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ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT

Trump is Last GOP Candidate Standing as Kasich Quits; Sanders Battles on as Clinton Pivots to Trump; Trump Campaign Ramping Up Search for VP; Interview with Florida Governor Rick Scott. Aired 7-8p ET

Aired May 4, 2016 - 19:00   ET

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


[19:00:11] ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: OUTFRONT next, breaking news, Donald Trump the last man standing. John Kasich officially dropping out hours ago. Who is the presumptive nominee vetting for VP?

Plus, Hillary Clinton's new word for Donald Trump, how worried is she about a faceoff with him. And the story about Ted Cruz's spectacular rise and fall. We have new details breaking this hour about his decision to drop out of the race. Let's go OUTFRONT.

And good evening, I'm Erin Burnett. OUTFRONT tonight, the breaking news. Donald Trump standing alone. John Kasich officially dropping out of the Republican race for president this evening. Donald Trump is now the GOP presumptive nominee for the president of the United States. The billionaire businessman toppling 16 opponents after he was dismissed by almost every politician and political expert. In fact, he is the only nominee to have never held elected office since Five Star General Dwight Eisenhower back in 1952. Trump declaring the general election starts today, going straight for Hillary Clinton.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: 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 get the ball over the line. I put it away. She can't put it away.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: Some prominent Republicans, though, still resisting Trump to the death, even threatening to back Hillary Clinton instead. The Clinton campaign today actually releasing a list of conservative Republicans who say they will never vote for Trump, including some top aides to former nominees John McCain and Mitt Romney. And a Never Trump backer tells CNN he is racing against time to field a third- party candidate that could deny Trump the White House.

And we begin with Jim Acosta who is covering the Trump campaign. And Jim, today it is official and really no one expected that this would happen today, like it did. Donald Trump now the last one alive. He is going to be the nominee. How is the campaign adapting its strategy?

JIM ACOSTA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Erin, with Ted Cruz and now John Kasich out of the race, Trump's 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. But some of those names, Erin, are also disappearing.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ACOSTA (voice-over): Donald Trump is the last man standing.

TRUMP: 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.

GOV. JOHN KASICH (R), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: As I suspend my campaign today, I have renewed faith, deeper faith, that the lord will show me, the way forward and fulfill the purpose of my life.

ACOSTA: The sudden departures of Kasich and Ted Cruz --

CRUZ: We gave it everything we've 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 out of the "National Enquirer" Trump still not offering an apology.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You don't believe that --

TRUMP: Of course I don't believe it. I wouldn't believe it but I did say, let people read it.

ACOSTA: A key Trump advisor conceded Cruz will likely need some space before he speaks with a real estate tycoon.

BARRY BENNETT, SENIOR POLITICAL ADVISER, DONALD TRUMP CAMPAIGN: Certainly not going to be today. But, you know, we've 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 source 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.

The all three potential running mates mentioned, Martinez, Portman and Haley, say they're not interested. But the South Carolina Governor adding in a statement, my plate is full. Still, Trump wants to pick a politician, telling CNN's Wolf Blitzer, Kasich is also on his list. TRUMP: I would be interested in vetting John. I like John. I've had

a good relationship with John. I've gotten along with him well.

ACOSTA: Trump is boldly predicting he will beat Hillary Clinton in traditionally Democratic strong holds, like New York. But he won't have the support of the anti-Trump New York daily news, which welcomed his victory with a 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, I think something different and something new is probably good for our party.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

[19:05:00] ACOSTA: Now Trump is still planning to campaign in the states that are holding primaries in the coming weeks to turn his attention to Hillary Clinton. And, Erin, I asked one Trump campaign source why would they continue to campaign out there when they have the GOP nomination basically, wrapped up. And the source said to me, well, they like the free air-time, in the words of this source, why would we pay for it -- Erin.

BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much. And now, let's go to Columbus, Ohio.

Phil Mattingly is there. He was at the Kasich announcement. And a couple crucial questions for you, Phil. First of all, if Kasich is going to get behind Trump? You hear Trump saying he likes him, of course fits every single checklist that Trump has put out for a possible VP candidate. But would Kasich support Trump?

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It will take a shift, Erin. If you have watched over the last three or four weeks, Kasich has become sharply critical the campaign Donald Trump ran and disputed any reports that he would ever be considering a vice presidential nod. One thing to note, tonight during his remarks, he deliberately did not take questions after his speech. The reason why, he didn't want to turn into a Q&A about Trump. He still has some serious sore feelings about the campaign that Trump ran. The campaign that he was not in the end able to win -- Erin.

BURNETT: All right. And you're also hearing tonight, I know, Phil, about some so-called Never Trump Republicans who are racing against time, trying to put a third party candidate up for consideration, who, of course, would hopefully in their view take just enough from Trump to deny him the White House.

