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AT THIS HOUR WITH BERMAN AND MICHAELA
Trump Now GOP Presumptive Nominee; Kasich Vows to Stay in After Cruz Drops Out; RNC Opinion on GOP Presumptive Nominee. Aired 11- 11:30a ET
Aired May 4, 2016 - 11:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
[11:00:00] SEN. TED CRUZ, (R), TEXAS & PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We left it all on the field in Indiana. We gave it everything we've got, but the voters chose another path.
DONALD TRUMP, (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE & CEO, TRUMP ORGANIZATION: We're going after Hillary Clinton. She will not be a great president. She will not be a good president. She would be a poor president.
HILLARY CLINTON, (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE & FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: I'm focused on moving into the general election. We're going to have a tough campaign against a candidate who will literally say or do anything.
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS, (I), VERMONT & DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I understand that Secretary Clinton thinks that this campaign is over. I've got some bad news for her.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. I'm Kate Bolduan.
JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: I'm John Berman.
To, all of you predicted last June that Donald Trump would end up at the presumptive nominee. Congratulations, all seven of you. After his huge win in Indiana, Donald Trump is in and Ted Cruz is out. The RNC is calling for unity. But a number of prominent Republicans are essentially calling for mutiny.
BOLDUAN: Though not there yet but Donald Trump is closer to 1,237, like as close as I'm sitting to John Berman right now. This close.
On the Democratic side -
BERMAN: Is it comfortable? Is it uncomfortable?
BOLDUAN: You liked it.
BERMAN: On the Democratic side after winning last night in Indiana, Bernie Sanders is vowing to stay the course. The reality there, though, is Clinton's delegate lead remains essentially insurmountable. Sanders needs to pick up 100 percent of the pledged delegations to get the nomination. We'll get to that in a second.
But first, let's talk about Donald Trump and the Republican Party. Sunlen Serfaty is joining us live in Indianapolis.
Sunlen, what does today mean?
SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: it means a clear pivot to the general election. We saw him in his victory speech last night really, not only take a victory lap, I should say, but hope that victory lap propels him very squarely against Clinton looking toward a general election. Sources within the Trump campaign tell CNN Sara Murray that today this shift to the general election begins in overdrive. We know that there are already conversations within the Trump campaign coordinating now with a Republican National Committee, making key decisions where to put staffers and beef up in battle ground states. Coordinating in a way they haven't done so far.
Also, a clear pivot toward looking toward a vice presidential pick. They're ramping up their voting in their search for vice presidential nominee. Trump has been clear he wants an insider as a nominee. He's been on the record many times saying he wants someone that understands the Washington system.
At the same time, Donald Trump still has to focus on campaigning and aids say he'll continue doing that going forward but clear that the Trump campaign now very clearly shifting now into the general election -- John, Kate?
BERMAN: All right. Sunlen Serfaty for us in Indianapolis.
One guy is saying, I'm still here, wait, I'm not going anywhere yet! John Kasich is still running for president, even though he now is running fourth in a two-man race. He has fewer delegates now than Marco Rubio does. Yet, as I said, his campaign goes on. We're awaiting a news conference from John Kasich at Dulles Airport in Virginia.
That's where we find our Phil Mattingly right now -- Phil?
PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: John, John Kasich making clear he's not getting out of the race, according to his advisors last night, and keeping it up this morning even trying to jump off a National Star Wars Day, putting out the Star Wars scroll showing if Donald Trump were the nominee. That's the crux of their argument of why they're staying in. Trump is the nominee, according to Kasich's advisors, would threaten the Senate, threaten the House, threaten down-ballot races across the country for Republicans.
More than anything else Kasich's team is aware they don't have 37 delegates. It would be difficult to block Donald Trump from reaching that point. But until he reaches that point, Kasich wants to run to make the point that there's an alternative to what Trump is bringing to the table. One of their biggest frustrations over the last couple of weeks is the Never Donald Trump movement or the Stop Trump movement hasn't been willing to invest in their campaign. They dumped millions into Cruz's campaign. The hope is some of the money will swing Kasich's way. Kasich has 10 fundraisers scheduled over the next couple of days and a west coast swing finishing up in California on June 7th.
The big question when he gets here -- I should note his plane is still in Columbus. The press conference supposed to start at 10:45 -- hasn't left Ohio yet. The big question is, what is his path? What is his goal? Is there any opportunity he sees or his team sees to win? As of now, the questions don't seem -- the answers don't seem clear. That's something he has to answer if he's going to continue this campaign, and all indications we've gotten up to this point is he is.
[11:05:24] BOLDUAN: We're awaiting with you to see when the plane lands with John Kasich and we'll take the event live. A lot of questions will be going to the candidate himself. We'll see what John Kasich has to say.
Phil Mattingly there for us. Thank you so much, Phil.
