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THE SITUATION ROOM
Voting Underway in Five Key States; Interview with Kasich Campaign's Trent Duffy; Interview with Clinton Campaign's Joel Benenson. Aired 6-7p ET
Aired April 26, 2016 - 18:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Happening now: super two. Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump each looking for another big night with voting under way in five Northeastern states. Can their rivals stop the momentum?
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Our breaking news, new exit poll results coming in this hour, what voters in these key states are thinking and what it could mean for tonight's results and the general election to come.
BLITZER: Deal or no deal? Looking ahead, will the Cruz/Kasich alliance stop Donald Trump or is it too little too late?
COOPER: I'm Anderson Cooper.
BLITZER: And I'm Wolf Blitzer. And you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
Polls are about just two hours away from closing in Rhode Island, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Delaware, and Maryland. It's Super Tuesday part four. The question, will it be a sweep for Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump? Trump is cooling his heels so far today. He has no campaign events scheduled, other to speak in New York City later tonight presumably after the races start being called.
Sara Murray is joining us now from outside Trump Tower in New York City.
Sara, Donald Trump expected to speak later tonight. What's the latest you're hearing from the campaign?
SARA MURRAY, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Wolf.
We're expecting Donald Trump to speak later this evening. And we're expecting it to be after he has a number of victories tonight. His campaign feels very confident about the states that are voting. I think the question is what kind of tone do we see Donald Trump take, assuming he does have these big victories tonight?
Do we see him try to be more gracious, try to appear more presidential, or do we hear what we have heard from him on the campaign trail these last couple of days, which is just being un -- relentless in hammering Ted Cruz and hammering John Kasich and even suggesting that it's time for both of them to bow out of the race?
BLITZER: Sara, if he's able to win big tonight in all five states, does that give him confidence he will be able to get 1,237 delegates on the first round at the convention in Cleveland needed to secure the nomination?
MURRAY: Wolf, I have talked to a number of Trump advisers today and over the past couple of days, and there is this sense of confidence internally that they will get to 1,237.
It may not happen until June 7. They know they need California, but they feel like they're going to arrive in Cleveland to do that and they also feel like there are different ways for them to get there. When you look at a place like Indiana, which is not necessarily as friendly to Trump as some of the upcoming states, they feel like even if they don't win as many delegates as they're hoping to there, they still have other ways to get there. There certainly is a sense, at least among the Trump advisers, that they will arrive in Cleveland as the presumptive nominee, Wolf.
BLITZER: All right, Sara, thank you, Sara Murray in New York.
Hillary Clinton has an event under way in Indiana, a state that votes next Tuesday. She will then head to Pennsylvania, the City of Brotherly Love, for her primary night event.
Our senior Washington correspondent, Jeff Zeleny, is joining us. He's already in Philadelphia in anticipation of that. He's joining us now live.
Jeff, Secretary Clinton still in Indiana campaigning. How confident is her camp feeling about tonight's five primaries?
JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, the campaign is very confident without a doubt across the board. All five of these primaries, they believe they're in a good position, a strong position to win if not all five, certainly the majority of them.
It's one of the reasons she's campaigning, like you said, in Indiana today. They vote next week. The Clinton campaign feels the primary is essentially behind them, but mathematically speaking, they need to keep winning. They know that regardless of the outcome of tonight, they're still going to have to keep going forward because Senator Sanders has pledged to go forward through the rest of the primary calendar until California.
So the Clinton campaign is going to do that as well. But, Wolf, when Secretary Clinton comes in here to address this crowd tonight in Philadelphia in just a few hours' time, she's going to keep turning the page, keep looking forward, trying to make the case to Democrats that she is the best candidate to defeat Republicans, the Republican nominee if it's Donald Trump or someone else.
We have seen that shift happen over the last several days or so. Wolf, I'm told by a top adviser tonight we're going to feel it even more. She's going to extend an olive branch yet again to Senator Sanders' supporters, but more than that she is going focus squarely on what she thinks is the general election race ahead, at the same time still hoping that she is going to be winning in these places.
But they do feel confident. They have a few more hours for the polls to be open here in Philadelphia as well. Volunteers are working the streets trying to get out that vote. They know the bigger the margin here, Wolf, the faster she will be able to move on to what she believes will be a general election campaign -- Wolf.
BLITZER: All five states, the poll close in all five states at 8:00 p.m. Eastern. That's when we will be able to start getting real results in. All right, Jeff, thank you very much, Jeff Zeleny reporting.
We're getting some additional exit poll information right now. Our political director, David Chalian, is joining us right now with more numbers.
What else are we seeing?
DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Well, you know this is a question we have asked time and again of Republicans. Do you feel betrayed by your party's leadership? And take a look at this.
In Pennsylvania today, 61 percent of Republicans voting in the Republican primary in Pennsylvania say they feel betrayed by Republican politicians, and 35 percent say no. That's a high watermark throughout this primary season that we have seen so far. But in every state but one, a majority of Republicans have said they feel betrayed.
