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Ted Cruz Doubling Down on Criticism of New York Values; Dem. War of Words Heats Up Ahead of Big Debate in Brooklyn; Fears of GOP Convention Chaos; Bill Clinton Gets in Heated Exchange With Black Lives Matter Protesters. Aired 10-11p ET

Aired April 7, 2016 - 22:00   ET



DON LEMON, CNN TONIGHT SHOW HOST: You just saw the Reagan revolution on '80s, but before the revolution, Ronald Reagan and Gerald Ford took their battle for the nomination all the way to the 1976 convention. Sound familiar? This is CNN Tonight, I'm don lemon. The next battleground in this year's fight, New York, where Ted Cruz is doubling down on his criticism of New York values.


TED CRUZ, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: They really want to see a general election between two New York liberals who agree on Washington being the center of the universe.


LEMON: Meanwhile the Democrats' war of words heats up ahead of our big debate in Brooklyn one week from tonight.


BERNIE SANDERS, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Are you qualified to be president of the United States when you're raising millions of dollars from Wall Street?

HILLARY CLINTON, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, it's kind of a silly thing to say but I'm going to trust the voters of New York who know me and have voted for me three times.


LEMON: Plus bill Clinton takes to the campaign trail and takes on Black Lives Matter.


BILL CLINTON, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: They won't hush. When somebody won't hush and listen to you, that ain't democracy. They're afraid of the truth. Don't you be afraid of the truth. Don't you be afraid of the truth.


LEMON: The truth shall make you free. Let's begin tonight with fears of GP convention chaos and what today's party could learn from what happened in 1976. Joining me now, CNN chief political analyst, Gloria Borger, Jeffrey Lord who was at the convention in 1976 -- we're outing your age there, Jeffrey, and he supports Donald Trump.


LEMON: And he joins us via Skype, and Alice Stewart, who was not at the convention in 1976, she's the communications director for Ted Cruz. Good evening to all of you. Gloria, I want to start -- I want to begin with you. You just spoke with James Baker, he's a former White House Chief of Staff. He played a key role in the last contested convention back in 1976. Tell us about it.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, he was the chief delegate hunter back then for Gerald Ford. You had Ronald Reagan, the former California governor challenging a sitting president, imagine that. Challenging Gerald Ford and heading into that convention in 1976. It was very close, nobody knew who was really ahead. In the end, it only took one ballot but the margin was 117 votes. And so, you know, I asked Jim Baker sort of if he were running Donald Trump's delegate hunt right now, what would he be doing and what would he tell Trump to do? Take a listen.


BORGER: If you were running the Trump delegate selection process now, what would you be doing?

JIM BAKER, FORMER WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: Well, I think they need to be ramping up a sophisticated delegate selection process. I'm not sure that they've been paying very much attention to their ground game.

BORGER: So, how do you keep track of it?

BAKRE: What you have to do -- first of all, you need to know everything there is to know about a potential delegate or a delegate. Most important thing to know is what turns them on, what turns them off, what they believe in, what they favor, what they disfavor, who they're sleeping with, and the whole smear, okay.

You make a point to learn everything you can about each delegate. And then you just massage that delegate, stay in touch with him, you work him, you protect him to keep him from being stolen by the other side. It's a zero sum game and, as people say all the time, it ain't bean bag.


BORGER: So Donald Trump has been playing a very sort of wholesale politics so far. This is retail politics at the most base level, and it's very complexed and it's very personal and it takes an awful lot of people to do it well and to manage it, Don. LEMON: It's interesting when you hear -- I've been hearing all these

voice from '80s a series of running (ph) and then you hear Jim Baker's voice and it takes you right back to that time. Yes, I remember Jim Baker. So, does he think, you know, we've been talking about the person, you know, Trump campaign is the only thing -- is the person who is ahead, is the one who should probably get the nomination. Does he think of a candidate who is ahead going into the convention should get the nomination?

BORGER: No. He thinks -- he thinks it's a good political spiel (ph) for Trump to say. He doesn't blame him politically for saying what he's saying, that it would be unfair if he's leading going in if he didn't get it. But he's says the rules are the rules. This is not a constitutional convention, Don. This is a political convention and his feeling is you've got to play the game as it's written and you've got to learn to do that and that's how you win. So, he says, you know, Donald Trump, get organized.

[22:05:00] LEMON: Yeah, hold your horses, Jeffrey, well get you in. I have one more question for Gloria though. Speaking of when you say, you know, this is not a constitutional convention, this is a political convention, did Baker tell you how they tried to win over delegates for Ford?

BORGER: Oh, yes, he did. And what he said, and you'll listen in a minute, he said they used the power of the presidency. Listen.


BAKER: Now, you got to be very careful. You can't buy votes.