What does the Republican National Committee think of its freshly newly minted presumptive nominee? Let's ask the Republican Party's chief strategist, Sean Spicer.
Sean, it's great to see you.
SEAN SPICER, CHIEF STRATEGIST & COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR, REPUBLICAN NATIONAL COMMITTEE: Good morning.
BOLDUAN: That was delayed. Is it a good morning? Were you surprised last night? What did you think when Ted Cruz dropped out?
SPICER: Well, I wasn't expecting that at all. That wasn't my Tuesday night plan. So that kind of shook up the evening viewing that I had anticipated.
But I think it's a great thing that we can come together and unify as a party. That gives us a lot more time. Passions were high for the different candidates out there in the field. We need a little bit of time to unify as a party. The quicker we can do that and focus on the general election on Hillary Clinton the better.
It's odd you would realize we're the party having the extra time to unify. Hillary Clinton lost last night. That is sort of the untold story of last night. Another big win for Bernie Sanders. He continues to drag her through the primary, which is going through June. It's going to be the Republican Party. We've been out there with the ground game second to none for years. It's going to continue to hamper their ability to prepare, which again will give us another advantage heading into the general.
BERMAN: You said you were surprised that was your Tuesday night. I was surprised that the out with a statement calling Donald Trump the presumptive nominee. I'm a little surprised this morning to hear the calls for party unify when you've been saying you don't get to 1237 unless you get to 1237. Donald Trump is not there. John Kasich is still in the race. (CROSSTALK)
SPICER: Right. But the tweet was clear, will be the presumptive nominee. He's not the presumptive. He doesn't have 1237. He's not the presumptive nominee.
BERMAN: But he used the word --
SPICER: Hold on. I'm explaining. The answer is that with the number of bound delegates remaining in the contest that has to occur, there's no question that anybody who has a third-grade math will realize he'll get to 1237 and the sooner we can unite as a party and focus on the general election, the better. Time is of the essence. What I think we want to do is make sure we go into Cleveland united as a party and we come out focused so we can grow our party, add more to the ranks, and win in November.
BOLDUAN: Yeah. But you know who is listening very closely? Not on us, do we listen closely to your words and read your tweets closely, Sean. But John Kasich's team. They're listening very closely to everything you guys say. What should they take from your words? Will be the presumptive nominee. Are you saying that John Kasich should drop out?
SPICER: I think you've heard me say it throughout the campaign, every campaign has to make their position. It's never been our position to tell a candidate to stay in or get out. It's up to them.
BOLDUAN: -- anything about a presumptive nominee.
SPICER: Right. Again, it goes back to a trajectory that exists there's no question he's going to get to the 1237. I think that's different and it's a position we found ourselves in the past. If someone was there -- we did it similar in 2012 with Mitt Romney when there was no question he was going to get the nomination. He was the only one viable to get it. Not just the total with unbound but with bound delegates, which is where Mr. Trump is now. There's no question that it makes sense as a party to start focusing on the general election as soon as possible. And that's what we're going to do.
BERMAN: You know unity, it seems to be a concern right now for the party. Especially based on some of the statements we're hearing from fairly prominent members of the Republican Party. Mark Salter (ph), John McCain's alter ego -- let me read that tweet. It says, "The GOP is going to nominate for president the guy who reads the "National Enquirer" and thinks it's on the level. I'm with her." Mark Salter (ph) saying he's going vote for Hillary Clinton. Also, we saw a tweet from Steve Dees (ph), a Ted Cruz supporter, "There goes my time as a Republican. Will be changing our party affiliations tomorrow. Frankly, I feel relief to do it." These are guys from different ends of the party. Donald Trump lost both of them. Is that a problem for the party?
[11:10:00] SPICER: Well, like I said, we need more Republicans. We need all the Republicans we can get plus to win the election. Of course, it's a shame. I hope those folks will recognize the bigger picture. It's not just about election or the next four years. The number of people that Hillary Clinton will appoint, not just to the Supreme Court, but potentially all federal judgeships. Never mind the additional things. The regulatory things, the effect on the budget, the crippling effect on small businesses, religious freedom, all the things that conservatives should really care about they should take a look at the big picture and say it may not have been my choice of a candidate, maybe not even my second choice, but we as conservatives need to understand the big picture. And the big picture is that Hillary Clinton will take this country in a vastly different direction than any of us would want to go. I think we need to unite.
We've had 17 amazing candidates at the top levels of this primary fight on the Republican side. Everybody was very passionate about the individual candidate they supported. I understand that's great. That's what's driven the increase turn out. At some point, you have to recognize the bigger picture and say my individual candidate lost. I'm going to come together for opposite sides alternative is vastly wrong.
