despise.
Generations of Americans, they never thought they would see this, the American president shaking hands with a Castro, a hand many say is still too heavy when it comes to dealing with human rights and free speech.
Plus, if you're just getting into the bigger iPhone 6, I have got some bad news for you. Small is the new big. Apple unveils the newest iPhone that looks a lot like the one that's already sitting in your drawer full of junk.
Welcome to THE LEAD. I'm John Berman, in for Jake today.
Our politics lead, is this the week that it happens? Is this the week Donald Trump gets stopped, or is this the week the establishment starts paying rent in Trump Tower? We're down to the final five in the presidential race, Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, John Kasich, Hillary Clinton, and Bernie Sanders. They will all be on CNN in just a few short hours.
This is their final chance to lasso more votes before Western Tuesday, Arizona, Utah and Idaho for the Democrats, all voting tomorrow. But even if Cruz wins somewhere tomorrow, could it be too late? Too late because Donald Trump is already planting his flag in Washington, D.C., and at least a few are rallying around it?
Today, he held a much-hyped meeting there with senators, plural, congressmen, plural, even former House speakers, almost plural, if you count Bob Livingston. That was the best Beltway joke ever.
Chief political correspondent Dana Bash is in Washington.
Dana, do we know what happened at this meeting, who specifically was there and what they told Donald Trump? DANA BASH, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it was a
combination of a bunch of people, definitely in the establishment. Republicans coming out of the meeting said that it was interactive, meaning there was a lot of back and forth. At one point, Donald Trump was pressed about what kind of Supreme Court nominee he would appoint. Of course, his answer was conservative.
But it was just one of several stops today, including where he's going to be behind me here at AIPAC later tonight in D.C., the belly of the beast.
BASH (voice-over): Donald Trump predicted something many others doubt, that he will win the nomination outright.
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think we're going to maybe easily make that number of the 1,237. We should make it pretty easily, based on what I'm seeing. So we won't have to worry about fighting at a convention.
BASH: The unlikely front-runner trying to make Washington Republicans more comfortable with him as their nominee.
TRUMP: If people want to be smart, they should embrace this movement. If they don't want to be smart, they should do what they're doing now and the Republicans are going to go down to a massive loss.
BASH: Before meeting in public with reporters, the anti-Washington candidate went behind closed doors with Washington power brokers, a group of about two dozen members of Congress, lobbyists and establishment Republicans, a meeting organized by the lone GOP senator to endorse Trump, Jeff Sessions, and attended by a handful of rank and file House Republicans considering backing Trump and others who already do.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You watch what's happening across the country, watch what the voters are saying, and in my district in Tennessee, 48 percent went Trump. So it's pretty easy to listen to people that you represent.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's obvious that Mr. Trump will be our nominee. We need to take the fight to Hillary Clinton.
BASH: Anti-Trump forces showed up too, handing out never Trump stickers and on the lookout for Republican lawmakers backing Trump in preparation to run TV ads against them.
Trump's attempt to woo the establishment he rails against will culminate with one of his most important speeches to date, an address to a meeting of the influential pro-Israel lobby AIPAC.
TRUMP: It's probably the toughest negotiation of all time.
BASH: Trump has his work cut out for him, explaining his promise to be neutral in Israeli-Palestinian talks, which staunch supporters of Israel see as anti-Israel.
TRUMP: I would like to at least have the other side think I'm somewhat neutral as to them, so that we can maybe get a deal done.
BASH: Beyond the policy, Trump supporters say the AIPAC venue is a critical test of whether he can come off as presidential, especially important for team Trump after a weekend of more heated images from Trump rallies, including campaign manager Corey Lewandowski in the middle of a tussle.
RNC Chair Reince Priebus told CNN Trump staffers should not put themselves in such positions.
REINCE PRIEBUS, REPUBLICAN NATIONAL COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN: Getting involved is not the answer. I think you leave these things up to the professionals.
BASH: Now, after being pressed for months and months to explain who is advising him on foreign policy, Donald Trump did reveal five people.
He had an editorial board meeting with "The Washington Post." Those five people include, John, a counterterror expert, an oil and gas consultant and a former Pentagon official. Now, these are substantial people, certainly though not heavyweights within the foreign policy Republican establishment.
