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Interview with Sanders Campaign Manager Jeff Weaver; Clinton Takes Narrow Lead In Kentucky; Large Crowd For Sanders Event Tonight In California; Clinton & Sanders Neck-And-Neck In Kentucky. Aired 8-9p ET

Aired May 17, 2016 - 20:00   ET


[20:00:00] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: And it's the top of the hour, 8:00 here in the East Cost. The results are coming in from the Democrat primary. In Kentucky, it is a tight contest to say the least. Welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world.

I'm Anderson Cooper at the CNN Election Center for the special edition of AC360.

Key Race Alert, 55 delegates at stake and Hillary Clinton had been counting on getting most of them as she tries to put Bernie Sanders away and moves closer to locking up the nomination. But Sanders has won the last two states, he's certainly not going away. As the votes are counted, there's a growing concern among Democrats that a revolt by Sanders supporters could upend their national convention. Violence this weekend at the Nevada State convention, at least a lot of angered raising fears about chaos in Philadelphia this summer.

Sanders supporters were lifting chairs, threats at this point, they're making threats as Clinton emerged with more delegates. Sanders is unapologetic saying the violence is cut both ways and his supporters must be treated fairly.

As Clinton pivots toward the general election, a pro-Clinton Super PAC is unleashing an ad campaign targeting Donald Trump from comments about women have been turned into TV ads that will air in few battleground states. Both parties have contest tonight in Oregon voting into there at 11:00 p.m. Eastern.

On the Republican side, Trump trying to get close to locking up the nomination. One of the first results in three hours. Wolf.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Anderson, thanks very much.

Look at how close it is in Kentucky right now. Take a look at this. It would show the votes, Hillary Clinton is ahead by 147 votes right now, 62 percent of the vote has actually been counted. 46.6 percent, 46.6 percent. Look at how close it is, 260,000 votes have been counted. Hillary Clinton is ahead by 147 votes.

Meanwhile, there are some growing concerns right now about a growing split among Democrats. The fear is that the chaos seen this weekend in Nevada could play out at the Party's convention in Philadelphia in July. There are urgent efforts underway right now to try to patch up serious differences, but a defiant statement by Bernie Sanders is raising new questions.

Let's go to our Senior Political Reporter, Manu Raju. He has the very latest. Manu.

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER: Hey, Wolf, indeed. We have not seen this level of tension between the Democratic Party establishment and the Sanders camp all primary season. But, of course, after that Nevada convention, we're seeing Democratic Party leaders raise increasing concern that if Bernie Sanders does not do more to reign in the supporters or if he doesn't get out of the race when voting concludes in June 7th, it will be much harder for the Party to unite after that July convention.

Now, one senior Democrat, Dick Durbin, the number two Democrat in the Senate, I had a chance to talk to him earlier today about what he saw in Nevada. And this is what he had to say, he said, "We saw what happened at the Trump rallies, which broke into violence, people punching one another. I don't want to see that happen at the Democratic Party." He's calling on the Sanders campaign to do more.

Similarly, Harry Reid had a phone conversation with Bernie Sanders earlier today and believed that they were on the same page going forward, but after Bernie Sanders released a campaign statement saying that, actually, they don't condone any of the violence, but he criticized party leaders for their own tactics in shutting out their supporters, Harry Reid is very critical of Bernie Sanders, said it was a silly statement. Bernie Sanders could do better, he said.

We're seeing this tension intensify in the waiting days here, Wolf. We'll see how it plays out.

BLITZER: All right, thanks very much, Manu.

Look at how close it is right now, 63 percent of the vote has now been counted. Bernie Sanders has now taken a slight lead. He's up by 546 votes, 46.6 percent for Bernie Sanders, 46.5 percent for Hillary Clinton. It's been going back and forth.

A lot of votes have been counted. Look at how close it is in Kentucky right now.

I want to bring in the Bernie Sanders Campaign Manager, Jeff Weaver. He's joining us now live.

Jeff, thanks very much for joining us. A lot of tension right now, as you well know, did your campaign tell your supporters to "take over that Democratic convention in Nevada"?

JEFF WEAVER, BERNIE SANDERS CAMPAIGN MANAGER: Well, as you know, Wolf, we put out a statement before the convention telling people that they should act civilly and that we should do this in an orderly manner. You know, we obviously do not condone any kind of violence or threats.

That's absolutely unacceptable from anybody.

But I have to say that I think anybody who watched this and, you know, if you talk to Senator Nina Turner, former senator from -- state senator from Ohio, who was there on the floor of the convention in Nevada, it was a pretty unfair process. The leadership there that was running it was not following the rules. They were overruling voice votes on the floor to get the result they wanted. And it was a pretty, I think, unfair spectacle.

BLITZER: Yeah, it got pretty ugly. We're showing viewers of some of the video, which is very, very powerful. Look at the -- you can see it right now. The Nevada State Democratic Party said -- and they were blunt, they said you incited the violence and the chaos.