Then we asked who ran the most unfair campaign in Pennsylvania? And take a look at this -- 46 percent of Republicans today said Ted Cruz ran the most unfair campaign; 11 percent said John Kasich and 33 percent say Donald Trump.
Wolf, I look at those numbers and I think of Donald Trump's messaging over the course of the last couple of weeks has been all about a rigged system and whether or not the rules are fair. And it seems maybe that it's having some impact and getting some traction if indeed 46 percent of the electorate today thinks Cruz was the most unfair campaign.
BLITZER: Yes, that's a significant number, indeed. Thanks very much for that, David Chalian -- Anderson, over to you.
COOPER: And back now with our panel.
This whole Cruz/Kasich alleged alliance not for tonight, but beyond, did it make any sense? Because on the one hand, it played into Donald Trump's hands of Donald Trump saying this is collusion, the system is rigged, and yet they didn't also really seem to commit to it because John Kasich wasn't really clear whether he was telling voters in Indiana to still vote for him or to not. (CROSSTALK)
GLORIA BORGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: I have this image of Kasich being dragged into this deal that was cut by their staffs kind of kicking and screaming. He's been ambivalent about it. He's been grouchy about it. He's clearly not happy about it, but it's a last- ditch effort.
COOPER: Cruz is selling it as, oh, John Kasich is pulling out of Indiana, to allow to head...
BORGER: But they -- talk about Trump being on message, as David Chalian was just talking about. These two candidates had no message on this, and different messages, in fact. And I think it's just -- it's evidence of the math. It's kind of a Hail Mary, right?
MICHAEL NUTTER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Slightly unbalanced deal one way, where clearly Kasich, governor, has no idea really what his role is. Senator Cruz runs with the ball. And they're all running around in circles, a deal put together in desperation at the last minute destined to fall apart.
MARY KATHARINE HAM, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think it was emblematic of this primary race in so many ways.
Donald Trump, for all his faults, his strength is whatever he believes for the seven minutes he believes it, he says it and sells it. Right? These guys did not have their heart in this. It was too little, too late, which has been the thing with many of these attacks, and strategic or what have you, on Trump.
And then Cruz does what he always does. He goes one step farther than strategically helpful. And he takes a swipe at Kasich, instead of saying we're doing this together for the good of the party and for what we believe. And Kasich, despite his like nice guy thing that he's cultivated lately, he's ornery. And he heard that swipe and he was like, no, not in this, and it's not going to work.
JEFFREY LORD, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: All told, what we have here is the latest version of what we have been watching all year, which is signs of campaigns slowly disintegrating in slow motion and coming to an end.
DONNA BRAZILE, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Mitt Romney announced on March 3 that the two sides had to come together, the so-called bromance between John Kasich and Mr. Cruz. And no one followed it.
So, there's a fuzzy line between cooperation and desperation. And I have to agree with Donald Trump. This was an act of desperation.
AMANDA CARPENTER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: If you're Cruz and Kasich, why in the world do you come out and play perfectly, like you were saying, into the hands of the Trump narrative of this is a rigged election?
They were sending a signal to donors and fund-raisers we're here, we're still in this, but they sent a terrible message to voters of the system is rigged. We made this secret deal.
JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: You're right. You're right.
But -- and Ted Cruz who 10 days, two weeks ago, was actually leading in some private polling in Indiana conducted for the Senate race -- he is now down 10 points in Indiana in that same private polling. What is Ted Cruz's argument going to be next Wednesday morning if he loses Indiana to Donald Trump?
Ted Cruz keeps saying, I'm the only alternative to Donald Trump. There's a rule in most sports. And politics is sometimes a sport. You actually have to win. The winning team advances.
LORD: That's right, the King rule.
KING: The winning team advances.
And, look, this is all they got, so I get it. I don't want to be overly cynical in talking about the Cruz campaign, but their hope is just to keep -- they have to keep Donald Trump in the 1,100s, number one, which appears unlikely, and then go to a convention and say, OK, so he beat us everywhere in April, he beat us in May, he beat us in most states in June, nominate me?
BORGER: You can't win by just cutting deals. You have to affirmatively win. And what Cruz is trying to do is say to Kasich stay away and then maybe I can win against Trump. It's high stakes, but it was going to be high stakes anyway.
BILL PRESS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: To me, this was like a suicide pact. Right?
And it came much, much too late, but I have to tell you, there are a lot of reasons for Donald Trump's success, but I think one of them is the amateurs that he was running against. If you look back -- and Jeffrey sort of indicated this -- at the people that tried to take him on and bring him down, Jeb Bush, Rand Paul, Marco Rubio, Donald Trump made fools of all of them.
And the latest two are John Kasich and Ted Cruz with this Mickey Mouse deal that fell apart before it got off the ground.
(CROSSTALK) KING: Think about that -- 17 candidates, 18 candidates at the beginning, eight sitting or former governors.
COOPER: They were not amateurs. That's what is extraordinary about it.
KING: This was considered the deepest, most talented field in the Republican Party in a generation.
COOPER: Not only the candidates themselves, but also the people they had hired.
NUTTER: Everyone else was doing conventional politics.
