Return to Transcripts main page
AT THIS HOUR WITH BERMAN AND MICHAELA
Wisconsin Primary Could Alter Race; Trump's Uphill Battle in Wisconsin. Aired 11-11:30a ET
Aired April 5, 2016 - 11:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
[11:00:00] SEN. BERNIE SANDERS, (I), VERMONT & DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: If we win here, win in New York State, we're on our way to the White House.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. I'm John Berman.
KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everybody. I'm Kate Bolduan.
The great state of Wisconsin, you are on the clock. The polls are open and it may be just above freezing in Milwaukee, but right now -- wait for it, wait for it -- the politics are red hot. Delegates, momentum, campaign credibility is at stake. Some big questions could be answered by the time polls close tonight. Mainly, has Ted Cruz reset the race with a victory over Donald Trump?
BERMAN: On the Democratic side, can Bernie Sanders make it six out of seven and give him momentum heading into the next big prize, New York.
Our reporters spread like a fine cheese all over Wisconsin.
Chris Frates is in Wisconsin. Jim Acosta is in Milwaukee. Jason Carroll is in Brookfield, a town we simply don't know enough about to make a joke.
So, Jason, we are going to start with you in Brookfield.
You've been talking with voters on the ground. What are you hearing?
JASON CARROLL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, how's this for a joke? This is red country in Brookfield, but everyone we run into seems to be a Democrat.
Let me set the scene where we are in this room, John. You can see on the right side, a number of people coming in. There's been a stream of people coming in to vote. Casting votes on the left side of the room.
Here in the state of Wisconsin, actually expecting 40 percent of registered voters to turn out that. Equals about 1.75 million people. That would be the largest turnout since 1980, if that, in fact, happens.
And here's what you need to know about the state. Here in the state where you see these people coming to register, here in this county, it's Waukesha County, and when you think of the counties in the state of Wisconsin, think of the wow counties, Waukesha and Ozaukee and Washington counties. Those are basically the GOP counties in the state, where they've had to get the big "get out" push. If what holds to be true, and we do see a large voter turnout, the Trump camp thinks that's going to play in his favor, despite what the polls are showing. He's predicting a surprise win in Wisconsin -- John, Kate?
BERMAN: It would be a surprise but it would be fascinating to see.
Jason Carroll, thank you so much.
BOLDUAN: Thanks, Jason.
Let's get over to Sean Spicer, the RNC chief strategist and communications director.
We could not come up with a Wisconsin joke for your name, Sean. So today's the day we give you a pass. Don't worry, it's coming.
Let's talk about Wisconsin. People are saying the main reason Wisconsin matters so much is, after today, if Trump does not win, you're looking more and more almost likely looking at a contests convention. After today, Sean, after the votes, how likely is it?
SEAN SPICER, CHIEF STRATEGIST & COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR, REPUBLICAN NATIONAL COMMITTEE: As we get through each one of the contests, it becomes more likely that's the outcome. There's no question we are headed to June 7th where you have 303 delegates, including delegate- rich California with 172, but as we head to Wisconsin and Colorado and Wyoming and New York, unless Donald Trump starts to rack them all up, or Ted Cruz shows equally that strength, if there's a division in the delegates, which it looks like, then the likelihood of an open convention becomes greater and greater.
BERMAN: That's a big deal, Sean. Let's all pause for a moment and note that would be a very big deal. Are you or the party prepared for an eventuality, which, as you say, is getting more and more likely every day?
SPICER: We're prepared, absolutely. We're doing everything from a party standpoint to make sure that what everyone in America, frankly, everyone in the world is going to see is a very open transparent process by which the delegates elected by the grassroots Republican voters will select the next nominee of our party and I believe the next president of the United States. But the goal for us is to make sure that this process that we're going to go through -- which, frankly, most Americans have never seen. The last time we had an open convention was 1976. The last time we had more than one ballot was 1948. While a lot of people are going to be unfamiliar with the process, it's a process we've used since the 1800s. It's a process that's worked over and over again. We're following the same process that we used through those centuries. And what we want to do is make sure everyone walks through that process and the convention in Cleveland and says that they were treated fairly, it was transparent, that saw it and that the will of the delegates was carried out.
BOLDUAN: One of the first questions when you talk about the process and how the convention is going to play out, it's who is going to be allowed on the ballot. Are you confident the rules at the convention are going to allow all three candidates currently running to appear on the ballot?
SPICER: Here's what I know. Our job is to administer a fair and transparent process. Delegates that have been elected will select among them individuals that will go onto the rules committee and determine the rules as they have for centuries. The same process is being used. They will elect members, one man, one woman, for every state and territory --
[11:05:20] BOLDUAN: But for John Kasich, fair is getting to the convention and letting people vote for him.
