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Is Sanders A 'Zombie Candidate'?; Ryan 'Encouraged' By Trump; Taco Bowls On Capitol Hill; Trump And Ryan Meet, No Endorsement Yet; Electorate Pushing for Radical Change; Trump Meets House & Senate GOP Leaders. Should Sanders Stay in the Race? Aired 11p-12a ET

Aired May 12, 2016 - 23:00   ET


[22:59:55] DON LEMON, CNN HOST: What the butler said and a zombie running for president?

This is CNN TONIGHT. I'm Don Lemon.

Bernie Sanders says this about his campaign and his opponent.


SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (D-VT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I am not here to say that Hillary Clinton can't defeat Donald Trump. I absolutely believe that she can. But I believe quite honestly that Bernie Sanders is the stronger candidate.


LEMON: So here's the truth -- the truth is that the odds against Sanders are now pretty much insurmountable. So, has he turned into a zombie candidate whose campaign just damages Hillary Clinton?

Meanwhile, Donald Trump cleans house, disavowing his former long time butler after his shocking Facebook post saying, President Barack Obama quote, should have been taken out by our military and shot as an enemy agent in his first term. We're going to tell you what else the butler said in this broadcast. Let's begin with Donald Trump and House Speaker Paul Ryan meeting on Capitol Hill today. Joining me now, CNN's senior White House correspondent, Jim Acosta. Good evening, Jim. We're hearing the word unity a lot today, but no Paul Ryan endorsement yet, so what's the holdup here?

JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well Don, it's always a little hard to close the deal on the first date. The holdup is that Donald Trump still has to win over Paul Ryan if he wants the speaker's endorsement. Ryan said he liked Donald Trump's personality today but he wants to know his policies a little better and Trump and Ryan are as far apart as they can be as politicians on issues like social security and trade. Here's how Ryan put it earlier today. Here's what he had to say.


REP. PAUL RYAN (R-WI), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: I was very encouraged with what I heard from Donald Trump today. I do believe that we are now planting the seeds to get ourselves unified, to bridge the gaps and differences, and it's very important that we don't fake unifying, we don't pretend unification, that we truly and actually unify so that we are full strength in the fall. I don't want us to have a fake unification process here. I want to make sure that we really, truly understand each other and that we are committed to the conservative principles that make the Republican Party that built this country, and again, I'm very encouraged.


ACOSTA: Now, there were enough positive comments from Paul Ryan for Donald Trump and his team to feel very good about today, Don. Donald Trump posted a couple of tweets as you know. One of them, you can pull it up on screen, it said, great day in D.C. with Speaker Ryan and Republican leadership. Things working out really well. There was no -- it didn't end with, "Sad!", so that's progress. And when you talk to people inside the Trump campaign, they were not expecting Trump to land Ryan's endorsement today, but they do believe they will have it in time.

LEMON: Yes, we said that last night, that it's going to take more than just one 45-minute or hour meeting, and both men seemed to believe that today as well, right, Jim?

ACOSTA: That's right. They believe that, and I think this is going to happen in time. If you listen to everything that Paul Ryan had to say, he was all but moving in that direction of an endorsement. There's no timetable attached to it. Reince Priebus, the RNC chairman, came out of this meeting basically saying, listen, this was a good first step, this was a good first meeting, but these two leaders have to continue talking to one another and they're just not going to come out on the first date, to put it in that kind of frame of reference and announce some sort of coupling here. It's just not going to happen at that rate. But everything that was said today sounded like it's all trending in that direction, Don.

LEMON: So I thought we had put this behind us during Cinco de Mayo, but what's this I hear about taco bowls being delivered to Capitol Hill, Jim?

ACOSTA: Yes, we saw the return of the taco bowl today, Don. While Trump was trying to mend some fences with Republican leaders, Democrats were trying to exploit their differences. Immigration groups were delivering yes, taco bowls up on Capitol Hill today to poke fun from Donald Trump over that Cinco de Mayo tweet last week about his love of taco bowls and Hispanics, and then Senate Minority Leader, Harry Reid, took it one step further. He was on the Senate floor today saying that, Mitch McConnell, the Senate Majority Leader is endorsing Donald Trump. He must be endorsing Donald Trump's super heated rhetoric on immigration. So Don, you can see where this is heading in terms of Democrats and where they're going to be going with their talking points heading into the general election campaign. But keep in mind, even Texas Republican Senator, John Cornyn, was telling reporters after this meeting with Donald Trump that he confronted Trump over his comments on immigration, so -- and he was telling Donald Trump that you can say you're for strong borders without offending Latino voters, but by most accounts, Donald Trump was in listening mode today. There were no comments about little Marco or lying Ted. This was toned down Trump today on Capitol Hill.

LEMON: No, he didn't even go for the cameras or the microphones today, just tweeting out.

ACOSTA: Exactly. I mean, that is no small thing in Donald Trump's world, and I think this was all by design. I think he decided, you know what, let's leave a small footprint in Washington today and see how that works with some of these people that are inside the establishment and nervous about Donald Trump, and the resounding response from inside the GOP is, they like it.

LEMON: We'll see if our experts agree this hour. Thank you, Jim Acosta. Appreciate that.