BORGER: So what can you do?

BAKER: Well, there are some things you can do and of course we -- we took great advantage of it in 1976. The head of the party was the president of the United States.

BORGER: That helps.

BAKER: Yeah, it helps a lot. There was a dinner for the Queen of England, okay. So you have -- you could get an uncommitted delegate and invite him to the White House for a state dinner for the Queen of England. You don't think you have a good chance of getting his vote? You got a pretty good chance of getting his vote.

BORGER: Did you?

BAKER: We did and I bet I went to more state dinners than anybody in the Ford administration with the possible exception of Betty and Gerald Ford.


LEMON: Interesting. Maybe you can just put them on Trump Force One and fly them all down to Mar-a-Lago. You know, Jeffrey, you were at the convention. What was it like? LORD: Yeah, it truly was chaotic. I believe I'm correct that they came

I -- Ford came in 43 delegates ahead, he won by 117. The Pennsylvania connection for me, I was there as a young staffer for the chairman of the Pennsylvania Republican Party and Ronald Reagan as a sort of last- minute gambit and I guess this was his campaign manager, John Sears' idea, was to pick U.S. Senator Richard Schweiker of Pennsylvania who was in the day, thought of as Liberal Republican as his running mate before the convention -- before the vote, which was unheard of.

And one of the sort of (inaudible) reasons which was a big reason, was that Dick Schweiker's best friend in life from childhood was Drew Lewis, who would eventually be my later boss. He's famous in history today. He died the other week sadly. He's famous as firing the air traffic controllers as Reagan's Secretary of Transportation. In the day, he was Ford's Pennsylvania chairman.

He held those delegates while his best friend in life said to him over the phone in a heated conversation, "You are keeping me from being the president of the United States." it was quite dramatic. Drew Lewis held, Ford won. Ronald Reagan was so impressed with this, eventually he convinced Drew Lewis to come with him four years later and then history flows from there.

LEMON: Yeah, Alice, stand by. I'm going to get you in I promise. We have one more question as we've been talking about strategy, Jeffrey. You know Paul Manafort, he worked for Baker in 1976, you know, and the Trump campaign has now hired him. Do you think he's the right guy and New York is reporting tonight now, having plans to work with the campaign?

LORD: Right, he's not my best friend in life but I certainly know him. I have a very high opinion of him. He's exactly the kind of person that Jim Baker is talking about there. This is somebody knows the ropes thoroughly. He knows exactly what he's doing. This is exactly the kind of person that Donald Trump or anybody else for that matter should be hiring. Donald Trump has got him. This is a huge plus for the campaign.

LEMON: So Alice, you stood by patiently. So, does Cruz have the battle plan ready for the convention floor? You've got Manafort there. He knows how this works. Does he have the infrastructure to court these delegates?

ALIC STEWART, TED CRUZ COMMUNICATION DIRECTOR: Look, first of all, it sounds like Jim Baker is giving away some of our secrets there so, it's interesting. A couple of things that he said, look, this is a -- it's a ground game. This is about organization and everything he said is completely true. It's about working with the delegates, getting to know them, following up with them, keeping relationships.

It's important to note delegates are people and when they go to the ballot box, it's important to nurture them and persuade them to vote your way but after that, it's a matter of containing and maintaining those relationships. And what we're hearing also is the rules. There are rules to this process and ideally Ted Cruz will have 1,237 prior to the convention and we'll secure the nomination, but if that's not the case, we'll have to fight it out on the convention floor. And look, often times there's been a lot of question on, you know, if someone gets close to 1,237 should they go in there and get it, no.

If a football team carries the ball down the field and gets to the red zone, you don't give them a touchdown. You have to get the majority plus one. It's very simple rules in this process. To get the Republican nomination, you have to get majority plus one, in that case its 1,237, whether you get it before the convention or at the convention. And that's what we're doing, working hard to acquire delegates. The last four contests we've won.

We did well in Utah as well as North Dakota and Colorado and this week in Wisconsin. So, the momentum is in our favor. Colorado is amassing more delegates this evening. So we have the momentum in our favor and we're encouraged looking forward.

[20:10:00] LEMON: And you've got New York, you've got California and you're working hard for both of them. So, thank you all, appreciate it. When we come back, Ted Cruz tells our Dana Bash why this made him laugh out loud. Plus, Bill Clinton's dust-up with Black Lives Matter protesters. Does this help or hurt Hillary Clinton?


B. CLINTON: I don't know how you would characterize the gang leaders who got 13-year-old kids hopped up on crack and sent them out into the streets to murder other African-Americans children. Maybe you thought they were good citizens. She didn't. She didn't.


