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AT THIS HOUR WITH BERMAN AND MICHAELA
RNC Response to Ted Cruz; Interview with Donald Trump Jr; Trump Balks at Automatic Defense of NATO Allies; Interview with Denise Pence. Aired 11-11:30a ET
Aired July 21, 2016 - 11:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[11:30:00] SEAN SPICER, CHIEF STRATEGIST & COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR, REPUBLICAN NATIONAL COMMITTEE: Look, anybody that's been here or seen anything, you cannot say enough about how well Cleveland has done in this convention. They wanted this more than anything. Probably more than the Cavs win --
JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Wait a second.
SPICER: But the people here have just risen to the occasion. The law enforcement has been phenomenal. I think Mayor Frank Jackson and the folks on the host committee, Dave Gilbert, have put on a world class effort and it's going to pay dividends because people are going to want to come back to Cleveland because of the presentation put on here.
BERMAN: Sean Spicer, thank you so much. Appreciate you coming in.
SPICER: Thank you, guys.
BERMAN: We have a very special guest with us now. Erin Burnett on the convention floor with Donald Trump Jr -- Erin?
ERIN BURNETT, CNN ANCHOR: That's right, and I am here with Donald Trump Jr.
Obviously you just heard Sean Spicer talking about Ted Cruz and the controversy there. This morning Cruz said -- saw him come out of the breakfast, he's not going to vote for Hillary Clinton but he refused to endorse your father, doubling down on what he said last night. What do you think of what Ted Cruz has done in the last 12 hours?
DONALD TRUMP JR, SON OF DONALD TRUMP: I think he galvanized everyone behind my father. I was on the floor when we put my father over the top on Tuesday. It was an incredible moment for me, just being able to do that as a delegate from New York. And as a son, I saw the crowd erupt. I won't say it was like the Cavs but it was pretty close a few weeks ago and it was such an intense moment. So when I hear the media the same two guys holding their credentials and dramatically throwing them on the floor as soon as they find a camera that's filming them and 50 yards later I see the same guy doing the same thing, looking for the moment of P.R. I didn't see the divisiveness they were talking about. I saw incredible unity. If there are a couple of stragglers, after last night, they're in our court. They understand our primary mission is to put someone in the office that's my father and that's not Hillary Clinton.
BURNETT: Ted Cruz was asked why he hasn't honored the pledge. The pledge, you remember, all the candidates took it. They were standing up. There's a pledge of the RNC but there's a pledge they took during the debate. Will you support the eventual nominee? They all said yes. And today he had a hard question from someone angry at him in the Texas delegation about why he has chosen to abandon that pledge and here's how he answered the question, Don.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. TED CRUZ, (R), TEXAS & FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I will tell you when I stood up on that stage and they asked every candidate there if you don't win will you support the nominee, I raised my hand enthusiastically with full intention of doing exactly that. And I'll tell you the day that pledge was abrogated. The day that was abrogated was the day this became personal and, as I said at the time, and I'm not -- I'm not going to get in to criticizing or attacking Donald Trump but I'll just give you this response. I am not in the habit of supporting people who attack my wife and attack my father.
CRUZ: And that pledge was not a blanket commitment that if you go and slander and attack Heidi that I'm going to, nonetheless, come like a servile puppy dog and say thank you very much for maligning my wife and maligning my father.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Does he have a point?
TRUMP: I think Ted Cruz has a nickname that's grown pretty popular and I think it's there for a reason because Ted Cruz does what's good for Ted Cruz. Ted Cruz isn't thinking about those things. Ted Cruz is thinking about if Hillary Clinton gets this, I can run again in four years as opposed to waiting for eight when my father would finish up his second term. I think it's pure showmanship. I have so many friends from Texas. I spend a lot of time down there. Whether it be my buddies who were here, military vets, amputee, guys who served our country who supported ted as a Senator who have donated, you know, small figure checks to the guys who are the big figure donors writing him real big figure checks and all of them without question said I'm never writing him a question again. It was total disloyalty. Doesn't surprise me based on what we've seen and the way he's conducted himself.
