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ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT

Trump Delivers Major Foreign Policy Speech; Senator Ted Cruz Speaking at AIPAC; Obama, Castro Call For End to Cuban Trade Embargo. Aired 7-8p ET

Aired March 21, 2016 - 19:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[19:00:12] ERIN BURNETT, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening and welcome to a special edition of OUTFRONT live from Cuba. I'm Erin Burnett in Havana on this historic day. President Obama the first American president in nearly 90 years to visit this island nation. We're going to have much more on that in a moment as we're following the breaking news.

Donald Trump delivering a major speech to the largest pro-Israel lobbying group in the nation, AIPAC. Trump calling himself Israel's strongest supporter, promising to dismantle what he called Iran's terror network. Getting his greatest applause for this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: When I become president, the days of treating Israel like a second-class citizen will end on day one.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

I will meet with Prime Minister Netanyahu immediately. I have known him for many years, and we'll be able to work closely together to help bring stability and peace to Israel and to the entire region.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: Donald Trump's comments continuing as he said he would not treat Israel like a second-class citizen, something he alleges President Obama is doing right now. Donald Trump speaking just moments ago. Ted Cruz going to be giving his crucial foreign policy speech in just a few moments. We'll going to be bringing that to you live. All coming on a day that President Obama was cementing his foreign policy legacy, something that is central to where I am right now, Cuba, where he is trying to normalize relations with this country.

As I said the first visit in nearly 100 years from an American president. Something Donald Trump and Ted Cruz disagree with. Today, Barack Obama though met with the Cuban president. They had a press conference and took questions from the media. The first time the Cuban president has ever done that and President Obama made a bold prediction.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA (D), UNITED STATES: The embargo is going to end. When? I can't be entirely sure, but I believe it will end and the path that we're on will continue beyond my administration.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: That embargo going to be lifted. The President sharing the stage with Raul Castro, who became visibly upset when he was asked by our own Jim Acosta about political prisoners in Cuba. Let me play this crucial moment for you.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PRESIDENT RAUL CASTRO, CUBA (through a translator): What political prisoners? Give me the names or when the meeting is over, you give me a list of the prisoners and if there are those political prisoners before the end of the night, they will be released.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: A pretty incredible moment getting visibly angry and aggressive there when Jim asked that question. This is the first time Raul Castro, of course, Jim, took questions from the press. And, you know, when he first called out and I heard your name Jim Acosta, I was not surprised. You, of course, are a Cuban-American. You had your questions and he was visibly angry at that part of it.

JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Erin. He didn't like the question, but when you talk to White House officials, they say the fact that the question was asked is progress. And President Obama, no question about it Erin --

BURNETT: All right. I'm going to interrupt you. I'm sorry, Jim Acosta. We're going to get back to Jim in just a moment. But right now, I want to go to Ted Cruz. I promised you he would be speaking. We'll be back in Cuba in a moment. Let's listen to Ted Cruz.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: On Wednesday night of this week in synagogues across the world, Jewish people will read the Nagela (ph), which tells the story of Purim, the miraculous rescue -- the miraculous rescue of the Jewish people from the hands of a wicked Persian king. When the evil doer Haman plots to kill the Jews, he describes them as a nation that is scattered and spread out. The time would teaches that the Jewish people at time were divided amongst themselves and that the lesson is when the forces of good are divided, evil can prevail. But when we come together in unity, together we can defeat tyrants.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

Today, we are reliving history, facing a similar time of challenge for America and for Israel. But today, I give you a word of hope. In the next few months, we will bring this country together first by unifying the Republican Party and then by reaching out and building a coalition of young people and Hispanics and African-Americans and women and blue collar workers and Jewish voters and Reagan Democrats.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

[19:05:14] Which will lead to a commanding victory in November that unifies this country and brings us together.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

And standing together, America will stand with Israel and defeat radical Islamic terrorism.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

I want to thank the delegates, the over 18,000 people here, the 4,000 young people, the leaders of the pro-Israel movement who are gathered here today. You will play a critical leadership role in making this happen and bringing us together. Indeed. Just today, my colleague Lindsey Graham very kindly hosted an event for me here, which should allay any doubts anyone might have that the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob can still do miracles.

