Return to Transcripts main page

THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER

North Korea's New Missiles; Prince's Final Hours; Boehner Slams Cruz; Sanders Slashes Hundreds of Campaign Jobs; Can Trump Get to 1,237 Before July?. Aired 4-4:30p ET

Aired April 28, 2016 - 16:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[16:00:08]

JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: An orange politician slamming Ted Cruz, and it wasn't Donald Trump.

THE LEAD starts right now.

Ted Cruz is -- quote -- "Lucifer in the flesh" -- that comment coming from the former House Speaker John Boehner, emerging from the golf course to basically call his former colleague the worst person on earth. Today, Ted Cruz is fighting back.

North Korea making more noise, antagonizing the U.S. and allies with two more missile explosions just in the last day. Now the world is responding.

Plus, chilling new details about the final hours of Prince, the drugs found on him when he died and details of a possible overdose just days before.

Welcome to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.

Senator Ted Cruz tried this week to shake up the presidential race, but after Cruz announced his running mate Carly Fiorina on Wednesday, he spent today, one, arguing that that move was not desperate, two, responding to former House Speaker John Boehner who called him Lucifer, and, three, denying that he ever had an alliance with Governor John Kasich, even though just four days ago both campaigns put out statements declaring an alliance.

CNN political reporter Sara Murray is live for us in Evansville, Indiana, where Trump spoke this afternoon.

And, Sara, John Kasich's chief strategist, John Weaver, earlier today tweeted -- quote -- "I can't stand liars." Presumably, he's talking about Cruz.

SARA MURRAY, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Jake, that seems like a safe bet. I think what you're seeing from the Cruz campaign is them trying anything they can to get over the hump in Indiana, and they are doing this while the Trump campaign feels very confident about how they stand just days out.

Of course, that didn't stop Donald Trump from trying to land a couple more blows against Ted Cruz as he was campaigning here in Evansville this afternoon.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MURRAY (voice-over): Donald Trump is hoping to finish off Ted Cruz in the Hoosier State.

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: If Cruz sneezes, if he just sneezes, his people leave him. Believe me. In the Senate, he's known as a liar. So we came up with lyin' Ted, L-Y-I-N, boom, hyphen.

MURRAY: Knowing, if Cruz can't stop him here, the odds of blocking Trump from clinching the nomination slim to none.

TRUMP: If I were to beat him, it's over.

MURRAY: All as Cruz brushes aside Trump's criticism of his latest political ploy, choosing Carly Fiorina as his running mate before anyone has won the nomination.

SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Donald does one of four things. He yells, he screams, he curses or insults. I suppose you can start a drinking game on which one of the four Donald is going to respond to any given stimulus that might occur.

MURRAY: Cruz and Trump locked in a two-man race here after John Kasich agreed to stop campaigning in Indiana in exchange for Cruz skipping Oregon and New Mexico. Today, Cruz is denying that Hail Mary pass amounts to an alliance.

CRUZ: There is no alliance. Kasich and I made a determination on where to focus our energies, where to focus our assets, where to focus our resources.

MURRAY: While plenty of Republicans still have reservations about Trump, others are expressing strong concerns about Cruz. Former House Speaker John Boehner blasting Cruz in an interview at Stanford University and added that he and Trump used to trade texts.

FORMER REP. JOHN A. BOEHNER, R-OHIO: Lucifer in the flesh. I have never worked with a more miserable son of a bitch.

MURRAY: Cruz today shrugging off the criticism.

CRUZ: John Boehner had interesting some comments last night. He actually didn't abbreviate what he said. He was a little bit more expressive. He allowed his inner Trump to come out.

MURRAY: Trump may be cleaning up in the primaries, but in the general, his numbers with women could use some work. And, today, he doubled down on his claim that Hillary Clinton is only winning by playing the gender card.

TRUMP: The primary thing that she has going is that she's a woman and she's playing that card like I have never seen anybody play it before.

