Return to Transcripts main page


Trump, Cruz Trade Accusations; Indiana Primary Ongoing. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired May 3, 2016 - 17:00   ET


JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: I turn you over to Wolf Blitzer and Anderson Cooper in THE SITUATION ROOM.

[17:00:08] WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now, Hoosier candidate? Voting is under way in Indiana, where Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton could take another giant step towards securing the nomination. Will today be the beginning of the end for the "stop Trump" movement?

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: No love lost in the heartland. Ted Cruz unleashes a brutal rant against Trump, calling him a pathological liar, a narcissist, a serial philanderer. Do those things even matter to Trump supporters?

BLITZER: The mindset in the Midwest. Breaking news, the first exit polling starting to come in. We're going to show you the data, and we're going to talk about what it can tell us about what voters are thinking.

COOPER: I'm Anderson Cooper.

BLITZER: I'm Wolf Blitzer. And you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

The polls are open, the emotions are running high in Indiana. It's a make-or-break day for Ted Cruz, who's mathematically unable to get the delegates he needs before the Republican convention in July.

Cruz's efforts are focused on stopping Donald Trump from getting to the magic number, thereby triggering a contested convention. In Indiana today, Cruz unleashed his most forceful attack yet. He prefaced it by telling reporters -- and I'm quoting him now -- "I'm going to tell you what I really think of Donald Trump." Here's just some of what he said. That's now.


SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This man is a pathological liar. A narcissist at a level I don't think this country's ever seen. The man is utterly amoral. Morality does not exist for him.

Donald is a bully. Donald is terrified by strong women. He lashes out at them. Donald Trump is a serial philanderer, and he boasts about it.


BLITZER: It will surprise no one to hear that Donald Trump -- Donald Trump has responded. We're going to have that in a moment. We'll also have our reporters covering all the campaigns and at the polling stations throughout Indiana right now. We'll check in with them throughout this hour.

But let's begin with Jim Acosta, who joins us now. Jim, very tough talk from Senator Cruz. What did the Trump camp say about those comments?

JIM ACOSTA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Donald Trump is offering no apologies for his latest attack on Ted Cruz after suggesting earlier today that the Texas senator's father was somehow involved in the Kennedy assassination, a claim that was backed up by a story in the "National Enquirer." The Trump campaign did not provide any evidence to us to back up what the GOP front-runner said earlier today.

But Trump sources tell me they believe Ted Cruz was thrown completely off message at a critical time in this race for the GOP nomination, Wolf.

And Trump released a statement earlier this afternoon, hitting back at Cruz, after his own inflammatory comments, the ones you just played aimed at real estate tycoon. Here's what that statement says. We'll put it up on screen. This is from Donald Trump. It says, "Today's ridiculous outburst proves what I have been saying for a long time, that Ted Cruz does not have the temperament to be president of the United States."

Now, as for what's happening in Indiana, there's a primary going on with all of this other news. The Trump campaign is feeling very confident about its chances tonight. A campaign source tells me a big win will essentially make Donald Trump the presumptive nominee of the Republican Party. Whether or not the whole party is behind them, even though, Wolf, they are not quite at that magic number needed to clinch the nomination. They feel like every week the math gets easier and easier -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Jim Acosta, thank you. Sunlen Serfaty has been following the Cruz campaign for us. She's joining us now from Indianapolis.

Sunlen, high stakes for the Cruz campaign tonight. How are they feeling?

SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Very high stakes, Wolf. And I think there's a very big high level of anxiety from within the Cruz campaign. And we have really sensed a shift in tone coming from Senator Cruz himself. He is very clearly frustrated. And I think perhaps most striking is the way he's really been handling this tough week here in Indiana, really trying different messages, different strategies. Really trying something, anything, to turn this around for his campaign.

I think all of that really speaking to how he understands the urgency of the moment here in Indiana for him tonight. Now, Cruz campaign officials continue to insist that he will stay in the race if he loses here in Indiana.

I asked one official point blank, will he drop out tonight if he loses? This official responded with, "We are in the campaign for the duration." Of course, that's not explicitly saying no in response. And perhaps to silence some of the chatter going around about the viability of his campaign going forward, the Cruz campaign already releasing his campaign schedule for tomorrow. He'll be in Nebraska, in Washington state, going forward tomorrow. Clearly, intended to send the message, "We are still in this" -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Sunlen, what about tonight? Is Senator Cruz expected to go ahead and deliver some sort of statement, make some sort of speech tonight?

SERFATY: He is, Wolf. We do expect Senator Cruz in a couple of hours here in Indianapolis. He will address what potentially will be a group of supporters. They have just started filing into this room here in Indianapolis.

