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AT THIS HOUR WITH BERMAN AND MICHAELA

Ted Cruz Speaking at Wisconsin Media Event; Being a Delegates Is a Hot Ticket; Bernie Sanders Speaking at Wisconsin Rally; Wisconsin a Must-Win for Bernie Sanders; Trump: Economy in Serious Trouble Unless I'm President. Aired 11:30a-12p ET

Aired April 4, 2016 - 11:30   ET

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


[11:30:00] JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: I'm going to take a lot because, Kasich says, he understands the issues that are plaguing all of them. We'll keep our eye on this event over the next few minutes.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Absolutely. Now let's jump back to Wisconsin where Ted Cruz is speaking to reporters. Let's listen to this.

SEN. TED CRUZ, (R), TEXAS & PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: That's plan A. That's what we're focused on doing.

But the second option --

(CROSSTALK)

CRUZ: I'll get to that. But the second option, which is entirely possible, is that nobody gets to 1,237. If that happens, we'll have a contested convention, and then two candidates will come in with a ton of delegates. And then it will be a battle to see who can earn a majority of the votes from the delegates elected by the people. Now, I recognize Donald wants to change the standard. He doesn't want the standard to be who can earn a majority because he can't earn a majority. Donald Trump has consistently had a ceiling of 35 to 40 percent that he can't break above. So it's not surprising. It shouldn't surprise any analyst that Donald says the standard should be a plurality because he can't get a majority. From the beginning of our electoral system in this country, the standard has been a majority.

If you want to be the Republican nominee, you have to be able to earn a majority of the votes. If you can't, you're not to nominee. If we get to a contested convention, I believe we'll be a strong position. There are only two candidates whose names will appear on the ballot, Donald Trump and myself. Under the rules, you have to have won eight states. There are only two candidates who have met that threshold. The choice will be between me and Donald Trump. And I believe we'll win that election if there is a contested convention.

One of the easiest ways to understand that is simply ask the question: Where do the Rubio delegates and Kasich delegates go? I think they naturally come to us, and that puts us over a majority.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Reince Priebus said yesterday those rules shouldn't apply to 2016, those 2012 rules. You're saying they're going to.

CRUZ: The nice thing is Washington doesn't control what happens. The delegates control what happens, and the delegates are elected by the rule.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: But the rules committee does.

CRUZ: But the rules committee is comprised by delegates. Let me point out, we're going to arrive at the convention -- if there's a contested convention, 80 percent of the delegates are Cruz or Trump delegates. Both Donald and I have been clear we shouldn't be changing the rules because Washington is unhappy with how the people are voting.

You know, it's interesting, this rule that is in question was adopted in 2012 because the Washington establishment wanted to keep Ron Paul and his supporters out. Now that the rule is viewed as inconvenient to the Washington establishment, they want to get rid of it. What's good for the goose is good for the grander. The rules are the rules. If you want to win, win at the ballot box.

You know, this fevered pipe dream of Washington that at the convention they will parachute in some white knight who will save the Washington establishment, it is nothing less than a pipe dream. It ain't going to happen. If it did, the people would quite rightly revolt. If Washington said, you know what, we had elections in 50 states but we, the deal makers, don't care what the people voted for, we have someone else to keep the cronyism going, the voters would naturally say the heck with you, we're staying home. But even beyond that, are some folks in Washington foolish enough to do that anyway? Probably. But they can't do it. If over 80 percent of the delegates are Cruz delegates and Trump delegates, under what universe do 1,000 Donald Trump delegates or 1,000 Cruz delegates go vote for an uber Washington lobbyist who hasn't been on the ballot? That's simply not going to happen.

Here's the choice. It's real simple. There will be two candidates with a ton of delegates if we have a contested convention, me and Donald Trump. And the delegates will proceed to decide, through the democratic process, who can get -- earn a majority of the votes.

BOLDUAN: Ted Cruz right there holding a press availability and talking about the likelihood in his view that it will get to a contested convention. If that's the case, the rule that we keep having to talk about he thinks is really going to be in play, Rule 40. He thinks it will be him and Donald Trump if it goes to a contested convention.

[11:35:00] BERMAN: He says, if it's anyone else, people would rightly revolt. It's interesting because Donald Trump got in trouble for saying something like that statement.

