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THE SITUATION ROOM
Voting Underway in Wisconsin; Republican Fight; Obama: Trump's Plan for Mexican Wall 'Half-Baked'. Aired 6-7p ET
Aired April 5, 2016 - 18:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now: state of denial.
Will Wisconsin be the place where Donald Trump hits the wall, or will voters there help him all but sew up the Republican nomination?
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Convention wisdom. What happens if there's a Republican contest on the floor in Cleveland? We will map out the possibilities and look at how each candidate plans to prevail.
BLITZER: And exit interviews -- what our newest batch of exit polling now says about the race tonight.
COOPER: We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Anderson Cooper.
BLITZER: And I'm Wolf Blitzer. And you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
We're just a few hours away from learning how much history the voters of Wisconsin have made today. With Ted Cruz leading going in, will he now get the 42 delegates he needs to complicate the math and slow the momentum that Donald Trump has enjoyed so far? Or will Donald Trump come away with a fresh boost?
And over on the Democratic side, can Bernie Sanders achieve the first of two key victories that he says will propel him straight to the White House? Or will the Hillary Clinton forces hold him off tonight? We're about to find out, a very big night, starting with CNN's Sunlen Serfaty.
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE (voice-over): Based on the enthusiasm, how do you think we are going to do in Wisconsin?
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
TRUMP: I think we're going to do really well.
SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Donald Trump today saying, don't count him out in the battle for Wisconsin.
TRUMP: I hear the polls are busy, huh?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They are busy.
TRUMP: We could have a big surprise folks tonight, big surprise.
SERFATY: While Ted Cruz casts the Badger State primary as a potential tipping point in the race.
SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: If we end up with a win tonight, it is going to have national repercussions, not just for the 42 delegates at stake here in Wisconsin, but I believe it's going to powerfully the states to come.
SERFATY: A Cruz win in Wisconsin could embolden the stop Trump forces, delivering a blow to the GOP's front-runner's march towards the nomination and increasing odds of a contested convention in Cleveland in July.
Trump is not shying away from the importance of the moment.
TRUMP: It's impossible, almost impossible, for Ted Cruz to win. So he would have to get it at the convention, which I think would be highly unlikely. So he can't win.
SERFATY: Trump's wife, Melania, joining him for his final Wisconsin rally before today's primary, trying to blunt the criticism of the front-runner that has turned of so many women voters, according to polls.
MELANIA TRUMP, WIFE OF DONALD TRUMP: No matter who you are, a man or a woman, he treats everyone equal.
SERFATY: Trump also detailing how he will deliver on one of his biggest campaign promises, getting Mexican to pay for a wall along the southern border.
Among the steps outlined in a campaign memo, threatening to bar Mexican immigrants in the U.S. from wiring money to relatives in Mexico.
President Obama today rejecting Trump's approach.
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The notion that we're going to track every Western Union, you know, bit of money that's being sent to Mexico, you know, good luck with that.
SERFATY: Taking aim not only at Trump, but also at Cruz.
OBAMA: It's not just Mr. Trump's proposals. I mean, you're also hearing concerns about Mr. Cruz's proposals, which, in some ways, are just as draconian.
SERFATY: On the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders are also locked in a tight battle in Wisconsin.
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (VT-I), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: In national poll after national poll, we beat Donald Trump by huge margins, huge margins. (CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
SERFATY: As Sanders talks up his momentum, Clinton is touting her advantage when it comes to the math.
CLINTON: But I have 2.5 million more votes than he does. I have a very significant lead in delegates, which is what eventually decides who the nominee is.
BLITZER: And Sunlen is joining us now live from Milwaukee.
Sunlen, if Cruz does end up taking Wisconsin, what does the path forward look like for Donald Trump? Is it still possible for him to get the number of delegates he needs to secure the nomination?
SERFATY: It is still possible, Wolf, that Donald Trump could get to 1,237, but it is extremely difficult and made much more so if Cruz wins here in Wisconsin. If you look at some of the states that are coming up for Donald Trump, there are some states that are more favorable terrain for him coming up, of course, his home state of New York, also Maryland, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Delaware.
Those states playing to his advantage, but a win here in Wisconsin for Ted Cruz really sets up this scenario for Donald Trump where there's absolutely no wiggle room, put simply, absolutely no room for error for Donald Trump, and that's why when we talk about the importance of the results here in Wisconsin, it's not just about winning this particular state and picking up those delegates. Potentially, it sets up a much more likely path toward a contested convention -- Wolf.
BLITZER: All right. Sunlen, thank you.
Let's go to a polling place in Green Bay, Wisconsin, right now. CNN's Chris Frates is on the scene for us there.
Chris, what's the turnout been like where you are?
CHRIS FRATES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Wolf.
