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ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT

Countdown to CNN's Republican Town Hall; Trump Defends Campaign Manager: "Unfair To A Good Person"; One-on-One Interview With Sanders Ahead of Key Primary. Aired 7-8p ET

Aired March 29, 2016 - 19:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[19:00:19] ERIN BURNETT, CNN ANCHOR: Next, live from Milwaukee, my exclusive guest, Bernie Sanders here tonight on the hills of three landslide wins, he's looking for another big victory here in Wisconsin. And we're counting you down to a special CNN town hall tonight. Just an hour from now, Trump, Cruz, Kasich facing off here in Wisconsin a week before the crucial primary.

And Donald Trump's campaign manager arrested, charged with simple battery. Does new surveillance video prove he's innocent or guilty? Let's go OUTFRONT.

Good evening, I'm Erin Burnett and welcome to a very special edition of OUTFRONT tonight Live from Milwaukee. In just a moment, I'm going to be joined by Senator Bernie Sanders here live in an exclusive interview. The Senator coming off from three landslide wins now campaigning in this crucial battleground state. A win here could be a game changer. And in just an hour from now, the GOP candidates will face off in a special CNN town hall here in Milwaukee. Trump, Cruz, Kasich, trying to sway voters in this battleground state. For Trump and Cruz, though, rivalry now turned extremely bitter and personal.

We'll show you a live picture of the town hall site just across town from where I am. Wisconsin's primaries a week from today. And there's breaking news to tell you about tonight. Another violent incident at a Trump rally this afternoon. The video that will show you shows an altercation between protesters and Trump supporters. One protester may have thrown a punch. She and another protester then pepper sprayed. The two taken to a nearby hospital for treatment.

This comes as Donald Trump late today said he's standing by his Campaign Manager Corey Lewandowski, who was arrested and charged with simple battery. New surveillance video of that incident surfacing today showing Lewandowski and reporter Michelle Fields. That has brought about calls that Trump fired Lewandowski but the billionaire who of course is most famous for firing people is standing by his man.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think they've really hurt a very good person. And I know it would be very easy for me to discard people. I don't discard people. I stay with people.

(END VIDEO CLIP) BURNETT: Sara Murray is live here in Milwaukee, at the CNN GOP town hall, just across the way from where I am tonight. Sara, were you surprised to hear Donald Trump take such a hard line in defense of his campaign manager?

SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Erin, I actually was not surprised to see that this was Donald Trump's response. Corey Lewandowski has been fiercely loyal to his boss, Donald Trump. And in return, Trump has been fiercely loyal to Corey. You have to remember, early on when Corey was first hired, he was one of the few political operatives who was willing to take this job. When Donald Trump was courting people, people still thought his presidential campaign was a joke. They didn't think he was going to go anywhere.

Corey said he was the man for the job. Trump (INAUDIBLE) that. And I think that still endears them to one another. And in the wake of this Michelle Fields incident when she first said that this is what it happened, sort of lobbed these allegations against Corey Lewandowski, Donald Trump stood by him then, too. Corey is right by his side at many of these election night press conferences just offstage. In a recent one, Donald Trump said Corey, he gave her a shout-out essentially from the stage saying, good job, Corey. So, I don't think it's not surprising to see him continue to stand by Corey Lewandowski tonight -- Erin.

BURNETT: All right. Of course, highly controversial. On the Democratic side tonight, this is also ground zero. Hillary Clinton hoping a win here in next week's primary will add to her delegate count. Bernie Sanders, of course, hoping to build on his major momentum after this past weekend's hat trick. In just a moment, I'll be speaking to Bernie Sanders exclusively.

But first, Jeff Zeleny is OUTFRONT.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JEFF ZELENY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The Democratic fight for Wisconsin is on. As Hillary Clinton tries to look ahead, Bernie Sanders is working to block her path.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We have won six out of the last seven elections, often by landslide victories. That's called momentum.

ZELENY: The Wisconsin battleground will help determine the strength of Sanders' argument to stay in the race until the end. In the badger state today, it seemed like Groundhog Day. Clinton and Sanders making familiar cases. For Clinton, it was on guns. Appearing with mothers of gun violence victims, and suggesting that Sanders is weak on the issue.

HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: There's lots of powerful lobbies. Nothing is more powerful than the gun lobby.

ZELENY: Sanders said his rival was too close to Wall Street and big campaign contributors. SANDERS: I'm not wasting my time going to rich people's homes,

begging them for their campaign contributions. I'd rather be here with you in Appleton than begging billionaires for their money.

ZELENY: The race has become a fight over delegates, in pledge delegates based on voting results, she holds an advantage of 239. But her biggest edge comes in super delegates. Party leaders and elected officials who overwhelmingly support Clinton. The bottom-line, the Clinton campaign has the upper hand. In the middle of it all, a raging debate over debates. Sanders calling for another debate before the April 19th New York primary. The Clinton campaign calling it a publicity stunt for a candidate locked in second place. Perhaps that's precisely with Clinton did eight years ago.