LEMON: Less than two weeks until the New York primary and polls show Ted Cruz in third place behind Donald Trump and John Kasich. Cruz taking heat over his remarks about New York values. The front page of today's "New York Daily News" puts it bluntly saying "Take the F-U train, Ted." That's pretty blunt. CNN chief political correspondent Dana Bash sat down with Ted Cruz today in a one-on-one interview.


DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Senator, thank you so much for sitting down with me.

TED CRUZ, PRESDIENTIAL CANDIDATE: It's great to be with you Dana.

BASH: I'm sure you've seen this.


BASH: I'm glad you're laughing because the "New York Daily News" gave you a warm welcome. They actually gave you some helpful hints, to take the F train and the U train.

CRUZ: Very helpful.

BASH: Very helpful. In all seriousness, you know, when you saw this, what did you make of it?

[20:15:00] CRUZ: I laughed out loud. Look, I've never been popular with left-wing journalists or tabloids. And frankly that's not my target audience. I tell you, the energy and support we're seeing, we just did a wonderful gathering here. I came to Brooklyn and baked some matzo and then just spoke with Russian-Jewish community, and the Orthodox community and Hasidic Jewish community and the energy and enthusiasm we had her today was tremendous and yesterday it's interesting.

Apparently, the liberal journalists didn't like me being there but in the Bronx yesterday I had the opportunity to sit down with pastors, sit down with Hispanic pastors, African-American pastors. It was actually an event that was hosted by a democratic state senator, Senator Ruben Diaz. He's a democrat, he's a pastor, he's African- American and Hispanics and he invited me there and we had a wonderful gathering of pastor agreeing that we need to stand for shared values. So, the reporters may not be happy but I'm much more focused on the citizens.

BASH: But in all seriousness is the origin of this, which again I'm glad you're having fun with it because it is a New York tabloid. Is that you, several months ago disparaged New York value. Now, I was upstate with you earlier today and I am well aware in talking to voters there that in upstate, they got what you were saying, that you're talking about Liberals in New York City and that conservatives in upstate New York are quite different. But you understand how a sound bite is played and how your opponent is using it against you here. Any regrets in using that terminology now that you're asking for New York voters to vote for you?

CRUZ: Not remotely because everyone in New York and outside of New York knows exactly what I meant by that. And it is the liberal values of Democratic politicians who have been hammering the people of New York for decades. They've suffered under these liberal values. It's been politicians like Governor Andrew Cuomo, like Hillary Clinton, like Mayor Bill de Blasio.

You know, Andrew Cuomo told New Yorkers, said if you're pro life, if you believe in traditional marriage, if you believe in the second amendment, there is no place for you in the state of New York. It was striking yesterday when I was meeting with Senator Diaz, and a Democratic senator. He said, my own governor said there's no place for me as a pastor and someone who believes in life. I mean, that is a liberal intolerance which the people of New York I think are tired of.

BASH: You talked about the fact that you are coming to talk to me now. We're sitting in a Jewish community center, in an ultra-orthodox part of New York. You just helped make matzo with young children. I've interviewed you a lot of places around the country, this is not what I expected to be honest with you. Do you feel like you have been successful as, you know, a Christian from Texas reaching out to the Orthodox Jews in New York.

CRUZ: Very much so. We've got tremendous support of the Jewish community, tremendous support especially in the Orthodox community. I've been privileged to speak the synagogues all over the country, and in particular to focus on defending religious liberty, which has been a passion of mine my entire life and focus on standing with Israel.

BASH: Coming here in New York, given the fact that you're campaigning in the New York Republican primary, is this how you plan to get delegates here? Find pockets of support like, you know, here in the Orthodox Jewish community or in upstate New York?

CRUZ: We are building a big tent and we're unifying Republicans. You know, nationwide there are about 65 to 70 percent of Republicans who get that Donald Trump is not the best candidate to go up against Hillary Clinton, but he loses and loses badly to Hillary. And what we're seeing happening all over the country is those 65 to 70 percent of Republicans are uniting behind this campaign. We saw it powerfully in Wisconsin just a couple of days ago.

BASH: Okay, so no question you did very well in Wisconsin and you should be commended for that victory.

CRUZ: Thank you.

BASH: But do you concede that at this point, your only realistic way is to get the nomination at the convention? Not your only mathematical way, but your only realistic way

CRUZ: Not remotely. Look, we have a clear path forward to get to 1,237 delegates. It's difficult. We've got to win and we've got to win consistently but I'll point out in the last three weeks, we've won in four states in a row. We won a landslide in Utah, nearly 70 percent of the votes, we got all of the delegates.

BASH: But now you're here in New York and you're in third place, even behind John Kasich. You've got Maryland coming up, you're in third place in the polls. You need 88 percent of the remaining delegates to win.

