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THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER
Prince Death Investigation; Interview With Michael Moore; Trump Now Presumptive Republican Presidential Nominee; Sanders Wins Indiana, But Does It Help? Aired 4-4:30p ET
Aired May 4, 2016 - 16:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: So, who will Donald Trump pick as his running mate? Wolf Blitzer, white courtesy phone.
THE LEAD starts right now.
It's over. Or is it just beginning? Governor John Kasich minutes away from announcing that he is out of the Republican race, leaving one man standing, Donald Trump, as the only hope for Republicans in November. But will Republicans fall in line?
President Obama speaking in moments after having sipped that filtered water in Flint, Michigan. We will visit with Flint native Michael Moore and talk about what needs to be done and who needs to go to prison.
Plus, brand-new details about the final moments of life of Prince, even a lifesaving mission on the day he died that was too late.
Good afternoon, everyone. Welcome to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.
Well, folks, there you have it. Donald Trump is the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, having vanquished all his Republican rivals, including the final holdout, Ohio Governor John Kasich, who is expected to drop out of the race in just a few minutes.
Trump is now pivoting to the general election, starting to vet potential vice presidential picks and promising to eviscerate Hillary Clinton, who just previewed the tack she will take against Trump in an exclusive CNN interview, branding him a risky loose canon.
Meanwhile, as Trump shifts his focus, we're starting to see how many of those never Trump stalwarts will end up backing the party's new standard-bearer.
CNN senior White House correspondent Jim Acosta is in New York, where Trump is plotting strategy today.
Jim, we're already seeing some members of the party who said they would never support Trump coalesce around Trump.
JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right. And that's where we are in this process right now, Jake. With Ted Cruz and now John Kasich out of the race, Trump campaign sources say the presumptive GOP nominee will start to focus on building a 50-state general election campaign with a much bigger staff that will begin to join forces with the RNC. And advisers to Trump say names are already beginning to surface as early favorites in his search for a running mate.
ACOSTA (voice-over): Donald Trump is the last man standing.
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It's a beautiful thing to watch and a beautiful thing to behold. And we're going to make America great again.
ACOSTA: After a convincing win in Indiana, Trump's road to the White House just got a lot less congested, with John Kasich dropping out of the race. CNN has learned the Ohio governor told close friends, "My heart is not in this."
The sudden departures of Kasich and Ted Cruz --
SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We gave it everything we have got.
ACOSTA: -- now present a new challenge for Trump, to unite a Republican Party that is deeply divided, a task made more difficult by the presumptive GOP nominee, who angered many in the party when he speculated that Cruz's father was involved in the Kennedy assassination, an outrageous and unsubstantiated claim ripped right out of "The National Enquirer," Trump still not offering an apology.
TRUMP: "The National Enquirer" gave you John Edwards. It gave you O.J. Simpson. It gave you many, many things. You can't knock "The National Enquirer."
ACOSTA: A key Trump advisory conceded Cruz will likely need some space before he speaks with the real estate tycoon.
BARRY BENNETT, TRUMP CAMPAIGN SENIOR ADVISER: It's certainly not going to be today, but we have just got to move past the primary. In the heat of battle, people say things on all sides.
ACOSTA: Moving on, Trump has begun looking for a vice presidential running mate. A Trump sources tells CNN Ohio Senator Rob Portman, New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez and South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley are the early favorites inside the campaign, as they would be on anybody's short list.
Trump's daughter Ivanka is expected to offer her input on the process, which is in its early stages. And Trump wants to pick a politician.
TRUMP: Well, the business, I handle. I think I'm going to be very, very good on the military, to be honest with you. I think that will be the hidden strength. And I think probably I would like to go with somebody with great political experience. ACOSTA: Trump is boldly predicting he will beat Hillary Clinton in
traditionally Democratic strongholds like New York. But he won't have the support of the anti-Trump "New York Daily News," which welcomed his victory with the picture of an elephant in a coffin.
RNC chairman Reince Priebus told CNN Trump will actually help the GOP.
REINCE PRIEBUS, REPUBLICAN NATIONAL COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN: You know what? I think something different and something new is probably good for our party.
ACOSTA: Now, Trump is still planning to campaign in the states that are still holding primaries in the coming weeks to turn his attention to Hillary Clinton.
