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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL
Donald Trump to Officially Announce Mike Pence as Vice Presidential Running Mate; Reporting Indicates Donald Trump May have had Second Thoughts on Mike Pence Vice Presidential Pick; Mike Pence's Past Policy Differences with Donald Trump Examined. Aired 10:30-11a ET
Aired July 16, 2016 - 10:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Hello, I'm Wolf Blitzer in Washington. We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. We're following CNN's special coverage of the Republican choice for vice president of the United States. In just minutes Donald Trump will make it official and introduce the Indiana governor, Mike Pence, as his running mate. These are live pictures coming in from the New York Hilton hotel. This is where Donald Trump and Mike Pence will be appearing momentarily. They billed it as a news conference. They will make statements. We'll see if they answer reporters' questions at the same time.
This is the first time Trump and Pence have taken the podium together since the presumptive nominee announced his discussion on Twitter just before 11:00 a.m. eastern yesterday. The revelation came after weeks of dropping hints and very dramatic plot twists. There was even talk of a last minute change of heart. Sources telling CNN that Trump didn't go with his gut on this one, instead choosing political pragmatism, and hopes for a unified Republican Party in selecting the Indiana governor, Mike Pence.
We have team coverage standing by for this major announcement. Let begin with our senior White House correspondent Jim Acosta. He's covering Trump. He's in New York at the New York Hilton hotel. Jim, set the scene for us.
JIM ACOSTA: That's right, Wolf. In about 30 minutes from now we're scheduled to hear from the GOP ticket, really for the first time together on stage as running mates. And Donald Trump and Mike Pence, you know, Wolf, we've been talking about this over the last couple of days. They're a political odd couple. Donald Trump the sometimes bombastic, very unconventional presumptive GOP nominee. But Indiana Governor Mike Pence is very different. He is a straitlaced, low key, Midwestern nice guy that everybody seems to like inside the Republican Party.
Donald Trump is getting rave reviews for this selection of Mike Pence across nearly every part of the Republican Party from the Speaker of the House to former rivals like Marco Rubio. Even Jeb Bush was tweeting his support for the Indiana governor being selected as Donald Trump's running mate.
But Wolf, these two candidates, running mates partners here, they do have their differences. Donald Trump was a critic of the Iraq war. Mike Pence voted in favor of the Iraq war. Donald Trump has come out very strongly against Obamacare. Mike Pence as governor of Indiana expanded Medicaid as part of Obamacare as governor of Indiana. There are lots of other differences.
Whether or not we're going to be able to ask about those differences remains to be seen. I can tell you from standing in this room, even though Donald Trump tweeted out this was going to be a news conference, the press is set up behind some barricades behind several rows of chairs for guests here. So it appears that this is not going to be a news conference after all.
But getting back to some of those differences between Mike Pence and Donald Trump, you know, Mike Pence himself has taken exception to some of the policies that Donald Trump has proposed as a candidate in this race. You recall Donald Trump's initial urging for a temporary ban on Muslims entering the United States. The campaign says it's different. They're talking about banning potentially Muslims coming from countries that have known terrorism links. But back in December Mike Pence put out a tweet, we'll put it up on the screen where he said "Calls to ban Muslims from entering the U.S. are offensive and unconstitutional." That was a tweet from Mike Pence back on December 8th.
But Wolf, now that Mike Pence is on this ticket, last night the Indiana governor was walking that back, saying perhaps something has to be changed when it comes to Muslims coming into the United States. Here's what he had to say last night.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. MIKE PENCE, (R) INDIANA: I am very supportive of Donald Trump's call to temporarily suspend immigration from countries where terrorists influence and impact represents a threat to the United States.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Was it a wording difference?
PENCE: Well, I think, you know, I've never hesitated to take issue with fellow Republicans when I don't think things came out quite right or quite how I would have done it. But I want folks to know I strongly agree with Donald Trump's call that we've got to do something different.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ACOSTA: Now, speaking of tweets, we should point out, Wolf, that earlier this morning Donald Trump posted a tweet that said that Mike Pence was his first choice. That appears to be some kind of response or comment on these reports that we've been hearing over the last 24 hours, including one from our own Dana Bash that Donald Trump was sort of second guessing himself and wondering whether or not he could get out of the selection of Mike Pence as his running mate.
[10:35:11] I can tell you from talking to sources inside the Trump campaign, they are still pushing back on that very strongly. Donald Trump Jr., the son of the presumptive GOP nominee, told me in a message last night that it was, quote, "nonsense," and there are people inside the Trump campaign who are very furious with the New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. They feel like he is the source or his people may be the source of a lot of those comments that were swirling around yesterday that Donald Trump was somehow wavering in the selection of Mike Pence, Wolf.