[23:05:02] Donald Trump calls it a great day in D.C. Here to discuss, Trump supporter, Kayleigh McEnany, also Timothy Egan, "New York Times" contributing op ed writer and author of "The Immortal Irishman", and Bob Beckel, author of "I Should Be Dead: My Life Surviving Politics, TV, and Addiction". Hello to all of you. Timothy, you first. Donald Trump was on Fox News tonight. Here's what he had to say about Speaker Ryan and today's meeting.


DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think he's doing good job. He's got not an easy job and I don't mind going through a little bit of a slow process. It's a very big subject. We have a lot of things, and I think for the most part we agree on a lot of different items, and we're getting there. I feel very strongly about border security. I feel very strongly about trade. I feel very strongly about building up the military, and to a large extent, I think Paul is there also, so we'll get there.

I think a big thing today was the judges, the justices, Supreme Court, and I think that they felt very good about it. I had this idea a couple of months ago, because I was getting a little bit of pushback from some great people and some great friends of mine that are in congress and they were telling me that, how can we feel a little bit better? And I came up with this idea that I would come up with a list of really, really terrific, acceptable judges, conservative, and I'll put that list forward and that'll be a list from which I'll choose, or at least a list, at a minimum, a list from which I'll sort of use as a guide, and I'll tell you, that went a long way. People really liked that idea a lot.


LEMON: So Timothy, he didn't hold a press conference today, he didn't go before reporters, but he did do an interview just within the last hour on Fox News. Obviously controlling the message, leaving a small footprint, as Jim Acosta said, on Washington today. What's your reaction?

TIMOTHY EGAN, OP ED CONTRIBUTOR, THE NEW YORK TIMES: Yes, I don't put as big a deal on this -- or I don't think this is as big a deal as a lot of people do in D.C., and I'm based in the West. This is theater. Trump is playing a role. His campaign organizer has said he's playing a role, and he does a really great job at playing these roles. Just a few days ago, remember, one of his surrogates, Sarah Palin, was saying that Speaker Ryan was going to be Cantored, meaning they were going to try to knock him out in the primary. So this will be forgotten. I really don't think voters care about this. We in the press like a fight. We like the theater. We love Donald in the role, so today he's the role of somewhat of a statesman, listener mode, and I really don't think it means anything. I think a larger, Don, and more important thing is -- how many of Trump's awful positions, which are so unpopular, can he shed in the coming days and coming months, and that's what's the process you're seeing going on right now.

LEMON: Bob Beckel, do you agree with Timothy, this is not a big deal, it's just a big deal to maybe the folks in Washington?

BOB BECKEL, AUTHOR, "I SHOULD BE DEAD": Well, I think it's not a big deal in terms of rank and file voters, but let me put it this way -- I have never, in all the years I've covered politics or been involved in it, have ever seen a nominee of a party have to work this hard to bring his party together, let alone try to get to independent voters who are going to make the decision. Have you noticed that all the people who've endorsed Donald Trump, not one of them, not one of them has said, I'm endorsing him because he's a great guy, I love his positions, I'm with him 100 percent -- it's always this answer -- better him than Hillary. And that's about as far as it goes, unless maybe --

EGAN: Or they say, I'll support the nominee.

BECKEL: The nominee. It's the most tepid situation I've ever seen in a political party, and for good reason. Because Donald Trump is not a Republican, he does not represent what Paul Ryan does, and he says things that are outrageous that these people have to go out there and run with him on.

EGAN: Which they won't do, by the way.

LEMON: Here's where Kayleigh McEnany comes in.

KAYLEIGH MCENANY, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Yes, I'm not quite as surprised as Bob because this -- Donald Trump ran against Washington. That was one of the central messages of his campaign is, I'm not going to do what the congressmen have done, I'm not going to do what the senators have done. I'm an outsider. And he positioned himself even as more of an outsider than Ted Cruz who was the guy who called Mitch McConnel a liar on the Senate floor, so I'm not quite as surprised that the people he ran against are tepid to endorse him.

LEMON: So to her point, Lindsey Graham, who has been, really has a lot to say against Donald Trump, here's what he said today. He said, I have -- he tweeted this out. He said, I had a cordial, pleasant phone conversation with Mr. Trump yesterday. I congratulated him on winning the GOP nomination for president, and here's what Trump tweeted out just tonight. Says, Senator Lindsey Graham called me yesterday, very much to my surprise, and we had a very interesting talk about national security and more. So he has been in the anyone- but-Trump category for such a long time. Is this a sign, Bob Beckel, of Trump's charm offensive, and that is working in Washington D.C.?

BECKEL: It doesn't take much to charm people in Washington, I can tell you that. A phone call will do it. But this is the -- the point here is, when Kayleigh says that these are people that ran against him, don't expect them to be with him right away, not all people ran against him.

[23:10:00] A handful of them did, but you look across the entire House and the Senate and Governors and others and he cannot get them to endorse him for him. Nobody's endorsing his position on immigration. Nobody's endorsing on his now walk back position on Muslims. Nobody endorsing him on his position on women. This guy has got nobody who supports his platform -- now is he a nice guy? Sure, he's a nice guy. Everybody can be a nice guy, particularly when you're in a position of strength like he is, but I'll tell you, he does not represent the base platform of the Republican Party and that's a problem.