But I guess you would not expect that from Donald Trump since his whole M.O. is being against the establishment right now. I should also add that Jeff Sessions, again the Republican senator, the only one to formally endorse Donald Trump, Trump says that he is going to sort of lead all of these individuals on the foreign policy advisory group -- John.
BERMAN: All right, Dana Bash in Washington for us, thank you so much.
Joining me now to talk about the Republican race, Donald Trump supporter, former Governor of Arizona Jan Brewer.
Governor, thank you so much for being with us.
You just heard Dana Bash report that Donald Trump is putting together his foreign policy team. It includes a lot of people cozy with big defense firms. He met with members of Congress inside a law/lobbying firm. Is this the kind of anti-establishment activity we can expect from Donald Trump in Washington?
JAN BREWER (R), FORMER ARIZONA GOVERNOR: Well, I think that we all know that he's going to have to work with those people and they're going to have to work with him.
Donald is leading and is going to win this race and that communication needs to be opened up. I'm just shocked that they haven't gotten on board up to this point, but it's going to happen.
BERMAN: You're shocked that they haven't gotten on board. What's your message to members of Congress and folks in Washington right now?
BREWER: Well, I would like to say that the people have spoken. Our federal government has failed us miserably, and Mr. Trump has been out across the country and overwhelmingly has the support of the people.
And they need to understand that. And they need to get on board and let's go to the convention and not fracture our party and take our country back again.
BERMAN: In addition to meeting with members of Congress today, he also went to "The Washington Post" editorial board and met with them and talked about the U.S. role in foreign policy, in some cases a nonrole, a nonrole in NATO.
It's a surprising statement to a lot of people. Let me read it to you. He said: "We certainly can't afford to do this anymore. NATO is costing us a fortune and, yes, we're protecting Europe with NATO, but we're spending a lot of money."
Do you agree with that statement? Do you agree that the United States should dramatically scale back its role in NATO?
BREWER: Well, I'm not a national foreign policy expert.
I assume that he will appoint people to help him and you're going to have to ask Mr. Trump what his intentions are. And he can speak for himself.
BERMAN: Well, but you are a governor and a leading figure in the Republican Party. If the United States does reduce its role in NATO, wouldn't it put those nations in Eastern Europe right now at risk? Look at what Russia has done in Ukraine.
BREWER: Well, the bottom line is, is, again, I believe that Mr. Trump will make the right decision.
BERMAN: All right.
Let me ask you about something that you have experienced this in Arizona, which is immigration right now. Donald Trump, of course, has famously said that he wants to build a wall along the border with Mexico and he wants to have Mexico pay for it.
There was a rally in Arizona, your home state, this weekend and you spoke about Donald Trump's plans along the border. Let me play you a brief bit of sound from that event.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BREWER: He is going to build the fence.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BERMAN: All right, you can see someone telling you say wall, say wall.
Does it matter in your mind if it is a fence or a wall along the southern border?
BREWER: Well, I believe people would prefer a wall. I always refer to it as a fence, but we certainly need our borders secured.
And if he's going to build the wall, then I'm 100 percent behind him. The bottom line is, is that we know that illegal immigration has really changed the landscape of America, and we have been the subject of all the ruthlessness that comes across from the drug cartels, affecting our lives, the crime that's been committed, the drop houses, the sex trafficking, the extortion, and we need a secure border.
You know, John, I have always said a country without borders is like a house without walls. It simply collapses. And because the federal government hasn't responded to the states, we are in the dilemma that we are in today, and we have a lot of issues out there that certainly need to be addressed. But until the border is secured, a lot of those issues aren't going to be resolved.
BERMAN: Arizona primary tomorrow. Is it a must-win for Donald Trump?
BREWER: Absolutely. We will deliver Arizona. No doubt in my mind.
BERMAN: Governor Jan Brewer, we will hold you to that and I'm sure Donald Trump will as well. Thanks so much for being with us. Appreciate it.
BREWER: OK. Thank you, John.
BERMAN: That was Governor Jan Brewer, a Donald Trump supporter.
Joining me now is Ron Nehring. He's the national spokesperson for Ted Cruz.