SPICER: Again, our job is to allow the delegates to work their will. They did it in 2012. The Romney delegates created a rules package. The rules committee in 2008 created a package for McCain. This is how the process will work. It will work exactly the way it's worked for centuries. It will be the will of the delegates.
Two things are certain. One the delegates will ultimate chose this. Whoever gets a majority in any of these situations, whether it's at a committee vote or on the floor, is how it works. The majority will always rule. So whoever carries the day will win every circumstance and ultimately be the nominee, because in every scenario, whoever gets 1,237 delegates first will become the nominee of our party.
BERMAN: Sean, Ted Cruz is making clear in his mind there are two possibilities to achieve that math. He has pretty strong words for what would happen if one person is chosen who is not Donald Trump or Ted Cruz.
Listen to what Ted Cruz is saying.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. TED CRUZ, (R), TEXAS & PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You know, this fevered pipe dream of Washington that at the convention they will parachute in some white knight who will save the Washington establishment, it's nothing less than a pipe dream. It ain't going to happen. If it did, the people would quite rightly revolt.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BERMAN: Do you think it's true? Do you think if someone not named Donald Trump or Ted Cruz is the nominee?
SPICER: Here's what I believe. Number one, it's highly unlikely the nominee will not be one of the three individuals. I find that hard to imagine.
BOLDUAN: Highly unlikely or zero chance?
SPICER: I can't -- I mean, I can't say I'm going win Powerball tonight. There's a chance if I buy a ticket, but the odds are high. I won't put that as a highly likely scenario. But I think, secondly, and where I want to go back and clarify something is, Washington is not going to decide anything. The elected delegates from the grassroots are going to have their will be done. The majority were elected from California to the territories. Every one of those people elected by the grassroots voters will be the ones who do this. I don't have a vote. Reince Priebus doesn't have a vote. The votes will be cast by the delegates elected by Republican voters. So the idea that anyone from Washington has a say is just -- you know, to the extent that the District of Columbia has delegates, that's true, but every other state and territory, those states that make up that total pool will ultimately have their will done. And that's where --
BOLDUAN: Sean, that's not us saying that. That's Ted Cruz. What do you say to Ted Cruz?
SPICER: As we entered this process -- and John was right, we have to make a pause and make sure people who may not have understood the process or paid attention to it -- there's a lot of pundits, folks in the media, activists, who haven't watched or haven't paid attention to the process and don't understand it, because it's just existed for so long without people having to understand it.
SPICER: But it's worked the same way for centuries, and I think as people learn about it, they recognize how it's going to work, that their focus is on talking to the delegates. I think Senator Cruz and Mr. Trump and Governor Kasich are out there talking to the delegates trying to get them to commit. Organizing is an extremely important part of this process and I think all three of the candidates are engaged in that right now.
BERMAN: Sean Spicer, I think Ted Cruz understand the process. And he still says there would be a revolt if it's not Ted Cruz or Donald Trump.
But, Sean, thanks so much for joining us. Look forward to talking to you maybe a lot more in the coming months.
BOLDUAN: Thanks, Sean.
SPICER: Thanks, guys.
BOLDUAN: Donald Trump is projecting, even though the polls don't agree with him at the moment, but is projecting that he's going to pull off a very, very big victory in Wisconsin, and those are to use his own words, but there is something right now about Wisconsin that just doesn't seem to agree with Donald Trump when you look at the polls. The Republican front runner has found himself in an uphill battle.
BERMAN: What is it about Wisconsin that makes it difficult for Donald Trump?
CNN's chief business correspondent, Christine Romans, here with that.
[11:09:51] CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: At the magic wall. Hi, guys.
Ted Cruz says he's looking to Wisconsin. Here's what Wisconsin looks like. Wisconsin, progressives on the left, establishment on the right. It's a well-educated, well-informed electorate. Look at this. Wisconsin has the third-highest graduation rate, behind Iowa and Nebraska. A quarter of Wisconsin residents have a college degree, just below the national average. It has a diverse economic base, eggs, health care and cheese. Largest cheese producing state in the country. Wisconsin has a sizeable manufacturing base and insurance and finance industries. It's predominantly white, much like Iowa and Kansas.
And turning to religion. This is fascinating. I stole John King's map, a map of the evangelical population in the south. Let's look at Wisconsin. You can see it's less of an influence here. Zooming into Wisconsin you can see pockets of evangelicals. It's not an overwhelming part, but it is a religious state. 63 percent in the state say they're religious. Nationwide, it's only 49 percent. Catholics make up the largest church.
And finally, here, we're going to be keeping an eye on the number of voters. Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump have done well with new voters but not so well with those who decided at the last minute.