But what about this delegate fight? What does it mean if there is a contested convention? What can Ted Cruz or Donald Trump do to accrue unbound delegates? Can they pay them off? You'll be surprised by the answer. That's next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BOLDUAN: So would you like a hometown visit from a presidential candidate? Maybe you would want them to keep you in mind when filling jobs in the administration, or maybe you want them to cover the cost of your plane ticket to the convention, or maybe all of the above are possible. That means being a delegate is a hot ticket.

[11:40:00] BERMAN: The bulk of delegates are bound to a candidate on the first ballot, but that starts to shrink in the second round, and it shrinks by a lot after two rounds. For candidates right now, this means lining up support right now to get to the majority of 1,237 if it goes past ballot number one or two. And when it comes to wooing delegates, the rules are really, really blurry, in some cases, nonexistent.

Let's bring in Republican Bruce Haynes, a man who himself has been a delegate one moment long, long ago.

Bruce, first, I want to talk to you as a man who knows what's going on around the country right now. You have your ear to the ground. How hard are the camps right now fighting for these delegates, both bound and unbound, and who do you think is doing the best job?

BRUCE HAYNES, REPUBLICAN CONSULTANT: They are fighting very, very hard. There's a race within a race going on right now at the -- literally down at the county level, and the site level and these conventions to make sure that the delegates who are elected at these levels are delegates that might be loyal to your campaign when we get to Houston. And you're seeing the campaigns not just dispatching surrogates like Carly Fiorina for Ted Cruz and Ben Carson for Donald Trump, but the candidates are going to conventions and making speeches and doing everything they can to ensure the delegate slates that elected are delegate slates that are going to be sympathetic to them and feel bound to them in the event, as you said, that we get into the second and third ballot scenario where the delegates have an opportunity to vote for who they are bound to by their own consciences.

BOLDUAN: It gets into the weeds. It's confusing. State by state the rules are different. But as you heard from Ted Cruz, as he was speaking, it's clearly the fight, and that is where their focus is right now, almost overshadowing the fact that the primary is going on. There's still voting going on in these states. You were a delegate once. How swayable are the delegates?

HAYNES: Well, it depends on the delegate. If you're a state or local-elected official, there are going to be laws that governor the kinds of enhancements you could or could not accept. When you look at the local activists -- I was kind of one of those at one time -- there's not much that really governs what they can or could not take. The situation you mentioned, I was a first alternate delegate to the Republican convention in 1992. Had I been able to vote -- I was working as a law clerk. I was 25. I had $10 an hour job and I was going to be looking for a job in two years. There are 1500 schedule C jobs in the government that don't require Senate confirmation. One of the jobs would have sounded pretty attractive to someone like me at that time. And there are going to be a lot of folks like that on the convention floor.

BERMAN: Ambassador Bruce Haynes.

(CROSSTALK)

BERMAN: You could also fly people on the Trump jet. Trump could start flying them on his jet and give them free rounds after golf at clubs.

(CROSSTALK)

BERMAN: Trump Steaks.

(CROSSTALK)

BERMAN: It can happen. You can all but pay the delegates to vote for you, right? And it might be attractive to some people?

HAYNES: Yeah. I've even heard talk that some delegates could set up a fundraising organization to raise money for their convention trip. There's not a rule that would prohibit a candidate, his campaign, or friends of his, a super PAC for helping to frame the expenses. And the expenses can get high. Delegates pay their own way. You're talking about plane tickets and four or five nights, transportation, in a lot of cases. This can run up to $5,000. And a lot of local activists are not wealthy people. They are people who got into politics because they care about the direction of the country. They're not wealthy people. Defraying those kinds of costs, those types of enticements can be attractive. You hope that people are going to vote their heart and conscious as opposed to these kinds of situations.

BOLDUAN: You hope, but this could be crazy town. And I think that's a technical term of what this could look like and how it could play out.

Bruce, great to see you, man, Ambassador.

BERMAN: Ambassador Bruce Haynes.

HAYNES: Thank you, Kate.

Thank you, John.

(LAUGHTER)

BOLDUAN: Coming up for us, the Sanders campaign says a loss in Wisconsin would be devastating. Why are they talking like that if they think they're doing well? Coming up, how early missteps may have hurt Sanders with his establishment appeal.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[11:46:30] BOLDUAN: All right. Let's get over to Wisconsin. Janesville, to be exact. Bernie Sanders speaking at a rally. Let's listen in.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS, (I), VERMONT & DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Number one, they were written by corporate America to benefit corporate America. And what they are about, very simply, corporate America sits up there and says why do I want to pay a worker here in Janesville or any place else in America a living middle class wage, 20, 30 bucks an hour, whatever it may be. Why do I want to provide health insurance and why do I want to obey environmental regulations?