Well, I tell you, in those closing days, we heard both Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton making the argument if turnout was high they think they could do well. And I can tell you at least where we are in Green Bay, I have good news for their campaign. Turnout is very high.
In fact, we're looking at about 800 people who have come through the doors already. That's of the 1,600 registered to vote. We're already seeing about a 50 percent turnout rate. The officials here tell me that's very, very high. People have been streaming in since 7:00 a.m. today. It's been steady all day long. They think they will have hundreds more come through before the polls close at 8:00, Wolf.
BLITZER: And 8:00 Central time, 9:00 Eastern. So they got three more hours to vote. Who are they voting for? What are you hearing over there?
FRATES: Yes, Wolf. We're not getting breakdown of Democrats and Republicans.
We won't get that until the polls do close, but anecdotally, as I talked to voters today, it seemed to follow the trend lines of the polls. A lot of registered Republicans voting for Ted Cruz, a lot of registered Democrats voting for Bernie Sanders, of course, also Trump and Hillary Clinton support mixed in, and also some surprises.
I talked to a couple who was registered Republican, and the wife voted for Ted Cruz, but the husband voted for Bernie Sanders because they were a never-Trump couple, so lots of surprises out there tonight as well. And of course, Bernie Sanders, you know, trying to really close that gap and run up the score on Hillary Clinton, get as many of those 86 delegates as he can.
And that might depend on the margin he can get with independents, because he polls so well with independents compared to Hillary Clinton. So if we see later on tonight that they're coming out for Bernie Sanders, we may expect that he has a very good night indeed, Wolf.
BLITZER: All right, Chris Frates reporting for us from Green Bay, Wisconsin.
COOPER: Back with us here on the panel this hour, Sally Kohn, Michael Nutter, John King, Gloria Borger, also political commentator Jeffrey Lord, Amanda Carpenter, Kevin Madden, Mary Katharine Ham.
Mayor Nutter, let's talk about the Democratic side. You and I were talking during one of the breaks about a decision at some point that Bernie Sanders likely has to make right now based on the math.
MICHAEL NUTTER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: If things continue going the way they're going, he wins some states, Secretary Clinton wins some states, the margin stays about the same or grows or shrinks, but there's still a pretty decent margin, at some point in time, if that's Senator Sanders' situation, he has to decide, what am I doing next, where is this going?
I might not be able to win. Do I continue to attack Hillary Clinton, giving more ammunition to the Republicans? How do I, when we get to the convention in Philadelphia -- we're very proud to host it -- how do I bring it all together, how do I keep the supporters? So, if I keep, you know, hammering and hammering and hammering, how do I at some point in time bring it all together?
And is his campaign really about him as just a candidate and this movement, or is it about electing a Democrat as president of the United States of America? That's a decision that he will have to make. But there comes a point where you know as a candidate whether you're going to win or not.
COOPER: Sally, I can't tell either by your wry smile or your vigorously shaking your head no, what's your position on this? (LAUGHTER)
SALLY KOHN, CNN COMMENTATOR: Well, look, first of all, it's fascinating to me that this is sort of Hillary is the presumptive, kind of let's -- what is the exit strategy for Bernie conversation happens.
Meanwhile, in a very similar situation on the Republican side, we're not necessarily having that conversation, sort of how can Cruz hang on, what's his strategy to win at the convention? So that's note number one.
But note number two, we don't have to choose between electing a Democratic primary candidate who is strong and represents the full spectrum of the party and continuing the Bernie momentum, the movement that I think goes long beyond this election.
And the fact of the matter is, without a doubt -- first of all, there were people in the Democratic Party who wanted a coronation, who explicitly said she shouldn't have a challenger. We wouldn't be talking about Hillary right now if she didn't have contender, number one.
Number two, imagine a for instance. Now, is it because of Bernie? I happen to think it is. Imagine she hasn't come out against the Trans- Pacific Partnership deal and then we're, God forbid, facing a primary or facing a general election against Donald Trump, she'd be slaughtered because that is such a motivating issue with both sides of the aisle. She's a better candidate.
Bernie's still in the race. Let's not count this out yet.
NUTTER: I'm not suggesting that the senator do anything different, other than at some point in time you have to decide, can I win, should I continue to attack my fellow candidate? Am I trying to win or am I trying to destroy someone?
COOPER: Do you agree with his premise that attacking Hillary Clinton damages her?
KOHN: I don't. I'm sorry.
Well, first of all, I don't think he's attacking Hillary Clinton. I think he's attacking her positions. And to contrast -- let's contrast that with what is happening on the other side of the aisle, where you see the real personal, in the gutter, mud-slinging, just nastiness.
Bernie Sanders, to the extent that I won't even use the word attack, he's critiquing and challenging Hillary Clinton on her positions. He has, in fact, affirmatively said he won't take on the e-mail issues, any of the -- quote, unquote -- "scandals."