(END VIDEOTAPE) MURRAY: Now, Jake, in one sign of just how confident the Trump campaign feels about their odds in Indiana, Trump is actually leaving the states. He is going to be campaigning in California later today and tomorrow. So it's clear they feel like they can continue to play the field.

Jake, they still feel good about their odds of reaching 1,237 before he gets to Cleveland.

TAPPER: All right, Sara Murray, thank you so much.

Donald Trump is turning his fire on Ted Cruz now, but the first rival to feel Trump's proclivity for sick burns and devastating branding was Florida Governor Jeb Bush, AKA Mr. Low Energy.

And as CNN special correspondent Jamie Gangel found out when she sat down for an exclusive interview with former Governor Bush in Miami today, he hasn't quite forgiven and forgotten Mr. Trump -- Jamie.

JAMIE GANGEL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Not at all, Jake.

This is his first interview since he dropped out of the race more than two months ago and Jeb Bush is breaking his silence for one reason. He's hoping to help Ted Cruz get to a contested convention.

[16:05:10]

And as you will hear, his feelings about Donald Trump have not changed.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GANGEL: You have said in the past that you didn't think that Donald Trump was ready to be president. But if he is the nominee, will you support him?

JEB BUSH (R), FORMER FLORIDA GOVERNOR: I don't think he's a serious person.

GANGEL: You haven't changed your mind?

BUSH: No. I have seen nothing -- the speech, you know, recent speech about foreign policy was -- you can't -- I don't know which Donald Trump to believe, the one that read from a teleprompter a speech that was inside the lines, or the one that wants to build a wall and make Mexico pay for it.

Which Donald Trump is the one that is expressing these views? There's two of them. And I think we need a president with a steady hand.

GANGEL: It sounds like you wouldn't vote for him.

BUSH: I hope I won't have to be faced with that dilemma.

GANGEL: Do you think there's a case to be made for Republicans voting for Hillary Clinton if he is the nominee? BUSH: No. No. I mean, a third term of Barack Obama's hyper-

aggressive use of executive power to create massive uncertainty for our economy...

GANGEL: Let me try it one more time. You're not voting for Hillary Clinton?

BUSH: No way.

GANGEL: And you don't think Republicans should vote for Hillary Clinton to stop Donald Trump?

BUSH: No, I don't think we should support Hillary Clinton.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GANGEL: That said, Jake, he would not say that he would vote for Donald Trump. He also said that he think Cruz's choice of Carly Fiorina was "a smart move." He said she is talented and tough and that he's impressed by her.

But, look, the strategy here is obviously one word, Indiana. If Cruz can do well there, then maybe there's a shot at a contested convention, and that's what Jeb Bush wants -- Jake.

TAPPER: All right, Jamie Gangel, thank you so much for bringing that to us.

GANGEL: Trump is hoping that he can largely dispatch with Cruz when Indiana votes in just five days.

But as we have seen this week, Cruz is not going down without a fight.

Joining me now to talk about Trump's campaign, Trump senior adviser Sarah Huckabee Sanders.

Sarah, good to see you. Thanks for joining us.

SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, SENIOR TRUMP CAMPAIGN ADVISER: Thanks. Good to see you, Jake.

TAPPER: So Jeb Bush told Jamie Gangel that Senator Cruz picking Carly Fiorina as a running mate was a smart move and that Fiorina is talented and tough. Do you agree?

HUCKABEE SANDERS: I think it was a desperate move, frankly.

I think that he sees his campaign going downhill very quickly. He's been mathematically eliminated from becoming the nominee, and I think he's grasping at straws at this point, and I think it's little too late. And I don't think it would have mattered who Ted Cruz chose. He is still not going to be the Republican nominee for president.

And I think it's time that we start transitioning to support the person that is, and that's Donald Trump, so that we can focus on Hillary Clinton in November. TAPPER: Speaking of Hillary Clinton, a comment that your boss made

the other night about her is raising some eyebrows. Let's take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: If Hillary Clinton were a man, I don't think she'd get 5 percent of the vote. The only thing she's got going is the woman's card, and the beautiful thing is, women don't like her. OK?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: Sarah, I guess the question, as some Clinton allies would put it, is, do you think it's easier for a woman to make it in politics than a man, because that seems to be what Mr. Trump is suggesting?

