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AT THIS HOUR WITH BERMAN AND MICHAELA
Trump Resistance Advice to be "More Presidential"; Clinton Focuses on Trump but Sanders Not Leaving Race; Voting Under Way in Important States for Both Races. Aired 11:30a-12p ET
Aired April 26, 2016 - 11:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[11:30:00] MARK PRESTON, CNN POLITICS EXECUTIVE EDITOR: There's been a lot of talk there's 54 unpledged delegates, meaning they could go for anybody. However, what I have been told is in the last six, seven days that they've actually put in a ground game. Trump has actually engaged in it himself, talked to these folks himself. They have cards that they're handing to voters. What happens in Pennsylvania is these delegates that are being elected don't have who they're supporting next to them. The ones that Trump is handing out these cards do have who they would support. So I think he'll do better in Pennsylvania --
DAVID GREGORY, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Can I say, I think what's really important you look at Trump, you want to look at margins, because there's two truths about Donald Trump. He is the front runner, the only one, the only one who is really within striking distance of winning this nomination.
JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: And there can be only one.
GREGORY: There can be only one, right. The second thing is it's also true that he's a very weak front runner. He is still a plurality front runner which is why it's possible to get to an open convention.
And if you are looking at the map, you have to say, look, the only strategy here if you're Donald Trump is to win Indiana and then win in California. Everything should flow through that. It's not clear to me that everything is flowing through that. I think they're going to spend a lot of money and time in Indiana and do the same out west in California, but that's where the game is here. He's not going to win -- that's where Trump can win it.
KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Alex, also, if Trump sweeps tonight, what does it mean for the Cruz/Kasich shaky alliance?
ALEX BURNS, NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER, THE NEW YORK TIMES: I think it comes down to Indiana for both of them. That's why this alliance comes into being to begin with. But the real meaning of that partnership is that, you know, Kasich backs off of this state so that Cruz has a decent or at least a reasonable or existent shot of winning there to even just keep the race going. And Cruz, in exchange, gives up these two states that, you know, aren't really that relevant on the calendar --
BERMAN: It's the utilities of monopoly.
BURNS: Right. So you're giving Kasich some kind --
BOLDUAN: Second day of Monopoly references, and you're killing it.
BURNS: You're giving Kasich a door prize in exchange for boosting both their odds in a state you have to beat Trump in, in order to continue the race. If Trump does win there, as David mentioned, Indiana and California as the key targets for him. Those are the key targets for Cruz, too. If he wins states like Montana and South Dakota, it doesn't add up to a heck of a lot unless he wins both of those bigger prizes.
BERMAN: You mentioned the margins, about how much Donald Trump wins tonight, if he does, in fact, win. That's what the polls have been saying up until now. He could get over 50 percent in a bunch of these states. I think after New York a lot of people were surprised how well Donald Trump did in New York even though he was leading in all the polls here.
And that seems to have shifted the dynamics of the race, Alex. Would it be enough to have the win you were predicting he could have tonight, to shift the dynamics heading into Indiana?
BURNS: I think it probably could. When we saw Cruz do well in Wisconsin, almost crack 50 percent, there was a real optimism across the Republican Party that maybe something in the fundamentals of Donald Trump's campaign is weakening. And we saw in New York at least that wasn't the case. We're probably going to get more data points that suggest he's doing quite well still tonight.
BOLDUAN: May be why the Cruz campaign not wanting to make any projections or expectations for tonight.
BERMAN: We had Ron Nehring on, and he refused to tell us how many delegates he would win.
BOLDUAN: That tells you something.
BOLDUAN: Great to see you guys.
BERMAN: Mark Preston, Alex Burns, David Gregory, thanks so much, guys.
BERMAN: Millionaire versus billionaire. Hillary Clinton tries out a new line of attack on Donald Trump, blasting his private jets and mansions. A smart move or is there a chance it could backfire? BOLDUAN: And is Bernie Sanders dropping out of the race if Hillary
Clinton sweeps tonight? I don't think so. Hear what he just told our CNN reporters moments ago.
This is CNN's special live coverage of this fabulous and Super Tuesday.
