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Is Donald Trump Playing the Race Card?; Trump: Remarks About Judge Misconstrued; Is Trump Ready for the General Election? Who Will Win Sanders Supporters?; Clinton: I Intend to Reach Out to Sanders Supporters; Sander to Meet with President Tomorrow. Aired 11p-12a ET
Aired June 8, 2016 - 23:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[23:00:20] DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: Is Donald Trump playing the race card? This is CNN TONIGHT. I'm Don Lemon.
The G.O.P. at odds with its own presumptive nominee over race.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's kind of a moot point whether you'll have a Trump presidency because he won't be in the White House if he continues to make these kinds of statements.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm continually disappointed when, you know, I hear things about the judge and everything else.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He should apologize to the judge and to the American people, and he should stop insulting people and groups of people.
REP. PAUL RYAN (R-WI), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: Claiming a person can't do their job because of their race is certainly like a textbook definition of a racist comment.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: Well, what Donald Trump says about race cost him votes in the general election. And is the candidate a racist?
Is Donald Trump a racist?
We're going to discuss that this hour. Make sure you stay tuned. It's going to be a great show.
Joining me now, a man who has a lot to say on the subject of race in America, "New York Times" columnist Nick Kristof.
Nick, you've been, you've written about this and your columns are fascinating when it comes to this. So thank you for joining us.
So racism is a word that has been tossed around and is tossed around quite a bit during this election, especially in the context of Donald Trump and comments that he's made most recently about the quote "Mexican judge."
So, Nick, how would you define racism?
NICHOLAS KRISTOF, COLUMNIST, NEW YORK TIMES: I would say a prejudice or discrimination that is directed on the basis of race or more broadly, ethnicity.
In the case of Judge Curiel, it wasn't exactly race. It was national origin. But, you know, we think of racism not just about race as such, but also about ethnicity, often religion. And, you know, when you -- I mean, I think Paul Ryan was right that when you make comments that demean a judge based on those kinds of issues of national origin, that's -- it's hard to see what that is, but racist.
LEMON: OK. So then -- all right, having said that, Speaker Ryan then -- you brought up Speaker Ryan. He said it was a textbook definition of a racist comment.
So is it possible to make racist statements and not actually be racist?
KRISTOF: Yes. I mean, it may be. The problem with Trump is that we don't just have a comment about one judge calling him a Mexican, even though he was born in Indiana.
We have similar comments about a judge who -- theoretical comment about a judge who was Muslim. We have comments about barring people based -- from the country based on a religious test. We have comments about Mexicans being rapists and drug dealers.
We have the insistence that President Obama was born abroad. And what goes all the way back to the 1970s when, you know, those well-known liberals in the Nixon administration brought lawsuits against the Trump organization which Donald Trump was then the president for discriminating against blacks. And quoted people from within the Trump organization as saying that blacks were -- the door men were told to tell blacks that there were no apartments available and tell whites that there were.
And, you know, with any one thing, I think it's hard to form a definitive judgment when you have a pattern that goes back over decades. And there's this vigorous argument about whether somebody is a racist, that's usually a sign of trouble.
LEMON: OK. So here's -- I don't want to -- you can decide if you want to answer this question. I won't put you in the spot.
So in your estimation, is Donald Trump a racist?
KRISTOF: Yes. Frankly, I would say that.
You know, I look back -- I think we probably make too much about any one comment. But where you have this whole pattern of comments -- I mean, he also is quoted as saying that blacks are lazy. That he wouldn't want to hire blacks to handle money. Then comments about Muslims, comments about Mexican, comments, about Mexican-Americans.
Then when you have this broad pattern over decades and behaviors about reports of discriminating against blacks and housing, then, yes, frankly I would say that that is racism.
LEMON: Yes. So I want you to listen to -- this is what he told me when I asked if he was racist.
This is like one of maybe three times that I asked him.
Listen to this, Nick.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I am the least racist person that you have ever met. I am the least racist person.
LEMON: Are you bigoted in any way?
TRUMP: I don't think so. No, I don't think so.
[23:05:10] TRUMP: I'm a person -- no, not at all. I'm a person who happens to be very smart and I happen to have a certain street sense and I know where things are going.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: OK. So if he says he's not so, you know, as a journalist, I must take him at his word. But do you think that he knows --
KRISTOF: Well, George Wallace didn't think that he was racist either even as he kept blacks from schools.
