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Interview With Eric Trump; Republican National Convention Day Three; Trump's Ex-Archrival Ted Cruz Speaks Tonight; Clinton Closes in on VP Pick. Aired 6-7p ET

Aired July 20, 2016 - 18:00   ET



WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now: Cruz clues. The GOP runner- up taking the stage tonight. What will he say? Will he endorse his former bitter rival?

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: The entrance. Donald Trump and Mike Pence, their Hollywood entrance back into Cleveland and new insight into how a Trump administration might actually function.

BLITZER: And family values. They have had his back all week. Tonight, Donald Trump's son Eric on stage, and my conversation with him today.

COOPER: I'm Anderson Cooper.

BLITZER: I'm Wolf Blitzer, and you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

We're of course coming to you from the Quicken Loans Arena, where, shortly, we will see whether Newt Gingrich will bring the red meat and whether Ted Cruz can bury the hatchet and whether Mike Pence can follow it all with some heat of his own.

High stakes, high drama and a lot to get to in this hour ahead.

Let's begin with CNN's Sara Murray. She's down on the convention floor.

Sara, a lot of highly anticipated speakers tonight. What can we expect?


Tonight looks like more previous conventions we have seen in the past. We will see a number of Donald Trump's former rivals on stage, as you mentioned, Ted Cruz. But we're also going to see Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker. We will see a video message from Florida Senator Marco Rubio and in addition to that we're going to see Donald Trump's running mate, Mike Pence, come out here.

This is really an opportunity for him to introduce himself to the broader American public and to talk about what he did as governor of Indiana and also to talk about the two of them as sort of the ticket of change going up against Hillary Clinton whoever she chooses as her running mate.

We know throughout the week, one of the most exciting moments for the Trump campaign has been being able to feature Donald Trump's own relatives. And we will get another dose of that tonight, as Eric Trump gives a speech here at the convention. One of the criticisms though about this lineup is there's been a lack of diversity.

People are saying this does not look like the Republican Party we hope to turn it into from 2012 to 2016. That will be a little different tonight. We're expected to hear from Ralph Alvarado Jr. He's a Hispanic state senator from Kentucky. Maybe that can do something to help sort of bat back the criticism that we have not seen a ton of diversity on the stage here at the convention -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Sara, the Trump campaign and GOP, they're really hoping to turn the page tonight and move past the talking about Melania Trump's speech the other night. Tell us the latest about that.

MURRAY: That's right. We're now into day three of the convention still talking about Melania Trump's speech from Monday night.

The Trump campaign finally put out a statement today. This was actually from an employee of the Trump Organization, Meredith McIver. She's a speechwriter there and she's been taking full responsibility for the fact there were lines from Michelle Obama's 2008 convention speech that ended up in Melania Trump's convention speech on Monday.

She said that Melania Trump looks up to Michelle Obama, admires her in some ways and there were certain lines she read to the speechwriter over the phone that she said stuck out to her, that she liked. The speechwriter then put those lines into Melania Trump's speech without ever checking Michelle Obama's 2008 address.

She said this was entirely her fault. I want to read you a portion of the statement she put out, Wolf, because it's pretty remarkable. She says that she actually offered to resign. She said: "Yesterday, I offered my resignation to Mr. Trump and the Trump family, but they rejected it. Mr. Trump told me that people make innocent mistakes and that we learn and grow from these experiences."

Donald Trump and Melania Trump saying, look, we will move past this. You can stay on. But obviously there's still a lot of questions about why the campaign did not just put this to bed on Tuesday morning, why they let it stretch into a third day. They are definitely hoping to move beyond this once and for all tonight and they're certainly hoping that Eric Trump's prime-time speech will be a big part of that, Wolf.

BLITZER: They certainly are. Thanks very much, Sara Murray, on the convention floor.

All week, in addition to the candidate himself, we're also hearing from his family, Melania Trump on Monday, Donald Trump Jr. and Tiffany Trump last night, Ivanka Trump tomorrow night. Tonight, another son, Eric Trump, he will be speaking. I spoke with him earlier today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BLITZER: Did you really think 12, 13 months ago, when he went down that escalator, you were going to be here accepting the Republican presidential nomination?

ERIC TRUMP, EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT, TRUMP ORGANIZATION: I think if anybody said yes, they'd probably be lying.

I always thought he was going to do well, right? You look at the people up on stage and they are amazingly talented people. But I just -- I know that gift that my father has and he has an amazing gift.

So, did I always think he was going to make it to top three, top two maybe? Sure. I always felt pretty comfortable. But the Republican nomination for a man who has been never been in politics, that's incredible. He's one of two people who could win the presidency of the United States. He's going to win it, but he's one two of two people in the drive's seat to win it.

It's an incredible thing. It's an incredible story. I think this is going to be studied for years and years and years and in college. Just the story of this campaign and the twists and turns have been amazing.


BLITZER: Tiffany spoke last night. She was very effective.

E. TRUMP: She did an amazing job.

BLITZER: Very different speech from your brother Donald Trump Jr.

You have got a tough act to follow.

