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ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT
Awaiting Trump Rally after Landslide New York Win; Trump Team Heads to RNC Meeting; Trump on Delegate System: "It's Rigged, Crooked."; Trump Speaking at a Rally After Landslide New York Win; Interview with John Kasich; What's Next for Sen. Bernie Sanders? Aired 7-8p ET
Aired April 20, 2016 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[19:00:09] ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: Next, Donald Trump speaks live in this hour on the heels of a landslide victory. Can he clinch the nomination before the convention?
Plus, Donald Trump's Talking Points. A new campaign memo revealing a major projection. And after Hillary Clinton's big win, what is next for Bernie Sanders?
His campaign manager is OUTFRONT. Let's go, OUTFRONT.
Good evening to all. I'm Erin Burnett. OUTFRONT tonight, the breaking news, Donald Trump, the man of the hour, about to rally thousands of supporters coming just one day after a landslide victory in New York. These are live pictures of that Trump rally. The event on Maryland's eastern shore, a very conservative part of that state. Just ten miles from the Delaware border. Both states holding primaries in less than a week.
Meanwhile, CNN has obtained a copy of an internal Trump campaign memo, it's a Talking Points memo and it reveals some campaign strategy, predicting that Trump will get 1,400 delegates before the convention. That is more than 150 more than needed to actually clinch the nomination.
Also in that memo, a prediction that Trump will close the door on Cruz and Kasich in just another week.
As we await that Trump rally in Maryland, more than 100 protesters there already gathering outside a local high school in Worcester County. The state's Teachers' Union calling Trump a fear monger. The union been demanding the event be moved out of the public school.
Jim Acosta begins our coverage OUTFRONT tonight at that rally in Berlin and Maryland. And Jim, a Trump campaign, obviously that memo incredibly confident when it comes to delegates, when it comes to eliminating Cruz and Kasich. After last night's win.
JIM ACOSTA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right. Yes, I think when you're predicting 1,400 delegates that, is the definition of confidence, Erin. You're right. After his blowout win in New York, Donald Trump has some big-time momentum on his side, and today he's hitting two more key states on the campaign calendar, Indiana and as you mentioned just a few moments here in Maryland. And he has a new nickname for his rival, Ted Cruz. It's "The Spoiler."
ACOSTA (voice-over): In Indianapolis, a victory lap for Donald Trump after taking the checkered flag in a New York primary miles ahead of his nearest rivals.
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The vote was incredible. It was record-setting. And it's New York. And you know what is nice? They know me. They know the good, the bad, they know everything. They know me.
ACOSTA: Dubbed "King Don" by the "New York Post," Trump is not only savoring a big win in his home state, where the real estate tycoon captured nearly every delegate up for grabs, Trump took a massive lead forward toward that magic number needed to clinch the nomination. A Trump campaign memo boldly projects. The GOP frontrunner will have 1,400 delegates heading into the Republican convention and attacks the party establishment saying this movement scares the hell out of them, and the people scare them. So, they will do whatever they can to keep power. The system is rigged to allow party insiders to choose delegates and not the people.
TRUMP: The Democrat system is rigged but the Republican system is even worse. We've got a rigged system, folks.
ACOSTA: It's a system Trump insists Ted Cruz is just trying to exploit.
TRUMP: We don't have much of a race any more. Based on what I'm seeing on television. Senator Cruz is just about mathematically eliminated.
ACOSTA: Trump carried that battle cry on to Twitter, tweeting, "Now all Cruz can do is be a spoiler, never a nice thing to do. I will beat Hillary." The response from team Cruz, not so fast.
SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The math is virtually impossible for Donald Trump. Donald Trump is not getting to 1,237. Nobody is getting to 1,237. He knows that which means this race is headed to Cleveland. It's headed to a contested convention.
ACOSTA: Now, that Talking Point's memo from team Trump to surrogates also claims that their officials are working on delegates just as hard as the other campaigns. That's a shot at the Cruz campaign and it tries to push back on this narrative, Erin, that Trump is too unpopular to win. They're pointing to the sizeable negatives in that memo for Hillary Clinton -- Erin.
BURNETT: All right, Jim Acosta, thank you very much. And right now, key Republican leaders, including the ones who are going to decide how this GOP battle plays out are meeting in Florida. Ted Cruz and John Kasich are actually at those meetings, Donald Trump has sent some new members from his team down.
Our Phil Mattingly is OUTFRONT from the meeting tonight, he's been there talking to people behind those closed doors. And Phil, this meeting is crucial.
PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, no question about it, Erin. A target-rich environment. That is what one Kasich aide called what's going on behind me, 168 Republican National Committee members are there, all 168 will be delegates on the convention floor in Cleveland in July. That means John Kasich and Ted Cruz, it's incumbent upon them to meet with these individuals as them as possible. They have set up shop in private rooms in this hotel. They have been sending delegate after delegate into these rooms, trying to give them a one- on-one pitch.