I think he will be, of course, not only what he says but the tone he says going forward. You know, every indication is that he's not considering dropping out. I suspect he will, at least in some instance, address all of that chatter. But very clearly, this is a big moment, and I think the weight of that moment is certainly riding on his shoulders today.

BLITZER: It certainly is. Sunlen Serfaty, thank you.

Democrats, meanwhile, they're locked in what the latest polling shows to be a much tighter race than the Republicans are having in Indiana. Bernie Sanders is on the verge mathematically eliminated, after Hillary Clinton won five of the last six contests. It will be, obviously, very interesting to see what tonight brings in Indiana.

Jeff Zeleny is joining us now with more on the Democrats. Jeff, Bernie Sanders says he's staying in the race all the way through the convention in Philadelphia. What is his campaign telling you about how they will measure success in Indiana?

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, there's really only one way to measure success in Indiana for Bernie Sanders, and that is to win. Even if he wins, that's not going to give him, you know, a ton more delegates because, as Democrats assign delegates, they do it proportionally speaking. So we expect this is going to be a close race.

But a win for Bernie Sanders in Indiana, without question, would at least stop the winning streak for Hillary Clinton, who's won five out of the last six contests, as you said, and give him a sense of energy.

It would also show that some Democrats are not quite ready to go with the presumptive nominee, Hillary Clinton, here. But Bernie Sanders is trying to make the argument, Wolf, that he is more electable in a general election sense, that he can go against Donald Trump, he can bring in independent voters. We are actually in Kentucky tonight, right across the Ohio River from

Indiana. Bernie Sanders is addressing the crowd here. He's already looking forward to the Kentucky primary. And this is a sense where he is going to really try and make the argument that he is the one who can sort of unite everyone and excite more people than Hillary Clinton can, Wolf.

BLITZER: Jeff, what's been the Clinton campaign's focus in these, the final hours, the final push, for Indiana voters?

ZELENY: Wolf, the Clinton campaign has been trying to lower expectations throughout the day. Rarely do we have so many campaign officials say, "You know what? We might lose this campaign. We might lose this primary." That's what they've been doing.

But Wolf, I can tell you, behind the scenes, top Democrats in Indiana, I've been speaking with all day long, actually believe the Clinton campaign is in a pretty good shape to possibly win narrowly here. It is going to be a close outcome, everyone believes, but the Clinton campaign is moving on.

Hillary Clinton herself was in Ohio this afternoon, making the case that she's already looking forward to general election states. She's hiring state directors. She's really pivoting ever so slightly to that general election.

But of course, they want a win in Indiana. If they would, that would be six out of the last seven contests she would win and would finally break through some of those white working-class voters she's had such a hard time doing. Wolf, we'll see what happens in Indiana later tonight -- Anderson.

COOPER: Jeff Zeleny. Jeff, thanks very much.

First exit polling information about whether Republican voters in Indiana feel this whole process has been fair. We'll have that next. We'll also check in with our political panel for their thoughts on the name-calling between Trump and Cruz and what else they're watching for during this Indiana primary.


[17:12:47] BLITZER: All of the polls in Indiana will be closed less than two hours from now, at which point we will see if we can make any projections. But we already are starting to get in the first exit polling data. Our political director, David Chalian, has been going through the numbers, getting some indications of the mood of the voters out there.

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: We are. We're going to stick to the Republican side, first here, Wolf. We've asked this question before, and we're seeing a similar pattern. Has this Republican campaign divided the party?

Take a look: Indiana Republican primary voters today, 57 percent of them say that this campaign is mostly dividing the party. Forty percent say it is actually energizing the party. This is going to be an issue that the party's going to have to deal with going forward.

We also asked, how about the process of selecting the Republican nominee? We've heard so much from Donald Trump that the system is rigged. What about the process of choosing the nominee? Sixty-three percent of Indiana Republican primary voters say it's a fair process, compared to 33 percent who say it has been an unfair process thus far.

And of course, the big question, if no one reaches that delegate threshold of 1,237 delegates, the GOP should nominate the primary winner, according to 65 percent of Indiana Republican primary voters. Only 31 percent say the best candidate, but nearly two-thirds say the person that's won the most primaries and caucuses is the one that should get the nomination.

BLITZER: Encouraging for Donald Trump.

All right, David, go back and crunch some more numbers. And you'll come back here. Thank you very much -- Anderson.

COOPER: All right. Let's get this Indiana party started with our panel. With us, our senior political analyst, David Gergen, former advisor to four presidents; senior political reporter, Nia-Malika Henderson; "INSIDE POLITICS" anchor John King; chief political analyst Gloria Borger; and our political commentators, Kaleigh McEnany, who supports Trump; Amanda Carpenter; Jeffrey Lord, also a Trump supporter; and Donna Brazile, not a Trump supporter.