(CROSSTALK) TRUMP: It was equally so from him and from others. It's a tough process. It's a shame it does have to be tough but that's the way it is. My father came out on top. Ted gave his word and broke it.
BURNETT: I guess the question is it seems to be deeply personal for him. There was a time when your father sort of mentioned --
TRUMP: I think Ted will conveniently make anything look optically to try to sell a point. If there's one thing I've learned is there's not a lot of people truly genuine. It is all still politics. He is a true politician. He tries to play the anti-establishment guy. Guess what, during his initial stage, he wanted to work for the Bush campaign. The problem is, he's so unlikable. Literally, no fans, no friends. And he only became anti-establishment when he couldn't be a part of the establishment because no one wanted to be with him.
BURNETT: Do you need the endorsement at this point?
[11:35:00] TRUMP: I don't care. We got it de facto from the people with that matter. The people my father's been speaking to directly. The hard working people in this country would have been left in the dust. The only group that doesn't fit some sort of that gets special privileges and people who built this country, those are the people my father's talking to. He doesn't lecture to those people like Ted Cruz does. He's actually talking with them. He has a conversation. They're keying in on that. That's why he's won in a landslide.
BURNETT: When your father and Ted Cruz spoke about this upcoming speech and in that speech your father was aware there wasn't going to be an endorsement.
BURNETT: Did they ever have a heart to heart where your father said, look, the whole thing where I implied your father might have been involved in the assassination of JFK or when I made the suggestion that your wife was ugly, did he apologize?
TRUMP: I don't know that they necessarily spoke.
BURNETT: They may not have talked directly?
TRUMP: Certainly high-level talks and I was in some of them but I don't know that it matters, you know, it was tough and we were the better man. We knew it wasn't coming. We could have said don't speak. In, you know, second, not that close, but came in second and he wanted to make sure we gave him the option to speak. We were the better man. We knew it was coming. We could have put an end to it. We said no, do what you need to do. I think if there was a little smidgen of disunity left on the floor going into yesterday, that's totally gone and everyone's behind my father.
BURNETT: Do you think -- one thing I'm curious about, the speech originally was supposed to be a ten-minute speech. Beforehand of what was going to be in the speech and what wasn't going to be in. I mean a couple hours beforehand. But then the planners last minute gave Ted Cruz 20 minutes. Did you know it was in the hold 20 minutes? They just doubled the guy's time when he was going to come out --
TRUMP: We saw the whole thing so I don't think anything changed. We wanted to give the guy who was the number two finisher in this thing his chance. We could have stuck him on Monday. We wanted to give him -- it was a big time slot right before the vice presidential candidate's speech. That's a big place to put him. He wanted to do that out of respect despite how brutal it's been. I think that says a lot about the way my father will conduct himself and has always conducted himself.
BURNETT: You have widely been credited for allowing Ted Cruz to speak, Marco Rubio, all of them, his rivals. When the speech was happening, you and your siblings had to move to make space for your father. And the crowd was very quick to get riled up at just the right moment when Ted Cruz said vote your conscience. And then your dad walked in at just the right moment for all the cameras. Was this another orchestration by your dad where he knew the moment and he knew --
TRUMP: I don't think so. Honestly, I think you've seen how the speeches go. You get your time slot. 30 seconds in some cases later. The next guy's speaking. My brother was speaking next. He certainly wasn't going to walk in and interrupt my brother. He wanted to be there for my brother and his incredible speech last night. I think people are probably overanalyzing that moment. I think the crowd spoke for itself. I think Ted Cruz got a warm welcome when he walked in because I think people assumed he would do the right thing. He would be the better man. But he chose not to and the crowd turned on him pretty quickly.
BURNETT: One question for you because as you say you were involved in those conversations. Was there ever a conversation, as there's so much speculation about today, you said, all right, no endorsement, we're going to get an endorsement in exchange for not having a floor fight. No floor fight with Ted Cruz.
TRUMP: We weren't worried about floor fight. This was over weeks ago. This notion the same three people talking about throwing the credential, they're the people talking about a floor can get a nice five-minute spot on one of the stations. We weren't worried about that.
BURNETT: So it was over?