Donald Trump comes out. First, he's a talk show thing. Maybe it will last a couple months. No one is taking it seriously. And then they're dropping like flies. He's being unconventional. And they never adjusted to the insanity of his candidacy.
HAM: Look, the rules are different for Donald Trump than they are for the rest of these guys.
And here's a perfect example. When he lost Wisconsin, what did he do? He accused Ted Cruz with no evidence whatsoever of a federal crime, of colluding with his PAC. That's just desperation. These guys aren't the only guys who do desperation, but he doesn't pay the same price for it that these guy do.
CARPENTER: Donald Trump has beat out 17 people, as you mentioned, many former sitting governors, because he so clearly has his hand on the pulse of the nation. He understood that Republicans were frustrated.
We see in this latest exit poll 62 percent feel betrayed by the party. In every state, that is likewise. Every state, it's 62, 50 percent.
COOPER: You said the pulse of the nation.
CARPENTER: And I think it will be the pulse of the nation when we get to a general election. There's a lot of anger at the establishment, which is why Bernie Sanders is doing so well.
COOPER: One at a time.
CARPENTER: That's why Bernie Sanders is doing so well.
BRAZILE: Bernie Sanders is doing well because he is speaking to the issues that many Americans care about, raising the wage, making sure that our kids, our kids have a future. He's not saying we're going to build a wall to keep people out, he's not attacking Muslims, he's not attacking women.
So he's not running the same campaign as Donald Trump.
BRAZILE: Don't try to make Donald Trump and Bernie the same.
LORD: How different would this race be this instant if, instead of trying to make a deal with John Kasich, Ted Cruz had gone to Donald Trump and said, I'm not making it, between us, we're getting 60, 70, 80 percent of the vote, I will come out and endorse you tomorrow, let's talk?
This race would be -- this race, he'd be out of it, but he'd be in a whole lot better standing than he is tonight.
BORGER: Trump would have taken that, but then you have the little lying Ted problem, which is kind of an issue.
If Cruz and Kasich were really Crasich and liked each other, they could have formed some kind of a ticket if they wanted to. But even that probably wouldn't have worked for them.
I think what we're seeing here is that these two people don't really trust each other. I mean, Cruz was asked today whether -- why didn't you just put Kasich on your ticket? He said, well, that's getting ahead of ourselves here.
On the other hand, he's cutting a deal with him on the state of Indiana, and it sends all these kind of mixed signals.
PRESS: To ask Kasich people to vote for Ted Cruz is like asking them to vote for Hillary Clinton. I mean, it's just...
HAM: She's right that these outsiders are both speaking to frustrations, but Bernie's strength is with millennial voters. A Harvard/IOP, Institute of Politics, poll today of millennials today
shows that Trump is 20 underwater with Republican millennials, OK? So, that does not speak to his strength in a general election or bringing those frustrated folks under the tent too.
CARPENTER: Hillary Clinton has lost millennials in 20 of the 22 states. Neither of these candidates have done well with millennials.
HAM: Right. And how is he going to convince those people?
CARPENTER: With Donald Trump as the nominee, he's going to put states like Pennsylvania and Michigan into play because he has the same message as Bernie Sanders.
LORD: Yes, and New York.
BRAZILE: Good lord. You all are going to make me come out here and help Bernie out, because Bernie don't want -- don't give Bernie no -- don't give Bernie heartburn.
No, no, Bernie is not -- Bernie is raising the hopes of millions of Americans who want a better life and a better future.
CARPENTER: As is Donald Trump.
BRAZILE: Perhaps that's Donald Trump's message, but you can't hear that from all the noise.
CARPENTER: For weeks, we have tried to characterize Donald Trump as a bigot, as Islamophobic, but the thing is, no one is buying that, which is why he's winning millions and millions of voters.
COOPER: Let's take a break on this one, because I think we only have seven or eight more hours.
COOPER: More about the deal between Cruz and Kasich to divide and conquer the upcoming primary states. Too little too late? We will hear from a Kasich spokesman.
Plus, the latest from polling stations around the Northeast -- when we come back.
BLITZER: The polls are still open in five Northeastern states, but Ted Cruz and John Kasich already have an unusual strategy for the three upcoming primaries -- or three upcoming primaries.
They announced late Sunday night that they had decided to work together to try to stop Donald Trump. The plan is for Cruz to focus in on Indiana, essentially give up on New Mexico and Oregon, conceding that to Kasich.
Donald Trump has blasted the plan as desperate and collusion, he says. In the past 24 hours, Kasich has said it's really much ado about nothing.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
QUESTION: Is this collusion?
GOV. JOHN KASICH (R-OH), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Is it collusion? No. Collude, what does that even mean? I don't even know. Does he know what that means?
QUESTION: The two of you are teaming up to compete against Donald Trump.
KASICH: No, the two of us are competing to win the nomination.
We don't want to go places and spend money in places that we can't win.
If I'm not there campaigning, I will get fewer votes.
I don't see this as any big deal, other than the fact that I'm not going to spend resources in Indiana. He's not going to spend them in other places.
I don't tell voters anything. I'm not there campaigning and it speaks for itself.