Gloria, let's start with you. I mean, the vitriol which has been tossing back and forth, Ted Cruz calling Donald Trump a narcissist, a pathological liar.


COOPER: It's quite a change from his tweet months and months ago that Donald Trump is terrific and the media is trying to divide them.

BORGER: No more bromance here. Look, Donald Trump attacked his father, and in a -- in an awful way, said that his father was in some photographs with Lee Harvey Oswald.

[17:15:08] COOPER: Based on "The National Enquirer."

BORGER: The "Enquirer" story, ridiculous. And stupid. And I think he just touched, you know, a cord with Cruz, who went off on him today. And I think, you know, a combination of responding to that. And also he's throwing everything up against the wall that he possibly can, because he needs to win the state of Indiana.

And he wants to remind those evangelical voters in the state of Indiana that they should not really like Donald Trump and that was what he was doing in that tirade today. But Donald Trump sort of got under his skin again, which he does very well.

COOPER: David Gergen, I think I saw a tweet from you saying that you thought Trump's tweet was one of the lowest blows in politics. GERGEN: It was, yes. I think it was reprehensible. I don't think

you go after someone's father. You don't go after their wife in politics in a very personally insulting way. And to say that Ted Cruz's father is somehow implicated in the assassination of John F. Kennedy, it's just unimaginable. I think it's a story out of Joe McCarthy's playbook. And for that I think there are going to be a lot of Republicans who will say, Donald Trump may win, but they're also going to be cringing, because the question becomes what kind of person are we nominating to be president of the United States? He seems so self-destructive at times.

COOPER: Yes. I mean, especially after, you know, weeks of talking being presidential and stuff like that. I mean...

NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, sort of talking about it but never really doing it. I mean, maybe in one press conference or two he gave foreign policy speech, but that sort of approach has never really stuck, and it's partly because he's done well, right? I mean, he's levelled the field of 16, 15 or so candidates. He's riding high. He's leading Cruz almost by double in terms of the delegate count. So what is -- what is the sort of -- why should he change at this point?

It was let Trump be Trump. Corey Lewandowski's phrase, one of his aides, and now that's what he's doing. I do think it gives a preview of what his general election campaign is going to be like, right?

I mean, we've seen from Donald Trump that he's embracing conspiracy theories before. I mean, the birtherism in 2012. You know, I think we're going to see a lot of stories in the "National Enquirer" going forward about Hillary Clinton and her family and all sorts of things, and it's going to be ugly.

JOHN KING, ANCHOR, "INSIDE POLITICS": If you're Trump, you adopt the "If the ain't broke, don't fix it rule." And he did -- he gave a speech, but even he, himself, said, "My wife's asking me to be presidential. Some of my staff has asked me. I don't want to do it." Let Trump be Trump, I think, now has the decision of Donald J. Trump to stay being Trump.

I think if this goes as it looks like it may go, based on the polling of the last several days in Indiana tonight, this is the moment of truth, both for Donald Trump and Ted Cruz. Does Trump decide "I'm going keep it this way into the general election"? Because if he wins big, he's the presumptive nominee, the likely nominee of the Republican Party tonight.

Does he decide, "OK, it worked to be the nominee. Now I have to change for the general," or does he stick with it? We'll learn that from what he says tonight.

And for Ted Cruz, I think if Donald Trump wins big, Ted Cruz is a young man. He views himself as a rising star in the conservative movement, the Tea Party, the evangelical. He thought this was going to be his year after the last two midterm cycles. I think he's got to think about his future. I think his tone is important, too. Does he do the same thing he says this morning, "I'm staying in to the very end. I'm going to go after this narcissistic, you know, philandering, whatever, Donald Trump" or does he say, "OK, I need to think about what I'm going to do next in my life" and maybe dial it back a little bit.

BORGER: You know, it's an existential moment for Cruz and for John Kasich. Because what is Kasich going to do after tonight? I have no idea. Is he going to withdraw as lots of Republicans want. Or does he just stay in for the heck of it if Cruz stays in?

KING: You don't think the (UNINTELLIGIBLE) is working?

BORGER: Yes. I don't think that -- I don't think that Cruz/Kasich thing worked out.

COOPER: Does any of this matter? I mean, whatever Donald Trump says or whatever Ted Cruz, this kind of language? Does it matter?

AMANDA CARPENTER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: What we just saw: 57 percent of the Republican Party feels that this race has divided us. It's these kind of tactics why. You can't -- conservatives of good conscious cannot go along with Donald Trump when he leverages these kinds of attacks. This is -- I mean, I'm on e-mail threads of people just in anguish, saying, "I can't support a man who does these things. I want to win, but I'm not going to go down to these gutter-ball politics tactics to do it."

COOPER: Kayleigh.