Ron, thanks for being with us.
Donald Trump is in Washington today trying to build bridges with some members of Congress, establish relationships there. The thing is that Donald Trump has the same number of endorsements in the Senate from sitting senators as Ted Cruz does. He has one. That is unless you count Lindsey Graham who is sort of reluctantly backing Ted Cruz.
So I guess my question is does Ted Cruz need to do the same type of Washington outreach that we're now seeing from Donald Trump?
RON NEHRING, NATIONAL SPOKESMAN, TED CRUZ CAMPAIGN: Well, I don't think that this race is going to be determined inside of the 202 area code whatsoever. I think instead what's going to happen is...
BERMAN: Go ahead. We're just hearing some background noise of rallies earlier today. Go on. Go ahead, Ron.
NEHRING: No, this race is not going to be won inside of the 202 area code or in the halls of the United States Senate. This race is going to be won and lost out in the states like in Arizona and Utah that are voting tomorrow.
Utah Governor Herbert today just endorsed Senator Cruz. We're very pleased to have his support. It comes on top of the support of the lieutenant governor of Utah who came on board, Congressman Matt Salmon in the state of Arizona coming on board. There are plenty of people coming on board the campaign.
And I think you are going to see Senator Cruz tomorrow walking away with even more delegates, advancing toward the number of 1,237. But this race is not going to be won or lost inside the Beltway. And we're not particularly impressed with a small handful of people that Donald Trump was able to pull together for a sparsely attended meeting today. That's not where we're going to determine the outcome of this race at all.
BERMAN: This race might not be won or lost in the primaries at the rate we're going. You're pushing the notion that a vote for John Kasich who is still in the race is a vote for Donald Trump. Mitt Romney, who is placing robo-calls for you in Utah essentially, makes that point today. But my question is, isn't your path to the nomination essentially the same as John Kasich's?
It doesn't seem likely that you will get 1,237 delegates, so it seems you will have to go to the floor of the convention.
NEHRING: Yes, there's really no comparison between where Senator Cruz is vs. where John Kasich is.
John Kasich has lost, what, 26, 27 of the primaries and caucuses so far. He's won in exactly one state, his own, and nowhere else, as opposed to Senator Cruz, who's performed extremely well, not only winning his own state of Texas, but plenty of other states as well. We can go down the long list.
And the simple fact is that John Kasich has been mathematically eliminated from becoming the Republican nominee. The only candidate who can defeat Donald Trump is Ted Cruz, and we're on our way to doing that. As this becomes a two-person race, we know the majority of Republicans don't want to see Donald Trump as the nominee.
BERMAN: Ron, if you don't get to 1,237, does that mathematically eliminate you, the Cruz campaign, from being the nominee? Because that's the same logic you just used on John Kasich.
NEHRING: Well, there is the possibility for us to reach 1,237. We're working hard for that. The only other candidate who can do that, of course, is Donald Trump. We think that the best thing to do is to have the voters decide this election at the ballot box by having our candidate, Ted Cruz, get to 1,237.
But it's mathematically possible that no candidate will get there. But I tell you this. John Kasich is not going to be the Republican nominee. It's either going to be Donald Trump, heaven forbid, or it's going to be Ted Cruz, who is our best candidate to then go on and take on Hillary Clinton in November.
BERMAN: Quick question, Ron. Do you support rule 40, which says you have to win the majority of delegates from eight states to be placed into the nomination or would Ted Cruz support overturning or getting away with that rule?
NEHRING: We hear this increasing talk coming from Washington, D.C., and people throwing all types of theories around about changing the rules midstream.
And now is not the time to do that. Plenty of candidates have waged their campaigns based upon what the rules have been set to be. Those rules were set at the last convention. And for now for people to kind of cook up ideas to tinker with the rules in order to try to manipulate the outcome really isn't fair.
BERMAN: Ron Nehring, great to have you with us. Thank you so much.
NEHRING: Thank you.
BERMAN: All right.
And tonight only on CNN, the final five candidates make their cases to voters in a CNN presidential prime-time event. It starts at 8:00 Eastern right here on CNN.
This is ahead, of course, of contests tomorrow in Arizona, Utah and Idaho for the Democrats and tomorrow we will have special coverage all day long.