TRUMP: You have to listen to the people. This election cycle told us maybe it would behoove politicians to listen to voters. Rather than saying we're going to listen to you like we've talked about. Pennsylvania, you can win the entire state, every congressional district, 17 of the 72 delegates. The rest, they -- what's the point of going through the process? What's the point of making people watch every debate, watch all these things, be so committed for a year, only to say, hey, your vote doesn't matter? We have to listen to o people. The people resoundingly, resoundingly put my father in this position. And he's going to do a great job.
BURNETT: What's he going to say tonight? When you talk about the issue of Ted Cruz, it gets to the heart of one of the issues of this convention. The poll we have shows 44 percent of Republicans right now wish he weren't the nominee. There's a lot of division still in our party. There's no question about that. That's what we've seen here. Some of in Cleveland. What's he going to say tonight to unite your party?
[11:39:54] TRUMP: Listen, he's going to be himself. He's going to talk about those things. He's going to talk about the final end goal which is obviously the biggest which is making sure there's a conservative in the White House. Making sure we understand control of the Supreme Court is a fundamental thing. It's a 30 or 40 year issue. These are the things at matter. Now that said, my father, whether it's now, whether it's through the primary process, I think the outreach from the Independent side, people who are Democrats who are sick of, you know, the usual machine, the Bernie voters who thought they had a chance to say something. Like, guess what, we're going to give you the same old same old. That hasn't done. We're giving you a candidate that's basically used position, of power in government to build a multi-hundred million dollar fortune peddling nothing but influence. This is going to be a moment for them to revolt against that. I think we'll have a chance. Imagine what we can do by cleaning up the waste, the abuse, the fraud, it is crony capitalism in D.C., tightening that ship up, having maybe surplus for a change. Went to that be novel? Maybe we can take care of our votes. Take care of our elderly and our health care issues. You know, those are thing that matter. And it's not working with the Democratic level. It's not going to happen with another four years of Obama and that's what you're going to get.
BURNETT: You've been very busy the past couple of days. But now this afternoon going to be spending time with your dad going through the speech. So what else is in there? How long is it going to be?
TRUMP: I think it's probably a little bit longer than, you know, usual. Maybe not stump speech long. When he gets a crowd and he's going back and forth. He's having a conversation with a crowd of 15,000. You've seen it. It's pretty amazing when he gets that. You know, I think there's going to be --here's going to be discipline to it. There's going to be a lot talk of those things and what the path is for this country and how envisions getting that done. Mike did a great job last night, governor pence delivered an incredible speech last night for V.P. He also has a track record of the success at Indiana. I think my father will talk saying wouldn't it be a novel concept to take the success of Indiana, 8 percent unemployment rate down to 5 percent, lowering taxes. Implementing that model for the rest of the country. Having every state be like our top two, three states, that would be incredible and we need to do that.
BURNETT: You call him Mike. The famous air kiss last night that everyone's talking about with your dad and Mike Pence, obviously there's perhaps some difference in style, let's be honest.
TRUMP: There are --
BURNETT: But what is really the relationship like? Truly personal?
TRUMP: It's been great. Very much so. Especially for two guys who don't know each other as long. We have a long-term relationship with Chris Christie, another one of the picks. We have a longer-term relationship with Newt. This was something my father felt really complemented him.
BURNETT: Sort of fell in love quickly?
TRUMP: Yeah, it was amazing. I walked in on some of these meetings. I'm just going to sit back and watch. The dynamic was great. They're very different. Friends even joked about it, you know, last night which -- and he went the exact opposite -- so I thing there's a great juxtaposition there. He has the experience, you know, state t he also has years in Congress that were really impressive and he was a fiery guy on the floor there. So I think he brings a real wealth of experience. It's not just D.C. as usual because he also has that state experience as a governor.
BERMAN: It's been very interesting the past year for you in a lot of ways and also exhausting. You were up until 4:00 a.m. because of the adrenaline. Powerful, rousing, authentic, some of the words used to speech. Before we did this interview, you were talking about people who are on the other side of the political spectrum didn't even find reason to criticize what you had to say. Did you just get a sip of the elixir?