LEMON: Let Timothy get in here. Timothy, it certainly is a 180 on behalf of a lot of people.

EGAN: Yes, right. Bob's point is a great one. I mean, I wonder where is the honor of these people in Washington? Trump's called them despicable things, he's just insulted them, everything, down to their core, and then they can flip that easily? This is why people don't like politics and don't like politicians, because if you had any honor, you wouldn't take that kind of abuse from a fellow human being and then quickly roll over, but Bob's other point, which I really like, and I would love to sort of bring this into the discussion, is that -- so Trump's got -- he's got 67 percent of women dislike him. Seventy-three percent of Latinos dislike him. Seventy percent, almost 70 percent of college graduates dislike him. So when you have that amount of the country against you, you have a lot taking back to do. The thing I want to look for beyond the Washington game of Ryan and company is, how many of these odious positions will Trump take back, and will that change him? Because it sets him up for a central conundrum. If Trump -- the reason people like Trump, in all the exit polls, is because he quote, tells it like it is. That's what his voters say. But if he stops telling it like it is and takes back too many of these awful things, what are we left with? We're left with just another politician.

LEMON: Go ahead, Kayleigh.

MCENANY: Yes, again, I disagree with you. The fact is, people have endorsed him for his policies. In fact, if Bob would have been sitting in the last hour, he would have heard Jan Brewer on here saying that she approves of his immigration policies. There are people who have endorsed him. But the thing is, these Washington politicians are now coming around because they're realizing that the anger that Trump has directed at them is emblematic of the anger that voters have directed at them. In all of the exit polls, 50 plus percent said that they feel betrayed by this party. So Donald Trump's anger represents the anger of a Republican electorate that wants change, and finally, you have people like John McCain saying, we would be foolish not to listen to the voters, not to endorse this person who the voters have said, this is who we want to represent us.

BECKEL: Kayleigh, this is not -- can we finally put this to rest? This is not the Republican Party. It's a sliver of the Republican Party that went to the primaries and caucuses of which Donald Trump until recently was getting 35 percent of. It is a small -- this guy has gotten a very small -- don't say, these are the people. These people that are big supporters. They're not!

LEMON: He's gotten more votes than any candidate in history to this point.

BECKEL: Wait, wait, wait, wait, don't go there, please. That's just flat wrong.

MCENANY: No, it's not wrong.

BECKEL: Hillary Clinton's got more than he's got.

LEMON: No, I meant on the Republican side. Hillary Clinton has gotten more. I mean on the Republican side.

BECKEL: Every year you get more of a contested race because you've got more people in the country. I mean, what is that supposed to mean? Ten million people?

MCENANY: Bob, he was in a 17-person race, he has 11 million votes, he's about to get more than any Republican nominee in history, so it's just wrong to say, Republicans haven't voted for this guy. That doesn't even make sense.

BECKEL: Excuse me. He needs to get 65 million to 70 million voters --

LEMON: You sound like Donald Trump. Excuse me. Go on.

BECKEL: Where do you think he's going to get those from?

MCENANY: Where is he going to get which votes? Sorry, I missed that.

BECKEL: The 65 million he's going to need to win the presidency.

MCENANY: He's going to get a lot more than Hillary Clinton, I can tell you this, because he's real. He's going to exploit Hillary's Achilles heel, which is her honest and trustworthiness. She's never been asked face to face about her e-mails, about quid pro quo corruption of the Clinton Foundation, she's never been asked in an adversarial context about these things. He's going to ask, he's going to hit her Achilles heel, and I guarantee you he's going to win, perhaps --

BECKEL: Can you tell me how it really is? Is he for a Muslim ban or is that just a suggestion?

LEMON: He spoke out just a short time ago about Hillary Clinton and he did hit her pretty hard. We'll have that right after the break.


[23:18:12] LEMON: And we're back. The House Speaker Paul Ryan withholding his endorsement of Donald Trump despite their meeting today. He's calling their first sit-down both encouraging and part of a process that takes time. Back with Kayleigh McEnany, Timothy Egan, and Bob Beckel. So Bob, Donald Trump, he's on Fox News. He also went in on Hillary Clinton pretty hard. Listen.


TRUMP: She's not a closer with the Chinese for trade deals. She's not going to be a closer with ISIS. She destroyed us -- she really hurt us with Libya, that's Benghazi. Not only that, ISIS has the oil now. They've gone and taken the oil. Libya was her baby and that was a disaster. I mean, what she's done has been a disaster. She's not a closer. The bottom line, whether it's the election or whether it's the election against Obama, in terms of the primaries, she's just not a closer. This is not a woman that would be -- that should be president. We have so much work to do. I don't think she has the energy to be president, I don't think she can do it. I don't think she can do it. You see it right now. She cannot close the deal.


LEMON: Why don't you tell us how you really feel there? I mean, Bob, what do you see?

BECKEL: I think he can't close the deal very well. I mean, what is -- this is why he's got to learn a few things before he gets on the air and shoots his mouth off. ISIS does not have control of the oil anymore. It was taken back (inaudible), but leaving that aside, he doesn't know where Libya is let alone what was required to do it. Closer? The guy's closed on a bunch of buildings in Manhattan with these building trade unions that have friends, but beyond that, you name me one thing that Donald Trump has ever done in foreign policy, understanding foreign policy, having some substance with it. He didn't know what the triad was, and this is the guy that's going to hold the nuclear football! Are you kidding me?