I think that nobody is a good analyst of their own biases and racism. So I wouldn't take his own testimony about his own race consciousness too highly.
LEMON: So let's get down to this, Nick. Because many people would say the same thing that Donald Trump would say. Many people I know and love, many people I work with, many people who I am friends with, as you said, many people -- most people don't recognize their own racism and they won't call out their own racism.
There's a sort of white collar racism that people don't understand where that in your day -- here's my test.
In your daily life, daily, weekly, monthly, how often do you -- not in a work environment, but do you sit at the dinner table with someone of a different ethnicity as a friend and talk about things?
Not in their employ, not how many people you employ --
LEMON: Not black people or Hispanic people, who work for you but just as friends or maybe you're married to someone, or dating someone outside of your race.
If you don't do that on a daily or usually a weekly basis, chances are you're a little bit racist.
KRISTOF: You know, Don, I think you raise a really important point which is that fundamentally I think we're just about all a little bit racist. And I think the problem is not so much -- you know, the problem in 2016 is not the hardcore racists of the 1950s who believed in inequality among the races. The problem today is people who often believe in equality and yet act because of unconscious bias in ways that perpetuate inequality.
And, you know, I'm as guilty of this as anybody. There are various tests one can take, one involves a shooting gang, where you see people who are either white or black, who pop up, some holding a gun, some not holding a gun, it's a video game and you're supposed to shoot, there's having the gun or not, there's who don't.
And I react more quickly and more quickly to shoot somebody who is black than somebody is not. And that is characteristic among Americans who played that game. It is also true of African-Americans who played that same game. That they are more likely to shoot a black male holding a gun than a white person holding a gun.
And, you know, this goes broadly in society. There is an MBA refs professionally trained under the -- you know, on television. It turns out that they are more likely to call personal fouls on a player of the opposite race than on a player of their own race. Umpires, same thing with calling strikes.
And there has been abundant testing of this over the last decade. It turns out that we are almost all subject to this kind of unconscious racial bias, unconscious gender bias, unconscious bias about age.
And one of the few exceptions is people who are in a romantic relationship with somebody of a different race that...
KRISTOF: ...when you love somebody that seems actually to overcome that bias.
LEMON: Yes. So I'm glad you said that. I could go on and on and talk about that, especially the experiences that I've had just because I am, quote -- and I'm being very off script here, because I am, quote, "a somebody," the guy on CNN. I will get invited to places that some other people may not be invited to, and usually I am the only person of color, one if not a few, or one of the only persons of color there.
And that includes, you know, sometimes at big, huge events, sometimes at gay events, all kinds of things. I'm the only man of color in the room among a sea of white people. And I would venture a guess that many of those people don't have interactions with people outside of their own race unless they are going to work on a daily or weekly basis. It's very interesting.
I have to get this in. We've gone a long time here. And I think that's a good test for everyone, for black people, Hispanic people, white people, Jewish people, all kinds -- Muslim people.
Do you hang out with people who are just like you all the time? Do you love people who are only like you, for the most part? That says a lot about how you feel about race and how conscience you are about that.
LEMON: But I want to play this. I think this is very important.
This is a comment from Representative Reid Ribble, who is a three-term G.O.P. congressman. He is one of the remaining never Trump congressman.
Here's what he said to CNN today about Trump's remarks about Judge Curiel.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
[23:10:14] REID RIBBLE (R), CONGRESSMAN: His comments over the weekend are authenticating what I believe is the man's core character. And, you know, something walks like a duck and talks like a duck, it's likely to be a duck.
And if you continue to say what I believe are racist statements, you're likely to be a racist.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: I'll let you have the last word on that.
KRISTOF: Well, I guess what I would say is that we can all misspeak, we can all say things we regret. But where there is a pattern over decades of somebody misspeaking in this way about blacks, about people of Mexican origin, about Muslims and being called out by the Department of Justice for racial discrimination in the business that they own, then I think it's hard to see anything but a pattern of racism and prejudice in the basis terms.
LEMON: I appreciate your candor, Nick. Thanks for coming on.
KRISTOF: My pleasure.