[19:05:24] HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'll debate anytime, anywhere. Look, I'm so sleep deprived, it doesn't matter. Anytime, anywhere. I'll show up.

ZELENY: Now Erin, tonight, Hillary Clinton telling reporters in La Crosse, Wisconsin that she's open to debating with Bernie Sanders. She says, I think our campaigns are talking about it. Of course, it all depends on what happens here in Wisconsin, that key primary in one week. Bernie Sanders holding a big campaign rally tonight here on the grounds of the Wisconsin State fairgrounds -- Erin.

BURNETT: All right. Jeff Zeleny, thank you very much.

And now Democratic presidential candidate, Senator Bernie Sanders is here with me in Milwaukee. Thank you so much, Senator. I appreciate you being with me.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Great to be with you.

BURNETT: This is a crucial state, you just heard Hillary Clinton say your campaigns are talking to each other about another debate. You've asked for one. Of course as you're aware, earlier today, a Clinton -- a campaign spokesman said your requests for more debates are, quote- unquote, "publicity stunted." Do you think she's serious about debating you?

SANDERS: I certainly hope so. Look, there are huge issues facing this country, on middle class disappearing. Grotesque levels of income and wealth inequality. Campaign finance system that is corrupt. And a broken criminal justice system. In New York State, there are additional problems. So I would hope that we would have a good debate. My understanding is she would like to do it in Brooklyn. I was born in Brooklyn. Let's do it.

BURNETT: Game on for Brooklyn.

SANDERS: Game on.

BURNETT: The other big news of course, you heard at the top of the program, you saw the video today from a Trump rally. But of course, Donald Trump's campaign manager charged with simple battery for an altercation with a reporter recently. Moments ago, he just defended that campaign manager, he said, I know it would be easy for me to discard people. I don't discard people. Should Donald Trump fire Corey Lewandowski?

SANDERS: Well, let's see what happens in the legal process. He's been charged and we don't find people guilty until you go through a process. But my campaign manager does not assault female journalists, let me just say that.

BURNETT: You know, John Kasich came out and said, he would -- if this would happen to him, he would go ahead and fire his campaign manager --

SANDERS: But let me just --

BURNETT: If the roles were reversed, would you --

SANDERS: But let me just say this. Let me just say this. What has concerned me very much about Donald Trump is the edginess of calls for violence around his campaign. What I found absolutely shocking, not only this campaign manager's actions but he was prepared or at least indicated that he was prepared to pay the legal fees for somebody who quite openly sucker punched somebody.

BURNETT: Sucker punched somebody.

SANDERS: Right. Knock them down. And when you say you're going to pay the legal fees for somebody who commits a gross act of violence, what you're really telling your supporters is that violence is OK. But Erin, to me, all of that stuff is interesting political stuff. But what we are trying to focus on in this campaign are the issues that impact the American people. Which, frankly, is why I think our campaign is doing so well. And one of the key issues that we are dealing with is a rigged economy in which millions of people today are working longer hours for lower wages. A broken trade system right here in Wisconsin. Tens of thousands of jobs have been lost because companies shut down here, moved to Mexico, moved to China. We need a trade policy that works for workers, not just the CEOs of large corporations.

BURNETT: Now, you're obviously making this case here in Wisconsin. You have the landslide wins on Saturday, right? In three crucial states.

SANDERS: Yes.

BURNETT: Now you're here in Wisconsin. It's huge, right? You've got 86 delegates --

SANDERS: Absolutely.

BURNETT: Ninety six if you count the ones up for grabs. Are you going to win Wisconsin? Are you confident?

SANDERS: I'm never into speculation. I will tell you that the night of the election, all right? I'll tell you exactly what the results are. But it's silly to be talking about it. All I can say is we're going to work very, very hard. We have a lot of volunteers here in the state. We'll going to be knocking on doors, we're going to be making phone calls. And our message about the need to create an economy that works for all people is in fact resonating here in Wisconsin. And I think you're going to see us do very well.

BURNETT: So, one of the arguments that you're making on that right is front is free college. And it's something that --

SANDERS: No, nope, nope -- you see, every time I'm on a show, somebody says free college. It is free tuition at public colleges and universities.

BURNETT: Okay. So on that front, though, because it is important how you word it, you know, your plan -- we have a federalist system. Right? You would be chipping in money to the states and they would then have the decision to make.

SANDERS: Yes.

BURNETT: Hillary Clinton says that's just not going to happen in a state like Wisconsin.

SANDERS: Yes.

BURNETT: Let me just play what she said basically about you this afternoon, here she is.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CLINTON: His plan depends upon governors like your governor putting in a lot of money. Now, I've got to tell you, having followed from afar the wrecking ball that Scott Walker has used against higher education, I don't think it's all that realistic to say, well, you'll get free college as long as Scott Walker chips in about, you know, yes, about $300 million.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

[19:10:38] BURNETT: I mean, Scott Walker turned down on half a billion dollars in ObamaCare.

