Return to Transcripts main page
CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL
Gov. Mike Pence Accepts Vice Presidential Nomination; Ted Cruz Booed for Non-Endorsement of Donald Trump; Anger At Convention After Sen. Cruz Does Not Endorse Trump; Trump Lawyer Calls Cruz Speech "Political Suicide". Aired 11p-12a ET
Aired July 20, 2016 - 23:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[23:00:04] GOV. MIKE PENCE (R-IN) VICE PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: The outcome of this election depends on us and how we contend with an incredible onslaught that's coming our way. You know, this won't be America's first glimpse at the Clinton Machine
in action, as Bernie Sanders can tell you.
PENCE: This time around she'll have the press doing half her work for her.
PENCE: The good news is it won't be nearly enough, not against a candidate who's captured the attention of the country the way Donald Trump has.
[Cheering and Applause]
PENCE: On issue by issue, he and I will take our case to the voters, pointing out the failures of the Obama/Clinton agenda and showing a better way. We will win the hearts and minds of the American people with an agenda for a stronger and more prosperous America.
PENCE: Now, the establishment in Washington, D.C. thinks it's only a narrow range of voters who are giving Donald Trump a serious look, but I can tell you firsthand there's a lot of Americans out there who feel like Democrat politics have taken them for granted. It's union members who don't want a president who promises to put a lot of coal miners and coal companies out of business.
PENCE: Those miners want an American energy policy and they know that Donald Trump digs coal.
PENCE: It's African-Americans who remember generations of hollow promises about safe streets and safe schools and they know Donald Trump will fight for equal opportunity and he loves educational choice.
[Cheering and Applause]
PENCE: And it's Hispanic-Americans who respect the law, want jobs and opportunities for their families, who know that Donald Trump will uphold the law and get this economy moving for every American.
[Cheering and Applause]
PENCE: You know, the Party of Lincoln was founded on equality of opportunity; and during these difficult days, it will be our party and our agenda that opens the doors for every American to succeed and prosper in this land.
[Cheering and Applause]
PENCE: You know, in so many ways the Democratic Party has abandon those it used to protect. Maybe they've become too entrenched in power, so comfortable at times that they lose patience with the normal legislative process. It's so much simpler to impose their values by executive order or court action. Make no mistake about it, Hillary Clinton has some big ideas along those lines, too.
PENCE: As this election approaches, every American should know that while we're filling the presidency for the next four years, this election will define the supreme court for the next 40.
[Cheering and Applause]
PENCE: We all better think very carefully, very carefully, about what this means for our constitution and limited government. Elect Hillary Clinton and you better get used to being subject to unelected judges, using unaccountable power to take unconstitutional actions.
PENCE: Though, let me say, for the sake of the rule of law, for the sake of the sanctity of life, for the sake of our Second Amendment and for the sake of all our other god given liberties, we must be sure that the next president appointing justices to the Supreme Court is Donald Trump.
[23:05:11] PENCE: And Hillary Clinton's record on foreign affairs gets even worse.
You know, it was Hillary Clinton who helped undo all the gains of the troop surge, a staggering failure of judgment that set ISIS on the loose. It was Hillary Clinton who instigated the President's disastrous engagement with the radical mullahs in Iran. And it was Hillary Clinton who left
Americans in harm's way in Benghazi, and after four Americans fell said what difference, at this point, does it make.
PENCE: As the proud father of a United States Marine, let me say from my heart, anyone who said that, anyone who did that, should be disqualified from ever serving as Commander-In-Chief of the Armed Forces of the United States of America.
[Cheering and Applause]
PENCE: Seven and a half years of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton's policies have weakened America's place in the world. Terrorist
attacks at home and abroad, grim and heartbreaking scenes from France just a few short days ago and the attempted coup in Turkey, all attest to a world
spinning apart. History teaches us that weakness arouses evil. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama's foreign policy of leading from behind, moving red lines, feigning resets with Russia and the rise, rule and reign of
ISIS are a testament of this truth of history. We cannot have four more years apologizing to our enemies and abandoning our friends.
PENCE: America needs to be strong for the world to be safe, and on the world stage Donald Trump will lead from strength.
[Cheering and Applause]
PENCE: Donald Trump will rebuild our military and stand with our allies. Donald Trump will confront radical Islamic terrorism at its source and destroy the enemies of our freedom.
[Cheering and Applause]
PENCE: And if the world knows nothing else, it will know this: America stands with Israel.
PENCE: You know, if you looked at the calendar this morning you might have noticed, the presidency of Barack Obama ends exactly six months from today.
[Chanting "We Like Mike"]
PENCE: And this much is certain -- this much is certain of the Obama years, they're not ending well. There seems to be so many things that divide us, so few great purposes that unite us as they once did; and it's at moments like this, moments when politics fail, that I believe we'd do well to remember [23:10:01] that what unites us far exceeds anything that sets us apart in America.
[Cheering and Applause] PENCE: That we are, as we have always been: one nation, under god, indivisible with liberty and justice for all.
[Crowd follows suit]
PENCE: Should I have the awesome privilege to serve as your vice president, I promise to keep faith with that conviction, to pray daily for a wise and discerning heart; for who is able to govern this great people of yours
without it? My fellow Americans, I believe we have come to another rendezvous with destiny and I have faith, faith in the boundless capacity of the American people and faith that God can still heal our land.