CRUZ: Well, let's see what the voters say. You know, I actually think the people of New York, particularly upstate New York, have an awful lot in common with the people of Wisconsin, very, very similar. And what we're seeing happening across the country, what I hope we'll see in New York, is that Republicans will unite.

BASH: How actively are you working to convince? It's a good operation, you understand how the game is played, but how hard are you working to convince Trump delegates to come your way on any second ballot should it come to that?

[20:20:00] CRUZ: Listen, we are working to earn every vote we can, every place we can. So, we're competing in all 50 states and we're competing, number one, to win a primary, to win a caucus, to earn those votes, to unify the party. Our focus is unity, bringing together conservatives, bringing together Libertarians, bringing together moderates, bringing together everyone who doesn't want to see Donald Trump as the nominee and doesn't want to hand the general election to Hillary Clinton gift wrapped.

BASH: What about those who currently do want to see Trump as the nominee?

CRUZ: Well, you know, it's interesting. Donald has had a floor, about 20 to 25 percent he seems to get no matter what. As he said -- you know he may be right that he could go out on Fifth Avenue and shoot someone and that floor would stay there. But he also has a ceiling -- he has a ceiling of 35 to 40 percent.

BASH: And I'm talking about looking forward to the convention, when if there is a contested convention, we all know, that the delegates are bound to whomever they are supporting initially. Then after that, in the second ballot, many of them are not bound. How hard are you working to woo the Trump delegates for the second ballot?

CRUZ: We're doing everything we can.

BASH: One of the things that could help you is if you had more support from your own Republican senate colleagues. We do know you have two endorsements, but given how much momentum you say you got out of Wisconsin, how much many of your colleagues really dislike Donald Trump and don't want him to be the nominee, why don't you have more support from Republican senators?

CRUZ: You know, Dana, I recognize that folks in the media focus on Washington. You cover Capitol Hill, that's a natural thing to say.

BASH: No, not just Washington. The opinion leaders at the convention.

CRUZ: What I can tell you is the energy and support we're receiving from the grassroots is overwhelming, and my focus is on beating Hillary Clinton and poll after poll after poll, shows Donald losing badly to Hillary, and poll after poll after poll shows me beating Hillary.

BASH: But to get the chance to beat Hillary Clinton, you know how it works, you actually have to be the Republican nominee. One of the things that my colleague, Manu Raju, in the senate has heard from several Republican senators, is that they probably would think about backing you and telling all of their grassroots activists to back you if you would apologize for saying that your Republican leader, Mitch McConnell, is a liar. Will you apologize?

CRUZ: You know what Dana, this is why people are so frustrated with Washington. It's the inside battles back and forth. This isn't a game, this isn't about Washington power brokers, this isn't a smoke-filled room. If we want to turn the country around, let me tell you who should apologize. Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton should apologize to the American people.

BASH: But you called Mitch McConnell a liar, not them.

CRUZ: They should apologize to the American people for seven years of economic stagnation, for people seeing jobs going overseas and wages stuck. Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton should apologize to all the single moms who've been forced into part-time work because of ObamaCare. --

BASH: So no apology to Mitch McConnell? Does it help you?

CRUZ: Look, my focus is not on Washington, that ain't going to happen. And if the Washington lobbyists want to see that happen, they can hold their breath a long, long time. My focus is on the American people and uniting Republicans behind a shared value - shared value and a shared vision. Now, I will tell you this, I am happy to praise Mitch McConnell and praise him effusively for his stand along with Chuck Grassley saying we are not going to hold hearings on a replacement for Antonin Scalia.

Mitch McConnell's doing the right thing. Chuck Grassley's doing the right thing and I'm proud to commend them. I've done so publicly many times. They're doing the right thing in saying that Justice Scalia's replacement should be made by the next president so that the American people have an opportunity to vote and express their views, but we need to be focusing on the American people not politicians bickering in Washington.

BASH: I know we're almost out of time. Just one quick moment that really struck me and a lot of people. At your victory rally in Wisconsin, a lot of your supporters were chanting for your wife, Heidi. And she came up on the stage and you had a couple of embraces. There seemed to be a lot of layers of emotion there. What was going through your mind at that moment?

[20:25:00] CRUZ: Well, I mean, this has been a pretty amazing couple of weeks in politics. I never envisioned that my opponent would attack my wife, that he would go after my wife and my family, and Heidi is a rock. I mean, she is strong and she's come through this unwavering, but when I recognized Heidi in our victory speech, the supporters there began chanting "Heidi" and it was a powerful moment just to see so many people embracing her and saying, thank you.