TRUMP: Some of those people say I thought I was being punked. Listen, I spent a lot of time on it. It was a lot of fun. You know, understanding the gravity of the situation. You know, I got up there and I really felt it from the crowd. They were into it early. And I think that helps. You know, just -- so there was a great back and forth. It was really -- it was a cool moment. The adrenaline was crazy. I figured I'd be exhausted. After everything I'd done that day. Doing the media, giving the speech. I got home in bed, like wired.
BURNETT: Couldn't go to sleep.
TRUMP: Ready to go.
BURNETT: So in all of this, you're spending a lot of time with your siblings. It's not as if all of a sudden grown children in their 30s are supposed to spend time together. You already did. When you and I were in Iowa, we talked about how Ivanka's like your dad this way, all the different qualities.
BURNETT: Exactly. You said you. Here's the question. Has your relationship changed with your siblings?
TRUMP: Interesting, you know, we've always had a good relationship. We've been close, you know, for as long as I can remember. We worked together obviously at the same typed we still choose to vacation together.
BURNETT: Vacation together?
[11:45:03] TRUMP: We spend free time together. It's not just work and we're sort of forced to work together. We actually choose to do that. It weren't really changed. A lot of ways changed has been topic of conversation, politics. I've been in politics for three weeks now. I think we've learned the game very quickly. I think we understand our father. We understand the gravity of the situation at stake here. I think we understand, you know, how to present certain things to him when we're talking about it. We're also people that can close the door and have a real conversation.
BURNETT: You know how to present things to him so he'll listen?
TRUMP: We all have different qualities as it relates to that. You'll see it in the way I spoke. You'll see it in the way Eric spoke yesterday. All of us will have done a really good job. I think Ivanka's going to crush it tonight. I think I probably did OK. I don't want to say great because then people will say he's got a huge ego.
BURNETT: In the first par of that sounded like your dad. I don't want to say I did great but --
TRUMP: Humble brag, humble brag. I know Ivanka's going to do incredible tonight. She'll do an amazing job. No one's going to do better than her. It's been great to experience as a family. There's an emotional quality to this that you don't necessarily get in business. You saw me in Iowa. It's not just, hey, I'll show up, I'll be president in Iowa. We're actually interacting with real Americans, with real people. When they're coming up and you for allowing your father -- as though we had any choice. You know, we can control him to a point.
BURNETT: Fair, fair.
TRUMP: It's incredible, I mean, we're really talking about dealing with people's livelihoods. The future of, you know, their kids and grandkids and generations to come. That's what's at stake here. That's what we have the opportunity to help influence. Even if we're only a small cog in the wheel. That's pretty special. To be able to do that is a great honor. And so, you know, there's an emotional quality to this that you don't get in business. Where it's like, OK, we understand the objective. We're going to get it done. This is a lot more from the heart. You know, we take our business pretty seriously, you know, from the heart as well and we put a lot into it. This is really a whole new level.
BURNETT: Donald Trump Jr, I appreciate your time. Thank you so much.
TRUMP: Thank you very much, Erin. Appreciate it.
BURNETT: Obviously going to be a big night for your father.
Kate and John, he's going to be heading to spend some time with his father and finish the final touches on the speech as you heard him say will be a little longer than usual. Back to you, guys.
KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: We'll be listening in.
Erin Burnett, thank you. Erin, fascinating interview with Donald Trump Jr.
Let's discuss. We've got our panel with us. As we always have our panel with us. What else do we do?
John Avlon, Margaret Hoover.
Donald Trump Jr reacting to Ted Cruz and Ted Cruz's wildly non endorsement last night and again this morning. He says we don't need his endorsement, we don't want his endorsement.
JOHN AVLON, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: There's a lot of bad blood. I mean, that's not real subtle right now. Cruz made a calculated decision to not unify the party. I think he reflects the genuine feelings of a lot of delegates who aren't sold on Donald Trump and he's clearly already running for president in 20 and he'll do it as the guy would warned you Donald Trump will be a disaster. And there's no reason the Trump family wouldn't return that in kind.
BERMAN: The idea that it doesn't leave a mark, Margaret, is that true?