Ted Cruz's campaign manager, Erin, Jeff Roe, having a private pitch meeting where he laid out not just with Ted Cruz plans for the primary, but also how he would win the general election. And the reason they're doing this, is really quite simple. First off, they need to convince these delegates and committee men that should they get to an open convention, Ted Cruz or John Kasich is the candidate they should get behind. But up to that point, these are delegates, these are committee members, this is the Republican power center right here, Erin. And that's why you're seeing these campaigns put a lot of attention on this hotel behind me in Florida.
[19:05:44] BURNETT: Which, you know, Phil, you talk about Kasich and Cruz who are both down there personally. Trump obviously is at that rally in Maryland tonight. He sent his new team down instead. So what are they doing there? This whole wooing and whining and dining of delegates that we hear so much about. What's actually happening?
MATTINGLY: What we have heard up to this point, and Donald Trump's team is already down here as you noted. They have their big presentation tomorrow. But they were already here in reserve rooms, again, meeting one-on-one with these RNC members. And one thing I was struck by in talking with a member who met with some of Trump's team members was, they said that there was a level of seriousness. It was a details-oriented meeting, almost pointing to the fact that this new team is trying to turn a corner. They are bringing a level of professionalism to the campaign that simply didn't exist beforehand.
Now this was just one member's interpretation. But I think it's important, based on what we have seen over the last couple of weeks. There is a feeling inside the Republican National Committee right now that Donald Trump's campaign is making the effort to professionalize. Their candidate might be attacking them in public. But behind the scenes, what you're seeing and what members have been hearing here in Florida has been a campaign that is trying to show that not only is it ready to secure the nomination, but it's ready to head off into the general election.
BURNETT: Phil Mattingly, thank you very much. Live from that meeting tonight.
OUTFRONT now, Trump supporter Congressman Tom Marino, Bill Kristol, editor of "The Weekly Standard," Hogan Gidley who served as senior advisor to Mike Huckabee's presidential campaign. And MJ Lee, our political reporter. She has been on the trail with Donald Trump for months now. Knows this campaign. Better than anyone.
Bill Kristol, let me start with you though because we all know, anyone who watches this show knows how you feel about Donald Trump. OK? You heard Phil Mattingly. He says that the RNC says that Trump's team is showing a whole new level of seriousness. You heard him last night referring to his rivals as governor and senator. He tells Bill O'Reilly tonight to use other words when the whole world is listening to his speech would have been undignified. What do you say? Is Trump now a candidate that Bill Kristol could get behind?
BILL KRISTOL, EDITOR, THE WEEKLY STANDARD: No, no.
We've really defined like, you know, decency and dignity down. Wow, Donald Trump one night says the word Senator Cruz. OK. Now we're going to accept him? But look, fair enough, a number of people in the Republican establishment want to accept him. They love jumping on frontrunner bandwagons. I think it's a little childish. I mean, let's say, if Trump had gotten 100,000 votes less in New York, last night he'd gotten 50 percent. Then everyone say oh, underperformed. You get 60 percent in one state, his home state and everyone decided oh, my God, he's going to be the nominee, it's ridiculous.
But I am disappointed in New York, I grew up here, my wife grew up in Westchester. Our kids live here and their spouses. And that New York would just go for this conman, it's really pathetic. You know, New York I think they're sophisticated. They turn out to be just total -- what's the place in that music man, in the musical river city, you know, they just -- Trump kinds of waltzes back to New York and, oh, let's be for Donald Trump. I want to say, our kids, the one they win is the one that Trump did not win. So the Kristol family hang tough and delivered an entire Congressional district.
BURNETT: You've finally got your revenge.
KRISTOL: To the Never Trump forces.
BURNETT: Let me ask you, Congressman Marino though, when you hear Bill Kristol, you know, talking about establishment members jumping on board. Now, you've been on board, you know, you're not jumping on board today. But, you know, talking about a pathetic vote in New York, childish behavior by establishment members who want to jump on the winning bandwagon as they perceive it. What do you say to that?
REP. TOM MARINO (R), PENNSYLVANIA, DONALD TRUMP SUPPORTER: Well, I've been a fan of Bill's for quite some time. I agree with him most of the time. But these are the facts. Trump is bringing out millions and millions of more people. People who have never voted. People who haven't voted in years. He's bringing out people from Independents, of course, Republicans and Democrat Party. And he's speaking to the issues that hard-working taxpayers are thinking. No one, no one in the last 50 years, has brought out as many people to vote like this as Donald Trump.
And I just have a question to ask Bill. How has it been going the last 30 years with governors and senators and career politicians being president? Come on. We're $20 trillion in debt. Twenty million people out of work. Businesses leaving the country in droves. The borders are open. Failed health care. I'm ready for a businessman who has created a billion dollar business, who has signed the front of paychecks, and know what it's like to hire people.
[19:10:11] KRISTOL: Well, he does know what it's like to go bankrupt, so in that respect, he'll someone like, he'll fit right into Washington and the federal government. I'm proud of Ronald Reagan. I'm proud of a lot of what Republicans in Congress have done. They have made some mistakes and had some limitations. And unfortunately, Republicans lost to Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012. But Donald Trump is not going to win the general election. He'll lose by more than John McCain and Mitt Romney lost by, and at least supporting John McCain and Mitt Romney, you're supporting decent and honorable men who served their country well. And I don't think honestly, I just don't think that's the case with Donald Trump.
