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Sanders Supporters: Don't Fight at Convention; Presidential Candidates Discuss Transgender Bathroom Use; Indiana Could Decide GOP Race. Aired 11:30-12p ET

Aired April 21, 2016 - 11:30   ET


[11:30:00] JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Let's bring in CNN politics executive editor, Mark Preston.

Some of the Bernie Sanders' key supporters say they don't like that plan.'s Ben Wickler, who helps MoveOn.Org, says the Democratic nominee should be the person who wins the primaries and caucuses. Don't try to flip super delegates. It seems like that's a little bit of a blow to the Sanders team.

MARK PRESTON, CNN POLITICS EXECUTIVE EDITOR: A group like, a grassroots organization that's more interested in the issue often times than the candidate, now Bernie Sanders has been a perfect vessel for them in this presidential election. Most, if not all of his positions are embraced by their membership. But is very anti-establishment and if you look at the way the race is shaping up and how Hillary Clinton has been able to amass the super delegates that goes against everything that stands for. So that's why you hear that cautionary movement from MoveOn in this case.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Mark, do you think that cautionary argument from MoveOn that it will sway the Sanders' campaign in terms of their strategy at all? Is there a risk if MoveOn says don't go this way that -- is there a risk for the Sanders campaign if they keep with it?

PRESTON: No way. At this point, the bottom line, and you and John both know that, you are playing an inside/outside game right now. We're also seeing this happen on the Republican side. Bernie Sanders, if he has any chance of winning this nomination, he needs to get those super delegates. If you look at the math right now, our stellar research team here led by rob did the numbers. Bernie Sanders would need to win 82 percent of the remaining pledge delegates, the delegates in the states that are going to vote. That's an impossibility. The only way he can win the nomination is on the floor and to flip the super delegates. If they were not to follow the strategy, they might as well fold up their tent and end the campaign now.

BERMAN: The bigger question is, what does Bernie Sanders want to do, right? Dan Balz writes that in "The Washington Post" yesterday, great piece. Does he want to win at all costs or does he want to make this an issue-run campaign. I guess the question, Mark, is what kind of pressure will Democratic party insiders, but not just insiders, the grassroots, put on the Sanders campaign to change his tone about Hillary Clinton? David Plouffe, who has been a supporter of Hillary all along, he essentially says Bernie Sanders has zero chance right now.

PRESTON: And David Plouffe might be right actually, and the irony is David Plouffe ran the insurgency campaign of Barack Obama who took on the establishment, and Barack Obama certainly didn't win the Democratic nomination because of the Democratic National Committee and long-time party activists. He won it with new voters. This is where Bernie Sanders has to focus on, and if I were to give him advice, is to say what path do you want to take? Because let's assume he doesn't win the nomination. We'll give him the sliver of hope that possibly he could. He's going to go back to the United States Senate. Does he want to continue to be a leader in the progressive movement or when he gets back does he risk having Elizabeth Warren come up and usurp him? Remember, before Bernie Sanders it was all about Elizabeth Warren.

And to your question about pressure, Bernie Sanders was never a member of the party establishment, so I don't think there's anything Democratic insiders can say right now that can really persuade Bernie Sanders one way or the other.

BOLDUAN: Plouffe also had something interesting to say about their general election opponent, whoever -- well, his assumption is obviously that it will be Hillary Clinton, and he says that he thinks that they should -- he would like to or he think that the Hillary Clinton campaign should want to come up against Cruz versus Trump, saying Cruz doesn't have a lot of elasticity and you can still win comfortably if you run a strong race against him. When it comes to Trump, the execution and the prosecution of the campaign day to day would be gruesome. What do you make of that? Do you hear the same from the Clinton campaign?

PRESTON: You're not going to hear that from the Clinton campaign. But to David's point about unpredictability basically, it's going to be us covering Donald Trump. Can you imagine the news media having to cover Donald Trump in those closing days of the campaign?