You have a candidate, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, I don't know which one will win -- the frontrunner is clearly Hillary Clinton. She has the potential indictment of the FBI looming over her. Bernie Sanders wants to take the country in a Socialist direction. I understand tensions are high now. They're upset their individual dropped out. Their candidate may have dropped out last night, we need to focus a party and recognize the two options we have. One is vastly unacceptable and one is where we need to come together as Republicans and say this is going to take our country in a much better direction.
BOLDUAN: The hard job everyone said during the primary. It looks like we've got work ahead of you, Sean.
Great to see you. Thank you very much.
SPICER: Thank you.
BERMAN: Third-grade understanding of math?
BOLDUAN: With his eyes he said Kasich.
One programming note, Donald Trump, the presumptive nominee, or will be the presumptive nominee --
BOLDUAN: Words matter, John.
BERMAN: Donald Trump is going to join Wolf Blitzer today in The Situation Room at 5:00 eastern time. Don't miss it.
Plus, another big one. In her first interview since losing Indiana, Hillary Clinton will speak live to Anderson Cooper at 2:00 eastern time. That is only on CNN.
BOLDUAN: A lot ahead for us. Another big question that needs to be answered, will Ted Cruz throw his support behind Donald Trump? Maybe too soon? That's a big question everyone is asking, especially after Cruz's went after him and laid into Donald Trump yesterday calling him a pathological liar. We'll discuss. BERMAN: And who would have thought that the Republican primary would
wrap up before the Democratic race. Bernie Sanders with the upset in Indiana. Why he insists he has a path to win even though the math may say something different.
[11:16:55] BOLDUAN: So if you are Ted Cruz and his campaign staff this morning, what is the conversation? One big question a lot of folks are asking is, do you, will you support Donald Trump as the nominee after this?
BOLDUAN: Let's talk to Ron Nehring, the national spokesman for the Cruz campaign. His tweet last night said, "Always Cruz."
Ron, thank you for being with us.
You know, campaigns are tough things. It must have been a tough night for you.
Ted Cruz surprised a lot of people last night. We heard from Sean Spicer saying that. How was the decision made for Ted Cruz to bow out?
RON NEHRING, NATIONALS SPOKESMAN, TED CRUZ PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This is a decision that has to be made by the candidate himself. This is part of a delegate process that took place quickly over the course of the day yesterday, ultimately reaching the conclusion and then ultimately being announced following the election results coming out in Indianapolis for the state of Indiana. Ultimately, that was a process and a decision made yesterday.
BOLDUAN: We were talking about math quite a bit with Sean Spicer. When you look at your math, it didn't over archly change. Donald Trump, after last night, still not at 1237. You were never going to get to 1237 before the convention. So then why drop out last night? NEHRING: Well, ultimately the Senator has to make that decision
himself and he did after consulting with the members of the campaign team and with his family. And Donald Trump is in a position where he has a significant, you know, delegate lead. Was there a pathway in order to get to victory? Ultimately that was the conclusion that Senator Cruz reached that there was no longer after the results had come in, in Indiana. So now, you know, the fight continues. Senator Cruz is a member of the United States Senate. There are many battles yet to be fought there in the closing days of the Obama administration. There are millions and millions of Americans who didn't know who Senator Cruz was at the beginning of the process. He was the first candidate to enter the race. He's become a champion for the ideas that bring many, many people to the Republican Party and the conservative movement. And we'll continue to advocate, but he has a couple million more friends to join him in that battle.
BERMAN: Seven million, what I saw. We couldn't help but noticing when Ted Cruz dropped out of the race, he didn't mention Donald Trump at all by name in his speech, which is unusual when someone bows out of a race like that. Is Ted Cruz going to support Donald Trump as the Republican nominee?
NEHRING: Well, one thing I think is clear about Senator Cruz he's someone who speaks the truth. There's a reason why that's the title of his book "Time for Truth." And so everything that Senator Cruz said throughout of the course of the campaign is true then and true today. Only Senator Cruz can speak what he'll do going forward. There are many important contests that will appear on the ballot for control of the United States Senate, Congress, governors, et cetera. So ultimately, Senator Cruz will speak to what he does with respect to the presidential contest in his own time.
[11:20:18] BOLDUAN: Ron, just yesterday Ted Cruz said a whole lot. When you said he tells the truth --
NEHRING: He does.
BOLDUAN: -- if he's speaking the truth like he did yesterday when he laid into Donald Trump, should anyone --
BERMAN: Pathological liar.
BOLDUAN: Pathological lair, yeah --
BOLDUAN: Is there any possibility that Ted Cruz will support Donald Trump?
NEHRING: Well, I wouldn't engage in that type of speculation. You'll have to ask Senator Cruz directly.