But he's talking about substance, and he should be because not only is that important to the entire process, it's important to his voters.
COOPER: Let's talk about history. Does a race like this do damage?
GLORIA BORGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, it didn't in 2008. Hillary Clinton stayed in this race until June, if I recall.
BORGER: And people were telling her, get out, you're not going to be -- you know, you're not going to beat Barack Obama.
KOHN: And she went after Obama on a personal level.
BORGER: And she didn't get out. And Barack Obama ended up becoming the next president of the United States.
NUTTER: With her support.
BORGER: With her support.
And I think a lot depends what happens. Should Bernie Sanders, say, go through June, say he doesn't become the nominee, it doesn't go to the convention -- how does he embrace Hillary Clinton? How do they move forward together against a Republican candidate? I mean, there's a lot of -- there's a lot of stuff that has to go on.
KOHN: I think he -- look, I think if we get there, he will, but what I think is very important is to not get there too fast in our conversation.
And, frankly, there is a legion. This is going to shape not just Democratic Party politics, but American politics for the next generation. These young folks in particular who've come out who believe in what Bernie Sanders is saying and who believe in the idea that the regular folks can challenge the political establishment, and if we start telling them right now, thanks, you're done, we have already -- this is already sealed up, then that does irreparable harm for the process.
JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I think, look, they both have big decisions to make. They're not going to be made today, because Wisconsin is today and Bernie Sanders may win Wisconsin today.
Then we will go on to New York. These decisions might not be made up until right up just before or even at the convention. But Hillary Clinton has rather unique insights into what Bernie Sanders is going through right now, because she went through it herself.
And yet you can tell Bernie Sanders is under her skin. And you can see her. She gets angry sometimes and she goes out. She needs to be big. To Sally's point, she needs to be big about how she handles this because she needs those voters and she wants that energy and she wants Senator Sanders if she is the nominee on the trail for her in November.
He also needs to think about if it ends up that way, where she's the nominee, he needs to think, A, what is his future? He's not -- no offense, but he's not in his 30s. Is he going to run for president again? Does he want to lead a movement here? What is he trying to do?
He needs to think this through, too. But we're not at that point. He still thinks -- it's a small, narrow window, but he still thinks there's a small possibility that he can take control of this race. And up and until then, let them go.
NUTTER: Anderson, my only point was we are where we are. Soon will be the 19th, the 26th. April is done. And we will go down the line. But it's something to think about.
KING: At the end of the month, you call it Atlantic day, I call it judgment.
KING: I do think in both races we're going to wake up that Wednesday morning and we're going to know. Do we have an open Republican Convention, and has Hillary Clinton start to stretch it out to the point...
COOPER: And when did you say...
BORGER: About the 28th.
COOPER: By the 20 -- the end of this month?
MARY KATHARINE HAM, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: What I think it underscores on both sides is that both front-runners at the moment are subject to this delicate dance that they're going to have to do to keep people in the tent, and the interesting thing is that both front- runners, Donald Trump more than Hillary Clinton, but they're clodhoppers; they're not waltzers.
Like, these are not people who are light on their feet and with their touch, and so it will be interesting to watch them try to execute that if that's where we go. JEFFREY LORD, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: One of the things, and we
talked about this before, and it applies both to the Democrats and the Republicans, these differences are going to take shape in platform fights.
I understand that when you get past the platform fights, not many people pay attention to the platform, but for that two-week period, and generally there's a week before where you do the platform thing and then the convention itself, these things can be furious efforts on the part of, for instance, Bernie Sanders' people to push particular issues to drive Hillary Clinton in a certain direction.
Certainly on the Republican side, I mean, I can imagine there will be plenty of people saying, you know, we're really not going to put this thing about the wall in the platform. And you will have tremendous fights over this. So, these things are camouflaged at the moment underneath all of the personality business, but this is really going to happen I think.
AMANDA CARPENTER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: If there's something that's remarkable, I think Bernie Sanders is performing somewhat of a service to Hillary Clinton, because Hillary Clinton, she always said I have been able to endure politics for so long.
She plays the victim really well. For someone who has endured so much criticism over the years, she doesn't handle these attacks well at all. Bernie Sanders is under her skin. Whoever the Republican nominee is, Donald Trump more so than Ted Cruz, she's going to get really devastating attacks on issues that go far beyond TPP and every issue of her record.
And so she if she doesn't find a way to handle it now against Bernie Sanders, well, get ready for October.
COOPER: It got chilly over here.
NUTTER: She's proven that she's battle-tough. I think she's not been playing a victim. She has been a victim of serious Republican attacks for more than two decades. I mean, that is what that is.
NUTTER: Candidates, you have a good day, you have a bad day, somebody's on your nerves, somebody -- you're not thinking about them anymore. I think there's a lot going on behind the scenes away from what the voters are doing, the delegates, et cetera, et cetera.