HUCKABEE SANDERS: I don't think he's suggesting that.

I think he's suggesting that Hillary Clinton doesn't have a record to run on. Therefore, the only thing she has to run on is her gender. And, unfortunately, I don't think that's going to be enough to carry her through.

She has a botched record, a failed record, and I think that when women step into the ballot box, they are going to be ultimately infinitely more concerned about whether or not they have a job than whether or not Hillary Clinton has a job, whether or not their kids are safe, our borders are secure, and we have a strong national defense.

And Donald Trump is a clear contrast to Hillary Clinton when it comes to that. And that's why I think ultimately he's going to end up beating Hillary Clinton.

TAPPER: How is she -- quote, unquote -- "running as a woman"?

HUCKABEE SANDERS: She loves to bring it up. She loves to talk about it. That's been a theme of her campaign.

Look, this isn't a new thing to be said about her campaign. Bernie Sanders and his campaign have been talking about this for months. And so Donald Trump is certainly not the first person to bring it up.

TAPPER: Some sounds of alarm came from U.S. allies responding to Mr. Trump's speech yesterday with charges of isolationism, fears that Mr. Trump is proposing abandoning democratic allies and values.

Do you hear those criticisms? Do they mean anything to Mr. Trump?

HUCKABEE SANDERS: You know, I think that we have had a ton of great feedback.

You had people like Senator Corker, the head of the Foreign Relations Committee, Ambassador Bolton, and many others, Newt Gingrich, who came out and said they thought it was a great speech, a great vision.

[16:10:05] At the end of the day, what Donald Trump did yesterday was lay out a

very clear vision and a very consistent one. He hasn't changed, whether it's been on foreign policy, on trade, on immigration. And that's to put Americans first. He has an extremely clear world view, and I think he showed and demonstrated that to a greater extent even yesterday.

TAPPER: Do the criticism from European allies, South Korean allies today concern Mr. Trump at all?

HUCKABEE SANDERS: You know, I don't think they do.

I think, again, it goes back to Donald Trump's focus and his guiding principle is to put Americans first, and not Europeans first, not South Koreans first, but to put Americans first.

And I think he did that yesterday. I think he's going to continue to do that. And I think that that's what people in our country are looking for, is somebody that is concerned about our country first and not everybody else. And that's why he's doing so well.

TAPPER: All right, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, thank you so much. Appreciate your time.

HUCKABEE SANDERS: You bet. Thank you, Jake.

TAPPER: Sticking with our politics lead, while Bernie Sanders is busy laying off campaign staffers, Hillary Clinton is working on her plan to defeat Donald Trump. It's an early glimpse at her strategy coming up next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[16:15:17] JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back to THE LEAD.

The political reality, the math for Senator Bernie Sanders, it's pretty stark. He would need to take home 97 percent of the remaining delegates to win the Democratic presidential nomination. That is, of course, exceedingly improbable.

So, now, Sanders is serving up some pink slips to hundreds of field staffers around the country.

Jeff Zeleny is here with me in Washington.

Jeff, Sanders' inner circle says that his race is going to the convention, but there might not be much of a campaign left beyond him and his ideas are very important but still --

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: It's true, Jake. I mean, this Democratic race finally feels like it's coming full circle. I mean, Hillary Clinton is on the cusp of becoming the party's nominee and Senator Sanders is trying to influence the party even if he acknowledges he might not lead it.

He is pledging to take this movement all the way to the convention, as you said, but it's just that, a movement. It's no longer a campaign with a path to win his party's nomination.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ZELENY (voice-over): Hillary Clinton exhaling after one long fight, preparing for another.

HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Thank you so much!