BLITZER: Thanks very much, Jim Acosta. We'll get back to you. We'll see if in fact Donald Trump and Mike Pence wind up answering reporters' questions or simply make statements, making it all very, very official, very public.
I want to bring in our panel here in Washington, Gloria Borger, our chief political analyst, Dana Bash is with us. Nia-Malika Henderson is with us as well. First of all, Gloria, the differences between a presidential nominee, a presumptive presidential nominee, and a vice presidential running mate, there are always some differences. But it looks based on everything we're seeing Mike Pence is moving away from his earlier positions on a whole host of issues to try to coordinate with the presidential nominee.
GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: This is an arranged marriage. There is nothing sort of compatible in terms of policy or even temperament. But that may be why it will work. And that is exactly why Donald Trump chose him. There are differences, and I fully expect Mike Pence to have a campaign conversion, as we just saw, which is having on the Muslim ban, et cetera.
But what Donald Trump is trying to do with Mike Pence is to lead some skeptical Republicans to believe he is serious about governing. And that has been a problem for him. You know, Mitt Romney, who lost, had over 90 percent of support among Republicans. Right now, Donald Trump has about two-thirds of Republicans with him. So he's got to continue to consolidate that base of Republicans if he's going to beat Hillary Clinton and make sure they don't stay home. And that is exactly what he believes that Mike Pence will start doing for him.
Yes, they have differences. But yes, what Donald Trump is doing with his choice is reaching out to the establishment with whom he has never been close and doesn't particularly like, but say, look, I am serious about winning. And Pence, they believe, inside the campaign, can help him get over that finish line. So that's what -- it's very clear what Donald Trump is doing here.
BLITZER: And Dana, you had a major report yesterday reporting, there was some second thoughts, even close to midnight that Donald Trump had, should he go after all with Mike Pence even though he told him he was going to be the nominee. He flew to New York from Indiana. But even at that late moment, he was beginning to wonder if he was doing the right thing. You just heard Jim Acosta say some Trump supporters are saying, well, all of this came from Chris Christie sources, if you will. DANA BASH, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Look, let's just talk
about why Donald Trump seemed to have -- and we stand by our reporting -- seemed to have second thoughts and was not really 100 percent sure about that. It's exactly what Gloria just pointed out. He's never operated in politics before, never mind at this kind of level, and had to make a decision that was not based on what he felt right here, and especially with something so personal and so high profile.
He has said time and time again publicly that he became Donald Trump because he follows his gut, and he goes with what he thinks is right. And, you know, let's face it, he did that and he became the Republican nominee against every single odd you can imagine. So this is a first time that he is choosing somebody who is the Ying to his Yang in every single way in terms of personality, in terms of where he comes from, in terms of his cultural background. And, you know, maybe it's going to work and he's rolling the dice.
BLITZER: He certainly is. And these are two men not only with very different personalities, different styles. But as Jim Acosta pointed out, on some very important issues to Donald Trump they disagree, whether they vote in favor of going to war against Saddam Hussein in Iraq, whether the Transpacific Partnership, a ban on Muslims coming into the United States. Coming into all of this, there was significant disagreements. These are issues very, very at the forefront of Donald Trump's campaign.
NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER: That's right. You know, I think today people will be looking for the kind of chemistry they have just standing next to each other. Are they more like Batman and Robin in the way that we've seen from other V.P. and presidential packages. I think that will be something people look for today.
[10:40:02] But then I think police. I think what was interesting about this choice the Republicans I heard from, they like this choice, and the Democrats I heard from also like this choice. So there is something I think for Democrats in Pence's record where they think they can continue to pull away moderate Republicans, particularly college-educated women.
You mentioned, for instance, that Romney had pretty much consolidated the party by this time. The voters that Trump is having problems with aren't conservative voters. They're moderate voters like the Democrats feel like they have a shot with and they feel like Pence's record on issues like abortion will certainly help them make that case to that segment of Republican voters.
BLITZER: Speaking of Democrats, I want to quickly bring in our CNN political commentator, the Democratic strategist Paul Begala who is joining us from Cleveland right now. He's a Hillary Clinton supporter, in fact is involved in a major pro Hillary Clinton super PAC. So what's your reaction, Paul to the decision by Donald Trump to pick Mike Pence?
PAUL BEGALA, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, first it's -- Dana's reporting has been what's so stunning here. Donald Trump's calling card is his leadership as a businessman. I'm a decisive, strong leader. And now we find out that he couldn't make this decision. It's the first presidential decision that he made and he didn't trust his instincts, he wasn't happy with it. He was looking for a way to crawfish out of it at the last minute. I find that remarkable from a personal point of view. And it gives you a window into Trump that there may be more bluster than reality as a leader.