[20:05:05] Let me read what they said, "Jeff Weaver's allegations against the State Party this morning and blatantly false, and his refusal to apologize for the death threats and harassment against out State Party Chair that his campaign incited on Saturday is unacceptable." That from the State Democratic Party Executive Director.

So, do you want to apologize for that?

WEAVER: Look, Senator Sanders said these claims that our campaign is sort of fermenting violence in some way are absolute nonsense.

The problem is, is that there are long simmering concerns about unfair treatment out in the Nevada Democratic Party. I mean, that's been documented. I mean, back in the Clark County convention, they almost tried to arrest their own credential chair because she was being too fair to the Sanders people. It's been an unfair process out there.

Obviously, we do not condone any kind of violence or threats. That's unacceptable. Bad language, we don't -- that's unacceptable. But we are not going to allow the millions of people who supported Bernie Sanders to be sort of rolled over in places like Nevada by the way they handled that convention.

BLITZER: But I'm sure you'll agree and I want you to listen to this because the Nevada Democratic Party Chair, Roberta Lange, she actually started receiving death threats from Bernie Sanders supporters who posted her address or phone number online. I want you to listen to this.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hi, Roberta Lange, this is a citizen of the United States of America and I just wanted to let you know that I think people like you should be hung in a public execution to show this world that we won't stand for this sort of corruption. I don't know what kind of money they are paying to you, but I don't know how you sleep at night. You are a sick, twisted piece of *bleep* and I hope you burn for this. You cowardless *bleep*, running off the stage. I hope people find you.

BLITZER: So Jeff, what can you and Senator Sanders ... WEAVER: Oh, well, I -- you know ...

BLITZER: ... Senator Sanders supporters, what can you do to stop this kind of vile talk?

WEAVER: Well, we could categorically condemn that kind of talk and those kind of phone calls, there's no doubt about it, absolutely, 100 percent condemn them.

But let me say this, at the convention, there were clear voice votes from the floor which were ignored by the Chair. You cannot have a convention where you have a process, a parliamentary process which you then ignore and just do what you want to do, Wolf. That doesn't condone what that gentleman just said on that phone call. That's unacceptable under any circumstances, there's no context in which that is acceptable.

But, in terms of the process that went on at the Democratic State Party Convention in Nevada, it was unfair, it was clearly one-sided, and it clearly was a result that was wanted that was gotten regardless of what the rules said.

BLITZER: As you know, Senator Sanders did release a statement that seemed to dismiss the concerns raised by the Democratic Party Chairwoman in Nevada. And I guess what the critics are saying -- are asking, does he take any personal responsibility for the actions of his supporters in that state?

WEAVER: Look, you know, the Senator has millions and millions of supporters. Obviously, there are some people like that gentleman you had in that phone message who act absolutely outrageously.

You know, Secretary Clinton just had one of her celebrity surrogates was just arrested for assaulting two Sanders supporters. So this happens all the time, where you have people on the fringes who are not part of the campaign, who are just supporters who act irresponsibly and unacceptably, and that happens.

And we condemn that, absolutely, categorically.

But let me say this, that does not excuse the fact that the Democratic Party in Nevada operated their convention in a way that was unfair and against the very rules that they put out.

BLITZER: I guess the big concern among Democrats right now, and you're familiar with this concern, Jeff, is that there could be -- that all of these actions potentially could encourage violence at the Democratic convention in Philadelphia in July. There's a lot of concern, as you know, among Democrats that this could happen.

What's your message to those folks who are obviously very passionate right now, they don't like the process and potentially could get violent, and we hope it doesn't happen in Philadelphia?

WEAVER: Well, there's not going to be any violence in Philadelphia, Wolf, I guarantee you that. We hope for a fair and orderly convention. I think everybody wants

that. I think whoever the ultimate nominee is, we want to unify the Party on the back end of the convention, so that we can all go out and defeat Donald Trump in the fall. There's no -- I think, there's any question about that.

What happened in Nevada, I think, is an aberration in large part driven by the way that that Party handled itself. You know, we've been involved in conventions all across this country in states, you know, from one end of the country to the other. Nothing like this has happened. And so, this was really anomalies, but it really is, you know, tied to what went on in Nevada itself.

BLITZER: Jeff, look at how close it is in Kentucky right now, 65 percent of the vote has already been counted. Bernie Sanders has a lead of 2,236 votes.

[20:10:03] He's got 46.9 percent. Hillary Clinton is 46.1 percent. It's very, very close. So, what's your prediction? What about Kentucky today?

WEAVER: Well, you know, given how close it is, Wolf, I don't know that I have a prediction on, because this is the state that the Secretary won overwhelmingly in 2008. So I think we're seeing here what we saw in West Virginia, which is another state that she won overwhelmingly in 2008 and then a loss by double digits just last week.

I think there are a lot of Democrats who are having, you know, second thoughts, I know the media is ready to call this race over, but I think voters in the various states want to see this race go on. I think they want to hear more from the candidates about where they want to take the country. And so I don't think the voters are ready for this race to be over.