And when Mary Katharine talks about the dance, whether you're waltzing or doing something else, I mean, it's -- we're in that zone where you really start to think about this thing is going to collapse. It's going to go very quickly. KOHN: Let's also just be clear. And, look, I support Bernie Sanders'
positions more than I support Hillary's, but Hillary's best quality, and I think the American people by and large see this, is you can picture here as president more so than maybe anyone else running.
And Donald Trump, on the other hand, you want to talk about playing a victim. Here's a guy running against political correctness, right, and the idea that there's an unfair playing field. And he's constantly out there whining that he's not being treated fairly and lashing out at anyone who criticizes him.
COOPER: Gloria, and then we got to go.
CARPENTER: But if Bernie's tone is an issue, I do think that's a problem for her going forward.
And you can see, I just want to say, to John's point, Bernie Sanders is getting under her skin. The other day, she almost pulled a Bob Dole, remember, where he said stop lying about my record. Hillary said that about Bernie Sanders. So they are.
Look, you have devoted every waking and sleeping moment to this presidential race. You understand why people don't want to get out of the race...
BORGER: ... if they think there's a chance they can...
COOPER: And it's not just the candidates. It's their campaigns as well. They have been working on this.
BORGER: And, you know, so let's just chill a little and give these people a chance to finish what they started.
COOPER: Perfect time to take a break, so we can chill. Plenty more to talk about, including more exit polling information about some of those hot-button issue that Jeffrey Lord mentioned on trade, America's role in the world. That's next.
And later the Melania effect, or her impact or potential impact on the campaign trail.
BLITZER: Our breaking news, new exit polling on issues that Donald Trump has been making headlines on, stirring up a storm over.
Our political director, David Chalian, has been going through the latest batch of numbers.
What else are you picking up?
DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: We took a look at the issues in this round in both parties.
And, as you know, we have seen sort of this economic populism playing out. We're seeing it play out a bit more on the Republican side than the Democratic side. Take a look at this. Views about trade. Do you think trade with other countries will create jobs here? And 33 percent of Republicans say, yes, it will create jobs here; 54 percent of Republicans say it takes jobs away from the U.S.
Look at the Democrats, a similar trend; 38 percent of Democrats in the Wisconsin primary say it creates jobs here, but 45 percent say it takes away U.S. jobs, so that populist streak, Wolf, coursing through both parties.
BLITZER: What are these exit polls showing as far as the U.S. role in foreign affairs?
CHALIAN: And, here, we see two different stories from each party.
Take a look at this among Republicans voting in the Wisconsin primary today. In world affairs, should the U.S. be more active? Forty-eight percent of Republicans voting today want a more active role for the U.S. in the world, more intervention, 29 percent less active, 21 percent the same.
That's a different story on the Democratic side. Look here; 26 percent of Democrats say they want a more active United States on the world stage; 34 percent say less active. And 38 percent say about the same.
BLITZER: Democrats a little bit more isolationist than the Republicans.
CHALIAN: That's right.
BLITZER: At least in this exit poll.
All right, David, thanks very much -- Anderson, back to you.
COOPER: And, John, what do you make about the exit polls, just this latest batch?
KING: The trade issue has been part of Trump's success. He started with, I'm going to build a wall. He made his mark early on with immigration.
But he has expanded his appeal dramatically economically by talking about the unfairness of trade. It's really fascinating to see. This is the challenge for the Republican establishment. It's the party of free trade. It traditionally has been the party of free trade.
And yet you just saw there a majority of the Republicans voting today in Wisconsin, which is both a manufacturing and a farm state -- a lot of times in farm states, a lot of export-driven economy, you see more favorable views with trade in farm states.
But that a majority of Republicans are saying these trade deals are bad for America is a huge challenge, no matter how this Republican race turns out for president, a huge challenge for Speaker Ryan, for Majority Leader McConnell, for the convention Jeffrey was just talking about, when you're talking about running a platform, because the establishment is at odds especially with blue-collar voters right now.
COOPER: Right, except John Kasich...
He's the only Republican who's been for free trade, and it's not helping him, honestly. I mean, he won his home state of Ohio, but on this trade issue, he's really out of synch with the Republican Party, where it is now, and in synch with the establishment, which has written a lot of these a lot of these trade pacts.
COOPER: And yet it plays to Donald Trump, who has been -- this has been a cornerstone of his campaign from the beginning.
LORD: Right. Right.
I mean, one of the things I think has been so interesting about the Trump campaign, he's taken about, what, 50, 70 years of American history and said, OK, we now need to stop and change and reconsider, trade, NATO, our relation -- nuclear weapons, all of this kind of thing.