And team Trump is enjoying the fact that he's driven off his rivals before Hillary Clinton. As one Trump surrogate put it to me, Jake, who would have thought we would have a nominee before the Democrats?
And we should point out my colleague Dana Bash has just confirmed with Rob Portman's office he is not interested in being Donald Trump's running mate. So, the trial balloons are going up, Jake, and they're already being popped.
TAPPER: All right, Jim Acosta, thank you so much.
The presumptive Republican nominee is moving into general election mode. And in a brand-new interview with my colleague Wolf Blitzer, Mr. Trump talked about his potential vice presidential picks and his plans for taking on Hillary Clinton.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: As we're speaking, I know you're very happy that Ted Cruz has dropped out. CNN has confirmed John Kasich, the Ohio governor, he is dropping out as well.
You're the only one left right now.
TRUMP: That's good.
That's good. You're just telling me for the first time about John. And that's good. I think John is doing the right thing.
BLITZER: Ohio is an important state. No Republican has ever been elected president of the United States without winning Ohio.
TRUMP: Well, I think John will be very -- I have had a good relationship with John.
BLITZER: He's got a lot of government experience in the Congress, as a governor. TRUMP: I think John will be very helpful with Ohio, even as governor.
BLITZER: He says he doesn't want to be vice president.
TRUMP: Well, that could be. He said that.
BLITZER: Would he be someone you would be interested in vetting?
TRUMP: I would be interested in vetting John. I like John. I have a good relationship with John. I have got gotten along with him well.
But John would -- whether he's vice president or not, I think he will be very, very helpful with Ohio.
BLITZER: Do you think the general election campaign has already started, you vs. Hillary Clinton, that, for all practical purposes, Bernie Sanders is out?
TRUMP: Well, I think what has happened, there's been a little flip. And I'm even surprised by it. I thought that I would be going longer and she would be going shorter. She can't put it away. That's like a football team that can't put the ball over the line. I put it away.
She can't put it away. So, I thought that I would be out there and she'd be campaigning against me. I didn't realize. So, yes, I will be campaigning against her while she's campaigning --
BLITZER: So, the general election campaign, from your perspective, starts today?
TRUMP: Essentially, it started, I mean, yes.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: And for all of Wolf Blitzer's interview with Donald Trump, be sure to tune into "THE SITUATION ROOM" right after our show. That's at 5:00 p.m. Eastern.
Let's bring in our political panel now to discuss this remarkable past 20 hours or so in the race for the White House.
We have with us editor of "The Weekly Standard" Bill Kristol and CNN political commentator Van Jones.
Bill, the obvious question for you, you once threatened jokingly to start a third party if Trump got the nomination. But there are others out there publicly saying, Republicans, die-hard Republicans saying they are not going to vote for Donald Trump, one of them of course Mark Salter, John McCain's former chief of staff, who you know well, tweeting: "The GOP is going to nominate for president a guy who reads 'The National Enquirer' and thinks it's on the level. I'm with her," using the Hillary Clinton slogan "I'm With Her."
What are you going to do?
BILL KRISTOL, EDITOR, "THE WEEKLY STANDARD": I'm not with Trump, but I'm not with her.
So I'm looking for an independent candidate. I think there -- Ben Sasse, senator from Nebraska, a very bright, young, promising senator, has said he can't support Donald Trump and he doesn't want to support Hillary Clinton. Let Ben Sasse run. He can take Nikki Haley, the governor of South Carolina, who will not accept being Trump's vice presidential candidate.
Maybe she would like to run with Sasse. They can argue about which order to have the ticket in. So, I'm saying right here on CNN Sasse- Haley, Haley-Sasse, they are both fine with me. No, I would like there to be an independent Republican candidate, because I can't support Trump and I can't support Clinton.
TAPPER: If it comes down to it, and it's Clinton vs. Trump, and maybe you have Gary Johnson running on the libertarian ticket, would you vote for Gary Johnson?
KRISTOL: I will write in someone appropriate.
TAPPER: But you're never Trump? You're not voting for him?
KRISTOL: No, I just don't think he has the character to be president of the United States. It's not -- it's beyond any particular issue I disagree with him on or who he picks as V.P. or something.
The man, in the last five days, has -- he embraced Mike Tyson, the endorsement of a convicted rapist, in Indiana. And when it was pointed out to him that he had been convicted of raping a 17-year-old girl, he didn't back away at all. He likes toughness, Donald Trump. That's great. He likes rapists.
