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THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER
Political Panel Discusses State of the Presidential Race; Poll: Clinton, Trump Neck And Neck In Three Swing States; Rubio: Not Interested In Being Trump's VP. Aired 4:30-5p ET
Aired May 10, 2016 - 16:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANA NAVARRO, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: It's the same reason that so many other Republicans are wrestling with this.
I think Marco gave voice to how a lot of Republicans are feeling, coming to terms with a guy being your nominee, but not representing your values or your policy issues.
GLORIA BORGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Rubio -- Senator Rubio did what a lot of Republicans are doing, which is, he's saying I will endorse the nominee.
It's as if you can't get the words Donald Trump out of your mouth. You hear John McCain, I will endorse the nominee. Rubio said I took a pledge. I will endorse the nominee. I think Kelly Ayotte said the same thing. It's as if they can't bring them themselves...
VAN JONES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: But there's a reason for that.
TAPPER: Ayotte didn't even say that. She said she supported the nominee, but didn't endorse.
TAPPER: She had like a...
BORGER: But they don't say Donald Trump.
Throughout Paul Ryan's entire interview with you -- Anderson Cooper pointed this out the other night -- he never once said Donald Trump.
JONES: And the reason is very simple. You had me. I was right with you...
JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Until...
JONES: But my eyes were welling with tears. JEFFREY LORD, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: You Goldwater supporter,
JONES: And then -- and then you mentioned Lincoln.
And that's exactly the point. If you want to be able to build a team rivals, if you want to be able to reach out to people and make it possible for people to come to you, you can't be talking about body parts and little Rubio -- and so I think -- and little Marco.
And so I think that what you are seeing is the necessary, inevitable outcome of the way he has conducted himself inside his own party.
PAUL BEGALA, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I'm slightly a different place.
I don't think it's about hurt feelings. I think Marco Rubio is a very smart man. And I think he still believes Trump will lose. In February, he said this: "I'm telling you, if we nominate Donald Trump, we will lose this election to Hillary Clinton."
I think he wants to be a loyal soldier to his party. He's been loyal to his party. But I think he believes his party is going to lose.
TAPPER: And, David, let me ask you, because I quoted this -- the most damning thing that Marco Rubio said about Donald Trump during the primaries, not including the thing about the hands, was that you can't -- that he didn't trust having the nuclear codes in the hands of somebody that was an erratic con man.
DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Right.
TAPPER: I brought that up two or three times, and every time, he said he stands by everything that he said during the campaign.
GERGEN: He stands by everything he said, but he also said that there is the possibility for growth. He was kinder and more respectful about him on the foreign policy than I expected.
TAPPER: On policy, but not necessarily on temperament, I thought, John.
GERGEN: I think that's right.
KING: I thought that was a classic eat your peas moment there in the sense that you are right, he's a loyal Republican and he signed a pledge.
And essentially he's saying, my word is good, not that Donald Trump is good, not that I'm happy about this, but my word is good. Yes, so, I'm going to do this. And I also think it's -- look, it's personal. He just ran a race for president.
Nobody -- everybody who ran against Trump is surprised by this, but I think they also -- Jake, the part they can't figure out, is the Republican Party changing under them? If they stay Republicans for the next five or 10 years, is this the new Republican Party or is this a temporary takeover by Donald Trump and if he loses in November, then they can go back to being the way they are?
And they can't figure out, if you cast your lot with Trump and then he loses in a blowout, and the Republican -- and Paul Ryan says let's go back to being who we before Donald Trump came along, where are you? You get lost.
TAPPER: And, by the way, he didn't disagree when I pointed out that his foreign policy principles are much closer to Hillary Clinton's than they are to Donald Trump.
Just -- we're going to roll a little tape of Marco Rubio talking about foreign policy, and then I'm going to come back and get your guys' response.
Let's roll that tape.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R), FLORIDA: I believe he could, obviously, with the right people around him, can make the right decisions with regards to that.
Obviously, look, in fairness -- and, obviously, as I have stated my differences with him, but, in fairness, he hasn't held public office before. Some of these issues are issues he's learning about for the first time. And my sense is that, as he learns more about them, the way a nominee should and a president will, he will have more information upon which to make decisions on these issues.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: Nia, I thought that was fairly generous as these things go.
NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that is a learning curve and that Donald Trump can start to expand his circle of advisers, and even -- maybe even shift some of his policy views.
We have seen some of that over these last couple of days. I think there all hurdles still. If you think about what he said about a temporary ban on Muslims, Mexico paying for a wall, things like that, I do think if you listen to a lot of these Republicans who are just like viscerally opposed to Donald Trump, for those, a kind of Etch A Sketch moment for Donald Trump is going to be hard to come by, because they talk about character, they talk about values.
They call him names. If you look at what Lindsey Graham, for instance, has said, he sort of made him seem like he was this kooky guy who believed in conspiracy theories. So I think on that end, it is going to be very hard.
But these poll today out of these swing states suggest that maybe it won't be a blowout and that in some ways maybe Donald Trump isn't more of a standard issue Republican candidate than was thought previously.
GERGEN: I think we cannot underestimate how, at bottom, these guys are trying to figure out their own futures.
And their ambivalence reflects they're not sure which way this is going to go. And every one of them thinks they came out of a race they should have won and they should be the next president, and they don't mind seeing Donald Trump go down, as long as they can be the next nominee.
BORGER: And I thought he was trying to be magnanimous, but in a way couldn't help but being a little bit dismissive of Donald Trump, because he still can't believe he lost to this guy, right?
GERGEN: Yes. Right.
BORGER: And -- as you were saying. And he said with threat right people around him, he will learn, right?
And that's kind of not what you normally say about your party's nominee.
NAVARRO: ... never being in elected office before. It's a huge...
TAPPER: Let's give Jeffrey the last word.
LORD: One of the things I have learned that Marco Rubio has done in the very recent past is give an interview to Mark Levin, who was supporting Cruz.
What that says to me is, when you're sitting down to talk to Mark Levin, who has been critical of him, Gang of Eight and that sort of thing, you're looking to the future of getting re-plugged in to the conservative movement.
TAPPER: No doubt. And we have a lot more to discuss. Stay with us.
Next, more on those swing state polls showing Trump and Clinton neck and neck, what women voters in those states think about the Republican front-runner. And just when it seemed the Clinton e-mail search was winding down, the State Department says it can't find any e-mails from her former top I.T. staffer. What happened to them?
Back after this.
TAPPER: Welcome back.
All eyes on West Virginia today. Hillary Clinton racked up a 41-point victory in the state years -- eight years ago, but now she is the underdog in coal country. Despite that, she is still far ahead in the overall delegate count.
Even the vice president officially acknowledging it today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOSEPH BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I feel confident that Hillary will be the nominee and I feel confident she will be the next president.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: Jeff Zeleny is in Louisville, Kentucky, where Clinton is campaigning.
Jeff, Clinton is trying to really look past West Virginia and almost just look at the general reaction.
JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: She is, Jake. She is looking ahead to the general election.
She's already engaging Donald Trump. Donald Trump is certainly engaging her on things. But it's nights like this that remind you that the Democratic primary is mathematically not over. Yes, she has a sizable lead that is nearly impossible for Bernie Sanders to catch up with her.
But she's still about 600 delegates short of the magic number of 2,383. The Clinton campaign is expecting a loss tonight in West Virginia. Those comments she made about sort of ending coal miners in coal country certainly controversial.
She's campaigning here in Kentucky, which votes next week. But, Jake, there is still a full month left of contests here. She still needs to win more delegates, which she will, but she's closing this race like Barack Obama did eight years ago. He lost all those final contests, as you well remember. And it looks like she may do the same tonight.
But since Democrats split their delegates, Jake, it really doesn't matter. She marches forward and keeps her eye on Donald Trump -- Jake. TAPPER: Interesting. Yes, that proportional allocation.
Now let's go to Brianna Keilar, who is the Sanders campaign today.
Brianna, good to see you.
Sanders hoping for a big West Virginia win. Sounds like the Clintons expect that as well. What are you hearing from the Sanders campaign about tonight?
BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, certainly, Jake, the Sanders campaign is expecting a win in West Virginia tonight and they also feel really good about Oregon, which is why he's speaking here tonight, where voters will be going to the polls in a week.