LEMON: All right. When we come right back, will what Donald Trump says about race cost him votes in November? We'll discuss.
[23:15:09] LEMON: Donald Trump insisting that his remarks criticizing the judge in the Trump University case have been misconstrued as an attack against people of Mexican heritage.
Here to discuss now is Jeffrey Lord, a CNN political commentator, who is supporting Trump. He joins us now via Skype.
Also political commentators Angela Rye, former executive director of the Congressional Black Caucus, and Matt Lewis, senior contributor to "The Daily Caller."
So thank you, guys, all for joining me this evening. As you can see, Nick Kristof and I had a very candid conversation. I want to continue with this candor. No talking points, please. Let's just speak from the heart. I think it's an important conversation that Americans had and we need to continue to have.
And so, Jeffrey, I'm going to start with you.
I know that you do not believe that Trump's comments about Judge Curiel were racist despite so many people within his own party disagreeing with you. If they weren't racist, then what were they?
JEFFREY LORD, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes. I think he backed into an excellent discussion here. I think, quite candidly, he feels that the guy is a Latino activist, which I think is certainly true in looking at his record.
I mean, he's quite the activist in this San Diego La Raza Lawyers Association. He's a member, interestingly, of the National Hispanic Bar Association, which put out a statement a year ago saying -- demanding a boycott of all of Donald Trump's businesses.
I just think he's got a conflict -- he, the judge, has a conflict of interest and just should be out of the case. That's my point.
LEMON: Jeffrey, let me ask you. Do you belong to any organizations?
LORD: No. The United Church of Christ.
LEMON: You don't belong to any organizations? Don't you belong to the Republican Party?
LORD: The Republican Party. You're right. You're right.
LEMON: Yes. That's an organization, right?
LORD: OK. Right.
LEMON: Does that make you disconnect your brain from -- does that disconnect your brain from being impartial or from being able to decide if things on merit because you're a member of the Republican Party?
LORD: Don, if you're a judge, the whole point of the job, no matter who you are is you are just supposed to be interpreting the constitution. You are not supposed to be using your ethnic background, your racial background, your religious background, whatever.
ANGELA RYE, FORMER EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, CONGRESSIONAL BLACK CAUCUS: Come on, Jeffrey.
LEMON: Go ahead, Angela. Go ahead. Go ahead.
RYE: Jeffrey, so just for starters, because I think this is where we often kind of get led astray in these discussions.
Number one, this is not a constitutional law case. Right? This is about whether or not Trump University defrauded its students. Its students.
And I think that we need to separate those two issues, number one. Let's not conflict the --
LORD: That's not the law.
RYE: Second of all, second of all -- yes, it is about the law, but you said the constitution. I just want to be clear on what we're actually talking about here. It's not a constitutional law case.
Nevertheless, some of us in this country, Jeffrey, don't have a choice about whether or not to be active on issues that impact our every day lives vis-a-vis civil rights.
So him being a member of the Hispanic National Bar Association and you all throwing it out here as a talking point is laughable to me as a member of the National Bar Association because I'm black.
Those organizations were stood up because the American Bar Association didn't accept our kind at some point. So if they are activists because they are protecting the rights of people who look different from you, then so be it. But that does not mean that a judge of color cannot be impartial and fair in determining whether or not someone violated the law, or someone defrauded a student.
LEMON: OK, Jeffrey, hang on, as the president of the United States, if Donald Trump were elected -- and this just came to me. If Donald Trump were elected president of the United States, he would take an oath, right, to serve the American people, correct?
LORD: Right. Right.
LEMON: OK. So as he is a Republican, right?
LEMON: He is white. Right?
LORD: Yes, but who cares.
LEMON: OK. All right. Thank you. I'm getting to that. So then, as a white Republican male, does that mean that he cannot serve all of America, Hispanics, blacks and so on because he is a white president, because -- listen, because he has taken an oath?
So in the same vain, I'm asking is if Judge Curiel took an oath as an attorney with a jurist doctorate, to serve and to protect the constitution and the laws of the United States, what makes you think he is any different than Donald Trump taking an oath as the possible president of the United States?
LORD: Only because he has shown this propensity to belong to organizations that are about his ethnicity and be active in them. And Donald Trump -- and in this particular case --
MATT LEWIS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Propensity, but this is reverse engineering. This is reverse engineering.