[Cheering and Applause]
PENCE: But we have a choice to make. This is another time for choosing. If you want a president who will protect this nation,
confront radical Islamic terrorism and rid the world of ISIS; if you want a
president who will restore law and order to this country and give law enforcement the support and resources they deserve; if you want a president who will cut taxes, grow our economy and squeeze every nickel out of the federal bureaucracy; --
[Cheering and applause]
PENCE: -- if you want a president who will build strong borders and enforce our laws; and if you want a president who will up end the status quo in Washington, D.C. and appoint justices to the supreme court who will uphold the constitution, --
[Cheering and Applause]
PENCE: -- we have but one choice, and that man is ready, this team is ready, our party is ready. And when we elect Donald Trump the 45th President of the United States, together we will make America great again.
[Cheering and applause]
PENCE: Thank you, and God bless you; God bless the United States of America.
[Cheers and Applause]
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Indiana Governor Mike Pence and Donald Trump coming out on the stage, this his third appearance on this third night of the convention. Again, no other presidential nominee has appeared every night of his convention, as Donald Trump has.
Mike Pence's family will also be coming out, his wife, mother and his three kids. Jeffrey Lord, as someone who was a supporter of Donald Trump probably
longer than most people, it's an extraordinary evening, an extraordinary moment.
JEFFREY LORD, DONALD TRUMP SUPPORTER: It's an extraordinary moment for Donald Trump, for his family, for the vice president, the nominee and his family. I must say I was particularly interested by Newt Gingrich's opening to that speech of his, in which he effectively challenged Ted Cruz and took him on.
COOPER: Kayleigh, there was a lot of question about who Donald Trump would pick as vice president. Clearly this crowd in this hall, Mike Pence, if there was any doubt, he has certainly won them over.
KAYLEIGH MCENANY, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes, Anderson; that's [23:15:01] absolutely correct. I'm reminded of when Mike Pence was considering running himself. One of the things he said is character is destiny. When you look at that man, you see a man of character, a man of integrity, a man of gentle demeanor. This is exactly who we need to see and tonight is a victory for conservatism, a victory for this campaign.
COOPER: Democrats will certainly be painting a very different picture of Mike Pence in the days to come but on this night in this room, he is certainly the man they want.
DAVID AXELROD, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think he did a very good job. He projected a kind of Midwestern earnestness that was winning, a self-effacing humor, a warmth. I mean, there are issues down the line to come, including he talked about debt and Donald Trump has exposure on that issue. They don't agree on trade. He's got his own issues that were controversial in Indiana, relative to gay rights and gay marriage; that will come up. But for tonight, for this room and I suspect for a lot of the viewing audience, I think he played very well.
GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: I think it was a pitch perfect speech. He is a regular politician and somehow in this convention it almost seems weird to hear sort of a -
COOPER: A traditional speech.
BORGER: -- a traditional, conservative speech; but we've been talking this entire convention about where's the beef? Where's the substance, and what Mike Pence did tonight was talk about conservatism and relate it to Donald Trump and said, by the way, poked a little fun at Donald Trump, he said, look, he doesn't tiptoe around things, you know, and he presented his ticket as change against the status quo and he outlined why he believes Hillary Clinton should be disqualified from becoming president, which is his job.
COOPER: We should also point out, John, this is, first of all, the first night that this room has remained packed until this late hour, and in other nights there had been some questions about the order of things. I think tonight was certainly far more electric for this crowd from the beginning and far more sort of cohesive. JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Ladies and Gentlemen, this is what a political convention looks like. There's energy in the room tonight. There's excitement in the room tonight. There was high drama, as Jeffrey was just noting, with the Cruz speech and we'll get more to that later; but Mike Pence is more important than Ted Cruz tonight, and that may have been part of Ted Cruz's problem; but Mike Pence is more important tonight.
Donald Trump won. Ted Cruz sometimes seems to forget that he's lost. But Mike Pence tonight did why they staff of Donald Trump, when Donald Trump's gut was thinking Chris Christie, this is why they went to Donald Trump and said, look, you have skeptics in this room. There are people in this room who aren't sure, because you were a Democrat once, because you were thinking about running as an independent once. They don't know you're one of them. Mike Cruz is one of them, and they know that.
COOPER: Mike Pence.
KING: Mike Pence, I'm sorry. Mike Pence, my mistake; there you go. Paging Dr. Freud.
A vice presidential candidate gets two big nights, this is one. The next one is the debate in the fall, but on this night give Mike Pence an A+.
David's right, the Democrats are going to say on social issues, they're going to say look at this right-wing ticket; they're way over there. That will be part of the campaign. The Democrats, I don't think, are going to spend too much time on Mike Pence. They're going to spend most of it one Donald Trump, but he did his job tonight.
AXELROD: But, you know, one small thing I don't understand, because I agree with everything you just said, including I've been very critical of the stage craft -
COOPER: And there's Donald Trump, obviously, leaving the hall.