He's opened up discussions. I think a lot of people are uncomfortable with some of these discussions, frankly, but particularly the trade issue, as we say. The Republican Party, decades, I mean, like a century ago, was more or less where Donald Trump is today. But they changed and they did become very much of a free-trading party, but now that question is open again because you can see that the blue-collar folks out there are saying, our job are going south here and you're not helping us.
COOPER: To have President Obama come out today talking against Donald Trump's policies overseas, and Ted Cruz as well, maybe to a little lesser extent, but also, does it help Trump, I mean, on a day like this?
LORD: I think it does. I think it does.
I mean, first of all, Republicans are very critical of President Obama exactly in terms of his foreign policy experience. They're saying, well, you know, you're criticizing Donald Trump, saying this is stupid or this is a problem, et cetera. Where are we in Iraq? Where are we in Libya? I mean, you have been in charge of this really.
Where were we on Benghazi? They will run through whole litany of things. So, frankly, that's the kind of thing. I mean, help him. Please, do more of this, Mr. President, because this helps.
KEVIN MADDEN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: It's interesting, because I think Donald Trump is always vulnerable any time he's forced to deal with the specifics on policy.
But when President Obama wades into the fight and he is the one that offers the contrast to Donald Trump, that really does excite a lot of base Republican voters, and particularly those that are most animated about the last eight years being a total disconnect between the concerns that so many Americans have about what's going wrong in Washington and the country being taken in the wrong direction.
So, Donald -- so when President Obama engages with Donald Trump, I think it serves to help him. And Ted Cruz, John Kasich, would love to have criticism from President Obama right now in order to buoy their candidacies.
COOPER: But clearly President Obama plans to be a strong voice during this campaign in the general election against whoever the nominee is on the Republican side, particularly Donald Trump.
NUTTER: Anderson, to some extent, I mean, you can not like the messenger, but listen to the message. What was the message today? We're going to track people who are sending money to Mexico primarily through Western Union. I have no idea how you do that.
And the president of the United States of America said that's wacky or that's crazy or good luck with that or whatever. I mean, these ideas make no sense whatsoever. So, Democrat, Republican, independent, no party, whatever, the president of the United States of America just said this idea is crazy. Listen to that message.
KOHN: But, also, you know, look, like him or don't like him, first of all, this race has made his popularity increase, so that says he's doing something right just by speaking up.
And I also think that the person who actually is in the White House saying, hey, by the way, America, whatever side you're on, this is what leadership looks like. It looks like having measured opinions, and being reasonable and respectful. And it looks like upholding our best values and standing in the face of people who even may feel anxious about the way the country is changing and saying we can do better than that, as opposed to saying, yes, let's demonize Muslims, let's pass anti-gay laws, let's bully on Mexicans.
KOHN: That's an important position for the president to take.
MADDEN: I would agree his popularity has increased. I think it has to do more with the fact that he's out of the political arena and is probably, of all the players right now, the most apolitical, which is interesting.
But I think when he wades into it like this, then he does. It really becomes less about the specifics of the message and more about the messenger and it just happens to energize Republican voters.
BORGER: But, I think, you know, not to get too Machiavellian about it, I think the president knows it energizes Republican voters.
MADDEN: Exactly the wrong kind of Republican voter.
MADDEN: I wouldn't disabuse you of that notion.
COOPER: You think he's trying to encourage it, that Donald Trump is the nominee?
BORGER: Totally. If the Democrats -- if you look at the matchups -- and, again, I think don't underestimate Donald Trump. We always keep saying that. Be careful what you wish for.
But I think the president gets that, and may be trying to do that.
KING: Remember the history, Donald Trump, the birther movement, Barack Obama, not exactly buddies.
BORGER: Energize those...
COOPER: It's very "House of Cards." I think you have been watching "House of Cards."
KING: This is where -- this is where I push Gloria in front of the train.
COOPER: We have got to take a quick break.
If you haven't watched "House of Cards," it would make sense if you did. More with the panel ahead.
Plus, we will hear from a senior Trump adviser about what Mayor Nutter was talking about, paying for the wall, as well as hear President Obama's reaction.
That's coming up as we count down to poll closing time in Wisconsin.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) BLITZER: Since last June, when he announced, Donald Trump has said
over and over again he's going to build a wall to keep Mexicans out of the United States and will somehow get Mexico to pay for that wall.
[18:33:47] His campaign released a memo today outlining a plan to get that done, including trying to ban undocumented immigrants from sending money back home to Mexico if the Mexicans don't pay for that wall.
President Obama was asked about Trump's plan today. He called it impractical and not thought through. And also said there's a problem with other notions coming from the Republican campaigns to succeed him.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I am getting questions constantly from foreign leaders about some of the wackier suggestions that are being made.
I do have to emphasize that it's not just Mr. Trump's proposals. I mean, you're also hearing concerns about Mr. Cruz's proposals, which in some ways, are just as draconian when it comes to immigration, for example.