I'm going to be going on Thursday to Oregon. Ted Cruz is not going to Oregon. He may be in Indiana. I'm not going to Indiana.
I have never told them not to vote for me. They ought to vote for me.
When you don't campaign in certain areas in any kind of a race, guess what? Your turnout goes down.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Joining me now is John Kasich's national communications adviser, Trent Duffy.
Trent, thanks very much for joining us.
Is this deal still alive, because it seems that there's some strains there?
TRENT DUFFY, SPOKESMAN, KASICH CAMPAIGN: Oh, it absolutely is alive. John Kasich canceled his campaign appearances in Indiana.
BLITZER: He's doing fund-raising in Indiana.
DUFFY: We're shifting our focus westward, where we believe we can do better than Ted Cruz can. That's why we're going to New Mexico. We're going to be in Oregon on Thursday.
So, this is about stopping Hillary Clinton. And in order to do that, you have got to keep Trump off the ballot in November, because he gets crushed by Hillary Clinton, as all the polls show.
BLITZER: But the confusion is when Kasich says he still wants people in Indiana to vote for him, not necessarily to vote for Cruz. Then, all of a sudden, it sounds confusing.
DUFFY: Well, look, we're not being presumptuous. We're not telling voters how to vote.
BLITZER: But why not tell voters, which all presidential candidates -- and you have worked on -- other presidential candidates. You worked for President Bush? Why not say, vote for me?
DUFFY: Well, look, this agreement is under way. And this is the best way we feel we can keep Trump for getting that 1,237.
Today, Wolf, we learned that Donald Trump may have to testify in a fraud case in the middle of the fall. We don't know what Donald Trump's tax returns have. We know from polling that he's going to get destroyed by Hillary Clinton and we're probably going to lose the Senate. So, this is all the data...
BLITZER: You're talking about the Trump University case.
DUFFY: Absolutely. We just learned today.
BLITZER: He says he's looking forward to that, because he says he has nothing to hide.
DUFFY: Well, good. I hope he does.
But that doesn't -- going to change the 67 percent of Americans that view him negatively. He does abysmally with millennials, we learned today, Republican millennials. He does abysmally with women.
He can't change those negatives. Maybe he should have an alliance with himself. Is he going to be presidential, like we heard three days ago, or is he going to be the insult-slinging Donald Trump that we have come to know?
BLITZER: He continues to ridicule Kasich and now he says he's, what, one for 41. He has won his home state of Ohio, has not won one other state, saying why is Kasich still in this race, to which you say?
DUFFY: Well, I say because Kasich is the best person to be the commander in chief and the best able to lead our country and to fix what's wrong.
You can talk about shaking up Washington, but there's only one candidate that's actually done it, and that's John Kasich. And he has a history of delivering on what he's promised, unlike anybody else in this race, and he's the only candidate that can move our country forward.
If we elect Hillary Clinton, it's going to be four to eight more years of the divisive Obama tragedy that we have experienced.
BLITZER: Pennsylvania -- he was born in Pennsylvania, Kasich, right next door the Ohio, the only state he's won so far.
BLITZER: How is he going do in Pennsylvania tonight?
DUFFY: Well, we think we're going to pick up delegates in Pennsylvania and in Maryland and hopefully in Connecticut and Rhode Island. And that's the strategy, to pick up delegates where we can and to move on.
BLITZER: But he's not going to win any states.
But Pennsylvania looks like it's stacking up well. But the same poll that shows Donald Trump winning Pennsylvania in the primary shows him getting crushed by Hillary in the general election. And that's what happens. This electoral map just goes to shreds in November for Donald Trump. And this is what the Republican delegates are going to have to wrestle with.
BLITZER: I was surprised Kasich gave up on next-door neighbor Indiana, which is right next to Ohio. You would think that that would be a state more acceptable to him, because he's won impressively two terms in Ohio.
DUFFY: Well, it just didn't work out that way. And we're going to see how this strategy plays out. We're finding that we're strong in the Pacific Northwest. We're going to do well in the Northeast.
That's where we're polling a strong second to Donald Trump, because people want an alternative. I mean, more people -- 63 percent of Republican voters do not want Donald Trump to be the nominee.
BLITZER: Trent Duffy, thanks very much for coming in.
DUFFY: You got it.
BLITZER: Just ahead, polls are open until 8:00 p.m. Eastern in all five states holding primaries today. We're going to check out the turnout at a polling station in Baltimore.
Much more coming up.
BLITZER: It's Super Tuesday number four. Five states in the Northeast, they are voting. The polls will be open for another hour- and-a-half or so.
Let's check in with CNN's Brian Todd. He's in a polling location in Baltimore, Maryland.
Brian, how has the turnout been over there?
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Pretty energetic turnout today, Wolf.
It's a real consistent theme throughout the day. We're here at the Mount Washington Lower School in the northern section of Baltimore. This is kind of the post-rush hour crowd trickling in here. We're expecting more people to come in as they get off work, about an hour- and-a-half now until the polls close, people checking in here at the polling check-in counter here.