KAYLEIGH MCENANY, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Amanda referenced the exit polls, and I would refer you back to eight years ago, May 6, 2008. In Indiana, the same state, the exit polls showed that 50 percent of Hillary supporters would not support Barack Obama. Not only that, a full third of them said they would support McCain.

COOPER: So they'll get over it?

MCENANY: I do think that they will get over it. And I think that the reason -- people, instead of criticizing Trump, should start asking, how did this man mobilize so far 10 million voters to go to the polls on his behalf? Likely will break the record and be the Republican nominee with the most votes in Republican history. We need to start asking why, stop tearing him down and start asking why and how he's doing this.

CARPENTER: He's called people liars, little hands, done reality -it him. And that may be a way to get 30 percent, 40 percent in a primary. That doesn't mean you unify behind him.

Donald Trump has...


COOPER: Let her finish.

CARPENTER: ... the opportunity to unite the party. Hillary Clinton did something that is drastically different. Her and Barack Obama worked together. They sent out olive branches to each other. Donald Trump has been on the airwaves saying, "You know what? I don't think I need those people."

COOPER: Jeff, do you think Ted Cruz would come around, John Kasich would come around to supporting Donald Trump?

JEFFREY LORD, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think they should. Will they? I don't know.

You know, when Bush 41 was losing to Ronald Reagan, he had to be pushed to get out, but they finally said to him, "There is no path here. Do this, if you want a future." He did it, and there was not only one Bush future, but there were two Bush futures.

But you know, the point here is, we all are talking about, say, this "National Enquirer" thing. I have to tell you, when we're talking about Indiana, do you really think, does anybody really think that somebody who's lost their job at Carrier is talking about this?

MCENANY: Exactly.

LORD: Or they're talking about their job?

CARPENTER: So why is Trump?

LORD: Well, but he -- he has been talking about Carrier. He has been talking about...

GERGEN: You admire Donald Trump? You admire Donald Trump?

LORD: Sure, sure, of course I do. David, I mean...

GERGEN: You think this is a good standard for the presidency?

LORD: David, I think that we are taking this far too seriously. Far, far, far too seriously.

CARPENTER: But it's attacking people's families.

LORD: When you sit around and talk with regular folks who are not inside the Beltway, they talk about this Ted Cruz thing and they laugh. They think it's hilarious.

DONNA BRAZILE, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: We're in an alternative type of political season, David, when political discourse has reached...

LORD: They don't take it seriously.

BRAZILE: They've reached the point where it's reality TV, and it's not really about presidential discourse that we're accustomed to.

Look we've had a fact-free primary on the Republican side. It's been fighting; it's been name-calling; it's been throwing insults at the insults. And it's really time the Republican Party takes stock of where they are, not just as a political party but where they're trying to take the party in the future.

The one thing I can tell you about Democrats is that we're going to try to fight this campaign in the fall on issues. I know it's going to be a losing battle when you've got somebody who knows how to throw, you know, bubble gum at -- on the sidewalk and tell someone else.

But the truth is, is that on the Republican side, it's been insult after insult, and they need to start kissing and making up. And I have little stickers for them. Just to help them along. If you don't like that, I've got a donkey. I've got something to help them.

BORGER: ... Donna.

BRAZILE: And listen, I brought this because tonight, this might be -- this might be the night when we see the end of the Republican primary season. That's it.

COOPER: Yes. Let's take a break. We've got more exit polling results ahead. Plus new reaction to that truck load of mud that Ted Cruz slung at Donald Trump today. High drama on a high-stakes day. We'll hear from both campaigns.


[17:27:07] BLITZER: Just over 90 minutes until the last polls close in Indiana. As we said, it's a make-or-break day for Ted Cruz. The Texas senator is hoping to keep Donald Trump from winning enough delegates to clinch the nomination before the convention.

The high stakes made for high drama today when Cruz unleashed a brutal rant against Donald Trump, calling him a pathological liar, a narcissist, a serial philanderer.

The tirade followed an attack by Trump against Cruz's father. Senator Cruz also blasted FOX News, blaming the network, among others, for Trump's success.

Joining us now is Ron Nehring, the national spokesman for the Cruz campaign.

Ron, thanks for joining us. First of all, what are your expectations for tonight? Do you believe Ted Cruz can win Indiana?

RON NEHRING, NATIONAL SPOKESMAN, CRUZ CAMPAIGN: Well, we're not going to raise the curtain on that tonight. We're going to find out in just a few hours what the voters of Indiana have to say in this primary. And it's the next step in the process as we move forward to June 7 and ultimately wrap this up with the Republican National Convention in July.

BLITZER: Ted Cruz viciously attacked Donald Trump today. You heard him, all of us heard it, calling him a pathological liar, utterly amoral, a narcissist, a serial philanderer.