BURNETT: MJ, on that note, this whole whether, you know, someone is decent or honorable. The words that Donald Trump is using last night, obviously, changed. And he's, you know, telling Bill O'Reilly tonight that he thought it would be undignified to say "Lying Ted Cruz" as just one example. Seven-minute speech, no shouting. Less than 24 hours later, this afternoon in Indiana, at a rally, lying Ted was back. Here's the new Donald Trump and the newer Donald Trump.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: We don't have much of a race any more. Based on what I'm seeing on television. Senator Cruz is just about mathematically eliminated. In the case of lying Ted Cruz, lying Ted -- lies. Oh, he lies. You know, Ted, he brings the Bible, holds it high, puts it down, lies.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: OK. The new Donald Trump was Senator Cruz and the newer Donald Trump was back to lying Ted today.
MJ LEE, CNN POLITICS REPORTER: Yes. I know there is some eye-rolling that, you know, all of a sudden because in one speech Donald Trump doesn't call Cruz lying Ted, all of a sudden he's presidential. I get that. However, I do think we have to talk about the fact that Trump legitimately has entered a new phase of his campaign. I thought the most striking part of last night's speech was that, he came prepared. He clearly had prepared remarks, he was not speaking off-the-cuff.
And I think a large part of that has to do with the fact that he now has a new leadership team, including Paul Manafort. Manafort is not just sitting behind a desk doing delegate math, he is also involved in sort of, you know, the broader direction of the campaign. And also about presentation. He himself said that he wants to help Trump frame his tone and set the tone of the campaign. And so I think all these things are sort of coming together at a point when Trump really feels like the nomination is within his grasp.
BURNETT: And, you know, it's been reported Paul Manafort calls him Donald, which many -- you know, in the sycophantic circle do not say. They say Mr. Trump regardless. And Paul Manafort does not do that.
Hogan though, can two Trumps co-exist. The one who says lying Ted at a rally, who then says when the TV cameras are on and of course people play the rallies. So, he's going to say Senator Cruz.
HOGAN GIDLEY, FORMER SENIOR ADVISOR, MIKE HUCKABEE 2016 CAMPAIGN: I think folks in the establishment who are dying to jump on Donald Trump's bandwagon as Bill said, they want to be the winner. They need to see a glimmer of hope that he will be more buttoned up, more presidential. But if he goes too far, he's going to lose some of the fervor of the votes that got him to where he is by actually telling it like it is. We saw in exit poll after exit poll, he's got to tell like it is, people love when he does that.
I think actually Donald Trump has done a pretty good job of threading the needle over the last 24 hours. Which is, he didn't call him lying Ted up there, he called him Senator Cruz. He called Kasich Governor Kasich. And on the next day, he goes out on the trail and does exactly what the people want. I think it's actually playing well in both camps. The millions of people who have voted for him who love his outsider take on the establishment attitude, but the establishment who wants to see him a little bit more presidential.
KRISTOL: Said very elegantly there. Put more simply, he's a con man. He's a con man. He's always been an inside operator, he's got the ultimate inside operator. Paul Manafort who's worked for various authoritarians, he is a K-street lobbyists, made a lot of money, very successful. And Paul Manafort is a smart guy. But what are we saying? What we're saying is that Donald Trump is basically phony. Is that what you're saying, in a nice way?
GIDLEY: You don't think Ted Cruz is a phony? What are you talking about?
KRISTOL: No. I think Ted Cruz actually --
GIDLEY: You call Mitch McConnell a liar from the Senate floor. Were you okay with that?
KRISTOL: No, it wasn't the nicest thing he ever said.
GIDLEY: He was a liar -- because McConnell was a liar? So, you're telling me Ted Cruz didn't lie during this campaign? Are you kidding?
KRISTOL: I'm not here to speak for Ted Cruz. I think Ted Cruz has a real record of accomplishments in the public sector and standing up for principle that Donald Trump -- Trump is Mr. Outsider and now --
GIDLEY: One accomplishment.
KRISTOL: I have Paul Manafort. A little bit of a problem.
GIDLEY: We still have everything we hate.
BURNETT: You're all going to be back in a just couple moments, okay?
Next, Pennsylvania and Congressman Marino has been talking about this. A loophole in that state could deny Donald Trump the entire nomination.
Plus, we're standing by for Trump live, thousands of supporters in Maryland waiting to hear him speak. We're going to go there. And Hillary Clinton with a call for unity.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: To all the people who supported Senator Sanders, I believe there is much more that unites us than divides us.
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Can she win them over?
[19:18:50] BURNETT: Tonight, Donald Trump about to take the stage in Maryland, where he's likely to continue railing against the Republican nominating system, a system he calls rigged and crooked. Last night's victory in New York, though, gave Trump nearly 90 delegates, a huge haul, putting the frontrunner ahead of Ted Cruz by 283 delegates. But despite that lead, Trump's not stopping about the rigged system, and Cruz says Trump is still not going to get the number he needs to clinch the nomination before the convention.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The math is virtually impossible for Donald Trump. Donald Trump is not getting it 1,237. Nobody is getting to 1,237. The reason Donald is so scared, is the last three weeks, and in particular the win in Wisconsin, put the nail in the coffin and made clear, Donald doesn't get to 1,237. He knows that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: He knows that? Well, our chief national correspondent, John King is OUTFRONT. John, you heard Cruz. He says Donald Trump is not getting to 1,237, he says Donald Trump knows that. True or wishful thinking by Ted Cruz?
JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, wishful thinking because it's the only hope Ted Cruz has. Because if Donald Trump is not going to get there, Erin, well Ted Cruz hasn't even more difficult, that's impossible for Ted Cruz, unless he swings almost all of the non-committed, non-pledged delegates his way to get there before the convention. Ted Cruz knows his only hope is a second or third ballot at the Republican National Convention. Can Donald Trump get there? Well, here's where we are after New York. He's kicking right close to 850. He picked up 90 delegates last night, Erin.
Donald Trump has momentum, and he's heading in -- let's just take this through next week in the five contests. Donald Trump, if you look at the polling, if you look at the demographics, is on track to do again next week what he did in New York last night. Which would add perhaps as many as another 100 delegates. That gets Donald Trump past the 75 percent mark to 1,237, the magic number. And let's project this out a little bit further. Can Donald Trump get to 1,237?
Well, let's be generous, we give him New Jersey and West Virginia, New Jersey is winner take all. We give Ted Cruz the west where he's been winning. Watch Indiana, I give it to Cruz now. But let me just play this out quickly for you, Erin. If Donald Trump can win huge in California, meaning 70 percent of the delegates, under the scenario we just played out, that is aggressive for Donald Trump but not out of the realm, that gets him to 1,200. Gets him to 1200. If he can also somehow win Indiana, Cruz thinks he's going to win Indiana. But Trump is going to go in there and make a big push.
If Trump can win Indiana by a big margin, I've got him at 1,223 now, Erin. Can he pick up the rest in this state? Maybe. But the Trump campaign strategy is get to 1,215, get to 1,220 and then go back to the 54 uncommitted delegates here, to uncommitted delegates from other states and say, look at this. We are so close. We won your state. Come aboard. So Donald Trump's math, hard to get to 1,237. Ted Cruz's math, impossible before the convention.
BURNETT: So you talk about the -- you reference these unbound. All right. A lot of those could come from Pennsylvania, right? Next week, one of those five states, 71 delegates. But as you point out, 54 of them are unbounds so they are allowed to vote their preference. Obviously, 54 delegates could be completely make or break at this point.
KING: They could be, Erin. So, let's switch maps and take a look at Pennsylvania and why it's so important. Even though it's largely a beauty contest. Right? Let's come to 2016. Let's pop it up with the Republicans. It's largely a beauty contest but look at this state. Donald Trump has proven he can win in the suburbs. So, watch Philadelphia. He's proven he can sell his trade message in places like Scranton, Allentown, Redding, in Pittsburgh and Erie. Donald Trump wants to win Pennsylvania big, even though on Tuesday night, if he does, yes, he only gets 17, right?
So why invest all the time? Why invest all the effort? Donald Trump thinks maybe I'm going to get to 1,215, maybe I'm going to get to 1,220. And if I win Pennsylvania with 55 percent or more. Say I get my 60 like I did in New York. Then I come back to these 54 unpledged delegates and say you owe me. I won your state, I won it big. You're going to have to go home and answer to those voters. I want your votes in Cleveland. So you don't win them on Tuesday night, but Donald Trump's calculus is win Pennsylvania big and I get them when I get to Cleveland.
BURNETT: All right. John King, thank you.
KING: Thank you. And I want to bring back my panel. Let me go with you first here, Congressman Marino. As you know in your home state you just heard John King lay this out. In your home state, it doesn't really matter who wins, because these delegates are unbound. These are some of the things that Americans say, whoa, scratch their head, how does this make sense. Here's what Trump is saying about Pennsylvania.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I mean, we have a situation in Pennsylvania, where I'm doing great. And if you win Pennsylvania, you get 17 delegates. And the rest of them are up for grabs. What does that mean? And then they can take the delegates, they can put them in airplanes and fly them to resorts, they can have dinners with them, they can put them in hotels. Essentially what they're saying is they can buy this election.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[19:23:23] BURNETT: Congressman Marino, how is that fair?
MARINO: Well, let's get back to what the original issue is. There's a -- there is a lot of people or some people that cannot swallow the pill that Donald Trump is going to be the Republican candidate. And in Pennsylvania, that's a great place. I've been all over this state. I was born and raised in this state. And no matter where I go, I hear people talking about Trump. Republicans, Democrats, Independents, people from all walks of life. And I don't say this facetiously, it's bankers, it's lawyers, it's doctors, it's butchers, it's bakers, it's candlestick makers. And out of the -- all of the people that are on the ballot for delegates in the state of Pennsylvania, half of them, over half of them, have committed to Trump. And I've seen Pennsylvania come to the rescue in past elections where we collate --
BURNETT: So you think those 54 unbound delegates are going to go for Trump?
MARINO: I think a large number of those delegates are going to go for Trump and I think Trump is going to walk away with at least 55 delegates in the state of Pennsylvania. And that is a big chunk that puts him close to being over the top, with New Jersey picking up the -- a large amount in California. So look, it's not over yet. We're -- it's not a slam dunk. We're taking it ten yards by every ten yards.