And despite the fact that Sanders is actually outperforming Clinton against Donald Trump in some key states, Pennsylvania, Florida and Ohio in the latest Quinnipiac University poll, this is a poll, I should mention, that Bernie Sanders has been touting here in the last day or so.
Despite that, as Jeff mentioned, there are only 29 delegates at stake this West Virginia tonight, proportionally allocated. So, it would be difficult obviously for Bernie Sanders to make up any ground tonight, despite an expected win.
You wouldn't necessarily know talking to him or listening to him, because he has been emphasizing not only how he can move forward to Philadelphia, but he also even hit Hillary Clinton yet again on her paid speeches from Wall Street and it's something that his followers really want to hear.
We are several hours before his event, Jake, and there is already a line of hundreds of people here in Salem, Oregon, waiting to hear him speak.
TAPPER: All right, hundreds of people feeling the Bern out in Oregon. Brianna Keilar, thanks so much.
My panel back with me.
I should mention that Paul Begala is a senior adviser to a pro-Hillary Clinton super PAC.
But, Paul, let me start with the polls that Brianna just laid out. And it's not different from the polls we have seen seeing for months and months.
TAPPER: That Bernie Sanders does better against Donald Trump or any Republican back in the past than Hillary Clinton does in these hypothetical head-to-head matchups.
And Sanders this is his argument to superdelegates. Don't go with Clinton so fast. He would be a stronger Democratic nominee.
Why is that wrong?
BEGALA: Because superdelegates know better.
TAPPER: But what do they know better? The polls are what the polls are.
BEGALA: ... ballot. They're not going to endorse someone who they don't think can help them win, period.
All politics is personal. Right? The reason -- they're for Hillary. She is better on the issues, whatever. Politicians vote their own careers. OK? Their rear ends are on the line. They want Hillary leading the ticket.
And I don't think they're wrong. Of course I'm for Hillary and I'm helping a super PAC that supports her. But reason Bernie is ahead, first off, he's running a great campaign. He's doing well in the polls because he deserves to. The second reason is, he hasn't been attacked. Hillary has been. She's had withering attacks from Bernie, but also from Trump.
TAPPER: You mean relative. She's been attacked -- he's been attacked, just not the way that Hillary Clinton has.
BEGALA: Not the way Hillary has. That's right.
BEGALA: There has been an asymmetrical level of attack, which is fine with me. I don't -- our PAC hasn't spent a nickel attacking Bernie Sanders, nor will we. OK?
That's why Bernie now looks artificially high in the polls. But the people who do this for a living, who have the most at stake in this, they think Hillary is the one that they want to align with.
TAPPER: Van, is that fair?
JONES: Well, look, I think it's a logical argument.
On the other side, if you talk to the people from the Sanders camp, they feel that Hillary is a weakened candidate, not because of anything that Bernie Sanders said, just because she is so establishment in such an anti-establishment year.
And they are saying listen, we know that there is a wave building for real change, we don't believe that they can surf that wave. We think she will get knocked over by that wave. We think Bernie is better suited. And so this debate that's happening inside the Democratic Party -- you're right. Most of the superdelegates are with you on that and they could make their argument.
It is true Bernie has never been blistered the way Hillary Clinton has, but there is a point to be made about such an establishment figure in an anti-establishment year.
TAPPER: Gloria, what are your Democratic sources tell you about how concerned they maybe about this FBI investigation into her e-mail server. The latest reporting from CNN is that those close to the investigation say that they don't likely think that there will be anything to prosecute her on.
There will not be an indictment, no willful disobedience of the law. But there are Democrats who are still very, very worried and will not stop being worried. I know that they are professionally worriers, but worried about what might happen.
GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: David Plouffe used to call it the bedwetters. Of course, they are worried because anything can happen in presidential campaigns. We all know that. They however believe that the e-mail situation will be set aside.
They understand that Donald Trump will be raising it time and time again. They understand that it's a campaign issue. I think that they're more worried actually about younger voters and about Bernie Sanders and getting his voters to be on board with Hillary Clinton.