Trump responded, and let me put it up on the screen. He responded by saying this: "Ted Cruz is a desperate candidate trying to save his failing campaign. It is no surprise he has resorted to his usual tactics of over-the-top rhetoric that nobody believes. Over the last week, I have watched Lying' Ted become more and more unhinged as he is unable to react under the pressure and stress of losing."

Does the campaign, your campaign have a reaction to this? Is this a last-ditch, desperate effort?

NEHRING: No, not at all. As a matter of fact, what Senator Cruz today is he laid it out on the line about what Donald Trump really is about. I mean, we've gotten to see and know Donald Trump pretty well over the course of this campaign. We see the type of things that he says and does, staying up late at night, hate tweeting women he doesn't know, all types of bizarre, you know, statements and the like. And his various tactics that he's used in order to try to garner media attention but that also make clear that he's not qualified to be president of the United States and certainly not in any position to lecture anyone else about temperament. That's for sure.

BLITZER: But is it too late? Why didn't he unleash an attack like this earlier?

NEHRING: You know, I think you'll have to ask Senator Cruz that specifically. But I think what we saw today, for example, the latest, you know, ridiculous tactic on the part of Donald Trump is to try to distract attention by citing a "National Enquirer" bizarre story, attempting to link Senator Cruz's father to the JFK assassination. I mean, we were joking around in the office, what's next? Accusing him of, you know, faking the moon landing or UFOs or whatever?

Think about this. Donald Trump is someone who relies upon the "National Enquirer" as a news source. I mean, that is pretty extraordinary for someone who purports to be qualified to be president of the United States.

So, you know, when Senator Cruz lays it all on the line, talking about what Donald Trump really is about, what really -- he really represents, that's giving information to the voters that I think the voters deserve to have as we go forward in the process and as we really approach a critical decision time as to whether this man or Ted Cruz will be the nominee for president.

[17:30:19] BLITZER: If he loses, Ted Cruz loses in Indiana, tonight, will he drop out?

NEHRING: No, absolutely not. We're going all the way to June 7 and then going all the way to the Republican National Convention.

What's important to note here is that, for Donald Trump to become the Republican nominee, most independent analysts can agree that he can only do so on the first ballot, that that's going to be his high-water mark. And on the second ballot, there's going to be an exodus of people away from Donald Trump as fast as possible. It's going to make the run on Enron stock look, you know, mild in comparison.

And so how can Donald Trump get to that number? How can he get to a majority of delegates? Well, he have to win the following states: New Jersey, New Mexico, the -- all, the entire West Coast, Washington state, Oregon. He would also have to win California, as well, and he would have to win about 90 percent of the delegates in the state of West Virginia. That's just not likely to happen. It could certainly happen but it's not likely.

And that means that this contest is going all the way to the end of the process on June 7, where we're going to wrap up in California.

BLITZER: Ron Nehring, thanks very much.

NEHRING: You bet.

BLITZER: Joining us now, different perspective. Healy Baumgardner is the senior press representative from the Trump campaign. Healy, thanks very much for coming in.


BLITZER: What are your expectations for tonight?

BAUMGARDNER: I think that, you know, we're continuing on momentum from the northeast states that we swept last week all five states. The energy in Indiana is great. We have overwhelming support. We're having major turnout at our events. I just left Indiana yesterday. And we're looking to -- forward to a victory tonight.

BLITZER: Ted Cruz, as you know, he really unleashed an attack on Donald Trump today. I'm sure you probably saw it. I see you smiling. But it was a very strong attack. Let me play a little clip.


SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This man is a pathological liar. He doesn't know the difference between truth and lies. He lies practically every word that comes out of his mouth. And in a pattern that I think is straight out of a psychology textbook, his response to accuse everybody else of lying. He accuses everybody on that debate stage of lying, and it's simply a mindless yell. Whatever he does, he accuses everyone else of doing.


BLITZER: All right. What's the reaction from the Trump campaign, Healy?

BAUMGARDNER: I think this is a desperate attempt by Ted Cruz to remain relevant. I think, at this juncture, he knows that he is not going to be the winner. I mean, we are -- we are winning. We are making history with our numbers. And it's just kind of a let's throw spaghetti on the wall and see if it sticks approach. Who knows what he'll do next?

BLITZER: I think he was, in part, deeply angered by Donald Trump earlier this morning suggesting that there's some truth in that "National Enquirer" story that Ted Cruz's father, Rafael Cruz, may have been involved somehow with Lee Harvey Oswald and the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.

You read that story. I'm sure -- I'm sure you heard all the criticism. No other news organization has corroborated the "National Enquirer" story. Was that appropriate?