LEMON: Let Matt --
LEWIS: Jeffrey, I would have been very sympathetic to this argument had it been the first thing Donald Trump said or had it come around on day two or day three or day four.
You are piecing together a very sort of logical and I think, you know, compelling argument that's clearly reverse engineered.
It's what you say after everything else has failed.
LEMON: Go ahead, Jeffrey.
LORD: No. He said he's Mexican, i.e., Latino.
RYE: What does that mean? What does that mean? His ability --
LORD: What does that mean?
RYE: So, Jeffrey, I guess my question -- my concern, frankly, is if he can write off the fact that this judge can or cannot be impartial based on his ethnicity and based on the fact that he has Mexican parents and he is a Mexican-American, what difference does it make? Why would someone who is running for president --
LEWIS: Angela, if Donald Trump had on day one said I am concerned about this judge because I think he's involved with some leftist organizations, I think that he's not going to be fair, had he said that, I think it's a different story. But he didn't say this.
I think that's the problem.
LEMON: OK. So, listen, here's --
RYE: Matt, I agree with you on that point, but that also is just a lie. The Hispanic National Bar Association is not a leftist organization and neither is La Raza.
LEMON: Here's what La Raza says. La Raza issued a statement and they said, "La Raza is a legal group." They said this about themselves.
San Diego La Raza Lawyers Association is made up of lawyers, judges, law students and other professionals who work with lawyers in a professional capacity. Our membership of about 300 individuals is not monolithic, consisting of conservatives, liberals, Republicans, Democrats and Latinos and non-Latinos alike.
LEWIS: But had he -- but had Trump framed this as an activist judge, and this is a case about liberal activism, that might have been true, that might have been false, but it wouldn't have been racist. But you said because the judge is Mexican, he can't be fair.
That, I think is, as Paul Ryan said, pretty textbook.
RYE: So, Don, the one thing that like I appreciate about this conversation is normally you allow us to kind of shed the talking points. So for shedding the talking points for a minute, I want to acknowledge the fact that in this moment, I am seeing white privilege.
And I'm saying that because, I, for the life of me, can't understand why people would say that he's an activist judge because he participates in organizations that ensures parity in the legal system for lawyers, for law students, for judges who look like him. That does not make him an activist judge. That's just not true.
There are these organizations that are stood up for engineers, for lawyers, for NBAs.
LEWIS: Wait. How is that white privilege, though? That's what I'd like to know. How is that white privilege?
RYE: I'm going to tell you, Matt. What I'm hearing from you and frankly from Jeffrey, which your response was this like, oh, this argument would have worked if they would have brought it up initially, instead of reverse engineering it.
RYE: And I hear your point. What I'm saying is that argument is still false, but you all saying that it's an activist -
LEWIS: OK. How's that white privilege?
RYE: I'm getting ready to tell you. So I know this is -- if we can be defensive about it or we can try to shed some of it so we can listen, but part of it is when you are in a position of privilege and power where you've never had issues of accessing certain trades, certain professions, you don't have to have these organizations that are based on providing women opportunity, gay folks opportunity, or people of color and those are the associations that he's a part of.
Those are -- that does not make him an activist judge. What you're using right now is a white privilege argument. You don't understand because you don't have that need.
LEMON: I think what she's saying is that you're looking at it -- this is what I think she's saying and you guys were talking -- and let's not be defensive about it. We're having a conversation.
LEWIS: Why would I be defensive about it?
LEMON: I'm saying all of us. Not just you. Come on.
So I think what she's saying is that looking through it as a lens of someone who is typically never been discriminated against, is that that is the lens that you're looking at America through, and America is not that way for everyone.
LORD: Don, if I could respond. I would respond that my friend Angela is looking through this, through the lens of liberal privilege. And liberal privilege is exactly how she described white privilege except you substitute the word liberal.
That unlike conservatives, liberals don't get discriminated against because they are pretty dominating in the media, at least they have been for decades.
They are pretty dominant in the political system. They are pretty dominant in the world of law. They are pretty dominant in academia. They are certainly dominant at the upper levels of my church, of my denomination, which is the same as President Obama's. So I would suggest --
LEMON: But she said white, she said white privilege. So do you think that whites -- hang on, hang on. Let me get the question out before you answer it.