Thank you for putting yourself through this garbage, for enduring the garbage that my opponent has heaped upon her and that was powerful and it made me want to say thank you to her also. And it also made me think, and this is something I think a lot about, about the example Heidi gives to our girls. You know, Katherine and Caroline, they're 5 and 7 and they're saying, number one, they see their mommy attacked by a bully and insulted and lied about, but they also see that their mommy stands up with a smile and she isn't scared, she isn't intimidated and they see people rallying around their mommy.

And I hope that becomes an example to little girls across the country that there's nothing that a strong woman cannot do. And I've said many times Heidi's my best friend and she is.

BASH: Senator, thank you. Appreciate your time. Thank you so much.


LEMON: Dana Bash is here with me now. We have the honor. So, he's getting hammered about these New York value comments. But you weren't with him just in the city because people think of New York maybe as just New York City.

BASH: Exactly.

LEMON: It's not. Does it play the same outside of the city?

BASH: Not at all. What he is saying, his defense sort of falls on deaf ears here in New York City, in downstate New York as they call it upstate. But up there, I was with him outside of Albany. He had a pretty large rally, a lot of people came. The line was kind of snaked outside this big high school gym and I asked so many people about whether or not they were offended by the New York values slur and really almost to a person they said, no, I get it, we're upstaters.

We don't have the same values as the people in New York City. And so, that's the kind of constituency he's trying to appeal to anyway. I don't think he expects to get a lot of votes here in Manhattan. I mean, you know, he's not outside handing in Columbus circle. It's really not his scene.


LEMON: I know it's really interesting because people in New York see New York City and then the rest of it and even upstate New York.

BASH: But you're a New Yorker. You know how it goes.

LEMON: And then the rest of the country. Thank you.

BASH: Thanks Don.

LEMON: Always a pleasure having you, Dana Bash.

BASH: Thank you.

LEMON: Up next, what one New Yorker thinks of these comments from Ted Cruz. Frank Bruni weighs in, plus Donald Trump picks up support from a big name.


DON LEMON, CNN TONIGHT WITH DON LEMON SHOW HOST: Donald Trump is leading the Republican polls in New York by really a large margin, ahead of the upcoming primary. But he's taking nothing for granted. He's cancelling events in western states, so that he can focus on winning the 95 delegates at stake in New York. So joining me now, Mr. Frank Bruni, the Op-Ed columnist for the New York Times. Good to see you.


LEMON: So, I'm sure you heard Dana Bash's interview with Ted Cruz talking about New York values. What do you think he meant by that comment?

BRUNI: You know exactly what he meant. He meant you know liberal values, the values of sophisticates and the values of elites. We know what he meant. LEMON: As simple as that. Some have said he means New York values because he said New York values are about media, and it is about money. And that was somehow, you know, he was saying something about Jewish media. Do you agree with that?

BRUNI: I don't know if I would go that far. But I will tell you what I found interesting about the interview you just played is after defending his comment about New York values, he went on and on about what a uniter he was going to be, and how he is going to unite everyone. I don't think when he said New York values, is that an act of unity? I mean, aren't you kind of putting some people against others?

LEMON: Yeah. Did he not think he was going to run in New York City when he said that? Because New York is more than New York City.

BRUNI: There are a lot of people in the moment say things that don't look far down the road.

LEMON: Both Donald Trump and Kasich are using his comments in attack ads today. And then, today though, the former mayor of New York City, speaking of New York values, announced he'd be voting for Trump. He says it's New York City. We're family. I can make fun of New York. But you can't. Even if Trump wins here in New York, he needs to win 59 percent of the remaining delegates.

BRUNI: Right.

LEMON: That's the magic number.


LEMON: Do you think he'll do it?

BRUNI: I don't see him getting there. No, I don't think he's going to have a majority of the delegates by the time he gets to the convention. I think we're looking at a contested convention.

LEMON: You don't think so?

BRUNI: I don't think so.

LEMON: What do you think of the endorsement, it's not a full-throated endorsement. It's sort of a yeah, I'm going to vote for him, but I don't necessarily agree with all his policies, from Rudy Giuliani?

BRUNI: You know, I think there's a lot of history between the two of them. I think Giuliani, can't bring himself like a lot of people to support Ted Cruz. And there's a way in which and I say this as someone who admires a lot of what he has done during his campaign, but there is a way in which John Kasich feels a little bit irrelevant.

LEMON: Yeah. So I liked your article. Because I'm sure you were watching Donald Trump when he said when I become the nominee, I'm going to be so boring, that you won't even know it. You're probably looking at the television going yeah, right. (CROSSTALK)

BRUNI: That's not in his personal.