ZELENY: For the second straight day, she's off the campaign trail taking a break and readying her game plan for the fall. That plan involves almost entirely around Donald Trump. Aides tell CNN the campaign is spending little time on any other opponent. Her campaign releasing this video today, offering an early look at their strategy.

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Everything I said and do folks, I do. OK?

ZELENY: Clinton is playing up Trump's greatest hits, closing with this message. "Stand together to stop Donald Trump." The writing is on the wall with Democratic delegates and superdelegates. Clinton is just 215 shy of crossing the threshold. Sanders is behind by nearly a thousand.

The Sanders campaign is laying off hundreds of workers, downsizing from a thousand at the peak of its success to about 300 now. Sanders still rallying supporters today in Oregon.

From Nevada to Florida, the Clinton campaign is eyeing these general election battlegrounds. It's a familiar roadmap but Trump could inject fresh uncertainty, making Democrats far less confident about states like Michigan and Pennsylvania that have long been in their column.

Trump talked up that possibility today.

TRUMP: I'll be encamped in Michigan because I think we can win it. So, we're going to win states nobody thought were winnable as a Republican.

ZELENY: Speaking of Trump, the Clinton campaign is bracing for him to start using Sanders attack lines against Clinton as its own.

TRUMP: I'm going to be taking a lot of the things that Bernie said and using them. When he said bad judgment, I said, soundbite!

ZELENY: Sanders is pressing forward. If not to win, to influence the party's agenda.

James Sanders speaking to CNN's Wolf Blitzer sided with Clinton in Trump's ongoing attack over gender.

JANE SANDERS, WIFE OF SENATOR BERNIE SANDERS: She's hardworking. We just different on ideas and solutions for the future but to demean her that way, it's just not acceptable.

(END VIDEOTAPE) ZELENY: Now, the Clinton campaign was heartened to hear those words from Jane Sanders. The most telling sign of how this race has turned a corner, Hillary Clinton spent the last two days in Chappaqua, not campaigning but actually resting. And today was the first day since last August when the Clinton campaign was not on TV with a single campaign ad anywhere.

TAPPER: Saving their money.

Jeff Zeleny, thanks so much.

And be sure to tune in to THE LEAD tomorrow. I will have an exclusive sit-down interview with Hillary Clinton. It's her first and only interview since her dominating performance on Tuesday night. You can see it right here on CNN at 4:00 p.m. Eastern tomorrow.

After Trump's sweep and the crumbling Cruz/Kasich alliance, one question is how soon could Donald Trump secure the Republican nomination? We'll break that down, next.

Then, North Korea firing two missiles less than 24 hours apart. Why the growing frequency is cause for alarm.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.

How to brand this election season? The year of the outsider? The fact-free election? Definitely, it's been a year of a lot of voter anger and at least on the Democratic side, a lot of progressive shade thrown at how the Democratic Party picks its nominee. I'm talking about superdelegates.

Let's talk about this. Joining me now, Luis Miranda, he's a communications director for the Democratic National Committee, and a former adviser to President Obama.

So, you've heard these complaints about superdelegates. I know that they've been there since the '80s?

LUIS MIRANDA, COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR FOR THE DEMOCRATIC NATIONAL COMMITTEE: '84.

TAPPER: And one of the complaints from Sanders supporter is that super delegates subvert the will of actual voters, that the establishment candidate starts the race with 20 percent of the delegates in his or her pocket. How do you respond?

MIRANDA: The reality is, is that 85 percent of the delegates at the convention are selected by the results of the primaries and caucuses so the voters themselves are the biggest factor in who becomes the nominee. Superdelegates, I think one of the problems is the way the media reports it. Any night that you have a primary or caucus, the media lumps in superdelegates that they have pooled because they called them up and say, who are you supporting? They don't actually vote until the convention. And so, they shouldn't be included in any count on primary or caucus night because the only thing you're picking on primary and caucus nights are the pledged delegates based on the vote.

TAPPER: When we do our totals, do you think it's OK to include?

MIRANDA: Not yet, because they're not actually voting and they're likely to change their minds. You look at 2008, and what happened then was there was all this assumption about what superdelegates were going to do and many of them did change their mind before the convention and it shifted the results in the end.