MARINO: And this is in the hands of the people. That's the most important thing. The people will make the decision, not the political bosses, not the establishment. And not the insiders.
BURNETT: Bill, what do you say to this? Especially if he comes in with momentum, and he has the most delegates, but not 1,237.
KRISTOL: I say I disagree with Tom Marino about whether Donald Trump would be a good president. But I respect him for endorsing the person he thinks is best, and telling his constituents.
KRISTOL: This is who I think you should vote for. That's kind of what elected officials are supposed to do I think. And Mike Pence, the governor of Indiana, that is going to be a huge state in two weeks. And Mike has meeting with them all. I hope he steps up and says who he thinks should be president of the United States and I hope other people -- Pat Toomey, the senator from Pennsylvania, who privately I believe thinks he's going to lose that seat if Donald Trump is at the top of the ticket. Is he going to endorse someone else? I don't know.
BURNETT: Hogan, what do you say about if Donald Trump has more than anyone else, but not 1,237?
GIDLEY: Seventy two percent of the people say that if Donald Trump goes into the convention or if anybody goes into the convention with a majority of the delegates, it's fair that they should be the nominee. The problem here put quite simply, is optics. If he goes in with the most delegates and somehow it appears as though the establishment has gotten into a backroom and takes it from him, there is going to be a revolt on that convention floor I think like we have never seen. Don't forget, Ted Cruz went around saying the contested convention, right, is the establishment's dream. That's what they want us to do, is to be rancorous and divided.
GIDLEY: The problem is, the sweet irony is -- the only way he can win is by using that Washington cartel, he calls it, to put him into the nomination. It's not about the voters, it's about the delegates and that's a problem of optics for him.
BURNETT: Right. MJ, and talked to the campaign, they say they can get 1,400 delegates. Obviously, that's very aggressive. John King did not weigh out such a scenario. They could get part of the way there. They could get others in wheeling and dealing. Probable? Possible?
LEE: Look, I think when they're looking at California and Indiana, they have reason to feel cautiously optimistic. Optimistic, because Trump could do well in California and Indiana. He's up in the polls in California. And in Indiana, the demographics there could -- could and should play to his benefits if you look at it in one way. But I think Indiana really is the wild card, because we don't know exactly how things will line up in the state, because what if it actually ends up being that his performance there ends up mirroring what happened in Wisconsin, for example.
LEE: That was very unexpected for Trump. So I think when we look at why the campaign might be feeling cautiously optimistic, the cautious part is because they know very well that they have to win California, they have to win Indiana. If he doesn't do well in Indiana, even if he sweeps California, that's just not going to be enough.
BURNETT: All right. Thank you all very much.
And OUTFRONT next, the man at the center of the GOP storm tells us what he really thinks.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I say John Kasich. You say?
REINCE PRIEBUS, REPUBLICAN NATIONAL COMMITTEE CHAIR: Great governor.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Ted Cruz.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Donald Trump.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Well, we'll tell you what he had to say about Donald Trump. And you're looking at a live pictures of a Hillary Clinton rally in Philadelphia after her double-digit win over Bernie Sanders. What is next for the Vermont senator? Sanders' campaign manager is OUTFRONT.
And amid rising calls for John Kasich to drop out of the race, will he? Well, he is my guest tonight. That is next.
[19:31:53] ERIN BURNETT, CNN ANCHOR: We are standing by for Donald Trump, live pictures of where he will be speaking in just a few moments. Thousands of people is going to hear him speak on the eastern shore of Maryland. The Republican presidential front runner is slamming the GOP system, calling it rigged, crooked.
Tonight, we have exclusive access to the man at the center of Trump's battle with his party like you have never seen this before.
Jamie Gangel is OUTFRONT.
JAMIE GANGEL, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: I want to do a quick lightning round are you, OK?
REINCE PRIEBUS, CHAIRMAN, REPUBLICAN NATIONAL COMMITTEE: OK.
GANGEL: Word association.
PRIEBUS: Oh, great.
GANGEL: Here we go.
PRIEBUS: These are -- these are trouble.
GANGEL: I say John Kasich. You say?
PRIEBUS: Great governor.
GANGEL: Ted Cruz.
GANGEL: Donald Trump.
PRIEBUS: Everything he does is big. Lots of attention.
GANGEL: You have no -- you're laughing. Why are you laughing?
PRIEBUS: These are -- these are like the unchartered waters of being chairman of the RNC. Spontaneity is not usually your friend.
GANGEL (voice-over): And that's the least of his problems.
PRIEBUS: Hey, it's Reince.
GANGEL: Reince Priebus, the mild-mannered 44-year-old lawyer from Wisconsin, has the toughest job in politics this year --
PRIEBUS: Hey. Hey.
GANGEL: -- working 20-hour days --
PRIEBUS: You should come.
GANGEL: -- preparing for the possibility of a contested convention --
PRIEBUS: No. I think the system is -- is working.
GANGEL: -- and navigating the GOP through the year of Trump.