LEMON: Are you saying that whites -- aren't whites dominant in most fields in America?
[23:25:10] LORD: I am saying, Don, that the concept of white privilege is a -- something that is used by people who have liberal privilege. They created the whole idea of white privilege because they have liberal privilege.
RYE: That's not true, Jeffrey.
LORD: Conservatives have nothing to do with this. RYE: This is not so. I would argue with you that this is not about a leftist or a right-leaning thing. This is not about political party.
LEMON: Stand by, Angela.
RYE: White privilege isn't bound by party, Jeffrey.
Go ahead. I'm sorry.
LEMON: It is by ideology.
Matt, I'm sure you want to defend yourself. Go ahead.
LEWIS: I think the funny thing is I was actually agreeing with Angela.
RYE: No. And I wasn't attacking you, Matt. I was just saying I'm seeing this happening. So I just wanted to point it out while it was happening. It wasn't an attack. It wasn't.
LEMON: To be continued on the other side of the break. Don't go anywhere.
[23:30:00] LEMON: So let's get back on the subject that we've been talking about and that is race. Angela Rye is here, Jeffrey Lord is here and Matt Lewis here as well. And we're continuing our conversation.
So I think what's stunning, Jeffrey, is to see -- you're seeing the people in the Republican Party coming out against this Trump racist comment more than you're seeing people in the Democratic Party coming out and that's what -- that's not kind of -- it makes this so much more interesting because it's not like African-Americans in the Democratic Party, or African-American activists. Not that they are not shocked by this or upset by this, but the resistance he's getting is really mostly from his own party. I want to play this for you. I played it in the last block, but this is Representative Reid Ribble, third term GOP Congressman and he is a never/Trump Congressman, one of the last remaining ones. Here's what he said to CNN today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REID RIBBLE, (R) CONGRESSMAN WISCONSIN: His comments over the weekend are authenticating what I believe is the man's core character. If someone walks like a duck, talks like duck, it's likely to be a duck. And if you continue to say what I believe are racist statements, you're likely to be a racist.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: So most people in the party have coalesced around Donald Trump saying he's our nominee, we support him. And now this. They are not saying this just because -- just to say it. They are saying it because there is something behind it. Do you understand that?
JEFFERY LORD, TRUMP SUPPORTER: Don, my belief is that somebody like that Congressman and disappointingly to me, Speaker Ryan, have gotten into this whole business of identity politics.
LEMON: You mean Jeff Blake and Lindsey Graham --
LORD: Yes, absolutely. Every last one of them.
LEMON: And Mitt Romney and --
LORD: Exactly. And I've discussed this in terms of --
LEMON: So they're all wrong?
LORD: Long before this incident with Donald Trump came up, I discussed this incident in terms of Mitt Romney and Jeb Bush. I believe that identity politics, as I've phrased it, the grandchild of slavery and child of segregation. I believe at its core, racist.
MATT LEWIS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I don't care what somebody says matter.
LEMON: OK. Matt, but isn't this -- OK. But isn't Donald Trump the one who brought up identity politics here? He put it on the table.
LEWIS: Here's the problem with this whole thing. First of all, if you like me, I believe that conservativism is actually the best philosophy to bring the most joy, the most prosperity to the most people to bring about human flourish. I think that liberalism stifles creativity, you know, onerous regulations, bureaucracy, all of that, keeps people down. I believe in conservativism. I want to stop anything that tarnishes that. I also believe, in principle, not partisanship, not just winning elections, but things like character. You go to church on Sunday, you sit in pew and you believe the stuff the pastor says. And then you go out and you heard Donald Trump make fun of a reporter with a disability, that doesn't comport with my values. And I'm sorry, I'm going to say it. You know what, I just think that a lot of these conservative and Republican politicians who are standing up to Trump are doing it, I think nobly and courageously.
LEMON: But they still support him.
LEWIS: Well, some of them do and I think that's dissonance and incoherent.
So, you as a conservative, do you think his comments were racist? That comment about the judge.
LEMON: Do you think Donald Trump is a racist?
