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Trump Blasts GOP Delegate Selection Process; GOP Delegate Battle Heats Up; Is Paul Ryan Setting Up to be GOP Nominee in Contested Convention. Aired 11-11:30a ET

Aired April 11, 2016 - 11:00   ET


[11:00:00] CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: Thank you for joining me today. I'm Carol Costello.

AT THIS HOUR with Berman and Bolduan starts now.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everybody. I'm Kate Bolduan.


This morning no one told me there would be math.

BOLDUAN: I'm sorry. No.

BERMAN: Or more importantly, apparently nobody told Trump. Overnight, Trump blasted the selection process that handed Ted Cruz all of Colorado's delegates. Trump called it "totally unfair," which, for once, is mild by comparison. His new convention manager accused Ted Cruz of using Gestapo tactics.

BOLDUAN: That's the first we've heard from Trump in four days. That might be a record in this election cycle, especially just a week out now from the New York primary that is becoming a big deal now.

CNN's Phil Mattingly is joining us with more on this.

Is this, oh, what a difference a weekend makes, Phil?

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I think so. If you look at what Donald Trump has been trying to do over the last couple of days, it runs parallel with what we saw behind the scenes over the last three or four days related to delegates. He and his team recognizing that Ted Cruz has a major advantage in what's been happening if you look at North Carolina and South Dakota and Iowa. Everything that's going on with delegates right now, Ted Cruz's team and organization and grass roots operation has defeated them every step of the way. Part of the reason he put Paul Manafort in the position he put him in, part of the reason he retooled his campaign, was because they realized they have to do something about it. But he will still say things publicly that make it clear he thinks the system is rigged. Take a listen.


DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE (voice-over): This was changed in the summer to help a guy like Cruz, and it's not right. I won, for example, South Carolina by a landslide, like a massive landslide and now they're trying to pick off delegates one by one. That's not the way democracy is supposed to work. They offer them trips. They offer them all sorts of things. And you're allowed to do that. I mean, you're allowed to offer trips and you can buy these votes. What kind of a system is this? I'm an outsider, and I came into the system, and I'm winning the votes by millions of votes, but the system is rigged. It's crooked.


MATTINGLY: The system may not be pretty, but it's part of the rules. Ted Cruz's campaign has been following the rules and following them effectively. As we've seen over the last couple of weeks, that's put Donald Trump and his team on the defensive.

BERMAN: North Carolina and Colorado Donald Trump gets zip?

MATTINGLY: More or less. Almost got shut out. Definitely got shut out of Colorado. Picked up one or two in North Dakota. One of the interesting elements you just heard was him referencing South Carolina. This is a state where he won all 50 delegates. He dominated the state. Cruz's campaign has been doing behind-the- scenes, working on another track, and that is, if they get to an open convention and get to ballot two or ballot number three, they want to make sure the delegates who initially will vote for Donald Trump on the first ballot, really like Cruz. Therefore, they shift over. After that, we saw it in South Carolina on a couple of congressional district conventions, five of six delegates were pro Cruz. They have to vote for Donald Trump on that first ballot. Second or third ballot, all Ted Cruz.

BOLDUAN: Complicated, but get smart quick on the delegate math. It's going to matter.


BOLDUAN: That's Phil. Great to see you.

BERMAN: Here to respond to Arizona state treasurer and a Trump campaign surrogate, Jeff Dewitt.

Mr. DeWitt, thank you so much for being with us.


BERMAN: Donald Trump says the system is rigged. Well, is it rigged or is it just the system? I mean, these are the rules that are in place that have been in place for a while. It was transparent about what the rules were. Why is it unfair?