MATTINGLY: Yes, that's right, Erin. Over the course of the last 18 hours, you have seen the Never Trump movement really split into two camps. Republicans willing to say, I'm with her. I will vote for Hillary Clinton. But more who are trying to figure out another pathway. Obviously, John Kasich, Ted Cruz out of the race. But Eric Erickson, a prominent conservative voice, a member of the Never Trump movement, confirming that they are trying to figure out a pathway to a third party candidate. What it would mean, the legal ramifications of it, how you could actually get it done, all of these are in discussions amongst a group of conservatives right now, prominent conservatives, I'm told. That would be a focus going forward.

The key issue, though, Erin, time is of the essence. And who they would actually get would be a key component of that. It would not be a third party candidate that could necessarily win. It would be somebody who could rob Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump of reaching that 270 electoral votes they would need to win the nomination. A lot would go into that, as I noted. Legal ramifications, who the person would actually be. So no shortage of issues that they have to deal with. But the one thing to keep in mind here is not everybody from the Never Trump movement is shooting over to Hillary Clinton. They are still trying to figure out some third option right now -- Erin.

BURNETT: Right. Of course, questions will be -- could that be someone like a Ted Cruz. All right. Thank you very much, Phil Mattingly.

And OUTFRONT now, Kevin Madden who served as press secretary to Mitt Romney in his 2012 presidential bid. Kellyanne Conway president of a pro-Cruz Super PAC. Trump supporter Jeffrey Lord who served as political director for President Ronald Reagan. And on the other side, political commentator Angela Rye, national political reporter here at CNN, Maeve Reston. And our executive editor of Politics Mark Preston.

Kevin, let me start with you though. Donald Trump now, that's it, he is a presumptive nominee for your party for the GOP. Reince Priebus, the chairman of your party is urging unity, he is saying his hash tag on twitter is Never Clinton. Do you buy in? Is there anything that gets Kevin Madden on board?

KEVIN MADDEN, FORMER PRESS SECRETARY FOR MITT ROMNEY: Urging unity is the job of the chairman. I think achieving unity is going to be very, very difficult right now. I think there are a lot of raw exposed nerves inside the party. And it's -- definitely going to be an uphill climb. I think many committed principled Republicans and conservatives believe that Donald Trump has to earn their vote. And to this point, because of, you know, his departure on many issues or because of how he conducted himself, that he hasn't. So they are going to -- you know, continue to use elements of this -- of the party just not support him and not show up in November.

BURNETT: Right. But in your phrasing, you're saying, I mean, the question for you, could he earn your vote? Is there anything, obviously got to this point, he has not.

MADDEN: Yes.

BURNETT: Is there anything that could get someone like you -- backer of Mitt Romney on board?

MADDEN: I don't think so. And I think other Republicans would, you know, we have a test of a potential president of character, that Donald Trump has failed it so badly, that he could never really earn their support. Now here's the thing. I think that if you look at the polls, it's probably around 25 percent of the electorate inside the Republican Party say they won't support Donald Trump. I expect that that is ambitious at this point. And that Donald Trump may get that number down to a point where he's much more competitive.

BURNETT: Right. Well, that's actually very similar to the Democratic side.

MADDEN: And then I would be essentially minority inside my party.

BURNETT: OK. So Kellyanne, let me ask you. Because a lot of those people that you're talking about, Kevin, are Ted Cruz supporters, they need to get on board. You were head of the Ted Cruz Super PAC. Last night, Trump had some nice things to say about Ted Cruz for a change of pace. Here he is.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: Ted Cruz, I don't know if he likes me or if he doesn't like me. But he is one hell of a competitor. He is a tough, smart guy. And he has got an amazing future.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: All right. He said that last night. Kellyanne. And then today he tweeted a link to a graphic, which was a poll from West Virginia in which he listed how everybody was ranking, even though they were already out. Donald Trump, 61, lying Ted, 22. As a Cruz supporter, are you going to back Donald Trump?

[19:10:10] KELLYANNE CONWAY, PRESIDENT, KEEP THE PROMISE, A PRO-CRUZ SUPER PAC: I will back Trump, because I am part of this Stop Hillary, Never Hillary. Not because I don't like her, because I don't really understand her. I don't think that she has the vision and the position on issues that our country needs now to become more peaceful and more prosperous. And, you know, conservatives for a long time have had to swallow a lot of candidates up and down the ballot that we may not have preferred. Mainly because Erin that conservative candidates are usually the ones who don't have the high name ID and deep pockets and they usually completely thwarted by this nonsense of electability.

BURNETT: Well, you've got both of that now.

CONWAY: Who can win, who can't win. Well, I would note that the of two last candidates standing of a field of a very rich deep field of 17 candidates, rich meaning they were great quality, are the two outsiders. Are the ones who defied the whole nonsense of electability and replaced electability with electricity. But I will support the Republican nominee. I do totally agree with Kevin Madden and others who note that Donald Trump needs to go and earn. You know, say nice things about Ted Cruz last night. But on the same day right here on your network, on the same day, on the same morning, Mr. Trump felt that he had to insult Rafael Cruz, a pastor and father who is not --

BURNETT: And we're going to talk more about that in a moment.

