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AT THIS HOUR WITH BERMAN AND MICHAELA

Interview with Newt Gingrich; Roger Ailes Negotiating Departure from FOX News; Interview with Libertarian Candidate Gary Johnson. Aired 11:30a-12p ET

Aired July 20, 2016 - 11:30   ET

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


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[11:34:19] KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: We are still in Cleveland -- we did not move in the commercial break -- at the Republican National Convention. Tonight is about rivals and running mates and pirates.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Oh, my.

BOLDUAN: Newt Gingrich could have been all three but he'll settle for two when he takes the stage tonight. The former speaker of the House is a close Trump ally and was a top contender for the vice presidential post.

BERMAN: And a pirate.

Just minutes ago, he talked to CNN special correspondent, Jamie Gangel.

Jamie joins us right now.

You covered a lot of ground with him. He also made I think what is a really interesting prediction.

JAMIE GANGEL, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: So we're not going to give it away quite yet, but he has a prediction about whether or not Ted Cruz will support Donald Trump tonight. Stay tuned.

He talked about the Trump kids. He talked about whether or not he should have a job in a Trump administration, but we started by talking about the Republicans who are not here in Cleveland, especially two who have not endorsed Donald Trump yet.

Let's take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

[11:35:24] GANGEL: You've said about Jeb Bush, Governor John Kasich, that they are sore losers. They would say in good conscience that they don't feel they can support Trump because of the controversial things he said, because they don't believe he has the judgment, the temperament, to be president. Are they allowed to be good Republicans and not support him?

NEWT GINGRICH, (R), FORMER SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: Let me draw a distinction. Jeb Bush was a great reform governor of Florida and is a terrific person, raised more money than anybody else, ran a very traditional race and lost. Now, the Republican Party has been so good to the Bush family, going all the way back to the 70s, that there ought to be some sense of helping the team because it's the team. It's the team that made them president, that made him governor.

Kasich has a different problem. This is Cleveland. This is his home state. There are thousands of people coming to visit. The least he could have done is shown up the first night, never mentioned Donald Trump, and said, I just want to, on behalf of the people from Ohio, welcome, have a wonderful convention, and walked off. That's all he had to do.

GANGEL: You think they're being sore losers?

GINGRICH: I think they're being silly.

GANGEL: Last night, two of Donald Trump's children spoke, tiffany and then Donald Jr. A lot of people are calling Donald Jr. Trump's speech almost a keynote speech because of the way he introduced his father as being in touch with regular working people. And there's this notion of the blue collar billionaire. Does that -- is that really important for Donald Trump?

GINGRICH: Absolutely. I think, by the way, this is the first family convention we've been to. Monday night, you get Melania, Tuesday night, you get Tiffany and Don, Wednesday night you're going to get Eric, Thursday night, Ivanka and Donald. It's quite remarkable. And you have to say on behalf of Trump his kids have all grown up very well educate, very disciplined, very hard working and very attractive. They're people who really want to be liked and who really are open to people and work with people.

GANGEL: You think it makes a big difference?

GINGRICH: I think it really helps him. It softens some of his edges. I think -- Don Jr's case, he became a star right then. A star was born tonight. One of Calista's girlfriends texted her, "He is really hot."

(LAUGHTER)

GANGEL: In addition to your speech tonight, Senator Ted Cruz is speaking. And word is that he has not shown his speech to anyone yet. He also has not endorsed Donald Trump yet. Do you think he has to endorse him tonight?

GINGRICH: No, I think it will be hard for him to endorse him. I think the place will go wild if he does it. But Cruz is a very effective public speaker. And I'm sure he has a message that will be powerful and he knows this audience. This audience overwhelmingly nominated Donald Trump. These are people -- to come in here and not be for Donald Trump is a little silly.

GANGEL: Prediction, you think he endorses tonight?

GINGRICH: Probably, but Ted's an independent person. I'm confident he'll explain why he will never vote for Hillary.

(LAUGHTER)

(END VIDEOTAPE)

GANGEL: I'll make a prediction. Expect more Hillary bashing tonight.