As a strategist, Nia is right. Those college-educated women are one of the most important voting blocs. I like Mike Pence. He's a good guy. He doesn't help you with them. He has very extreme views on women's rights, abortion rights, gay rights, none of which who are going to appeal to a lot of college educated women. So he's doubling down on Christian Evangelicals where he already is getting an enormous share of the vote. And he's earned it. So I don't see strategically that Mike Pence brings very much. Stylistically, again, I think it shines a light on some really unattractive leadership qualities in Donald Trump.
BLITZER: I want to get a different perspective. Kayleigh McEnany is joining us as well. She's a CNN political contributor, Donald Trump supporter. All right, Kayleigh, I want you to respond to what we just heard from Paul Begala.
KAYLEIGH MCENANY, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: I disagree with him that Mike Pence doesn't help with college-educated women. It's always been a myth that all college age women, women my age, quite frankly, all they care about is abortion and contraception. That's just not the case. Most millennials care about jobs. They don't have them right now. They're in short supply, especially among minority millennials. And this is someone who has a Reagan like economic record. Indiana is the fifth highest job growing state. He has a $200 million surplus despite having the biggest tax increase in state history. This is someone who can make job and bring jobs to the country, who has done it in a government capacity. You have Donald Trump who has done it in a business capacity. This is a winning ticket on terrorism, on the economy, and I disagree that this is a bad pick. This is an excellent pick on the part of Donald Trump.
BLITZER: David Chalian is our CNN political director. He's at the Republican convention in Cleveland. You've been speaking to a lot of Republicans over there, David. What's the reaction you're getting from rank and file Republicans to this Mike Pence selection?
DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: You're hearing a lot of relief from the sort of establishment wing of the Republican Party, the elected official types, the Capitol Hill aides, the folks who work in the states. These are the folks who have been somewhat reluctant or wary of the Donald Trump candidacy. And what you are hearing now is, OK, now there's a guy who we know who has an access point that we can talk to that speaks our language. And so you're hearing a real sense of relief in that way that Donald Trump did not decide to sort of double down on just the firebrand but actually wanted to bring someone on board who can talk to the portion of the party that has been reluctant to come on board enthusiastically.
BLITZER: We know, David, that a lot of high profile Republicans, members of the Senate, members of the House, governors, they're boycotting in effect, they're avoiding going to where you are right now in Cleveland. They don't want to be there. But there's been some suggestions or maybe Mike Pence can force them to reconsider, convince them that it's a good idea to show up. Are you hearing of anyone who hadn't planned on showing up, any high-profile Republicans, all of a sudden because of the Mike Pence selection, that they're going to be there?
CHALIAN: I have not seen a major change in a high profile Republican's schedule yet that I'm aware of. But whether or not they show up at the convention in Cleveland I do believe that Mike Pence is going to be the conduit now for the Mitch McConnells and Paul Ryans of the world. Obviously those two guys will be here in Cleveland. But I think that he is going to be the conduit into the Trump campaign for a lot of those establishment office holders.
[10:45:02] You could easily imagine a John Kasich, who is not on board with Trump at all, in fact his statement about the Pence pick was -- made it clear he is still not on board with the ticket. But you can easily imagine a conversation between these two neighboring governors if one needed to take place. So that's the kind of inside assuaging that is going on with the Pence pick.
BLITZER: All right, everyone stand by. These are live pictures coming in from the New York Hilton Hotel. That's where Donald Trump will make his statement, announcing officially. He did yesterday, but for the first time jointly appearing with the Indiana governor Mike Pence. They're going to be making joint statements. They're going to kick off their campaign just in advance of the Republican convention in Cleveland.
We'll also take a closer look at Governor Pence's similarities with Donald Trump, and there are some very stark differences as well. This as we await for Donald Trump to announce Pence as his running mate. You'll see it live moments from now.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. MIKE PENCE, (R) INDIANA: I'm excited. I'm excited to be joining the ticket. And I look forward to carrying his message all across this country in the months ahead and serving with him in the next administration.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Just moments away from Donald Trump making it not only official but very, very public, the announcement that Governor Mike Pence of Indiana is his vice presidential running mate.
[10:50:01] Trump said months ago he wanted a political insider as his V.P. Mike Pence definitely fits that description. The Indiana governor, former congressman, has lots of Washington experience, Republican Party connections that Trump doesn't necessarily have. CNN's Sunlen Serfaty has more details.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) PENCE: I'm supporting Donald Trump because we need change in
SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Indiana governor Mike Pence, a veteran Washington insider.
PENCE: I'm prepared to make that case anywhere across Indiana and anywhere across this country that Donald Trump would want me to.
SERFATY: Bringing that expertise and executive experience, noted for message discipline, while bringing social conservatism to the ticket.