People expect the president of the United States and the elected officials in this country to treat these problems seriously. They don't expect half-baked notions coming out of the White House. We can't afford that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Joining us now from New York is Steven Miller. He's a senior adviser to Donald Trump. Steven, thanks for joining us.
All right. You just heard the president call Donald Trump's plan to compel Mexico to pay for a wall half-baked. How do you respond?
[18:35:06] STEVEN MILLER, SENIOR ADVISOR TO DONALD TRUMP: Well, I think it's good evidence that the president has spent too much time in recent years with very rich special interests and not enough time with working Americans. I can assure you the perspective of an unemployed construction worker who hasn't had a job in four, eight years on enforcing our immigration laws is quite a bit different than the president's.
BLITZER: Donald Trump cites -- he insists that, of the $25 billion annually sent back to Mexico by Mexicans living abroad, he says the majority -- this is Donald Trump -- says the majority of that money comes from illegal aliens, his words. How do you arrive at that conclusion? Because the Government Accountability Office says it's difficult to track exactly how much money is being sent back to Mexico by undocumented workers here in the United States.
MILLER: Well, first of all, regardless of the exact share, it would be more than enough to pay for the wall, but one way that you know that, of course, is just logic.
If you have an illegal immigrant in the United States, the odds that they have family members back at home are much greater because under our chain migration green card system, if you're here illegally, you can petition to bring your relatives in, and that's one of the reasons why immigration has been so large.
BLITZER: The president also makes the point, a lot of other critics of Donald Trump make the point if you were to do this, it would put enormous strain on families. Rather than costing the Mexican government money, it would intensify the drive to convince Mexicans to cross that border into the United States. There would be even more undocumented immigrants in the United States. Your response?
MILLER: Well, I don't want to be impolitic, but I will say that it strikes me as one of the most ignorant things the president has ever said. Let's be very clear on this point. Several decades of open- borders policies with Mexico have primarily helped two groups in Mexico. Drug cartels that are terrorizing the country, and corrupt politicians that have refused to implement social reforms, political reforms, economic reforms.
If we continue the same policy of illegal immigration, Mexico is going to stay poor forever. The only path to prosperity for Mexico is to create the conditions where the Mexican government has to produce stable conditions for their own people, not to rely on taking jobs and wages from Americans and shipping them back home.
BLITZER: As you know, critics say the release of these new details, this memo that was published today on the same day of the Wisconsin primary, they say it's a diversionary tactic by the Trump campaign, which is worried about how well you will do in Wisconsin tonight. Your reaction?
MILLER: The -- the only thing that this memo is diverting from is the focus of other campaigns on pointless issues and redirecting attention to the real concerns of the American people. Jobs, wages and immigration is an issue we will always be happy to focus on.
BLITZER: A lot of people have been asking for details of this proposed wall, that the U.S. would build the wall; Mexico would pay for the wall. Going back to when he announced back in June. So why was the decision made to release this document today?
MILLER: Well, actually in our original immigration policy paper released this summer, we mentioned a few different ideas that are in this memo. We talked about remittances. We talked about visa fees. We talked about trade tariffs, we talked about canceling visas if necessary, to apply leverage. There had been plan all along to eventually spell out how to implement each of those things. And today seemed like a great day to go ahead and do that.
BLITZER: As you know, Wisconsin is an important state. The polls are going to close in a few hours. Donald Trump, your boss, is predicting a big surprise. So here's the question. Do you think you will win? MILLER: I'm not prepared to make any predictions, but I do want to
make a very important point, which is that Wisconsin is not a winner- take-all state, so we can continue to add to our delegate march to 1,237 just by winning 1 district or 2 districts, or whatever it may be. So it's very important for people to keep in mind that it is not a winner take all. And we continue to get closer to 1,237, even if we pick up only 1 or 2 districts.
BLITZER: Two weeks from today, New York, which has a lot of delegates at stake, Donald Trump's home state, as well.
All right. Steven Miller, thanks very much for joining us.
MILLER: Thank you.
BLITZER: We're going to have much more with our panel coming up, including their thoughts about Melania Trump out there on the campaign trail. And of course, we'll have the very latest from Wisconsin. The polls will be closing shortly. Much more of our special coverage coming up.
[18:44:08] BLITZER: The polls won't close in Wisconsin until a little bit more than two hours from now, but as we've been talking about, whether Donald Trump wins or loses tonight, it will be seen as a measure of his momentum.
Last night on the eve of the voting, Melania Trump did something unusual. She gave a short speech at a rally. Mrs. Trump has been pretty low-profile out there on the campaign trail, rarely speaking publicly, so was last night's speech an attempt at damage control after a rough week for her husband?
Here's Randi Kaye.