LEWIS: I don't know. I'll put it to you this way, I've thought about this. The sort of the consummate political racist that we think of as George Wallace. Did you know that George Wallace started out as a progressive? A very progressive tolerant guy. He lost an election in Alabama and he said I would never be out in worded again. And so he became a political opportunist. And he was a race baiter. I don't know what's worse. Is it worse to be a racist or is it worse to exploit race and to drive people apart if you don't even believe it?
LEMON: But is it worse to not know? Do you think that most people -- and this includes Donald Trump -- who -- you know the old saying, everybody is a little bit racist? One must examine oneself all the time. You should be examining yourself. Do you think that Donald Trump knows whether or not he's racist?
LEWIS: No, I think this goes back to a segment that you've recently had. I think that there may be sort of -- first of all the guy is 70 years old. OK. There could be some latent racism. Again, we all must examine ourselves and be introspective. I think he would probably hire somebody, probably date somebody who's a minority. But some of the things he does and says, I am very comfortable saying, are racist.
LEMON: Angela, I would venture a guess that most people who have those qualities don't know. It doesn't matter what color you are. Most people who are racist -- and we said that this racist thing -- I think president Obama made a very good point when he did the interview on the radio show with Mark Maren. Remember that? And he actually used the "N" word.
[23:35:00] He said, racism is not just about not saying the "N" word openly in public. There are subtle nuances and people don't like to be called a racist, Angela, but everybody is a little bit racist and we should probably try to figure that out and think being a racist is the worst thing you could call me. Maybe you should say, well maybe I am racist, and let me think about it. I'll let Angela and then you can respond to it after that, Jeffrey. Go ahead Angela.
ANGELA RYE, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes, I think a couple of things. One is you raised some excellent points earlier in the show when you talked about who are you surrounding yourselves with? If at some point we don't surround ourselves with other people who think differently than we do. Who live in different parts of the country and parts of the world than we do. Who go to different schools. Who learn different ways. Who majored in different things, and different races. We're all going to have these challenges with latent prejudice, whether we want to call it prejudice, bigotry or racism, for what it is, we have to all continue to ensure that we're breaking down these types of barriers. I think about often some of the things my parents did raising me. I remember being 3 years old and saying to my dad -- I was responding to him -- I said no way, Jose. And that was it. And my dad told me sternly, don't ever say that again. And I asked him when I was 16, I was like, why? I wasn't college -- I didn't name a Latino person. I didn't hold up the sign. He said, I don't want you to ever get the idea that it was OK to do something that could be offensive to somebody that could be our neighbor.
LEMON: Point taken. Someone said that to me once when I said caught red-handed, and I went, oh, and then they explained to me about what that meant about red people and native Americans. And I said, you know what, I'll never really say that again. Maybe they don't find it offensive. Maybe it is -- but I won't do it. Because I don't want to offend anyone. Jeffrey Lord, last word.
LORD: Don, what really concerns me, and I think this has been a terrific conversation. I grew up in the 1960s. My heroes were JFK and Bobby Kennedy and I quote often President Kennedy in his Birmingham address saying race has no place in American life or law. I am very concerned that political correctness, identity politics is dragging us backwards to that era. To in essence re-segregating America. I think it's wrong, I think it's terrible. I think that we need to get beyond this kind of thing. And this is a good way to do it and have a discussion. So bravo.
LEMON: Thank you very much. I think you're right. Now I'll get the last word here. Is that there's a difference between political correctness and being thoughtful and treating your neighbor as you would yourself. Right? Do unto others and if something offends someone else, I don't want to offend you. So I'm going to do unto you as I would do unto myself. Hang on, that is called being a human being. A thoughtful person.
LEMON: Thank you, thank you everyone. Appreciate it.
RYE: Thank you, Don.
LEMON: We'll be right back.
[23:41:53] LEMON: Seventeen Republicans began the race for their party's nomination. Now only one is left standing. But is Donald Trump ready to face Hillary Clinton in the general election? CNN's Dana Bash has more.
DONALD TRUMP, (R) PRESUMPTIVE PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: Tonight we close one chapter in history and we begin another.
BASH (voice-over): Donald Trump is moving into the general election with some impressive bragging rights.
TRUMP: Thirty-seven primary caucus victories in a field that began with 17 very talented people.