BLITZER: And we'll be standing by to hear directly from Senator Sanders later tonight. He's out in California. And you saw those long lines of huge crowd getting ready to hear him. We'll have live coverage of that coming up as well.

Jeff Weaver, thanks very much for joining us.

WEAVER: Thank you, Wolf. Happy to do it.

BLITZER: Thank you. Dana and David are with us, of course. Lot of concern, I know Jeff says there's not going to be violence in Philadelphia but you see how ...


BLITZER: Yeah, and you see how passionate some of the supporters are. If Hillary Clinton is going to do well against Donald Trump in November, assuming she is the nominee, they've got to unite that party. BASH: I was struck, Wolf, by how, on the one hand, Jeff Weaver said

to you, "We're not going to let anybody roll us. And we won't let our supporters be rolled." And on the other hand, saying that, you know, that they understandably condemn the violence.

Well, you know, you can have both. You can defend your supporters and also condemn violence, but it's hard to do that with, you know, campaign manager and the statement which they put out today, especially according to Democratic leaders who are very concerned about this. They want to hear from Bernie Sanders himself about it.

BLITZER: And we'll be hearing from him later tonight. We'll hear what he says.

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: We'll hear what he has to say. But, clearly, Jeff Weaver, again, totally condemning that voicemail and the language use, the victory nature of it, but was still throughout your entire interview portraying himself as the aggrieved party here. They have a bill of particulars that they clearly felt that they -- that the process did not go fairly in Nevada.

They think that the credential is going to be all these inside things that we state conventions run, they don't think that state party ran the process according to the rules. And they feel aggrieved. And what is interesting to me in your interview is, there's no moment there where I heard Jeff Weaver indicate that the Sanders campaign is moving beyond being aggrieved into the next phase of this conversation.

He clearly wanted to remain an aggrieved party here because he wants to let his -- their supporters know that they still have this champion here.

BASH: And a little bit of palace intrigue right here, that this is about Nevada, Harry Reid, who is the leader of the, you know, the Democrats in the Senate is not only from Nevada. He kind of is the godfather of Democrats in Nevada.

So, to challenge the party is to challenge him. And even with -- even if it's his friends, he doesn't, you know, sort of play well when it comes to those things.

BLITZER: Bernie Sanders and Harry Reid are close friends.

BASH: They are, they are close friends. And even somebody who's close to Reid confirmed that to me tonight that they kind of feel like outsides in this, you know, inside world, but at the same time, you know, Reid is very protective of all things Nevada, particularly the Democrats.

BLITZER: Yeah, it'll be important to hear what Bernie Sanders says in that big speech out in California, huge crowd getting ready to hear him. We'll have live coverage of that.

Let's go back to John over the magic wall. John. JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, as we're watching

the votes come in here, we're up to 65 percent of the State of Kentucky. As you can see, it's a very competitive race.

A lead at the moment for Senator Sanders, we've had a seesaw in the last 30 minutes or so. Senator Sanders is up 46.9 percent to 46 percent. So, essentially, one-point lead for Senator Sanders.

One of the things we're waiting for is that we're talking all night long about Fayette County of the Lexington area, where you do have a significant African American base. This is key to Secretary Clinton's hope in the state. As you see, she's had this consistent 10-point lead. It's consistent because we've been stuck at 8 percent for quite a long time now.

We are told there was a machine counting problem in Fayette County that they expect to have resolved and we're expecting to get a rather large jump in the percentage of the returns from Fayette County pretty soon and that will be very telling about the race going forward. Because as you come back out statewide and take a look again, Senator Sanders with a narrow lead, but there are more than enough votes in Fayette County and also here in Jefferson County, which is at 57 percent. Secretary Clinton winning here by 16 plus points. More than enough votes for her to come back.

And so if you're in the Clinton war room and you're watching this math fill in, knowing that Fayette County has a big basket of votes to report, what you're hoping for is that this stays consistent. That your lead stays in the 10 points or so. If it stays in that range when a big basket of votes comes in here, she has more than enough chance to catch up.

As we watch the rest of the vote we're looking for is out here in the western part of the state, and you see some of the smaller counties, 88 percent in here, a very narrow lead for Senator Sanders. This isn't enough to over -- if Fayette and Jefferson continue to come in at the rate right now, the smaller wins out in the rural counties won't be enough of a pad for Senator Sanders to overcome that.

[20:15:05] One of the thing I haven't talked about all night that I think it's interesting to look at is, an area of the state that has become more important statewide, these three counties up here. Essentially, the Cincinnati suburbs, well, it's about 9 percent of the state population when you add them all up, 8.6 percent, 8.7 percent of the state population. And at the moment, Secretary Clinton winning all three of the counties in the northern part of the state here, just south of Cincinnati.