[23:29:59] EGAN: I just want to get in on this for one second. You know, he certainly didn't close some of the deals that ended up in bankruptcy as well in his personal business dealings. But Bob, I want to get to a point that Bob sort of led us to and it's really important as we go into this fall debate. Look, people don't like either of these candidates, clearly. They're both among the most unpopular, if not the most unpopular candidates in American presidential history. But let's at least try to hold them to a standard of truth. Now Trump has failed the fact check test more than any candidate in the history of modern fact checking. More than 75 percent of his statements have been found to be untruthful or outright lies. Here's what I would like to propose. I would love to see, in the fall debates, as we finally, as the American people finally make up their mind, you have this head to head of real time fact checking. So Trump or Hillary can't get away with something outlandish. That would require quick Googling, et cetera, but it would rally benefit the American people, because if we're going to have a campaign among the two most disliked people in history, and then you add the element of all these mistruths, these half truths, and these outright lies. Do us a service, CNN, everyone, as we move forward and get to the fall election, let's fact check in real time. If we couldn't do it by then, let's start doing it now and see if we can make it work, because I don't know where Trump's -- I would love to see it happen. It would really serve the people.

LEMON: That's a very good idea. OK, so let Kayleigh get in on this, because Kayleigh, to his point, the die hard Trump supporters don't really care what the facts are, and you know that. You know that to be true. You've seen the stats. So then, should he be more careful with the stats? Because part of what Timothy is saying is true, that the fact checks in many ways don't add up for Donald Trump.

MCENANY: Voters care about principals. They care about where you stand.

LEMON: But shouldn't they care about the truth?

MCENANY: I don't think Donald Trump's told all these falsehoods. The thing is, fact checkers notoriously fact check Republican disproportionately --

EGAN: He has. I mean --

MCENANY: -- and you have people like Hillary Clinton who have lied about her e-mail situation numerous time, the Clinton Foundation -- I love this idea of a fact check if the fact checkers actually fact check Democrat statements as well as Republican ones. And I just really quick want to address Bob who said, tell me one thing Donald Trump's done with regard to foreign policy. Well, when Hillary Clinton was out spoken in support of the Iraq War, which was a failure, which ISIS -- partly responsible for the rise of ISIS in the case of Iraq -- Donald Trump was against it when Hillary Clinton --

BECKEL: No, he was for it and then against it.

MCENANY: Likewise, he highlighted the importance of Osama Bin Laden in his book when everyone was dismissing this guy as just some sort of fruit cake on the peripherals. So he has wisdom in foreign policy that we've not seen from Hillary Clinton who's invaded three countries, essentially -- Libya, Egypt, Iraq -- basically didn't leave any stay-behind force there. She's responsible in part with Barack Obama for the rise of ISIS.

LEMON: It is murky on exactly when Donald Trump said he did not support the war.

MCENANY: It was long before Hillary Clinton. He was outspoken and on the record on that.

LEMON: Point taken. Bob, you want to respond?

BECKEL: Yes, I was going to say, he was for it and he was against it. What we really ought to do is, let's go back and look at the Howard Stern shows where he said not only that, that he was for the war in Iraq, but when he and Howard decided to asses women and what they look like. Kayleigh, this guy has got a history that is going to come back to haunt him, and my party is going to take everything -- we don't have to (inaudible). Put up what he said.

LEMON: But Bob, is that one of the mistakes that Democrats or liberals or people who don't like Donald Trump, is that one of the mistakes that they're making by underestimating him and saying, oh, but -- his words have not come back to haunt him yet. They only help him.

BECKEL: They haven't come back to haunt him with the nine percent of the American electorate that has been supportive of him. Let's keep in mind, 91 percent of the electorate that's going to go to the polls have never voted for Donald Trump and they don't like him. You guys keep saying as if this guy's got some massive movement out there. He's got nine percent of the electorate. That's it.

MCENANY: Well by that same logic --

LEMON: Let Timothy get in. I'm sorry, Kayleigh.

EGAN: Yes, Don, I think you made a really good point when you said, look -- I agree with you. I don't think many of Trump's supporters really care if he dumps a lot of his positions faster than the --

LEMON: It has been shown that it doesn't matter -- the facts about what he says, it doesn't matter to Trump supporters. That's just -- that's just a fact.

EGAN: Right. So then we're going to turn, as we always do in a presidential campaign, to the question of temperament and judgment, and do you want a men who couldn't tell the difference between "The National Enquirer" story linking his last opponent to the assassination of John F. Kennedy, and a guy that's going to get the daily briefing every day on national security. That's a judgment question.

MCENANY: Timothy, do you want someone who thinks they're above the law?

EGAN: It's a temperament question. Do you want a guy who's in a Twitter war every day with someone new and who praises Putin?

MCENANY: Timothy, do you want someone who's above the law?

EGAN: I agree with you, facts don't matter.

MCENANY: But here's the thing, you just said, do you want a president like that, do you want a president who feels like she's above the law and had her own e-mail server in her home and no official in elected history has ever had an e-mail server in contravention of the espionage act in their home?