And then the thing with Ted Cruz's father, he just recycles a "National Enquirer" story, accusing his rival's father of being involved in the assassination of John Kennedy.
TAPPER: Yes. Yes, I know.
KRISTOL: It's just --
TAPPER: That was something.
TAPPER: Van, you are a Democrat and you are afraid that Trump is going to win.
VAN JONES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Absolutely.
I said, you know, get your sandbags ready, Democrats. A wave is coming. A wave is coming. Listen, I have -- unfortunately had to spend a lot of time in Minnesota the past two weeks.
TAPPER: The unfortunately part is not being in Minnesota.
JONES: No. Yes.
TAPPER: Because Prince died.
JONES: Yes, yes, exactly.
TAPPER: So people under -- in Minnesota don't protest.
JONES: Yes. Exactly. No, I love Minnesota. I love Minnesota. But --
KRISTOL: Desperate effort. CNN -- CNN executives in Minnesota are calling up here.
TAPPER: Just want to make clear, it's because of Prince's death.
JONES: So, I spent some time not in Acela Corridor, not in Los Angeles, not in D.C., not in San Francisco.
There's pain out there. People are very, very frustrated. And it's like -- it's past divorce. In the middle of a divorce, people are mad. People are just done. We have a lot of people who are just done.
And so I think that what we have got to accept is, this is a verdict that's being passed through the Sanders campaign, through the Trump campaign on what we have been doing in the political class. And I believe that Hillary Clinton can get through this, but not if people start gloating and assuming that somehow Trump is going to self- destruct.
We already went through 10 months of people saying exactly the same thing: He's got a ceiling. He can't do this, he can't do that.
This is not a normal weather event. This is a tsunami. We have to have a very different approach to this phenomenon.
KRISTOL: Just to put an exclamation point next to Van's point, next to Van's point, which is a good one, in Indiana, the most Middle American state there is, right, 54 percent of the voters who voted last night voted for either Donald Trump or Bernie Sanders.
I mean, think of it. That's kind of amazing, a centrist, Middle American state, and they reject the centrist -- more centrist candidates of both parties and vote for Sanders and Trump. JONES: I want to say something just in complimenting you for once in
JONES: I do think that there is a difference between what in Europe they would call the clean right and the dirty right.
You and I have disagreed on many things, but you have never trafficked in violence, you have never trafficked in nasty racial appeals. We just don't agree on stuff.
There is a dirty right that is growing in Europe, and it's now growing inside the United States that actually traffics in political violence, which we haven't seen in this country for decades, traffics in the kinds of racial appeals, not dog whistles, but megaphones.
I think it's very dangerous. I don't know if you have the right tactics or the right strategy, but I think that those people who have built a conservative movement that had to be respected -- we had respect in the Democratic Party for that, because Obama was a response to the fact that they had built something coherent and powerful and smart, and we had to respond.
This is something that is very, very disturbing, I think, for the entire political class. And those conservatives who stick to their principles, I think, will be rewarded in the long-term.
TAPPER: All right, stick around, guys. We're going to have much, much more to talk about.
Coming up, what does Hillary Clinton have to say about her presumptive Republican opponent?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I don't think we can take a risk on a loose cannon like Donald Trump running our country.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: Isn't that why a lot of primary voters like Trump, because he speaks his mind and isn't politically correct?
Stay with us.
[16:15:58] TAPPER: Welcome back to the lead. We're going to stick with politics.
A win is a win as the sports fans say, except of course when it really isn't in politics. Last night's win in Indiana does not put Senator Bernie Sanders any closer to winning the Democratic nomination. If Sanders wants to derail Hillary Clinton, he will need to win 101 percent of the remaining delegates, that is unlikely.
Brianna Keilar is here with me in Washington.
Brianna, last night, Senator Sanders said in a statement that, quote, "If the Clinton campaign thinks this is over, they're wrong." I am a little confused because he seemed to be suggesting a week ago that he was in this so the Democratic voters could keep voting and so that he would have some input on the Democratic Party platform.
But is he still running to win?
BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: I think he is still fighting to influence the platform. I think he's being genuine when he says that, but he's also trying to motivate his supporters. I was in Indiana with Sanders last week and it really works. And his campaign believes whether you're fighting for the nomination or the platform, the route there, the strategy is the same. But Hillary Clinton says she understands Sanders is staying in for the long haul, she did back in 2008, but it's clear she now considers this a two- person race with Donald Trump, not Bernie Sanders.