So she's winning up there, just come back out here at the center. She's winning up there, winning in the Lexington area, winning in the Louisville area. He won, convincingly, in most of the eastern coal counties that are in this part of the state. They're splitting, essentially, trading off here in this part of the state here.

You just saw Secretary Clinton has jumped ahead here as we get to 71 percent of the vote. She's now up by a little more than 2,000 votes. So let's see if it came from Fayette as we expected. No, not yet, actually. That's coming in from other places, still at 8 percent here and a 10-point lead here. So that's encouraging for the Clinton campaign. Maybe the numbers came up, yeah, that is where it came from, from a bigger jump in Jefferson County here, which just went from 57 percent to 78 percent. And you see here pulling out there with a huge lead there.

This is the largest county in the state. Has a significant African American base of the Democratic Party. Also, is the base of a lot of Clinton campaign operations and her stops in the state, we're focused on this part of the state.

So, at 71 percent now, Wolf, you see a still very close race, a seesaw race with Secretary Clinton now in the lead.

But if you're in the Clinton campaign war room, you're encouraged by what you just saw happened in Jefferson County and by the fact that you're awaiting for more votes from Fayette County, and you are expecting, they'll guarantee that you're expecting, I think your margin will stay roughly the same, maybe even grow as those votes come in here. So, a very close race.

No matter how it ends up, Democratic proportional rules, this would -- if Senator Sanders can win this, it would be huge because as Jeff Weaver just noted, she won it with 65 percent of the vote eights years ago in 2008, but the math, that would be a momentum and a moral victory, if you will, for Senator Sanders. But the map is, he needs 67 percent of the remaining delegates and no candidate is getting 67 percent of the vote in Kentucky tonight, Wolf, as we watch the rest of the votes come in.

BLITZER: Yeah, under Democratic rules, there's proportional distribution of delegates in all of the states as far as pledged delegates are concerned.

Look at how close it is right now, Hillary Clinton has a very, very slight lead. She's up by, what, 2,149 votes right now. 71 percent of the vote is now in.

Stand by for more votes, the neck-to-neck Democratic race in Kentucky. We'll update you on that.

We're also waiting to hear directly from Senator Sanders, a very, very large crowd gathering right now for his rally in California. Much more coming up right after this.


[20:21:12] BLITZER: Key Race Alert right now, the Kentucky Democratic presidential primary has been going back and forth between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders.

Right now, she is slightly, very slightly, ahead, 46.8 percent to 46.3 percent. She has a lead of 1,666 votes. Look at this, 156,295 for Hillary Clinton and 154,629 for Bernie Sanders. 73 percent of the vote in Kentucky has been counted. It's been going back and forth, Anderson, we'll see what happens.

COOPER: Yeah, Wolf, thanks very much.

Let's talk a little bit about the interview with the Sanders Campaign Manager, Jeff Weaver. I also think I misspoke when I introduced the segment, I said, use the word violence to describe what happened. It didn't seem to me that there was actual violence going on in Nevada, potentially might be for being arrested. There was certainly anger, there was certainly frustration. And obviously ...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And disruption.



DAVID AXELROD, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: But, can I just say one thing about this? There is something astride our politics and it's both sides that I think is really, really disturbing. This notion that, you know, we -- that if the system is fixed and the system is rigged, and therefore, any active civility is -- incivility is justified in response.

We've seen it on both sides in this campaign, and it's sort of being legitimate. And I was disappointed that Jeff Weaver didn't -- you know, he ...



AXELROD: ... but we were treated unfairly as if being treated unfairly was a justification for the kind of things that we saw. They were not.

NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL REPOTER: And I think we've seen this from the Sanders campaign for a while. I mean, this idea that they're kind of sore losers, right? I mean, if you look back even with Hillary Clinton's sweep of the south, they sort of delegitimized those wins. But, you know, we're still conservative, we didn't really play down there. Those states shouldn't have gone so early.

They lose in New York in the same kind of thing, over the course of primaries, some of our voters got tossed off the rules.

And even in Nevada, when they first lost, I mean, a lot of his supporters were saying, "Well, this is completely controlled by the re-Democratic machine and the scales were tipped on Hillary Clinton's side." And I think that's a bad pattern and doesn't bode well for Philadelphia because they tend to be sore losers.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, also, this is the same Bernie Sanders who is also asking superdelegates who run the parties to please now switch sides and be with him at the convention after railing against the process. I mean, one thing that Jeff Weaver said is that we will not allow

Bernie Sanders supporters to be rolled over. I totally get that. I understand that emotion. You don't want your supporters to be rolled over, but the question is, that's in conflict here.


AXELROD: He's run a very inspiring campaign. And he deserves all the credit in the world for it. I identify with those young people who are out there and are supporting him. But he is not losing the nomination because he's been treated unfairly. He's losing the nomination because he's gotten 3 million less votes and he doesn't have enough delegates.

And even if there were no superdelegates, he'd be losing the nomination. And it is a disservice to those people who are supporting them to suggest to that -- to him -- to suggest to him otherwise.