BERMAN: Safe bet.

BOLDUAN: Safe bet.

And so much to discuss now.

Jamie's going to stick here with us. Also with us, a full table of folks, John Avlon, CNN political analyst and editor-in-chief of "The Daily Beast"; CNN political commentator, Scottie Nell Hughes, and Trump supporter and political editor for Rightalert.com; Kevin Sheridan, former senior advisor to Mitt Romney's presidential campaign and former RNC spokesman; and Dan Pfeiffer, CNN political commentator and a former senior adviser to President Obama.

I want to talk about Ted Cruz. But this just in, thank you so much, Donald Trump tweeting, first tweet since the Melania speech- gate, and this is what we've got, John Avlon, "Good news, is Melania's speech got more publicity than any in the history of politics, especially if you believe that all press is good press."

It's a good news story.

JOHN AVLON, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Sure it is. Look this is Donald Trump trolling the media, lemonade out of lemons. That's probably statistically true. No speech has gotten more press. Of course, it's a giant distraction. But don't ever underestimate Donald's ability to create a distraction on a distraction.

BOLDUAN: We're double distracted now.

BERMAN: Kevin, you work with the press, you realize what Donald Trump just did. Another tweet, "The media is spending more time doing a forensic analysis of Melania's speech than the FBI spent on Hillary's e-mails."

But Donald Trump just extended right here --

[11:40:19] KEVIN SHERIDAN, FORMER SENIOR ADVISOR TO MITT ROMNEY PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN & FORMER RNC SPOKESMAN: Donald Trump puts out fires with other fires. We've seen that over and over again. He plays the press. He trolls them. When he gets himself into a corner, he just, you know, sets another fire over here and says go look over there and he keeps doing it. So far, it's working.

BOLDUAN: Scottie, genius?

SCOTTIE NELL HUGHES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think it is genius. BOLDUAN: How did I know you were going to say this?

HUGHES: I know. But he beat 17 candidates with one-tenth of the budget. Obviously it does work for him. When you look at most people, get a quick glance at the headline, all they're seeing is Melania Trump's speech. They might not know the details.

(CROSSTALK)

HUGHES: Well, but that's not necessarily in all the headlines.

(CROSSTALK)

BERMAN: It kind of is, Dan Pfeiffer, is all good press good press?

DAN PFEIFFER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: No, by that definition, the NFL player who has gotten the most press ever is O.J. That's a bad strategy.

(LAUGHTER)

Let it go. Like last night, we had a decent night at the convention. His son spoke, gave a speech that was well regarded. Yet here we are two days later still talking about Melania Trump's speech. Stop digging a hole.

BOLDUAN: The "Frozen" song is the new theme song for the Republican convention, "Let It Go."

Jamie, Newt Gingrich, the prediction of all predictions. Maybe possibly, probably, he says that Ted Cruz could endorse tonight. What is Ted Cruz thinking when he wakes up this morning, do you think?

GANGEL: I think he's thinking he better endorse Donald Trump tonight.

(LAUGHTER)

Especially since Newt said the place would be crazy for it.

The other thing Newt said I thought was interesting is he's been saying he's not interested in the cabinet. He has so much to do. Not today, this morning he woke up and he said, I will do pro bono. I will be the government fixer. He wants to be the government czar.

BERMAN: Do anything pro bono, if I'm Newt Gingrich. He has campaign debt.

Kevin, I want to ask about Cruz. The last few weeks it's been striking to me he was going to speak at a Republican convention that just picked Donald Trump as the nominee and not endorse him, doesn't he almost have to say something, at least a little supportive of Donald Trump?

SHERIDAN: I have a take on that. I don't think whether he endorses or not endorses is really going to in the end matter. People know where Ted Cruz is.

(CROSSTALK)

SHERIDAN: He's going -- look, he's going to put out a conservative message obviously. A Ted Cruz branded message that's not exactly where Donald Trump is. And, you know, whether or not he says I endorse him probably doesn't matter.