SANDERS: Okay. Let me just say the danger. Let me just say this.

BURNETT: All right.

SANDERS: Number one, in the year 2016, we have got to recognize that a college degree is pretty much the equivalent of what a high school degree was 50 years ago. The world has changed. The economy has changed. We need to have the best educated work force in the world. Young people should not be denied the opportunity because they don't have the money. Or they should not have to leave school $50,000, $100,000 in debt. So we do believe, I do believe very strongly in making public colleges and universities tuition-tree. Now, what Secretary Clinton says is that Scott Walker may not go along with that. But you know what happens to the state of Wisconsin if he does that?

California will, Vermont will, states all over this country will, and young, bright people will be leaving Wisconsin. And I think the people of Wisconsin will tell Scott Walker, you know what, this will be a disaster for the future of our state. Because when kids leave, sometimes they don't come back. So, I think the idea is sound. It is paid for, Erin by a tax on Wall Street's speculation. When Wall Street's illegal behavior destroyed our economy, middle class bailed them out. It is now time for them to help the middle class.

BURNETT: What about, though, the issue on terms of the pure pay force? Right? You know, during the midst of the financial crisis when people said, let Bank of America go under. Let them go under. They don't deserve to survive. You know, you're not just talking about the tens of thousands of people that would have worked for that bank, but also the millions of Americans that have -- own shares of that bank and their 401k, their IRA. Millions of Americans own stocks now. Middle class Americans who could end up paying for them.

SANDERS: No, no, the vast majority of that speculation tax will be paid by upper income people. That's the way we've designed it. But at the end of the day, look, this campaign is not your typical campaign. It's not a Hillary Clinton campaign. We are thinking bigger and bolder. Now, you tell me, if Germany can provide in fact free college education, Scandinavia can do it, other countries around the world can do it, why can't we do it? Why can't we have the best educated work force in the world, which we're going to need if our economy is to survive.

And let me also add this. In the last 30 years, there has been a massive transfer of wealth from the middle class to the top one-tenth of one percent. And I know you don't talk about it too much in the media, but that is the fact. We're talking about trillions of dollars. So yes, I am running for president, and am telling the top one-tenth of one percent they're going to have to pay more in taxes.

BURNETT: And just a question, now let's take a step back about the whole idea. You say you want the best educated work force. When you look at the top ranked countries, you're looking at places like Canada, like South Korea, like Japan. All of them require people to pay in most instances about what people pay here for public education.

SANDERS: Thrust me. I mean, people are going to be paying for Harvard and Yale and all kinds of private schools. The way I see it, Erin, is that right now, and for the last hundred years, we have had public education which says that no matter what your income is right? Your rich or poor, you can go from the 1st grade to the 12th grade for free. We take it for granted. All I am saying is that in the year 2016, with a radically changing economy, where young people need more education, let's extend that concept beyond the 12th grade through public colleges and universities.

BURNETT: All right. Senator Sanders is staying with me. We'll going to have much more in our exclusive conversation in just a moment in the wake of the terror attacks in Brussels. We're going to talk about that and the fight against ISIS. And we're also going to be counting down of course that town hall for the GOP, Trump, Cruz, Kasich, less than an hour away from now right across town here in Wisconsin. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[19:18:04] BURNETT: Welcome back. We are live tonight in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. In less than an hour, the three remaining Republican presidential candidates will be going before voters at our town hall across town here and make their case. And of course right now, I'm talking exclusively to Senator Bernie Sanders who is also campaigning here in this must-win state up against Hillary Clinton.

Senator, let's continue our conversation. The open primary here in Wisconsin is important, that means people can switch over. They can vote for whomever they would like, Democrats, Republicans. We have seen this across the country, people choosing between you and Donald Trump. Some union workers, we understand here are very deeply considering whether they should vote for you or for Donald Trump. Do you think that crazy? What do you say to people who are making that choice?

SANDERS: Well, I think we'll get the vast majority of the union workers. Trump will get some, but I think we will get a lot more. I think what's going on, Erin, is there is a lot of anger in this country. For your average guy, he is asking why he has to work longer hours for lower wages. Why he's -- he's really worried, or she is really worried as much as really worried about the future of their children. And yet, almost all income and wealth is going to the top one percent. People are angry. What Trump is doing is taking that anger and saying, it's the fault of the Mexicans, or it's the fault of the Muslims. We've got to scapegoat people. Well, beating up on Mexicans who make eight bucks an hour is not going to deal with the real issues facing this country.

BURNETT: Are you, though, blaming rich people for it?

SANDERS: It's not rich people, no we are blaming an economic system right now where factually almost all the income and wealth is going to the top one percent. Where you have billionaires and large corporations, that are not paying their fair share of taxes, there are some major corporations make billions a year in taxes, stash their money in the Cayman Islands, don't pay a nickel in taxes. And what I want to do is take that money, do away with that loophole and invest it in rebuilding our troubling infrastructure. We can create 13 million jobs over a five-year period with a trillion dollar investment. That's roads, bridges, water systems, waste, water plants. It's not a question of blaming, it is a question of understanding the reality. It is a rigged economy. People on the top are doing phenomenally well. Everybody else is doing worst. We've going to change that.