MARGARET HOOVER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: It doesn't leave a mark --
BERMAN: Trump, the idea that Cruz came to the convention floor last night --
HOOVER: Ted Cruz absolutely positively has thrown a wrench in this convention. For the guy supposedly perfect at stage craft. Donald Trump is good at everything, right, good at business, good at making deals, good at stage craft and theater. And he's failed at all of those things, especially this convention. Politics is personal. You heard that from Donald Trump Jr, especially we you're getting involved in this. I don't envy any kids of candidates. It's a very heavy cross to carry. It's deeply personal. That's what you see there. They need to stop thinking about a general election here. This is no longer about unifying the party. The party is not unified. If they're going to win, they have to win Independents, they have to win women, they have to win Hispanics, they have to build the tent. They need to stop focusing on this and talk broadly.
HOOVER: They're not speaking to me tonight. They are speaking to Christine Quinn and to Hillary voters.
BOLDUAN: Looking ahead to a general election, Josh, Donald Trump was tweeting about it this morning. Saying that despite some small group of people would suffered embarrassing losses, the party is unified. Donald Trump, he's sticking on this. You think he'll say anything about it tonight?
JOSH HOLMES, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: You any, I don't -- out of the Donald Trump prediction business for sure. I have no idea on a day to day basis. I think ways different about this situation, there's a lot of constituencies within the Republican Party that aren't unified here and probably won't be unified, and that's OK. The difference between that and what Ted Cruz did, he took a prime time spot on the night of the vice presidential speech, stole it. Absolutely stole it. That, I think is a big mistake.
[11:50:21] UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But the big question is the fact is he didn't take. He was given the spot. According to Donald Trump's tweet, Donald Trump read the speech.
So Ted Cruz was given something. He did the professional thing, said, here's my speech, and then he delivered it. The crazy thing is why in god's name would a presidential nominee --
-- let that speech go on teleprompter? It defies common sense.
ARMY KREMER, CO-CHAIRWOMAN, WOMEN VOTE TRUMP: I was a huge Ted Cruz supporter, on board with him when he was polling at 2 percent. I'm really disappointed in him. Honestly, I think it was a win-win for Donald Trump. Had ted endorsed him, it would have been a win for Donald Trump. Last night I was in that arena. When ted came in, that arena was on their feet, he had a standing ovation. He could have been a hero last night. People were saying say it, say it, trying to pull it out of him and he didn't do it. I think he unified people more than he could have by endorsing. Those people that were sitting on the fence that didn't know what they were going to do are not supporting Donald Trump.
BERMAN: I want to get to one other subject that's important because it's about policy. Josh, Donald Trump in "The New York Times" yesterday suggested he might not defend NATO allies if they were invaded. This isn't just against Republican orthodoxy for the last several generations, but against U.S. treaty obligations for the last several generations. What do you say about this?
HOLMES: This is one of the things we haven't paid enough attention to. Honestly Donald Trump's point of view on foreign policy is deeply troubling to most Republicans.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And dangerous.
HOLMES: Almost every time he speaks about it, he has a misstatement about it. I think this is going to be a continuing problem when we get past the convention. It's less about personalities. It's more about policies. I think --
BOLDUAN: The thing is, you had Mike Pence on stage saying Donald Trump will stand with our allies, this morning saying Donald Trump will stand with our allies. He's playing a lot of cleanup for Donald Trump.
AVLON: Unless Putin is threatening Baltics and then we'll send the signal that --
AVLON: This is a big deal and it comes on the heels on things on the platform committee that undermined previous Republican commitments, for instance, supporting the independence of the Ukraine. This is not just top line. It's getting written into policy. It's a total departure and it sends a deeply troubling message to our allies.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We're seeing Putin allies put out statements about how hopeful they are about Donald Trump. What does that mean? NATO is the foundation that has kept the world as safe as it could be since World War II. To not understand this reflects this man shouldn't even be on the stage.
BERMAN: Amy, 10 seconds.
KREMER: I think Donald Trump looks at things as a businessman. That's where he comes from. I think he's doing this to get other members of NATO to pull their weight. I'm not saying he's not going to --
BERMAN: Hang on, hang on.
KREMER: I didn't say he doesn't mean it. I think he wants them to pull their weight.