Why do I want to have to negotiate with a union? Why do I want to do all those things when it would be simpler to shut down here in Janesville and go to Mexico or go to wherever and then pay people pennies an hour in another country and then bring my product back into America? That's what they wanted to do. That was the plan behind these trade agreements. And that is, in fact, exactly what has happened.

As a result of NAFTA, as a result of permanent normal trade relations with China and other trade agreements, we have lost millions of decent paying jobs in this country. Thousands and thousands of corporations have shut their plants down, thrown American workers out on the street, and have gone to low-wage countries.

BOLDUAN: Listening to Bernie Sanders in Janesville, Wisconsin. He is polling quite well right now.

But Bernie Sanders campaign sent out a memo saying a win would be good. A loss would be devastating in Wisconsin.

Let's talk about this and the state of things with CNN political commentator, Van Jones.

It's great to see you, Van.

Van, first, the most important thing they're talking about or as John said, voters care zero about, the debate over debate dates. I mean, what campaign says we'll accept the 10th, 11th or 12th. The other campaign says the --

BERMAN: The 14th or 15th. That's the dispute.

BOLDUAN: What's happening?

VAN JONES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: What's happening is underneath all of this is a civil war in the Democratic Party. This went from being "hey, you know, I don't care about the debt, e-mails, blah, blah, blah." As this thing has gone on, what's happened is Bernie Sanders should be out. In a normal situation, he'd be out. Last month, he raised $42 million. We're in the middle of a second Sanders surge. Both sides are getting frustrated on everything. It's like a couple fighting over a side issue. There's a deeper fight.

(CROSSTALK)

BOLDUAN: Doesn't it normally play out behind the scenes? JONES: They should because they're boring, and they're silly, and no

one cares. But it's because -- listen, if you look online at the conflict, it is almost as bad as what's happening with the GOP.

BERMAN: You say there's a civil war going on right now and Bernie Sanders has all kinds of money and he's done well the last several states, but the Clinton campaign argues that while this might be true, the outcome isn't really in question right now. Do you see any realistic scenario, and by that I mean 40 percent that Bernie Sanders could get the delegates to win this nomination?

JONES: You don't know. It looks very hard, but here's the reality. You've lost a whole generation of voters, the future of this party that loves Bernie Sanders. And frankly, Hillary Clinton did not help herself saying she feels sorry for the young voters who can't do their own research. She made a big gaff with those voters. That adds fuel to the fire. So, you know, the math may not be there, but momentum is, and I think writing off Bernie Sanders or the young people, as we often do, is making this harder for her to put it away.

[11:50:26] BOLDUAN: So much is the expectations game. You see that, what the Sanders campaign manager is putting out, like a loss in Wisconsin would be devastating but we don't think we're going to lose.

But also, look at New York. Hillary Clinton doing an interview, up big in New York, but she is not saying it is a must win for her. Look at her on "ABC News."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, NEWS ANCHOR, ABC NEWS: Don't you have to win your home state here in New York in two weeks?

HILLARY CLINTON, (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE & FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: I'm going to do everything I can to win as many places as possible. I have been through this before. You and I were laughing before we started. I can remember how hard it was when my husband ran in '92. I ran a tough campaign against then-Senator Obama. I ended up with slightly more votes, but he ended up with more delegates. So we have a system and I'm confident that I will be the nominee, but I'm not taking anything or any place or anyone for granted.

STEPHANOPOULOS: If you don't win in New York?

CLINTON: I'm confident I will be the nominee. Now, I will do everything I can to win New York. I care deeply about this state. I'm proud of the work I did with so many thousand of New Yorkers. So, of course, I'm going to work incredibly hard.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BOLDUAN: Secretary Clinton, is New York a must win, not going to answer it. But isn't it?

(LAUGHTER) JONES: If you can't win your home state. Ask Marco Rubio how important your home state is. If you don't win your home state, you are done. Everybody knows you are done.

What is going on in New York City there is a movement here to stop her. We had an outside candidate that was almost able to close the gap with the sitting governor. That movement is still alive. It's still alive here. Rosario Dawson came out and spoke for a lot of people and gave a tough speech.

