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Trump On Abortion: Laws Are Set, For Now; Trump Not Ruling Out Third-Party Run; Sanders To Clinton: You Owe Us An Apology; Obama Admits Drone Program Shortcomings; Final Four Preview. Aired 6-7a ET
Aired April 2, 2016 - 06:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[06:00:11] CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning. It's 6:00 on a Saturday morning. We're so grateful for your company as always. I'm Christi Paul.
VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Victor Blackwell. Good to be with you. New this morning, Republican presidential frontrunner, Donald Trump says abortion laws should remain unchanged.
This report comes days after that firestorm of criticism for saying that women who get abortion should face some form of punishment. Listen to his latest comments.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You told Bloomberg in January that you believe abortion should be banned at some point in pregnancy. Where would you --
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: First of all, I would have liked to have seen this be a states right. I think it would have been better if it were up to the states, but right now the laws are set and that's the way the laws are.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You have a feeling how they should change. There are a lot of laws you want to change. You talked about everything from libel to torture. Anything you'd want to change --
TRUMP: At this moment, the laws are set. I think we have to leave it that way.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PAUL: So now the Trump campaign has issued this statement, quote, "Mr. Trump gave an accurate account of the law as it is today and made clear it must stay that way now until he is president. Then he will change the law through his judicial appointments and allow the states to protect the unborn. There is nothing new or different here," unquote.
BLACKWELL: Let's bring in CNN political commentators, Errol Louis and Jeffrey Lord, who is a Trump supporter. Earlier this week -- good morning to both of you.
Good morning to you, Jeffrey. I don't know if we see Jeffrey, but I hear you. Let's start with you. Earlier this week, Trump said that women who had abortion should be punished and face some form of punishment.
Now here's a shift. After a week of discussion -- and Errol, I'll start with you. Do we know what Donald Trump believes about abortion laws? Not abortion but abortion laws.
ERROL LOUIS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Not only do we not know what he really thinks, Victor, I think what is important is that what we now I think know beyond a shadow of a doubt is that this controversy has been going on for 43 years is not something that Donald Trump has really thought through very well.
There are shelves of books in the library about the philosophical and legal and medical and political and electoral implications of one stance or another when it comes to abortion.
We've heard at least three or four different iterations from Donald Trump in the last few days about where he ends up, and this latest version of it basically I think is him throwing up his hands acknowledging that he doesn't really have much of an answer.
And that, you know, I think we've all seen the difference between being unscripted and unprepared. This is not something that Donald Trump ever expected to talk about in any kind of depth or length and that's what we're hearing right now.
BLACKWELL: Jeffrey, to you, if you articulate, you're a Trump supporter has been for many months, from the beginning. Can you articulate concisely, clearly what Donald Trump's beliefs are on abortion laws?
JEFFREY LORD, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes, I can.
LORD: The law is the law as it is currently written. He believes, of course, through judicial process that you can change the law, but he also very importantly and, you know, this is a view that he shares with Justice Ginsburg.
That Roe V. Wade basically shut off the political debate in this country and therefore by doing that, it sort of put a stopper in the bottle and has made this an explosive issue for what, 43 years since.
And that this issue should really be decided through the political process in the states and that by refusing to do that, we've made the issue worse. So that, in essence, is what he's saying.
BLACKWELL: OK, but his -- the campaign communications manager says that through judicial appointments, he's going to change this.
LORD: Right, right. I mean, there's no question this is one of the reasons why you would have conservatives on the court, but he also said state's rights and what he's saying there is that the states should decide and that's what the fact was in process that's happening in 1973 before Roe versus Wade.
And as Justice Ginsburg has pointed out, that shut off the debate and basically made this a hot button issue to the detriment, she believes, to the pro-choice movement ever since.
BLACKWELL: He's explained this three or four different ways in the last three or four days now. Why hasn't Donald Trump come prepared with a concise clear answer on his beliefs about abortion laws?
LORD: I think in all candor, Victor, he's a businessman. It's not like he has spent a great deal of time on this particular issue.
BLACKWELL: But he's talked about it for quite some time. People go back to that 1999 interview with Tim Russert.
LORD: Yes. I mean, this is an issue that frankly if you're not a politician, you don't deal with it very often. You know, you might have an opinion here or there, but you don't deal with it.
[06:05:01]And I think that you're going to face this with anybody who is not from the so-called, as it were political class, who gets into politics for the first time. This is his greatest strength. It's also on occasion a problem as I think it was here, but he's corrected around I think he's doing fine.