DEWITT: Well, Kate and John, the system absolutely is rigged. What it appears is that the establishment has put a failsafe into the whole process to allow them to still go against the will of the voters if the voters don't listen to what the establishment wants. And what's amazing when you look at Colorado where they've completely shut out anyone that likes Trump, and it shows the people of Puerto Rico and Guam have more say in the presidential process than the people of Colorado. And there are videos online of Colorado Republicans burning their Republican registration cards because they're so upset about how they've been completely disenfranchised in the process. But even here in Arizona, I'm seeing it firsthand. If you're a known Arizona person, they're trying to -- I'm sorry, a known Trump person, they're trying to shut you out of the process and only elect Cruz and the, quote, unquote, "Never Trump" people to be delegates. I've been working it firsthand on the ground. They pull every dirty trick in the book and they're absolutely living up to the name Lying Ted.

BOLDUAN: But, but, but, Donald Trump has repeatedly defended the fact that he has contributed in the past to Democratic candidates by using these words. "I'm just playing the game. I'm a businessman and playing the game as it is played." Then now he says the game is rigged. And he's complaining out the fact that the game is rigged. He's playing it in one regard. He is not playing it in another regard. Is he trying to have it both ways?

[11:05:03] DEWITT: Those are two completely different games. What he's said in the past and openly about it and very honest about it is, yeah, he's contributed to both sides. As a successful business person in this country, it's one of the most unfortunate truths, in that when you need to get something done, a lot of times you need political support, especially as a developer, and you --


BOLDUAN: But there's still parts of the game that is politics. Nothing about it is illegal. It's just playing the game.

DEWITT: Well, campaign contributions are one thing. This particular thing where here we have voters all across the country being disenfranchised. Remember that Ted Cruz has only actually won three states where they have a true primary process, where voters get to speak. He's out there going around and taking credit for the big win in Colorado where the known Trump supporters were shut out of the meeting, kicked out of the room, so there was no chance that they could get voted on to be a delegate. I think it's terrible. And there are a lot of people in Colorado that support Mr. Trump. I think a lot more. It would be like an Arizona vote where it was two to one, Trump victory over Cruz, and to shut the people out of the process -- what they're doing is killing the Republican people. The people that have to be celebrating this the most are the Democrats and Hillary Clinton --


DEWITT: -- because that's who is being helped by this the most.

BERMAN: We've heard from some Colorado Trump supporters who said they're upset they couldn't vote for Trump. They wanted to but they didn't get any support from the Trump campaign because it wasn't organized enough in Colorado. Paul Manafort, who is running the convention now for the Trump campaign, he accused the Cruz campaign of Gestapo tactics. What Gestapo tactics? What has the Cruz team done that's tantamount to Nazi secret police?

DEWITT: Again, what they're doing, in Colorado and Arizona and other places, they're trying to shut out and kick people out of the room if they're Trump people. They're putting Cruz people on. If they don't get enough Cruz people to show up to the meetings, they actually are putting people's names on a ballot who never registered and never filled out to do it because they're trying to stack the box. I've seen it here in Arizona myself. They're trying to stack the box with these delegates. It's a dirty trick. The whole thing is about controlling the political process while disenfranchising the will of the voters, disenfranchising them. So we have to, as Americans, want to support the will of the voters. That's all we're asking for with the Trump campaign is let's listen to the will of the voters. Mr. Trump has received two million more votes across than country than Cruz has, and Cruz knows this, and he is trying to steal the process through these back-room dealings. It's terrible and it has to stop. We have to let the voter's voices be heard.

BOLDUAN: It's the process and the rules of the game. You say let the will of the voters be heard. Interestingly enough, you might have larger organizational problems. Two of Trump's children aren't even registered to vote for him in the Republican primary here. What does that mean?

DEWITT: Well, again, you know, New York is going to be a landslide victory as we all know. By some polls, we're up as much as 50 percent. It's one of the things in New York. We'll take New York by storm. The northeast is going to go for Mr. Trump. Cruz is out there saying it's a two man race, yet he's taking third place --


BOLDUAN: But what about the kids?

BERMAN: What about the kids? It speaks of an organizational problem if you can't figure out how to get your own kids to vote for you, doesn't it?