BAUMGARDNER: I don't think it was inappropriate. He was citing a third-party article that was sourced.

BLITZER: But it was the "National Enquirer."

BAUMGARDNER: But still, he was just reciting "The National Enquirer," and this is Ted Cruz's response. He's imploding (ph).

BLITZER: Should the Republican presidential front-runner be repeating an allegation from the "National Enquirer" without any independent confirmation, corroboration?

BAUMGARDNER: Well, I don't see why they should not. I mean, it's public knowledge. This is 24/7 era where everything is public knowledge. So it's out there, and he just recited it.

BLITZER: Are you comfortable with Donald Trump reciting that?

BAUMGARDNER: I am comfortable with Donald Trump, and I'm looking forward to him becoming president of the United States, absolutely.

BLITZER: But you're not necessarily totally comfortable with everything he says and does, right?

BAUMGARDNER: I'm behind him 100 percent, absolutely.

BLITZER: You are? OK.


BLITZER: So you have no problem with him talking about the assassination of John F. Kennedy and Ted Cruz's father.?

BAUMGARDNER: Again, he was reciting an article from a third party source, and this is Ted Cruz's response. That should be what is noted, is his implosion.

BLITZER: Let me ask you, you don't have any difference between a third-party source, let's say, like "The New York Times" or "The Washington Post," as opposed to a third-party source like the "National Enquirer"?

BAUMGARDNER: Again, Mr. Trump was reciting a third-party source, and Ted Cruz's response is implosion. That makes him...

BLITZER: You think we're going to be hearing more of that from Donald Trump?

BAUMGARDNER: I think that, you know, we're going to continue to campaign hard. And he's the greatest deal maker and an American success story that we have seen. And we will continue to gain the path to the presidency.

BLITZER: Like most other serious news organizations, CNN is trying to check out that "National Enquirer," do some fact checking on the "National Enquirer" story. We'll keep you informed. So far we have not confirmed it.


[17:35:08] BLITZER: Healy, thanks very much for coming in.

BAUMGARDNER: Thanks for having me.

BLITZER: Up next, more exit polling information coming into THE SITUATION ROOM from Indiana as we count down to polls closing in the state.


BLITZER: Decision day in Indiana. Right now, we have some more exit polling information coming in from Hoosier voters to share with you. Our political director, David Chalian, is back with us, this time, on the Democratic side. The mood of some of those Democrats?

[17:40:08] DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Yes, first, we're looking at who showed up today in Indiana on the Democratic side. Take a look at this.

We asked Indiana Democratic primary voters: "Do you want to continue Barack Obama's policies?" Fifty percent said yes; 36 percent said they'd like the policies of the next president to be more liberal than Barack Obama's. Ten percent less liberal. That 36 percent is about the fifth highest that we've seen this entire election season. So, perhaps a more liberal electorate there.

In fact, take a look at the ideology. We asked people, "Do you consider yourself a liberal, a moderate, or a conservative?" Seventy percent of the Indiana Democratic primary electorate today call themselves liberal, 26 percent moderate, 4 percent conservative. And, Wolf, eight years ago, you remember there was a battle between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton in Indiana. It was only 39 percent liberal, the electorate, 45 percent moderate, 16 percent conservative. This seems like a much more liberal electorate showing up at the polls today, eight years later than did in that Democratic primary.

BLITZER: Earlier, you told us some of the exit polling information, how among the Republicans, whether this election was energizing or dividing them. What about the Democrats?

CHALIAN: Yes. It's not the same story as the Republicans at all. Seventy-four percent of Indiana Democratic primary voters today tell us this season is energizing the party. Only 22 percent of Democrats are saying it is dividing the party. This is a clear opposite of what we saw in the Republican side.

As always, with these numbers, Wolf, these numbers will change throughout the night. These are early exit poll results, and we will see some shifting in the numbers as the night goes on.

BLITZER: Interesting numbers. We'll get some more from you, as well.

Anderson, over to you.

COOPER: Let's get back with our panel. What do you make of these polls, John?

KING: The liberal number, especially if you think of a state like Indiana, you think of that as Evan Bayh. Centrist, more moderate Democrats come out of Indiana. The 70 percent of the Democrats say they're liberal, kind of make your eyes pop out a little bit. Now, is it because they feel more comfortable saying that, Democrats do, after eight years of Barack Obama? Or is it because you have a very pro- Sanders electorate today in Indiana?

If Bernie Sanders wins Indiana tonight, it's still 90 percent likelihood or higher that Hillary Clinton will be the Democratic nominee. However -- however, Sanders supporters who are having a hard time embracing Clinton are going to feel energized.

The candidate himself is going to say, "I have a win. Let's keep going. I'm getting delegates."