BURNETT: Susan Sarandon is a supporter of yours. As you know the address, she said some people feel Donald Trump will bring the revolution immediately if he gets in. Is Donald Trump more likely to bring about a revolution in this country, and you've been having revolutionary talk, I know not of the violent -- but in terms of making changes in this country, is he more likely to accomplish that --

SANDERS: Well, I'm not sure what -- I heard that. I didn't really see here Susan's comment within a broader context. I think Trump will be a disaster for this country. I think the idea of insulting women and veterans and African-Americans and Mexicans and Muslims is precisely what this country does not need and does not want. Look, in every poll that I've seen, including a CNN poll, we were 20 points ahead of Trump. I do not believe Trump is going to become president of the United States.

BURNETT: You do win in those head-to-heads of course in the polling. We spoke to some female Donald Trump supporters yesterday in Arizona. It was a fascinating conversation about why they do believe in Donald Trump. Why they support him? Here's what one of them had to say.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What you see is what you get with this man. And that is what I want. I like transparency. I like to know what I can expect. And I feel that he will deliver what he says. And there is just no secrecy.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: Do you understand his appeal to women?

SANDERS: I don't. Well, no, I don't understand his appeal to women. I don't think he's particularly popular with women in general. You can't go around insulting women every day and expect to gain support. But I understand where that woman is coming from. Look, people are sick and tired of establishment politics. Politicians say one thing. They do another thing. You know, the Congress has a favorability rating of 15 percent or something. And Trump is, of course, very blunt and straightforward. But you've got to look at what he is saying. Does that woman really believe that the billionaire should receive hundreds of billions of dollars in tax breaks over ten year period?

I doubt it. Does she not think that we should raise the minimum wage? Trump does not. Does she really think we should insult Muslims all over the world? I don't think she does think that. So, I think the appeal of Trump is his bluntness, is his straightforwardness. And by the way, this guy is a good entertainer. He has done a very good job manipulating the media. He is a professional of that and, you know, he has been successful doing it.

BURNETT: So, let me talk about Muslims and the issues that he has brought up on that. I was in Brussels last week.

SANDERS: Yes.

BURNETT: I spoke to a young man, and those 10 to 15 people who have gone to Syria to fight with ISIS. I spoke to the brother of the Paris attacker, of one of the Paris attackers a few months ago in Brussels. He told me he knows many young men who are in Syria training to fight with ISIS, and they're coming back now. And yet, you can still without a visa, you can get on a plane in Brussels and fly to the United States. How do you prevent this young men to say that ultimate goal is to attack the United States from coming here without racially profiling as Donald Trump suggests?

[19:23:04] SANDERS: You do everything that you can. And that means you have information, and we have -- that's what intelligence services are all over the world. And you share that information. And if people are going to Syria, if they're going to training camps, they are not going to come -- or if they come back into Brussels or they come into the United States, they'll going to be arrested in five minutes. We have zero tolerance for people who will going to hurt Americans or people anyplace else in the world.

BURNETT: Right. But Intelligence Services haven't been coordinating when people, I know people in Brussels who said, my son, one of the bomber here, they said my son is in Syria, and authorities didn't care. So they know the names of who's there, they don't know who's coming back.

SANDERS: Look, first of all, let's look at the broader issue. Number one, in Iraq right now, ISIS is on the defensive. They have lost about 40 percent of the territory they controlled. And I believe that if we're smart, if we do a good job in training the Iraqi army, and the Muslim nations, they can be destroyed in a year or two. That certainly is the goal. And second of all, we've got to do everything that we can. No one has any magical solutions. But we do have to improve our intelligence capabilities. We do have to make sure that Federal State and local law enforcement is much better coordinated in preventing these types of attacks.

BURNETT: Before we go, federal officials as you know this week say they have unlocked the iPhone of one of the shooters in San Bernardino. Now, they had been suing Apple to force Apple to do just that. They figured out how to do it themselves. I know you've said you're fearful of big brother in America.

SANDERS: Yes. Yes.

BURNETT: But this is a terrorist.

SANDERS: Right.

BURNETT: Is it a good thing that the FBI broke into it?

SANDERS: Look, I think that clearly we need to get all of the information that we can to stop terrorism. But at the same time, we have to be mindful that in a free society, you do not want the government, I suspect, into your telephone. Would I be correct in saying that?

BURNETT: Mm-hmm.

SANDERS: So, what the correct balance is what we have to determine. But I am concerned about --

BURNETT: Even protecting someone's phone that massacred Americans? SANDERS: That's the balance. Of course, you're going to go after

people who are killing Americans. That goes without saying. But it is one thing to go after a terrorist, it is another thing to have millions of people being -- having their e-mails or their websites surveyed when the vast majority of them have nothing to do with terrorism. So, how you balance in a free society, the civil liberties and constitutional rights of our people, while on the other hand going after terrorists, that is the balance that we've got to establish.