BECKEL: She's never broken the -- you have to get her indicted. Then you can say that. But in the meantime, you guys keep throwing that out there as if it's a fact. It's not fact until a grand jury sits down and indicts her. Why don't you all play by the rules instead of playing by some mythical Donald Trump world out there?

MCENANY: It's not mythical, that's what the left does. You guys say it's a vast right wing conspiracy. It's not breaking the law.

[23:24:59] LEMON: Timothy, you asked for some facts. Let's get some facts in right now, and you're going to see it as we're seeing it. This is live. Let's put Politifact up. I cannot read that. But it says, 3 percent of Donald Trump's statements have been true, 9 percent mostly true, 61 percent false. OK, here's Hillary Clinton. You'll have to tell me what it says again because I can't see. Forty-four percent true, I can't -- 53 percent mostly true, and 22 percent false.

EGAN: That's a huge difference.

MCENANY: But how many of her statements, with regard to the e-mail situation, have they surveyed? That's the thing, it's the sample. If you take a sample of Donald Trump's worst statements and then Hillary Clinton's best and not her e-mail statements and her Clinton Foundation statements, then she's going to be truthful.

EGAN: Let's go to one that's been in the news recently. He said as far back as 2012, the presidential candidates --

LEMON: Timothy, can you just hang on a second? Because I feel like I underserved the viewer. I want to fact check ourselves. Let's put it up --

EGAN: I want you to overserve the viewers.

LEMON: All right, here's Donald Trump again, put it up. Two percent true, 6 percent mostly true, 43 percent false. So that's Trump. And here's Clinton. Secretary Clinton is -- 23 percent true, 27 percent mostly true, 11 percent false. That was the number of statements that they had fact checked, the first one, but this is the overall one that we have, and thank you very much, producer, which is Maria. Thank you very much. The voice in my head every night.

EGAN: I'll ask you, Don, do you think we could do that in real time in the presidential debates? Is that possible? We all can Google --

LEMON: I'm sure anything is possible with technology, but go on. Finish your statement, what you were saying about this. How do you respond to those numbers? And to Kayleigh's point, she said, it depends on -- it all depends on, too, context and substance, as we do with the polls, sampling, oversampling, or whatever, for the statements that you look at, but go on.

EGAN: I'm one of those people, I like to think I'm not that cynical, but we all know all politicians lie, but no politician has lied more than Trump as you just pointed out, in the modern age. So that's important. I think Trump is important. We play these beltway games, we play these who's up, who's down, who endorsed who, but truth is important. Policies are important. Is he for, is he going to round up 11 million people, separate children from their parents and have a deportation patrol, or is he going to dial that back? Is he going to have a temporary ban on all Muslims or is it just a suggestion? These things are important. I think they're more important than the who's up, who's down --

LEMON: But why to people seem not to care? Especially when you look at -- why does no one care?

Bob, go ahead. You've seen the --

BECKEL: You're talking about the Trump voters!

LEMON: Let me get in here. You've heard Donald Trump saying that he could shoot a cannon or something down Fifth Avenue or whatever, and he would not lose one supporter.

BECKEL: OF his supporters, which are 9 percent. You keep saying, why doesn't he lose voters? He doesn't have voters. He's got these people that go and vote for him in the caucuses and primaries that represent 9 percent of the electorate.

LEMON: He got enough to make him the nominee, Bob.

EGAN: I'm going to disagree and I'm going to agree with Kayleigh on something she said earlier, and I think this goes a way to explaining why he's been lying through his teeth on almost everything on a daily basis, and he doesn't lose any supporters. There is an overall statistic that has been proven time and again in this election, is that a majority of Americans, across most of the socioeconomic indicators, are really angry and are ready for some kind of radical change. That's what informs Bernie Sanders' campaign, that's certainly what's driving Trump's campaign. America's failing a lot of people, and so they're ready for some kind of radical change, so Trump can lie all he wants, but he seems to promise some sort of radical change. I don't see how any of this change would have the average American have a better life, minimum wage being exhibit A. He initially said, wages are too high in this country. I mean, what politician can say that? Now he says they're too low, or he's here, there, and everywhere on it, but I do concede her point that there's so much anger, we've talked about it, and their people are ready for radical change. They're ready to put in someone -- I don't think they're going to do this, but they're ready to put in someone who has zero political experience.

LEMON: Hang on, Bob. I need to talk to -- do we have a little more time for this or do we need to go to break and continue?

We got to get a break in. We'll come right back with this conversation. Don't go anywhere.


[23:33:36] LEMON: All right. So back with me now, Kayleigh McEnany , Timothy Egan and Bob Beckel.

OK, I think, Bob, you wanted to get in on this conversation that we were having.

BOB BECKEL, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, what I was going to say was the idea that people want radical change, I don't agree with that. I don't like radical. Let's also keep in mind that this country -- 90 percent of this country is not angry, is not upset -- yeah now that's true about the Bernie Sanders supporters and the Donald Trump supporters, but if Donald Trump is supposed to be the instrument of that, two-thirds of the people can't stand him. So how are they going to make a radical change with a guy they can't stand?