[11:38:02] BERMAN: All right. We do have breaking news. It concerns Johnny Manziel. The former Cleveland Browns quarterback has been indicted on assault charges. That is according to court records in Dallas. Manziel allegedly hit his former girlfriend. That happened earlier this year allegedly. He has pleaded not guilty. If convicted, he could face up to a year in jail.
BOLDUAN: Now back to politics on this Super Tuesday.
Moments ago, our Jim Acosta caught up with Senator Bernie Sanders who is in Philadelphia. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Mr. Sanders, just curious what you're thinking about today. It's expected to be a big day for Hillary Clinton. Are you feeling any pressure to get out of this race?
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS, (I), VERMONT & DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Have a nice day.
SANDERS: You know, I have answered that question 50 times. Democracy means that every person in this country has the right to cast a vote for president of the United States. We got a message that is resonating. We have won 16 states so far. We have gone from 3 percent in the polls to in some polls actually being ahead of Secretary Clinton. We're in this race to win, and we've got a good shot to do it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BOLDUAN: So Bernie Sanders saying he's not going anywhere, folks. That's for sure.
Let's discuss this and what's going to happen today and beyond with Joel Benenson, chief strategist for the Hillary Clinton campaign.
Joel, thanks so much for coming in.
JOEL BENENSON, CHIEF STRATEGIST, HILLARY FOR AMERICA: Thanks for having me.
BERMAN: We've been listening to Bernie Sanders. You heard him. On "New Day," he says he still has a path to the nomination. He says it's a narrow path but he does say he has a path. Is that true?
BENENSON: Well, we'll see by the end of tonight. I have been saying this all along, this is a critical day. We have five states. We've been campaigning very hard. Secretary Clinton is going to end up in Pennsylvania tonight. We think we're going to do very well tonight, and we think we're going to add to our lead of more than 2.7 million votes, add to our lead of 240 pledge delegates, and just as important at this point is almost 400 delegates come off the field today. If Bernie Sanders doesn't win every state and win big, he's running out of real estate.
BERMAN: There's no path if he doesn't win?
[11:40:02] BENENSON: It's really hard to see it. You have to have enough delegates left to win and win big. He'd have to win the remaining pledged delegates at a rate that he has won I think over 60 percent of in only two states. Just no pattern of where he's been able to do that.
BOLDUAN: When you say there's really no path, you point to states and keep pointing to this, is that the same as saying it's time for him to get out, as you heard from Jim Acosta? Is there pressure? Why don't you guys go there?
BENENSON: It's his decision. He's run a campaign for a year like we have. We know what it's like to be in long, hard campaigns. It's his decision. What's notable is he said last night he'll do everything he can to make sure a Republican doesn't get into the White House. That's the most important thing, because after these primaries, we have to come together. It's what Hillary Clinton did in 2008. She played a very big role in moving Senator Barack Obama's nomination by acclamation on the floor of the convention. She gave the nominating speech. We have to unite as Democrats because the stakes in this are so high based on what's going on, on the Republican side. There will be time for him to make his decision and go forward in a way that I think will be true to what he said last night.
BERMAN: He said he wants to make sure a Republican doesn't win the White House but he was asked essentially about how much he would be willing to do to help Secretary Clinton. Let's listen to how he answered that question.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SANDERS: Well, and we'll see what happens. We are going to have -- if we don't win this thing, we're going to have a lot of delegates in Philadelphia fighting the fight. And I'm not convinced and you don't know what the delegates there will do. If you do, please tell me, but you don't. So we are going to go to the American people and say this is the agenda for the working people.
(END VIDEO CLIP) BERMAN: A couple things going on there, but one of which is something you're now hearing from people close to Bernie Sanders now, is that he might start trying to fight over the platform or some of the messaging at the convention. How open are you to including Bernie Sanders, his voice and his supporters, on things like writing the party platform?
BENENSON: I think what happens at the convention is worked out at the convention by delegates. If we have a majority of delegates, we're going to listen to any points of view, but at the end of the convention we have to come out of there united to defeat Republicans and we have to come out united on the issues that matter the most to American people, about the issue that I will make a difference in their lives. That will start on issues we have far more agreement than disagreement. How we give every kid an education so they can get ahead. How we make sure we can create the good jobs of the future including clean energy jobs that will make us the clean energy super power and help us deal with climate change.