And as it extends, we focus more and more on the fracturing of the Republican Party, which I think is much more profound. There is a considerable debate still in the Democratic Party and a lot of work to be done on arranging a more peaceful Thanksgiving dinner, if you will. And the more Sanders wins, the longer that takes, the harder it gets.

BORGER: And I think it's between the younger -- the Thanksgiving dinner, the younger people and the older Democratic voters. Because if you look at the early exit polls, you know, if you see 40, 45 percent younger voters, then you see what Bernie Sanders is doing for the Democratic Party and how he is bringing out those younger voters who, by the way, are probably the more liberal voters in the Democratic Party.

If they can keep those people on board, if Hillary's the nominee, that is so important for the party.

HENDERSON: And I think the question for the Democratic Party in the fall is, how liberal do they feel comfortable being? Trump will likely be the nominee, but Sanders is going to make a push for Hillary Clinton to move to the left on issues like paying for college, on issues like Social Security.

Does she adopt some of those stances or does she feel like the sort of centrist position that she's adopted, mostly in the primary, is the formula to get her to the White House in the general election?

GERGEN: Historically, we remember Indiana as being a state represented by moderates, Evan Bayh you just mentioned. And you have Dick Lugar, for example, on the Republican side.

And to see this kind of Democratic Party becoming this liberal, while the Republican Party already are becoming quite conservative, the polarization that's occurring around the country in a place like Indiana is serious, because means it's going to be harder for anybody to govern. Whoever wins this will find it harder to govern.

COOPER: So is it also -- if it is moving to the left on the Democratic side, does it give Donald Trump a chance to reach out to maybe some more centrist Democrats?

KING: It's a great question. Donald Trump has been talking, if we're focusing on the grassy knoll day in the Republican primary today.

But if you get back to Donald Trump's success, immigration made his mark in the Republican race. But he has expanded his tent by talking about economics, specifically on the trade message and the Carrier plant picking up from Indiana, moving to Mexico. It's helped Donald Trump.

Ted Cruz was ahead in the polls about three weeks ago now in Indiana. So if Donald Trump has a decent win tonight, it tells you something's happening in the Republican Party. That trade message is what Trump hopes -- hopes helps him get Democrats. Even Sanders supporters in the general election.

And Nia made a great point during the break, though. If you look at this race now, Hillary Clinton -- I think it was the closest primary in 2008 -- just barely beat Barack Obama in Indiana. And then Obama carried the state. Obama had, it was one of the red states where we said, "Whoa." In 2008, Obama actually carried it in the general election in 2008, because the Democratic Party did come together.

And you were having a bad Republican year: Iraq war. The question is, everybody now is looking at the map assuming Trump is the nominee, trying to figure out which are the five or six states that are going to be out of character, if you will, in November, if that's the race we get?

[17:45:04] GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: You know, in a way, the Trump message, you put the immigration message aside and you put the women issues aside, it's the most clear Republican populist message that we have seen in a long time. Anti-trade, anti-Wall Street, anti-big money in politics. And those are three things that really do appeal to voters.

AMANDA CARPENTER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: But the thing that's funny is that those are traditionally Republican positions. I mean, Republican have been the party of the free market. He's going to go in there and say like we're going to stop -- forcefully stop companies through punitive taxes and tariffs from relocating, to do things that would be economically viable for your company. So he's just mish- mashing everything all around.

BORGER: But it's a clear populist --

CARPENTER: Sure. Sure.


CARPENTER: Also, they're not Republican, that's the kicker.

JEFFREY LORD, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Actually you're right in the sense in the Reagan era, in the modern era, but the old, the original Republican Party was very much what Donald Trump, I mean, in a state like --

CARPENTER: But I think modern Republicans, you know, Ted Cruz, Jim DeMint, people I've worked for in the Senate who are solid conservatives are very free market.

LORD: I agree.

CARPENTER: Pro-trade.

LORD: I agree.


LORD: I don't think Donald Trump is anti-free market. He's just saying we're not negotiating well. And there's a difference.

CARPENTER: Well, then he's saying he was going to punish a company for making a decision that is going to benefit your company but through taxes and tariffs, that sounds pretty liberal to me.

KAYLEIGH MCENANY, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: It's not about punishing a company. He looks and he sees Carrier, 1400 jobs lost. Did you see those workers?

CARPENTER: He says we're going to punish them. There will be consequences.


CARPENTER: That's exactly what he's talking about.

MCENANY: Punishment is very different than taxing imports from Mexico in order to --

CARPENTER: Taxes and tariffs are punishment.

MCENANY: You can call it that but it's about luring businesses back here.

CARPENTER: It's what it is.

MCENANY: Because there is a group of people in this country --

CARPENTER: No, that's not an incentive. Taxes are not an incentive.