DEWITT: Well, as you've seen, the kids are out stumping for him like crazy and going all over the state. They will be voting for him come the fall, but in terms of the primary process, we're letting the primary process move along right now, and it's doing great.

BOLDUAN: So it's not a problem? An oversight? How would you describe it away?

DEWITT: Again, you know, the kids have their own way to do business, their own political views. If they're not registered to vote in the primary, I don't think that's a problem at all. Again, he's going to win by a majority in the New York primary. What we're looking for is in the fall and defeating Hillary Clinton. I don't think there's any question how they'll vote in the fall. But they support their father very much and stump for him all over the state and all over the country. His kids have been everywhere for him. There's no question who they support in this race.

BERMAN: Everywhere but --


BERMAN: Everywhere but the ballot box.

BOLDUAN: Thanks, Jeff. We appreciate it. Thanks for the time.

DEWITT: Thank you.

So let's talk more about the big battles for delegates.

Let's bring in CNN political director, David Chalian.

David, the fight is on. Depending on who you speak to, it's either playing the game the way the rules are set up, or the system is absolutely, rigged and needs to be burnt down, torn up, however you want to describe it. It is what it is right now. How is this fight going to -- what is this fight going to look like going forward? There's no indication it's going to change?

[11:09:57] DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Did you hear echoes of 2000? When we all learned about the Electoral College and the will of the voters versus -- here's some of that now. We're going to get well educated as a country about this delegate process and the rules.



CHALIAN: Listen, there are two parallel campaigns going on right now on the Republican side. There's the campaign to win primaries and caucuses and get voters, and there's the campaign stages of the process required to get actual human beings, names attached to these delegate slots, and make sure you are putting people that are favorable to you on the proper convention committee and on the convention floor, so that if it does go to multiple ballots, as it looks like is likely to happen, you're prepared for that as a campaign.

BERMAN: The Trump team brought on this delegate wizard, this magician from 1976, Paul Manafort, who is going to make it all better for them. Are there any signs he will be going forward, or he has the capacity to fix the delegate problem. If you're Trump and you go into Colorado without one delegate, that's an issue.

CHALIAN: It is. I was looking at the overall delegate picture, where we are. Trump, 746. Cruz, 538. That's a differential of 208 delegates. Trump, I don't know the exact number, but he was close to a 300. He was real close to a 300 delegate margin. This is a much bigger problem to solve. Ted Cruz has taken a very big bite out of Donald Trump's delegate lead. They need to reverse that, and that I think you see some evidence of Paul Manafort being in there now is shifting their attention to this, and only this. BERMAN: Because New York is 95.

CHALIAN: Exactly. If he can win a sweep like he did in South Carolina where he wins every single delegate in New York, all 95, he'll be back on the board in a big way and start building momentum. The polls show this northeast swing is going to be good for him, but that doesn't change the organizational issue that you have state by state in all of the county processes.

BOLDUAN: Is it decided yet if they can ramp up in time? I mean, that's the question. Can they ramp up now and turn it around? That is unknown.

CHALIAN: Well, all our reporting suggested that what Paul Manafort believed was they had a two-week window to do that, and that's what they're doing.


CHALIAN: Yes, if we're headed for an open convention, yes, there's time. You're going to start getting all the committees collected in July. There's time to form a floor strategy. What they're missing in terms of the clock is what Cruz has been building the entire time, which is understanding each state's process, how the rules are played, and leveraging that. You brought this up in terms of giving Democrats donations, but his own business career, filing for bankruptcy, whatever it is, Donald Trump has been the master of leveraging the rules to his benefit. That has not been happening thus far.

BERMAN: David Chalian, thank you so much. We'll be talking about this a lot coming up. Appreciate it.