AVLON: Ted Cruz woke up this morning and said I'm running for president in 20 and he has the moral victory of this reflecting policies more than Donald Trump.

(CROSSTALK)

BOLDUAN: Scottie, if he doesn't endorse tonight, what are you going be saying tomorrow?

HUGHES: I'm going to say he has a great opportunity to look like a statesman. If he comes out there and looks like he's so bitter. Right now, a lot of people have a bad taste for some Cruz supporters and all the tension. The rest of the delegates see them as problem folks. Ted Cruz can go in there and say, you know what, let's all come together, let me endorse him, and he has a better chance for 2020. Except for Mike Pence. Mike Pence, Cruz, almost the exact same crowd, almost the exact same voter record, except Pence did not piss off D.C. as Cruz has done.

BERMAN: We'll cover some more ground here.

(CROSSTALK)

BERMAN: What is he waking up saying this morning? There's two nights here.

PFEIFFER: They feel good about this because Donald Trump's goal, if he knew who he was doing at this convention, would be to improve his numbers. Instead, he cannot win with the favorability ratings he currently has with the broader public and the core groups that will decide this election. Hang people chant "lock her up," having Chris Christie give that speech, that's not helping Donald Trump, that's just making the people already going to vote for Trump more rapid. The electorate does not win that way.

HUGHES: I disagree, you need engagement, you need --

(CROSSTALK)

AVLON: You cannot win the conservative --

(CROSSTALK)

HUGHES: You need to have them motivated to go to the polls --

(CROSSTALK)

AVLON: -- Republican Party is hatred of Hillary and that's not sufficient. When the opponent is putting political opponents in jail, that's not American --

BOLDUAN: To that point, Jeff Flake, he was tweeting about the "lock her up" bit last night. He was tweeting when everyone was chanting "lock her up" is when the GOP was jumping the shark.

So Scottie, the shark woke up this morning and said what?

(LAUGHTER)

Is that good? Does that help?

HUGHES: I think that shows when you look at the overall convention, there's something for everybody. You might not like the "lock her up" but you might like having a Democratic general on our stage for the first time ever giving a 45-minute speech.

(LAUGHTER)

(CROSSTALK)

[11:45:16] HUGHES: When you're looking for those Independents, this convention is not about the same message across the board. This is about a variety, showcasing the diversity of opinion, today's Republican Party, aka, the 50 shades of red have now been the RNC.

BERMAN: I want to reserve 50 seconds on another story that's out there right now. With FOX News' Roger Ailes in the news, negotiating his departure as we speak. John Avlon, you work in the media business. What does this mean?

AVLON: This is huge. When "The New York Post" puts a Roger Ailes on the rocks on the cover, that's a message from on high this is real.

BERMAN: Owned by the same company.

AVLON: Right. You know, Roger Ailes -- look, a lot of stuff has caught up with him. He's ruled with an iron fist over there. It's been a little bit like Hotel California or North Korea, take your pick. This is going down. He's going to be looking for ways to spend his money in retirement -- or taking over the Trump campaign, we'll see.

(LAUGHTER)

BOLDUAN: There's your other one. We'll talk about that a little bit later.

BERMAN: John Avlon, Scottie Nell Hughes, Kevin Sheridan, Jamie Gangel, Dan Pfeiffer, thank you one and all.

We've been talking about Trump and Clinton as if there's a binary choice there. That's what some people suggest, but that is not the case. There could be other folks who play into this. Libertarian Gary Johnson, he is just a hair away from qualifying for the presidential debates. He will join us live, next. BOLDUAN: Also ahead, incoming. Any moment, Donald Trump is

expected to land here in Cleveland, Ohio, this time, via helicopter. Day three of the GOP convention marches on.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(EMERGENCY ALERT SYSTEM TEST INTERRUPTION)

[11:51:32] BERMAN: -- joining Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump on the presidential debate stage.

BOLDUAN: And joining us right now is the former New Mexico governor, and Libertarian presidential candidate, Gary Johnson.

GARY JOHNSON, (L), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Yahoo, 13 percent.