(APPLAUSE)

I want to begin by asking all of us to remember Taylor Force, a Texan who hailed from Lubbock, an eagle scout, a west point graduate, an army veteran on March 8th, he was stabbed to death by a Palestinian terrorist in Israel. The terrorist didn't ask for his passport. Influenced by the relentless campaign of incitement that has fostered genocidal hatred towards Jews, all he cared about was injuring or killing as many civilians as possible or at least ten people were wounded by the time the terrorists were neutralized. The brutal murder of Taylor Force is yet another reminder that America and Israel are in the fight together against radical Islamic terrorism.

(APPLAUSE)

We need a president who will be a champion for America, and we need a president who will be a champion for Israel.

(APPLAUSE)

In my time in the Senate, I have endeavored to do both. In the four years I've been serving in the Senate, I've been privileged to travel three times to the state of Israel. I had the great privilege of seeing a hospital in Northern Israel where they have treated over 1,000 refugees from Syria wounded in that horrible Syrian civil war, have done so free of charge, showing the heart and character of the people of Israel.

(APPLAUSE)

When the nation of Iran named as their ambassador to the United Nations Hamid Aboutalebi (ph), a known terrorist who participated in holding Americans hostage in the late 1970s, people in Washington said there was nothing we could do. Well, I was proud to introduce legislation barring Aboutalebi from coming to America. That legislation passed the Senate 100 and nothing. It passed the house 435 to nothing. And it was signed into law by President Obama.

(APPLAUSE)

When Israel was facing relentless rocket attacks from Hamas and the prayers of all of us and people across the world were with Israel, Prime Minister Netanyahu powerful observed we are using missile defense to protect our civilians, and they are using their civilians to protect their missiles. I entirely agree with Prime Minister Netanyahu as Hamas would place rockets in elementary schools. They placed their headquarters in the basement of a hospital, and I would note that Hillary Clinton in 2014 explained this as follows. Quote, "Hamas puts its missiles, its rockets, in civilian areas." Part of it is because Gaza is pretty small and its densely populated. Madame Secretary, with all respect the reasons the missiles are in schools is not because Gaza is small. The reason the missiles in school is because Hamas are terrorists' monsters using children as human shields.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

[19:10:18] And in response to this atrocity, I was proud to join with New York Democrat Kirsten Gillibrand in authoring a resolution condemning Hamas' used of human shield as a war crime and that resolution passed both houses of Congress unanimously. In the midst of this rocket attacks, we saw the Obama administration cancel civilian airline flights in the nation of Israel. When that happened, I publicly ask the question, did this administration just launch an economic boycott on the nation of Israel?

(APPLAUSE)

The administration does not ban flights into Pakistan, does not ban nights into Yemen, does not ban flights into Afghanistan. Indeed, did not ban flights in the match of Ukraine and Ukraine adjusting the passenger airliner shut down by a Russian boot missile.

(APPLAUSE)

So why exactly was a disproportionate sanction put on Israel because one rocket fell harmlessly a mile away from Ben Gurion Airport, one of the safest airports in the world?

(APPLAUSE)

And why was that time to coincide with John Kerry arriving in the Middle East with $47 million for Gaza that would inevitably end up with Hamas terrorists. But when I asked that question, within hours the State Department was being asked, is this an economic boycott of Israel. The State Department said that question is ridiculous. We refuse to answer. So, I responded, fine, I will place a hold on every nominee to the State Department.

(APPLAUSE)

Shortly thereafter former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg rode a civilian airliner from London to Tel Aviv demonstrating it was safe to fly to Israel.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

And as a result of Mayor Bloomberg's efforts and my efforts and that of millions of others, the heat and light of attention became too much on this administration and within 36 hours the administration lifted its ban on civilian air flights to Israel. Looking forward as president, I will lead very, very differently from the current administration.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

Imagine just a few years ago if I had come to an AIPAC conference and suggested that the Prime Minister of Israel was going to come to America, address a Joint Session of Congress, and he would be boycotted by the President of the United States, the Vice President of the United States, and every member of the cabinet. That would have been dismissed as crazy, fanciful, that could never happen, and sadly that's exactly what did happen when Prime Minister Netanyahu came to address Congress.

(APPLAUSE)

In a similar vein, my leading Republican opponent has promised that he has president would be neutral between Israel and the Palestinians. Well, let me be very, very clear. As president, I will not be neutral.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

America will stand unapologetically with the nation of Israel.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

So, what does that mean specifically? Let's start with today's Persian King, the nation of Iran. Both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump have said they would maintain this Iranian deal, although Donald would, as promised, he's going to negotiate and get a better deal. Well, my view is very different. On the first day in office, I will rip this catastrophic Iranian nuclear deal to shreds.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

This agreement gives over $100 billion to the Ayatollah Khomeini the world's leading state sponsor of terrorism. That dwarfs the $3 billion in military aid we give each year to the nation of Israel. That difference is not just unconscionable, it is fundamentally immoral. And if I am president, on the first day we will re-impose sanctions on Iran.