VAN JONES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I just -- see it somewhat differently. Let me -- just give me a moment here. I want to try to walk through I think what's going on.

First of all, I think both Weaver and Sanders missed an opportunity tonight. What's a standard when somebody in your movement does something violent? OK, the standard is Gandhi. Gandhi would prepare his people for two years to do demonstrations and if he's found out that there was one person assaulted in some village in some place, he'd shut the entire movement down for another two years. And eventually, his movement came to understand.

We released that we're not in violent, we mean it. I think there was a big opportunity for Sanders to come out and say, "Listen, full stop, no threats against anybody." He did not do that.


JONES: I think that was a big mistake.

AXELROD: Absolutely.

[20:25:00] JONES: But, I also think that Hillary Clinton missed some opportunities earlier that I think we have to hold her accountable for as well. When you were talking about here in New York, there was a sense that there were some shenanigans with the voting, whether it was right, whether it was wrong. She had an opportunity to come out and say, "I don't want that."

There have been many times when the Sanders people have complained and cried out and said, "We don't feel we're being treated right." There was a moment for Hillary Clinton to come forward and say, "Under no circumstances should anybody whether accidentally or on purpose do anything."

And I think what you're seeing now is with this party are two most important leaders are staring down the barrel of a possible irreconcilable split and conflict. I think Bernie missed the opportunity tonight, but I think Hillary Clinton should have been more forthright that she did not want shenanigans herself.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I wonder if ...


PAUL BEGALA, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: First off, I was here in New York, I've no idea what you're talking about. But I don't know of any Hillary supporters who threatened death.

JONES: Oh, none.

BEGALA: On -- well, that is it what was on the tape that we just played. And I think -- I do think Mr. Weaver has run a great campaign but he has an enormous mistake of the notion of Sanders supporters in Nevada being steam rolled when they are the ones threatening violence.

JONES: No, no, no, no.

BEGALA: Excuse me.

JONES: You first and then when I'm done.

BEGALA: Bernie lost Nevada. Hillary won Nevada. Hillary should get more delegates from Nevada. And if the Sanders campaign is trying through some convention machinations to overturn the vote of the people in Nevada, that's wrong. So the notion that somehow they're being steam rolled, there was. It happens. So, get over it.

JONES: So, listen, let's stipulate that death threats are off the table. Let's just take that off for a second. But ...


BEGALA: I love that sentiment.



JONES: But hold on a second.

BEGALA: So you can't just ...

JONES: But listen, but that was one person. That wasn't Bernie Sanders. There's one person, you should have handled that one person differently. Do I make sense? This is important. This is important because the party is going to split over this, and I think it's important.

What happened there, you were correct, she should have gotten more delegates, but that convention, that thing was handled very, very badly. And if you're Hillary Clinton, I think you want to send a signal to your people, bend over backwards to look fair, bend over backwards to be fair.

And what happened? That -- if you watch the YouTube stuff, there were voice votes that were being called that were so unfair to Bernie's people, and she should speak out against that, too.

BEGALA: That's not -- it's a -- first of all, well, the Nevada State Democratic Party Chairman's General Counsel issued a release statement, where he put actual messages on there that I read. Now, he didn't allege anything, he showed them that and there was more than one and they were violent. That should end the discussion. We can have a we about ...

COOPER: Let -- we got to take a break, guys.

BEGALA: ... rolls calls or later, but ...

COOPER: We (inaudible) back. We got to take a break here.

Donald Trump is watching very tight the Democratic race in Kentucky. He just weighed in on Twitter. He used the opportunity to take a jab at Hillary Clinton. Standby for that after a quick break.


[20:31:58] BLITZER: The polls closed in Kentucky an hour and a half ago. We're not yet able to make projection. Let's get a Key Race Alert right now. Look at how close it is, Hillary Clinton has a slight lead over Bernie Sanders, 82 percent of the vote is in. She got 47.2 percent and he's got 46.2 percent. She's up by 3,700 votes. Well look at how close it is 82percent of the vote is in right there.

Let's go to John King over the magic wall who can explain why it's as close as it is, John?

KING: And the big question now Wolf, will 3,700 vote lead hold up as we go through the final 18 percent of the vote. Ad you noted 47 percent to 46 percent. You see the .2 is there if you want to add those in. One thing we were waiting for we talk about earlier was Fayette County which the last we showed was at 8 percent well now it's at 100 percent. They had a machine counting problem that all of the vote came that it was that in a snap, you see the lead here.

Secretary Clinton whether it was an 8 percent had a 10 point lead that went down a bit to just shot of 8 percent there as you see. She probably wanted a little bit bigger margin out of here as a cushion, but she gets an eight point margin. That is the reason she leads statewide right now, because votes coming in of the other big benefit, the big place you're watching in the Clinton campaign, your happy about it, is Jefferson County we're just have 80 percent here and you can see a 17 almost an 18 percent for in the Louisville area, Jefferson County.