BOLDUAN: Hey, it's so close.

JOHNSON: That's like one in eight people.

(LAUGHTER)

BOLDUAN: What's your message to those one in eight people?

JOHNSON: I think the one in eight are spreading the message. And I think I might actually be in the presidential debates. I, along with Bill Weld. You know, and there's no way that we can win the presidency without being in the presidential debates. We would not be doing this if there weren't the opportunity to actually win.

BERMAN: Is there fertile ground here? You're in Cleveland right now at the Republican convention. Are you picking up converts?

JOHNSON: I'm not here to pick up converts, John. Your invitation and many others, grateful for the invitation. Trying to stake out a six lane highway between Trump and Clinton.

BOLDUAN: What are you hearing? What kind of reaction?

JOHNSON: Positive. It really is positive. Amazingly. I've been to conventions before. I went to the Orlando convention in 2012. Amazingly, I was -- OK, throw rocks, you know, have at it. I'm the punching bag. And ended up taking pictures all evening. So it was very flattering. Kind of the same thing here.

BERMAN: Jeb Bush is the most current big Republican lately to flirt with the idea of perhaps supporting you. He said is going to look at your candidacy and consider it. Mitt Romney used similar language before. Level with us, are you talking to Jeb Bush? Have you had a conversation with Mitt Romney?

JOHNSON: I think you don't go from being Republican elected, you don't go from being the Republican nominee to say, hey, I'm supporting Gary Johnson. You say I'm going to look at his campaign. Jeb Bush, you don't come out and say I'm supporting Gary Johnson. You say, I'm going to look at his campaign. I'm going to leave it to these guys and, hopefully, what they'll see is some, you know, what, a lot of common ground.

BERMAN: No starting with small government.

No conversations though?

JOHNSON: I can't say that we haven't had conversations. No push on the conversation.

BERMAN: You have had conversations?

JOHNSON: Well --

(CROSSTALK)

BOLDUAN: Who initiates the conversations?

JOHNSON: Not me.

BERMAN: Jeb Bush called you?

JOHNSON: I don't want to -- I want to protect the innocent here.

(LAUGHTER)

BOLDUAN: There's no one innocent in politics.

BERMAN: Exactly.

(LAUGHTER)

You're in the wrong line of work.

(CROSSTALK)

BOLDUAN: Or in journalism.

So what I want to get your take on what you make of what you've seen here. You watched the speeches last night. Last night, one of the biggest things came off the floor was the chanting from the floor, "lock her up," talking about Hillary Clinton. Do you agree with those chants?

JOHNSON: I don't. I'm not the stone thrower, I leave that to others. What a missed opportunity to talk about the issues. How do you accomplish smaller government and what's your idea with regard to governing? I'm out to stake out a six lane highway in between Clinton and Trump. Smaller government on one side and people being able to make choices in their own lives. Example, women's right to choose, marriage equality, legalized marijuana, stop dropping bombs. Like I say, I think what I'm saying is representative of most Americans. I think most Americans are Libertarians they just don't know it.

BERMAN: Former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson, Libertarian nominee for president of the United States. At 13 percent. Woo-hoo, as you said for that.

BOLDUAN: There's your bumper sticker. You're a Libertarian. You just don't know it yet.

JOHNSON: You're a Libertarian and you just don't know it.

BERMAN: Governor, thank you.

JOHNSON: For those watching, this is really a hot room and these lights are --

(CROSSTALK)

BOLDUAN: They're bright.

JOHNSON: -- are stifling.

[11:55:16] BOLDUAN: We turned it up significantly for you.

JOHNSON: Kudos to both of you.

BERMAN: You mean, metaphorically, a hot room. We're smoking here.

(LAUGHTER)

All right, Gary Johnson, thanks so much.

BOLDUAN: Oh, my gosh, he went there.

Coming up for us, Donald Trump is on his way here to Cleveland. Where he is on his flight path? Not quite sure yet. We're watching the landing strip. He's coming in via helicopter this time, folks. Zip line is next.

Our live special coverage continues.

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