AXELROD: Yes; well, this is my question: he came out, very briefly. There was no warm, sort of, moment between the two of them and it still seems as if they're look oil and water in some ways. It as if Trump doesn't want to fully embrace him. Normally there's this this big moment with the
candidate, the candidates holding their hands aloft, the picture everyone --
BORGER: After the announcement of Pence, of which Donald Trump completely up staged his choice of Pence, maybe this was Donald Trump getting some advice, you know, this is Pence's night so kind of back off.
AXELROD: But, you know what, the stage craft require the picture, the warm picture of the two -
BORGER: Should they have put their hands up - NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I mean, you said there was no embrace, figuratively. I mean, literally, sometimes you see the candidates, the two top candidates embrace, put their arms around each other's, but, you know, this isn't Donald Trump. There's sort of a formal hand shake and the thumbs up. He did say he thought he did a fantastic job. He was mouthing that to him, and then they did have the big, you know, kind of reunion today with he flew with the helicopter and everything.
COOPER: Without a doubt though, the headlines, perhaps, tomorrow, or at least one of the major headlines is what happened earlier with Ted Cruz, and we're going to talk about this. We actually have -- let's play some of what Ted Cruz said in this hall. We also have Amanda Carpenter, who is joining us, Ted Cruz's former Communications Director; but first, in case you missed [23:20:02] it, grab some popcorn and watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX) FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The case we have to make to the American people, the case each person in this room has to make to the American people, is to commit to each of them that we will defend freedom and be faithful to the Constitution.
CRUZ: We will unite the party, we will unite the country by standing together for shared values, by standing for liberty. God bless each and every one of you and God bless the United States of America.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Having some trouble with that video, but just the - I mean, first of all, when the New York delegation realized that Cruz was not going to be endorsing Donald Trump, Donald Trump - excuse me. Ted Cruz congratulated Donald Trump at the top of his speech, but that was really the only mention of Donald Trump. There was no endorsement, but the New York delegation realized he was not going to be endorsing, they started to boo him, stated to chant, "endorse Trump"; Donald Trump, aware, clearly, that this was going to be occurring, they had, I assume, had worked out in advance Donald Trump would enter the convention hall at the appropriate time to essentially steal the attention away from Ted Cruz. I didn't even see Ted Cruz slink off the stage because all eyes were on Donald Trump.
BORGER: Yes; right.
COOPER: Amanda Carpenter, did you - was it wise for Ted Cruz -- reporting basically, afterward, had said Ted Cruz had gone up to one of the donor boxes and was accosted by Trump supporters yelling in his face. One person even had to be, apparently, restrained because they were so angry. Heidi Cruz was escorted out by, among others, (Inaudible), because people were coming up to her, yelling at her, yelling "Goldman Sachs", being pretty aggressive.
AMANDA CARPENTER, FORMER COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR, SEN. TED CRUZ: Without a doubt, this convention shows that the party remains in crisis. This will be Donald Trump's best week. This is as good as it gets for him. Ted Cruz could have taken the easy route out. He could have sat out the convention. He could have stayed on the sidelines. He could have stayed home; but he came to the convention and explained how Republicans who are uncomfortable with Donald Trump can come to terms.
The idea of voting your conscience should not be controversial. It should not be controversial. We are facing two nominees who have proven that they will lie again and again and again. What are we going to do as Republicans? Stay true to your principles; stay true to freedom. Some people may make the choice to vote for Donald Trump but you should not sacrifice your integrity to do it.
ANA NAVARRO, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I absolutely agree. You have got to vote your conscience. I know I'm voting my conscience; now, I will also tell you, if you get invited to a dinner party, you don't show up, eat the food, drink the wine and then piss on the party. That's basically what Ted Cruz did today. I thought it was tacky.
COOPER: I was afraid you were going to say something else. I'm glad that's all you said.
NAVARRO: I thought it was tacky. I thought it was, frankly, not magnanimous. It wasn't gracious. Ms. Manners would not approve.
I totally sympathize with Ted Cruz. I think it was a very ugly campaign. It was a very personal campaign. Donald Trump called his wife ugly and implicated his father in a conspiracy of killing John F. Kennedy. It was personal. It was ugly -
COOPER: When you say it like that -
NAVARRO: (Inaudible) you know, check the box.
COOPER: Kayleigh, should he have shown up at all?
MCENANY: No, he shouldn't have shown up at all because, you know, Dana Bash spoke to that delegate in the Texas delegation, (Inaudible) Ted Cruz here, saying he hopes that the person he supported goes and endorses Donald Trump and she said that was emblematic of the rest of the delegation, that's what people were hoping for.
Now, Ted Cruz came here because he wanted to position himself as the man for 2020. He wanted to have a Reagan-like moment, like what we saw in 1976; but there's a difference here. Reagan said at the end of his speech, after a very hard nomination with Ford, he said, we need to walk out of here unified. Ted Cruz, what he did tonight, he took the mantel of conservativism, and he passed it to Michael Pence. Mike Pence is now --
COOPER: Amanda, I want you to be able to -
CARPENTER: I hear a lot of people saying that Cruz did this for political expediency four years from now. The political (inaudible) to do was sit on the sidelines, hope Trump implodes and wait it out. He came here, he faced down a crowd that was booing him and stood there and took it. That is courage, if I've ever seen it.