(APPLAUSE)

[19:15:28] In a mockery of this Iranian nuclear deal, Iran has continued with missile tests, including launching a missile with the words printed on it in both Hebrew and Farsi. Israel should be wiped from the earth. Hear my words Ayatollah Khomeini, if I am president and Iran launches a missile test, we will shoot that missile down.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

And in January 2017, we will have a commander-in-chief who says under no circumstances will Iran be allowed to acquire nuclear weapons. Either you will shut down your nuclear program or we will shut it down for you.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

A year ago when Prime Minister Netanyahu addressed Congress, I was honored to join the great Eli Wazel (ph) on a panel discussion in the Senate about this disastrous Iranian deal. Not a single Democrat was willing to join Eli Wazel (ph) to sit alongside someone who witnessed the horrors of the holocaust, who brings a moral weight and gravity second to none. It was both powerful and humbling, and I am convinced after this election the American people will stand and say together never again means never again.

(APPLAUSE)

On my very first day in office, I will begin the process of moving the American Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, the once and eternal capital of Israel.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

Now I recognize for years a whole lot of presidential candidates, both Republicans and Democrats, have said that. Indeed, I recognize some candidates have said that standing here today. Here's the difference. I will do it.

(APPLAUSE)

And as president, I will do everything in my power to ensure that anyone who provides financial support to the BDS movement, including schools and universities, will lose any access to federal funding.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

And to the extent that they have engaged in illegal behavior, they'll be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. All of us here understand that Israel is not the barrier to peace. It is the Palestinian authority in a so-called unity government with Hamas that celebrates the murder of women and children and incites and even compensates the terrorist attacks. If the Palestinians try to push through a United Nations resolution to unilaterally declare Palestinian statehood, America will veto that resolution.

(APPLAUSE)

Indeed, I tell you today I will fly to New York to personally veto it myself.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) Now, some have asked, why on earth did a Cuban-American Texan become

one of the leading defenders of Israel in the United States Congress? Well, I would say there are several reasons. First of all, I understand that standing with Israel benefits America.

(APPLAUSE)

[19:20:09] Israel is a Liberal democracy that shares our values. Israel is a steadfast and loyal ally and our military aid to Israel is not charity. It is rather furthering the vital national security interests of the United States of America whether it is missile defense from Iron Dome to David Sling or whether it is intelligence and military cooperation. Israel provides an enormous benefit to keeping America safe and protecting us from radical Islamic terrorists.

(APPLAUSE)

But on a very personal level, for me, much of my view of Israel is framed by my family story. My father was born and raised in Cuba. As a kid, he fought in the Cuban revolution. He was imprisoned. He was tortured. My father fled Cuba in 1957. When he came to America, he had nothing. He had $100 sewn into his underwear and he washed dishes making 50 cents an hour. He paid his way through school. He went on to start a small business. When I was a kid, my dad used to say to me over and over again, when I faced oppression in Cuba, I had a place to flee to. If we lose our freedom here, where do we go? And I will tell you it is an incredible blessing to be the child of an immigrant who fled oppression and came to America seeking freedom. And there is one other nation on earth like the United States of America that was created as on oasis, as a beacon of hope to people who had faced oppression, had faced horrible murder and persecution, the nation of Israel like America is a beacon of light unto the world.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

And all of us here understand, as Ronald Reagan did, that peace is achievable only through strength. This is what Israel understands when you are surrounded by neighbors who would drive you into the sea. Somehow you don't have time for political correctness.

(APPLAUSE)

Weakness is provocative. Appeasement increases the chance of military conflict. Indeed, I believe this Iranian nuclear deal is Munich in 1938 and we risk once again catastrophic consequences to allowing a homicidal maniac to acquire the tools to murder millions.

(APPLAUSE)

The way to avoid conflict is to stand up to bullies, and it is worth remembering that this same nation, Iran, in 1981 released our hostages the day Ronald Reagan was sworn into office.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) That is the difference a strong commander-in-chief can make. And

together, standing as one, we can and will do it again. Thank you. God bless America and (SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE).