BURNETT: All right. Well, Senator Sanders, thank you very much for your time. Nice talking to you tonight.

SANDERS: Nice to see you.

BURNETT: All right. And we're going to take a brief break. I want everyone to know we did ask Hillary Clinton to sit down with me while she was campaigning here in Wisconsin. She is here today. I want you to know she declined that request for an interview.

Up next, more on the breaking news surrounding the arrest of Donald Trump's campaign manager for simple battery. Should Corey Lewandowsky be fired? Our panel weighs in. They are all here live with me in Milwaukee. As you're looking at live pictures just down the street, demonstrators marching, they are marching because of Donald Trump. Moments ahead of his appearance at our town hall here on CNN. All three GOP candidates will be there. Trump, Cruz, Kasich. We're live in Milwaukee. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[19:30:06] ERIN BURNETT, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back to a very special edition of OUTFRONT. I'm live tonight in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Just moments away from when the three candidates for president will come face to face with voters at a CNN town hall, just blocks from the hundreds of Trump protesters are already marching in the streets.

Moments ago, of course, Senator Bernie Sanders campaigning here in Wisconsin sat down exclusively with me for an extended interview, weighing in on a lot of things, including the anger he says Trump is tapping into and causing with his opponents.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Your average guy, he is asking why he has to work longer hours for low wages. Why his -- he's really worried, or she's really worried about the future of their children. And yet, almost all new income and wealth is going to the top 1 percent. People are angry.

What Trump is doing is taking that anger and saying, it's the fault of the Mexicans, or it's the fault of the Muslims. We've got to scapegoat people.

Well, beating up on Mexicans who make 8 bucks an hour will not deal with the real issues.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: All right. Our political commentators are all here with me in Milwaukee. Sally Kohn, Bakari Sellers, our chief political correspondent Dana Bash, our political commentators Jeffrey Lord and Ben Ferguson.

All right. So, let's go around.

What stood out to you the most about Senator Sanders had to say tonight? We talked about terror. We talked about education. We talked about Wisconsin, Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton.

SALLY KOHN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I mean, look, I think as the campaign goes on, he's getting better and better at being a well- rounded president in answering the questions beyond the economic issues, number one. Number two, I thought he made a really good point.

You know, we as a country prioritize what -- we pay for what we prioritize. We pay for what we care about. And we care about getting young people in this country educated, we can afford it, we should afford it.

And the sort of pie in the sky notions about his plan are attacks on the meaning of it, not just the math.

BURNETT: Bakari, he didn't question what Hillary Clinton said today. She said there's no way Governor Scott Walker here in the state would take away for free public universities. So, it won't here. He said, sure, it won't happen here and so, kids will move to California and will have their education there --

BAKARI SELLERS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I thought it was a good interview and I'm glad that you pressed him on that issue, because what we saw was that he really did not have a response. If Scott Walker doesn't want to have that money, the kids are going to go to California.

I mean, what is going to happen in a general election when you have Florida at play, when you have Ohio at play, when you have Governor Kasich and Governor Rick Scott who are not going to contribute to that fund for free college? Are we just going to tell those kids that you have to go to school somewhere else? Are those kids are just going to leave the state? What happen with those kids who are working with their parents' small businesses or the such?

And you start to see some of the holes in this not pie in the sky, but you start to see some of the holes that appearing in some of these plans.

BURNETT: Dana?

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think it's what you and I were talking about in the break, about the idea of how you handle terrorism, potential terrorism. And for the past many months, Bernie Sanders has been able to quite deftly turn those questions into his comfort zone, you know, kind of turn it back to whether it's climate change or economic inequality, what-have-you.

But you really pressed him on the answer that is maybe unanswerable for a lot of these candidates. Clearly for Bernie Sanders, because look, it's a tough moral question, what you do, and whether you do what -- Donald Trump is the only one who says that he will do it, which is treat these suspects like you don't treat American citizens, which, of course, wild cause complete outrage around the world. In many people's perspectives, I think we can say factually, will kind of deprive America of its moral authority and moral leadership. And it is such a vexing problem for this president and for the next president and that's why it was so crucial to press him on that.

BURNETT: No one really has an answer to that.

BASH: No, there is no one.

BURNETT: Jeffrey Lord, he did talk about Donald Trump. He said yes, we're both tapping into anger. He admitted some of the union voters here in Wisconsin are going to vote for Donald Trump. But he said, I think a lot more of them are going to go for me, for me, Bernie Sanders, because, of course, people in this primary can switch and vote for whoever they want, which is something that obviously can be very crucial for both of them.

JEFFREY LORD, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: What we're talking about here I think are -- we used to call them "Reagan Democrats". I think we're now beginning to call them "Trump Democrats", folks that are blue collar workers who say -- who do feel the anger here.