LEMON: You said even if he doesn't win, right, that you won't defeat him, that he's not going anymore. So those stunts and screams will continue because Trump is an attention junkie who has become accustomed to the highest doses imaginable of his beloved drug. He'll say what he must and do what it takes for his fix. Why do you think America is so fascinated by this Trump show? I hear it all the time and I'm sure you do, too. Why do you guys show him so much? Well, you're kind of demanding it, the ratings show.

BRUNI: Yeah. What I wrote about is America has some responsibility here. If you write about Trump, people have learned, people click on it. If you show Trump on TV, people tune in. To a certain extent, the media is giving people exactly what they're telling the media it wants. And since this is a political campaign and he's the frontrunner, there's actually cause to give him a lot of coverage because we're scrutinizing him. The other thing that I don't is said often enough is yes, he has gotten blanket coverage at times. It's almost all been negative coverage.

LEMON: Yeah.

BRUNI: So if that is the explanation for why he does so well in polls and primaries, we have to ask questions about American voters.


LEMON: You mentioned that. You said that the news organization didn't set - you know, you said that the coverage is mostly negative of the Mexican rapist, Muslim ban, blood coming out of wherever, whatever happened in this show, by the way, the mocking of John McCain. You're going on and on and on, talking about the size of his hands, the Ku Klux Klan, shrugging it off. And yeah, you're right.

BRUNI: That's the timeline of Trump coverage.

LEMON: Yeah.

BRUNI: If you literally wrote out a timeline of the different Donald Trump stories and which replaced the one before it, they would almost all be controversies and negative stories.

LEMON: Yeah.

BRUNI: So if that is the explanation for why he's doing so well, is that the media's fault or is the electorate behaving in a way they have to take responsibility?

LEMON: It didn't happen in a vacuum as you say. OK. So let's turn to the Democrats now because you heard Bernie Sanders yesterday saying Hillary Clinton is not qualified to be president. Well, today, he clarified his statement. Let's listen to it.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you believe Secretary Clinton is unqualified to be president?

[22:35:01] BERNIE SANDERS, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Does Secretary Clinton believe that I'm unqualified to be president?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why can't you just say yes? She has some of the first-rate resume.

SANDERS: Absolutely.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And she's one of the most qualified people who run.

SANDERS: She has years of experience and she's extremely intelligent.


LEMON: Do you think he realized that he maybe went too far?

BRUNI: He did go too far. Here's the thing, he chose a really stupid word. That is one of the worst chosen adjectives of this presidential cycle. You can fault Hillary Clinton for a lot of things. He could have pointed to all the private corporations, donations, and called her corrupt. He could have pointed to trade deals and the Iraq war, and called her a person of bad judgment. But to say she's not qualified does not sit with her resume or people's perceptions of her.

LEMON: Did she come off better than him? Because she said I would rather take Bernie Sanders over any of the other two.

BRUNI: Yeah. I think it's funny. He won Wisconsin by a lot this week, but I think at this moment in time, it feels like she's having the better week because he got so defensive about that Daily News interview that he said the qualified thing. And as I have said, it was one of the most poorly chosen adjectives in the cycle.

LEMON: Frank Bruni, it's called Donald Trump won't leave us alone in the New York Times. And I think everyone should read it. It is a very good read.

BRUNI: Thank you.

LEMON: Thank you. I appreciate it. Good to see you.

BRUNI: Good to see you.

LEMON: Always a pleasure. Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders go head to head in CNN's Democratic presidential debate in Brooklyn, one week from tonight beginning at 9 Eastern. Make sure you tune in.

And coming up, Bill Clinton on the campaign trail, why things got heated when he clashed with Black Lives Matter protesters. Will this help or is this going to hurt Hillary Clinton? We'll talk about that.


BILL CLINTON, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: Hillary didn't vote for that bill because she wasn't in the Senate. She was spending her time trying to get healthcare for poor kids. Who were they? And their lives mattered.



[22:40:40] LEMON: All right, here we go. Bill Clinton was in Philadelphia today. The former president campaigning for his wife, Hillary, but the former president got into a heated exchange with Black Lives Matter protesters who interrupted his speech. Joining me no Bakari Sellers, former member of the South Carolina State House, and Marc Lamont Hill, CNN political commentator. So, here we go, let's talk. Bakari, you first. The former president sparred today with the protesters over the 1994 Crime Bill and he defended his wife use of the word super predator. Take a look.


B. CLINTON: I don't know how you would characterize the gang leaders who got 13-year-old kids hopped up on crack and sent them out into the street to murder other African-American children, maybe you thought they were good citizens, she didn't. She didn't. You are defending the people who killed the lives you say matter. Tell the truth. You are defending the people who caused young people to go out and take guns. There was a 13-year-old girl in Washington, D.C. who was planning her own, how would you do it? Now, look at these other ones. Look at this. That's not true.