E. TRUMP: Sure.

BLITZER: His speech was very well delivered and it was a very powerful address. What are you going to do tonight?

E. TRUMP: Yes. Listen, I think I'm going to very much do the same thing. I really wrote my speech from the heart.

I spent a lot of time on it. I care about the subject matter. I care about him. Certainly something I wasn't going to outsource. You just can't -- it's too important to me. And I'm going to speak from the heart tonight. And I think I have an amazing speech and I think will be great.

I really -- I focus on the question of why. Why he's doing this. Why the country needs a person like him. And I think I answer that question very, very well. And I think I kind of give a good inside look into what his life was, what his life is going to be.

BLITZER: When you see all the criticism he gets -- and you love your dad and you know your dad, but when you see some of the TV commercials, for example, from the Hillary Clinton campaign and others, what goes through your mind, especially the negative, the negative accusations?

E. TRUMP: Listen, we're all big boys and girls. You have to be.

If you're going to step into possibly being a candidate for the president of the United States, you better have thick skin. Right? Otherwise, just don't run. You're going to be out there. You're going to be on the firing line. We're on the firing line because we stand next to him every single day. That's the nature of the beast.


BLITZER: Is it true that the children, Ivanka, you, Don, that you guys are increasingly playing a significant role behind the scenes as his senior advisers? And I refer to the issue of Mike Pence being selected as his vice presidential running mate.

E. TRUMP: Listen, I hate the word adviser. All right? We're his kids.

And we're the people he cares about most in the world. And so do we always have a voice at the table? Yes, 100 percent. I speak to the man five times a day. And so does Ivanka and so does Don. And so naturally we have that back and forth.

I'm not a politician. I know very little about politics on a relative basis. Right? There's many better people to advise on certain things. But I certainly think we kind of understand the world. I think we can give him a unique perspective. And I think we can say things to him that other people wouldn't necessarily say, because of..


BLITZER: Are the three of you on the same page usually or is there disagreement?

E. TRUMP: I think the four of us are usually on the same page.

BLITZER: I'm talking about you and your brother and sister.

E. TRUMP: Yes. No, no, we are.

And I think he is as well. I think we see things the same way and I think we react to things for the most part the same way.

Yes, Ivanka, Don and I, Don is one of my best friends in the world. Ivanka, I am so immensely close with her. We have an amazing, amazing family.

BLITZER: But the Mike Pence decision, did you guys push him to go with Mike Pence?

E. TRUMP: Mike is an amazing guy. And, obviously, Newt is an amazing guy. And he's been a friend for a long time.

And Chris is an incredible guy. We have known Chris for 15 years. He's an amazing guy. BLITZER: So, why did you pick Mike Pence? Because he's going to be speaking tonight, as you know.

E. TRUMP: Yes.

I had dinner with Mike last week, in fact, right before we announced with my father, and obviously Karen, his wife. And we had an amazing dinner. He's an amazingly thoughtful person. He's kind. He's tough. He believes, which is really nice. And beyond that, I think my father picked him because the economic record of Indiana is flawless.

BLITZER: What's been the high point so far over the past year? And then the follow-up -- think about this -- the low point?

E. TRUMP: Yes. Well, I think last night might have been the high point.

I mean, honestly, I think there was two. I think when he won New Hampshire, I will never forget it. We were sitting in a hotel room. It was some random hotel, and it was just us as a family. And they came across.

I think you might have been actually the one who came across. CNN announces that Donald Trump is the winner of New Hampshire. And I will never forget that moment. It was an incredible, incredible moment. It was our first win in politics.

We kind of all hugged. We embraced. That was amazing. The other one was obviously right after Indiana, when Cruz dropped out and obviously Kasich dropped out pretty much simultaneously. And here he was, was the presumptive nominee.

And then I think last night, when kind of the three of us were on the floor, and we got that count, and it was at -- we got it over 1,237. And Don really, my brother, announced that he was now the Republican nominee for president of the United States.

That was the high point. And I guarantee you that the next high point is going to be on November 8, because we're going to win this thing. I feel that strongly about it. I see the movement. I feel that strongly about it.

BLITZER: And the low point?

E. TRUMP: You know, I don't know.

There's been a lot of twists and turns. I mean, people have been incredibly tough. People have been very, very unfair. There's so many things that I have seen throughout the entire campaign which is just so, so ridiculous, so hurtful in so many ways, and so many things that he's had to fight through.

I also think -- I think maybe Iowa was a little bit of a -- just a low point for me, personally, in that we had put a lot into the state. And it was a state that I think we actually won. You obviously remember some of the things that happened kind of the day of the actual thing.

And I think that day also taught us a tremendous amount about politics. It taught us how the game is played. It taught us the things that are going to happen. So, I think it was the best thing that ever happened to us, in that it taught us a tremendous amount. At the same time, it was the first low kind of punch to the gut.

BLITZER: Good luck tonight.

E. TRUMP: It's great being with you.

BLITZER: Thanks very much.

E. TRUMP: As always.


BLITZER: Up next, we're following breaking news. We have new reporting on what Mike Pence will be saying tonight.