DONALD TRUMP, (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE & CEO, TRUMP ORGANIZATION: The system is rigged. These are dirty tricksters.
It's a crooked system.
The Republican National Committee, they should be ashamed of themselves for allowing this kind of crap to happen.
GANGEL: Non-stop damage control.
PRIEBUS: I find it to be rhetoric and hyperbole. This is a very normal system that we've been using for many years.
Sometimes you can't fix it. Sometimes you can just take a seven-alarm fire and make it a four-alarm fire. It's still burning, but it's not as bad as it was.
No one should feel sorry for me. I signed up for this.
GANGEL (on camera): You are the man in the middle. You have Donald Trump doing his thing, and then you have the GOP establishment, whatever that is.
PRIEBUS: Yes, that's a word that apparently no one can quite define. But, yeah, I understand it.
GANGEL: Whatever -- all those people over there who are not on the same side as Donald Trump. They're saying -- well, it's your fault. How did you let Trump -- why didn't you get rid of him?
PRIEBUS: Yes. Well, look, being in the middle, you have to accept the fact that there's a thousand opinions. I mean, so -- I'm so used to it, that I don't -- I don't even care. It doesn't bother me.
GANGEL: You're not pulling out your hair?
PRIEBUS: Not -- no, I'm not. People assume, oh, are you -- you must be miserable. You've got a horrible job, but I don't see it that way. That's not what I'm saying. I'm not pouring baileys in my cereal, not sitting here trying to find a Johnny Walker.
[19:35:00] This is fun.
GANGEL (voice-over): In fact, the day we spent with him, he raised $1.2 million with just a few phone calls.
PRIEBUS: Let's talk about money.
GANGEL: Took a brief break for hoops.
PRIEBUS: All right. I'm going to take you guys down. We have a shot of this wall. There we go. Come on.
GANGEL: And showed off his prized possessions.
(on camera): The gavel.
PRIEBUS: The gavel. This is when I -- when I actually won in 2011 --
GANGEL: Ever tempted to use it?
PRIEBUS: Oh, yes, well -- I don't have to try that hard. Is this the chair that Clint Eastwood spoke to at the convention?
PRIEBUS: This is the one that -- yes. So when this all happened, you know, I obviously was perplexed when I was watching it.
GANGEL: You and everyone else.
PRIEBUS: And then when I leaned over -- because I was down behind the stage most of the time. I leaned over the balcony to look and see the center teleprompter, and it was blank, and I thought, oh, my gosh, there's nothing on that screen. He's just winging it.
And then I remember going back -- I left, went back behind the stage and I told the chief of staff at the time and I told him get me the chair.
GANGEL (voice-over): He also keeps three items nearby he says are critical for getting through the day, the Greek Orthodox liturgy and the Republican party platform --
This is my safe zone, the platform.
GANGEL: -- and this.
PRIEBUS: And I've got the Brewers' schedule on top, because I will put on MLB-TV, and that have in the background if I need to not watch the news.
GANGEL: Other escapes, time with his family --
PRIEBUS: Try to eat with cameras in your face.
GANGEL: -- and he plays the piano really well.
PRIEBUS: So I just goof off, that's what I do. That's how I play.
GANGEL: Priebus admits he's always been a proud political nerd. As early as third grade, he was lobbying classmates to support Ronald Reagan. And he even used the GOP to woo his wife.
(on camera): You went to prom together.
GANGEL: But, Sally, on your first date, he took you to a political dinner. He took you to the Lincoln Day dinner.
SALLY PRIEBUS, WIFE OF REINCE PRIEBUS: Right.
GANGEL: Swept you off your feet.
SALLY PRIEBUS: Right.
GANGEL: What kind of first date is that?
SALLY PRIEBUS: It's crazy. I think he tricked me.
I think he tricked me, and I ended up at the political event, which I didn't know about at first because told me we were going to the movies. But, you know, we made it. It was pretty boring. It was pretty bad. But we did go to the movie afterward and we had a great time.
GANGEL: And he says you can't say you didn't know what you were getting into.
SALLY PRIEBUS: Right, right. I did.
GANGEL (voice-over): That said, neither one ever thought their lives would be consumed by the roller coaster of Donald Trump.
SALLY PRIEBUS: Reince is very strong, has a thick skin, he lets it roll off his shoulders. He's tough. He doesn't tolerate a lot of dramas.
GANGEL: Including rumors that he might try to convince one of his best friends, Speaker Paul Ryan, to be a so-called white knight candidate in a contested convention.
PRIEBUS: He would kill me, and I wouldn't do it. And I agree with him. I -- I don't -- you have to want to actually be president of the United States. He doesn't want to be right now. And he's not going to have a floor operation to get it done. It won't happen.
GANGEL (on camera): He said, if I do that --
REP. PAUL RYAN, (R-WI), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: Yes, yes.
GANGEL: -- he'll kill me.
RYAN: Yes, I would. Yes, I would.
GANGEL: An old political pro told me, to be RNC party chairman, you're either the bravest person in town or the craziest person in town. Which is it for him?
RYAN: It probably requires a little bit of both, would be my guess, especially these days. Reince, I'd put him in the bravest category.