COOPER: Okay; Jeffrey Lord?
LORD: The crowd started off loving Ted Cruz.
[23:25:02] COOPER: Yes, he got a very long standing ovation.
LORD: He was given a very long, thunderous ovation and he -
CARPENTER: We'll see how it plays.
LORD: -- turned it all around and was booed off the stage. I mean, and your analogy is absolutely perfect. Ronald Reagan came down -
CARPENTER: Is it about honor or applause though?
LORD: Ronald Reagan -
CARPENTER: That's my question.
LORD: So you're saying Ronald Reagan was dishonorable for supporting Gerald Ford?
CARPENTER: I'm talking about what's happening right here, right now. We've watched a campaign -
LORD: Well I'm talking about the same thing.
CARPENTER: -- and it's people lie and lie and lie again, on live TV. so how can we congratulate them and throw roses at their feet?
LORD: So, in other words, this is about personal pettiness and bruised egos and not the Constitution?
NAVARRO: I actually think, in a way, this benefited Donald Trump because he showed that he is the master of his domain. He is -- we are definitely a divided party; there's no doubt about that. Let's please not try to sugar coat it and pretend that is not the case. At the same time, Ted Cruz got shooed out of here like when a stray cat walks into your door, walks into your house.
BORGER: You know, I was talking -- first of all, I was sitting there, waiting for Cruz; there were so many moments he could have endorsed and I could only think of it, it's like going to a wedding and then standing up and objecting to the marriage; right?
NAVARRO: After you spoke for 30 minutes -
NAVARRO: -- in primetime.
AXELROD: That is the way you handle this on TV.
NAVARRO: Oh, come on, it 11:30 at night.
BORGER: And people didn't like it, and I look at what John Kasich did and I say Kasich played it the right way. If he wasn't going to endorse, he didn't show up. I think what Cruz did was outline his agenda for 2020 at Donald Trump's party. And when you look, -- you know, people in advance were trying to compare it to Barack Obama's speech in 2004, when people first really noticed him in a huge way; and this turned out absolutely not to be that. It wasn't Reaganesque, at all.
BORGER: And, you know, Newt Gingrich had to come out and do damage control.
COOPER: I can't help but think, I mean, Donald Trump, earlier, before the convention, when they were talking about how they were going to plan this convention, talked about how boring conventions are, and reporters are always complaining about how these are just four day long, week long infomercials. Now, whether Donald Trump planned this or not, I got to say, it's been pretty interesting.
COOPER: I'm not saying it good for the party, but it's been interesting.
KING: And we talked about this earlier, for Donald Trump, that seems to be the model, the central theme: make it interesting; make it controversial. Everybody wants a convention to be scripted. He has to deal with his negatives. He has to deal with his support among women. He has to address his nega - you know, ditch among Latinos. Instead this has been about plagiarism and now about -
BORGER: Oh, yeah; he planned that one.
KING: I'm old school, and I think conservatives - this is a room full of conservatives, maybe different variations of conservatives, conservatists manners, right? You don't go into somebody else's house, and this is Donald Trump's house, everyone, but Ted Cruz is among the Republicans and - he would say he's a conservative first and Republican second, who are making a bet that this was an accident.
KING: That this was a one shot wonder, and this is not the future of the party.
Now, John Kasich, to Gloria's point, is doing it a different way. He went to the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce the other day, and said, after the election we Republicans have to get together and redefine our party, after the election. So he's essentially saying, this is a one shot wonder. This is an aberration and an accident. We don't know if it is, but the Republican Party, the ground of the Republican Party changing under our feet, and Donald Trump led that change, or is this some flip, disruption? We're about to find out.
AXELROD: I said earlier that Ted Cruz was making a bet that it is a blip, but what is interesting is we saw tonight three young republican leaders, all of whom still aspire to the presidency. You saw Ted Cruz, he approached it one way. You saw Scott Walker, who gave a rousing speech here and really kind of captivating the room.
COOPER: Who, we should point out, was among the first to drop out of the race -
COOPER: -- and because he -- and be critical of Donald Trump.
AXELROD: He dropped out so early that he didn't even get a pejorative nickname for Donald Trump; and then you have Marco Rubio, who I actually thought, of the three, in certain ways, his was too cute by half -
AXELROD: -- which is --
HENDERSON: Which is Marco Rubio.
AXELROD: -- I'll send a video, but I won't show up. So I can say I wasn't - you know what I mean? Do one or the other.
HENDERSON: Yes, I mean, it was classic Marco Rubio, sort of trying to have it both ways; and I have to say, tonight was classic Ted Cruz. I mean, this is who he has been all this time, a burr in the saddle of the establishment. Now, guess what? Donald Trump, he's the establishment.
I did hear from a black republican who had been complaining, really, about a lot of the speeches and he loved Ted Cruz. He said this was the speech that a lot of black republicans had been waiting for. He appreciated the mention of Alton Sterling. It didn't really play well, here in the crowd.
[23:30:16] KAYLEIGH MCENANY, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR & TRUMP SUPPORTER: One of the truly curious things though, about Ted Cruz is, let's not forget, he is someone who allied himself with Donald Trump, very staunchly, at the beginning of the campaign. They were the two guys who did not attack one another.