BLACKWELL: All right, Errol, I'm going to come to you after this next sound bite. Another portion of the "Face The Nation" interview with John Dickerson that will air tomorrow in which John asked Donald Trump if abortion is murder. Watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you think it's murder, abortion?
TRUMP: I have my opinions on it, but I'd rather not comment on it.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You said you're very pro-life.
TRUMP: I am very pro-life. I have my opinions on it. I just don't think it's an appropriate forum.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But you don't disagree with that proposition that it's murder?
TRUMP: What proposition?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That abortion is murder.
TRUMP: No, I don't disagree.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLACKWELL: So that was about 30 seconds or so in which Donald Trump would not say whether or not it's murder and then by the end of it, he's asked if he disagrees with the proposition that it's murder. He says he does not disagree with it. I mean, are we at the point now where maybe Donald Trump just is uncomfortable talking about abortion at all because he's afraid he's going to say the wrong thing to offend the wrong people.
LOUIS: Yes, I think occurred to him that having no pollsters, and having no advisers and having no philosophical bedrock on which to sort of form his opinions, he'll kind of going to be out at sea and there will be one uncomfortable question and exchange after another.
So you can look at his face and see what's happening. He's sort of calculating, do I want to say this? Do I have a belief? If so, can I express it and so forth. I have to say, I love Jeffrey Lord.
I appreciate what he's doing. I appreciate what Hope Hicks has to do and try to sort of thread the needle and turn wreckage and rubble and you know, all kinds of confused statements into some kind of coherent policy.
But it is outrageous for a candidate who says he wants to be president of the United States, is leading in the polls, and is heading for the nomination of major party to say that he's going to sort of -- he's a businessman and he hasn't really thought about this stuff so give him a pass.
That doesn't happen. That's just outrageous. That cannot happen.
BLACKWELL: Let me ask you this, Errol. Is this something that matters, though, to the Trump supporters? Are they going to him primarily because of his views on social issues or do they love him because he's going to build a wall on the southern border, he says, and he's going to bring jobs back to America, his economic message? Is this something that weakens that support at all?
LOUIS: I'll be honest with you. I have to say. The interest and the fascination that many of us have had with the Trump supporters, where do they come from, why are there so many of them, are they impervious to factual input and so forth?
I think we're kind of past that. I mean, the polls if you go state by state, kind of tell you that they're not budging. That they're there for a lot of complicated but discoverable reasons.
And that, you know, new facts and new information isn't necessarily going to sway them. What we have known all along is that they are not a majority of the Republican voting electorate.
And so the question unfortunately becomes something that I know frustrates a lot of your viewers, but it becomes this horse race stuff about who's got the delegates, who's got end up with the nomination, who's going to be on the ballot in November.
BLACKWELL: Jeffrey, finally to you. I want to talk about this interview with Fox News that Donald Trump had a conversation with Chris Wallace. Let's play that sound bite before we talk about it. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRIS WALLACE, FOX NEWS: Are you ruling out running as an independent third-party candidate? It's a simple question.
TRUMP: No, it's not that simple. I'm by far a frontrunner as a Republican. I want to run as a Republican. I will beat Hillary Clinton.
WALLACE: But if you don't get the nomination?
TRUMP: We'll have to see how I was treated. Very simple.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLACKWELL: OK, again, he's flirting with the idea of running as a third party. I get that. He wrote the art of the deal, but why is he doing this again? Just a couple of days ago, he tweeted about this nice meeting he had with the RNC. Why are we seeing and hearing this now?
LORD: I do think when you see both Senator Cruz and Governor Kasich out there saying, well, maybe they couldn't live up to the pledge and maybe not supportive. I do think that is the source of some irritation here. So much was made of Donald Trump signing the pledge. He signs the pledge and then these guys are suddenly are backing off. What does that tell you?
BLACKWELL: What I'm saying that if they don't get the nomination, they're going to run and go third party.
LORD: Well, no, but they're saying they wouldn't support the nominee of the party and that's a pretty big deal. One other thing, Victor.
LORD: Senator Cruz does the same thing on abortion. He was asked a year ago in Iowa about this. I've seen it on C-Span and he basically says he doesn't want to answer the question. He just dodges. This is what I think a lot of political people do on this issue.
[06:10:04]So, you know, I'm not saying necessarily it's the best approach, but I honestly don't think abortion on the scale of issues in the polls that I've looked at is at the top of the list. I mean, people are much more concerned about the economy, terrorism, that sort of thing.