We should say something about the anger here with Bernie Sanders. What he's doing, if I may, liberal Democrats do frequently is play class warfare. So, he's always stoking this right from the start himself. I can hear the sighs over there --

BURNETT: Yes.

(CROSSTALK)

LORD: I'm on the minority of one here. But that's OK. That's OK. But I do think that's a problem.

Now, the question is what to do with the anger out there. And Bernie Sanders has one set of views and Donald Trump has another set of views. There is that feeling out there. I think there is no doubt -- I do think it affects union workers, I mean, sometimes this summer we were on the air and there was a Trump rally outside of Flint, Michigan.

[19:35:00] And our friend Amanda Carpenter was from that area. She said, those have got to be union workers there, and auto union workers.

So, I do think he's tapped into this. And I think this is going to play a real role in states like Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, New York.

BEN FERGUSON, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes, it's incredible to me how close similarities are between Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump. They've both tapped into people's anger and frustrations. But what's even more interesting is how many people support Bernie Sanders and don't need to ask the question, how are you going to pay for free college? The same way that Donald Trump has said, "I'm going to build a wall and I'm going to keep everybody out of this country that might hurt us," without ever asking how are you going to do it, and how are you going to pay for it.

And I think that's what you need to think about this election. Whether you're the extreme left or extreme right here, the supporters don't need an answer. I don't think they really care about an answer, because they're buying into what is sold on the surface. There is no read the fine print with these two candidates. And that's one of things, I think the reason why he's doing so well and why Donald Trump is doing so well.

BURNETT: On the issue of Trump's campaign manager, he said, look, that would never happen in my campaign, that was his way of answering it.

Interesting to me, he was saying, let the justice system play out. I'm not going to come out and call for him to be fired, like a John Kasich did, or anything like that. He was going to wait.

But I want to play to all of you what Donald Trump has said about this, because he has tripled down in support of his campaign manager. Here he is.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: A lot of people are looking and saying, how can anybody be charged? She was actually -- if you look at her, according to a lot of people, she's grabbing at me and he's acting as an intermediary and trying to block her from doing that. I don't know if there were bruises from that. Who said there are bruises from that? How do you know those bruises weren't there before?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: Dana, this is a bizarre alternate reality that we're now discussing where the bruises came from, watching the video to see whose version is right of this?

(CROSSTALK)

BASH: No, it is completely bizarre. It is completely bizarre. But, look, I think two things, to explain what and why Donald Trump is tripling down as you called it.

Number one, and Sara Murray put this very well earlier today, and she's been covering Trump in and out every day. A reminder that, you know, we're all kind of taking for granted now Donald Trump is the front-runner. But on June 16th when he announced, people thought, are you kidding me?

BURNETT: Right.

BASH: And Corey Lewandowski was there with him. And he was somebody who said, we're going to do this. And so, there is a loyalty there. That's number one.

Number two, this is completely Donald Trump's brand, that if you punch him, he's going to punch back. And from his perspective, because of that loyalty, obviously, I'm speaking figuratively now, he feels that Corey Lewandowski is not being treated fairly and he's going to defend him and he's going to do that for him.

SELLERS: If I may just briefly. I think if we take a step back and look at this like I think many Americans are looking at it. I mean, I have a 10-year-old daughter, a stepdaughter. The fact of the matter is, you do not put your hands on a woman in that manner, period.

I think anyone, anyone, exactly. Anyone, period. I think a lot of people, and I understand the loyalty aspect and that loyalty aspect is very rare in politics, trust me. But I think it's amazing how Republicans once used to claim the mantra of having this moral fiber, or having this ethos. And now, when you see someone manhandle a --

(CROSSTALK)

BURNETT: But you have Ted Cruz fire somebody over a statement. Donald Trump doubles down.

(CROSSTALK)

FERGUSON: The reason Donald Trump didn't fire him is one simple reason. It would be indicting his own campaign rhetoric to fire him. He had no choice but to keep him. He couldn't fire him, because if he did, it's admitting there's something wrong with his campaign. Self- interest is all this is about.

LORD: I do have another point of view here. I've been around these presidential scrums for a long time. And one of the features of them, they are chaotic. And in my lifetime --

FERGUSON: It's not chaotic --

LORD: No, no, in my lifetime, Robert Kennedy, George Wallace and Ronald Reagan have all been shot in the middle of one of these scrums. That's a fact. That is a fact.

FERGUSON: Is that a threat?

LORD: All I'm saying -- all I'm saying -- wait, wait, wait. Wait. All I'm saying is, that in the hustle and the bustle and the chaos, one instinctive reaction to do something -- I'm not excusing it, I'm not excusing it -- but what I am saying here is --

FERGUSON: Jeffrey, that was the Secret Service's job to protect you. Not your campaign manager to put your hands on a reporter --

(CROSSTALK) BURNETT: Quick pause. All of you being with me. Stay with me.