CONWAY: So, lots of that because I don't want to lose to Hillary Clinton.

BURNETT: So Jeff, I mean, you know, you have a lot of Republicans -- look, let's just be honest. A lot. Almost all. You were the only guy. You all know, last summer who was the guy you would see on TV defending Donald Trump. Okay? Okay? It's this guy.

MARK PRESTON, CNN POLITICS EXECUTIVE EDITOR: It's very wet over there, because there's a tarring (ph) between those Cruz-Trump people right there. You've got some --

(LAUGHTER)

BURNETT: Yes, he's still a little bit of an iceberg. But in all honesty, today, I mean, how do you feel? You're a guy who people would look at and go there's that Jeffrey Lord again, defending Donald Trump. And now you have been proven right. He is now the nominee.

JEFFREY LORD, DONALD TRUMP SUPPORTER: Exactly. Quietly exuberant.

BURNETT: Quietly exuberant.

LORD: Befitting my New England heritage and Pennsylvania modesty. Yes, I mean, I just felt from the get-go that Donald Trump was matching in my personal conversations with him was mentioned what I would hear at home in Pennsylvania from regular folks. And this happened a lot. And at some point, you begin to think, you know, if a cultural superstar for decades who is very outspoken, politically connects with this, explosion happens.

BURNETT: So the next step to get there, of course, is money. And he has said now definitively, he's going to raise money for the general election. He's not going to self-fund. You've been talking to donors. Are they going to come around and give him money?

MAEVE RESTON, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER: I think that's the really fascinating question here. I mean, a lot of the people that I was talking to today said that there going to be a lot more focused on the down ballot races and helping Republicans who are having tough races getting --

BURNETT: Senate, Congress. Yes.

RESTON: Right. And really, also trying to help them navigate how to deal with Donald Trump. Whether they actually go so far as to say they support him, or whether they just say, I don't support Hillary Clinton. And I think that's the big test coming up. And of course, you have Bush 41, Bush 43 both saying they will not endorse, not playing any role in this election. They have endorsed before. Generally been very quiet and not played big role but have endorsed. So, that's a statement tonight.

All right. Thanks to all. You'll going to be with me through the hour. Next, Hillary Clinton with a new way of describing Donald Trump. Here she is.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) HILLARY 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)

BURNETT: She said that several times. So is she nervous about facing Donald Trump?

Plus, Donald Trump, wait until you heard what he said today about Ted Cruz's father. You just heard him brought up. And the Kennedy assassination.

And the dramatic fall of Ted Cruz. New details tonight behind his decision to drop out of the race for the first time. You're going to hear this OUTFRONT, exclusive reporting from our Sunlen Serfaty who's been on the trail with him for a year. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[19:17:08] BURNETT: It's a whole new presidential race tonight after toppling 16 rivals, Donald Trump has a Republican field all to himself. But for its likely opponent, Hillary Clinton, it is still a two-front war. Bernie Sanders, with a big win, now taking his campaign to Kentucky tonight after that Indiana victory.

Jeff Zeleny is OUTFRONT.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

HILLARY: I don't think we can take a risk on a loose cannon like Donald Trump running our country.

JEFF ZELENY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Tonight, Hillary Clinton is sharpening her battle plan for Donald Trump and zeroing in on two words to describe him.

CLINTON: He is a loose cannon. He is a loose cannon and loose cannons tend to misfire.

ZELENY: She told Anderson Cooper she wouldn't be intimidated by Trump.

CLINTON: Oh, please. I mean, look, this is to me a classic case of a blustering, bullying guy who -- who has knocked out of the way all of the Republicans, because they were just dumbfounded.

ZELENY: The race hasn't officially started. She is still contending with Bernie Sanders. But the campaign is suddenly making a sharp turn to the general election.

She starts with considerable advantages leading Trump by 13 points in a new CNN ORC poll. She has the edge on a host of issues, including immigration and foreign policy. On the economy, Trump has the upper hand. And that's the issue nine out of 10 voters say is the most important.

CLINTON: Whoa!

ZELENY: But for now, she is still keeping one eye on Sanders.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (D-VT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Thank you!

ZELENY: Who is vowing to stay in the race after winning the Indiana primary Tuesday.

SANDERS: I understand that Secretary Clinton thinks that this campaign is over. I've got some bad news for her.

ZELENY: But there is bad news for Sanders, too. He is short on time, and delegates. His uphill climb has become an all but impossible task. That doesn't mean his supporters will fall easily into line.

(on camera): If Hillary Clinton wins -- becomes the Democratic nominee, can you support her?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Absolutely not. Absolutely not.

ZELENY: Why not?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't trust her. It's everything from Benghazi to Iraq to who she accepts money from. I would rather four years of Trump than four to eight years of Clinton, period.

ZELENY: Sanders says he would not.

SANDERS: I know that all over this country there is a fear that Donald Trump will be elected president of the United States.

(CROWD BOOING)

I am here to tell you that won't happen.