And getting those suburban married women to vote for Hillary Clinton, which is a real problem if you look at all of these polls that we have been looking at that's a problem for Hillary.
Younger voters is a problem for Hillary. And if you look at these three statewide polls, these suburban women are an issue, and so I think they're worried about that. They have to get their own base together.
They tend to be dismissive at this point of the e-mail issue. I don't know if that's smarter or not so smart. But I think they're more worried out Bernie Sanders and whether --
TAPPER: Everybody stay where they are. We have to take a quick break. We'll be right back. We'll talk to everybody. We are awaiting the first exit poll results any minute now after this quick break. Stay with us.
TAPPER: We're back with my panel. Just moments ago, I spoke exclusively with Senator Marco Rubio, his first national TV interview since leaving the presidential race. Take a listen to what he had to say about the prospect of being the vice presidential candidate along with Donald Trump. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SENATOR MARCO RUBIO (R), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, it would be impossible because I don't really have very many advisers around. Our campaign is no longer running and unless they have been talking to my wife, which is my critical adviser.
Like I said yesterday, I think Donald -- he's the presumptive nominee at this point, but he would be best served by having someone, not just by the way a vice presidential nominee, but active surrogates who agree with him on these issues.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: It would be better to have a vice presidential nominee who agrees with him on issues, probably a fair assessment, Mr. King. But really what he's saying there is I don't agree with Donald Trump on issues so I don't want to be his vice president.
JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Right. If you're Donald Trump's vice presidential nominee and you're Marco Rubio and you're in Ohio and doing an event, they will ask you about the debate about hands. They will ask you about your criticism of his foreign policy.
They will recycle everything you said in every debate. And Marco Rubio is right about that. Unless you somehow find a way to pull a rabbit out of a hat and make it all go away, which the criticism from Rubio was so specific, so repetitive on so many issues, pretty hard to square that --
DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: I have the sense that the public has had so much of all of these guys that no one will help him very much anyone that has been in the race so far, that he might be much better served going outside.
When Senator Corker's name surfaced, you had to say that is an interesting thought, somebody fresh. I just think that we've seen so much of him and the guy have all been beaten down. It's going to be hard for him to sort of get a lot of pop from any of these.
NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER: I think if Trump is listening to that interview from Marco Rubio, one of the things that he can take solace in is the fact that he won't go away for the next six months badmouthing him.
Even though he was obviously sort of grudgingly saying that he said support him, he never said that he would vote for him, which is sort of a difference there. So, yes, I think he can take some solace --
KING: Not that Florida would come one or two or 537 votes.
HENDERSON: And I think Rubio looks for the down ballot races to help out people like --
TAPPER: That's what he said he was going to do. Gloria, one of the problems that some Republicans are facing is they think Trump is going to lose and he could win, I'm not saying that I agree, but they didn't want to be blamed for it.
That's the other thing. They don't want the November 10th blame coming their way. You didn't support him enough so that's on the dilemma that they're facing in addition to being uneasy about him is they also don't want to be blamed for a loss if that happened.
BORGER: They don't want to be blamed for a loss, but if he does lose, they want to rise up out of the ashes and be the ones that are the newly reconstituted Republican Party. I'm not sure whose point it was, but it was a good point that they're not sure whether this is just a hostile takeover for a short time or whether this is a long term issue.
Can I just say one thing on the vice presidential thing? I think one of the reasons voters hate politicians as much as they do is because they seem to say one thing and then turn around and say, by the way, I'm going to run with that guy even though I disagree with him on everything.
[16:55:02]And those were just words we said to each other during the campaign. What you're seeing here is kind of interesting to me because it's candidate after candidate who ran during the campaign saying I'm not going to do that this time.
TAPPER: Coming up next, the first exit polls just minutes away. Stay with us. We'll be right back.
TAPPER: That's the show. Thanks for joining us. That's it for THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper. I'll be back at 7:00 p.m. Eastern for more of our special coverage of this evening's primaries. Right now, I'm turning you over to Wolf Blitzer and Anderson Cooper in "THE SITUATION ROOM."
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now, primary positioning. Voting in two states, exit polling just coming in to THE SITUATION ROOM. One defeated Republican hinting he might get back in --