JEFFREY LORD, DONALD TRUMP SUPPORTER: Right. MCENANY: He knew Donald Trump. He knew who he was. He's a very public persona. He knows the things that he said in the past and at that moment he believed Donald Trump is a constitutional conservative because he stood by him, rallying against the Iran deal.
DAVID AXELROD, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: I don't think he believes he's a constitutional conservative. I think he believed he was a flash in the pan and he was going to disappear.
ANA NAVARRO, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: It was absolutely mutual. I mean, you know, Donald Trump also attached him to Ted Cruz as a barnacle, when he thought it was convenient. It was about political convenience for the two of them, and I frankly think Donald Trump should be sending Ted Cruz a fruit basket tomorrow because you know what we're not talking about? Melania's plagiarism. That story is dead.
MCENANY: Ana, I agree with you, that it was a move of political expediency, but for someone who so passionately gave what otherwise was a beautiful speech -
LORD: Yes, it was.
MCENANY: -- about conservativism, for someone to so strongly believe in that, you don't forge an alliance -
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Also, I just want to point out, Hillary Clinton has sent out a tweet, echoing Ted Cruz saying "Vote your conscience."
COOPER: Let's go back to Wolf; Wolf?
WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Amazing night, I've got to tell you. The situation here with Ted Cruz, normally, in this kind of situation, Jake, the Republican National Committee or Donald Trump and his campaign would approve, would approve the words of Ted Cruz, allowing him to speak. Clearly they didn't approve what he had to say, because he refused to endorse the Republican Nominee.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm not sure whether the Trump Campaign approved the remarks or not. I've heard --
BLITZER: They didn't approve. I'm sure they didn't approve. I don't even know if they knew the remarks, but the point is that normally at a convention like this, you know exactly what each speaker is going to say.
TAPPER: you and I have covered a lot of conventions. I cannot remember a speech like this. There are now people who have spoken, or other competitors, Mike Huckabee, taking to Facebook, describing Ted Cruz as a "self-absorbed politician who grabbed the mic and tried to line up his own future." General Flynn, who spoke, I believe, on Monday night, saying, "Tonight Ted Cruz demonstrated he is willing to place self before country."
The attacks coming at Ted Cruz are strong and vicious and they are going to be unrelenting.
DANA BASH: Absolutely; look, I was there on the floor as you could feel the shift as it happened. For most of the speech Ted Cruz was getting applauded. People were on their feet, very, very enthusiastic. But, as it became clear he wasn't going to endorse, the crown turned on him.
I cannot overstate how many of his own supporters I'm talking about. For example, the person who ran his campaign in Virginia told me that he "failed the nation" and he told me that he believes that he would never support Ted Cruz again and he said he made a big mistake.
You were talking about the competitors, who were not very happy, said he should stick to his pledge to support the nominee. One of them was Chris Christie, who was on the floor with the New Jersey delegation, I talked to him right after; listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BASH: Governor, what did you think of Ted Cruz's speech?
GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R-NJ): I think it was awful; and, quite frankly, I think it was selfish. He signed a pledge and it's his job to speak his word. Donald Trump give him the opportunity to speak here at this convention tonight and I think it's was too cute, and I think you saw by the end of the speech that the crowd was waiting for him to do the right thing and realized that once again he wasn't going to do it. I think the performance you saw up there is why Ted has so richly deserved the reputation that he's developed on Capitol Hill.
BASH: Are you saying that he gave Donald Trump a promise that he would endorse him here?
CHRISTIE: No -- yes, he did. He gave Donald Trump a promise the same day I did, the same day everyone who signed that Pledge did. We didn't give it to Donald Trump, we gave it to each other. The 17 of us gave a promise to each other and we signed it, and we said no matter what happens, we're going to support the Republican Nominee for President. That's when he gave the promise. I don't know what conversations he and Donald may have had since that time, and that's not what I'm talking about. Every one of us signed a pledge and our word should matter, and that's what disgusts people out in your audience about politicians, that they give their word and then they think that's negotiable.
[23:35:02] BASH: There are other candidates who ran for president who have not endorsed him?
CHRISTIE: Well that's true, and I've been critical of those folks as well, Dana -
BASH: But is your point that they didn't come and speak here?
CHRISTIE: That's right; John Kasich's not in the room tonight. Jeb Bush is not in the room tonight. Carly Fiorina is not in the room tonight. Now, I still think they should keep their word, but the fact is he came into this room tonight and then did not keep his word; and, listen, don't take it from me. Listen to this crowd here.
They gave him a chance. This crowd was very respectful and supportive of Ted for a good part of that speech, but the later it got in the speech, and to say cute things like you should vote for candidates you believe in from the top of the ticket to the bottom, and don't stay home in November, this is the kind of Washington talk that people in this country are repelled by and, I have to tell you, I sat there shaking my head, unfortunately, not the least bit surprised.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: And Dana, you were on the floor. I assume you got a lot of reaction, similar to that?
BASH: Oh, absolutely; and, again, as I was saying, not just from, you know, sort of die-hard Trump supporters. People who were very much in the Ted Cruz camp and it took a while for them to get to a place where they can support Donald Trump, but they are and they think there should be party unity.