Polls opened in Wisconsin at 7:00 a.m., they close at 8:00 p.m.
BERMAN: Its eggs, meds, and cheese.
ROMANS: Yes. Eggs, meds, and cheese. And some factories.
BERMAN: Christine Romans, thanks so much.
BOLDUAN: Thanks, Christine.
BERMAN: Coming up next, if Donald Trump doesn't win Wisconsin, you know what? People voting right now. He could win. But if he doesn't, what would be to blame. One of the senior advisors joins us live.
BOLDUAN: Plus, Bernie Sanders says if he wins tonight and also wins Hillary Clinton's home state in New York, he wins the White House. The Hillary Clinton campaign is going to be joining us live to respond, on this big voting day. We'll be right back.
[11:15:54] BERMAN: The vote under way in Wisconsin. So much at stake for all the candidates in both parties.
We're going to discuss the potential implication for Republicans.
BOLDUAN: Joining us to do that is a senior adviser to the Republican campaign, Barry Bennett; Republican pollster, Kellyanne Conway, who also heads up a pro Ted Cruz super PAC; and Mary Katherine Ham, CNN political commentator, who is also a senior writer at the "The Federalist."
Guys, thank you so much for being here.
Mary Katherine, let me ask you this first. If this contest goes tonight as people think it will, meaning Cruz wins, Trump's two, and Kasich is three, what's the race look like tomorrow? Is it a whole new world?
MARY KATHERINE HAM, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: It has not yet been a whole new world but I think this is an incremental game. I think Cruz can continue to make the argument tonight, if he wins tonight, he can take this to the convention. I'm not even sure if possibly he can win outright at this point the delegates needed, but he's certainly the guy who has the potential to take on Trump. And as far as Trump goes, his brand is winning, winning, winning. When he's not winning, his brand isn't working well. He had trouble in Wisconsin. He's had five positions on abortion in three days, so he's had some trouble.
BERMAN: Barry, if it doesn't go well for Donald Trump today -- and the votes are being cast right now, and it might -- but if doesn't go well for Donald Trump today, what does that look like for the next two weeks? That's a long time to have to stew. This is a bigger gap than we've seen so far in the primary calendar.
BARRY BENNETT, SENIOR ADVISOR, DONALD TRUMP PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN & FORMER BEN CARSON CAMPAIGN MANAGER: Two weeks ago, we thought we didn't have a chance in Wisconsin. Today, we think it's a very close race. We're winning in three or four of the congressional districts. Tonight, even if we win in second, we're going to walk away with delegates, which is a big deal, especially if they're not on my boards. If you look at New York, we're 36 points ahead. Pennsylvania, 18 points ahead. You know, it's hard to imagine that Ted Cruz is going to go anywhere.
BOLDUAN: I mean, Kellyanne, you do the polling on this. Do you think - there are two scenarios. One, what everyone is considering is that Ted Cruz has a big win, right? What if -- two scenarios. Do you think Donald Trump could get zero delegates? Barry Bennett says no. Do you think Trump can do exactly what he's saying on the stump, win?
KELLYANNE CONWAY, REPUBLICAN POLLSTER & CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: We're way ahead in Wisconsin. Cruz will get over 40 percent of the vote tonight. It's huge in a three-person race. I think Wisconsin is a very important test for many reasons. It's a retail politicking state and it's the state where Cruz has been able to coalesce them and some of the more mainstream establishment types who have come to him, endorsed him. In respect to women, in everybody's polling, it's undeniable he's suffered with female voters. Now, Donald Trump could come out with zero delegates tonight, but either way, he's not going to statewide.
And to Mary Katherine's point, if the narrative is winning and the polls show -- you'll love Wisconsin tonight and the polls shows you have the toughest match-up against Hillary Clinton in the fall, if you're not winning, it upends why people need to rush and make you the nominee. I think everybody's going to be very competitive going into the next few states. There's this thing called momentum. Donald Trump has had it for almost a year, while he has been the nominee, which will be Ted Cruz's starting tomorrow.
[11:19:41] BERMAN: We shall see.
Mary Katherine, what's John Kasich's plan? An article in "The New York Times" today says Ted Cruz is angrier than ever that John Kasich is in the race. What's the justification for him, as if Ted Cruz says you can't lose 49 states and be the nominee?
HAM: John Kasich's plan is to win Ohio. Oh, wait, we've already done that.
HAM: Cruz has reason to be upset. The fact that he's running decently ahead of polling in Wisconsin is also a testament to how people are looking at Kasich, perhaps with Cruz saying, what are you doing here. It's possible that Kasich is looking at the situation, saying if he wants to prevent a Trump nomination, he has to be in there to grab some of the delegates. But as you move into the winner- take-all states, that ration ale falls apart. You have to wonder if he's gunning for a veep slot.