But we're the United States of America. We're not --
BOLDUAN: Guys, thanks so much.
Got to run to a break. A lot more ahead.
Coming up next, the air kiss. The sister-in-law of Donald Trump's running mate, Mike Pence, joining us live to discuss what happened last night and what the past few weeks have been like.
We'll be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
[11:55:23] MIKE PENCE, (R), INDIANA GOVERNOR & VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: He's a man known for a large personality, a colorful style and lots of charisma. And so I guess he was just looking for some balance on the ticket.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BERMAN: Newly minted vice presidential nominee, Mike Pence, making his national debut last night at the Republican National Convention. Not a lot of people talking about this speech today. Why? Well, because of the whole -- let's call it the Ted Cruz thing.
BOLDUAN: The Ted Cruz explosion that happened.
We've all had this moment, but maybe not on national television. It just didn't land right. The lesson here, and I still need to learn it, if you're going to go for the air kiss, you got to stick the landing.
Joining us to discuss, Denise Pence. She is Governor Pence's sister- in-law. Also a delegate for the great state of Indiana.
Denise, let's talk about the kiss heard around the world. You were there in the arena last night. We were joking, we've all had that moment. Has the family talked about this hilarious air kiss?
DENISE PENCE, SISTER-IN-LAW OF MIKE PENCE & INDIANA GOP DELEGATE: No. They --
BOLDUAN: You've got other things to discuss.
What has it been like? You were in the arena last night. You were a strong Donald Trump supporter even before your brother was on the ticket. What was it like to be in that arena this week when you nominated Donald Trump, you nominated your brother-in-law, and then to see him take the stage last night? PENCE: It was very emotional. I don't want to get emotional now, but
it's surreal to think that I was on the Trump train, if you will, a year ago June, and not Michael will join the Trump ticket.
BERMAN: What was the moment that got you the most?
PENCE: When we voted. When I, as an Indiana delegate, voted for our vice presidential nominee.
BERMAN: I was in the room with some voters who were watching when Mike Pence talked about the light of his life, his mother, his 82- year-old mother, your mother-in-law. There was a woman sitting right in the front row and she got teary eyed.
PENCE: It's wonderful. I think there's such a similarity with Mr. Trump and Michael and the family being so important.
BOLDUAN: Can you talk about what the last week has been like? I heard a grave story about Governor Pence when he got into the motorcade with the Secret Service saying, is this all for us? I'm sure there are ripple effects that impact your entire family. How has he described this last week?
PENCE: I think what you see is what you get with Michael. I've been married to the eldest brother for 35 years. So I've know Michael for probably --
BOLDUAN: -- all the time.
PENCE: And his wonderful wife, Karen. What you see is what you get, he has no airs. Such a likable person, very capable, very likable person.
BERMAN: You're a delegate and part of the family. What do you make of the Ted Cruz thing which in some ways shadowed the moment for your brother-in-law last night?
PENCE: Well, it hasn't for me, so I don't know about that. I think the Trump ticket, the Trump-Pence ticket will make America great again. Truly believe that. I think that they'll win.
BOLDUAN: What doesn't -- he made his big introduction to the American public, biggest peach of his political career, well received inside the room, outside the room.
PENCE: He knocked it out of the park.
Three months to introduce himself all across the country. What don't people know about the governor? I know him as the governor of my home state. But what don't people know?
PENCE: I don't think they knew until last night that he was such a great speaker. I was blown away. And I've been listening to him speak for years. I think he knocked it out of the park. They might not now that he does caricatures.
BERMAN: Jake Tapper told me.
PENCE: He's done Christmas cards and things in the past. Sort of a fun thing.
BERMAN: I would like to see Mike Pence's caricature of Donald Trump. That would be interesting.
BERMAN: Got to be careful. That's my only advice.
Denise Pence, thanks for being with us. Really appreciate it.
PENCE: Thank you so much.
BOLDUAN: Thank you very much for being here. Congratulations.
PENCE: Thank you very much. We're so proud and pleased.
BOLDUAN: Of course.
And thank you all so much for joining us AT THIS HOUR.
BERMAN: A special "Inside Politics" from John King from inside the RNC starts right now.