BERMAN: It was very tough.

JONES: Very tough speech. Even Sanders backed off a bit. Even in her home state there is a big movement. She has to deal with it.

BERMAN: She has support as well.

JONES: Oh, she is way up.

(CROSSTALK)

JONES: She is way out. I think Hillary Clinton is likely to be our nominee but there is a second Sanders' surge and if it is not handled properly it could be a problem.

BERMAN: Ignore it at your peril?

JONES: Right.

BERMAN: Van, thank you so much.

BOLDUAN: Thank you, Van. Great to see you.

A new claim from Donald Trump has some economists scratching their heads. Why the Republican front runner says the United States is on the verge of, quote, "a very massive recession."

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[11:56:10] BOLDUAN: Donald Trump says your money and the economy is in serious trouble unless he wins the White House. In an interview with "Washington Post," he says the U.S. economy is in a precarious bubble. Trump says a very massive recession is coming.

BERMAN: His words.

BOLDUAN: His words. He also surprised Bob Woodward, who interviewed Trump and co-wrote a piece in "The Post" about it, with this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BOB WOODWARD, THE WASHINGTON POST: But then we asked about what would be your advice, as a stockbroker or somebody who provides tips on stock, I was surprised he said, it's terrible now, this is not the time to invest in the stock market.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: Donald Trump also opened up about what he is looking for in a vice president. This was a wide-ranging interview.

Let's bring in Steven Ginsberg, senior politics editor at "The Washington Post."

Steven, an interesting interview. You played a role editing and looking over this. The statement that the economy is heading to a recession and awful time to be in the market, you do not hear candidates often running down the economy, predicting a recession. That's unusual.

STEVEN GINSBERG, SENIOR POLITICS EDITOR, THE WASHINGTON POST: Almost never do you hear that. There were two things notable about that. He said it would be a massive recession, which is not what most economist think. Then he advised people against investing in the stock market which is an extraordinary thing to do. He has run the race as a businessman. People put a lot of credence in to what he says about the economy, at least his supporters do. And you just don't see that. It goes against what most economists say and not what someone on the verge of being a party nominee normally says.

BOLDUAN: Along that line, he insisted he would be able to wipe out the $19 trillion national debt within eight years. You guys point out in the piece that most economists say it is impossible. You said that to him, but he's not backing down about that.

GINSBERG: No. That's typical for Donald Trump. To wipe out $19 billion in eight years would take nothing short of a miracle. He thinks changing trade policy would do that. No economist thinks that would happen. Many think it would launch a trade war that would maybe bring about the recession he predicted but wouldn't get rid of the debt.

BERMAN: $9 trillion. All but impossible, every economist you talk to agree on that. But this is in a way the type thing that Donald Trump has said over time, over the last 12 months. People say it is impossible. His voters don't seem to care.

Finally, Steven, you look at the interview and one thing you can say is he will sit down and answer questions. He did with you guys for an hour.

BOLDUAN: For a long time.

BERMAN: Wide-ranging interview with Bob Woodward and Robert Costa, and he seems comfortable to sit there.

GINSBERG: All we ever ask of candidates is tell us what you think and why. And nobody does a better job of that than Donald Trump. He has done it a couple of times with us and other people. He is running as an outsider and he's laying out what he would do as an outsider. He would renegotiate our trade deals, military deals. He thinks the economy is in bad shape. He tells you the general outline of what he would do as president, and a lot of candidates don't do that. We have a hard time getting people to talk about what they would do and he talks more than anyone I can remember.

BOLDUAN: Inviting those candidates on, Donald Trump is the one that often accepts the invitations.

GINSBERG: That's right.

BOLDUAN: Steven Ginsberg, very interesting piece. Thank you for coming on. Appreciate it.

GINSBERG: Thank you.

BERMAN: Four candidates this hour. We haven't heard from Hillary Clinton.

BOLDUAN: She will be coming up.

BERMAN: Hillary Clinton speaking at any moment.

BOLDUAN: Ahead of the very big day. Wisconsin votes tomorrow. Full- day coverage of that.

Hillary Clinton is sitting down there. You see Governor Andrew Cuomo sitting down for the event. That will be coming up.

Thank you so much for joining us AT THIS HOUR.

BERMAN: Go Red Sox.

"Legal View" with Ashleigh Banfield starts right now.

[12:00:12] ASHLEIGH BANFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. I'm Ashleigh Banfield.