Also, a closer look not just at what Ted Cruz might do tonight, but also crucially the stakes riding on what he says.


BLITZER: There's more breaking news we're following right now.

We just got some details on what Mike Pence will be saying tonight.

Let's go back to Dana Bash. She's on the floor.

Dana, what are you learning?

DANA BASH, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I have been talking to sources familiar with Mike Pence's speech.


And it seems as though, at least as far as what I'm told, maybe the most catchy phrase that he's hoping that people remember tonight is what he will say about Hillary Clinton, the now presumptive vice presidential nominee.

Actually, forgive me -- the actual vice presidential nominee. He became so last night. Will call her secretary of status quo as part of his pitch tonight, that if you want more of the same, if you want Washington as usual, you can go with Hillary Clinton, again, calling her secretary of status quo. Or if you want complete and total change, then you should go with the person at the top of this ticket, Donald Trump.

The other thing is, we know that Donald Trump has said that a big part of why he picked Mike Pence was to unite the Republican Party. And that's another of the messages that Mike Pence, I'm told, will give to the people on the floor here and Republicans around the country. He is going to say that he made this decision not just with his head, but with his heart.

Effectively -- and these are my words and not my source's, but it sounds like what he's going to be trying to do is say, I'm a conservative, I'm one of you, and, trust me, he is one of us. Those will be some of the things we are going to hear from Mike Pence tonight.

BLITZER: Dana, as you know, there's been a lot of talk this week about who writes these speeches. Any word on if Governor Pence wrote his speech tonight?

BASH: I'm told by these sources that he wrote 90 percent of the speech, 90 percent of the speech, and not just that.

These sources that I'm talking to say that the Trump campaign has not micromanaged him, that they have made clear they want Mike to be Mike and that they want him to sound and be as authentic as he can, because they say that Donald Trump understands that Mike Pence could not be more different in almost all ways, but mostly stylistically. They want him to present himself that way. They kind of want to show there's balance to this ticket. That's what we're going to hear from Mike Pence tonight.

BLITZER: All right, Dana, thanks very much. We will get back to you soon -- Anderson, over to you.

COOPER: Yes, there's more breaking news tonight.

An adviser to Donald Trump's presidential campaign being investigated now by the Secret Service after he called for Secretary Clinton's execution.

Al Baldasaro, a New Hampshire state representative, told a radio host yesterday that Clinton -- quote -- "should be put in the firing line and shot for treason."

Back with the panel.

Joined this hour by CNN senior political reporter Nia-Malika Henderson as well.

John, we were reporting on this in the last hour as well, a statement like that.

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I believe Al has been on CNN before. If you cover New Hampshire politics, he's a very outspoken guy. This is knucklehead, beyond knucklehead.

You don't say this about anybody in public life. You can criticize her. If you want say you think the FBI should have charged her for her e-mail, perfectly acceptable and political. To say she be placed in a firing -- number one, you shouldn't say that about anything in public life. Number two, she's a Secret Service protectee. He should know that. When you say such things about Secret Service protectee, guess what, you get a little knock at the door.


COOPER: Nia, we were just talking about Governor Pence's speech tonight. I'm not sure which there's been anticipation of, his speech or Ted Cruz's speech to see whether or not -- I have probably heard more about Ted Cruz speech -- to see whether or not he actually endorses Donald Trump.

NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. And a lot of pressure on him to give a full-throated endorsement from the establishment, from the Donald Trump campaign, from Donald Trump himself.

But then there's this counterpressure which has everything to do with Ted Cruz's own political ambitions for 2020, beyond this race. That's what he's looking at. He has told his supporters that he's the true conservative and that Donald Trump is essentially a pretender to the conservative throne.

I think the question is, is there sort of a third way where he can talk about sort of a choice, talk about support, but not quite an endorsement? I think rhetorically that's very hard to do. And the question is, what are you doing at this convention if you don't fully support this nominee?

GLORIA BORGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: I think that when you agree to speak at a convention -- don't forget, he's got hundreds of delegates down here tonight who will support him.

It's kind of a nod to the candidate, in and of itself. But people who know Ted Cruz well know that Ted Cruz isn't the kind of guy -- this is why he's so disliked on Capitol Hill. He's not the kind of guy who comes in and says, oh, OK, let's make peace. This is going to be about Ted Cruz in 2020.

He's going to have to thread the needle here. We will see if he can do it. But the interesting thing about Pence and Cruz is of course that Pence endorsed Cruz. There's two conservatives who have taken two very different roads.

MICHAEL SMERCONISH, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: What happened to the pledge? Everybody was so worried about Donald Trump.


Donald Trump, I remember him holding it up after Reince Priebus came to see him at Trump Tower and secured his signature. And all of a sudden, it's a forgotten subject, when there are so many of them. You talked a few moments about Governor Kasich being in town, and yet not here.

Here's Ted Cruz tonight. Everybody signed. Only Donald Trump... (CROSSTALK)

KING: It's a great point Michael makes, because, look, Ted Cruz likes to say he's the only authentic conservative. He's all this.