(CHEERS)

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ZELENY: As long as Sanders talks like that about stopping Trump, the Clinton campaign doesn't mind him staying in the race. It gives her more time to prepare for Trump and to keep making her case to fire up and hopefully unify those Democrats. But party leaders are watching his tone very carefully. And are far more likely to step in and admonish him if he sharpens his attacks on Clinton. That includes, Erin, President Obama, who is yet to formally weigh in on this Democratic race, but I'm told is prepared to if he believes Sanders is damaging Clinton for the general election.

BURNETT: Hmm. All right. Jeff, thank you very much.

And go right back to our panel now. Donald Trump Mark, says, he is even surprised but how this has turned out which is fair to say. He is very surprised. I just want to play this soundbite again where he said, you know, I just didn't think it would happen this way. Here he is. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: 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 get the ball over the line. I put it away. She can't put it away.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: Nobody expected this.

PRESTON: He put it away. I mean, let's be clear about that.

(LAUGHTER)

He put it away. You know, it was this epic -- hindsight being what it was, right? Let's just go back to yesterday where you have this epic emotional melt down at 10:30 in the morning, by Ted Cruz --

BURNETT: Right.

PRESTON: -- who criticizes Donald Trump on everything. Every word he possibly could use, he threw at Donald Trump. Ten hours later, hey says he's out of the race. Now, this is the same guy who has taken on the Washington establishment and really has not backed down from anybody. But talk about what the toll has done to Ted Cruz. That he actually felt that enough was enough and I had to get out.

BURNETT: I mean, it's unbelievable, ten hours later. Nobody expected this. I mean, we're sitting here talking about the rules committee, the week before Cleveland and how it was going to come down to this. I mean, Hillary Clinton's message on Donald Trump. You heard her say loose cannon. She said that four times during the interview, right? She is clearly hoping this is going to work. This is going to be her moniker. Is this going to be the crooked Hillary of the other side?

RESTON: I think it really possibly could be. Because I mean, that was a lot of what many Republican voters were worried about. Was that they couldn't predict which Donald Trump they were going to see on a certain day. But, you know, it's so interesting in that interview today, she just seems so comfortable. On this new terrain. Where she could sort of fully take on Donald Trump, you know, he's obviously gone after her on the women's card, and is she's just very comfortable battling with him in that area.

[19:22:07] BURNETT: Angela, what do you think?

ANGELA RYE, FORMER EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, CONGRESSIONAL BLACK CAUCUS: A couple of things. One is, I don't think that loose cannon is going to stick. Why? Because Donald Trump supporters like him because he's a loose cannon.

BURNETT: Well, there is that.

RYE: We can ask Jeffrey, but I'm pretty sure that's why. So, the issue is someone acting as you would expect him to act is really an attack. She has to find something that highlights what's going on in his rallies, what is the kind of rhetoric that he's using that is causing people to act violently. What are the types of things that he's done in his different companies that are problematic and would be even more so if he was running the country. Those are the things that will stick. She may not have a one-word to describe him. You know, dangerous Donald, I don't know. But like loose cannon is not going to work.

BURNETT: So to your point, though, I mean, he is trailing badly in the polls. At this point. So Jeffrey, you've looked at these numbers. But, you know, considerable advantage for Hillary Clinton and almost every poll that we look at. Donald Trump by 13 points in our most recent one. So we look to see, has this happened before, and someone come from behind. It did. In 1988, around this time, Michael Dukakis was leading George H.W. Bush by 16 points.

LORD: Right.

BURNETT: That continued all the way through the summer. Seventeen points post the convention.

LORD: Right.

BURNETT: And obviously, there were a couple specific events but he ended up losing. Can Trump really come in this modern era from behind 13 points, that's just one poll, and win?

LORD: Yes. Yes, he can. And one of the things that's important to note about that 1980 campaign -- 1988 campaign is that my late friend, Lee Atwater who was running that campaign, Dukakis campaign was expected to be hit on economics and all of these sort of issues. Lee Atwater sent George H.W. Bush to a flag factory somewhere in America to see how flags were made, because flag-burning was -- they made flag-burning an issue.

BURNETT: Right.

LORD: They took George Bush and put him -- Dukakis was campaigning as the environmental candidate. They put George Bush on a boat and sailed him out into Boston harbor which was filthy to illustrate --

BURNETT: Right.

LORD: So in other words, it was asymmetric if he will and that's what essentially what Donald Trump is doing too.

BURNETT: He does run -- or whatever words would like to use --

MADDEN: Let me agree with Jeffrey here.

BURNETT: Yes.

MADDEN: I think he's right. You can very much close a poll.

BURNETT: So you think he can --

MADDEN: Sure. And Kellyanne will tell you, she's one of the best in the business here, than polls are essentially just a snapshot in time.

BURNETT: Right.

MADDEN: And to be able to close it in 13 over the next few months, absolutely. One of the very interesting things here, is that if you look at the contrast of the Dukakis campaign and to Bush, and to this particular match-up, is that Dukakis was the very cautious candidate, he was the one who is very calculating. He also didn't win -- when the -- when it really got tough, he shied away from a lot of the fighting. Donald Trump plays with a reckless abandon, and that I think helps campaigns that need to be on offense when those -- when those battles really get tough.