Going forward, we're dealing with a different political landscape than at the time Senator Cruz entered this contest. You know, going forward any campaign is an opportunity to build an organization and millions and millions of -- 1.3 million donors, 317,000 volunteers, and a great campaign organization that proved to be aggressive and disciplined and focused, which we saw over the course of the last couple of months. Whether it was a rapid response operation lead by Ryan Philips or a political operation and the like. Ultimately, at the end of the day, what happens going forward, you know, Senator Cruz will speak to that. We have a ground organization. We have a great team. And the cause continues.
BERMAN: Ron, you know, you were chair of the California Republican Party. You're a Republican yourself. What about you? Will you vote for Donald Trump?
NEHRING: You know, I'm going to see what Senator Cruz does in this regard and, you know, I'm very honored to have been part of the team. It's been the greatest honor of my life. And I want to continue to remain part of that team. Let's see what Senator Cruz does.
BOLDUAN: Taking it from Senator Cruz on this. We'll see.
Ron, thank you very much. We appreciate it. Thank you for coming on. We'll talk to you hopefully more.
NEHRING: You bet. Thank you.
BOLDUAN: Thank you.
Let's continue the discussion now with Donald Trump's team. Let's talk to Barry Bennett, a senior advisor to the Trump campaign.
Barry, thank you so much for coming on.
We had a very interesting day yesterday and then it continued to be a very interesting night. You heard Ron Nehring there.
BARRY BENNETT, SENIOR ADVISOR, DONALD TRUMP PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN: I go away for one day and look what happened.
BOLDUAN: That's exactly right. You heard us talk to Ron Nehring. He wouldn't say one way or the other if Ted Cruz will put his support behind Donald Trump. He wouldn't say himself if he's going to support Donald Trump. Do you guys need Ted Cruz? Do you want his support?
BENNETT: Absolutely. I mean, but it's way too early to ask. You know, we're 12 hours after the primary.
BENNETT: You know Jeff Roe and his team and the Senator and his family, they ran an amazing campaign. You know, nobody gave them the chance when they started and they ran an amazing organization. Very well run, very high-tech. We can learn things from what they accomplished. So, you know, they need some rest and they should get it and we'll talk later.
BOLDUAN: Barry, that's a markedly different tone than what we had a conversation about yesterday. I remember you saying about what Ted Cruz said yesterday was reprehensible. You don't know who would advise him to say the things he said about Donald Trump. It's different hearing you say this, this morning
BENNETT: Well, I mean, you know, a lot has changed since yesterday. And, you know, we need to be welcoming and magnanimous and there are a lot of things happening in the primary. When I was with Carson -- as a party we have to come together, and we have a big task in front of us to defeat Hillary or Bernie or whoever it is. There's only one way to do it coming together.
BERMAN: Come together. One of the ways you come together, and obviously, Ted Cruz and others support you, they can come toward you, but the Trump team could move towards them. He made magnanimous statements there. Do you think Donald Trump owes Ted Cruz an apology for what he said about his father, the unsubstantiated report that his father was somewhat near Lee Harvey Oswald in a picture with absolutely no proof whatsoever?
BENNETT: I think as we move past the primary, someday the two of them will have a conversation and it will be a private conversation. It's not going to be public and certainly not today. But, you know, we just got to move past the primary. In the heat of battle, people say things on all sides. And, you know, I mean, there are a lot of people who ruffled feathers from 17 candidates in the primary, but it's over, whether or not John Kasich realizes that or not, it's over. And we need to move on. We have a big task. We have a lot of work to do.
BOLDUAN: To clarify, Barry, looking ahead, looking at the general, do you think -- does Donald Trump need Ted Cruz?
[11:25:05] BENNETT: Well, we need every Republican vote. We want every Republican vote. Ted Cruz is a valuable guy. He is very smart and has a lot to offer. Of course, we would want him. You know, and, you know, I'm not going to speculate what he's going to do. The only thing you should do now is spend time with his family and get caught up on his rest and figure out what his future holds. No one should put him in a position today where he has to say something about, you know, what he thinks about Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton or anybody else. They fought very hard. They've had probably no more than a handful hours of sleep for a year. They need to rest up.
BERMAN: This is magnanimity. This is outreach from Barry Bennett.
BERMAN: Thank you, Barry. Appreciate it.
BOLDUAN: Thank you, Barry.
BENNETT: No problem.
BOLDUAN: A very different day.
BERMAN: A very different day. What did he say? A lot has changed.
BOLDUAN: A lot has.
BERMAN: Indiana has.
BOLDUAN: That's a true statement.
BERMAN: Never Trump? Does it doesn't matter no more. Some Republicans say they're willing to jump ship and vote for Hillary Clinton. We'll speak for one ahead.
BOLDUAN: Talking about the Democratic side, math is not on his side, Bernie Sanders won last night and vows to keep up the right, even though he knows and acknowledges he's looking at an uphill battle. What does it mean? What does it mean? What is his goal? What does it mean for Hillary Clinton going ahead? We'll discuss.