Telling people what their name is. Then they get their ballot. They tell them their party affiliation. You cannot registration day of in Maryland, so they give you your ballot according to your party affiliation. Then they cast paper ballots over at these stations, Wolf, 14 polling stations here.
Paper ballots, that's a new procedure this year. They haven't done that in several years. After they cast their paper ballot, they take it over here to the scanner and feed it in and they're done, a pretty streamlined process.
A big story here in Maryland, Wolf, is the early voting. That was very popular this year. They had early voting available from April 14 to April 21, for eight straight days. And it was a record turnout, Wolf. Hundreds of thousands of people cast their ballots in early voting, so, a pretty energetic turnout overall in Maryland in this month of April.
[18:30:00] Now, as far as some political intrigue at play, there's some of that here too, as well. Governor Larry Hogan, a Republican governor, has come out and said that he does not want Donald Trump to be the nominee. He has not endorsed either Kasich or Ted Cruz. He had endorsed Chris Christie, but he's taken the unusual step of saying that he does not want Donald Trump to be the nominee. Is that going to affect Trump's numbers here in Maryland? Maybe not, because Trump had a pretty sizeable lead in a lot of the polls that we showed going into today, so we're going to see how the dynamic with Governor Hogan plays out.
Another key dynamic here is Hillary Clinton's dominance in Maryland, especially here in the Baltimore area. In the polls leading up to this, she was expected to do pretty well, especially in the Baltimore area. Also in Prince Georges County, Maryland, and Montgomery, County, Maryland, which are adjacent to Washington, D.C., real strongholds for Hillary Clinton.
And Wolf, our team personally sampled about 100 voters as they came out of the polling station today, very unscientific survey, but according to the people we talked to, about 60 percent of them said they support Hillary Clinton. So her showing very, very strong here, at least in this precinct in Baltimore so far, Wolf.
BLITZER: We'll see what happens with all those early voters. Probably get some quick results at 8 p.m. Eastern once the polls close in Maryland. Brian, thanks very much -- Anderson.
COOPER: Wolf, thanks. We're back with our panel.
How important is tonight for Bernie Sanders in terms of -- if Hillary Clinton gets four out of five, say, obviously Bernie Sanders is going to stay in it. He's said that all the way -- going to be all the way through the convention, particularly wants to get to California and from California, but in terms of just his message, in terms of the tone of his campaign moving forward, how much would it shift tonight if he doesn't have a good night tonight?
KING: That's a very personal decision, and Mayor Nutter has been on the ballot. He probably can answer it better than most. When you're losing, it's very hard. Whatever you think of any of these candidates, whatever your politics, if you think of how many months they put into this, how many days, how many hours, much time that means going to events, how little sleep. You give up your life, you're raising money. So I have grace for all of them. All of them: those who are gone from the race, those who are in the race. It's a hard thing to do, whatever your politics.
I do think, if she wins four out of the five or five of the five tonight, there's the -- there's the delegate math and then there's the demographics. That way would just prove again, after New York, after some other states, that Bernie Sanders is having a hard time in closed primaries with just Democrats, where you do have African-Americans and/or Latinos making up a significant segment of the population.
And then comes -- Bernie Sanders is in this race until the convention. I think there's no doubt about that. He has the resources to stay in; he has the following that is committed to him. But to the tone point, it's a fascinating question you raise.
Will he stop demanding she release the transcripts of her speeches? Will he stop calling her -- insinuating, anyway, that that she's beholden to Wall Street and special interests? Will he dial it back a little bit? That's a conversation he's going to have to have with himself after they count the votes. COOPER: Because on the transcript of the speeches, Jane Sanders said
that they'll release more tax returns if Hillary Clinton -- when and if Hillary Clinton releases the speeches.
NUTTER: I think that's along the lines of what John is talking about. It's -- the tone has changed, but there's more that certainly more that can be done. But that's that.
Look, I've won an election, and I've lost one. First, you have a sense of where things are going in either situation, but even closer to home, eight years ago, I was in the same situation. I was a delegate for Hillary Clinton, and you had a sense -- Pennsylvania, fantastic -- and then you had a sense later of how things were starting to go. And you reached that point where it becomes pretty clear it's not going to happen.
The candidate, the supporters, the intensity of being that involved and that committed, but at some point in time. So I got a phone call. Hillary Clinton called in early June and said, "It's not going to work out for us. I'm going to endorse Senator Barack Obama."
I said, "Fine, what do you want me to do?"
"I want you to give him the same 100 percent you gave me." End of conversation. On to the general election. And that's a transition period, but at some point you have to come to that realization. And that's what's going on right now with many of his supporters.
But in the end, as John said, Senator Sanders and the family have to have that conversation. Then the top people in the campaign have to have that conversation, and then how do you talk to millions of supporters?
COOPER: And Bill, is it up to Senator Sanders to not only make those phone calls but to talk to his supporters? Or is it up to Hillary Clinton to reach out?
PRESS: Donna said this earlier: it is up to both. I mean, certainly, Senator Sanders will endorse whoever the nominee is. If he's Hillary, he will support her. He will ask his supporters to do it.