He lost. It's a tough calculation. Kasich has made the calculation, I think Trump is going to flame out, I think he's a disaster for the party, so I'm not going to come to his convention and I'm going to then have a conversation about a new Republican Party and run in 2020.

You can respect that more. I know it's controversial because it's his home state. If Ted Cruz doesn't say -- this is Donald Trump's house. This is Donald Trump's house. Ted Cruz is coming into Donald Trump's -- just quickly about Mike Pence, though, this is a big night for Mike Pence.

The country doesn't know who he is. I have known him for a long time. But the country doesn't know who he is. Vice presidents get two big moments, this night and then the debate, as long as they do well. They get this night and the debate. So, it's important for him.

COOPER: Let's talk more about Pence.

What does Governor Pence try to do tonight? And who is he really speaking to?

JEFFREY LORD, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: He's speaking to conservatives, first of all, in the base. He's speaking to these folks who are supporting Ted Cruz down here on the floor. He's speaking to Cruz people around the country.

COOPER: I sense we will hear a lot about Ronald Reagan from him tonight, because I listened to Pence's speech to a conservative group I think it was yesterday or the day before that. And he was telling a lot of sort of personal anecdotes about the time he met Ronald Reagan, things like that.

LORD: Right.

And I'm willing to bet he might even throw Jack Kemp into the mix, because he's already on record the day that -- I think we mentioned, the day that Jack died, he stood on the floor of the House and called himself a Jack Kemp Republican.

One of the things I want to add here about this 2020 calculation, let's suppose, for the sake of the argument, that Donald Trump loses this election. I'm suggesting here that people that don't play nice, Governor Kasich, Senator Cruz, they are going to be damaging themselves because if they want this nomination four years hence, if there's no President Trump, they are going to find them -- all these Trump supporters here saying, hey, why should we help you when you wouldn't do it for us?

KEVIN MADDEN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: The same Trump supporters that forgot that Donald Trump voted for or supported Hillary Clinton. Let's remember that history is very short. Look, I think but getting back to Mike Pence, Mike Pence is a very

gifted communicator. He's not somebody who is a stranger to a radio microphone or a television camera.

I think he is going to really put that on display tonight. I think that Jeffrey is right. I think he's a very principled conservative. He has a reputation and a strong tie to the conservative movement. He's going to try to use that tonight to his advantage and to the advantage of the Trump campaign.

I think, most importantly, connect Donald Trump and the Trump-Pence ticket to the heartland in a way that sort of offers a contrast between what people in the heartland are very frustrated about with what's going on in Washington, D.C., what's going wrong in Washington, D.C. So, he has a great opportunity tonight.

COOPER: Scottie?

SCOTTIE NELL HUGHES, DONALD TRUMP SUPPORTER: Ted has a great opportunity tonight, but what he's also doing is reminding this crowd, reminding our audience this has been a horrendous primary season, very bloody; $75 million was spent at least in TV ads alone against Donald Trump.

And tomorrow night they will sit here and hear him accept the nomination to be president. This is going to remind these folks tonight that this has been something that all these folks Mr. Trump beat, despite all of the criticism, besides him not having the staff, besides not having the money, not all these things that we have sat here and said -- he's still the GOP nominee.

That's going to remind these folks that it's not necessarily about the candidate. It's about the message that he's sending and the message he's driving.

DONNA BRAZILE, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, first of all, given the rollout we saw over the weekend with Mike Pence, this is an opportunity for him to introduce himself to the American people.

Democrats probably will not celebrate Mike Pence being on a ticket, because we see him as being not only anti-choice, voting repeatedly to close down Planned Parenthood, justifying or trying to justify discrimination based on sexual orientation.

I think tonight he's going to speak to the choir, but not those who might have to be converted to the Republican way.

COOPER: When we come back, we are going to have more on the stakes for Senator Cruz, how he will react tonight, if at all, to all those attacks on Donald Trump during the primary.

We will be right back.


[18:29:14] COOPER: In just a few hours, as we have been discussing, Texas

Senator Ted Cruz is going to walk on stage and address the convention, about 20 million television viewers. He will do it with Monday's floor battle fresh in memory, with perhaps another presidential run ahead and a bruising primary behind him, to say the least.

And by bruising, we mean this.


SEN. TED CRUZ (R), TEXAS: I think, in terms of a commander in chief, we ought to have someone who isn't springing out of bed to tweet in a frantic response to the latest polls.

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: He is like a little baby, soft, weak little baby by comparison. But, for lying, he's the best I have ever seen. He's the best.

CRUZ: Yet another temper tantrum, or, if you like, yet another Trumper tantrum.

D. TRUMP: Lyin' Ted Cruz.

18:30:01] CRUZ: Donald, you're a sniveling coward and leave Heidi the hell alone.

D. TRUMP: He's a cheater. He's a cheater. He's a dirty, rotten cheat.

He was a failed senator. He couldn't get anything passed.

CRUZ: This man is a pathological liar. He lies practically every word that comes out of his mouth.

A narcissist at a level I don't think this country's ever seen.

The man is utterly a moron.


COOPER: I don't think that's the montage they're going to play introducing Ted Cruz tonight.