So you look at the map now and you try to add it up. What's missing and can Senator Sanders make it up. Most of the missing votes are down here. Remember the polls the eastern part of the state close earlier, almost all of these eastern counties at 100 percent. Here is one to keep an eye on, Pike County in the far eastern part of the state, still at 84 percent and a huge Sanders lead here.

So we'll see as the rest of those votes come in, if this margin holds up, if it holds up zero guarantee of that but if the votes come -- the rest of the votes come in roughly this margin, Senator Sanders will pick up some votes here. Is it will it be enough? It's a smaller county here, it will be enough make up for this (inaudible), we don't know but, a narrow Clinton lead now. If you're in her war room you're relatively optimistic going to sweep this one out, but we'll keep counting, Wolf.

BLITZER: You certainly will, there still plenty of votes out there to come. I want to go to Jim Acosta. He's over at Trump Tower here in New York City. Jim, Donald Trump he's also paying attention to what's going on in the Democratic contest.

JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Wolf. Donald Trump is clearly enjoying watching this race between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders from the sidelines. He is expected to win the Oregon primary later on tonight. but he sent out a tweet not too long ago remarking that Hillary Clinton should just get out of the race if she can't beat Bernie Sanders in the state of Kentucky open up on screen it says, Do you think crooked Hillary as his nickname for Hillary Clinton, of course will finally close the deal. If she can't win Kentucky she should drop out of the race. System rigged that last to come of their system rigged is obviously an appeal to Bernie Sanders supporters.

We've heard Donald Trump talk about how he thinks the system is rigged and I talked to a top Trump adviser who clearly appears to be enjoying what's unfolding in the Democratic race tonight, saying that this is a nail biter on the Democratic side and that they would enjoy going up against Bernie Sanders saying it would be one hell of a race.

[20:35:00] You know, Donald Trump, Wolf, is enjoying this lull in the campaign right now not having to really deal with Hillary Clinton day after day after day. He's meeting with Henry Kissinger, the former secretary of state tomorrow apart of burnishing those foreign policy credentials and in the words of one campaign strategist I talked to, he wants to come across as a man of substance, as a candidate of substance to voters out there, Wolf.

BLITZER: All right Jim Acosta, thanks very much. We're watching the votes, they're being counted. We'll take a quick break, we'll be right back.


BLITZER: It's been extraordinary close all night in Kentucky with the Democrats as 55 delegates up for grabs, the results are still coming in. Let's get a Key Race Alert right now. Take a look at this 84 percent of the vote has been counted. Hillary Clinton has a slight lead right now over Bernie Sanders a lead to 3,155 votes. She's at 47.1 percent, he's at 46.3 percent. Still lots of votes to be counted.

A slight lead for Hillary Clinton right now. Despite the delegate math, Bernie Sanders is far from calling it quits and a large crowd, take a look at this, is gathering right now for a Sanders rally in California. We'll have live coverage of that when he starts speaking.

[20:40:08] Let's go to Anderson Cooper though right now for more, Anderson it's going back and forth but Hillary Clinton is slightly ahead right now.

COOPER: That's right and 84 percent of the vote still are -- or has already been counted, begin it's just too close to call at this point. It's interesting Hillary Clinton came forward a couple of days ago to talk about what role former President Clinton would actually serve in her administration. She talked about him sort of being economist or ...

AXELROD: Yeah, I think that was an ill conceived idea. I think she did it because he's very popular in Kentucky. She was trying to win this primary and so she threw that out there, but I think it diminished her frankly because people expect the president of the United States to be their own economic engine. They're not looking to outsource that and, you know, my guess is we're not going to hear that again any time soon.

BORGER: Well the pain walk it back actually and said it's a little bit early to be talking about who you would appoint where. They were asked if it was a cabinet position and the campaign kind of said no, no, no. And, you know, of course Donald Trump has said in the past that Bill Clinton did a great job on the economy in the '90s. And so maybe that's another reason that ...


MICHAEL SMERCONISH, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I have to disagree. It's a rarity David with you -- I happen to think that it was a step in the right direction for her because that's the constituency with which she's going to battle Donald Trump and I think that he plays very well frankly they'd rather had ...


AXELROD: Listen Bill -- Bill Clinton -- the famously Bill Clinton famously said elections are about the future and he was right about that.

SMERCONISH: Well she has a problem and so far as she's perceived as being part of the status quo in what is seemingly a changed election year were both the Sanders constituency and the Trump constituency what monumental change that she doesn't represent that all in one.

COOPER: Let's try to play the sound bite ...


COOPER: ... o what she actually said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) HILLARY CLINTON, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: My husband, who I'm going to put in charge of revitalizing the economy because, you know, he knows how to do it.




S.E. CUPP, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Cross away line. LORD: Her word was revitalizing the economy as if somebody else who has been in charge of the economy for the last eight years. Well the Obama administration has been running this. She was part of the Obama administration and I can just see that being used in an ad over and over and over again here when Donald Trump talks about the economy where he has perpetually strong numbers running this and she's saying, well yeah we got to do something because the economy's in the tank.