BURNETT: How concerned is the Clinton campaign about this, Angela?

RYE: Well, I think that they would be smart to be very concerned. One thing that I've said all throughout is that I don't know anyone who has predicted any of this right. So the campaign --

BURNETT: Except for maybe this guy.

RYE: Yes.

(LAUGHTER)

Jeffrey is OK, although I don't agree with why. But --

(LAUGHTER)

I think they are very smart to drilling down on what are the battleground states, where do we need to be? What is he doing? How do we fight back against him? It doesn't matter what the polls say right now. We saw her leading in Michigan.

BURNETT: Yes.

RYE: We saw her leading in Indiana. She lost both of those states. And that's not just on Hillary. That's polling. So you -- it depends who you ask. I've never been polled. I don't know how many of you have been polled. But that I mean it just really depend on --

MADDEN: To add 20-point leads before -- lost them.

RESTON: Absolutely. Well, actually 2008, when she did not become the president.

BURNETT: Right.

RESTON: I mean, you're against -- you've got the wild card Donald Trump against the non-resilient Hillary Clinton. She's -- she's got --

BURNETT: Incredibly resilient in some ways, because she keeps coming back and --

RESTON: She has. She should be ahead -- BURNETT: Yes.

RESTON: That he's going to fight in his rust belt states, where Republicans have struggled. And you know, what's he going to do out west? What's going to happen in Nevada and Colorado?

RYE: California.

BURNETT: Well, those are crucial questions. And to your point, that's what we're going to hear next. Because Donald Trump today talked about whether his run for president started out as a publicity stunt and also laid out exactly what states he's going to win to get to that crucial 270 electoral votes.

And my interview with the man who is being floated as a possible Trump vice presidential pick coming up later this hour. How he could be key to a Trump victory.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[19:30:22] BURNETT: And new tonight, Donald Trump's campaign ramping up its search for a running mate. Things have changed so dramatically in the past 24 hours.

We are learning the early favorites include the South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley, New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez, and Senator Rob Portman of Ohio. All three quickly put out statements saying they're not interested but that doesn't really mean that all of the time.

There are other names also out there, including, of course, the governor of Ohio, John Kasich, crucial swing state, who just a short time ago suspended his campaign and the governor of Florida, Rick Scott, who I'll speak to in just a moment.

Trump's campaign was caught off guard by Ted Cruz's sudden exit from the race just like everybody else. But just a short time ago, Wolf Blitzer sat down with Trump to talk about his victory and what he's looking for in a vice president.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Be honest with me. Did you ever think, almost a year ago, it was June, in this building, you were going down that escalator, that you would be the presumptive Republican presidential nominee?

TRUMP: Well, I hoped. I mean, look, I --

BLITZER: Did you really hope? Did you was that just --

TRUMP: Yes, I did. (AUDIO GAP) very capable people. I heard a lot of the pundits were saying this was the single greatest group of talents ever assembled for either party in terms of a group. It was also the largest group.

So I joined somewhat after I heard that statement. And I'm saying, what am I doing here? I mean, I'm hearing these people --

BLITZER: Did you really think you could win?

TRUMP: I guess. Otherwise I don't think I would have done it.

BLITZER: People thought you were doing it -- for some publicity, a win or whatever?

TRUMP: No, I don't need publicity. I mean, I gave up a lot to do it. I was asked to do the "The Apprentice" for two more years, I said I'm not going to do it. I gave up a tremendous amount.

And, you know, got a little bit controversial for a while. And I lost certain licenses, which is, you know, not the biggest deal of my life. But it's a -- Macy's didn't want to renew, because they thought I was a little bit controversial, which was I think a big mistake that they made, not very loyal.

But, you know, it's a costly thing, not just a cost of a campaign, which is, frankly less, it's the cost of what I do. What's worked out well -- I'm just happy with the way it worked out.

BLITZER: All right. Let's talk a little bit about what happened yesterday, with this "National Enquirer" story. I just want to clarify. You don't really believe that Ted Cruz's father had anything to do with the assassination of President Kennedy.

TRUMP: No, I don't.

BLITZER: Because this was the story that was --

(CROSSTALK)

BLITZER: -- in the "National Enquirer." Here's the question, you're the presumptive presidential nominee.

TRUMP: No, I wasn't. Not at the time.

BLITZER: Last week you thought you were.

TRUMP: But it was not announced until last night.

BLITZER: Don't you think you need a higher standard though than to get involved in this kind of stuff?

TRUMP: Wolf, here is what happened. Ted Cruz's father seems like a nice guy, I don't know him, but seems like a nice guy, he made horrible statements about me, you know, pray -- praying for bad things to happen to me. OK, essentially. I said that's horrible.