BLACKWELL: All right, Jeffrey Lord, Errol Louis, good to have both of you at the start of this show this morning.
LORD: Thank you.
BLACKWELL: Certainly, thank you, Jeffrey.
Later this hour, more on Donald Trump and what President Obama said about his foreign policy views that's making a lot of news around the world.
Also, a programming note, stay with CNN for full coverage of the Wisconsin presidential primaries for both Republicans and Democrats. All day coverage, special live coverage on Tuesday right here on CNN.
PAUL: We're going to focus on the other side of the aisle, the Democrats. Bernie Sanders going after Hillary Clinton and demanding an apology from her. The question is what is the chance he's going to get it?
BLACKWELL: Yes, also new this morning, President Obama makes this stunning admission about U.S. drones killing innocent civilians. What's behind it straight ahead.
PAUL: Plus a controversial new law in North Carolina involving gay and transgender rights could now cost the state billions of dollars in federal aid. That's according to a new report.
PAUL: Senator Bernie Sanders is turning the table, I guess, on Hillary Clinton arguing that he is the one who deserves an apology after Secretary Clinton fired back at a climate change activist at a rally in New York -- fired back her about Bernie.
BLACKWELL: Yes. Sanders said that his campaign is not lying as Clinton charged and that Clinton's campaign relies heavily, that's his word on donations from lobbyists and workers in the oil and gas industry.
[06:15:05]PAUL: Just the latest attack as this race between the two Democrats really starts to heat up right now. CNN senior Washington correspondent, Jeff Zeleny, has more for us here.
JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Victor and Christie, you can feel the tension out here on the Democratic campaign trail and it's not just from the candidates alone. It's from their supporters as well.
At many Sanders campaign rallies, the mere mention of Hillary Clinton's name produces loud boos. The reason, the length of this race. After Clinton lost the New Hampshire primary, her campaign urged supporters not to worry because the nomination wouldn't be one in February, but all but sealed in March. But now that it's April, the race is hotter than ever.
ZELENY (voice-over): Hillary Clinton just can't shake Bernie Sanders.
HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This is really personal for me.
ZELENY: Their Democratic fight isn't winding down but ramping up and expanding to new fronts. Sanders and his supporters keeping alive their criticism of Clinton, receiving contributions from the oil and gas industry. This confrontation with the climate change activists going viral.
CLINTON: I am so sick. I am so sick of the Sanders campaign lying about this.
ZELENY: The outburst offers a fresh window into a rising frustration with Sanders. The Clinton campaign accepts money from people who work for oil and gas companies. Not the companies themselves. Sanders called it a distinction without a difference.
BERNIE SANDERS (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: If people receive money from lobbyists of the industry, I think you're receiving money from the industry. These are not just a little worker there. These are lobbyists who represent the oil and gas industry.
ZELENY: But today in New York Clinton struck back saying Sanders isn't pro-business.
CLINTON: I just go crazy when I hear Senator Sanders and the Tea Party Republicans railing against the export-import thing like it's some kind of evil, you know, presence.
ZELENY: The Democratic rivals are also tangling over abortion. Clinton accusing Sanders of not properly denouncing Donald Trump's assertion women who have abortion should be punished.
CLINTON: Senator Sanders agreed that Donald Trump's comments were shameful, but then he said they were a distraction from, and I quote, "a serious discussion about the serious issues facing America."
ZELENY: Sanders cried foul.
SANDERS: What Secretary Clinton did is take things out of context. I am 100 percent pro-choice.
ZELENY: The root of the tension is the length of the race. The Clinton campaign once assuming the contest would be all over by now as campaign manager, Robbie Mook noted in this memo, writing, "The nomination will very likely be one in March, not February."
Sanders has an edge in Wisconsin and is fighting hard on Clinton's turf in New York. He drew 18,000 supporters last night to a rally in the Bronx.
SANDERS: My father came to this country at the age of 17 from Poland without a nickel in his pocket.
ZELENY: Sanders is well behind in the delegate race, but money is keeping him in the game. His campaign says it raised $44 million in March, fortifying it for the final two months of the long Democratic primary.
SANDERS: Let's take this fight to the White House.
ZELENY: But for Bernie Sanders to take this to the White House, he needs to keep winning and winning big. His first target is Wisconsin. He's out there today and campaigning there all weekend long. Now a top Clinton adviser told me they believe Wisconsin is basically out of reach.
That's why they're focusing so much time and attention on New York, but judging by the size of some of these Sanders crowds, the popular streak in New York is alive and well.