Here is the reason why I think that Plouffe said that. Ted Cruz is a Republican, OK? He has a big "R" by his name. He can be connected to down-ballot candidates, those running for the Senate, running for the House. That's a little different than Donald Trump. There's been a lot of talk that the down-ballot candidates, you know, could be hurt by a Donald Trump candidacy. I was talking to somebody who runs a very powerful super PAC here in town, and they had come out of the field with polling a couple weeks ago, and they said Donald Trump actually did better on the ballot than Cruz did with these down-ballot candidates. While we focus so much on the Senate race -- excuse me, on the presidential race, let's not forget the other branch of power is Capitol Hill and that, too, is on the line. Donald Trump might be able to appeal to some of these Independent voters if he's able to moderate his tone as we're starting to see in the next couple -- the last couple weeks.

BOLDUAN: Oh, how different this race is from the beginning days of it. It's amazing.

Mark, great to see you.

PRESTON: Thanks, guys.

[11:35:43] BOLDUAN: Of course.

So he still has less delegates than Marco Rubio. Probably doesn't like it when anyone points it out. But Ohio Governor John Kasich says he is not bowing out. Where is his best shot? Maybe it is the great state of Indiana. Why is Indiana becoming so key? We'll explain.



SEN. TED CRUZ, (R), TEXAS & PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: And Donald on television this morning said, gosh, he thought that men should be able to go into the girl's bathroom if they want to.


CRUZ: Now, let me ask you, have we gone stark raving nuts?


CRUZ: This is the political correctness. This is basic common sense.


BOLDUAN: That was Ted Cruz just moments ago speaking at a rally in Maryland. Obviously, weighing in, continuing to weigh in on comments that Donald Trump made earlier today about transgender bathroom policies.

BERMAN: To be specific, Donald Trump on the "Today" show said that he would let Caitlyn Jenner use whichever bathroom she wants. Donald Trump thinks transgender people should be able to use whichever bathroom they are comfortable with.

[11:40:15] BOLDUAN: Here to discuss, let's continue the conversation with Kellyanne Conway, a Republican pollster who heads up a Ted Cruz super PAC; Arizona state treasurer and Donald Trump surrogate, Jeff Dewitt; and the editor of "The Weekly Standard," Bill Kristol.

Guys, thank you so much for joining us.

Jeff, first to you. Donald Trump, when he says people should feel whichever bathroom they feel appropriate, do you agree with Donald Trump?

JEFF DEWITT, ARIZONA STATE TREASURER & DONALD TRUMP SURROGATE: I can tell you first that Ted Cruz's rhetoric about it has officially gone in the toilet, and, you know, a lot of these things are states rights issues, they're not even federal government purview. I think we have bigger issues to worry about like the $19 trillion in debt, ISIS, everything else. And quite frankly I don't really care where Ted Cruz poos or takes a snooze, I just want to see him lose.

(LAUGHTER) KELLYANNE CONWAY, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: That's so funny, but, of course, you didn't answer the question because you, like many Trump supporters and down-ballot Republicans were caught unaware by his answer. Isn't that right? You just want to use Ted Cruz's name instead of answer the simple question.

BERMAN: Jeff, what about it? Do you support it? Do you support the North Carolina transgender law?

DEWITT: I haven't even read the law. I'm the treasurer. I'm concerned about the money issues. Whether I support it or not isn't what's concerning. It's about what the candidates believe and how people's views line up with those. So, again, I think that Ted Cruz going around and playing to the base with his rhetoric I think just shows his desperation.

CONWAY: Do you think that Donald Trump read the law that you said you haven't read?

BOLDUAN: Kellyanne, should we assume that your super PAC will be highlighting these comments --


CONWAY: I doubt that very much actually, Kate, but I think really this entire segment so far really gets to the nut here which is that the Trump supporters get caught having to defend Mr. Trump every time he says something they weren't anticipating and didn't know about. And Mr. Trump coming out with positions like last month telling Chris Matthews I think a woman should be punished for having an illegal abortion and then having four different portions on abortion, which I didn't even know was possible, within 24 hours, that's what happens moving forward. As he tries to pivot to be presidential, he's starting to take positions on issues he's never thought about much before and it's going to put people like his surrogates in a box.