Hillary is also going to have to reach out to them, particularly to the young people, and I think she can get them. But they're not going to come automatically. She's got to say, "Look, there's not that much difference between us. You can believe it -- believe what we believe."
But I've just got to say in terms of moving forward, after tonight that's still 14 states to go. And you've got to look at what Bernie is in this for. I said earlier, there's a candidate; there's the cause. Bernie, not -- he wanted to win.
He may not win, but he also wants to shape the agenda, have an influence on the platform; and he wants to shake up this Democratic Party and reform the Democratic Party. And to get all of that done, the more delegates he has, the stronger he'll be. BORGER: To be fair to Bernie Sanders...
PRESS: So he'll keep going.
BORGER: ... Bernie Sanders has come out and said he will do what he needs to do to defeat the Republican nominee. Period.
BORGER: And so that was the beginning of something of coming together.
Once he can't articulate a path to victory anymore, he has to decide what he wants to do, and he may not be there yet, as you point out. But once he can't do that, then he has to figure out what he wants. And then he has to get his people excited about Hillary Clinton. And I think that's where Barack Obama actually comes in -- comes in, and those younger voters who have been reluctant with Hillary Clinton, I think Obama would have...
NUTTER: Senator Barack Obama did the same thing eight years ago.
BRAZILE: Also, his Senate colleagues. I mean, Bernie Sanders, you know, he's not only one of the quote, unquote leaders inside the -- well he caucused with the Democrats, but budget committee, veterans committee. He plays a very important role within the United States Senate, and as many of us know around this table, the Senate is up for grabs next year.
So clearly, the Democratic Party would like to come together, would like to have Bernie's support, would like to have Hillary's support, because we have a lot of down-ballot races. And we have two states tonight where we're looking at the Senate race, both in Pennsylvania and Maryland. That's very important for the Democratic Party. We want to take back the Senate. We want to get the Supreme Court. We want to make sure that Donald Trump is not the next president of the United States. That is what Democrats are all about.
PRESS: In 2008, it was electorate. When Hillary Clinton, who was still a candidate, came to the convention and stood up and said she wanted the convention to declare Barack Obama the nominee by acclimation, you know, if we could do that in 2016 that would be dynamite; that would be tremendous.
HAM: There's a weird thing on both sides. The outsiders on both sides essentially joined the party to run for president. Like, they just got here. They got to the party recently. And so I don't think it should be terribly surprising if their first priority is not to be like, "Let's bring the party together again." Like, that may not be their first thing they're doing.
COOPER: We're going to take another quick break. We want to talk more as the night unfolds. Hillary Clinton just wrapped up an event in Indiana. Bernie Sanders' rally is set to begin in a few hours. Up next, we'll speak with Clinton's chief strategist about the stakes for his candidate tonight. We'll also check in with a polling station in Connecticut. We'll be right back.
[18:42:11] BLITZER: Voters in five key states, they had a little bit more than an hour left to get to the polls. Meantime, let's check in with CNN's Brynn Gingras. She's at Hartford, Connecticut, for us.
Brynn, how has the turnout been over there where you are?
BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, we checked with the secretary of state. And the latest numbers that they have say that those turnout numbers actually should exceed the numbers they've been seeing from past primaries. So voter turnout -- sorry, voter turnout is pretty high from what we're understanding, but they're going to have better numbers when the polls close, as you said, Wolf, in just over an hour.
Here at this West Hartford location, you can see those people coming out. It's certainly slowed down just a bit. But we did see lines, of course, early this morning when people were out in the morning in the lunch hour and again, just after that 5 p.m. hour.
But certainly, people are trying to cast their vote, as people are excited about this particular primary, feeling like it's actually going to count. And we should see how, of course, it all turns out a little bit later tonight, Wolf.
BLITZER: I understand, Brynn, that some of the names on the Connecticut ballot might actually surprise people. What do you see there?
GINGRAS: Yes, it's actually on the Republican side ballot. When Connecticut voters actually come here and get their ballot, they'll see Ben Carson listed, along with Trump and Kasich and Cruz. And that's because we're told by the secretary of state that they reached out to the Carson camp, and he was supposed to let them know he wasn't going to be on the ballot by March 21. They never heard back, so his name is on the ballot; and they say they will be counting those votes, of course.
BLITZER: Interesting stuff. All right, Brynn. Thank you very much.
As we said, the Democratic presidential front-runner, Hillary Clinton already looking ahead to Indiana, which votes next Tuesday. She just wrapped up a campaign rally there before heading to Pennsylvania to wait for tonight's election results. Secretary Clinton is expected to have a very good night tonight. That's what the polls, at least, predict. She's already holding a significant lead in delegates.
Joining us now is Joel Benenson, chief strategist for the Clinton campaign. Joel, thanks very much for joining us.
JOEL BENENSON, CHIEF STRATEGIST, CLINTON CAMPAIGN: Thank you for having me, Wolf.
BLITZER: Are all five states tonight must-wins for Hillary Clinton? Are you confident she'll win them all?
BENENSON: I don't think all five states are must-wins. I think what we have to do is win, you know, three maybe four. I think we have to continue to continue to build on our pledged delegate lead and our lead in the popular vote of more than 2.6 million voters right now.