BOLDUAN: When you talk about you will be uniting, you need to start uniting, Bernie Sanders was asked very clearly this morning if Hillary Clinton is the nominee, will he support her as the nominee without conditions? And his answer a couple times was we will see. He refused to say yes. If Bernie Sanders is the nomine nominee, will Hillary Clinton support him without conditions?
BENENSON: I think if Senator Sanders was sitting on the precipice of the nomination as Hillary Clinton is now, I'd entertain that question. That's just not right now in the cords, and I think everybody se, where we are today. I think whether or not he will, as I have said, that's his decision. We're not going to force his hand or push him to make a decision before he's ready.
BOLDUAN: But supporting a nominee without conditions? You don't think that he -- you don't think he should have an opinion on that now?
BENENSON: That he should have an opinion?
BENENSON: I'll let him speak for himself. I take him at his word that he will do everything he can to stop the Republicans from winning the White house in the fall. He knows we are much more behind on issues, the Clinton campaigned and the Sanders campaign, the ones I ticked off, than we are with Republicans. We have Republicans that oppose equal pay, that don't want to raise the minimum wage. We have a big fight ahead of us in the fall, and anybody who cares about those progressive causes will be on the side of the nominee, and I believe that's going to be Hillary Clinton.
BERMAN: Do you need Bernie Sanders on your side? Do you need his strong support to win the election in November?
BENENSON: We want everyone's support.
(CROSSTALK) BENENSON: I think we can win this election by running a campaign on the issues, the kind of issues we've talked about and debated with Bernie Sanders where we have a lot more agreement than disagreement. That's why I think he will be with us in the fall.
BOLDUAN: Do you need him?
BENENSON: I think campaigns are choices between the two candidates on the ballot. They always are. Whoever the nominee is at the end of this process -- I believe it's going to be Hillary Clinton -- it's going to be a choice between us and one of many out-of-touch, out-of- date Republicans who are going to be antithetical to what working Americans want, and that's what that campaign will come down to, who is going to improve their economic lives.
BERMAN: Joel Benenson, great to have you here with us. Appreciate it.
BOLDUAN: Good luck today.
BENENSON: Thank you.
BOLDUAN: Thanks, Joel.
BERMAN: Coming up for us on CNN, we hear from Bernie Sanders' wife, Jane Sanders. She will be speaking with Wolf Blitzer at 1:00 eastern time. You will want to stick around for that.
[11:45:03] BOLDUAN: And looking past today's big votes and into the future, friends. Yes, there is still a long path to the convention, if you can even believe it. So does Donald Trump have the legs to maintain momentum, and is his management team the right fit?
BERMAN: Legs, not hands. A difference.
BOLDUAN: Back to today's crucial northeastern primaries. Voters in five states, they're hitting the polls as we speak. Hundreds of delegates are up for grabs.
Let's talk about what we can expect from those five contests in these five states with CNN political commentator, Ana Navarro; CNN political commentator and Bernie Sanders supporter, Bill Press; and political and policy contributor for "Vanity Fair," T.A. Frank.
Great to see all of you.
BOLDUAN: Silence. I like it.
Stunned them to silence again.
BERMAN: You stumped them. That's not even the hard question.
BOLDUAN: Just wait until it comes at you, Ana. Prepare.
Ana, you have today, but looking beyond today, if they are at tomorrow, is there such a thing as momentum at this point in the race do you think?
[11:50:00] ANA NAVARRO, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: You know, we keep talking about momentum and how winning begets winning. There is still some truth to that. But if we have seen anything in the 2016 race, and on both sides of the aisle, momentum can change and things can change on a dime. Somebody can have momentum this week and lose it next week. Some people make a lot out of momentum. Some make very little out of it. We've seen Ted Cruz, for example, win a lot of states and yet, it hasn't really translated into a Big Moe. We have to wait and see what happens tomorrow and what it translates to. But right now, take it one day at a time and one primary at a time.