And I was on a show, one of your competitors, and they showed me the clip. I said, wow, that's horrible. It's not just a one-way street, you know, where I do something. It was a horrible statement. I was actually surprised by it. And during that and when I said how bad it was that a man would say something like that I said, well, why don't you read the various magazines because it's not only there, it was put in numerous where he has a picture of himself with Lee Harvey Oswald. I'm not saying they conspired.

BLITZER: It was on the Internet. But the "National Enquirer" put it on its cover

TRUMP: I'm just saying, it was all over the place. I said, well, why don't you talk about that. That was it. I'm not saying he did it but I'm just saying it was all over the place.

BLITZER: Now that you're the Republican presumptive nominee you have to have a higher standard than to repeat conspiratorial theories like that.

TRUMP: First, I wasn't at the time. I didn't know if I was going to win Indiana or not. It ended up being a landslide. It was a tremendous victory, much bigger than anybody anticipated, including myself. There are incredible people out there. I was This was in the morning. By the afternoon, it looked like I was going to win and later, it looked like I was going to win big.

So, I was not a presumptive winner at that time. I was going against them --

BLITZER: But bottom line, you don't believe in that conspiracy.

TRUMP: I don't, I don't. I didn't believe it, I just say, let people read it.

BLITZER: Give me the qualifications you're looking for for a vice presidential running mate.

TRUMP: You always have to say the same boring answer that probably everybody has given to you from day one. They have to be a great president, potentially have to be a great president. So that's always the number one --

BLITZER: That is the most important fact. You need somebody potentially -- God forbid --

TRUMP: That reason primarily. I would want somebody that would help me from a legislative standpoint, getting things passed through Senate, through Congress. And to me, that's why I think probably, in terms of vice president, I'm going to go the political route.

[19:35:03] I don't need the business route. I've got that covered.

BLITZER: Somebody who has been a governor or a senator?

TRUMP: Well, somebody -- maybe even a senator. I mean, I like that, because they are dealing -- look, we want to get legislation passed. We are at total gridlock in Washington. We can't even take the trillions of dollars we have overseas back to our countries.

BLITZER: I know you're not going to give me a name. But you're going to start vetting people pretty soon, right?

TRUMP: I'm starting to think about it very soon and we'll be vetting --

BLITZER: Do you think some of your former Republican presidential rivals will be on that vetting list?

TRUMP: Could be. Could be.

BLITZER: Even people who said nasty things about you?

TRUMP: Well, you know, I feel differently about that. When someone says nasty, I never like them quite the same. But I will tell you, you look at somebody, you know, you're going to set up a committee and I may put Ben Carson on the committee, I may put Chris Christie on the committee.

They came out early. They were very strong. They're very good people. Very good people.

BLITZER: These are people who would vet?

TRUMP: For vetting, yes. We're going to set up a committee in terms of vice president. We're going to set up a committee in terms of other positions also.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: All right. Bring back my panel.

You know, pretty interesting here, Mark. In terms of how he's looking at this --

PRESTON: What part of it was sting? Because I think it was all pretty interesting.

BURNETT: So many parts. On the vice presidential part, they said look, he's going to vet, for example, John Kasich as one of his rivals. Ordinarily, and Donald Trump said this last week I believe. People don't vote for the vice president. Ordinarily, they do not. But in this case, it could potentially help, bring people over who can't swallow Donald Trump and say, OK, but this person is more palatable. Does this make that pick that much more important?

PRESTON: No doubt. Susana Martinez's name has been floated. She says she's not interested. Rob Portman from Ohio. Nikki Haley from South Carolina said she's not interested.

So, not only does he have to find somebody, but he has to find somebody that's palatable to voters. And specifically, he is smart to say this -- he needs somebody to help legislate in Washington. If you look at the field of 16, including him, 17, John Kasich is a pretty good pick.

BURNETT: John Kasich certainly fits all of that. Although he said on this show, I had a greater chance of being the VP than he does. Which -- a good sound bite. But, Kevin Madden, these people that all say they're not interested. It doesn't mean they're not interested. PRESTON: No, in this case, I don't think it means they're not

interested. If you look at some of those names, they are the future of the party. They are seen as highly -- they may have their own presidential prospects one day. And I think many of them would worry and calculate if they were going to be on a ticket with Donald Trump, that that would end, because he's seen as so toxic by so many of the voters key to winning some presidential elections, in a general election. So -- and I think many of them also have a principled opposition to Donald Trump.

RESTON: Susana Martinez spoke out about Donald Trump's rhetoric, saying that, you know, as a Latina, she was offended by what he said about immigrants. It's very hard to imagine someone like that agreeing to join the ticket, no matter how much wooing happen

CONWAY: Sometimes you go inside to change it. You don't just bang at the glass and say I wish that weren't so. If you want to improve someone, you go on the inside and lift them up. I think the former speaker, Newt Gingrich, said it best recently. When you're called to serve at that level of government as vice president or chief of staff, it's very difficult to say no.

BURNETT: Right. You're being asked to serve your country, too, as opposed to just working with an individual.

All right. All staying with me. Next, the governor of a crucial swing state, intriguing name being floated for the Trump ticket. My interview with the Florida Governor Rick Scott is next.