One thing I want to add; you were talking about whether or not the Trump Campaign had seen the speech beforehand. No, they didn't approve it but they did know about it not that long ahead. I had reported maybe about a half an hour, or a little bit before that before we got the speech on an embargoed basis, that there was no endorsement in there, and that's because party officials do it. They had to put it in the teleprompter. So they got to see it. There's no question that the Trump Campaign, I'm not sure if Donald Trump actually knew, but they knew.
BLITZER: At that point it's too late to prevent him from speaking.
TAPPER: There was no requirement.
TAPPER: Donald Trump did not require Ted Cruz to endorse him -
BASH: Absolutely not.
TAPPER: -- in order for him to speak; and the Trump Campaign and the Republican National Committee and Republican Convention had copies of the speech before -
TAPPER: -- Ted Cruz took to the stage. So I don't know if they approved of the remarks, but there was no requirement that they need to approve the remarks. So that's all I'm saying.
BASH: No; absolutely. Go ahead.
TAPPER: The other thing I was going to say is, I -- just because obviously, what Ted Cruz did is so controversial, I'm not going to defend Ted Cruz or prosecute Ted Cruz but let me just offer some perspective for viewers as to why Ted Cruz did what Ted Cruz did; okay, having talked to people close to Ted Cruz.
One, he legitimately does not think Donald Trump is a conservative and he legitimately does not think Donald Trump understand what it means to be a constitutional conservative. He really actually thinks that. Two, we cannot pretend that Ted Cruz does not have his own aspirations for 2020 or 2024, and if he does, he is now, again, I'm not defending this or articulating this as the right decision, he is now going to be able to say, if Donald Trump does not win in November, I was the conscience of the party. I -- not only did I not endorse Donald Trump, I went to the convention and I took a stand for what we all believe in. Marco Rubio did not do that, and Paul Ryan did not do that and Scott Walker did not do that, and on and on and on to all his competitors.
BLITZER: And, Dana, let's not forget, Ted Cruz is never going to forget the words that Donald Trump uttered about Ted Cruz's wife and Ted Cruz's father.
BASH: That's true, although I really think that Jake is nailing the reason for this, and I've talked to a lot of people close to Ted Cruz. It's not so much of the personal, that he's gotten over that; or at least he can get past it, as others have. It's the core belief that Donald Trump is not as conservative as he should be to be the Republican Nominee.
You mentioned his wife. One thing I do want to add, in terms of what went on down there, and this comes from our colleague, Manu Raju, he was saying that there was such chaos that Heidi Cruz, Ted Cruz's wife, was sitting down there and that their friend and ally, Ken Cuccinelli, who is a member of the Virginia delegation, was standing with her and helped try to escort her out because they were concerned that there would be a safety issue for her.
TAPPER: Let me - just one quick thing. We cannot also -- obviously I agree that the principles at stake and his own political future were foremost among why Ted Cruz did what he did; but the retweet, when Donald Trump retweeted an ugly picture of his wife and then suggested very specifically, and it's ludicrous, that Raphael Cruz's father played some kind of role with the Kennedy assassination, of course that played a role.
TAPPER: How could it not?
TAPPER: But right now I want to introduce the General Counsel of the Trump Organization, Michael Cohen, who joins us now you, and he's one of Donald Trump's most stalwart defenders.
So, first of all, I just have to ask, Michael -
MICHAEL COHEN, EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT, THE TRUMP ORGANIZATION: You know, I [23:40:01] just - I wanted to just jump in for a second.
TAPPER: Jump in.
COHEN: I think that Ted Cruz, tonight, the only way to sum it up is political suicide; I listened to Amanda Carpenter talk about honor. Where is the honor in reneging on a pledge when you stand in front of the people of the United States, you hold your hand up, and remember all of the scrutiny that all of you put Mr. Trump through when he turned around and he refused to raise his hand at the beginning?
TAPPER: Right here.
COHEN: Right here; right.
TAPPER: Right here in this same arena.
COHEN: It was days upon days' worth of bashing of Mr. Trump that he would not raise his and he would not honor the pledge. He ultimately honored the pledge. You see, Ted Cruz was never looking to honor any pledge unless he or somebody that he approves was the candidate, and that's not the American system. Again, I really believe he committed political suicide today.
Lastly, the Republican National Committee, the party itself, should never back a single candidate who does not honor the pledge. So I think that if the RNC ends up backing him in 2020, I think it would be a terrible mistake for them to do as well.
TAPPER: Michael, let me ask you, was there some sort of deal between the Trump Campaign and the Cruz forces that Ted Cruz would forego -
COHEN: I don't know. I'm not part of the campaign.
TAPPER: But you haven't heard -
TAPPER: -- because there's talk that maybe if the Cruz Campaign didn't force a floor fight on Monday that Ted Cruz would get the speaking slot.
COHEN: No. First of all, Mr. Trump clearly went over the 1,237. There was nothing Ted Cruz was going to do about it. What today --
TAPPER: Well he could have forced an ugly fight.
COHEN: Which would have showed nothing. What Ted Cruz could have done -- what he behaved like today, was the difference between Mr. Trump, who is an adult, and Ted Cruz, who behaved like a baby.