BERMAN: Kelly -- and Bill, we want to get to you because I'm dying to know what you think.

But, Kellyanne, do you support what Ted Cruz says on this, that the North Carolina law is great, and transgender people should have to use the bathroom that corresponds to their birth certificate.

CONWAY: I will let Senator Cruz speak for himself and I'm not --


BERMAN: But you didn't even the question either.


BERMAN: You just criticized Jeff --


CONWAY: What I criticized him for doing is very simple, which is you asked him a question about his candidate, and he attacked Senator Cruz and tried out great sound bites that rhymed. Whatever.


CONWAY: I'm saying -- I'm saying Senator Cruz is drawing a bright- line distinction.

BERMAN: Kellyanne? Kellyanne? Kellyanne, in all fairness, we asked if he supported Donald Trump.

BOLDUAN: If he agrees with Trump.

BERMAN: All I'm asking you is if you support Ted Cruz's statement.

CONWAY: I support Senator Ted Cruz in his ability to make the statements as a presidential candidate. I haven't read the law.



DEWITT: Typical Ted Cruz supporter right there.


BOLDUAN: Bill Kristol, go ahead.

BILL KRISTOL, EDITOR, THE WEEKLY STANDARD: This has become, with the collusion of the media, honestly, an idiotic race. There are serious issues. Donald Trump has taken a lot of positions, whether it's supporting Putin, being pro-choice, not wanting to reform entitlements, he's OK with much of Obamacare. Ted Cruz needs to attack him on it. I think Ted Cruz did a good job. He picked up what Donald Trump said this morning and did what a candidate is supposed to do, criticize him on a position. Fine, then let's debate the positions. I think that's good.

I love Kellyanne, I respect the treasurer from Arizona, but we don't really care what their positions are.

CONWAY: Exactly.

KRISTOL: Here is what Trump has done successfully. He's made everything a debate about process or about should someone say this or why did your surrogate say that and will he have 1,237 delegates, instead of a debate on the issues. Trump's vulnerable on the issues and Cruz was smart to attack him on an issue, instead of getting into a debate about is he going to get to 1175 or 1200 or is the system is rigged and all that. Trump is good at diverting things from the that his actual positions are domestic and foreign policy are not the positions of most conservatives or Republicans, which is why he's getting a minority of the vote overall in a Republican primary.

BOLDUAN: A small point of order though, but when we bring up issues like is a real issue in North Carolina, a real political and legal --

(CROSSTALK) KRISTOL: So ask Donald --


BOLDUAN: Everyone says it's a talking about --


KRISTOL: It's not a distraction. Ted Cruz has said he's willing to debate Donald Trump and I'm sure you'd be happy to provide a forum --


[11:45:14] KRISTOL: And they should debate and they should debate this issue among many others. I'm for debating the issues. I don't think it matters honestly what surrogates think about it. But I think a debate on the issues is important. I'm glad Cruz got out of the trap that Trump laid for him, of lets have a discussion about his idiotic thing, is it rigged to have a delegate process, which has been set up for years. Instead, have a real debate. On this issue, I think Ted Cruz is right and I think Donald Trump will back off from his position.

BERMAN: To be clear on the debate over the process, Ted Cruz has been engaged in that debate --


KRISTOL: I agree. Foolishly. Foolishly.

BERMAN: I'm sure he will but -- -


KRISTOL: Ted Cruz -- no, Ted Cruz -- look, he's a very smart guy. I like Ted Cruz. I think he would be an infinitely better president than Donald Trump. He's a smart guy who loves politics and he can't resist getting in the kind of discussion that Kellyanne and I should have, not that he should have. He should stay on the issue of why he should be president, what is his position on entitlement reform, Vladimir Putin, Obamacare, and so forth is, and let Donald Trump defend his positions to the degree he has them.

BERMAN: Interesting discussion today, guys.

Bill Kristol, Kellyanne Conway, Jeff Dewitt, thanks so much for being with us. Really appreciate it.

BOLDUAN: Thank you, guys.