GANGEL (voice-over): Brave or crazy, Priebus insists his only concern is being neutral.
(on camera): For the record, are you conspiring against Donald Trump?
PRIEBUS: Of course not. Of course not.
GANGEL: Is there a plan to steal the nomination?
PRIEBUS: No. There's nothing to steal. I mean, either you have the votes or you don't.
GANGEL: And you will be at peace if he is the nominee?
PRIEBUS: I'm going to be at peace with whoever the nominee is because I know that whoever the nominee is going to beat Hillary Clinton.
(END VIDEOTAPE) BURNETT: So, interesting answers there on so many levels. But the war between Trump and Priebus, it is so loud, it is now so public. But you say now it is not what it seems.
GANGEL: So, it's very Donald Trump, right? But Priebus told us he actually gets along with Donald Trump. And he -- he may be very frustrated by this, and he doesn't want the RNC to be called corrupt. But he said he thinks it's just a campaign strategy.
[19:40:00] It's Trump's effort to energize his base, and get out the vote.
BURNETT: So it's a campaign strategy, but he does like him as a person.
GANGEL: They get along.
BURNETT: They get along, right.
GANGEL: They get along.
BURNETT: Fair point there could be a distinction between those two things. But they get along.
Thank you so much.
GANGEL: Thank you.
BURNETT: Fascinating on so many levels.
Well, OUTFRONT next, after Clinton's big victory in New York, Sanders says he still has a path to the nomination. What is it? His campaign manager is OUTFRONT in a moment.
And John Kasich, does he have a path forward? He got delegates in New York last night. Ted Cruz did not. Governor Kasich is my guest, next.
BURNETT: Breaking news right now: Donald Trump rallying supporters in Maryland tonight, while his two rivals for the GOP nomination are in Florida. They are there with delegates, lobbying. The rules groups meeting there.
John Kasich, who came in second last night in New York, is there at that meeting. He joins me now on the phone.
Governor, thank you so much.
I know you're calling us from that RNC meeting. It's the biggest pool of delegates you might see in one place before the convention. A crucial meeting. They're talking about the rules. They're also going to be voting.
Have you made any headway with any of them? [19:45:00] GOV. JOHN KASICH (R-OH), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE (via
telephone): Oh, yes, yes. We've been making lots of headway with delegates. And, you know, it's interesting. It's going to be a long process. And, look -- and Erin, at the end, they want to make sure they can pick somebody who can win in the fall and somebody who can be president.
And so, I appeal to them on both grounds. I met with some who are absolutely for me, some who just wanted to meet with me. And then, I had a reception and had a bunch of them come.
And then, I spoke to all of them and told them about, you know, bringing economic growth, bringing people together, solving problems, and leaving no one behind. Because I think the party has to have a positive message of hope and inspiration. And so, I'm actually -- have left that meeting now. I'm on my way to the airport and I'm flying to the City of Brotherly Love.
BURNETT: And you are heading, obviously, to campaign. I know it's a crucial state there, Philadel -- Pennsylvania, in Philadelphia.
On this issue, though, I know you were, of course, at the meeting today. Ted Cruz was there. Donald Trump was not. He has some members of his team. They're doing their presentation tomorrow.
A campaign memo today from the Trump campaign that we have predicts that Trump is going to get 1,400 delegates before the convention. Obviously, that's more than he needs. That means he's planning on getting quite a few of them by talking to delegates, wheeling and dealing with delegates.
Could he be right, 1,400?
KASICH: No, I don't think so. I mean, look -- I mean, Erin, if you were to ask me, you know -- I'm going to play 18 holes of golf, how many holes in one am I going to have? I'm going to say, OK, I'm going to have four. Who cares? I mean, it gets to be -- of course, they're going to talk about they're going to get all of this.
I don't see it happening. He's about 60 percent of the remaining votes to be able to get there. I don't see it happening. And I -- we probably are in the high watermark.
So, we're going to go to a contested convention, and their delegates are going to decide, again, who can win in the fall. He can -- in 15 national polls, I win. I beat Hillary in every one. And these two guys lose in both -- in almost every one of them.
So, I think that's going to matter to Republican delegates because they don't want to lose the Supreme Court, the United States Senate --
KASICH: -- and state and local races. I -- it's what it's going to get down to.
BURNETT: So, Governor Kasich, you came second last night in New York.
KASICH: Yes, I win Manhattan -- I'm thinking maybe I could go for mayor. Maybe I go for mayor.
BURNETT: But, you know, you did come in second, well ahead of Ted Cruz. But Ted Cruz today came out swinging and is saying you should be the one to get out. And here's how he put it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: John Kasich has no path whatsoever to the nomination. He has lost now -- I think it's 31 states. He's won a total of one, his home state.
His plan apparently rests upon losing 49 states, going to the convention and having all of the delegates say, the guy that lost every state in the Union, except his home state, that should be our nominee.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: What do you say to Ted Cruz, Governor?
KASICH: Well, if he's so sure of that, why is he attacking me all of the time? Why did they spend the $1 million against me in Wisconsin, distorting my record? I mean, if he's so worried -- you see, I don't comment about the people I'm not worried about. Why is he worried about me?