Back with the panel. I mean, one forgets.

HENDERSON: They will.

COOPER: It seems like so long. Like, I've got forgotten a lot of that stuff already.

KING: That happens. Look, remember, we missed the bromance. For months...

COOPER: Right.

KING: ... Ted Cruz was drafting behind Donald Trump, because he thought Donald Trump was going to collapse on his own making.

COOPER: Drafting but blaming the media for trying to stir things up by suggesting...

KING: Because he thought Trump was just going to self-implode and that by being the -- hey there, bud -- he was going to get all those voters.

But then, you know, Trump did accuse his dad of participating in the JFK assassination.

COOPER: And retweeted a very flattering photograph of his wife.

KING: And so there's bad blood and then there's bad blood.

So again, my question is, this is Donald Trump's house now, and Ted Cruz says he's the man of principle, the principle of conservatives. And he blames -- he says Mitt Romney lost because Mitt Romney was a horrible candidate, and conservatives couldn't vote for him; and they stayed home. This has been part of his...

COOPER: What's the calculus for him tonight? I mean, if he's looking at, you know, down the road for the next time?

BORGER: Out there. Out there.

KING: Rick Perry has done this. Scott Walker is going to do it tonight. You know, all the people who have lost to Donald Trump have said, "Not my first choice. I wish it were me tonight. But if you look at Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump, OK."

COOPER: Although, Rick Perry has said that in interviews, Rick Perry did not say that onstage. In fact, Rick Perry did not mention the name Donald Trump. He introduced Marcus Luttrell.

HUGHES: But he did that because of Marcus Luttrell. He did that out of respect for Marcus Luttrell. There has been the clarification that's come out. It was nothing against Mr. Trump. He has time and time again defended Mr. Trump. He just said that it was in honor and respect to Marcus Luttrell and what Marcus Luttrell -- he wanted to focus on Luttrell. That, I think, is very respectful.

HENDERSON: And it's also, in terms of Rick Perry, Rick Perry doesn't really have a political future. Right? So a little easier for him to do that.

BORGER: I'll tell him you said that.

HENDERSON: I'm sorry. I mean, I like his glasses.

LORD: He might be in the Trump cabinet.

HENDERSON: I think for Scott Walker, I mean, Scott Walker dropped out, I mean, before much of the kind of bad blood and the awfulness ensued with these campaigns.

COOPER: But he...


COOPER: Michael.

SMERCONISH: He wants the adulation. I mean, there are a whole host of folks who are here are going to be euphoric when he walks out on that stage. And I think it's almost like a moth to a flame, that he wishes to be here even if he's not endorsing.

BORGER: Well, because he just can't be seen to be working against Donald Trump for his political future. So he is here tonight to let everybody know, not that he loves Donald Trump, maybe not that he's endorsing Donald Trump, but that he is not going to be out there working against him, and he will make the case against Hillary Clinton. And the Trump campaign will be just fine.

MADDEN: He will. He will address the resistance in the room.

What I expect that you'll see tonight from Ted Cruz is a speech very much like the conscience of a conservative speech. That he is what principled conservative values are, how he is, you know, emblematic of those conservative principles. And also with a really -- with an understanding of how he holds a much more prominent place inside the Republican Party and the conservative movement than probably anybody else on the stage.

So I think he -- I think he's going to do that. But you're right: he will speak to and try to be -- offer a bridge and offer some sense of unity there.

HUGHES: And if he doesn't have some sort of endorsement, I fear...

MADDEN: It will be a muted endorsement.

HENDERSON: It will be muted.

HUGHES: But if it doesn't make it obvious that this room realizes that he is going to try, like I said, not work against him but also in some form of support, I fear how this crowd might react to it. These are now -- they actually are very emotional. They're very charged. There's a bitter taste after the week that we've got through.

HENDERSON: It's a divided crowd. I mean, there's some Kasich people here.

HUGHES: It's a very small group.

HENDERSON: There's some "never Trump" people here.

HUGHES: Very small against him.

LORD: Kevin mentioned the conservative speech. You're referring to Barry Goldwater in 1960, right. Barry Goldwater said that in a speech in which he withdrew his name from nomination. He'd gotten 10 votes from the Louisiana delegation. And he endorsed Richard Nixon from the platform and said, "Let's go all out there and work for Dick Nixon," et cetera. "If we really want to change the party, let's grow up conservatives," et cetera.

Interestingly, he got the nomination four years later. Nixon returned the favor, campaigned all over the country for him. When he lost, it was Nixon who profited by getting elected president four years after that. I would just suggest Senator Cruz, Governor Kasich, any of these people that are really interested in this, if they are out there doing that, they will help themselves. When they don't do it, they're going to hurt themselves.

SMERCONISH: Jeffrey, what's the over/under on how times he says his name? Five? I mean, that's the question.

LORD: I'd go -- I'd go for one.

HUGHES: One time, one time.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm on the under.

MADDEN: I'm on the under, and I'll tell you at the end.

BORGER: It's a lot easier to talk about Hillary Clinton, and it's a lot easier to talk about conservatives...