BLITZER: Donald Trump tweeted earlier today, and I'll read the tweet for you. He said, "Bernie Sanders has been treated terribly by the Democrats, both with delegates and otherwise. He should show them and run as an independent."
Is there a fear in the Clinton campaign that he might accept Donald Trump's advice?
BERENSON: I think Donald Trump's got his own hands full with what's going on on the Republican side and the Republican Party efforts to stop him from the nomination.
[18:45:04] He might have a good night tonight. I don't know that they'll be able to stop them, but, you know, I think his commentary on the Republican Party is far more interesting and probably insightful than his commentary on the Democratic Party.
BLITZER: Is Senator Sanders, his decision to stay in this race complicating the timetable for getting ready for a general election from your perspective in the Clinton campaign.
BENENSON: Well, look, I think we've got a few primaries to go. I think after tonight, it will be clear that this delegate lead, pledged delegate and delegate lead here will be over a size at which it will be insurmountable for Senator Sanders because he just won't have enough territory.
But that being said, look, we went through this in 2008. Hillary Clinton campaigned until the end against then-Senator Barack Obama. The important thing here is to unify the party when this comes to a conclusion and do that as quickly as we can, because the bigger threats we face are what the Republicans would do to working Americans if they got into the White House, when it comes to refusing to raise the minimum wage, when it comes to refusing equal pay for women, wanting to deport 11 million immigrants.
Those stakes are going to be high and I think the sooner we all come together, whatever differences, we have, are smaller than those we have with the Republicans and that shouldn't distract us from the task we really have at hand in November.
BLITZER: Jane Sanders told me earlier today that Senator Sanders' family won't be releasing any more of their tax returns until Hillary Clinton releases the transcript of her paid speeches before Wall Street groups. Your reaction to that?
BENENSON: Look, I think -- I didn't hear what Jane Sanders said to you, Wolf. I heard reports of it.
The reality here is since 1980, the standard for serious presidential candidates for both parties has been to release many years of their tax returns. The only two people in this race who haven't done that and I think possibly since the '80s are both Senator Sanders and Donald Trump.
BLITZER: He did release his 2014 tax return, Senator Sanders.
BENENSON: Wolf, I think, you know, Secretary Clinton has multiple years posted in her website as do most candidates. It is a benchmark for most candidates, and transparency. So, we're kind of surprise that Senator Sanders hasn't done it. But right now, we're competing for votes and winning these primaries tonight, Wolf.
BLITZER: Joel Benenson, thank you very much.
BENENSON: Thank you, Wolf.
BLITZER: Up next, John King maps out the delegate math for all of us tonight and beyond. We'll be right back.
[18:52:10] COOPER: Polls will close in a little over an hour in five states. Again, 172 delegates up for grabs for the Republicans, 384 for Democrats. A lot of delegate math at play.
Professor John King is back to map it all out for us.
So, what should we look for tonight as both Trump and Clinton try to close out April with dramatic wins?
KING: Anderson, both frontrunners looking for wins but to make big statements to get momentum, to close out April and headed to May.
Let's start with the Republican race. If you look where the five contests are tonight, with the exception of Ohio out here, surrounded by Trump territory, Donald Trump expects to win all five tonight. The key is, can he win them big and add to his delegate total?
Where would we be looking? Number one, Pennsylvania largely a beauty contest. 17 delegates go to the state win winner. The rest are technically non-committed. But Donald Trump hopes a big win gives him the political argument and say you must vote for me in Cleveland.
What should we look for? Can he sell the trade message in places like Scranton, Allenton and Reading? Out there in the western part of the state.
John Kasich is from the western part of the state. Can he somehow cut into Trump's margin in this part of the state where he was born before moving to Ohio? Some conservative pockets in the middle, can Ted Cruz cut into the margin or will Pennsylvania be a victory for Trump, 17 delegates and an important political message to those uncommitted delegates?
On the Democratic side here, let's go back and take a look at 2008 to remind people this victory in the 2008 race allowed Hillary Clinton to carry the race from April into May, to allow her to make the case to Senator Obama, I'm not done, I'm still competitive in this race.
But Clinton hopes tonight is for a big win in industrial blue color Pennsylvania to do just the opposite to Bernie Sanders to say I beat you in this big state, you're done, you can't catch me. To the delegate map in a minute, where else should we look for in the Democratic race? Let's come up to 2016 here, what Secretary Clinton wants is to come out of this big New York win and she'd like to run the board. She'd like to run the board here.
But It's possible in the state of Rhode Island, blue collar state, Senator Sanders could win there. So, watch the state of Rhode Island tonight.
Again, back on the Republican side. It looks like a Trump sweet. The question is one place to watch in the state of Maryland, maybe Kasich and Cruz can cut into Trump's delegate margin. Kasich in the moderate Washington suburbs, Cruz up here in the western part of the state and out here on the eastern shore, there are a lot of conservative Republicans. Can he pick off a congressional district or two and cut into the Trump margin? That's something we'll watch tonight.
In the end, it's about wins and momentum but mainly it's about delegate math, again, as we move from April into May here.