[16:25:11] But to be clear, the super delegates have never actually determined who the nominee is since 1984 when they were created and after 2008, they were actually reduced from 20 percent to just 15 percent. And so, I think we're in a situation where the voters continue to be the single most important factor and the purpose of the superdelegates is to make sure that our elected officials and party leaders who are the backbone of the party get to participate at the convention.

But it's also good to have them in a separate category because regular folks can run to be delegates at the convention. So, you'll see in 2008, we had a 17-year-old who got elected as a pledged delegate, who would have never had that chance if he was running against his member of Congress.

So, it's a way that we do it to make sure that we have diversity at our convention because we want the convention floor to look like the rest of the country.

TAPPER: Very interesting. The DNC saying, don't include superdelegates in the totals to cable networks like our own.

Let me ask you one other last question. Do you see any scenario in which Hillary Clinton is not your nominee? I mean, at this point, Bernie Sanders has to win something like 97 percent of the remaining delegates. Hillary Clinton something like 20 percent.

MIRANDA: We're going to let our candidates determine the future of their own campaigns. But we do think we've had a good primary. We're actually very proud of both campaigns and, you know, we have seen things intensify over the last few weeks, but we've also seen the candidates talk about the fact that come November, they're going to be united in making sure we don't elect a Republican because there's so much at stake.

We saw it in the foreign policy speech that Donald Trump laid out which was really dangerous. If you look at the specifics of it, the way that it could potentially threaten our alliances, the way that it could really destabilize the United States' role in the world.

We're going to make sure that the focus is on that going into the general election and our candidates will be united. So, I feel pretty good about where we are.

TAPPER: All right. Luis, thank you so much. Luis Miranda of the DNC.

MIRANDA: Thanks, Jake.

TAPPER: With ten races left on the Republican calendar, could we see Donald Trump wrap this race up in May or will stretch into the last contest in June, or even through the Republican National Convention in July?

Let's bring in CNN politics editor Juana Summers to break down the numbers in this new CNN Politics app that debuts today, and anyone can download on their mobile device -- Juana.

JUANA SUMMERS, CNN POLITICS EDITOR: Thanks so much, Jake.

That's at Apple App Store. We're really excited to have it out there.

Now, last week, Trump needed to win 58 percent of the remaining delegates to clinch the nomination but after a clean sweep of Tuesday's primaries, things are much easier. Now, he needs just needs 49 percent of the remaining delegates, 246. And there are just ten states left to vote starting with Indiana on Tuesday where 57 delegates are at stake. That's not enough to get Trump there even if he were to win every single delegate in the state.

Let me show you the numbers we're collecting in the new CNN Politics App that Jake mentioned.

Even if Trump dominated and won every single delegate on the table in May, he still could not clinch the nomination. Remember, he needs 246 more delegates to hit the magic number of 1,236. And there's only 199 available in the month of May. Also keep in mind, some of these states are not winner take all. That means that no matter what, this race is going on until June.

Now, if Trump does stay the course, he should clinch the nomination on June 7th. That's the final day of voting when 303 delegates are at stake.

TAPPER: And what about the Democrats, Juana? Could Clinton or Sanders wrap up the nomination soon?

SUMMERS: Absolutely. Things on the Democratic side of the aisle are much, much closer. Hillary Clinton has a much bigger lead. She needs 21 percent of the remaining delegates or 215 to clinch the nomination.

Now, of course, that number takes into account the more than 502 superdelegates you all were talking about who probably throwing their support behind the Clinton campaign. And while he lags behind her in the delegate race, Bernie Sanders says he plans to campaign until every state has cast their vote.

TAPPER: All right. Fascinating. Juana Summers, thank you so much. Good luck with the app.

Double defiance, North Korea firing not one but two missiles less than 24 hours apart and this is the communist nation's fourth attempt in two weeks. A look at what Kim Jong-un may be planning, coming up next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)