That's why the Clinton campaign has taken New York so seriously. They know a loss there would up end this race like nothing else could -- Victor and Christi.
PAUL: All right, thank you so much, Jeff. Let's talk about this a little more with Democratic strategist and Bernie Sanders supporter, Nomiki Konst, and CNN political commentator and former Hillary Clinton presidential campaign manager, Patti Solis Doyle. Ladies, it's so good to have both of you here.
Good morning. I want to start with you if I could, please. According to factcheck.org, Secretary Clinton has received six times as many donations from workers in the oil and gas industry. So does Sanders have a point there? Is there credence to what he's saying? Does she owe him an apology?
PATTI SOLIS DOYLE, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: No, I don't think she owes him an apology at all. Six times as much as Bernie Sanders has and so, you know, by definition, so has Bernie Sanders received money from people, who work for the fossil fuel industry.
Look, Hillary Clinton, is in an extremely strong position in this nomination fight. You know, she's not only leading in the popular vote. She has 2.5 million more votes than Bernie Sanders.
She also has an almost insurmountable delegate lead than Bernie Sanders. You know, Bernie has to win very big all of the states coming up and on facing that steep hurdle, facing that steep hill to climb.
[06:20:04]I think Bernie Sanders is getting a little frustrated and is going after Hillary Clinton personally. Look. The implication of his attack that Hillary is taking money from the fossil fuel industry is that Hillary can be bought and sold. That's just not true.
I mean, her record -- she has a very strong record on climate change. She has a very strong record with renewable energy. So I think he -- if anything, Bernie Sanders owes her an apology.
PAUL: All right, so you brought up a question -- Nomiki, I saw you shaking your head, I want to get to that. According to a report by the Federal Election Commission, Hillary Clinton has received $307,000 plus dollars in contributions. Bernie Sanders has received 53,000. Is he ingenious for him to say that she owes him an apology when he too is taking this money? Does he in fact expect to give that money back?
NOMIKI KONST, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: So there is some sneaky spend coming out of the Clinton campaign right now. Hillary Clinton has received $307,000 from industry lobbyists. Those are industry lobbyists.
There are 57 of them on behalf of the oil and gas industry who have bundled collectively. Eleven of them have bundled over $1 million for her super PAC. Her super PAC alone has received $4.5 million, which is not in those disclosures.
So if you want to look at the campaign itself, sure. She's received $300,000 from industry lobbyists while Bernie Sanders has received $50,000 from people who work for oil companies, everyday workers, accountants, people on the field --
DOYLE: The federal election commission doesn't specify that. They specify PAC contributions and contribution from individuals giving more than $200.
KONST: Right. When you look at the super PACs, there's a thing called bundling and 11 of those 57 lobbyists, those employees of oil and gas industry, those who are affiliated with them have gone out there and bundled over $11 million each.
We all know how campaigns can raise money sneakily and how unfortunately, they're not able to disclose a lot of these things because of Citizens United.
I understand Democrats need to compete with Republicans as they raise money in these shadowy groups, but if they're going to take on Citizens United and big interests, you can't be accepting the same money from those big interest.
With all due respect, she owes him an apology. He doesn't owe her an apology. She's the one who denied this. She said she didn't receive any money from them.
PAUL: I want to move of this for a second here because clearly we saw some frustration in her when she was asked that question this week, Patti, and I'm wondering. We're not seeing her as much in Wisconsin. Obviously, she's focusing on New York.
But is there any indication that there is real concern in the Clinton camp about the strides Bernie Sanders seems to be making? The $44 million that he's raised and 16,000 or 18,000 people at a rally in the Bronx yesterday. Why is she essentially skipping Wisconsin it seems?
DOYLE: Well, look, demographically Wisconsin is right in Bernie Sanders' wheelhouse. It is predominantly white. Democrats in Wisconsin are predominantly progressive. This is a state that favors him. Polls right now show that he's maybe four or five points ahead. He's likely going to win Wisconsin.
Will he win by the 20 points or 30 points that he needs to win in order to move forward and take, you know -- beat Hillary's delegate lead? I don't know about that.
But then they do move to New York. Hillary Clinton was elected twice in New York statewide. She lives in New York with her husband and her daughter lives in New York. She's got very strong relationships in New York.
She has always supported New York State, and I think New York State is going to support her, and I think she will win New York. I don't think the campaign wants me to say that. They want to set expectations low, but I think she's going to win it.