KEILAR (voice-over): Donald Trump may be trying to brand Hillary Clinton --
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Crooked Hillary Clinton. Crooked Hillary. Crooked Hillary. Crooked Hillary, right, crooked. She's crooked as you can be.
KEILAR: But she's got her own label for the presumptive Republican nominee.
HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: He is a loose canon.
Loose cannons tend to misfire.
I don't think we can take a risk on a loose canon like Donald Trump.
KEILAR: In an exclusive interview with Anderson Cooper, Clinton made moves to protect her lead with minority voters.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Elizabeth Warren tweeted out last night that Donald Trump has, quote, "built his campaign on racism, sexism and xenophobia." Do you agree with that?
CLINTON: I think Elizabeth Warren is really smart.
COOPER: Do you think he is a racist.
CLINTON: I'm going to let people judge for themselves. But I have the highest regard for Senator Warren.
KEILAR: With Trump the last Republican standing, Clinton still has a primary battle. Bernie Sanders clinching a win in Indiana. SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT), DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I
understand that Secretary Clinton thinks that this campaign is over. I got some bad news for her.
KEILAR: But despite a victory in the Hoosier State, Sanders path to the nomination is seen as impossible. Clinton has turned her attention to Trump. She beats him in the national - polls 54 to 41 percent, but Trump bests her on handling of the economy as he eyes the industrial Midwest where Clinton could pay dearly to this comment at a March town hall.
CLINTON: We are going to pull a lot of coal miners and coal companies out of business.
KEILAR: Clinton has since said she misspoke.
CLINTON: I've been very clear we've got to make a transition to clean renewable energy, I've always been clear for this whole campaign that we can't do it in a way that totally leaves behind people who dug out the coal to turn on the lights and to power our factories.
KEILAR: But Trump is insisting he will make sure the comments stick.
TRUMP: I watched her three or four weeks ago when she was talking about the miners as if they were just numbers and she was talking about she wants the mines closed.
KEILAR: And just to show you the kind of cleanup duty that Clinton is on for that remark, she was in Ohio yesterday and she said she was there to explain that she made a mistake, this is a big issue and very key states like Ohio and also Pennsylvania and other areas.
TAPPER: You heard Trump jumping on it immediately.
KEILAR: And he will continue to.
TAPPER: Indeed. Brianna Keilar, thank you so much.
Let's bring back our political panel now. Senior editor of "The Weekly Standard", Bill Kristol, and CNN political commentator Van Jones.
Van, let's take a look at in you video, brand new, just put out by Hillary Clinton's campaign.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I am a unifier. We're going to be a unified party.
SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R), FLORIDA: He is a con artist.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A phony.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Donald Trump is the know nothing candidate. SEN. TED CRUZ (R), TEXAS: Donald is a bully.
MITT ROMNEY (R), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This is an individual who mocked a disabled reporter.
TRUMP: I don't remember.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: It goes on and on from there.
VAN JONES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think it's going to be good for the base to feel like, hey, there is a real problem here, but the Clintons -- Hillary Clinton is making a decision right now, she's deciding that she wants to be steady and show him as unsteady.
Now, the danger of that is that sometimes steady seems stale, seems status quo, seems not exciting and she's making a bet had a maybe not right now, maybe not in a week but by the time you get to November and voters have to make that sober decision in that booth that they are actually going to bet on steady not unsteady. But if she's wrong, she could be playing right in his hands.
TAPPER: Let's go back to talking about the piece that Brianna just did. Donald Trump is clearly going to be running to the left of Hillary Clinton on some issues, with he see it with trade. I think it's inescapable that foreign policy as well.
What will conservatives -- what will you -- I mean, I know you're not going to vote for either one of them, but does that put you in something of a pickle where you agree with Hillary Clinton more on some issues than with Donald Trump?
BILL KRISTOL, THE WEEKLY STANDARD: But you have to call it as you see it. But I think it would be nice to have an articulate conservative, maybe someone younger than Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump who are, what, 68, 69 years old making the case for conservative policies and making the case that, you know, conservatives served this country well, made some mistakes obviously, but basically the conservative understanding of economics and foreign policy, of the Constitution is important.