After the break, the Trump-Cruz fight over their wives, of course, also getting incredibly personal. Tonight will be a crucial night for Ted Cruz and Donald Trump as they take the town hall questions from voters.

And in less than 30 minutes' time, the GOP candidates will face off in a special town hall. Anderson Cooper is across town and he's going to be with me with a preview.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[19:43:45] BURNETT: Welcome back to Milwaukee, where we're coming up on tonight's Republican CNN town hall, a crucial chance for the candidates to speak directly to Wisconsin voters.

After a quick of angry acquisitions on campaign trail. Let's go to Anderson Cooper across town, moderating the town hall.

And, Anderson, obviously, this is going to be crucial because they're going to be getting voter questions, not going against each other, but are going to having to talk directly to the people who are going to be casting their ballots.

Do you expect more of the nastiness that has become really the day-to- day here?

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Well, look, certainly this is a campaign which has seen more than its fair share of, you know, of tough talk. And we're in the midst of the battle between Ted Cruz and Donald Trump over wives and comments that were made. So, I clearly think that's -- we're going to hear more about tonight.

And also on this day of news of Corey Lewandowski, I certainly think that's going to be on the minds of voters here as well.

BURNETT: All right. Anderson Cooper, thank you very much.

Of course, my panel is back with me. Scottie Nell Hughes also joining me, a Donald Trump supporter.

Dana, let me start with you. This is going to be the first question. One of the voter questions that they're going to be bringing to these men who have become so virulent against each other.

BASH: They have. If I can maybe have a preview, or had a preview from being with Cruz just a few hours ago here in Wisconsin, they're done with this.

[19:45:06] And that's why you're hearing, when I say this, in the questions about the attacks, and wives and so forth. They do want to talk about issues, genuinely do. And that's why you've already seen in the last 24 hours Cruz try to change and not talk about, you know, the mudslinging and talk more about the issues. I'm sure that's going to continue tonight. BURNETT: Scottie, do you think Donald Trump will do that, or will he

again triple down as he wants to do when he gets a question about the issue with the wives?

SCOTTIE NELL HUGHES, TRUMP SUPPORTER: I think Dana is absolutely right. He's always done that in the town halls, especially with Anderson Cooper. He's always shown his best and who he really is. But he's not having to elbow himself or defend himself like he has to do on a debate stage.

That's why I think tonight is actually the perfect setting for him to explore all sorts of issues and explain his policy, but also talk about what has happened today with Corey, and show his loyalty and show the fact possibility about why he believes he should stand by Corey, not let him go like other campaigns might have done.

BURNETT: You know, when you talk about you've got the GOP candidates across town in this town hall. We're in a room where Bernie Sanders came and spoke for 25-minute interview, talking about any topic that we wanted to talk about. Hillary Clinton, as I said, we invited, she declined our invitation for an interview. He wants to debate her more, though. He has said that again and again.

And, you know, earlier today, one of her campaign spokesmen was on CNN saying, oh, that's just a stunt, it's a publicity stunt by Bernie Sanders, but now, she seems to be considering it, said, OK, our campaigns are talking, and here's what Bernie Sanders had to say about a possible debate with Hillary Clinton.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SANDERS: There are huge issues facing this country. Our middle class is disappearing. Grotesque levels of income and wealth inequality. A finance system that is corrupt and a broken criminal justice system. In New York state, there are additional problems.

So, I would hope we would have a good debate. My understanding is she would like to do it in Brooklyn. I was born in Brooklyn, let's do it.

BURNETT: Game on for Brooklyn.

SANDERS: Game on.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: Bakari, what do you say, though? Hillary Clinton, you know, had her surrogates out this morning saying this is a publicity stunt. You're a Hillary Clinton supporter. Why would they say that?

BURNETT: I think what we're seeing is Bernie Sanders needs to do extremely good in New York. He needs to do extremely well in Pennsylvania and Maryland and some of these larger states because his road is very narrow.

But I do believe that they'll debate. I believe Hillary Clinton came out today and stated that she wants to debate again and she'll have and that their teams are talking.

But Bernie Sanders and their camp are making a lot of demands recently. Nobody's asking for Bernie Sanders for demand back. My question would be, when is Bernie Sanders going to begin to raise money for the DNC or the Victory Fund, or this revolution we're watching, or want to be a part of, when are we going to raise money for the state houses that we want to change, or these governorships that we want to change, or these United States Senate races that we want to change?

BURNETT: He's supposed to be raising money to are that right now?

(CROSSTALK)

SELLERS: No, that's -- that's actually not very true, because what you see --

FERGUSON: You're running for --

(CROSSTALK)

FERGUSON: Bakari, you ran for office.

KOHN: Listen, if the Democratic Party wants to welcome the voters that Bernie Sanders represents into the fold and into the establishment of politics and into actually having a say at the table in terms of policy, in terms of position, in terms of who's running for office, then I have no doubt they will move in that direction as well.

The larger issue here is, look, the Democratic debates, the more the merrier.