Look, we've had ten national Republican conventions and seven times they picked somebody in the convention who is not the leader. I'm not concerned about -- I mean, look, Ted is a fine guy. I'm not concerned about what he has to say about my campaign or my chances.
All I know is, if we pick these two guys according to virtually all of the polls, we are going to get creamed. And I don't think the Republicans want to pick somebody who has no appeal to independents, and no appeal to conservative Democrats. That's what my appeal is.
And by the way, I did win Ohio by 11 points. I won it in the last election by an almost unprecedented margin. And I had -- you know, largely, people didn't know me, but we're doing fine and we're coming on.
And how did he do in New York, by the way? I can't remember his totals. But they were pretty anemic. And so, I think today, their job was to go out, try to change the story, attack me and all that stuff.
And I think they also said, well, you know, he wants to be Donald Trump's vice president. There is zero chance -- Erin, there is more chance of you being Donald Trump's vice president than me, although you could be my vice president. You're pretty smart. You know? You know all of the economics. You're articulate, you know. Are you available?
BURNETT: Well, what a proposition that I certainly did not expect.
KASICH: Well, what the heck?
BURNETT: Governor, it's been a pleasure, and I appreciate your taking the time.
Governor Kasich now getting on a plane --
KASICH: Thank you.
BURNETT: -- going to the next Super Tuesday states, heading to the city of Philadelphia to campaign tonight.
OUTFRONT next, live pictures of Hillary Clinton. After her win in New York, leading most polls in the next week's major contest, can Sanders win? His campaign manager is my guest. That's next OUTFRONT.
[19:53:32] BURNETT: Live pictures out of Philadelphia. You see there, Hillary Clinton holding a campaign rally six days before Pennsylvania's crucial primary on the next of Super Tuesdays.
Today, after her 16-point victory in New York, she's now urging Democrats to come together. Her message to Bernie Sanders supporters, it's over. Quote, "There's much more that unites us than divides us."
And OUTFRONT now, the campaign manager for Bernie Sanders is with me, Jeff Weaver.
Jeff, good to have you with me again, sir.
Hillary Clinton offering that olive branch to Bernie Sanders supporters. Her communications director came out and said, quote, "There's no question that Senator Sanders, that the behavior of his campaign has been destructive and is not productive to Democrats or the country."
How do you respond? Destructive?
JEFF WEAVER, BERNIE SANDERS CAMPAIGN MANAGER: Well, I mean, let me just say this. Look at the exit polls in New York when they asked the voters who was running the more unfair campaign by double digits, New York voters said it was the Hillary Clinton campaign.
When they asked whether they thought the primary was destructive, to the party or energizing the party, over 60 percent said he was energizing the party.
So, I understand why the Clinton campaign doesn't want this to continue, but that's because they know in upcoming contests, they're heavily favored for Sanders and we're going to see another string of victories like we saw last month for him. BURNETT: So, you're looking at a string of victories that you see
coming. Your senior strategist Tad Devine who says that after the next primary contest, though, that your campaign in his words is going to, quote, "sit back and assess where we are." What does that mean?
Because when you look at the raw vote total, and you know this as well as I do, you hear this repeatedly from the Clinton campaign, she has 2.5 million more votes than Bernie Sanders.
[19:55:03] She's ahead by more than 700 delegates. How does Bernie Sanders get there?
WEAVER: That's with super delegates, by the way. Look, that's why this --
BURNETT: But she's ahead on pledged delegates as well.
WEAVER: Yes. But not, the margin is much, much, much, much smaller, 230 or 240 pledged delegates. Not even half the number of delegates that come out of California.
So, you know, they're running the obit just a little bit too early. And Tad was saying is that after we get done next week, we're going to look, because we constantly update our map of delegates that we needed in various states to get us to a delegate, pledged delegate majority, or plurality after June 7th. And that's what he was referring to.
BURNETT: So, you've been pushing the idea of superdelegates, right? Convincing them -- the ones who are supporting Hillary Clinton of which, obviously, that is the vast majority, all of them, to switch sides. If she wins the popular vote, if she is ahead in pledged delegates, how will you justify still trying to get superdelegates to come to your side?
WEAVER: Well, it's not clear that she will be ahead in pledged delegates. And, look, if Senator Sanders has a strong run of wins, if we substantially close the gap in pledged delegates or even overtake the secretary, I think then superdelegates have to look at the general election polling which is pretty much unanimous now for months that Bernie Sanders is a much stronger candidate in the general election than is Secretary Hillary Clinton, he does much better against Trump, he does much better against Cruz and Kasich, to whom the secretary in many polls loses. She loses to Kasich, she loses to Trump even in some -- I mean, Cruz in some polls.
So, the Democrats -- the superdelegates are going to have to look at who can -- who can best win in November and guarantee the Democrats up and down the ballot are successful.
BURNETT: The argument you made, the argument John Kasich just made a few moments ago on this program on the Republican side.
Thank you very much, Jeff Weaver. Good to talk to you.
And we'll be right back.
WEAVER: Thank you.
BURNETT: And thank you so much for joining us. We'll be back here tomorrow night. Be sure to set your DVR or you can record OUTFRONT, watch the show at any time.
"AC360" begins right now.