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

BURNETT: Ted Cruz with major, major applause there at his speech at that crucial AIPAC conference, talking about Israel. Also, of course, talking a little bit about Cuba where I am tonight. We'll talk about Cuba in a moment.

I want to go straight now though to Donald Trump supporter Jeffrey Lord who served as President Ronald Reagan's political director. Donald Trump of course spoke just moments ago at AIPAC ahead of Ted Cruz. A member of Ted Cruz's foreign policy team also joins me Christian Whiton. And the former Israeli Ambassador to the United States Michael Oren. Ambassador Oren, at times these speeches are competitive. Everyone wants to say they're going to move the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem. Ted Cruz says, the difference is everyone says if I'm the only one who will actually do it. Who gave the most pro- Israel speech today?

MICHAEL OREN, FORMER ISRAELI AMBASSADOR TO THE U.S.: Well, as an elected officials at the state of Israel, I have to say they all gave outstandingly pro-Israel speeches. Personally speaking, in Israel, I'm the person who has to explain what's going on behind us and it's been difficult for me. Because they keep on asking in Israel, what are Donald Trump's policies towards Israel, the Middle East generally, I have to say the three hardest words that any politician can ever say are, I don't know. Well, tonight, he gave his first presidential speech on issues relating to Israel and the Middle East.

And he was unequivocal in all the positions, Erin. And I must say, someone who often represents Israel abroad, he basically gave all the talking points, whether it be moving the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, recognizing Jerusalem as Israel's capital which United States does not do calling the Palestinians accountable for terror. Everything. So, it makes my job easier. It probably makes Republicans jobs harder because now they have a candidate who comes out very specifically on policy issues.

[19:25:44] BURNETT: And I guess, and before I get Jeffrey and Christians to talk about who means it. I mean, from your perspective, do you trust Donald Trump that he means it? I mean, Ted Cruz has been saying these things for quite some time. Donald Trump, you know, on the Iran deal last August, for example, says others want to rip that deal up. I would take a bad contract and enforce it and sort of try to do better with what I have. Tonight he has unequivocal though that the first thing he would do would be get rid of that deal. Do you believe that he will do everything that he said in his speech just moments ago? Ambassador Oren.

OREN: For me, hi. I mean, I have no grounds for not believing what he said. And again, it's not my position as an elected official of the state of Israel. I'm a Knesset member. But again, he was very, very specifically on the policy issues as was Ted Cruz and Hillary Clinton earlier today as well as Kasich. The differences are, though, the Republicans are calling for moving the American Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. They're talking about either dismantling or in any case more strictly enforcing the Iran nuclear deal. Something that Hillary Clinton didn't talk about today. These are the differences that the audience of 18,000 behind me are going to be very attuned too.

BURNETT: So, Christian you just heard what Ambassador Oren had to say. And obviously, he's a political, you know, elected official now in Israel, but what he just said was, Donald Trump just made Republicans job harder because he said all the things that he needed to say about moving that embassy, about recognizing Jerusalem, about the Iran deal, about the Palestinians. Ted Cruz just gave a speech that got a very, very strong reception there in that room, but his job just got harder, didn't it?

CHRISTIAN WHITON, MEMBER, TED CRUZ NATIONAL SECURITY COALITION: Not really because Trump is just words on this. And if you look at what would really happened under a President Trump then, you know, I mean, look at what else Donald Trump has said even just today. He wants to walk away from NATO after a 67-year U.S. commitment there. He wants to pull our troops out of Korea and other parts of the Pacific. Donald Trump will absolutely betray our ally whether that ally is Israel or other allies. And if you look, he wants a deal. He sees a moral equivalence between Israel, a western style liberal democracy, and the Palestinian authority which includes Hamas, a terrorist organization.

Donald Trump wants a deal. He will pressure Israel to get a deal. He doesn't see this broader crisis we have with radical Jihad with Islamism that is sweeping across the region. He buys into the foreign policy establishment view that if you force Israel into a two-party solutions with the Palestinian with that magically solves other problems in the Middle East and elsewhere. Obviously, an American looking for ISIS, looking at al-Qaeda, looking at Jihadism in Paris and in San Bernardino, everyone realizes that an agreement, a hard one agreement is not going to solve these problems. So, again, you know, Donald Trump gave a pretty speech, but he also bragged about how brave he was to be in a parade. But his deeds certainly wouldn't match his words.