CUPP: I think David's point is the most important one that as a woman to hear another woman running to be leader of the free world say I'll give that job to my husband. Even if your husband happens to have been president of the United States and you could argue maybe qualified on that, I would disagree.

It just rings as unfortunate and you don't want her to go there. I also just thought sort of casually that it had this whiff of well dad's retired, we've got to find him a hobby.

BORGER: Right.

CUPP: And so that's it no. Well maybe we'll get playing golf for something, we've got to get him a hobby ...


COOPER: Paul Begala, as a Clinton supporter ...


BEGALA: I don't think dad is exactly retired. He's got 4-5 million people and after life because his foundation the work they do, they (inaudible) got a busy and full life. I'll say this in defense my friend.

CUPP: So then how do we have time to revitalize the economy Paul?

BEGALA: Well of course, he did a pretty good job on the economy and he's known for anything ...

JONES: Reaganomics.

BEGALA: ... he's known for that. Well actually as very proud, I saved it somewhere at the Time Magazine cover with picture of President Reagan upside down, and it said Clintonomics turning Reaganomics on a Ted and that's what we saw that dually (ph) so we did.

But people believed that about him and I think, right or so, but more for the (inaudible), we often in these panels say Hillary's too scripted, she's too careful and she is running for president is kind of big deal. She is actually very careful and thoughtful person. This time she was having fun, she tossed it out and now we're just jumping ugly with her.

BORGER: You know, it's reminiscent of the two for the price of one that Bill Clinton famously said.

AXELROD: I disagree with you Paul, I don't think she may have thrown it out, but I think she threw it out for a tactical reason because she's fighting for votes in Kentucky and she thought Bill Clinton has appeal there.

HENDERSON: But I don't think -- I mean you talk to voters and these are Clinton, particularly older voters, sometimes male voters, they will say they love Hillary Clinton, people who voted for her like her experience and they also like the fact that Bill Clinton will be there too. It might be this sort of effective this idea, but ...

JONES: I don't think is that bad? Listen, I honestly don't think it's that bad. First of all, when he ran he used her in the policy role with regard to health care for better or for worse, but there was no shame in that. There was no, oh my god some horrible thing.

I think that Bill Clinton is still beloved by a off a lot of people. I think he's trusted on the economy. He was called the explainer-in- chief by President Obama, he was great sort on that stuff, and frankly I think we going to need all the brains that we can possibly get to fix the problem, not caused by Obama but cause by Republican obstruction, because was able to get his program.


AXELROD: They're not, they're not.

[20:45:05] SMERCONISH: I think he's a net plus, he's an absolute asset. And anybody who forgets the assets that he is in campaign season need only think of the stem winder that he delivered in 2012 at the Democratic National Convention.

COOPER: Yeah, we got to take a quick break. The Democratic primary in Kentucky is going to be a nail biter. We're watching closely, when will we learn the winner? 84 percent of the votes are in.

Stay with us for more votes and reaction later from Bernie Sanders. He and his supporters gathering for a big rally in California tonight, we'll bring that to you.


BLITZER: Look at how close it is in Kentucky right now, this is the Key Race Alert, 92 percent of the vote is in. Hillary Clinton has a lead of 1,034 over Bernie Sanders nearly 400,000 votes have already been counted. She's at 46.8 percent. Bernie Sanders at 46.5 percent, that's got a whole lot closer than that. Hillary Clinton slightly ahead of Bernie Sanders right now. Let's go over to John King at the magic wall. John?

KING: It's a nail biter, Kentucky Wolf, you mentioned just about 1,000 votes there, and we're up to 92 percent. Secretary Clinton maintaining that narrow lead. So you look at the map, you try to figure out what's out there. I want to move here a tap a little bit and try to pull this out for you, I want to move this back to about here.

[20:50:03] This is going to show us on the map now, counties in the state that where I've stopped that at 91 percent where they've counted less than 91 percent of the vote, so the counties that we know, have still a significant amount to vote outstanding. Inside the Clinton campaign your most encourage about this, you're only at 78 percent in Jefferson County and she's got it nearly 18 point lead in the county.

So, Secretary Clinton is hoping and it's a larger population center, so you see the number of votes here much higher than you'll see in the rural counties. I'm about to show you if you're the Clinton campaign you're hoping it's the last 20 percent plus comes in here, your margins stays the same. If it stays that way she probably eke's in a narrow victory, but if you're the Sanders campaign, you're looking down here, coal country, south western part of the state, up in county for example, it's 1.1 percent of the state population, so a decent possibility of votes here. We have absolutely nothing so far from Hopkins County.

Our folks are checking in there to see why the counties so slow. But it's a -- no idea of what's coming in here, a chance for Bernie Sanders because as you see he's winning in neighboring Webster County, it's a tiny county here, but he's winning by a significant margin there only 71percent of the vote and so reasonable to expect Senator Sanders picks up a little bit more here, but the bigger question is in the larger county here Hopkins can he pick up a decent amount of votes.