And this moment caught on tape as Ted Cruz drops out of the race.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[19:42:33] BURNETT: Tonight, Donald Trump's campaign for the general election now in high gear. The presumptive nominee and his team picking -- plotting, of course, to rack up the 270 required electoral votes they must get to win in November. This is our first look at the battleground states in play.

We are doing this here. It is May, it is time, because of the nominee. One of the key states Trump must win is Florida, the biggest prize with 29 electoral votes.

Florida's governor, Rick Scott, is OUTFRONT with me tonight.

Governor, good to talk to you.

You have endorsed Donald Trump. The latest poll that we have out this morning, though, as you may have seen, shows 54 percent of registered voters right now back Hillary Clinton. Forty-one percent back Donald Trump, 13-point gap.

Your state, obviously, crucial. He's got to win it. What are you doing to help him?

GOV. RICK SCOTT (R), FLORIDA: Well, first, I predict Donald will have a big win both in Florida, and in the United States. Here's -- here's why. This election is about one thing. It's about jobs. Donald Trump is a businessperson. He is has created jobs, he's going to focus on building jobs. And he's running against a career politician that has never, ever created a job.

So, that's what this election is going to be about. It's no different than my election in 2010, where I focused on jobs and I won against a sitting attorney general and a sitting cfo $

BURNETT: So the question then to you, Governor, is if Donald Trump believes that having you as his vice president would help him win your state, and the presidency, because he's got to win Florida, would you turn him down?

SCOTT: Well, I would predict Donald is going to have a big win. I like my job. I worked hard to get this job. I'm going to stay in this job.

We have added 1 million jobs. I was just in California recruiting companies to come here, because California has these ridiculously high taxes and regulations.

But no, I'm going to stay in this job and finish this job. I've got two years and eight months to go. It will be nice to have somebody in the White House that cares about jobs, because under Barack Obama, I have no help with jobs.

BURNETT: So, you like your job. I know you're saying there's two more years left. But just to be clear, if he comes and calls you and says, Governor Scott, will you do it, you will tell him no?

SCOTT: I'm going to- I'm going to pass. I will do everything I can to make sure he wins. Both our state and if he wants any help nationwide, I'll do anything I can to make sure he wins. But I'm going to stay in this job and finish this job and have a good partner in the White House.

BURNETT: Yesterday, Donald Trump went on television, as you know, governor. And brought up a report from the "National Enquirer", that claims a man seen standing next to Lee Harvey Oswald is Ted Cruz's father.

[19:45:03] It was a rather strange moment. I'm sure you've seen it. Obviously, zero proof of this. Wolf Blitzer asked Donald Trump about it today.

Let me just play you this quick answer.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: You don't really believe that Ted Cruz --

TRUMP: I didn't say.

BLITZER: -- father had anything to do with the assassination of President Kennedy. TRUMP: No, I don't.

BLITZER: Because this was a story that was -- in the "National Enquirer."

TRUMP: I said, well, why don't --

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: Governor, do you have any reservations about the temperament the of a person who would go on person, talking about a hateful conspiracy theory about a competitor that he says he absolutely knows are not true?

SCOTT: Erin, you know, we're not going to agree on knowing -- I'm not going to agree with any candidate, all their issues or how they present the issue. But here's the way I look at it. We have a choice.

If we like the way -- if people like the way Washington is going, they should vote for Hillary Clinton. If you want to change, you get somebody to focus on jobs, then you should vote for Donald Trump.

BURNETT: All right. Well, Governor Scott, thank you very much, a big defender and early endorser for Donald Trump, the governor of Florida. Thank you very much, sir.

And next, Ted Cruz swore he was taking his fight to the convention. And everybody believed him, everybody. But then he did something stunning. And we have new details about exactly why from inside the Cruz camp, next.

(COMMERICAL BREAK)

BURNETT: New details tonight on the stunning downfall of Ted Cruz. Sources in the senator's inside circle tells CNN that Senator Cruz made that final decision to drop out of the race just hours before the announcement, really nobody saw this coming.

[19:50:00] Sunlen Serfaty has been covering the Cruz campaign from the start. Interviewed him time and time again and tonight, she has the inside story.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A dramatic fall for Ted Cruz from his landslide victory in April's Wisconsin primary.

SEN. TED CRUZ (R), TEXAS: Tonight is a turning point.

SERFATY: The end of his run for the presidency.

CRUZ: We are suspending our campaign.

SERFATY: That decision reached only hours before, after a series of internal debates within the campaign. Some aides arguing he should stay in. Others saying he should do what's unexpected and get out.

Cruz made the very personal decision himself with an eye focused on keeping his reputation intact for the future.

CRUZ: Together, we left it all on the field in Indiana. We gave it everything we've got.

SERFATY: With a zero for six record after Wisconsin, Cruz searched for a reset button.

CRUZ: The entire country is depending on the state of Indiana.

SERFATY: Cruz declared Indiana his firewall, and went all in, throwing a series of Hail Mary passes, striking an alliance with John Kasich.