Let's start with the Democrats. Secretary Clinton starts the race, she starts the race as we come back to the Democrats today with 253- lead in the pledge delegates, 253. If things go as she expects, if she can run the board tonight or may be just lose Rhode Island as in this scenario, she could end the night about 280. It's possible she could end around 300.
Hillary Clinton thinks if she can do that, it sends a powerful message to Senator Sanders.
[18:55:00] If she has a 300 lead in pledged delegates and the remaining just contest over 1,000 left, almost impossible math for Senator Sanders. That is the exclamation point Secretary Clinton wants tonight to make the case, "I'm winning again, I'm winning big, the math, Senator, is impossible." That's her hope.
Let's switch to the Republican math and see where we are, bring this away here. Again, with the exception of Ohio, this has been Trump country. Donald Trump starts with a healthy lead. What he's hoping for tonight is a giant emphatic sweep of these five states.
If that happens, Donald Trump could add 100, maybe more to his delegate total. If he's above 950 that means he's past three quarters of the way to 1,237. Donald Trump could get even higher than that.
So, how far does Donald Trump move this bar tonight? Do Cruz and Kasich pick up any delegates at all, more than one or two, Donald Trump wanting to make the case that I'm passed the three-quarters mark as we head into the final stretch because after this year, Republicans, 502 delegates at stake. Donald Trump could be at the end of the night within 270, 280 of the finish line, with 502 to be decide in May. We close out April both frontrunners looking not only for big wins but
to pad in a very big way their delegate lead -- Anderson.
COOPER: John, thanks very much.
Big night ahead. We'll find out if Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton can cement their front runner status. So much at stake.
Our special coverage continues right now.
COOPER: We just heard from John King in the magic wall, looking the path ahead in terms of delegate count.
Let's turn to our analysts and reporters.
David Axelrod, what do we think we learned about Donald Trump's path toward 1,237 tonight?
DAVID AXELROD, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, if he has a very strong night tonight and he very well may, he's going to have -- that 1,237 is in order, and I think the Stop Trump movement has a real challenge ahead of it. They are looking forward to Indiana. He's like the guy who's broken through the line and headed down the field and just a couple more chances to tackle him before he gets to that point.
COOPER: I mean, Nia, is there really a Stop Trump movement or Never Trump movement?
NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICS REPORTER: It seems in some ways peaked in Wisconsin and then stumbled its way through New York and then sort of tried to reconstitute itself in this unholy or holy alliance between Kasich and Cruz. I think what will be interesting tonight, it looks like Trump is going to have a really strong showing. There will be some clarity in terms of his path.
Do -- does the Never Trump movement in the Republican Party embrace that clarity in some ways because, you know, they put every obstacle in Trump's way, whether all the candidates who were his opponents, even the map favors an establishment candidate, and here you have a candidate really set to do something unprecedented winning in these North, Northeastern states and it's also won in the South.
COOPER: It is incredible, Michael. I mean, after so many nights being in this SITUATION ROOM, in this, you know, having these discussions and using the word clarity that tonight there may actually be clarity.
MICHAEL SMERCONISH, CNN ANCHOR, SMERCONISH: I think to David's point, somebody has to come out of the stands to tackle him at this point because there aren't too many left on the field who have shown the ability to do so and the more obstacles they put in his path to Nia's point, the stronger he is. I think this entire cluster between Kasich and Cruz in the last 24 hours has helped him, it hasn't hurt him. BORGER: Right.
BORGER: Can I use one more football metaphor? That was Hail Mary pass, OK? Do you like that?
AXELROD: Very good.
BORGER: That whole Cruz-Kasich thing, and it didn't work largely because Kasich didn't seem at all enthusiastic about it and Cruz was out there telling people don't, you know, just vote for me in Indiana, Kasich is given up, and Kasich said, wait a minute, actually, I didn't give --
COOPER: Have you ever heard of an alliance like that, David?
AXELROD: Well, no, I mean, you know, back in the '70s, you saw something like that when Jimmy Carter was moving toward the nomination, was not very successful then. I think the real interesting story tonight will be not how Trump performs but how he accepts results.
AXELROD: And do we se -- is it going to be the presidential Trump with the eight-minute speech or are we going to have, you know, is he going to revert to type as he did during the week and take shots at the other two guys and talk about the process and so on. That I think will be the most interesting story of the night.
COOPER: Particularly with this "Politico" story out there saying that there's tension in the campaign between with Paul Manafort and Lewandowski.
AXELROD: Which was so predictable. His thought is, you know what, I got myself here by being who I am and I don't want people handling me and I certainly don't want people going to Florida and telling a bunch of Republicans that it's all an act, because that made him look very, very bad.
And I think that you see now, Corey Lewandowski it seems resurging, he was on television again today. It's -- so there's a bit of a factional war for the soul of Donald Trump or that at least the public persona.
BORGER: Or the approval of Donald Trump who is the daddy in this situation, right? And I think that you're -- in all campaigns, you see these kinds of things happen, when people come in late.
Our coverage continues right now. Super Tuesday, more ahead.