PAUL: Do we want to set expectations low, and Nomiki, let me ask this of you because there's a concern of voter turnout. Bernie Sanders talking about this $44 million that he has raised last month. Those people, a lot of that, as I understand it, 99 percent online, will those people who are donating equate to people actually going to the polls and vote?
KONST: Well, I think we're seeing that already. I'm from New York. I grew up in Buffalo. I'm very familiar with Hillary's record and I was at that rally the other night the Bronx, two nights ago. Those are 18,000 people of all different colors, races, backgrounds, age groups. You know, this white narrative isn't working anymore.
A lot of those people are registered voters. Something very interesting happened last year in New York. There was a challenger, a very progressive challenger who took on the governor and she had no money.
She ran this grassroots campaign and challenged Governor Cuomo and reached 40 percent and that was somebody who didn't have the support system, didn't have the infrastructure that Bernie Sanders had.
[06:25:05]So you're going to see a real shift happening in New York, which is quite a populist state. When you look at Buffalo, you have a lot of working-class voters. When you look at Vermont, they're bordering his home state.
You look at areas like Brooklyn. You have a real change in progressive politics. The difference is Hillary Clinton went to the assembly yesterday and she asked for the assembly to turn out the votes. Those are super delegates.
Those are people who are going out there and working machine politics to get their voters to vote while he's working the progressive grassroots campaign that quite frankly works in New York.
PAUL: But she received something yesterday that may also cause a shift in some respects. She's going after Sanders on the issue of guns, we know. There was a call yesterday, a family who tried to sue a gun manufacturer after their daughter was killed in the Aurora theater attack spoke in defense of Clinton, spoke against Bernie Sanders. So is this gun issue, Patti, where Secretary Clinton may be hoping to get some of that momentum back?
DOYLE: Look. I think pointing out the differences between Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton on guns is very effective. It has been very effective for Hillary Clinton. This is one of the reasons why she's actually beating Bernie Sanders, why she beat him in many of those southern states.
She has been campaigning with the mothers of the victims of gun violence. Look. Bottom line is Bernie Sanders voted against the Brady Bill five times. Bernie Sanders sided with gun manufacturers on the immunity issue. So is it effective? Absolutely. Will she use it? Absolutely.
PAUL: All right. Wisconsin Tuesday. Looking ahead to New York in a couple of weeks. Patti Solis Doyle and Nomiki Konst, appreciate both of you being here. Thank you.
Absolutely. By the way, programming note for you, Bernie Sanders is Jake Tapper's guest on "STATE OF THE UNION" tomorrow at 9 a.m. Eastern right here on CNN.
BLACKWELL: And still to come this morning, the city of Flint, Michigan, takes a major step in battling its ongoing water crisis. We have details on the lawsuit the city is filing against the state.
Also the airport in Brussels could reopen for business this weekend, but we'll tell you about officials' concerns that may not be enough security following the recent terror attacks.
[06:30:00] BLACKWELL: The State of North Carolina could lose billion of dollars in federal funding. At least that's what the federal government is considering if the state does not repeal the law. The critic say limits the protections of gay and transgender people across the state.
According to a "New York Times" report the Obama administration could full funding for school and highways and housing if that law is not repealed.
Coming up next, we'll to talk to an attorney who says, it would defend the North Carolina's law for free.
PAUL: The city of Flint is getting ready to sue the state of Michigan. The city says, "It needs help fixing its damaged water system and defending itself against lawsuit. Remember Flint's water supply was tainted by lead after the state which water is sources save money. Since January more than 50 lawsuits have been filed against the city.
BLACKWELL: (Inaudible) Sunday, for the first time since last month's terror attack, an agreement has been reached between the country and its police union. Now, the deal requires passengers to be checked before they reach that terminal.
PAUL: And according to a new report by a human rights group, Turkey, has been illegally forcing Syrian refugees to return home. The Amnesty International report has thousands of refugees are being sent back to the war-torn countries from which they fled. They say Turkey is not able to handle the number of refugees that are coming in this country. BLACKWELL: President Obama says Donald Trump has no idea what he's talking about when it comes to foreign policy. We've got details on what Trump said that prompted the president's reaction.
PAUL: And later this morning ISIS has taken over Mosul University. Find out why ISIS specifically targeted that structure and what the U.S. is doing about it.
[06:35:09] PAUL: 36 minutes past the hour on this Saturday morning and President Obama is slamming Donald Trump's recent call for Japan and South Korea to develop nuclear weapons.