CRUZ: We are focusing our energy on the state of Indiana, and Governor John Kasich is focusing his energies elsewhere.

SERFATY: An alliance that quickly dissolved, and taking the unusual step of naming a running mate before clinching the nomination, then rolling out the endorsement of Indiana Governor Mike Pence, whose praise of Trump --

GOV. MIKE PENCE (R), INDIANA: I particularly want to commend Donald Trump.

SERFATY: -- only underscored his flimsy embrace of Cruz.

Cruz also committing this foul when it came to basketball terminology.

CRUZ: That basketball ring here in Indiana is the same height as it is in New York City.

SERFATY: That slip of the tongue hurting Cruz with Hoosiers, who told us it spoke to his authenticity.

Cruz struggled to regain his momentum captured in the final days of the Indiana battle, facing off with a Trump supporter --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Once again, Lyin' Ted.

SERFATY: -- and sharpening his attacks at the GOP frontrunner as he confronted his impending fate.

CRUZ: This man is pathological liar. Donald Trump is a serial philanderer, describes his battles with venereal disease as his own personal Vietnam.

SERFATY: A fall from his VP pick going unnoticed, handing Donald Trump easy fodder.

TRUMP: He fell off the stage the other day, did anybody see that? Cruz didn't do anything.

SERFATY: His wife also fielding an accidental elbow to the face, moments after suffering his own fateful blow.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SERFATY: And in conversations with Cruz insiders in the last 24 hours, aides really kept constantly going back to the same message, that Senator Cruz is only 45 years old. And I got the sense that his age and his political future really was a key factor in deciding to drop out much earlier than expected, Erin. Of course, the message there being crystal clear, that this is not his last political act.

BURNETT: All right. Sunlen, thank you very much. Sunlen knows so much about Ted Cruz -- she talked to him so many times.

Kellyanne, though, it does speaks to at the end, he decided better to be gracious. Didn't want to try to go to that floor fight.

CONWAY: He was gracious in loss, I think that makes you a winner. Ronald Reagan lost, he lost first time he ran for governor in California, lost the first time he ran for president of the United States. I think winners are people who are willing to lose.

Speaking of Reagan, if Ted puts him in the cast of Reagan, many do, he can do what Reagan did in '78, '79, go out there, improve your chances. That was one of the best run campaigns in modern political history. And even people that say Ted Cruz isn't likeable, admit that.

But I want to say something else -- I think right now, tonight, Erin, there's nobody has done more to unify the party and avoid a contested convention than Ted Cruz. Give him credit for that.

(CROSSTALK)

BURNETT: Which is a major thing. Is that something Donald Trump will give him credit for?

JEFFREY LORD, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes, I think he probably will give him some credit for it. You know, I go back to the 1980 when George H.W. Bush was pushed by Jim Baker to get out. He just won the Pennsylvania and Michigan primary, and Baker said to him, that's still not an out. You need to get out if you want to have a future. He did and we all know that future was pretty spectacular.

Ted Cruz is young. I mean, he absolutely has a future in this party. Heavens, he is a freshman senator. He can stick around awhile and there's lots to do. He can become part of this, absolutely.

BURNETT: Well, now, he's got to go back and work with people that said the nastiest things about him, even with the standards of this election, so nasty.

Mark Preston, though, I guess the question is what about the VP stakes when it comes to Ted Cruz, which I know people will say, OK, on the face of it, that's ridiculous. But, Jeffrey was thinking, something to consider.

PRESTON: No way, no how.

(CROSSTALK)

BURNETT: -- too much nastiness.

[19:55:04] PRESTON: He -- Ted Cruz is interested in running himself again for president, that's why he got out last night. You know, he looks at Donald Trump as somebody who denied him the nomination.

He thinks that he should have gotten it. In fact, if you were to talk about this a year ago and look on paper who was going to win as the outsider, it wasn't going to be Donald Trump, it would be Ted Cruz. Quite frankly, if you look at who supported Donald Trump, evangelical voters --

MADDEN: And he had served as the character witness for Donald Trump early on in the campaign, then came off the witness stand, served as his toughest prosecutor, right? So, I think to go back again, serve as validator as vice presidential potential nominee, that would be very tough.

RESTON: Someone goes after your wife like that.

BURNETT: And when your moniker is Lyin' Ted, I don't know how that person can then say, but now he's honest.

RYE: I want to go back to the Rick Scott interview. I think this is interesting.

You spent some time talking about jobs and the fact that -- Jeffrey even -- Donald Trump as job creator. Clearly, that was the buzzword, and I don't know how many times Rick Scott said jobs, but it was a big thing. So, I think that's really interesting. I hope that he stops being dishonest about the state of the economy right now, though, 215,000 jobs last month, and 74 consecutive months of job growth in private sector is not bad.

BURNETT: All right. Thank you all very much.

That will be something Hillary Clinton will be using in the general.

We will be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BURNETT: Thank you so much for joining us. Anderson is next.