BASH: It's especially remarkable considering how tiny Trump's campaign was. Very few staffers compared to the robust operations of many candidates Trump crushed at the polls.
TRUMP: The last thing we need is Hillary Clinton in the White House.
BASH: But a national campaign against a well-organized Democratic opponent is a different ball game, and some Republican sources say they're worried Trump has been slow to ramp up. Trump advisers insist they're hiring in key states.
BASH (on camera): The director, the communications person, the field person.
ED BROOKOVER, SENIOR ADVISOR, TRUMP CAMPAIGN: I think we will be organized in those states, whether we're organized traditionally, as you described, or in a more nontraditional way where we have our operation.
BASH (voice-over): Sometimes that nontraditional approach leads to turmoil. TRUMP micro manages his own message, as was evident this week when he ditched a staff memo during a conference with surrogates, which he conducted himself, quite rare. When it comes it organizing, Trump appears much more hands off.
TRUMP: As far as building the infrastructure of the campaign, the RNC has been doing it for years.
BASH: He's relying heavily on the Republican National Committee more so than pass GOP nominees. RNC officials say they have been building modern grass roots organizations in key states for three years, a lesson learned from Mitt Romney's devastating loss in 2012.
SEAN SPICER, RNC COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR: What that allows the campaign to do, like never before, is actually integrate and rely on the RNC to help lead that ground effort up and down the ticket. Normally it is the campaign that's done it.
BASH: The Trump operation, as of now, is about 70 people, according to GOP sources. Far fewer than most Republican nominees have had at this point. But Republicans note, add in the RNC's 750 paid staffers, who work for Trump and other GOP candidates, it's a different picture.
SPICER: It doesn't matter what jersey they're wearing, if they help the ticket win in November, that's what really counts.
BASH: Some GOP strategists, who've worked on traditional presidential campaigns, say they're skeptical this approach will work. One source telling CNN, they worry a critical piece of winning, targeting swing voters in key states could fall through the cracks. Still, RNC officials tell CNN they currently have state directors and offices in 11 states, states strategists in both parties agree are competitive. Yet Trump in typical Trump fashion wants to go bigger.
TRUMP: What I am going to do, I want to focus on 15 or so states. Because we have to win.
[23:45:00] BASH: In addition to the 11 states where Republicans are already organizing, Trump is talking about adding four blue states. His home state of New York, Maine, Minnesota, and even California, according to a source familiar with his plans.
TRUMP: Now no other Republican, they wouldn't even go to dinner in California, they wouldn't do it.
BASH: Yet, Republican strategists privately admit, New York and California especially are pipe dreams, not really likely to be in play. Dana Bash, CNN, Washington.
LEMON: Thank you Dana for that. When we come right back, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton each reaching out to Bernie Sanders supporters, but who will win their votes?
LEMON: Everyone wants those Bernie Sanders supporters. So let's talk about it. Kayleigh McEnany is here, a CNN political commentator and a Trump supporter. Bob Cusack, editor-in-chief of "The Hill". Maria Cardona, Democratic strategist and a Clinton supporter, and Bob Beckel, CNN political commentator. We talked about that. Cusack or --
JOHN CUSACK, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, "THE HILL": Just like the actor.
LEMON: John Cusack. Any relation?
CUSACK: No, no relation. I'm a SAG member though.
LEMON: Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump were both fighting for Bernie Sanders supporters. Let's listen to Donald Trump appealing to them last night.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
[23:50:00] TRUMP: To all of those Bernie Sanders voters, who have been left out in the cold by a rigged system of superdelegates, we welcome you with open arms.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: Beckel, does he have a chance?
BOB BECKEL, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: No. I mean -- look, he's got a chance to maybe get a few. But one of two things will happen with Bernie's voters. They are either going to coalesce around Hillary, which I think most of the Democratic voters will do, or stay home, which is what some of the independents around Bernie will do. But if you want to organize the Bernie Sanders voters and get them motivated, just use the word Trump and that will do it.
LEMON: Kayleigh, a very similar question, but just a little fact here. Look, 11% of Bernie Sanders supporters say they would vote for Donald Trump. Do you think Sanders is going to work with Hillary Clinton to keep them in the Democratic camp?