LEMON: Wow. I mean, Bakari, that was quite a sight to see a former president mixing it up with protesters like that. What did you think?

BAKARI SELLERS, FORMER MEMBER OF THE SOUTH CAROLINA STATE HOUSE: Well, I don't think there's any defense for the usage of the term super predator. I can't defend that. I think Hillary Clinton even came out and said and apologized for the use of the term, and said she used it once and moved forward. But what you saw today, you saw Bill Clinton, the president, attempt to provide some historical context for the 94 Crime Bill and it was inartful, at best. But context does matter, and context is key. When the 94 Crime Bill was passed, it had support of over the half of the Congressional black caucus, many members of the black clergy, and what we're dealing with now are the unattended consequences that have -- and mass incarceration is a big issue. So the question is how do we deal with that issue today and how do we deal with it now?

LEMON: Marc, I think it's important to actually hear what Hillary Clinton said back then. So let's watch.


H. CLINTON: We also have to have an organized effort against gangs, just as in a previous generation, we had an organized effort against the mob. We need to take these people on. They are often connected to big drug cartels. They are not just gangs of kids anymore. They are often the kinds of kids that are called super predators, no conscience, no empathy. We can talk about why they ended up that way, but first, we have to bring them to heel.


LEMON: Do you take great issue, why?

MARC LAMONT HILL, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: It's dehumanizing language, almost referring to them like dogs. You have to bring them to heel. She is saying that they didn't have the typical things that make us human, the ability to feel, the ability to have remorse, the ability to respond responsibly or humanely to other people's suffering. It was just a terrible thing. We all need context but there is no context defends the passage of the Crime Bill. There is no context that can defend the use of super predators because it wasn't just that they were cherry picking a few recalcitrant, evil people. It was used to lump in a lot of young black folks who ended up in prisons.

LEMON: She says she was talking about gang members. Listen, I want to hear what she said because I asked her about it in the last debate, I asked her about her use of the term super predator. Listen.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Secretary Clinton, in 1996, you used the term super predators to describe some young kids. Some feel like it was racial code. Was it and were you wrong to use that term?

H. CLINTON: Well, I was speaking about drug cartels and criminal activity that was very concerning to folks across the country. I think it was a poor choice of words. I never used it before, I haven't used it since, and I would not use it again.


HILL: But that's not the point. It wasn't just that she used inartful language. It's not just that she used the wrong term for t right idea, the science on it is wrong, the policy predictions they made were wrong. At the core, these are people.


LEMON: OK. Listen, I understand what you're saying.


LEMON: And I think many people would agree with what you have to say, Marc. Bakari and Marc, how much longer does she have to keep answering? She's answered it before, she said it was wrong, she's moved on. She's proposing legislation to, you know, for prison to stop the pipeline prison. She has done it. So how many times does she have to keep saying I'm sorry, it was wrong?

[22:45:13] SELLERS: And that's my point -- that's my point to this discussion today. I mean, we have to figure out how to untangle these complexities of mass incarceration today and who is best suited for that. We were talking about crack and cocaine disparities, we're talking about building on the president's clemency project where this president himself has granted clemency to more individuals than the six presidents prior to that. We're talking about continuing that. We're talking about Hillary Clinton who has come out and put forth the proposals necessary to deal with these issues today. And we can keep reliving the cultural wars of 1994...


HILL: That ain't what just happened, bro. Bill Clinton could have said the same thing that Hillary Clinton said.


HILL: It's not as if the opponents of Hillary Clinton are simply relitigating that. Bill Clinton did what a lot of people do. They said yeah, I'm sorry about the language but I'm not sorry. It's classic boyfriend apology. I'm sorry that you misunderstood. I'm sorry that your feelings were hurt. Not that I'm sorry that I was fundamentally wrong.


LEMON: Again, he's also giving context and hindsight is 20/20. We've been saying there were lots of people.


LEMON: I mean, 22 members of the Congressional black caucus signed on it. It wasn't just Bill Clinton.

HILL: And the Congressional black caucus was irresponsible. The Congressional black caucus was unethical and immoral on this issue. And they were dead wrong. The fact that 22 other black people did it doesn't make it right. What kind of excuse is that?


HILL: That's not true. Bill Clinton himself today said this. He said we knew it was bad stuff, but we had to get these other things to do.


HILL: We knew it wouldn't pass unless Republicans approve it, and they wouldn't have approved it, unless we got tough. So it was a political calculus. He dragged himself to the center.

(CROSSTALK) SELLER: Marc, my only point to you is this. Now we have to deal with the ramifications and unintended consequences today. Now, we have to understand that to untangle the mass incarceration is at the local, it's at the state level. Because the fact of the matter is, we have 2.2 million people in this country that are in prisons and only 10 percent of those people are in federal prisons. The majority of those people are in state prisons, which the president for all practical purposes really can't do much about. So we need to make sure we're building a Department of Justice that deals with these things. So we make sure that people aren't look like the three of us, debating this today, aren't in prison for crimes they shouldn't be.