BURNETT: Look, Jeffrey Lord, I'm holding up something that I've never been able to hold up before. This is the prepared remarks of Donald J. Trump. He actually put out prepared remarks, this was a very significant speech for him, and he pretty much stuck to them. How significant is that?

JEFFREY LORD, DONALD TRUMP SUPPORTER: Well, you know, I've been trying to say for a long time here that successful presidential campaigns as they move closer to a nomination begin to mimic the office of the presidency itself. And that every candidate who is on that path, as Donald Trump most assuredly is, acquires advisers and series presidential style addresses. That's exactly what you heard tonight. The speech of a president, a potential president of the United States. He has a foreign policy team led by a superb United States Senator Jeff Sessions. So, I'm not in the least surprised here. He is strongly pro-Israel. He goes through some of the background. I just -- I couldn't disagree with Chris more on this. I mean, he is a man of his word. He takes action. That is one of the reasons why the American people respond to him because they know he carries through.

BURNETT: All right. Thanks very much to all of you. Please don't go anywhere. You're going to be back with me later this hour because we have a crucial event coming up at the top of the hour. All of the Republican and Democratic candidates are going to be on CNN tonight. The final five is what we are calling it. It airs at the top of the hour. It is going to be a most important conversation with all of them.

[19:30:14] Next, President Obama trying to cement his foreign policy legacy today. Also right where I am here in Havana, Cuba. You're going to see these brave women, women who have been protesting. The imprisonment of their loved ones for years. My special report on Cuba's ladies in white and the human rights abuses in this nation.

And a Cuban baseball player. He left his family, left on a boat with just a few people to follow his American dream. I was there when he reunited with his loved ones for the first time in years. We're live in Cuba after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BURNETT: Welcome back to Havana, Cuba.

President Obama in a major moment for his foreign policy legacy following through on a big portion of it -- in his words, getting the ball rolling on normalizing relations. He says he is going to lift the embargo and he wants to make it so that whoever follows him in the White House, if it is a Republican, Ted Cruz, Donald Trump, John Kasich, would not be able to turn back the clock on changing the Cuban situation.

The president shared the stage with the Cuban President Raul Castro today, an unprecedented joint press conference.

[19:35:04] They took questions. Cuban leaders have never done that, in the unusual position of actually having to listen to the media and respond. The president Obama laying a wreath at the memorial for the Cuban revolutionary Jose Marti, while incredibly a Cuban military band played the American national anthem.

Our senior White House correspondent Jim Acosta joins me again.

And, Jim, you know, when you hear the Republican candidates right now in Washington talking about Israel, Ted Cruz talking about how his father came from here, in Cuba, to pursue American freedom, they want to undo what President Obama was here in Cuba today to do, to say things are going to be normal, we're going to lift that embargo.

JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Erin.

And President Obama is indeed putting his foreign policy doctrine to the test, opening up a new chapter of engagement with Cuba, an old adversary, as you know, that has resisted change for a half of century, but is finally showing some signs of progress, even though they're not answering all of our questions.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ACOSTA (voice-over): It's a sign that decades old enemies can one day change their tune. That's the U.S. national anthem being played on Cuban soil. As President Obama joined the island's ruler Raul Castro in Havana, to close out this final chapter of the Cold War.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I'll have to come back with my family when I'm no longer president and I don't have so many obligations.

ACOSTA: While there were the usual diplomatic gestures as Mr. Obama signed a book to remember the pre-Castro revolutionary Jose Marti, the president also delivered a tough message to the Cubans, to begin respecting basic human freedoms.

OBAMA: We continue, as President Castro indicated, to have some very serious differences, including on democracy and human rights. President Castro and I have had very frank and candid conversations on these subjects.

ACOSTA: But Castro had his own set of grievances. Right at the top, the U.S. embargo strangling the Cuban economy that still stands. But he did not answer the question on why his country holds political prisoners.

(on camera): Why do you have Cuban political prisoners?

RAUL CASTRO, CUBAN PRESIDENT (through translator): Give me a list right now of the political prisoners so I can release them. What political prisoners? Give me the names.

ACOSTA (voice-over): The president is going around Congress to weaken the embargo, loosening travel restrictions on Americans who want to see the island and bringing with him big hotel companies CEOs, who want to turn Cuban mojitos into money.

Jose Daniel Ferrer, a former political prisoner, says the president's visit can provide a much needed push. Freed under the Obama administration's diplomatic breakthrough with Cuba, he's calling on the president to think of Reagan.