And now we pull out, we say what else are we looking for. Here in Warren County, the whole in bowl in green, again Senator Sanders winning not by a huge margin but 84 percent in. If that margin continues as we get the rest of the vote, Senator Sanders will add some votes if there's no guarantee of that. But if that margin continue.

So if you're in the campaign war rooms right now you're doing what we're doing, you're checking in with these counties right now, you got 28 votes as you see right here separating the two candidates and if you're in the campaign war rooms right now what you're doing Wolf is your checking with your folks in these counties as well, you're calling election officials, your trying to figure out what the count is.

So let's look down here, Paducah-McCracken County down here. Clinton was leading earlier. Senator Sanders has pulled ahead now at 91 percent of the vote. So and that this one is so close and we're up to 92 percent statewide now, we're going to keep counting them to the very, very end. And again if you're inside the Clinton campaign, you're source of encouragement is this. Still a -- in the largest county in the state by far the largest vote tallies as the votes come in, this is where the Democratic turnout is, that you have got 22 percent still to be counted and you have a healthy margin.

So if you're the Clinton campaign you think you get a narrow victory because of Jefferson County, but if you're in the Sanders campaign some counties here in the west where you still have hope and one I point it out a little bit earlier, Pike County over here still at 84 percent in the eastern corner of the state coal country here and a big Sanders lead here with still 16 percent of the vote to be counted.

So this is a fun one, we're going to get out of the end, we're going to keep counting and very, very close. Again if you wanted to say is there one slight advantage in this race as you're looking forward, if haven't make a bet, if this stays the same, the likelihood is Clinton gets a narrow win, but there are plenty of places out here Wolf we still got some votes to count.

BLITZER: Yeah, they still got some votes to count, but take a look at this, once again look at how close it is. Bernie Sanders now slightly ahead, 126 votes ahead of Hillary Clinton, 93percent of the vote is in 46.6 percent to 46.5 percent. Both of them have more than 190,000 votes each. Bernie Sanders with a slight advantage only 126 votes ahead.

Let's go over to Dana and David right now. This is really bragging rights because when all is said and done Dana, you know, that their going to proportionally distribute the delegates ...

BASH: Yes.

BLITZER: ... so whoever wins, we're going to one or two or three more but in terms of the bragging rights, the momentum potentially it's significant.

BASH: That's right which is why we are hearing from the Clinton campaign tonight as we (inaudible) I'm sure you are as well David, reminding us that Clinton at this point eight years ago won many of these contests and Barack Obama was still well ahead of her ultimately got the nomination because of pledged delegates just as Hillary Clinton thinks she's going to today.

Having said all that, look at the picture on the screen right there. All of those people gathered. That's for a Bernie Sanders rally in Carson, California. It is unbelievable the kinds of crowds that he is gathering. And I'm hearing from Katie Hymn (ph) and our producer already 1,200 people are gathered there and he hasn't even started yet.

CHALIAN: Right, I mean, this is -- you could tell they're -- nobody in this crowd is concern about delegate math ...

BASH: Right. CHALIAN: ... what we're talk that about that he really doesn't to have a clean shot at the nomination, but this folks are the folks that are going to be really involve in if Sanders pulls out victories tonight, they're wearing the Sanders jersey and they're not ready to take it off yet.

BLITZER: Yeah, you got to give them a lot of credit. He draws these big crowds and as I said Hillary Clinton will needs those supporters if she gets the nomination. As we watch this very close race in Kentucky, Hillary Clinton's team has been lowering expectations. We'll get the very latest from inside the Clinton and Sanders camps. Much more coming up, right after this.


[20:58:53] BLITZER: Slip in (inaudible), out in Kentucky right now. Welcome back. John King is standing by over at the magic wall. Take a look at how close it is right John now. Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton it doesn't get a whole closer than this with 93 percent of the vote actually counted.

KING: No, does see much closer this will, look at this, 191,172 to 191,028. Wow, wow, wow! And as you noted proportional Democratic rules means -- that means you're going equally -- roughly equally split the delegates, but Secretary Clinton wants this to say, I've got to win, Senator Sanders wants it to say I won a state she won by 65 percent in 2008. It won't give Sanders the delegate math he needs but it certainly would give him a moral boost and momentum going forward.

So what are we looking forward as we go out. Last time we spoke we were still waiting for some of these counties in western coal country, Hopkins County for example came in Senator Sanders with a huge win here nearly 30 points, not a ton of votes. If you look, 26, 96, to 60 and 90, so there, what are we waiting for still left Anderson, if you're in the Clinton campaign you think your chance for a narrow victory lies right here in Jefferson county, where we still have a lot of votes to come in, 22 percent she has a big, healthy lead but Anderson, we'll keep counting.

[21:00:11] COOPER: And as John said, we are counting the votes. I'm Anderson Cooper, in the CNN Election Center.