BERMAN: Ohio Governor John Kasich, we haven't said his name yet today. He says he is in this race to stay. We're going to ask where he campaigns next and what his chances are in Indiana. A key supporter in Indiana will talk about just how important that state is. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[11:50:42] BERMAN: Circle May 3 on your calendar and then circle the great state of Indiana, the one state that really could decide it all. Need evidence? Donald Trump there yesterday. Ted Cruz campaigns there later today. John Kasich will be headed there.

BOLDUAN: It happens to be my home state. That clearly has something to do with this -- or not.

Let's bring in Pete Seat, communications director for the Indiana Republican party and a consultant for John Kasich's campaign in Indiana.

Pete, thank you for joining us.


BOLDUAN: Of course.

I think we should stet a standard right now that if anyone is going to win Indiana they have to define what a Hoosier is. Do you agree?

SEAT: It's the most important topic out there. It's Hoosiers, not Indianans. Let's set the record straight.

BOLDUAN: Why is Indiana so important this cycle?

SEAT: Well, we are going to be an extended pit stop on the Republican side on the path to a second ballot. On the Democrat side people saying we will find out whether Bernie or Hillary solidified their nomination come the evening of May 3. A lot of importance comes because there has been no polling here. And within this uncertainty, there is a lot of opportunity. I think there are pockets of opportunity for all three Republican candidates because of geography and the makeup of the state. Without polling, we are operating on anecdote to try to figure out what is what.

BERMAN: Anecdote and also perhaps what happened in neighboring states. You're supportive of John Kasich, but we are going to ask your objective analysis. Who set up well doo you think?

SEAT: I think all three candidates are going to end up with delegates on May 3. There are Congressional districts that are going to go for Trump, I think, some for Cruz, some for Kasich. For governor Kasich being from a neighboring state and having passionate volunteers to cross the border and having overlapping media markets there are parts of Indiana that are extremely familiar with governor Kasich and his record and he is very in tune with the record of Mitch Daniels which resonates in this state. I think that there is still opportunity for all three of these guys to get delegates on May 3.

BOLDUAN: Mitch Daniels, the former governor of Indiana. The current governor of Indiana -- Donald Trump met with Mike Pence yesterday. I assume he meets with the other candidates when they were in Indiana. Any bets on who Pence will pack and what impact do you think that endorsement will have?

SEAT: I don't suspect he will make an endorsement. He is in a tough reelection fight of his own and has to worry about his time in ballot box. I think he is being a hospitable host welcoming candidates to the state. In 2008, Democrats got all the fun. They had Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton here running around the state. And now both Republicans and Democrats are going to get to feel that excitement.

BOLDUAN: Absolutely. Thank you, Pete Seat. Great to see you, Pete.

SEAT: Thank you.

BERMAN: Fasten your seat belts, close the doors.


BERMAN: We are going to take a trip to 1988, and apparently some things did not really change that much.


DONALD TRUMP, (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE & CEO, TRUMP ORGANIZATION: They come over here. They sell their cars, VCRs, knock the hell out of our companies. And, hey, I have tremendous respect for the Japanese people. You can respect somebody that is beating the hell out of you but they are beating the hell out of this country.



[11:59:00] BERMAN: Anthony Bourdain is back from visiting the Philippines, sampling some special street food, which he says is the best thing you could eat with a cold beer. Yum. Watch this.


ANTHONY BOURDAIN, CNN HOST, PARTS UNKNOWN: Night in metro Manila and I am ready for possibly the best thing you can ever eat. I'm talking, of course, about hot sizzling pig face with runny egg on top, and bitching at somebody because nothing is getting in between me and this spicy, chewy, fatty goodness.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There is a lot of restaurants here but here's one is the best.

BOURDAIN: This is really, really good.


BOLDUAN: Now I'm hungry.

Tune in this Sunday 9:00 p.m. eastern for the premiere of the of the new season of "Parts Unknown," with Mr. Anthony Bourdain, right here on CNN

Thank you so much for joining us AT THIS HOUR.

BERMAN: "Legal View" with Ashleigh Banfield starts now.

[12:00:10] ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.