KAYLEIGH MCENANY, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: He certainly will try to. But I think that he's not going to be able to corral them all. Because the Bernie Sanders feel like they're fighting a rigged system. We both feel in some ways that it's a common battle in terms of the process.
LEMON: Enough to make a difference?
MCENANY: Enough to make a difference, absolutely. Every percent, every vote counts in this election. Millennials are not going to rally around Hillary Clinton. They didn't in 2008. They are not going to do that now, and independents certainly aren't. She has trouble with both of those categories. I think they will come to Trump or stay home.
LEMON: How much do you think? More than 11 percent, do you think?
MCENANY: I think 11 percent would be a fantastic number. I'd be thrilled just to get that many.
LEMON: Maria, the White House released a statement saying the president thanked Senator Sanders for energizing millions of Americas with the commitment to issues like fighting economic inequality and special interests influence on our politics. There's no doubt that millions of voters have felt the Bern. How do you think he's influenced Hillary Clinton's campaign?
MARIA CARDONA, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: I think that you hear it every time that she speaks. She has been talking about the issues that Bernie Sanders has really put front and center. Income inequality --
LEMON: People are too far to the left?
CARDONA: No, absolutely not. And let's remember, these are not issues that Hillary Clinton has been nonexistent on. These are issues that she's been working on her whole life as well. But I think the emphasis on income inequality, on college affordability has helped her really underscore the kinds of messages that she's going to need to communicate to these millennials, so that they understand that she will be their champion. That she's going to continue this movement that Bernie Sanders started. But that together what they need to do more than anything, I completely agree with Bob, it's wishful thinking for Donald Trump to think that he's going to get all of Bernie Sanders supports. That's not going to happen. Because front and center for the Bernie Sanders supporters is to advance a progressive agenda. If Donald Trump gets into the White House, that progressive agenda is out the window.
LEMON: Do you agree?
BOB CUSACK, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, THE HILL: Well listen, I think that it's tough to get his supporters when Donald Trump has been going around saying crazy Bern. However, the one area that Bernie and Trump do agree on is anti-trade. And that's the issue -- I talked to some union leaders that are worried about the rank-and-file of their members who like Trump, and they like his anti-trade message. That doesn't mean these unions are going to come out and support Trump, but at the same time, they are nervous about that.
There's a lot of chatter about a dream ticket and that would be Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders. Bob almost laughed, almost choked on his own laugh. Never going to happen?
BECKEL: No, first of all he would take it, and she wouldn't offer it. The only question now is her choices, the good ones, are all in the stage where they are Republican governors. If they are senators, she takes -- a Republican gets to take their place. So -- but I think that ticket, no, brother, ain't going to happen.
LEMON: Let me ask you this, Kayleigh. When you look at the polls and everyone is saying it's going to be different for Donald Trump, it's going to be different for Hillary Clinton when it comes to the general, right? Because there's a different electorate, different people go out and vote. This is like staunch Democrats and what have you.
LEMON: When you look at the demographics for Bernie Sanders, it's not very diverse. Mostly young people who typically don't go out to vote. Do you think there's enough there to make a difference in this election? Everyone is saying, we need your supporters. We see big crowds. But we don't see -- we're not seeing, in many places a big difference when it comes to where it counts and that's at the ballot box.
MCENANY: I think that they can make a huge difference. Because if you look at the Obama coalition, two of the key factions that put him in the White House were the minority vote and also millennials. Hillary Clinton needs both of those prongs to show up to beat Donald Trump. Particularly when he's going to win a lot of independents and a lot of swing states, particularly the manufacturing crowd. I don't think the millennials are going to show up. She's performed poorly. Go back and look at the record. In Iowa, she lost in 2008 because of millennials.
LEMON: I've got to go, Kayleigh.
[23:55:55] MCENANY: No, they are not going to show up. They are not going to vote for her.
OK, everybody, just yes or no. After this meeting at the White House, big difference, Democrats come together? Kayleigh, yes or no?
MCENANY: No, I do not think so.
BECKEL: Quietly, yes.
LEMON: I'd like to be a fly on that wall. Thank you, everyone. Appreciate it, see you Kayleigh. We'll be right back.
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LEMON: To see the rest of the story and how Becca has helped more than 200 women reclaim their lives go to CNNheroes.com.
That's it for us. Thank you so much for watching. AC360 starts now.