TAPPER: So let me ask you a question: so I remember the last debate that CNN hosted, and I moderated, in Miami. On stage Donald Trump, John Kasich, not here, not endorsing Donald Trump; Marco Rubio, not here, did endorse Donald Trump but has been critical of him; and then Ted Cruz. Of those three opponents, do you think, that did not win, do you think any of them handled this the proper way?
COHEN: I think Marco Rubio handled it the way he wanted to handle it. He honored his pledge. So I think that he's safe; but I think John Kasich, 100-percent, the RNC should not endorse him. They should not back him in any re-election campaign. Again, Ted Cruz, political suicide.
TAPPER: I think Ted Cruz is up for re-election in two years; I believe that's right, in two years. Do you think, if Donald Trump is president, or even if he is not president, that there will be an effort to defeat Ted Cruz in the republican primary?
COHEN: Are you talking about in the future?
COHEN: By Mr. Trump, I don't know; but I'll tell you one thing, he should never have the opportunity to even be in that position because he lied to the American people.
TAPPER: How did he lie?
COHEN: He raised his hand and he said "I will honor the pledge." He lied. You know what? That's exactly what the Republican Party, that's exactly what Mr. Trump and what all of these supporters that were here tonight are angry at the establishment; they're angry at Hillary Clinton. They don't tell the truth. It's about time that as Americans we should be entitled for our representatives, who we put into power, they need to tell us the truth.
TAPPER: Ted Cruz, reportedly, went to one of the suites of doors, I believe the Sheldon Hamilton suite, was turned away. Heidi Cruz had to leave, had to be escorted out of the convention.
COHEN: If she was owe concerned about her safety, why wouldn't they get out of the building, instead of walking up to major donors? What's he looking for, money? There's no need for it. He should not be allowed to run for dog catcher.
TAPPER: He's supposed address delegates tomorrow, I believe. Should he be persona non grata? Should he -
COHEN: I think he's persona non grata in the entire - in all of Cleveland. I mean, you saw the boos that came, and they are right. He started off wonderfully. He was well received and everybody received his properly and they were waiting. They were waiting for the endorsement. They were waiting for him to honor his pledge. The guy lied, so they booed him. He should have left, and he should have left - actually, he should go home.
TAPPER: So let me play devil's advocate here, from the perspective of Ted Cruz. If Ted Cruz actually thinks Donald Trump is not a real conservative, doesn't honor the constitution and knows, for a fact, that Donald Trump labeled him Lyin' Ted, insulted his wife and falsely suggested that his father played some role in the Kennedy assassination -
COHEN: I think that was done by a periodical and Mr. Trump retweeted it, and we have to stop putting so much emphasis on tweets and retweeting and so on. He didn't around and he didn't say anything about Ted Cruz's wife, and he didn't create the notion. That was done by a periodical, that his father was involved in the assassination.
TAPPER: "The National Enquirer."
COHEN: Okay; so he retweeted it. Big -
TAPPER: It mean, it's not "The Atlantic." It's the -
COHEN: It's a tweet. There's way too much emphasis on a tweet. You know, you have breaking news, --
TAPPER: No, no. He went on television and talked about it.
[23:45:02] COHEN: -- 124 people are killed. You have breaking news. You have another ax murderer running around on the trains in Germany, and then you want to talk about a tweet.
TAPPER: I'm not talking about a tweet right now. I'm actually talking about when he went on television and said it; but I take your point that it's not the accusation one way or another is not as serious as the attacks by ISIS, and that sort of thing.
Michael Cohen, we appreciate you being here; thank you so much.
COHEN: Thank you.
TAPPER: Congratulations on your boss winning the nomination.
COHEN: Very proud of him.
TAPPER: Wolfe, let me throw back to you.
BLITZER: We're going to get reaction to what we just heard from Michael Cohen. Amanda Carpenter is standing by. She used to work for Ted Cruz. We'll get her reaction; also, what did Republican and Independent voters think of Ted Cruz's refusal to endorse Donald Trump. We're going to have retime reaction from voters right here, in Ohio.
We also have a "Reality Check" coming up on some questionable claims made at the convention tonight. We'll be right back.
COOPER: And, welcome back to our continuing coverage of the third night of the convention, incredibly exciting night. Michael Cohen, Donald Trump's attorney, just a second ago, said we shouldn't make too much of tweets or retweets; but Donald Trump just tweeted about a minute, about a couple [23:50:02] minutes ago saying, "Wow; Ted Cruz got booed off the stage. Didn't honor the pledge! I saw his speech two hours early but let him speak anyway. No big deal."
COOPER: I mean it is - we were talking about this during the break. Just the stage craft - just the stage craft of Donald Trump appearing, while Ted Cruz was still talking, sort of clapping initially and then sort of making this entrance and then the coordination of, I guess, some of their whips kind of whipping up the crows.
KING: And another example of Donald Trump doing things that any traditional republican consultant would say do not do. Earlier today, after his campaign said we're going to shut the Melania story down, well, actually, they're working on a statement to say it was plagiarism, but Trump tweets this morning, Hey, all this press it's getting. Any good press is fine. They were talking about it, right after the campaign manager on (Inaudible) Chris Cuomo said stop asking about this; this story's over. Trump's tweeting about it.