TRUMP: She will make an unbelievable first lady. So I'd like to introduce why wife, Melania. Come.
M. TRUMP: Hello.
RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Dressed in a short pastel dress, Melania Trump spoke from notes her husband later told the crowd she prepared on her own.
M. TRUMP: It is wonderful -- thank you. We love you, too.
KAYE: It's all part of a plan, perhaps, to help women warm up to her husband.
[18:45:04] The latest CNN poll shows 73 percent of all women have a negative view of Mr. Trump.
M. TRUMP: I'm very proud of him. He's hard worker. He's kind. He has a great heart. He's tough. He's smart.
KAYE: Donald Trump didn't help himself with women in recent weeks between his comments on abortion --
TRUMP: There has to be some form of punishment.
KAYE: -- and his retweet of this unflattering photo of Heidi Cruz in response to someone posting a nude photo of Melania. He later apologized for posting it.
M. TRUMP: When you attack him, he will punch back ten times harder.
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
CROWD: Trump! Trump! Trump!
TRUMP: No matter who you are, a man or a woman --
KAYE: Even though Melania never wanted her husband to run for president, she's saying all the right things to help him win the White House.
M. TRUMP: If you elect him to be your president, he will fight for you and for our country. He will work for you and with you. And together, we will make America strong and great again. Thank you.
KAYE: Even her husband seemed impressed.
D. TRUMP: I want to thank Melania for that. That was very special.
KAYE: Randi Kaye, CNN, New York.
COOPER: Our panel -- does she really help him, you think, Amanda, out on the campaign trail?
CARPENTER: I found the whole thing very awkward. She's beautiful. I don't think she's relatable. I think if I were going to sit down and have lunch with her, I have no idea what we'd talk about.
I mean, this is a woman that lives in the lap of luxury. She's married to Donald Trump. You know, I can't imagine what her life is like. So, it's nice that she's getting out there potentially getting comfortable, but I have no connection to her.
LORD: You know what she reminds me of, and I want to brace my Democratic friends before I say this.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
LORD: But she reminds me of Jackie Kennedy in 1960 who was very much like this, was very shy, not the Jackie Kennedy we got to know later, but she was very shy, very reluctant, she didn't like to be out on the campaign trail. There were all kinds of rumors about exactly the kind of thing Amanda was talking about, how much money to which she apparently -- I couldn't spend that much money on a wardrobe unless I wore mink underwear.
But she was a hit. She was a hit. As we know, later on she became this legend, but in the beginning, she was very reluctant. She was a reluctant wife. She didn't like to be out there. I think Melania Trump will catch on here as we --
MADDEN: I would definitely disagree with that. I think, you know, I think, you know, Jackie Kennedy, the way she reinforced what everybody liked about John F. Kennedy, young, youth, vigor, the newness. I don't think that Melania Trump does that. I don't think she does any harm, which is also important.
MADDEN: But I think the damage is so done, is so deep seated with Donald Trump and women that there's very little she can do to reverse that profile.
COOPER: Do you think he brought her out too late? Would it have helped early on?
MADDEN: Well, I think this was -- she's been out before, she's done a couple interviews where she handled herself very well.
COOPER: I did an interview with her.
People may not have found her very relatable but found her likable. And this I don't think you can say because she's been out earlier was a nod to the fact he had a very rough week the last two weeks. But the idea that it's going to change anything, I would disagree with.
HAM: Melania Trump is in Trump's words, tremendous. She's classy. And this is too much work for one woman.
To make up what he has done with women. I mean, it's just -- it can't be done. Ivanka, I would say, is a more figure. She of course, just had a baby. Congratulations. Probably not out on the trail doing that work.
But I think she has a way of connecting with people in a surprising way that might be interesting.
COOPER: Do you think that's a language issue? I mean, obviously Melania is not originally from the United States. She does have an accent.
Ivanka Trump, you know, may be more versed in the issues, may -- so far she seems unwilling to kind of wade in in kind of policy ways.
HAM: I think Ivanka and the boys, Eric and Donald, as somebody noted at the town hall, said, you know, they seem to handle themselves really well in public and sort of -- not cross the same lines that you cross, do you ever think about taking advice from them? He said, they're pretty bad behind the scenes sometimes, too. Maybe he should take lessons from his kids. They seem to know how to hold it in when he doesn't.
CARPENTER: When it comes to Melania, Donald Trump is stereotype, he is a sexist. To put out your model wife as the one who's defending you reinforces a bad feeling women have about him. When I look at Donald Trump, I said early on, the most important thing to him in life are that men are wealthy and women are pretty. She reinforces that stereotype that has always existed for Donald Trump.
BORGER: I don't know.
[18:50:01] Give her a break. You know, honestly, she's trying to defend her husband.
LORD: Husband. Right.