He is the only Jewish candidate to win a presidential primary ever. So why is Bernie Sanders the only 2016 candidate not speaking to America's top pro-Israel leaders? That's next.
[16:19:09] BERMAN: All right. Welcome back to THE LEAD.
Sticking with our politics lead, moments from now Republican presidential hopefuls will lay out their road map for the future of the U.S.-Israel alliance in front of the largest pro-Israel lobbying group in the United States. All eyes will be on Republican front- runner Donald Trump after he recently claimed that he would remain neutral in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and as relations between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Obama ha become, shall we say, chilly.
Let's get right to CNN's Oren Liebermann live in Jerusalem.
Oren, it was really interesting to listen to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. She hammered Donald Trump in her speech but she also created some distance between herself and the White House.
OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: She may have been trying to create some daylight on the issue of the Iran deal which is perhaps the most divisive issues -- one of the most divisive issues for American Jews and Israelis looking at the American elections.
[16:20:03] Other than that, this was a crowd in which she couldn't lose here. She pitched herself as pro-Israel and went right after Donald Trump.
LIEBERMANN (voice-over): Hillary Clinton was part pro-Israel, part anti-Trump at AIPAC.
HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We need steady hands, not a president who says he's neutral on Monday, pro-Israel on Tuesday and who knows what on Wednesday, because everything is negotiable.
LIEBERMANN: She hit Trump on the quote that's gotten him in trouble with the pro-Israel crowd.
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Let me be sort of a neutral guy. Let's see what -- I'm going to give it a shot. It would be so great. I would be so proud if I could do that.
LIEBERMANN: For Republicans, Israel has been a big topic.
SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: On Israel, Donald has said he wants to be neutral.
TRUMP: There's nobody on this stage that's more pro-Israel than I am.
LIEBERMANN: You'd be forgiven for thinking the candidates were running for office in Israel.
GOV. JOHN KASICH (R-OH), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: By supporting the Israelis.
LIEBERMANN: The Republicans trying to one-up each other, arguing about who keep Israel safe and who can repair the strain relations between President Obama and Prime Minister Netanyahu. Trump has gotten most of the headlines in Israel.
TRUMP: My name is Donald Trump and I'm a big fan of Israel.
LIEBERMANN: Playing up his stance on Israel and highlighting an ad he made for Netanyahu's re-election in 2013.
And yet his comments on registering Muslims in the U.S. and a salute to Trump at an Orlando rally compared by some to an apparent Nazi salute, that all frightens some Israelis.
ALON PINKAS, POLITICAL ANALYST: Like the entire world and Israelis are looking astounded and astonished at this phenomenon called Donald Trump. LIEBERMANN: Yet, despite the Republican emphasis on Israel, the
latest poll from the Israel based Panels Politics Institution shows Israelis favor Clinton.
A carry-over from Israelis' fondness for Bill Clinton.
(on camera): We hear Trump and Cruz and before, Rubio, and now, Kasich, arguing about who is the most pro-Israel, and yet Israelis prefer Hillary Clinton. Why is that?
PINKAS: I think it's a recognition and familiarity thing. She's a household name in this country. I think everyone remembers her husband, Bill Clinton, when he was president.
LIEBERMANN: Republicans, of course, are up next and it will be interesting, as it always is, to hear what Donald Trump says on Israel. The AIPAC crowd, the pro-Israel crowd, I suspect will not be very forgiving if he waffles here, John. I suspect Trump will be front page news in Israel tomorrow morning with whatever it is that he says.
BERMAN: They will be listening very closely inside that hall and where you are in Israel for sure.
Oren Liebermann in Jerusalem, thank you so much.
Only one presidential candidate did not make the trek to Washington to speak to AIPAC today. Bernie Sanders stayed out west to campaign ahead of tomorrow's voting there.
CNN senior Washington correspondent Jeff Zeleny is live in Phoenix -- where Hillary Clinton, Jeff, will speak shortly. How unusual was it for Bernie Sanders to skip AIPAC?
JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: John, it's pretty unusual, particularly because he's the only one of the five remaining candidates to do so, to not give to this group. But it's not all that unusual given the fact that his politics are so progressive. The politics of his organization have moved to the right. Every year we've seen these events and covered these events.