Tonight, it's supposed to be about Mike Pence. It's supposed to be about framing the race against the Democrats, with Pence, essentially, setting the table for the biggest night in Donald Trump's career, tomorrow, right there. What are we talking about? The grievances with Ted Cruz, the primary. This is supposed to be the healing war.
COOPER: I want to go to Amanda because Michael Cohen referenced you and sense essentially said that Ted Cruz committed political suicide tonight.
CARPENTER: I mean, that's just another demonstration showing why so many people are uncomfortable with Trump and the people he surrounds him with. They are so focused on vengeance, their own ego, and they are going to continue to lord this pledge over the head of Ted Cruz, and that's fine; but when that pledge was made, we didn't know that Donald Trump was going to stand up and say I'm going to force members of our military to engage in torture. We did not know that Donald Trump was going to question a judge's ability to rule in court based on his heritage. There's a lot of things revealed in this campaign about Donald Trump's character, and I think standing up to those dangers is far more important than upholding any pledge to the RNC.
LORD: Wow! Amanda, I love you but you're sounding like a liberal.
CARPENTER: Is it liberal to say we should not compel members of the military to do things that we, as a country, are united against?
LORD: Are you saying George W. Bush engaged in torture, is that what you're saying?
CARPENTER: I'm saying that the rule of law -- Congress passed laws we will no longer do this -
LORD: George W. Bush - CARPENTER: Do you agree with what the Obama administration has done with executive action? Is that what you will support Donald Trump doing in a Trump administration? It appears so.
LORD: I - I --
CARPENTER: Who is the liberal now?
LORD: I am saying that Donald Trump - I mean, I just find this remarkable. I mean, we're getting back to the arguments --
CARPENTER: I do too.
LORD: -- about -- look, one the problems here, for Ted Cruz, is a lot of people that were booing Ted Cruz are in fact conservatives.
CARPENTER: But, you know what? Ted Cruz -
LORD: They are conservatives.
CARPENTER: This is an important moment in time, for what people are going to stand for. People have to answer where they stood on the question of Donald Trump, and Ted Cruz took a risk. You may not agree with that. but that was his choice.
COOPER: So - so -
MCENANY: Scott Walker spoke for a lot of Republicans when he said, on this very stage on august 6th I said any one of these Republicans would be better than Hillary Clinton. We heard that from the Texas delegation tonight when Dana Bash interviewed. There are a lot of Republicans who feel - they may not like Donald Trump, but he is a heck of a lot better than Hillary Clinton.
COOPER: So what is the political calculus that Rubio, Walker and the others are making --
AXELROD: The political calculus is that they think if Trump loses they don't want to alienate the large body of primary voters who voted for him by appearing to be insufficiently supportive of him. Now, how much they will do for him remains to be seen.
NAVARRO: For Rubio the political calculus, let's remember that he is now running for reelection in a state where Donald Trump won handily every county except Miami-Dade, except the county where Marco is from. So Marco's got to figure out a way to walk this line.
Trump is very unpopular with Hispanics. Hispanics are very important to a Marco Rubio re-election, but he won the rest of the state. I have to tell you though, we've got to go back to this reality show component because this entire campaign primary has been a reality show and then when you see what unfolded here tonight, the entire day makes sense, and the stage craft of it, the TV production. You know, the plane coming in as Ted Cruz was speaking. The helicopter; Laura Ingram out there starting to bang the drums against Ted Cruz even before the speech. Donald Trump coming out just at the exact time. I mean, this thing was a thing of beauty. If he doesn't win the presidency, hire him to run -
BORGER: So now I'm beginning to believe, --
AXELROD: There's an opening.
BORGER: -- now that you've said -
BORGER: So now I'm beginning to believe that this was all a set-up, that this was all a set-up, which was your point, John; that maybe the helicopter, "Apprentice"-like, was flying over Ted Cruz's press conference, at exactly the right time.
[23:55:04] NAVARRO: The plane! the plane!
BORGER: At exactly the right time, and that tonight, because they knew two days in advance -
COOPER: You're making the Herve Villechaize reference -
BORGE: Wait a minute. Wait a minute. -- because they knew two days in advance that Cruz was not going to endorse, Donald Trump knew that, and only Ted Cruz, who is so disliked -- excuse me, Amanda -- but he is so disliked, only Ted Cruz could turn Donald Trump into a subject of some sympathy this evening.
COOPER: So this was designed to embarrass Ted Cruz?
BORGER: Yes! Yes!
NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: If only they put that much thought into Melania Trump's speech it would have been great.
BORGER: If they knew -- the boos came from the New York delegation first.
COOPER: We have to take a break. We'll have more of this. We're on for the next hour.
NAVARRO: Fascinating. Fascinating.
COOPER: A lot to consider. Still ahead, Republican and Independent voters in this crucial battle ground state react to the drama at this convention tonight. Donald Trump has given an interview to the "New York Times" today about foreign policy; it's got a lot of headlines. We'll talk about that. Plus, a "Reality Check"; did tonight's speakers get their facts straight? Details ahead.