BLACKWELL: Yeah. The president speaking after his meeting with the world leaders at the nuclear summit in Washington, also took aim at the Republican front-runner's experience in foreign policy.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PRES. BARACK OBAMA, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: The person who made the statements doesn't know much foreign policy or the nuclear policy or the Korean policy or in the world generally. It came up on the sidelines. I've said before that, you know, people pay attention to American elections. What we do is really important to the rest of the world.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLACKWELL: Let's talk about this now with CNN Political Commentators Ben Ferguson and Errol Louis. Errol, good to have you back. Ben, good to have this morning.
BEN FERGUSON, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Good morning.
BLACKWELL: Errol, I want to start with you. The president has criticized Donald Trump in the past and the Republican primary for the rhetoric and the tone, but this is a policy criticism. Why is the president, on three levels here, criticizing Donald Trump in this way in this setting?
LOUIS: Well, that the setting does makes sense. There were -- this is something that the president has been working on for his entire presidency. Basically every other year he has this major summit where they are trying to sort of deal with nuclear proliferation which is one of the jobs of the U.S. president. We are been leading nuclear power. We're the defensive shield for many, many countries and we have tried. It had been standard U.S. policy no matter who was in the White House to try and deal with that. So that's really why the setting is there.
I think also, though, you know, look, there might be a little political pay back. You know, the birtherism and the other attacks by Donald Trump on President Obama, politicians don't like being attacked. And when given a chance, they will respond. But, I guess, finally, and maybe most importantly, unlike something like trade policy which a lot of people don't really quite understand or, you know, there are some winners, there are some losers. You know, maybe you lost your job in manufacturing, but maybe you made -- maybe you got a job because you make stuff that gets shipped overseas. Nuclear weapons are something everybody understands and everybody over a certain age understands how dangerous they are, how expensive and dangerous the Cold War was and we don't want to go back to that, to a certain extent.
BLACKWELL: But is this something everybody cares about? Ben, let me come to you. You are no fan of the president, you no fan of Donald Trump. You've -- you support Ted Cruz moving forward.
My question to you is, does this help Donald Trump? I mean the president seems to be, I mean, he's the elective leader of the country. He seems to be punching down in the primaries, does this help Trump?
FERGUSON: It certainly helps Trump when it comes to narrative then I am the complete opposite of Barack Obama. I'm the outsider. I'm going to go up there and undo everything that he's done. That's part of what he's given him this rise to be the front-runner. But this is huge problem, I would say, for him with many GOP voters because of what he advocated for the other night, right here on CNN during the town hall. He advocated for other countries getting nuclear weapons, and also conceding that other countries on that list are going to get nuclear weapons regardless of what we do.
BLACKWELL: We have that sound. Let's play it, guys, if we have that template. Let's listen to Donald Trump in his own words.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: It's been a U.S. policy, though, for decades to prevent from getting nuclear weapon.
DONALD TRUMP, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, there might be policy but can I be honest with you? Maybe it's going to gave to be time for changed so many people, you have Pakistan as we have China. At some point we have to say, "You know what? Were better off if Japan protects itself against this maniac and North Korea were better off, frankly, if South Korea is going to start to protect itself.
(END VIDEO CLIP
BLACKWELL: And let throw in here, Ben, as you finish the other -- Japanese official had come out and said, "We don't even want nuclear weapons", but go ahead.
[06:40:05] FERGUSON: Right. Well, and this is where he gets himself in trouble when in these primary states. I mean, look at how the voters I think will respond to him in Wisconsin on Tuesday, for example.
The idea that you have a president or candidate on either side of the aisle advocating for other countries getting nuclear weapons and conceding that places like Saudi Arabia are going to get them or Iran's going to get them anyway, is not a foreign policy that the majority of Americans. And I don't care if you're Republican or Democrat, the majority of Americans do not want nuclear proliferation in other countries around the world, especially in the Middle East.
Remember, America wasn't even an advocate for Israel getting nuclear weapons, for goodness sakes. This is completely off the reservation for Donald Trump. This has nothing to do with being a conservative or Republican, this is Donald Trump not well-thought out on foreign policy and this is o think one of his biggest weaknesses going into a general election against Hillary Clinton.
BLACKWELL: Errol, will there be a consequence at the polls?
LOUIS: I would imagine so for all of the reasons Ben just described. I mean, here, again. This is not a partisan issue to a great extent. I mean, the Korean border, between North Korea and South Korea, the most hostile border in the entire world. They signed an armistice between them at the end of hostilities in the Korean War, not a peace treaty. They're still officially at war.