We are not going to have a much -- you know, when Trump debates Hillary, we're not going to have anyone making the case for the Constitution or limited government. I would like a third person on that stage making the case for what American conservatives have stood for for many years and need to stand for in the future, and need to think through at a future-oriented way that can't just be recycling stuff from Reagan or the past. But again, that's something a younger conservative could do if you get on the stage with Clinton and Trump.
TAPPER: The wishes and dreams of Bill Kristol.
KRISTOL: Exactly. TAPPER: Van, you sound a little concerned that Hillary Clinton is
taking the wrong approach, that she runs the risk of being stale. You think that she needs to take a page from Donald Trump's book by being more spontaneous, letting her guard down more, speaking more off the cuff.
JONES: You know, when she does that, she's actually quite effective. I mean, I don't think she should be shoved into that, she does get beat up no matter what she does. When she's truly herself which is very, very wonky and, frankly, one of the most studious, hardworking -- there is not a policy that she hasn't -- you can double click and double click again and she is still as strong on any one policy as the experts in that field. That's who she authentically is. So, now, you have to be funny and inspirational and everything else. That's when --
TAPPER: Bill is not buying that.
KRISTOL: Funny is what the VP brings, the VP should be someone younger and here it is, it's obvious.
TAPPER: Van Jones.
JONES: You'll not take his advice on anything.
TAPPER: We've got six more months and this is a great team, we'll have you guys back. Thank you so much.
Bill Kristol, Van Jones, appreciate it.
So, what does a Clinton versus Trump general election matchup look like? We'll take a look at the electoral map, next.
And then, two stunning revelations about the death of Prince, who he was supposed to have an appointment with on the day that he died.
[16:27:29] TAPPER: And we're back with the politics lead.
With the Democratic primary math leaning towards Hillary Clinton and the Republican National Committee calling Trump its presumptive nominee, let's take a look at where this political war will be waged. Here is the 2012 electoral map. Will the 2016 battle look anything like it did four years ago?
I want to bring in CNN's John King at the magic wall.
John, show us the challenges ahead for both Clinton and Trump.
JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Jake, the 2016 path to 270, 270 electoral votes to win the White House, starts in both the Republican and Democratic campaigns by looking at 2012. President Obama wins with 332, Governor Romney with 206, a Democratic
landslide, Hillary Clinton says if I can protect this I'm the next president of the United States. Donald Trump says no, wait a minute, I'm going to sell my economic, my trade message, maybe a little immigration, I'm going to turn Pennsylvania.
He says, I know, no Republican can win the presidency without Ohio. I'm going to get it. Continue across the Rust Belt.
Trump thinks Reagan Democrats in the 1980s, Trump Democrats now. Trump thinks he can do this across the Rust Belt, he also thinks this, Florida, that's my second home state, they know me really certainly down there. I did really well in the Florida primary.
Donald Trump thinks he can change these four states and look what happens, if he can, no easy task, but if he can, he is the next president of the United States. Of course, in the Clinton campaign they say, sorry, Mr. Trump, Pennsylvania has not gone red since the late 1980s, we're going to get African-Americans in Philly, we're going to get all those suburban women around Philadelphia, we're going to keep enough of those blue collar workers and keep that right there.
Look what I did. If she wins Pennsylvania but loses, Florida, Ohio and 269 to 269. That s a reminder that by changing just a few states, this is how close of an election we could have. In this scenario, it gets thrown to the House, unlikely to happen but it's a reminder that team Clinton also has to look at the map and say what can we change, what if Donald Trump is successful in the states, what if Donald Trump could get a state like New Hampshire to flip over for him? And this scenario, he's president by changing just four states.
So, the Clinton campaign says what do we need just in case Trump is actually competitive here? Where do they look, Jake? Two early targets, Georgia and Arizona, both looked at by the Obama campaign in 2012, why does the Clinton campaign think we will look again, the Latino population in Arizona is growing. Sure, there are a lot of Trump supporters for his tough message, but the Clinton campaign thinks changing demographics could possibly switch Arizona.
Why Georgia? Let's assume never Trump conservatives stay home, a lot in the south, a state like Georgia, also a big African-American population. If she could turn that out, maybe with the president's help, the dream in the Clinton campaign is perhaps you could turn Georgia. In that scenario, Clinton wins.