TIMOTHY EGAN, AUTHOR, "THE IMMORTAL IRISHMAN": Well, the other thing is we don't know what -- if he instrument of that, what is he proposing? And how is -- how are their lives going to get better? I mean, it's -- I guess it's renegotiating all the trade deals, but there's an equal amount of studies that show that would cause people who import -- who export right now overseas to go out of business. You would have a...

BECKEL: Timothy, you guys have a -- the press has a responsibility, by the way, every time Trump tries to back off of one of his previous statements, to hold him to it. I noticed today that not many people jumped on his Muslim position that he tried to back off on, but Don, you and other people who got a forum need to say this guy said this then and now he's saying this.


LEMON: Bob, we do that every night. We do that every night.


LEMON: To the point where many people don't care about the truth or not. Some people don't care. And I know you say it's a small percentage, but it was enough of a percentage to make Donald Trump the Republican nominee. Go on.

EGAN: You know, Donald Trump, for a guy who says he has the world greatest memory, has certainly forgotten a lot of things he says because he's taken so many of them back and we've fact-checked him as well.

[23:35:10] But I think, even if we -- you know, we as people in the press and people who are mixing it up in the public debate, even if we think the people don't care about the truth, I mean, that's a horrible thing to say. They do care about the truth. I know that's not what you're saying, Don. But I mean, they may not care about it as much as they care about the theater and stuff. But we have a duty to get a base set of facts out to the electorate in this campaign.

MCENANY: Well, here's the thing. Donald...

LEMON: Hang on. My point was is that we do that every single night and it doesn't appear, even if we say Donald Trump said something wrong and the facts are there, not enough people believe it to not make him the Republican nominee, is all I'm saying. I think we're doing our job here. I think Donald Trump's statements have been, you know, looked upon more than any other candidate, have been scrutinized more than any other candidate, because he comes on more than any other candidate on to these shows. Go on.

MCENANY: That's right. And here's the thing -- Timothy is implying that Donald Trump just lies and lies and lies. But here is the thing, lying implies intent and Donald Trump doesn't go out there and lie and intend to deceive people. Here is the thing, Donald Trump is...

EGAN: What, does he just forget these things then?

MCENANY: Donald Trump is off the cuff. Donald Trump gives, as Don just pointed out, does more interviews with the press than any other candidate in modern political history.

LEMON: Who do we talk about the most every night and their statements and their outrageous statements? Donald Trump.

MCENANY: All of his statements...

LEMON: They're scrutinized every single night.

MCENANY: That, and he doesn't poll test his speeches. Hillary Clinton poll tests every word that comes out of her mouth. She speaks off the teleprompter a lot of times.

LEMON: Okay -- okay -- so -- Kayleigh...

MCENANY: So here's the thing, Donald Trump doesn't do that. He speaks off the cuff which, by the way, implies mistakes. We've all made mistakes on air...

LEMON: Okay. All right. Timothy -- Timothy, last statement. Quickly because I got to get to a break.

EGAN: Let's say -- I'm just going to say it -- let's say he doesn't poll test his statements but please, God, let's fact check -- have him fact check his statements if he doesn't poll test.

MCENANY: We do fact check him.

BECKEL: Oh, come on...

LEMON: Thank you.

EGAN: Well -- two percent were true, I guess, right?

LEMON: Two percent true, six percent...


LEMON: And 43 percent false. Thank you.

MCENENY: Thank you.

LEMON: See you guys soon. Up next, Bernie Sanders a zombie candidate who is hurting Clinton and helping Trump? We'll talk about that. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[23:41:00] LEMON: Bernie Sanders taking some strong criticism tonight, labeled a zombie candidate who is damaging Hillary Clinton's campaign. I want to talk about that with CNN contributor Bakari Sellers, also Nina Turner, former Ohio State Senator who is a surrogate for Bernie Sanders, and political commentator, Bill Press, author of "Buyer's Remorse: How President Obama Let Progressives Down." He's also supporting Sanders.

Zombie candidate, Nina? You don't take kindly to those words, do you?

NINA TURNER, FORMER OHIO STATE SENATOR: It's ridiculous. It's an insult on democracy. Senator Bernie Sanders has every right to stay in this race. You talk about zombie, he has touched over 1.1 million people with (inaudible) exciting folks.

LEMON: Okay. With that said, let's say why that we say that. Zombie candidate's a piece in "Politico" magazine today said that -- had this to say in regards to Bernie Sanders, "in presidential campaigns, the one resource that's never renewable is time. Zombie candidates can't win the nomination, but they squander vast amounts of time and slowly chip away at the prohibitive front-runner. Some of the..." -- is that probable front-runner.

"Some of the damage is obvious, the endless series of public dents in the candidate's reputation. Some are subtle, noticeable in ways that perhaps only political operatives can appreciate. Today, with Donald Trump all but guaranteed to be the Republican nominee, the general election electorate is beginning to tune in. At a time when voters could be comparing Trump and Secretary Clinton, the presumptive nominees, they're instead seeing Clinton take shrapnel not just from the Republicans, but from Sanders." Whew! That was a mouthful, but I mean, do you disagree with that?

TURNER: Very much so. It's ridiculous what they're saying. I mean, everybody in this country, there are eight more primaries and caucuses left and those citizens of those states have every single right to vote, they have every single right to hear this debate. So this is not causing -- consider the source, that's what I'm going to say. Just consider the source.