RONALD REAGAN, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall.

ACOSTA: And demand that age old barriers start coming down in Cuba.

"We have to tear down many walls," he tells me, "so that the Cuban people can live with dignity."

At the end of their news conference, Castro tried to hold up President Obama's hand, but Mr. Obama didn't seem to share the same enthusiasm. (END VIDEOTAPE)

ACOSTA: Now, the president will deliver an address to the Cuban people tomorrow. He'll also meet with Cuban dissidents here in Havana, and the White House says Mr. Obama will once again call for an expansion of human rights in Cuba, and then he will wind down his trip here enjoying a pastime shared by both the United States and Cuba. That's a baseball game he'll be talking in a baseball game between the Cuban national team and the Tampa Bay Rays.

And, Erin, getting back to that question that I asked of President Castro about political prisoners, and he said, well, show us a list of these political prisoners? I asked the deputy national security adviser to the president, Ben Rhodes, about that. He said he's shared numerous lists with the Cubans of these political prisoners. They know who they are.

But according to Rhodes, the Castro government seems to say that a lot of these political prisoners are there for non-political reasons. So, there seems to be a debate, an argument, a dispute, over whether or not those prisoners are in these jails here in Cuba for political reasons -- Erin.

BURNETT: All right. Jim Acosta, thank you very much.

And, of course, that was the central point of tension today, between President Obama and President Castro -- human rights. That issue front and center, even as Air Force One was landing right here in Havana.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BURNETT (voice-over): A mass arrest in Havana. Women detained after marching to support their loved ones who have been jailed for political opposition to the Castro regime.

It all began at the Church of Saint Rita, where the women known as the Ladies in White, gather every day Sunday to protest. This week, dozens carried their palms from Palm Sunday service.

These images are disturbing. But it's not the first time these women have been arrested.

"They put in jail for six hours," she tells me, "until midnight without close." She goes on to say she was left in an unknown place and had to walk on her own feet back home.

[19:40:02] She says, "I want this to finally end."

A painful price Daisy Coelho Visulpto (ph) and her daughter Annalise pay again and again. They haven't seen their son and brother in more than a year. They say he was targeted because Daisy is a known protester against the Castro regime.

Amnesty International says 700 people are arbitrarily detained here every single month. (on camera): Cuban officials say groups like the Ladies in White are

mercenaries, who get money from anti-Castro exiles to stir up trouble.

But President Obama is trying to help. He wrote the group a letter, promising to raise their cause with Cuban President Raul Castro.

(voice-over): President Obama was asked directly about the white ladies arrest today. His answer: engagement with Cuba.

OBAMA: I have faith in people. I think that if you meet Cubans here and Cubans meet Americans, and they're meeting and talking and interacting and doing business together and going to school together and learning from each other, then they'll recognize people are people. And in that context, I believe that change will occur.

BURNETT: Daisy and Annalise want President Obama to stand up for freedom.

(SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE)

She tells me they're marching for freedom first, for the political prisoners, for the freedom of the country of Cuba.

Treatment of protesters like the ladies in white is part of why some, including presidential candidate Ted Cruz, oppose President Obama's Cuba deal.

SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: My dad was born and raised in Cuba. As a kid, he fought in the Cuban revolution and he was imprisoned and tortured.

As a teenager, my father found himself on the floor of a Cuban jail cell covered in mud and blood and grime. His nose was broken. His teeth were shattered out of his mouth.

BURNETT: The Ladies in White told us they spent eight hours in custody, even as President Obama and his family arrived in Havana and toured the old city. They're still hoping he'll meet with them tomorrow when he talks to Cuban dissidents.

Says Annalise, "We've faced 46 Sundays getting punched."

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BURNETT: They say they are just desperate to have their lives change. As I said, they spent eight hours in jail.

Right before the show, I spoke with the White House communications director Jen Psaki, and I started by asking her if President Obama has any plans to meet the Ladies in White dissidents because he wrote that letter to them.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JEN PSAKI, WHITE HOUSE COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR: He's going to meet with a group of dissidents, a group of people whose voices he believes should be heard. And he'll have more about that tomorrow, more. We'll put out a list of the people that he's meeting with tomorrow.

This is an important part of our dialogue with Cuba. They agreed today to have a human rights dialogue that Secretary Kerry will lead later this year. There's no question that there's a road that we need to continue to travel on these important issues.