[18:35:01] COOPER: Right, which we've seen now, time and time again.

BORGER: Exactly. Than it is to talk about a Donald Trump. I mean, there were some numbers about, you know, a half dozen speeches being about Donald Trump and a dozen speeches so far being about Hillary Clinton.

BRAZILE: And zero speeches being about policy. Look, I'm going to say this. For what it's worth, Ted Cruz is going to talk about conservative principles and policies. He has a future. And inside this hall, of course, are future delegates, future voters, future donors, future activists. And Ted Cruz would like to put a, what I call, a bookmark for his future.

HUGHES: But the No. 1 contender is Mike Pence. The No. 1 person he has to compete against right now is Mike Pence. That's what you're going to see tonight, is...

MADDEN: Shouldn't be competing at all.

HUGHES: ... who's going to be the better speaker. Who's going to get a better reaction?

MADDEN: Michael made a good point earlier. I think the first two days were dedicated to a lot of red meat, a lot of messaging that was geared towards activating the base. I think that's one of the things that I'll be interested to watch tonight, is whether or not we see more of -- you know, more of the red meat. More contrasts with Hillary Clinton.

Because I think the strategy by the campaign in this convention is the way to really show unity coming out of this is to unify everybody against a common opponent, and that's Hillary.

COOPER: Certainly, I think we heard the words "Hillary" and "Clinton" far more than we heard the words "Donald" and "Trump." And I think I read Nate Silver did an analysis last night. You know, on a night that was supposed to be "Make America Work Again," I think the top two words mentioned were "Hillary" and "Clinton." The word "work" was actually No. 10 down on the list.

We've got to take a quick break. Coming up, there are a lot more ahead in this hour. I want to get everybody's take on Hillary Clinton, the attacks against the presumptive Democratic nominee here at the GOP convention. Will they actually help or hurt her in terms of independents and others? We'll talk about that and the latest on her VP search.


[18:41:39] BLITZER: It's day three of the GOP convention here in Cleveland. A lot of big speeches planned for tonight, including Donald Trump's former archrival, Ted Cruz, and Mr. Trump's running mate, Mike Pence.

Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton is back home in New York deciding who will be her vice-presidential pick. Jeff Zeleny is joining us now with more.

Jeff, what is Hillary Clinton looking for in a running mate, and who are the top contenders?

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Well, first and foremost, she is looking for a governing partner, someone who has experience in the government: at the state level, at the federal level. She is looking for someone who could, A, fill in for her, should that happen, but also someone who can be a partner with her. That's why her list looks like this.

Several sources are telling CNN tonight that Tim Kaine, the Virginia senator, former governor or Virginia, is one of those at the top of the list. She believes he could be that governing partner. I saw him earlier this afternoon here in Virginia, Wolf. He smiled and acknowledged that he, in fact, is being considered and said he believes there will be a decision by the end of the week.

But also on that list, Tom Vilsack, the former agricultural secretary and former governor of Iowa. If Clinton is looking for loyalty, long- term loyalty, this is someone who she is also considering heavily. They go way back, nearly two decades or so, longer than anyone else on this possible list. She likes his ideology, his intellect.

But Wolf, we're told that it is not necessarily limited to only those two. A few other possible contenders now are three senators: Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, Sherrod Brown of Ohio, and as well as Corey Booker of New Jersey. Labor Secretary Thomas Perez also on that list.

But every source we are talking to, Democrats familiar with the process, Wolf, are pointing us to those top two contenders, of Tom Vilsack and Tim Kaine.

BLITZER: Tom Vilsack still the labor [SIC] secretary, the longest serving member of the Obama cabinet. Do you have any sense how close she is to announcing her vice-presidential pick and when we'll all learn about it?

ZELENY: Wolf, she is very close to announcing this. She is -- if she has not already made her decision, which we do not believe she has -- she certainly hasn't told anyone she has -- she will make it in the next 24 to 48 hours. She is scheduled to introduce her running mate during a weekend rally in Florida, either in Tampa late Friday or in Miami on Saturday. That, of course, is going to be a lead-in to the convention, starting next week in Philadelphia. So she is nearing the very end of this, Wolf.

She was alone in Chappaqua, her home in New York, all day today. There was none of the frenzy of the coming and going of her lawyers or other advisors. She is considering this herself now, with some consultations with Bill Clinton, of course, but one top Clinton friend said Bill Clinton gets a say in this, but he does not get a vote in this.

BLITZER: Interesting. Jeff, do we know how closely the Clinton campaign is actually watching what's happening here in Cleveland at the Republican convention? Has there been any reaction?

ZELENY: Wolf, the Clinton campaign, as a whole, has been watching what is happening very, very carefully. Every speech they're reacting to with a video or a tweet or something on social media. Secretary Clinton, I'm told, is not watching all of the proceedings at all. She is tuning into some of the news reports and things. But she did not let that big speech from Chris Christie last night go unanswered. She sent out a tweet of her own, saying basically that, you know, if you want to talk about ethics, I have a bridge we can all talk about here.