LEMON: Okay, so the source was -- it was written by David Wade who worked on the Kerry campaign in 2004 and in the Obama campaign in 2008. So Bill, I understand that you disagree as well?

BILL PRESS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, yeah. And first of all, I know I'm going to sound like Donald Trump here, all right, but you were talking about truth in the last half hour. Let's get to the truth about David Wade. Right? Consider the source. He was a deputy communications director for the Kerry campaign, which is one of the worst campaigns in the history of modern politics. David Wade...


PRESS: I mean, we lost that campaign because his communications team did not respond to the swift boat attacks fast enough and they let that go on for weeks and weeks and weeks. David Wade ought to be on his knees apologizing to John Kerry for blowing that campaign. Instead, he's putting out this nonsense about Bernie Sanders as a -- as a zombie candidate -- and I want to get to the truth. Again, this is not Hillary Clinton saying this. This is not the Clinton campaign saying this.

LEMON: It's David Wade.

PRESS: Hillary knows that she did in 2008 exactly what Bernie Sanders is doing is letting every Democrat in every state vote and then let the chips fall where they may. This is a -- disgusting piece of political garbage.

LEMON: Bakari, do you want to defend David Wade? He's not here to defend himself.

BAKARI SELLERS, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: No. I don't have any reason to defend David Wade, to be honest with you. The fact of the matter is -- I'm not going to take any fire when I don't need to. The fact of the matter is simply that I will agree with Bill Press, that Bernie Sanders has every right to stay in the race as long as he wants to. If I'm not mistaken, Hillary Clinton stayed in the race until June 8 of 2008 back during that heated primary with Barack Obama. And both candidates came out for the better.

You know, I don't have any problem as long as they're uplifting a very powerful Democratic message, which they are. You know, no more character attacks, there's no reason to take these shots. But one thing that Hillary Clinton is Hillary Clinton is fighting a battle on two fronts. She is keeping one eye on Bernie Sanders, but she's also -- it would be political malpractice not to take Donald Trump seriously.

She's already staffing up in various battleground states, in swing states and she's already took the last couple of days raising money for the Hillary Victory fund so that we are not unilaterally disarmed when we have to face the Republican Party and Donald Trump.

[23:45:04] LEMON: Nina Turner, Jeff Weaver, Bernie Sanders' campaign manager, sent out a fundraising email today where he said that Democrats court disaster by nominating Clinton. That sounds something like, you know, a Republican would say. Do you agree with that?

TURNER: Well, you know, he's making a strong pitch. The bottom line is this --

LEMON: Bill (ph) doesn't like the hmm, well, you know.


TURNER: I mean, they want to talk about (INADUIBLE). Senator Sanders is the strongest candidate, Don, to go up against Mr. Trump. The polls have shown that consistently, that he is the strongest candidate. And not only is he the strongest candidate to go up against Mr. Trump, he is the strongest candidate in terms of coattails, the same coattails that are going to -- we are going to need as Democrats to make sure that we secure the Congress, governors' mansions, and state legislators. So having Senator Sanders at the top of that ticket is vitally important.

LEMON: Go ahead, Bill.

PRESS: I was just going to say that -- I want to pick up where Bakari left of, too, is that if you heard Bernie Sanders -- we were together Tuesday night when Bernie Sanders gave that speech in Salem, Oregon. You know, he went after Donald Trump with a vengeance. You know, all that -- direct attacks on Donald Trump. So he and Hillary are both spending their time winning voters in the primary but also going after Donald Trump. And the thing that's important, whether it's Bernie Sanders or Hillary Clinton is the nominee, Bernie Sanders has the enthusiasm, the energy. He's got the millennials, the independents, the working class Americans that Hillary will need if she's the nominee. And she knows that. And the worst thing that they could possibly do to turn those people off is do what David Wade is asking for and that's to pressure Bernie to get out of the race. I'm telling you, this is --

SELLERS: Well, let me just be clear --

LEMON: Bakari. Hmm, you know I've got to get to a break. So you can answer that on the other side. You can answer on the other side, I promise. We have another segment there.


We're going to do that and then we're going to talk about the Democratic ticket that might have been, who Joe Biden might have chosen as a running mate.


[23:50:56] LEMON: It looks like it's all coming down to Trump versus Clinton, but what if Joe Biden had jumped in the race? What if? Hypothetical here.

Back with me now, Bakari Sellers, Nina Turner, and Bill Press. Before we get to that, Bakari, you were responding I think to Bill and Nina to saying let everybody vote. He should stay in the race as long as possible, Bernie Sanders I mean.

Go ahead.

SELLERS: I was just responding quickly and briefly to the somewhat the moving of the goalpost. Because I was hearing Nina talk about the fact that Bernie Sanders is the best candidate going into the general election, and now all of a sudden Jeff Weaver and a lot of persons are going to the superdelegates, they need to do something because of the national polls of Bernie Sanders versus Donald Trump.

But there are two things. One, Hillary Clinton has beat-- if you look at the RealClearPolitics average polling, Hillary Clinton has beat Donald Trump in the last seven out of eight polls. That's first. And, second, and Bill even said this on Tuesday night, we're looking at these national polls, which is really early, but also Bernie Sanders has not been vetted on that level. He has not sustained the 25 years worth of attacks that Hillary Clinton has. So that -- that is just something that has to be clarified when they make these attacks on Hillary Clinton.