We're talking a lot about big issues this week. A big week of politics here on CNN. Anderson Cooper will host three town halls for the Republican candidates and their families. Tonight, Ohio Governor John Kasich with his wife, Karen, and his daughters. On Tuesday, it's Donald Trump and his wife, Melania, and children, Ivanka, Eric and Donald Jr. And then on Wednesday, Ted Cruz joined by his wife, Heidi. His children are too young. They're not going to join him that night. The candidates and their families will speak with Anderson and take questions. A big week. It starts at 9:00 p.m. eastern here on CNN.

BOLDUAN: Talk about parallel campaigns as it relates to Donald Trump and Ted Cruz, there's also a different type of parallel campaign. We'll tell you about a nationwide effort coming from House Speaker Paul Ryan. Who is the target of this campaign and what does it mean for the GOP primary? We'll discuss.

BERMAN: Plus, Hillary Clinton naming names, but that name, not Bernie Sanders. Today she's got a new ad out targeting Donald Trump. Why Trump, and not her Democratic rival?

And also, we have breaking news on the Paris and Brussels terror investigation. New information minutes away about just who and where these terrorists might have been targeting.

Stay with us.


[11:18:10] BOLDUAN: The battle for Republican Party delegates is quickly becoming a full-blown war. As Donald Trump and Ted Cruz are fighting it out in many states and Trump is now calling the system corrupt and crooked, and pointing directly at Cruz.

BERMAN: We want to bring in CNN national reporter, Maeve Reston; former RNC communications director, Doug Heye; and Republican strategist, Josh Holmes, former chief of staff for Senator Mitch McConnell.

Maeve, we want to start with you. You were there. You were there. You saw what was going on in Colorado right now. Describe to us this Cruz operation.

BOLDUAN: What the heck happened?

BERMAN: How does it work and where is Trump falling short?

MAEVE RESTON, CNN NATIONAL REPORTER: Well, it was fascinating. I was there over four days. It was this sort of series of mini conventions where delegates were elected at the Congressional district level and then a massive state convention where people were running for 13 delegate slots. They got a speech of 10 seconds each if they wanted to. But Cruz's operation has been working the system and following the rules since the last year. They started recruiting delegate for second ballots in Colorado who would be committed to Cruz all the way through the convention. I spoke to a lot of them. They said second, third, fourth ballot, I'll be with Cruz. They courted these people, made phone calls. They made sure they won in each of the mini conventions and then won at the statewide convention, and his slate just cleaned up. One of the things that's important to know is that there are these tip sheets, these slates that the campaigns hand out, you know, throughout the convention. And Donald Trump's slate, which has the names of the people that his campaign wanted to elect, riddled with errors because every person's name has a number next to it, and then you get a ballot that's like a bubble sheet where you fill in the person's number. The fact that Donald Trump's campaign had errors was a strike against them, and Cruz's campaign just worked it and got their people elected.

[11:20:18] BOLDUAN: Totally worked it within the rules.

But as you were listening to Maeve describe this, Doug, as a party guy, as someone who is no fan of Trump, but does he have a point? He calls the system corrupt and rigged. No primary, no caucus, a bubble sheet. We're back taking SATs.

DOUG HEYE, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Look, he's trying to create an expectations game. If Donald Trump loses, he can't say he lost fair and square. It will have to have been taken from him. But Maeve is right. This is all about organization. Not just Colorado but Wyoming, the Iowa caucus, where Cruz did well. And the difference is Ted Cruz has known these people and worked them for two years. Donald Trump is just getting to know these people and hasn't organized his own family to vote for him in the primary. There are problems for him.

BERMAN: Josh, it's interesting. Doug is heaping praise on the Cruz organization and system. One group that Ted Cruz cannot organize is the U.S. Senate right now. Right? I mean, he's got Mike Lee and Lindsey Graham tepidly saying things, --


BERMAN: But really, having a hard time lining up Senators. Over the weekend, he spoke to some Jewish Republicans. Apparently, had a hard time lining up financial support for big donors there as well. Why is Cruz having a hard time lining up the so-called establishment?