LEMON: Gather all your thoughts. I got to get to a break. So stay with me. Coming up, the Clintons have a great track record with black voters, but who is the best candidate for black voters today? We'll talk about that.


[22:51:34] LEMON: Former President Bill Clinton going head to head with protesters today over his 1994 Crime Bill, putting the spotlight on an issue that Hillary Clinton's campaign might have hoped was behind them in the rear view mirror. But back with me now, Bakari Sellers and Marc Lamont Hill. So, Marc, I want to play more from President Clinton engaging with protesters today. Watch this.


B. CLINTON: I talked with a lot of African-American groups. They thought black lives mattered. They said take this bill because our kids are being shot in the streets by gangs. Because of that bill, we had a 25-year low in crime, a 33 low in the murder rate. And listen to this, because of that, and the background check law, we had a 46- year low in the deaths of people by gun violence. And who do you think those lives were that mattered? Whose lives were saved that mattered? Hillary didn't vote for that bill because she wasn't in the senate. She was spending her time trying to get healthcare for poor kids. Who were they? And their lives mattered.


LEMON: So, Marc, did Bill Clinton have a point, no how unpopular it may be that some gang leaders were sending kids out on the street that were killing kids, kids being killed. I mean, that it did save some lives?

HILL: You can cherry pick anecdotes, a bunch of anecdotes together and it doesn't make it data. The data does not bear out. As a social scientist, the data doesn't bear it out. There's absolutely no empirical evidence to suggest that Crime Bill was the causal factor that made crime go down. And the fact, at the time that it happens, when Hillary Clinton and Bill Clinton are sitting and they're talking about this super predator idea, there was a prediction that juvenile crime was going to go up. It was actually going down at the time. They only found out later that they were wrong. The other piece of this is that lead paint. The other things causing the super predator identity was being stripped away at that time. All the data right now suggests they were 100 percent wrong. And lastly, you can't say Hillary Clinton wasn't in the senate, she's didn't support this bill, so she's not responsible. When Hillary Clinton ran for the senate, right, she said that I was not just the first lady. It's sexist to suggest I was his first lady.


LEMON: But she does own it.

HILL: But Bill didn't just own it.


LEMON: Bakari, I'm going to let you respond. Let's play from the debate when I asked her about the Crime Bill and I'll get your response.


LEMON: As a black man in America, if I was born today, I'd have a one in three chance of ending up in prison in my life. Secretary Clinton on the campaign trail you're calling for an end to the era of mass incarceration, but a lot of folks in the black community blame the 1994 Crime Bill, a bill you supported, for locking up a generation of black men. Given what has happened since 1994, why should black people trust you to get it right this time?

H. CLINTON: Well, Don, let me say this. Senator Sanders voted for that bill, we both supported it. And I think it's fair to say we did because back then, there was an outcry over the rising crime rate and people from all communities were asking that action be taken. My husband said at the NAACP last summer that it solved some problems, but it created other problems and I agree. And one of those problems was unfortunately a move to expand the reasons why people would be incarcerated, not just at the federal level, which was what this bill was about, but in states and localities as well. And that's why the very first speech that I gave in this campaign was about criminal justice reform and ending the era of mass incarceration because I believe absolutely that too many families were broken up, too many communities were adversely affected.


[22:55:20] LEMON: So, Bakari, she said even the former president admits the bill made a problem of mass incarceration worst. So here is my question. Is Secretary Clinton the best candidate for black voters now?

SELLERS: Well, I think that she highlighted the simple fact that not only did she support it and President Clinton supported it, but Bernie Sanders voted for it. I think that's important. As my good friend, Marc, was going through a lot of the context and talking about how bad the bill was, and some of the unattended consequences, the fact of the matter is that Bernie Sanders did support that bill. And then you look at the record. You look at where we are today, you look at the fact in Vermont, African-Americans are ten times more likely to incarcerated than white people from Vermont. When you look at Hillary Clinton's record, since this 1994 Crime Bill, whether or not it's in the United States Senate where she worked to remedy the disparities between crack and cocaine, and you look at where we are today, the question is how do we fix this problem today, and how do we make sure the Department of Justice and I can't harp (ph) on this enough, the Department of Justice is doing what it should do with the states, to make sure that where the majority of African-Americans are incarcerated for lower level offenses and they're not. So to every viewer out there, if you do not know the name of who your local prosecutor, or solicitor is, or district attorney, that's where we need to start.


LEMON: I've got to go. We'll be right back.