BURNETT: I spoke to several of the Ladies in White before they were arrested and one of them said to me, she would welcome President Obama's visit except -- and her except is, that the words she used were he's going to see a whitewashed and prepared Cuba. He's not going to see the real Cuba and not that made her feel concerned that things would not change here.

Do you worry about that, that the president isn't seeing the real Cuba?

PSAKI: Well, nobody is telling the president who he can and can't meet with. That's why we're meeting with a group of people who had spoken out and said some things that are not supportive certainly of the regime tomorrow. And the president will give a speech tomorrow. Well, he will be very clear and honest about the changes he thinks still need to happen.

But the fact is there has been a lot of significant change over the past couple of years in part prompted by the president's change in policies. The fact family remittances can be sent. That allowed money to come back, that allowed people to come visit. That's really changed some of the perspective.

Now, one third of the people in Cuba are self-employed. That's really making a change that's impacting human rights as well. They're not dependent on the government.

BURNETT: When you talk about the change in the economy, that's what a lot of this is about. President Castro says he wants embargo that lifted. President Obama today said point blank that embargo is going away. Point blank, he said, black and white.

Obviously, critics say that's a bad idea. That gives a lifeline to the Castro regime or whoever they want to replace Raul Castro. The president is sure that lifting the embargo is the right thing. That's his solution.

Why is he sure that's the right thing to do?

PSAKI: Well, so are 37 members of Congress who travels with us here to Cuba, including many Republicans. The fact is tide is moving in one direction, that is for bringing more economic opportunity to people of Cuba.

The president is positive that's the right change because for 60 years, our policy wasn't working. And we believe if there is more Internet access, if the Cuban people can engage more, if Cuban Americans and American people can come visit Cuba and vice versa, that that's going to bring the kind of dialogue and change that's needed in this country. And it really has to come from here. It's not something that we can institute on any country, including Cuba.

[19:45:09] BURNETT: All right. Jen Psaki, thank you so much.

PSAKI: My pleasure. Thank you, Erin.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BURNETT: And OUTFRONT next, there might be no one happier to be here in Havana tonight than Dayron Varona. He left everything behind, defected from Cuba, left his family to play baseball in the United States. He's back, and I went along on his emotional journey.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BURNETT: An extraordinary day here in Havana, history in the making. And there's still more to come because tomorrow really the main event honestly for a lot of Cubans we've talked to, President Obama going to Estadio Latinoamericano for nine innings of historical baseball diplomacy. He'll be at some of those innings.

Batting lead off before the Tampa Bay Rays will he Dayron Varona, who defected from Cuba three years ago. He feared he would not see his loved ones for decades. Well, I had a chance to talk to him about his homecoming.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BURNETT (voice-over): Twenty-eight-year-old Dayron Varona has gone to bat many times here in Cuba's largest baseball stadium. But the Cuban-born center fielder never dreamed he'd be the lead-off hitter for an American Major League Baseball team playing against the Cuban national team.

[19:50:05] "Wow," he tells me. "It's amazing to be back here."

This morning, Cuban fans showed up to watch Varona practice. He's the Tampa Bay Rays only Cuban player. He left the country on a 12-hour boat ride with only four other people.

"It was a decision that I made," Varona says, "and I got to the U.S., and I am making my dreams come true."

An emotional Varona returning to his home country, seeing his only sibling, his sister, for the first time since he defected. When I asked her sister what it was like to see her kid brother again, she lost control. "I can't. I'm sorry. I can't."

(on camera): Baseball is a national obsession here. More than 50,000 people fit in Havana's main stadium.

But there's a dark side. Players like Dayron Varona end up defecting to the United States and often, they do it under incredibly dangerous circumstances, even smuggled in by drug cartels.

(voice-over): The players are leaving Cuba and giving up their citizenship in exchange for opportunity. Varona who once made about $4 a month playing baseball in Cuba reportedly signed a multimillion- dollar deal with the Rays. But in the major breakthrough, the U.S. and Cuba have just signed a new agreement which means players will no longer have to defect in order to play ball in America.

Varona's teammates told us they're proud to be part of this moment in history.

JAMES LONEY, TAMPA BAY RAYS FIRST BASEMAN: Oh, he's a great. You know, he's a great teammate. He's real passionate and enthusiastic out there and you can just tell he loves the game.

BURNETT: First baseman James Loney also known as J.Lo predicts a lot of emotion in this stadium when Varona walks on to the field.

(on camera): You got a tear in your eye tomorrow when they stand up for him?