MCENANY: There is a group of people in this country, blue-collar workers, who feel marginalized.

CARPENTER: Sure. Sure.

MCENANY: The Democratic Party hasn't spoken to them. The Republican Party hasn't spoken to them. They are desperate. They are in need of jobs. And --

CARPENTER: And the question would be, do you make America a viable place where companies compete through lower taxes and even playing field or like Donald Trump are you going to pick winners and losers and taxes and tariffs and use it to get your way?

MCENANY: You do both. You do both.

CARPENTER: The other thing that --


DONNA BRAZILE, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: All right. Now, look, we're not going to resolve the Republican primary. As a Democrats sitting here, I'm not having my label on, so nobody forgets that. We have a problem and we have to address the globalization technology has changed our workforce. And we have to prepare for a 21st century workforce. You all can continue to litigate this during the commercial break. Let me just go back to the Democrats.


BRAZILE: There's no question that we have a more liberal electorate and a Democratic Party especially when we open the door, we have independents participating, a lot of them are young, a lot of them do not like the so-called labels, liberals, conservatives. Bernie Sanders is speaking to their dreams, their aspirations but also what they can attain as new voters. They want a country that works for them. They want a country that allows them to grow and prosper. So I'm not surprised at some of these exit polls. But you know what I like best? 74 percent said that they're energized by our contest, compared to Republicans. So just come on over, I have stickers.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: We -- let's take another quick break. Up next, we're going to take a look at -- what to look for tonight when the results come in from Indiana. John King is going to map it out on for us at the magic wall. As the Hoosier state votes on this crucial, crucial primary day.


[17:53:02] COOPER: Welcome back. In just a few minutes at the top of the hour some polls will be closing in Indiana, the rest at 7:00 p.m. Eastern. Donald Trump obviously looking for a knockout blow against Ted Cruz and move closer to the 1237 delegates needed for the Republican nomination. Meanwhile, polls suggest a tight race on the Democratic side. John King is back at the map to take a look at what to look forward tonight.

On the Republican side, what does a win for Trump look like?

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Number one, just look at the country. You have John Kasich's Ohio here, but if Donald Trump could turn this Trump blue -- I mean Trump red, a lot of Republicans think this race is over. So we're going to be looking for votes.

Ted Cruz has no excuse here. He's been here for a couple of weeks. He says this is my firewall. And you've got a congressional primary up here, a Republican race, you've got another Republican congressional primary here. You also have a Republican Senate primary statewide so there's no reason for Republicans not to turn out today.

Anderson, if Donald Trump wins this state and wins it big not only does it send a message, but it also gets him to the delegate math. Let me just quickly come over here and bring up this other map. You see Donald Trump at 957 here, but he also has a lot of unbound delegates who have pledged their support to him on the first ballot. That gets him way out here. If you add Indiana to that total, in this scenario, I'm only giving Trump 33, it moves him out here. About 1035. If he sweeps he adds another 20 plus. If he sweeps the state and got all 57. So Donald Trump could get close -- close to 1080 tonight if he wins them all. So we'll see how that plays out.

But this is what Donald Trump is looking for, get closer to the finish line, stretch it out, send a message to Ted Cruz just like Hillary Clinton on the Democratic side in recent weeks, saying, you can't catch him.

COOPER: And what about for Clinton?

KING: The Democratic side. I want to come back to the map because this is really fascinating. Let's pull out Indiana again and let's go back to 2008 and let's go back to the Democratic primary. This was the closest I think of all the contests between Clinton and Obama in 2008. Look what happened. Obama at 49 percent won almost nothing in the state when you look at it, but he did win the urban area in Indianapolis, up in Fort Wayne. Gary, Indiana, closest to Chicago, a lot of African-American votes up here. The key thing for me tonight to watch is does the map flip? Does Hillary Clinton get the African- American support up here? Does Bernie Sanders win all these white rural counties like Hillary Clinton used? Because what Hillary Clinton wants tonight is an exclamation point to last week. I've won, I'm moving on.

[17:55:07] What Bernie Sanders wants tonight, Anderson, as we switch back to the delegate map, what Bernie Sanders wants tonight is to say, I'm going to take Indiana. I'm probably not going to be able to catch up to Hillary Clinton. But I'm going to have another win to extend the race into May. To keep his supporters energized and to keep going all the way through. A Sanders win tonight means the Democratic race while mathematically likely over will continue on for quite some time.

COOPER: Wow. All right. We'll be watching that closely.

Wolf, back to you.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Thank you. I'll be interviewing Donald Trump tomorrow right here in THE SITUATION ROOM. There'll be certainly a lot to talk about. We're expecting to learn over the next few hours.

Once again some polls closing in Indiana in just a few minutes. Our coverage of this crucial primary continues. Stay with us.