LEMON: That was a big gaffe, Nina.

TURNER: Bakari, I just want to say this -- but neither has the secretary. I mean, she has never been in a general election and it's a lot different, trust me. Mr. Trump --

SELLERS: To say she hasn't been attacked is just not true.

TURNER: But again, but come on, we can agree that she's never been in a general election. I mean, to say that Republicans are not --


LEMON: But can you compare, though, the number of years that Hillary Clinton --

TURNER: -- they're not going to be as kind to her as Senator Sanders was. Trust me.

LEMON: Nina. In all fairness. In all fairness, Nina, can you compare the type of sustained scrutiny that Hillary Clinton has had over the past 20, 30 years --

TURNER: Senator Sanders has been through some fights --

LEMON: -- that Senator Sanders has?

TURNER: But that's not the only measurement, Bakari.

LEMON: This is Don.

TURNER: Listen, then-Senator Barack Obama was not -- had -- was not vetted to that level either, and he is the President of the United States right now. So that's not the only measure, right?

SELLERS: But we're comparing -- all I'm saying is you have to -- that is a caveat. That's a caveat to your argument. That's all I'm saying.

TURNER: It is not. No, it's not.

LEMON: One at a time. Bakari, you and then Bill Press. Go ahead.

SELLERS: I was simply saying that it's a caveat to your argument. Whenever you go -- whenever you or Jeff Weaver or anyone else goes to these national polls, the huge caveat is that, yes, Bernie Sanders does well nationally in these national polls against Republican figures. But Bernie Sanders also hasn't been vetted and Bernie Sanders hasn't undergone the scrutiny that Hillary Clinton does. That's a fact. LEMON: OK.

PRESS: I just got the answer, Don. Very quickly, here's the answer, all right. Let Bernie Sanders win Oregon, Kentukcy, and California. And then let the superdelegates decide who's the stronger candidate against Donald Trump

LEMON: OK, Nina, now you can go.

SELLERS: But we're not -- we're not going to let him win anything but the fact of the matter is --

PRESS: No, I'm saying when he does, Bakari. When he does.

TURNER: That's just not --


SELLERS: The fact still remains -- the fact still remains that now we're creating new rules.

TURNER: I disagree with the counselor.

SELLERS: And Bill Press, Bill Press -- Bill Press, you were there when the rules were made. And now you're making new rules. Hillary Clinton's going to have the lead in pledged delegates.

PRESS: No, no, no.

SELLERS: (INAUDIBLE) pledged delegates when they go to the convention --

LEMON: Let Bill respond.


PRESS: The superdelegates are undemocratic. We should have not them.


PRESS: They should represent of their state. And that's --

SELLERS: That's fine.

TURNER: That's right.

PRESS: (INAUDIBLE) can do whatever the hell they want.

SELLERS: That's fine. That's fine. You know what's amazing?


LEMON: Let Nina -- Nina, go ahead, Nina.

TURNER: Over 400 of the superdelegates supported -- are supporting the secretary even before anybody got in the race, that's even before Governor O'Malley got in the race and also Senator Sanders. And Bill is absolutely right. But Bill is absolutely right. Minimally the superdelegates should support the candidate that won overwhelmingly in their state.

LEMON: OK, Bakari, I heard people on the Democratic side saying that those are the rules on the Republican side. Don't complain it. Now they're complaining about the Democratic race. Go ahead, Bakari.

SELLERS: No, but the point is that -- listen. I will give you that. Nina and Bill, I will concede that today.

TURNER: We appreciate that.

SELLERS: If the superdelegates voted the way their states did, guess who wins? Hillary Clinton still wins.


SELLERS: So, I mean, this is a moot point.

TURNER: No, no. Is the gap -- the gap would not be as large.

LEMON: Let him finish. Nina, let him finish.

SELLERS: Even if the gap was narrower, every single time you move the goal post, whether or not it's pledged delegates, whether or not it's superdelegates, whether or not it's the superdelegates have to vote this way -- it doesn't matter.

[23:55:06] Every single metric, Hillary Clinton wins. All I'm trying to say is that now we're at a point where Hillary Clinton is fighting on two fronts and that's fine. And that's just. And that's right. And the Democrats have an advantage because what divides us is not nearly the gap that divides the Republican Party. .

PRESS: And the question you've got to ask is if Hillary Clinton is so strong and the presumptive nominee, why is Bernie Sanders still winning and why is she still losing? Because Bernie Sanders --

SELLERS: That's also a failing argument, Bill Press.

LEMON: Because Hillary Clinton has won the last contests in 2008.


LEMON: I got to go.

SELLERS: Because Hillary Clinton has won the last contests in 2008.

TURNER: (INAUDIBLE) movement among independents, movement among millennials --

LEMON: All right, I got to go. Thank you.

SELLERS: Thank you, Don.


LEMON: Done with that conversation. We'll be right back.


LEMON: That's it for us tonight. Thanks for watching. I'll see you right back here tomorrow night.

[00:00:03] "THE EIGHTIES: GREED IS GOOD" starts right now