[18:45:04] So, a little bit of a shot there, Wolf. But you can bet they will be watching Mike Pence's speech tonight and certainly, Donald Trump's on Thursday -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Yes, they certainly will.

All right. Thanks very much, Jeff Zeleny, with the latest.

Anderson, back to you.

COOPER: Yes, Wolf. Thanks to Jeff as well.

Yes, I mean, Gloria, if you were Hillary Clinton, the Hillary Clinton campaign and you are watching this, we're getting reports about what's going on here, does that influence the vice presidential pick, do you think, or the -- I mean, there's the whole host of other issues to include?

BORGER: I don't really think it does, Anderson. I think, look, Hillary Clinton has her own problems with party unity. I wouldn't say that it's as stark as what we've seen in the Republican Party and what we continue to see in the Republican Party, because polls have shown that Bernie Sanders supporters are overwhelmingly moving over to Hillary Clinton's camp.

So, you know, she hears the red meat being used against her. The only way that I think it would affect her is that she's going to have -- she's going to need somebody who can answer these attacks and help her out, because she -- this convention has shown that nobody is holding back anything in the Republican Party. And, you know, the candidates we have seen listed here are not really attack dogs. They're not.

KING: She has unique experience at this question, though. She was a first lady. She saw for eight years the Bill Clinton-Al Gore relationship. She was in the Obama cabinet. She had seen the Joe Biden relationship, good at the beginning, by some accounts, not so great as the administration has worn on.

Donna knows this better than I do. If you remember, I covered the Clintons back in these days, remember when the Clinton-Gore roll out, everyone said, these two southerners, they are young, they look different. They're moderates, peas in a pod. They're so close, they're huge Democrats.

During the campaign, the bus tour across the country, that was largely true. It wasn't long after they got into office, well before Monica Lewinsky which ruined the relationship, but well before Monica Lewinsky that Al Gore was off here and Bill Clinton was off here, and Hillary Clinton, remember, was a policy power structure in the Bill Clinton White House.

It was a negative, nasty, toxic climate. The public discussion was, it's this wonderful team of new Democrats. It did not play out that way. She remembers that.

She is guided by -- if she needed a liberal, she would do Elizabeth Warren. If she needed a Latino, she would do that, although I'm told she doesn't think, she loves Julian Castro and Tom Perez, but she doesn't think they're ready. She doesn't think they pass her presidential tests, which is why she's in the comfort zone. Kaine and Vilsack, the governing partnerships, because she remembers those days.

And it was -- trust me, I covered the Clinton White House in those days, it was not kumbaya.


COOPER: Donna, do you agree with that?

BRAZILE: Well, first of all, don't tell my age on television, John.


BRAZILE: And let's just say for the record, Hillary Clinton began her own journey and look at where we are today. The Democratic Party is being poised to nominate the first female in the history of this country.

KING: Notice that she just took --

BRAZILE: John --

KING: I'm trying to bring you back to earth tunes.

BRAZILE: This is a very exciting moment for the Democrats and unlike the Republicans, we're going to have a terrific roll out.

COOPER: I mean, is Tim Kaine and Vilsack, is that an exciting choice?

BRAIZLE: You know, John -- I mean, Anderson, when I want excitement, I don't go there. I don't go there.



MADDEN: She shouldn't. And I think -- because Mike Pence was a pick that was, you know, didn't exactly reorient the map or anything, didn't dramatically change the demographics of who they are going after, a do no harm pick would actually be very good for Hillary Clinton.

But Gloria is right. One of the top jobs of whoever that V.P. pick is to go out every single day and put attack down on the Republicans and neither one of these really fit that bill.

Elizabeth Warren does and also to reach to liberals.

HUGHES: If Governor Kaine was the governor of Idaho, would he be on her list right now? Do you really want to take what Kaine has done in Virginia compared to what Pence has done to Indiana, compare the two of them?

MADDEN: One of them is a battleground state, though.

HUGHES: That's the reason why she's even looking at Kaine.

HENDERSON: Somebody I think the attack dog thing in some ways shouldn't be considered. I think she's going to have so many attack dogs. She's going to have Elizabeth Warren. She's going to have both Obamas --

MADDEN: Nia, from the operative side, you can never have enough tactics. You need as much bandwidth in that regard.

HENDERSON: Yes. I think anytime I talk to anybody in Clinton world, the first person they say in terms of this pick is Tim Kaine. There are a lot of people in the Clinton campaign who have vouched for Tim Kaine, they know Tim Kaine. He's seven of seven in terms of his electoral races. He's a winner. He was a part of the DNC and actually good at fundraising.

And on television, he comes across as incredibly warm. He comes across almost like a Sunday schoolteacher. Every one talks about how nice he is. I think at some point, he roomed with Ted Cruz at some point.

HUGHES: We're going to have a bromance between Kaine and Pence on the debate.

KING: And he speaks Spanish. He speaks fluent Spanish.

[18:50:01] You look at the number of Spanish speaking voters in the United States who get their news from the Spanish language networks, not from the English-speaking networks, that number is growing exponentially. Where are they making this announcement? Most likely in Florida.