LONEY: I think so. I think a lot of guys will.

BURNETT (voice-over): As Varona gets ready to once again leave Cuba, he says he won't stay away for long.

(on camera): Do you think you'll ever come home if this is home?

(voice-over): "Yes, I think I will," Varona says, "when it's a possibility, yes, I will come back."

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BURNETT: Incredible to watch that moment. Our entire crew had tears in our eyes watching that. We cannot wait to see that game tomorrow and share it with you.

OUTFRONT next, Donald Trump giving the biggest speech of his political career and more. Did he do it? Did he sound presidential?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[19:55:51] BURNETT: Breaking news: Ted Cruz, Donald Trump both speaking tonight in front of nearly 18,000 people at the annual Washington gathering of the largest pro-Israel lobbying group. Cruz left the stage moments ago, the fourth presidential candidate to speak before the American Israel Public Affairs Committee today.

The only candidate missing from AIPAC is also the only Jewish candidate in the race, Bernie Sanders.

Back with me now, my panel, Jeffrey Lord, a Donald Trump supporter, former Reagan administration member. And Christian Whiton, a member of Ted Cruz's foreign policy team.

Look, I want to get to this, Christian, slammed today by Hillary Clinton and Ted Cruz for his previous comments that he was neutral on the Israeli-Palestinian issue. He also had something different to say tonight about Iran. Let me just play briefly what he said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: My number one priority is to dismantle the disastrous deal with Iran. Secondly, we will totally dismantle Iran's global terror network, which is big and powerful but not powerful like us.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: So, he said he's going to dismantle that Iran deal, Christian. That's going to be a top priority. Of course, he's been slightly less clear on that in the past. Last summer saying -- referring perhaps to Ted Cruz, also to Marco Rubio at the time that others would rip up the deal. He didn't like it, but he could find things in a contract and would actually enforce it.

Do you think he's changing his position?

CHRISTIAN WHITON, MEMBER, TED CRUZ NATIONAL SECURITY COALITION: He is. He changes it daily. He changes his positions daily. He says this now. You know, he said today he talked about the U.N. stopping -- stopping the U.N. from forcing a deal on the Israelis and Palestinians.

But who knows? He may think if a deal makes him look good as president, then he'll force it on the Israelis. He's someone who's very easy for the bad guys of the world to game.

And another thing, people were laughing at him at one point in the speech. He said during his speech that he knows more, he's looked more and harder at the Iran deal than anyone. That was a big surprise to people in the room. In fact, I'd say everyone in that room including the janitors knows more about the Middle East than Donald Trump does.

It's just fairly laughable, the amount -- the frequency which he changes his positions and his naive statements are really quite stunning.

BURNETT: Laughable, naive, stunning, Jeffrey Lord?

JEFFREY LORD, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, with all due respect to Christian, whom I really do greatly respect. I've seen him over the years on television. I think he's terrific. But I have to say --

BURNETT: It's always a bad preamble. With all due respect is a bad preamble. Go ahead.

LORD: There you go, with all due respect thus speaks the establishment and elitism. You know, American citizens are a bunch of dopes out here and whether it's Donald Trump or any of the rest of us, we're idiots and not as sophisticated as the folks who really know everything.

And, of course, they know everything so much that we're in these problems to begin with. So, I would just say reject that. WHITON: Donald Trump is taking the establishment position by saying

that the United States should basically force Israel and the Palestinians to make an agreement by saying that the problems of the Middle East would be solved by this elusive agreement, this white whale that administrations of both parties have chased. Donald Trump is siding with the establishment.

What Ted Cruz says is we should actually be smart at negotiating. Be smart, not say we'll be smart, which is what Donald Trump says but be smart. Realize the Palestinians with Hamas in their government will never accept a two-state solution with Israel. Donald Trump is siding with the Council of Foreign Relations and Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. It's Ted Cruz who's the anti-establishment on foreign policy.

BURNETT: And a quick final word to you, Jeff.

LORD: He would make an excellent vice president.

I think Ted Cruz would make an excellent vice president. And you know, for the -- he was asked -- Donald Trump was asked today by Wolf Blitzer if that were a possibility, and he said there have been crazier things.

BURNETT: All right. Well, thank you both very much. Thank you all so much for joining us.

I'll see you back here tomorrow night live from here, Havana, Cuba. We're going to show you a beautiful Havana mansion that only costs $40 a day. You won't believe it.

The final five candidates' interviews on CNN starts right now.