BOLDUAN: They always say they are until they're not. That's one thing we know about politics.
BERMAN: Speaker Paul Ryan.
BOLDUAN: I don't want that position, that's for sure.
Barry, you think you could pick up some delegates tonight do.
BOLDUAN: You think you could win? Donald Trump said that yesterday, I think Wisconsin is looking a lot like New Hampshire and I see us having a "very, very big victory." His words. CONWAY: He was speaking to an empty auditorium.
BENNETT: If you look at -- I don't think it was empty, Kellyanne
If you look at the last series of polls in the last seven days, everyone of them has the race closer. One poll had Trump ahead. Actually -- OK.
It had 40 percent of Independents, you know that.
BENNETT: Anyway. The race has gotten closer every day this week. The crowds are really good at our rallies.
You know, and the establishment's love of the Ted Cruz recently, which once they get to the convention, they'll be like Ted who, anyway, kind of plays in our favor. He looks like he's part of the establishment when he does this. I think it's working against him.
CONWAY: My goodness, you've hired Paul Mannford.
CONWAY: No, I think he's part of the establishment. And this afternoon, on Twitter, it was revealed your delegates in New Jersey include Governor Christie, one of his sons and half of the county chairs. I think you're --
BENNETT: A former United States Senator and a --
CONWAY: You're becoming a little cozy with the establishment because you need to.
Kelly, let me ask you about the John Kasich phenomenon while we have this moment here. Some say John Kasich is the only thing that can keep Trump from getting 1,237 delegates. Ted Cruz can't win enough delegates in New York, in New Jersey, Maryland, Delaware. You need John Kasich to do it.
CONWAY: In the winner-take-all states, that's flawed because --
BERMAN: They're not winner-take-all.
BERMAN: But not New York, Pennsylvania.
CONWAY: There you go by congressional district and then you're awarded some based on -- (CROSSTALK)
CONWAY: That's correct.
I think both Trump and Cruz would like to have each other one on one. They'd like it to be a two-person race. And --
BERMAN: For the race or the math?
CONWAY: No, no. For the math. There's the Trump vote and the non Trump vote. Not anti Trump, the non Trump. Nobody can argue the non Trump vote in those places is a majority. It's where the growth opportunity comes. Mr. Trump's voters came to him early. They go nowhere. They're loyal. But there hasn't been a lot of growth there in Wisconsin and elsewhere. So if it's 35 percent, 40 percent has been just fine. In a two-person race, it would be a majority.
And in the terms of Kasich, all the nonsense that he's the only one who can beat Hillary Clinton, Ted Cruz does well. Number one, you can't win in November if you can't win in April. I refuse to let our nominee to someone again like 2012 who neutralizes issues like Obamacare. John Kasich is a friend of Obamacare. We should not be neutralizing key issues like that against Hillary Clinton.
BOLDUAN: Mary Katherine, final thought?
HAM: Here's the thing about the final states. If Cruz can do well in Wisconsin, not exactly a bright red state, it's an indication he can do better than some expect in somewhere like New York of Pennsylvania and pick up some of the delegates. If Kasich is out of the race, he's making that argument, he could do better than he could otherwise.
BOLDUAN: I'll tell you one thing for sure. It doesn't look like John Kasich is getting out. It doesn't look like you're getting out now, guys.
BENNETT: In Maryland --
BOLDUAN: Go ahead.
BENNETT: In Maryland, John Kasich failed to file a full slate of delegates. I don't know what they're doing.
BOLDUAN: They're running for contested convention.
(CROSSTALK) BERMAN: Somebody has to step in and save John Kasich from the pile- on.
Kellyanne Conway, Mary Katherine Ham, Barry Bennett, thank you so much for being with us. Appreciate it.
Speaking of John Kasich, as we just said, he claims he's not going anywhere. He's staying in the race. What's the plan? Really, what is the Kasich plan for victory? We're going to speak with a top Kasich official. That's coming up.
BOLDUAN: Plus, if you think the president is tired of talking about Donald Trump, think again. The White House says all the Trump questions are a good thing. And they say bring them on. We'll talk about that next.
[11:25:12] BERMAN: Coming up soon, President Obama set to talk about the economy and corporate tax loopholes. This is a subject I know you've been dying to learn more about, so we'll bring that to you live.
[11:29:55] BERMAN: So it went from telling him to get the hell out to calling him now downright stubborn. New calls this morning from Donald Trump for John Kasich to withdraw from the presidential contest, something Ted Cruz is also calling for.
This is what Donald Trump said a few minutes ago.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE & CEO, TRUMP ORGANIZATION: I think he has 32 losses and one victory.