SELLERS: I agree. I don't care about the logistics of where it is.

(CROSSTALK)

KOHN: The American people are smarter. Democrats and Republicans are smarter every time there's a Democratic debate. They're substantive to the brim. Unlike the Republican debates which are just more mudslinging and more stuff that I have to keep my kids from learning about the next day.

BASH: Hillary Clinton is obviously trying to run out the clock. I mean, there's no question about it.

FERGUSON: She doesn't want a debate.

(CROSSTALK)

BASH: Anybody who's covered politics for more than five seconds knows that's true. David Axelrod who was running a campaign opposing her in 2008 reminded everybody on Twitter that she had the opposite point of view today.

(CROSSTALK) BASH: Exactly.

However, I will say very quickly to your point, she does well in these debates. So bring it on. Why not?

LORD: Bernie Sanders, I've said this before, is like a low-grade toothache. He's not going to kill her, but he's really annoying her. But the real problem is when they get to that convention, the platform -- and I realize everybody says, oh, no one pays attention to the platform, they're goig to pay attention to it on those days.

And Bernie Sanders is in this court.

(CROSSTALK)

FERGUSON: Here's the thing about Hillary Clinton that's important, though. The problem she has connecting with voters, and the reason why we're even still talking about Bernie Sanders I think is the fact that this is the arrogance of the Clinton family that people do not like.

Bernie Sanders has gone everywhere and anywhere and had conversations with people that have never been given the time of day by Clinton and the establishment and --

(CROSSTALK)

FERGUSON: It is absolutely true.

Then why is Bernie doing so well?

SELLERS: Tad Devine just came out and simply he said himself, the Bernie Sanders' chief strategist just came out and said he did not contest the eight states like Texas and Alabama and Mississippi and that Hillary Clinton ran up the score.

My only point about this whole thing is that you have Victory Funds, have these things.

[19:50:02] And if we're going to have a true revolution that starts with Democrats on the ground, I believe Bernie Sanders should play his part.

BURNETT: All right. Pause here quickly. Brief break, we'll be back, of course, with our whole panel as we count you down to the GOP town hall in just a few moments. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BURNETT: All right. And we are just moments away from CNN's Republican town hall right across town. Of course, we just spoke exclusively with Senator Bernie Sanders. Hillary Clinton declined our invitation to come on.

But the GOP now are going to be appearing, all three of them at a CNN town hall. Ben, tonight a crucial night for all three of them. This is a crucial state.

FERGUSON: Sure. I think what you're going to see, one, is Ted Cruz do what he's wanted to do for the last several days and that's talk about issues and basically say if you want someone who is presidential, understanding of the issues that doesn't give you random ideas with no -- you know, no idea how to pay for it or implement it, I'm your guy.

I think you're going to see him actually try to walk away from this trash that's been going on with the Trump campaign. Let them do their thing. If they want to go out and have guys that bruise people up and campaign managers that claim that they never met a woman and never touched her when we see a video that shows they were grabbing on the arm, simple assault in the Trump world, right? That's what you'll see tonight.

LORD: I think Donald Trump will be a softer, kinder, gentler Donald Trump here tonight. I mean, I do -- I mean --

(CROSSTALK)

FERGUSON: I hope so.

LORD: Seriously --

BURNETT: He showed in Miami at the Miami debate with CNN --

LORD: You want to talk issues, I mean, there's not much time left in this primary. You want to talk issues. What's more important to the people of Wisconsin? All this other stuff is not important to the people of Wisconsin.

[19:55:02] They want to know what you're talking about that affects their lives and I think that's what he's going to do.

BASH: I literally had people coming up to me at this retail stop where I was with Cruz in suburban Milwaukee asking about tonight's town hall saying, are real voters going to be able to ask questions? People eat it up. They love it.

It sounds like a shameless plug. It's not. It's genuine. People love it. The candidates love it because debates are wonderful. I participated in a lot of them. They serve an incredibly important purpose, but a town hall where there's a calm environment where the voters get to ask questions, you get to see a different side of the candidate --

BURNETT: It's not confrontational.

BASH: Exactly.

BURNETT: The voters are not confrontational.

BASH: They genuinely want answers. BURNETT: They can answer it or not but they do have the opportunity

to be open.

FERGUSON: It comes down to trust, likeability, and who do you believe is honest? I think in a state like this, that's what they're going to look for.

LORD: Midwestern values.

BURNETT: It's going to be what we all looking for tonight.

FERGUSON: We agree on something.

BURNETT: All right. Ben, Jeff, Dana, Bakari, thank you guys all very much. Sally, thank you. I just leave you off.

(LAUGHTER)

BURNETT: Thanks so much to all of you, though. Wonderful to be here all together in Milwaukee.

And, of course, our CNN town hall is coming up in just a few moments. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BURNETT: Thank you so much for joining us live from Milwaukee tonight.

Our Republican presidential town hall with Anderson Cooper right across town starts right now.