BERMAN: Bill Press, you are a Bernie Sanders supporter. "The Washington Post" writer said he detects a change in language from Bernie Sanders in the Sanders campaign. Now there is talk we are going to take this fight all the way to California. We're going to fight until every last vote is cast. But what they're not saying is they're going to take this to the convention and there is a big difference between the two. Have you noticed such a linguistic difference?
BILL PRESS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I'm delighted it goes to the state of California because normally our primaries are meaningless and won't be this year but I heard Bernie id he wants to go to the convention and he's got a model for that. In 2008, after Barack Obama got enough delegates to win the nomination, finally, on June 20th, Hillary didn't concede defeat until four days later, and she didn't drop out, if you remember, until the convention when --
BERMAN: But, Bill, but, Bill -- they stood up on stage together and held an event. Do you expect Bernie Sanders will stand up on the stage with Hillary Clinton and have an event?
PRESS: Absolutely. I had this conversation very early on with Bernie Sanders and he has said it I don't know how many different ways. He wants to do everything he can to make sure the next president of the United States is a Democrat. He hopes it's himself. If it's not, you know he'll be there 100 percent for Hillary Clinton, and encourage his supporters to do the same thing.
BOLDUAN: See, on the Republican side, votes, let's just assume Donald Trump sweeps it today and you look ahead and then the Cruz/Kasich deal kind of really comes into focus when you head in to Indiana. What are you hearing from voters? This all kind of comes down to even though they say they're not telling folks how to vote in places like Indiana, it's an argument of strategic voting, something I know Ana Navarro hates.
T.A., what do you think? What are you hearing from voters? T.A. FRANK, POLITICAL & POLICY CONTRIBUTOR, VANITY FAIR: Well, I
think voters are probably catching up to us journalists in that we are starting to feel like this is a bad car ride and we're looking for the handles, the door handles to get out of it.
And voters are probably starting to feel that for the same way. I think maybe strategic voting is --
NAVARRO: You better hope the car isn't going too fast.
FRANK: That's right. I'll take my chances.
BERMAN: T.A., go ahead. Finish your thought.
FRANK: Well, I think that, yes, the voters are catching up to us and that they are probably not that interested in strategic voting or in the latest imaginations of Kasich/Cruz, this marriage breaking apart after 24 hours or so. Even Britney Spears managed to stay longer than that. I think voters will definitely exceed us in fatigue very soon or catch up with us.
Can I just jump in here a second?
BERMAN: Go ahead.
PRESS: You know, my favorite candidate was Jimmy McMullen -- remember him, Governor of New York -- with the Rent Too Damn High Party. I think we're all sort of feeling this primary season is too damn long. I mean, it started in 2014. It really has dragged on and on. I wish --
BOLDUAN: You can't have it both ways, Bill. You can't say it's going on too long and how excited you are that California is now relevant.
BERMAN: What she said.
PRESS: I always try to have it both ways.
NAVARRO: All right, guys. Guys, let me just tell you this. Let's stop whining and moping about how long this primary is going on. Great TV, making for great ratings.
PRESS: That's for sure. NAVARRO: I do agree that marriage between Kasich and Cruz, it looks like it needs marriage counseling ASAP. I think less talking would be better. More hugging, more eating by John Kasich, less explaining of the process.
But look, it's not just about voters. Voters are a big part of why this happened and they need to get the signal of what is happening. But it's also about the super PACs and about the donors. These folks have limited resources left, Kasich and Cruz, and they've got to allocate the resources in a smart way and divvy up the map. I wish this had happened a long, long time ago. But it gives the super PACs a road map and a degree of something to hang on to, a hope that there's some sort of path or hope and, you know, a map to follow.
[11:55:25] BERMAN: All right. T.A., in 10 seconds or less, if voters are tired, which candidate does that help most?
FRANK: It probably helps John Kasich most. I'm just throwing one out there.
BOLDUAN: Ana Navarro? Bill Press?
PRESS: I think it helps Donald Trump the most.
BOLDUAN: Thank you so much.
BERMAN: All right, guys, thanks so much.
BERMAN: Coming up on CNN, we're going to hear from Bernie Sanders' wife, Jane Sanders. She will speak to Wolf Blitzer in just a little bit, so you'll want to speak around for that.