BORGER: He's had a bad time with women over the last couple -- so you bring out your wife. Politicians, male politicians always bring out their wives to humanize them. And, you know, Barack Obama did it with Michelle Obama at the last convention. That's what spouses do. They're the character witness. So, she's not -- she's not
KOHN: Like the nonpartisan feminist for a minute. If maybe she was American-born, we wouldn't of sort of having this over, could she be intelligent and relatable discussion. So, I do think, this sort of general scrutiny that both, the Republican side brought on of candidate-wise is sort of beyond the pale. She is a no Jackie Kennedy.
COOPER: Just ahead, a radio host in Wisconsin explains what Republicans in his state unique, and why he thinks they might block Donald Trump there getting the nomination. More on that ahead.
[18:55:30] BLITZER: Polls closing at 9:00 p.m. Eastern tonight in Wisconsin, a little bit more than hours from now. The final big wave of voters should be casting ballots right about now on their way home from work.
Jason Carroll is joining us. He's been with the voters in Brookfield, Wisconsin. Jason, when we checked in with you in the last hour, the line was outside the doors, the turnout still steady.
JASON CARROLL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Still steady, I don't know if it's a big wave, but it's definitely a big line, and it's still a big line out the door. Election officials tell us that anyone who gets in line before 8:00, will still have an opportunity to vote. So far, Wolf, last time we talked, it was 1,800 who've walked to these doors, it's now 2,100 who have walked through the door.
Trump thinks a big turnout is going to help him, is going to work in his favor. But a number of voters that we've spoken to, female voters, in fact, tell us not happy with what he had to say on the issue of abortion last week. Instead of going to Trump, they have switched to Cruz. That's just anecdotal. We'll have to see how it works out here tonight -- Wolf.
BLITZER: We'll know soon enough. All right. Jason, thank you.
Joining us now, one of several conservative radio talk show hosts lending their voice to the stop Trump movement. Dan O'Donnell is anchor at News/Talk 1130 WISN.
Dan, thanks very much for joining us.
As you well know, the anti-Trump movement in Wisconsin has been a consistent drumbeat especially among some of your conservative radio talk show colleagues, including yourself. Why do you think it's caught on so well?
DAN O'DONNELL, ANCHOR, NEWS/TALK 1130 WISN: Well, because Wisconsin has essentially been fighting this same fight for the better part of five years, starting in 2011, with Governor Walker's Act 10 collective bargaining reforms. That galvanized conservatives straight through to the recall election against him which he won in 2012. And then, of course, he had to run for reelection in 2014. That is sort of brought conservatives together.
And when Trump, as soon as he landed in Wisconsin said, Walker shouldn't have reformed collective bargaining and should have instead raised taxes. Well, that raised a whole lot of red flags among Wisconsin's conservatives.
BLITZER: So, what you're saying is the Trump attacks on Scott Walker, the governor, has hurt him in Wisconsin?
O'DONNELL: Oh, yes, absolutely. And as your reporter, Jason, noted among women in Wisconsin, Republican women, conservative women, Trump is extremely unpopular amongst the general population. Seventy-seven percent of Wisconsin's women, according to a Marquette University Law School poll released last week, have a negative view of Donald Trump that's clearly been hurting him, as he has been campaigning here. In fact, last night at a big rally at a theater in downtown Milwaukee, it was only half full. And this is a guy who's used to packing stadiums full of supporters.
BLITZER: That's a good point. You also say that the state of Wisconsin is different than a lot of other states. The people there are, in your words, are remarkably good at spotting phony conservatism. Here's the question: is Donald Trump a phony conservative in your mind?
O'DONNELL: Well, yes. Absolutely he is. I mean, he proposed raising taxes just a week ago. He has proposed the expansive use of eminent domain to seize private property, not for government necessities but for what government believes would give it more tax revenue. Those are fundamentally anti-conservative views.
So, yes, I do believe Donald Trump is a phony conservative. BLITZER: What do you think is going to happen tonight? How's Trump
going to do, how's Cruz going to do, what about Kasich?
O'DONNELL: If I had to guess, the Marquette University law school poll has been remarkably accurate in the past. In fact, ever since it was formed in 2012, it has been by far the gold standard of polling here. They have it Cruz 40 percent, Trump 30 percent, Kasich 21 percent. I think it's probably going to be somewhere near that.
BLITZER: We'll see soon enough. Dan O'Donnell is the anchor of News/Talk 1130 WISN in Milwaukee. All right, Dan, thanks very much for joining us.
And take a look at this. We'll show you live pictures of polling sites coming in from Wisconsin right now. They still have two hours to go and to vote on the Democratic and Republican side. We're watching it obviously very, very closely.
Anderson and I will be back with our special coverage. That's coming up in one hour, 8:00 p.m. Eastern.
In the meantime, "ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.