The notion of introducing nuclear weapons into that situation is very unusual, let's put it that way, very unusual.
BLACKWELL: Will he have to revise this? I mean, should we expect that he's going to change this or just going to try to move on?
FERGUSON: I don't think he's going to revise this because he's Donald Trump. He basically says, "I'm smarter than you and if you don't like what I have to say, I'll insult you." And he doesn't back down very often. I mean, it was a shocker this week that he back down on his stance on abortion saying he miss, you know, he misspoke, but that's literally the first time he's done that in the entire campaign.
FERGUSON: He seems to be sticking to this that, "Hey, other countries need nuclear weapons kind of like we have them. And they're going to get them anyway, so I'm not going to fight them. And some of them I don't mind if they have them for their own defenses". It's beyond the logic. The fact that we're having this conversation, the fact that Errol and I in a campaign, that is it intense between Republicans and Democrats are agreeing on, and like just tells you something.
BLACKWELL: Just starting this conversation this morning. Ben, Errol, thank you both. We'll continue throughout the morning.
LOUIS: Thank you.
PAUL: Well, innocent civilians being killed by U.S. drone strikes. President Obama makes a stunning admission regarding the fight against ISIS.
BLACKWELL: Plus, Joe Biden getting in on the March madness. We'll go live to Houston where the vice president will be sitting court side today.
[06:46:14] PAUL: U.S. drone strikes have killed innocent people. That's what President Obama is admitting even though he now says the controversial program does have new guidelines in place to prevent collateral damage.
Now, yesterday, the president said his administration is very cautious when looking at potential targets saying they will not strike if women and children are close by but the president also admitting the program has had its shortcomings.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: I think there's been, in the past, legitimate criticism that the architecture, the legal architecture around the use of drone strikes or other kinetic strikes wasn't as precise as it should have been and there's no doubt that civilians were killed that shouldn't have been. I think that over the last several years we have worked very hard to avoid and prevent those kinds of tragedies from taking place.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PAUL: CNN Military Analyst retired Lieutenant General Mark Hertling joining us. Now, it is, you know, so people say, a very bode admission, no doubt about it. What did you make of the president being so public about it?
RET. LT. GEN. MARK HERTLING, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Well, It's very interesting,. And, Christi, first of all, good morning.
PAUL: Good morning.
HERTLING: The representation of what has occurred is extremely accurate by the president. Some of the decisions on the ground between not only by the military but also intelligent agencies that have the use of drone strikes had buried in their approach to what they will use as criteria for what is known as either the kill-don't kill decision.
Now, what is happening throughout the world right now is, drones are being used more to strike targets and they are being use more by intelligence agencies as well special operation force. In the past and this is what the president has said, in the past -- and he's talking about several years ago, was based on the decision by the commander on the scene. And I think the legal requirements for making those drone decisions have been upped so that there is a criteria for standardization across who is actually making the decision.
So in other words, there's no delta between one person and another in terms of what they determine should be a strike or not. And whenever drone launches -- whenever a drone launches a missile, they take a couple of things into consideration. First of all, they target they're striking. The importance of that target, what is in the collateral damage area and in that criteria, it's what seen and what might not be seen.
So in other words, if you see women and children on the ground, most normal commanders would say, "We're not going to strike". But you also have to consider what might be nearby or what you may not see like what could be inside of a car that a target is getting into, could there be women and children there too, Christi.
PAUL: Isn't -- but isn't that -- the bigger problem here, doesn't ISIS use civilians?
HERTLING: They do at times. No, that certainly is part of the problem with the decision to strike. There will be the so-called human shields that might be used by many of these targets. But in many of the cases that you've seen drone strike recently like the one in Somalia just a few weeks ago, the one in Libya before that, these are large targets. The Libya target was 40 soldiers, ISIS fighters, all coming together.
The one in Al Shabaab was a graduation exercise with 150 soldiers. So those are obvious targets. But sometimes when you're going after a singular target and there are civilians nearby, a commander on the ground, and I've had to make these decisions in the past, we'll say, "Hold up. Do not shoot. The collateral damage potential is too high."
PAUL: OK. So even though there's been collateral damage, obviously. Has the use, in your opinion, of drones lessen the amount of it, lessened the amount of it, lessened the innocent lives lost here?
[06:50:008] HERTLING: No. I know absolutely it has. And when you're talking about trying to get terrorists who are moving from one location to another and these are the only ways to actually strike those terrorists. This is the criteria and it's the only way to strike. The potential for seeing a guy, knowing where he is, coming out of a building, you know, he's been there at a meeting, it's a high value target, hitting that target would prevent further terrorist attacks or create ruination in a network.