It was Pence who signed into law Indiana's religious freedom bill which says businesses have the right to decline participating in same- sex marriages. Opponents cried discrimination, and Pence backed down, amending the law and angering conservatives. His approval ratings took a hit across the state. But that recent dustup hasn't seemed to sour Trump on Pence.
DONALD TRUMP, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You have a really good governor here. You have a nice guy and he's a good governor.
SERFATY: Pence hasn't always been aligned with team Trump. During the GOP primary, he endorsed Trump's opponent Senator Ted Cruz.
PENCE: I'm not against anybody, but I will be voting for Ted Cruz in the upcoming Republican primary.
SERFATY: But in this interview he also singled out and praised Donald Trump.
PENCE: I particularly want to commend Donald Trump who I think has given voice to the frustration of millions of working Americans with lack of progress in Washington, D.C.
SERFATY: That endorsement of Cruz was seen as look warm as best.
PENCE: I'm going to work my heart out to make sure that we elect a Republican president in the fall of 2016.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Even if it's Donald Trump?
PENCE: I'm going to support the Republican nominee because Indiana needs a partner in Washington, D.C.
SERFATY: Even mocked by his future running mate.
TRUMP: Most people think it was more of an endorsement for me. It was the weakest endorsement anyone has seen.
SERFATY: But there have been times when Governor Pence has also been critical of Donald Trump, calling Trump out over his attacks on the ethnicity of the judge overseeing the Trump University case.
PENCE: Of course I think those comments were inappropriate. I don't think it's ever appropriate to question the partiality of a judge based on their ethnic background.
SERFATY: And splitting with the GOP nominee over his call during the primary to ban Muslims from entering the U.S., Pence calling Trump's proposal "offensive and unconstitutional," criticism that Pence has tried to downplay in recent weeks.
PENCE: I'm supporting Donald Trump not because I've agreed with everything that he's ever said. I've occasionally taken issue with things he said myself. And Republicans have every right to do that. But I think at the end of the day it's important we come together around our nominee.
SERFATY: Pence served as a two-term congressman in the U.S. House, rising quickly to prominence by taking on top House leadership positions.
PENCE: This fight is not over.
SERFATY: A role that could help Pence now as he works to unite the Republican Party.
Sunlen Serfaty, CNN, Washington.
BLITZER: Thank you, Sunley, for that report. While we await for the formal announcement from New York we'll show you some live pictures from the New York Hilton Hotel. Donald Trump, Mike Pence are going to be walking out there momentarily. We'll hear from Trump, we'll hear from Pence. This is so far one of the biggest moments in Donald Trump's presidential campaign. We've got the best political team on television here with us to talk about all of that.
I want to go out to Cleveland to CNN delegate analyst. The former Republican national committee chief of staff Mike Shields is joining us in Cleveland. Mike, I take it the never-Trump element in the Republican Party among the delegates committee, the rules committee, that is basically ended, it's over with. There's no hope for those never-Trump people?
MIKE SHIELDS, CNN DELEGATE ANALYST: Yes, that's right. The rules committee met on Thursday and it was really a drought. The Trump campaign was actually very well-organized and there really wasn't any movement that could really gel itself to fight the never- Trump, free the delegates fight in the rules committee. So that's been decided now.
You could have something that might try to happen over the weekend. I really don't see any energy behind that. I think that the Trump campaign what this move is also doing something that is really going to speak to a lot of the delegates. Some of the energy behind the never-Trump campaign is that they were worried about his conservative credentials. And we are talking about some of the differences between Trump and Pence. I think those differences actually benefit Donald Trump that Mike Pence has, those differences, because he's going to speak to those delegates that are going to be conservatives that are going to be on the floor next week nominating him. And I think all of this is adding momentum to him bringing the party together and helping him with the delegates.
[10:55:00] BLITZER: CNN politics reporter Eric Bradner is with us right now. He's at the Republican convention in Cleveland as well. Eric, as far as the platform is concerned, that draft platform, it basically is very conservative, some argue even more conservative than four years ago. Is that right?
ERIC BRADNER, CNN POLITICS REPORTER: That's right, Wolf. So, and this actually is fascinating given the choice of Mike Pence as Donald Trump's running mate, because the two of them have quite a few differences of opinion on social issues and on issues of conservative orthodoxy like trade. And so that sort of rips open these policy difference that might have been settled otherwise had Trump gone with someone sort of more of his ilk in terms of policy. So the big question now is are Democrats going to be able to drive open some of these rifts now that Pence and Trump are sharing the ticket?
BLITZER: They certainly are. The Democrats will certainly try.
Eric, stay with us, everyone stay with us. Momentarily Donald Trump will take the stage at the New York Hilton together with his vice presidential running mate Mike Pence. We'll have live coverage. Stay with us. We'll be right back.
[11:00:02] BLITZER: Welcome back. I want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer in Washington.