JOSH HOLMES, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Well, in fairness, I think he and his campaign are probably spending a lot more time trying to wrangle delegates in other states than they are working his colleagues in the United States Senate. Frankly, he probably has a lot better opportunity to get people who don't know him well and haven't worked with him than he does his colleagues who have spent a lot of time with him in the United States Senate. I don't know. At this point it kind of looks like one of those races where you're either more Trump or not. And if you're not for Trump, increasingly people are in the Ted Cruz camp, but he's not having a ton of luck at persuading people that he's the only alternative at this point.

BOLDUAN: Maeve, seeing this reporting coming from "The Washington Post." They were combing through Donald Trump's kind of charitable givings. Their conclusion is they don't really see his charitable givings coming from his own pocket. You see free golf games and Donald Trump foundation money, but it's not coming from his own pocket. This, though, the reason it matters is because, from day one, Trump has said that he's given more than $100 million to charities in the last five years. Big question right now is, do people care?

RESTON: You know, I don't think that we've seen that they really care that much. So far obviously, with evangelicals, Trump sort of defied the rules over and over again. You think about the voters who care about the charitable giving, in many cases it's people who would like to see him talking more about generosity and giving to those groups. I think that this is another situation where you need to fact check Donald Trump. When he claims he's given a huge number in charitable donations, then he has to prove it. I think the onus will be on him going forward. The question is whether it becomes another one of these things that he's exaggerated and do people care about that? I did talk to a lot of delegates, for example, in Colorado over the weekend who kept saying Donald Trump is so inconsistent. He says one thing and then it ends up not pg true. I'm sticking with Ted Cruz for that reason. It is an issue.

BERMAN: Doug, I want to ask you about Paul Ryan, the current speaker of the House, a man who says he is not running for president and will not run for president this cycle.

BOLDUAN: Never. BERMAN: Yet, his office is putting out what looks like campaign ads

and posting it on Twitter. He's putting together policy positions and platforms. If you had to bet your life on it, give me 100 percent guarantee that Paul Ryan will not be the nominee, you think there's a zero percent chance come July that he won't be the nominee?

HEYE: I've learned one thing in campaign, don't make predictions. But if anybody is a #Neverryan person, it's Paul Ryan. He's the original. Also, look, these are things that John Boehner did. If Eric Cantor had become speaker while I was working for him, we certainly would have done videos like this.

One of the challenges that I think Paul Ryan faces unfairly when he has the weekly press conference or weekly solo press conference, the first question may come from Dana Bash or CNN's excellent producer on Capitol Hill. The first question is more likely to be about Donald Trump's outrageous play of the day than legislation facing the House this week. We talk about Paul Ryan in 2016. I'm happy he's a great positive voice who is putting a positive agenda out there because Republicans need it.


[11:25:07] RESTON: But it also circles back to what David was just talking about, which is floor strategy. At the convention, are there going to be enough people out there who want to elect Paul Ryan that are going to have a game plan ahead of time to go around and work the delegates for being elected in each of the states to the point where they can flip to Paul Ryan in the end? I'm not sure that we've seen enough evidence of that yet. Yes, he's talked about as a possible candidate, but this is going to be all about strategy. And right now, Cruz is winning that game.


BOLDUAN: It won't be hard to remember his name. He will be the chair of the convention. It will be easy to remember that.


Great to see you guys. Doug, Maeve, Josh, thank you.

HEYE: Thank you.

BERMAN: Coming up, breaking news. The U.S. embassy in Kabul warning Americans there about possible hotel attacks. This, after the Taliban admitting targeting Secretary of State John Kerry during his visit to the region.

BOLDUAN: Plus this, more breaking news coming. The terrorist suspect who says that he is the man in the hat from the airport terror attack in Brussels. He apparently just revealed the cell's next target was one of the world's biggest sporting events. New details coming up. We'll be right back.