As a commander, I'm going to pull that trigger. And if I see a guy walking out of the building and there's a lot of civilians nearby. There's women and children. I'm going to hesitate and, again, you have to think about what's the criteria and the importance of the target. Sometimes even with collateral damage nearby, you still make the decision if the target is important enough.
PAUL: Is important enough. Lieutenant General Hertling, thank you so much. The general is going to stick with us here too, because he mentioned target in tying and to determine how to estimate whether that target is work going after.
ISIS, we've learned, there is a report out there that they're using chemistry labs at Mosul University in Iraq to create bombs. We're going to talk more to the general about that and how the U.S. is going to approach that situation. Victor?
BLACKWELL: All right. Thank you, Christi. More debris has washed up on the remote island in the Indian Ocean that may from Malaysia Airline flight 370.
Now, the piece was found Thursday off the coast of Rodrigues Island in Mauritius. It was taken to a hotel for safekeeping, it since been turned over to local police. Now, Malaysian authorities are expected to take the lead in the investigation whether the piece actually came from that missing Boeing 777. And as you remember, that vanished now two years ago.
Coming up at the top of the hour, Donald Trump's latest comments on abortion and hints that he will not rule out a third party if necessary. How will this impacted in Wisconsin on Tuesday and moving forward to the primary?
Plus, the White House representing at the March madness Final Four today, we're live in Houston with details on Joe Biden's arrival for the big games.
[06:55:38] PAUL: Well, Oklahoma star Buddy Hield will not play in the Final Four until tonight. But we know he's bringing home the trophy though.
BLACKWELL: Andy Scholes has more from Houston in this morning's Bleacher Report. Andy, good morning to you.
ANDY SCHOLES, CNN SPORTS ANCHOR: Good morning, guys. Yeah, the excitement is building, you know, no one is here yet for Texas Final Four game. The first match up, we're going to see Oklahoma taken on Villanova and this will be another chance for Sonner's star Buddy Hield to shine under the bright lights. He's been so amazing this entire tournament. He brought home the Oscar Robinson Player of the Year Award yesterday.
And, you know, if you don't know Hield's story, it's a great one. He grew up in the Bahamas, moved to United States when he was 12 years old. His mom actually gave him the name Buddy after Bud Bundy the show "Married with Children." So that's pretty funny now.
Head Coach Lon Kruger also has pretty cool story. He went 22 years in between Final Appearances and then at 63 years old, it turns out Kruger nickname is "Slick" but he didn't really want to talk about it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HEAD COACH LON KRUGER, OKLAHOMA: I have no idea what you're talking about. I'd like to say, it's started because I was pretty smooth, you know, and, yeah, it's probably more about the haircut.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He might make us run for that. That's a good name. He is pretty slick in everything he does.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He might make us run no more (ph) , we've done so much.
(END VIDEO CLIP) SCHOLES: All right. So Buddy, Slick and the Sooner's tipped things off tonight, 6:09 Eastern on TVS against Villanova, that game followed by North Carolina taking on Syracuse.
And be sure to tune in to CNN this afternoon for a behind-the-scenes look at the NCAA tournament with Fredericka Whitfield and Sports Analyst Steve Smith, lead our coverage of the personalities and the celebration that extends far beyond the core all access at the Final Four CNN Bleacher Report Special that airs today at 2:30 Eastern again right here on CNN.
Guys, Vice President Joe Biden and his wife, Jill, will be at the games here at Houston tonight. And, you know what? They actually might be end up leaving a little disappointed, both of them are alumni of Final Four teams. Vice President Biden graduated from Syracuse, the College of Law in 1968, and the second lady got her Master of Arts in English from Villanova in 1991. So the Bidens are actually here promoting the "It's On Us" campaign preventing sexual assault in college campuses and supporting survivors of sexual assaults.
So guys, obviously both of them are cheering for each other's teams today, but they could end up facing each other in the Final Four and would that be a house divided if it was Syracuse taking on Villanova.
PAUL: Wondering where that's going to go.
BLACKWELL: All right, Andy, thank you so much.
PAUL: Ahead a new day (ph), you too, Andy, have fun.
Ahead on new day, we have more on Donald Trump's latest comments regarding abortion and why they're making headlines now.
BLACKWELL: And new hints on why Trump is not ruling out a third-party bid. How his latest tone may be affecting the party at large?