So, quite simply for Bernie Sanders, his advisers tell me that it was smarter politically for him just to talk to the voters out here in the West in those key primaries tomorrow. He addressed some 7,000 people in Boise, Idaho, so that at least in the short term will do him more good.
But, I mean, he is going to be giving a policy speech, a foreign policy address in an hour's time in Salt Lake City. The same speech will be handed out to members of AIPAC. He actually volunteered to give a speech by video, but the organizers of this event said they were not accepting video speeches. He either had to come in person or not give a speech at all. BERMAN: So, Jeff, talk to me about the states voting tomorrow for the
Democrats, Arizona, Utah and Idaho. What's the outlook and what's each campaign hoping for?
ZELENY: Well, John, it is the western sort of collection, the trio of primaries here. We are here in Arizona where Bernie Sanders has been campaigning hard. He'll be having an event here tonight. He has been having thousands and thousands of people attend some of the rallies in Idaho, in Utah. He had 14,000 people in Salt Lake City, Utah, on Friday and throughout the weekend thousands as well. There are still so many progressive Democrats who are not ready for this race to be over.
John, mathematically so difficult for Bernie Sanders, but politically speaking, the Democrats are not ready for this race to end. It's why Hillary Clinton is fighting hard as well. Bill Clinton has been campaigning in all of these states, in fact more than Bernie Sanders has been. We might be hearing from Hillary Clinton here just in a couple of hours or so in phoenix. These states are important for her but even more important for Bernie Sanders if he wants to put even more wins on the board -- John.
BERMAN: All right. Jeff Zeleny for us in Phoenix, thanks so much, Jeff.
Donald Trump's speech to the country's top pro-Israel group just a few minutes away. Can he prove that he has the temperament, tone and knowledge to handle complicated foreign policy issues like the U.S. relationship with Israel?
[16:25:03] Then, an urgent manhunt under way for another terror suspect after the capture of the only surviving Paris attacker who was apparently rearming, regrouping and planning to strike again.
BERMAN: All right. Welcome back to THE LEAD.
The good old-fashioned Twitter war is Donald Trump's weapon of choice, but now, Senator Elizabeth Warren is slugging it out tweet for tweet with Trump, calling the Republican front-runner a loser and a tyrant.
Sara Murray is in Washington and has the latest on this.
And, Sara, we did get in touch with Senator Warren's office, and this is actually her, they tell us, tweeting from her official verified account. They say it's not an aide and some pretty hard-hitting stuff. How did this start?
SARA MURRAY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: John, it's another day, it's another Twitter war. But now, we have a new player, like you said, Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren.
She started off a couple of hours ago essentially saying Donald Trump is a loser because of some of his failed business deals, because of his attacks on women, because of bullying. And Donald Trump was asked about this in his press conference today and he said, what, the Indian? The Indian? A reference apparently to back when Elizabeth Warren wrote that she was native American on some old paperwork on Harvard.
If he thought that was going to stop Elizabeth Warren on Twitter, though, think again. She resumed her attacks as soon as that press conference was wrapping up. She said, "Why is it that real Donald Trump can call himself the unity candidate while basing his campaign on racism, sexism, xenophobia and hatred?"
If you look at her most recent tweet here, pretty harsh stuff, "We cannot elect wannabe tyrants to the White House, not now, not ever. It's up to all of us to stop real Donald Trump."
Now, remember, Elizabeth Warren sort of flirted with whether she should get into this presidential race or not. Maybe this Twitter spree is her having second thoughts or maybe she's just personally offended by what's going on with Donald Trump lately. But you see there, she's really trying to stick it to him on Twitter today, John.
BERMAN: You know, it really is interesting, Sara, because we are starting to see more Democrats publicly go after Donald Trump, not waiting for a general election. You're seeing leaks to "The Washington Post" and "The New York Times" saying this is the Democratic plan to take on Trump. I wonder if this Elizabeth Warren salvo is part of that?
MURRAY: Well, John, I think part of the realization that Democrats have had in watching this is of course there's still a lot of, you know, Republican belief that they'll be able to stop Donald Trump.