If you can lock up Virginia, I'm not saying it's Tim Kaine because Hillary Clinton likes Tom Vilsack. She's wrestling with this. Iowa could be a battleground state. But Tim Kaine's advantage, if there are equal comfort zone, equal record, equal like themselves at the convention, the advantage that could help Tim Kaine at the end is A, Virginia has a couple of more electoral votes than Iowa does, although the Clinton campaign feels pretty confident about it anyway, but 29, Florida, where they're making this announcement.

If you can take those 29 away from Donald Trump, Donald Trump's path to 270 is incredibly hard. It is like drawing from the --


SMERCONISH: -- about this attack dog role? I think it's almost an irrelevancy relative to her pick and the problem for the GOP that I've seen in the last two nights both with Mayor Giuliani's presentation and with Governor Christie's, I call it the Good Friday speech that he delivered because it was everything except crucify her that was uttered from the dais.

They're running the risk of overplaying their hand. That chant last night, I'll tell you, on radio, as I solicited calls from across the country today and not from people decidedly one way or the other, Middle America undecided who heard that thought it really was in poor taste and that it went too far.

COOPER: Interesting.

We've got a lot more to cover. I want to thank everyone on the panel. We are going to be covering all of the events tonight. Donald Trump's oldest children, Donald Jr., Eric and Ivanka Trump, obviously, huge influence within the campaign. We'll focus that when we come back.


[18:56:29] BLITZER: As we've been discussing tonight, Donald Trump's adult children are front and center here in Cleveland. Tonight, Eric Trump's turn, and sister Ivanka will be in the spotlight tomorrow night. We've been talking about reports that Donald Trump, Jr., may have reached out to John Kasich in may offering him the V.P. job. The Trump campaign is denying any offer was made.

Offer or no offer, it's no secret that Trump's eldest sons and daughter play key roles in his inner circle. Here's Randi Kaye.


RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Ivanka, Don Jr., and Eric, Trump's oldest children from his first marriage, they're executives for the Trump organization.

But more and more over the last year, they have become political whisperers and strategists.

MICHAEL D'ANTONIO, AUTHOR, "THE TRUTH ABOUT TRUMP": He trusts them more than he trusts anyone else and he respects them.

KAYE: That respect has given them power and a license to steer the campaign. For vice president, Trump's kids made their choice clear -- Indiana Governor Mike Pence. When their dad couldn't get back to New York from Indiana, the kids flew to him, fearing their dad was leaning a direction they didn't like.

Ivanka likely driving the conversation.

D'ANTONIO: She's most influential. If she's really engaged in this she's thinking about balancing him out.

KAYE: The three kids join their father and Pence for breakfast in Indiana.

GOV. MIKE PENCE (R-IN), VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'm very impressed with them. I'm very impressed with their character and their hard work.

KAYE: In response to that breakfast meeting, a source told CNN's Gloria Borger: don't underestimate the importance of his children's opinions.

DONALD TRUMP, JR., DONALD TRUMP'S SON: I really love what my father is doing here.

KAYE: If Trump's kids did sway him in chooing a running mate, it wouldn't be the first time they influenced his decision.

Ivanka, Don Jr., and Eric also pressured their dad to fire his former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski. Ivanka leaning on her father to get rid of Lewandowski, even putting forward an ultimatum, sources say, either he goes or she might.

TRUMP JR.: Were we involved in talking about this with him? Sure.

KAYE (on camera): Their growing influence extends even beyond private conversations with their father. "The Wall Street Journal" reports lawmakers on Capitol Hill checked in with Don Jr. for the latest campaign developments. In recent month, the paper says the three have attended weekly campaign meetings and hold their own meetings to make decisions.


KAYE (voice-over): And there is never any shortage of advice for their dad.

DONALD TRUMP: They're always saying, be nicer on the debates. They're coming at me from all these different angles. How can I be nice?

KAYE: Other media reports say Trump's kids are involved in drafting speeches and deciding policy.


KAYE: Ivanka was key in getting her dad to publicly show support for Planned Parenthood's work outside of abortion.

DONALD TRUMP: Ivanka is so much into that whole issue of women's health and women, and she's my guide on that whole subject.

KAYE: As Eric Trump once said, everything we've ever done we've done as a family, and that now includes running for president, too.

Randi Kaye, CNN, New York.


BLITZER: As we said, Eric Trump will be speaking later tonight here at the convention. I spoke to him earlier today. Here's a little bit more of that interview.


BLITZER: He says that if he's president he will leave the responsibility to you, your sister, your brother.

ERIC TRUMP, SON OF DONALD TRUMP: Yes, he is and that's trust in us. That's why I'm speaking tonight. That's why I speak right before the V.P. That's why Don spoke last night. He has immense trust in our family. Ivanka is obviously introducing him. And we love the man.

You know, I've sat across the table from him for the last ten years negotiating deals all over the world and there is no better person to lead this country. I mean, there's no better person to negotiate for this country. There's no better person that has more backbone. He would do such an amazing job for this nation.


BLITZER: That does it for Anderson Cooper and me this hour. Our special coverage from Cleveland continues right now with "ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT."