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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES

Trump Backs Off Comment To Punish Women For Illegal Abortions; New Poll: Cruz Leading Trump By 10-Points In Wisconsin; Clinton's Reaction To Trump's Abortion Comments; Talk Radio Buzzing About Trump. Aired 9-10p ET

Aired March 30, 2016 - 21:00   ET

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


[21:00:02] ANDERSON COOPER, AC360 ANCHOR: And outcry over remarks by Trump about criminalizing abortion and penalizing women who obtain them, remarks of the campaign quickly trying to throw them down the memory holes just a few hours after they touched off the storm.

We're expected to be joined on a subject momentarily by the Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton, but first the latest from our Jim Acosta who is in Washington.

So take us through what happened today. The original comments from Trump and then the campaign kind of walking it back.

JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yeah. Anderson, Donald Trump adopted a very extreme position on abortion today only to walk it back just hours later, his comments came during an interview with MSNBC earlier today when he said women who undergo abortions should be punished if the procedure were ever made illegal. And here is how he put it earlier today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC'S "HARDBALL" HOST: Should the woman be punished for having an abortion?

DONALD TRUMP, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Look ...

MATTHEWS: And this is not something you can dodge. If you say abortion is a crime or abortion is murder, you have deal with it under the law. Should abortion be punished?

TRUMP: Well, people in certain parts of the Republican Party and conservative Republicans would say, yes, they should be punished.

MATTHEWS: How about you?

TRUMP: I would say that it's a very serious problem, and it's a problem that we have to decide on. It's very ...

MATTHEWS: And you are for banning it?

TRUMP: Are you going to say put them in jail? The answer is that there has to be some form of punishment.

MATTHEWS: For the woman?

TRUMP: Yeah. It has to be some form.

MATTHEWS: Ten it sentence 10 years, why?

TRUMP: That I don't know.

MATTHEWS: Why not? You say take positions on everything else.

TRUMP: I frankly, I do take positions on everything else. It's a very complicated position.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ACOSTA: Now at first to try to clean up those remarks his campaign put out a statement saying that the matter should be left up to the states. But, then not too long after that, Anderson, Trump did a complete 180 releasing a statement saying it would be the doctors who would be punished, not women. On -- now here's that statement. We can put that up on screen. It says, "If Congress were to pass legislation making abortion illegal in the federal courts upheld this legislation or any state were permitted to ban abortion under state and federal law, the doctor or any other person performing this illegal act upon a woman would be held legally responsible, not the woman." Trump goes on to say "the woman is a victim in this case, as is the life in her womb. My position, according to Trump, has not changed. Like Ronald Reagan, I am pro-life with exceptions" but, Anderson the damage may already be done.

Not only did Trump's rivals slam his remarks on abortion saying you shouldn't punish women who undergo this procedure. He basically united both sides of this very hot button issue, both sides basically condemning Donald Trump on this issue earlier today.

COOPER: All right, Senator Cruz came out pretty quickly as well.

ACOSTA: That's right. He did. And that's who Donald Trump has to worry about here in Wisconsin. Ted Cruz is fairly far ahead of Donald Trump in the polls right now. There's another poll that came out today that showed Ted Cruz ahead by double digits. And, Ted Cruz is leading among those Christian conservatives who are very key in the state.

Remember this is a very big state when it comes to conservative Catholic voters and Cruz put out a statement saying, once again Donald Trump has demonstrated that he has not seriously thought through these issues. Anderson, that is essentially echoing what many anti-abortion rights activists were saying in their statements earlier today.

So, a very big gaffe for Donald Trump. Not -- the one that we see very often in that he actually reversed himself on that gaffe. Usually he sticks to his guns, stands his ground and doesn't budge any further. But that is not what we saw earlier today, Anderson.

COOPER: Yeah. Reversed himself and yet said he's not reversing himself, he didn't change his position. Jimmy Acosta thanks.

Back with the panel with some new faces this hour, Karen Tumulty, the "National Political" Correspondent with the "Washington Post," Kristen Soltis Anderson, my long lost cousin a Republican Pollster and Columnist from the Washington Examiner. Not really she's not my long lost cousin or maybe. I don't know. "Washington Post" Opinion Columnist Michael Gerson, Former Speech Writer for President George W. Bush is here as well.

Karen, I mean does this impact Donald Trump? I mean his campaign quickly did try to come out with a statement essentially trying to clarify what Donald Trump's position is.

KAREN TUMULTY, NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT WASHINGTON POST: Yeah. Donald Trump supporters are so loyal to Donald Trump. It's hard to imagine somebody who was thinking about voting for him and has now decided that they're not going to because of this. But it does, I think -- I think Ted Cruz was right. It shows that he's not thought through the issue and abortion is such a mine field that he ended up sounding like the way pro-choice people caricature pro-life people. I mean he found himself sort of really twisted into a difficult spot.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: I think there's been this proliferation of issues that touch on women in many different ways. You know, you have the Heidi Cruz re-tweet. You have this question on abortion. And you ...

COOPER: Corey Lewandowski.

BORGER: Corey Lewandowski. And if you sort of put them all together, the question and to Karen's points is whether you reach a critical mass. When you have people who are as yet undecided, and there are people who are undecided, who would vote for Cruz as opposed -- to Trump.

[21:05:06] And I think that's what you're seeing in the polls in Wisconsin. I don't know if its goes to women but his gender numbers have flip on.

COOPER: Karen, you also an article in "Washington Post" about Corey Lewandowski. Does Trump benefit? Trump has tried to turn this into look, I'm the kind of guy who stands by people.

TUMULTY: Right.

COOPER: I'm a stand-up person and I stand by my people. Does that, you think, benefit him?

TUMULTY: I think that he and Corey Lewandowski have had a bond. I mean they are essentially, you know, a kindred spirits politically. So, and Corey Lewandowski has been very, very loyal to Donald Trump. And Donald Trump is going to be loyal to him. I really don't think there's a political calculation going on. But you do see him now turning it into a character issue.

JOHN KING, CNN INSIDE POLITICS ANCHOR: But he does have a gender gap issue. You see it in the Wisconsin poll. In Wisconsin is the next big price. And the release of that video I think is pretty damning for Corey Lewandowski's case. Is it a crime? That's up with the court. But he says originally, I never touched her.

And to the other issue, now when you hear Donald Trump talk about some of the nuanced issues in foreign policy for the like, you can -- I'm not saying forgive him but you can understand maybe why his language isn't quite right, because he's new to politics. He never done this before but as someone who was a Democrat, then became an Independent who now says he's a Republican and that the strategist came to this lap than I can.

This sort of a basic card you get. You know, if you change your position on abortion, you have to know what to say. But, how do you define amnesty? And what are your views on taxes and the rule of government the sort of Republican 101 and he fell that miserably to him the question of abortion.

COOPER: Michael Gerson, you said that you would actually think Trump wants to continue talking about Corey Lewandowski rather than about policy?

MICHAEL GERSON, FORMER SPEECHWRITER FOR PRES. GEORGE W. BUSH: Well, I think this is his comfort zone, talking about controversy. Talking about polling. You know this is a guy, I don't think, wants to talk about the Federal Reserve or education policy. Wouldn't imagine that to be the case. I think he wants this.

But I think the most interesting response from the debate the Town Hall last night, was him saying, I didn't start it. He really believes that if he's counterpunching, he can do anything. Any misogyny, any cruelty, any crudity. I think that's going to catch up with him eventually because that's not true with a National Electorate eventually.

This is a man who views masculinity, part of his definition masculinity is bullying women. And I eventually think that women are not going to find that attractive.

COOPER: We saw a reversal of position on the abortion issue today, or reversal of his earlier comments at a Town Hall today. Last night there were a number of contradictory statements. I want to play some of what we saw kind of in real time working through some issues. Let's watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: It's been a U.S. policy that for decades to prevent Japan from getting nuclear weapons.

TRUMP: That may be policy, but not ...

COOPER: South Korea as well.

TRUMP: Can I be honest with you maybe it's going to have to be time to change, because so many people -- you have Pakistan has it, you have China has it. You have so many other countries

COOPER: So some proliferation is OK?

TRUMP: No. No, not some. I hate proliferation. Now, wouldn't you rather in a certain sense have Japan have nuclear weapons when North Korea has nuclear weapons?

COOPER: So you are saying you don't want more nuclear weapons in the world but you are OK with Japan and South Korea having ...

TRUMP: I don't want more nuclear weapons.

COOPER: ... nuclear weapons.

So in terms of federal government role, your saying security but you also say health care and education should be provided by those federal government.

TRUMP: No those -- are two of the things. Yes sure.

COOPER: Aren't you against the federal government's involvement in education? Don't you want it to devolve to state?

TRUMP: No. I want it to go to state. Yeah. Absolutely.

I apologize to my wife for not being presidential on occasion. She's always saying, darling, be more presidential.

COOPER: She told me she's talked to you about that.

TRUMP: And, now she does. Because she thinks I'm very presidential.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Kristen, I mean it's interesting to see him. I mean I don't know he just that he hasn't talked about these issues a lot, hasn't given a lot of thoughts to them or he isn't a professional politician. You know, he does going to work through this in front of everybody.

KRISTEN SOLTIS ANDERSON, WASHINGTON EXAMINER COLUMNIST: I feel like this excuse that, will Donald Trump is not as well spoken because he's not a professional politician is just that. It's an excuse.

His problem isn't that he says "um" too much, his problem I think that he looks a little nervous on the stump. His problem isn't that kind of thing. His problem is that the answer to things he's making up on the fly that are not necessarily rooted in having studied the issues thoroughly, having a deep reservoir of experience on most of these issues. And I think that's really reflected. What's challenging for his opponents is that none of this seems to matter to Donald Trump's supporters.

There's a new poll experiment that comes out from Quinnipiac where they tested a variety of different things that Donald Trump has said. When you tell voters that Trump said them his voters will go from opposing the statement to supporting the statement just because you said that Donald Trump support it.

So, he's really got a license to say kind of any range of any unusual statement and many of his voters will continue to stick by him. The question is, is that enough voters to get him Wisconsin, states like California? Enough delegates to get to the convention? And it certainly is it enough to get him a general election? I think that remains to be seen.

COOPER: Jeffrey, I mean are you concerned, you know, Wisconsin about sort of a tide turning?

[21:10:01] JEFFREY LORD, TRUMP SUPPORTER: No. I mean, I think he may have a problem in Wisconsin, but I do think the onward march continues. There's an underlying factor here that I think we're not taking any account.

All of us here speak political language. The language of the political class if you will. Most Americans do not. And they're stick of it. And they view our world that I certainly have freely inhabited as elitist, as viewing average Americans with contempt. They listen to Donald Trump and they see somebody they believe is on their side. So that when you get the kind of thoughts that we're all having here, they look at this and roll their eyes and say, you know, well there they go again.

COOPER: Right.

TUMULTY: But I do think there's a phenomenon with Donald Trump that I have never seen with any other politician. Which is that when you talk to somebody who supports them, they will say I support him because he says what I thinks and then you will ask that same person about some outrageous comment and they will say, well, he didn't mean that ...

BORGER: They'll make excuses.

TUMULTY: It is the ability to sort of silence -- he's got this ability to sort of make people comfortable with those two simultaneous contradictory ideas. And again I have never seen that before in a politician.

BORGER: But Donald Trump's problem is that he has not, at this point in the race, where he's the clear frontrunner, has not been able to consolidate his support the way a usual frontrunner would consolidate his support at this point in the race. And that is because of what Melanie keeps talking about I guess, to Donald Trump, which is the sort of presidential issue. And the Commander-in-Chief issue.

And I think voters maybe in the State of Wisconsin as you go down along the line, maybe more questions are being raised. I don't know the answer to that because Donald Trump supporters are so solid, as Karen is pointing out, so solid and so in his camp, that they are not going to be persuaded against him.

KING: To Jeffrey's point is the march continuing? I don't know if we really answer that question. I think Wisconsin has a big say in that. Right now he needs 55.3 percent of the remaining delegates between including Wisconsin from now to the end to Clinton before the convention.

If he gets shut out of Wisconsin and if Ted Cruz wins by 10 points. If there state wide delegation and then it's by congressional district. If he gets shut out, then after that he's going to need 58 percent of the remaining delegates. And so that every time he loses here, that's number gets higher and so they likely have the probability of an open convention gets higher.

GERSON: You have by the way I heard in the last couple of days Newt Gingrich, who is pretty favorable and Ann Coulter of all people, complaining that he can't make the shift or the pivot to become more presidential.

Listen, you know, and saying he's mental actually, Ann Coulter said. That's a big, that's a fairly big shift. I mean he can't make that transition. He is who he is. And I don't think that we're going to see people who expect a different Donald Trump are going to be perpetually disappointed.

AMANDA CARPENTER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Having this it's always about him. Look at Hillary Clinton. She's already pivoted, she's running ads against Donald Trump right now. Donald Trump isn't doing anything about her. He's caught in his own scandals and even he probably thinks that's a good thing when everyone else around him sees that's bad.

COOPER: All right, everybody hold this thought. We're going to pick it up after the break and talk about more of the headlines today from our "360" Town Hall last night.

And speaking to Hillary Clinton. She joins us shortly as well with her reaction to Trump's abortion controversy. More on what on that, more on what Karen Tumulty has been reporting on the Corey Lewandowski controversy. And his back story which might not be aware off.

Later, Wisconsin and the Democrats and that new poll that shows Bernie Sanders in the lead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[21:17:06] COOPER: Oh so much of about the political world is buzzing about tonight comes from our "360" Republican Town Hall last night in Milwaukee. Whether is all three candidates backing out of their signed pledge to support whoever wins the nomination to Donald Trump involving positions on stage. Just some really probing questions from the voters. Before we go any further, tonight, here are some of the key moments.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: If Donald Trump is the GOP nominee, would you support him?

TED CRUZ, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Donald is not going to be the GOP nominee. We're going to beat him. TRUMP: He doesn't have to support me. I'm not asking for support.

COOPER: Would you plan -- do you want to be ...

TRUMP: I want the people's support.

COOPER: Do you continue to pledge whoever the Republican nominee is?

TRUMP: I don't want, look -- no, I don't anymore. And look ...

COOPER: You don't?

TRUMP: No.

COOPER: You not ironclad standing by the initial pledge to support whoever the nominee is?

GOV. JOHN KASICH, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You know, frankly, we all of us shouldn't have answered that question, but it was the first debate and, you know, what the heck.

COOPER: After saying that you were going to spill the beans about Heidi Cruz, you re-tweeted an unflattering picture of here next of picture of your wife.

TRUMP: I thought it was a nice picture of Heidi. I thought it was fine.

COOPER: Come on.

TRUMP: I thought it was fine, she's a pretty woman.

COOPER: You are running for president of the United States.

TRUMP: Excuse me, excuse me. I didn't start it. I didn't start it.

COOPER: That's -- but sir, with all due respect, that's the argument of a 5-year-old.

TRUMP: I didn't start it. No, it's not.

COOPER: The argument of a 5-year-old is, "He started it."

TRUMP: Excuse me, you would say that. That's the problem with our country.

COOPER: Every parent knows a kid who says. "He started it."

TRUMP: That's not a 5 year old ...

Excuse me.

ROBERT KITELINGER, U.S ARMY (RET.): In your opinion, what are the top three functions of the United States government?

TRUMP: Well the greatest function of all by far is security for our nation. I would also say health care, I would also say education. I mean there are many, many things but I would say the top three are security, security, security. NATO is obsolete.

COOPER: Donald Trump says NATO is obsolete. Is it?

KASICH: Of course it's not.

CRUZ: That's absurd.

(CROSSTALK)

CRUZ: What it means is that we target the enemy. Now there's a difference between Islam and Islamism.

COOPER: But you did talk about patrolling Muslim neighborhoods ...

CRUZ: Sure. Absolutely.

COOPER: ... and a lot of folks, you kept saying that worked in New York but political correctness they made the police stop that.

CRUZ: Yes.

COOPER: New York Police have pushed back on that. Chief Bratton said that's complete bunk.

CRUZ: Listen, if you want to stop radical Islamic terrorism, the answer isn't to go hang out in random neighborhoods. It in instead to focus on communities where radicalization is a risk.

TRUMP: Do what?

COOPER: Trust Muslims in America?

TRUMP: Many of them I do. Many of them I do and some I guess we don't.

KASICH: But we're going to have a religious test on who comes in the country. So when you come in country, I say, "Are you a Muslim? Raise your hand if you're Muslim." I mean come on, Anderson. That's not going to work.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: It was quite night, quite a conversation started. Back with our panel. It is interesting, John, to see Donald Trump kind of reverse himself or have contradictory statements -- I mean about nuclear proliferation. It's not quite clear to me. I mean he's against nuclear proliferation, but for Japan, South Korea, developing nuclear weapons, which is against longstanding U.S. policy.

KING: Longstanding U.S. policy and the deals of Security arrangements. So the United States will take care of that. If necessary, you allow some our bases there.

[21:20:04] Is he right to say sometimes that we had this conversation when he made the comment on the remaining five about, you know, NATO. Do the other countries put up their fair share? It's been a conversation since the Berlin Wall came down and every president since about, you know, what is NATO's role, should the other countries have bigger defense budget? So, sometimes, he just doesn't say it in Washington speak. And I think it's some of the criticism is unfair.

But, some of these other issues, it's just clear that he's not briefed on what current U.S. policy is. Or if you want to change -- if you go back and read the conversation last night, the in the "New York Times" and interview on foreign policy, I think any political consultant would tell you or any leadership school would teach you, if you want to change so much, you better lead the people, you better give them an idea, give them on the north shortly.

He just says these things and in so many of them are just outside of the box that sometimes you just get dizzy trying to read them all.

COOPER: One of the things that makes him unique. And, I mean, frankly, I enjoy talking to him. I like interviewing him, because you can ask him things that another politician -- a practiced politician would not answer or, at least would not sort of think out loud in front of other people.

BORGER: And he does answer. And I, you know, I completely give him credit for that. I think the issue is that sometimes it's kind of a stream of consciousness answer.

And on the issue of the top three, you know, the top three things the government should do, security, of course, but then naming health care and education are not exactly conservative orthodoxy.

COOPER: And against his own policies. I mean, he wants him against coming for, he wants him to go to the states.

BORGER: Common core, big issue, ObamaCare, big issue. Not the role of the federal government. But, then, when he was given a chance and, you know, you say this should devolve to the states. Oh, yeah, I would take it to the states. So, it's kind of like he's thinking as he goes along.

And while on the one hand, you say, at least he's honest. On the one hand, you think that a presidential candidate who wants to take the country somewhere ought to have thought these things through before.

COOPER: But concern obviously among people who do not support Donald Trump is that, as president, the entire world hangs on your words and the words affect financial markets. The words you use affect, you know, countries around the world.

And so, as president, would he be more measured? Can he be more measured? I mean, Jeffrey, what do you -- you've worked in the White House. Can he be more measured in the use of his ...

LORD: Sure. I mean, if you look at the AIPAC speech, for example. I mean, you can agree or disagree with the substance of it. But I thought that was a pretty presidential ... COOPER: But that was a telepro -- he was reading off too.

LORD: Right. Well, to the point exactly, is that he's learning here as he goes. I mean, again, he's never done this in his life. This is clearly what's resonating with people out there.

So, sure I think he can. I mean, I have to say, every one of these candidates has become better at this even the professionals who've been running as we've gone along here. But, he certainly has vastly improved, this is gone along. And I think we'll ...

COOPER: Michael you've been a good speech writer.

GERSON: Yeah. I mean, the problem is he's had two big interviews now with "Washington Post" editorial board and with "New York Times" supporters. And he has proposing massive changes in American security policy based on epic endurance.

This was someone who, where, I have a friend who is a teacher at Stanford University says, this is how a freshman sounds when they haven't done their reading, or they haven't done their homework.

He says -- he wants to blow up our alliance system. Blow up the world trading order. Blow up the anti-proliferation order.

If you're going to do these things, these massive things, you need to know what you're talking about. He justice doesn't display that kind of knowledge that would be a foundation for changes this large.

COOPER: Karen, were you surprises to hear all the candidates on the stage last night, essentially say, the whole pledge of supporting whoever the nominee is, it's null and void?

ANDERSON: It doesn't surprise me and whatsoever. In large part, because I always felt that it was silly in the first place to expect that Donald Trump was going to. You know, if they treat me fairly, I'll never run as a third party candidate. Well, I think that was always a very sort of interesting little clause he had there.

And so, whether it's that statement or the, "I promise I'll endorse the Republican nominee," I always felt like that was a little bit silly. It was just waiting for the moment when people would break away from it.

And he place now gotten to such a point where it's not just Donald Trump differs from the other folks on the stage on one or two policy issues or stylistic issues.

As Michael was saying, these sort of issues on which he disagrees not only with his own, members of his own party, but the electorate at large are serious issues of national security. And that's the thing that the president I think has most control over.

COOPER: Yeah.

ANDERSON: For domestic policy, its either through Congress, you have to put together a consensus. Foreign policy, the president speaks and the world changes. And that's why ...

COOPER: To Kristen, by the way, I'm sorry (inaudible) Karen. Karen.

ANDERSON: We are cousins by the way.

CARPENTER: But this is why the pledge is so inconsequential. What is more important? Keeping a silly promise you made to the RNC or potentially backing someone who poses in such a massive threat to our government?

TUMULTY: Except that this is, once again, proof that the RNC is only gun that they have backfires, because they came up with that pledge to essentially mix my metaphors, put handcuffs on Donald Trump and keep him in the tent. And now it's all the other guys who were trying to take those handcuffs off.

[21:25:09] COOPER: We're got to take another quick break. Secretary Hillary Clinton shortly ahead, also Donald Trump standing by his campaign manager both.

What do we know about his campaign manager? The battery charges not Corey Lewandowski's first brush with controversy.

Phil Griffin has more ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Welcome back. We're just now making some final technical arrangements to speak with the candidate, Hillary Clinton. While we do that, let's check in with John King. John, what are you looking at magic wall?

KING: Anderson, I'll give you some Democratic numbers before you talk to the Democratic frontrunner, the state of Wisconsin right now.

Remember, Bernie Sanders comes out of the weekend with some momentum. He's won five out of the last six. And, right now, the Marquette Law School poll show Senator Sanders with a slight lead here, 49 percent to 45 percent. Now, that's within the poll's margin of error. So, you could call this a statistical tie.

Although, even within the Clinton campaign, I think Senator Sanders has a bit of momentum at the moment and there have been some questions about how hard Hillary Clinton is willing to fight for Wisconsin. But she was in New York State today focusing on the state where she was senator, the state she calls home. Although, she did say, Anderson, she's heading back there for the weekend, so very interesting here. A five from momentum, the delegate math still favors Hillary Clinton.

But if Bernie Sanders can win Wisconsin, it will give him a bit of a boost in the Democratic race.

COOPER: Also, in New York, obviously. They're committing resources there and money there the Clinton campaign that they probably would have like to commit elsewhere. [21:30:01] KING: That's possibly true. One other thing I want to show you from this Wisconsin poll, is you look, if she goes back this weekend is Bernie Sanders is now making the case, and he's going to New York as well. He says, he'll fight for New York. He'd like a debate there, too.

Bernie Sanders now at least in Wisconsin can make the case, Anderson that he is the more electable Democrat in the poll.

Look at these numbers from the Marquette Law poll versus Donald Trump, Bernie is up 19 points. Versus Ted Cruz in Wisconsin, Bernie Sanders is up 13 points. Versus John Kasich, Bernie Sanders a statistical tie but plus two.

Remember this, 19, 13 and 2. Now, look at Hillary Clinton in this poll, she beats Donald Trump by 10 points but she's in a tie with Ted Cruz and she loses to Governor Kasich. So look again, Sanders dumps Trump, beats Cruz pretty handily and the tie just beats Governor Kasich. Hillary Clinton, who came into this race saying I'm much more electable than Bernie Sanders. Again, it's late March.

Again, Senator Sanders has not faced the national scrutiny. Secretary Clinton has. But at the moment, she's weaker against Trump, weaker against Cruz and weaker against Kasich in battleground Wisconsin.

COOPER: And that is one of the things. I mean, the Clinton campaign has been saying, not only has he not faced the national scrutiny which is an arguable point. But there haven't been large organizations donating resources money, running negative ads against him which the Clinton campaign would point out they have against Secretary Clinton.

KING: Those are all fair points. She has been on the national stage longer. She is well known to voters. Republicans have been spending or helping the Republican-funded. The Super PACs have been spending attack ads against her and Senator Sanders has not been vetted over the years as Secretary Clinton has been.

And so those are all fair points but sometimes politics is won in the moment. And Bernie Sanders gets a lot of spice if you will and lot joys in his rallies when he would incites numbers like this saying at the -- remember when I came into this race how far behind I was at the moment he can make ...

COOPER: Yeah.

KING: ... the case. Again, he can make the case. He's stronger.

COOPER: John, hang on. Joining us by phone is the Democratic Presidential frontrunner and former Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton. Secretary Hillary Clinton, thanks for being with us.

I know you expressed outrage after Donald Trump's initial comments on abortion today. He sends put out a statement saying, women who got abortions if the state or federal laws were changed to make them illegal would not be held responsible but woman would be considered the victim. The person who performed the abortion would be held responsible. What do you make of that clarification?

HILLARY CLINTON, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I got very much Anderson. This is about whether abortion is legal and whether women make our own health care choice.

It's very clear that Donald Trump wants to repeal that fundamental right, just like all the other Republican candidates. And when he was asked whether women should be punished, he said yes and that is absolutely unacceptable. It is outrageous.

COOPER: Do you think he simply misspoke or do you think he hadn't really looked at the issue and that's what he actually believes?

CLINTON: Well, let's be clear. All of the Republican candidates want to make abortion illegal. John Kasich has defunded Planned the Parenthood in Ohio. Ted Cruz opposes abortion in all cases with no exception for rape and (inaudible).

They all want to dictate a woman's reproductive health care decisions. So, you know, the choice is really clear, the Republicans all lineup together. Now maybe they aren't quite as open about it, as Donald Trump was earlier today, but they all have the same position. And if you make abortion a crime, you make it illegal, then you make women and doctors criminals.

COOPER: One of the big push backs from Republicans of this whole campaign season has been against the suggestion that the GOP is engaged in some sort of war on women, which is a phrase that the Democrats have used against them. Do you intend to now kind of double down on that argument? Will you use this new controversy about Trump, his statements, to criticize the Republican field more broadly?

CLINTON: Well, I think it's a real reminder of the stakes in this election. And I think women and men, in fact, all Americans, need to pay attention to this, as well as a lot of the other claims that the Republicans have been making. Why is it? I ask myself, Republican candidates want limited government except when it comes to intruding on women's health.

Women should be free to make these very personal decisions for ourselves. And, you know the people better stand up and protect that right and all our other rights before, you know, the Republicans do more to erode them and take them away.

COOPER: You're aware, I'm sure of the controversy surrounding Donald Trump's campaign manager Corey Lewandowski has been charged with simple battery. When you see that video, is that part of the narrative against women? Do you think this says something? Because even some of his challengers on the Republican side have tried to link this to his leadership, to what it says about his campaign.

CLINTON: Well, I think it's clear that, as I've said numerous times in the past, he has been provoking actions by his followers and those who attend his big events.

[21:35:10] He's been inciting aggressive behavior. He's been applauding violence. He, you know, said he would pay the legal fees of the man at his rally who punched the protester who was on his way out. You go through the last months and there's just a lot of evidence because that his behavior has been inciting violence.

COOPER: You're obviously trying to send off a primary challenge from Senator Sanders. You got this new ad up in New York though the clearly takes aim at Donald Trump, criticizing him for his views on immigration, violence at some of the rallies. That would seem to indicate you believe, obviously, that he will be the person you're going to be running against. You're obviously that you're going to be the nominee.

How much do you want to pivot toward Donald Trump now in this campaign, even though you're still facing a tough battle from Senator Sanders?

CLINTON: Look, I'm going to keep focused on the primary. I'm going to go after very vote in every contest that I can possibly earn. But I also think it's important not to stand silent when Republican candidates say some of the offensive and dangerous things they've been talking about, whether it's barring all Muslims from coming to our country or racially profiling Muslim neighborhoods in our country, or, in this case, taking a shot at women's rights in a way that is, you know, really troubling.

So I don't think we should allow those kinds of comments to go unanswered. And, you know, Anderson, it struck me that all of this turmoil in the Republican Party about who is their nominee.

No other Republican candidate really took on Donald Trump because they fundamentally agree with him and the issues that he is hitting upon. And I think this latest incident demonstrates that and I just want Americans to understand what the stakes are and to be really alert to what the consequences of this election could be.

COOPER: Just a final question. You're in New York campaigning. There was a new poll out in Wisconsin today shows Senator Sanders leading you to 49 percent to 45 percent in Wisconsin, within the margin of error.

Are you at all concerned about how Wisconsin may turn out for you? And even though the delegate math is still in your favor that Sanders could have a resurgence that takes this all the way to the convention.

CLINTON: Well, look, I'm going to fight hard in Wisconsin. I'll be going back there over the weekend. You know, it is within the margin of error. We're going to, you know, do everything we can to do well there, but I know we've got a lot of contests ahead of us. I feel good about where I am.

I've gotten more votes than anybody, 9 million votes. A million more than Donald Trump. 2.5 million more than Bernie Sanders and I have a significant lead in delegates, pledged delegates, which is actually more than Senator Obama ever had over me in the late election. So I'm looking forward to the upcoming election, the primaries that we'll be competing in. And I feel very good about, you know, my chances to obtain the nomination.

But as I say, I'm going to run my campaign. I'm going to do everything I can to draw the contrast between me and Senator Sanders. But I'm proud of the campaign that is being run on the Democratic side. Yes, we have to -- and in a campaign, you should point those out. We share a lot of the same goals but we have different ideas about how to, you know, get there and how to help people get real results in their lives.

But it's -- compared to the Republicans nominating process a real, I think tribute to the Democratic Party for the kind of election we are running against each other.

COOPER: Secretary Clinton, thank you very much for talking with us tonight. We're going to be back in a moment with reaction from the panel.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[21:43:28] COOPER: Well moment ago, Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton made her thoughts plain on what Donald Trump said today about abortion and how the other Republican candidates have dealt with the whole Trump phenomenon.

Back with our panel. It's seems to me, I mean clearly Secretary Clinton sees an opportunity here to, you know, make as much hays possible about Donald Trump's abortion.

LORD: She's going to make it -- one of two things will happen Donald Trump will win the nomination and she will run against him or Donald Trump will not win the nomination and she will make whoever wins the nomination as Donald Trump and run against that.

COOPER: And heard clearly trying to paint Donald Trump to represent the entire GOP.

LORD: John Kasich -- he took on John Kasich for heaven sakes you know.

COOPER: I think there saying they are all the same.

LORD: Right. And this all gets to the part of the problem here we have a lot of people in the base of the Republican Party have they think their nominee, Mitt Romney, et cetera, don't fight back. Most certainly, Donald Trump fights back that's one of the things they like about him and I think that's what would be so interesting in a campaign against him.

COOPER: Right, she starting make the point that the other candidates didn't go after Donald Trump early on because they all essentially agree with Donald Trump obviously that, I mean on many issues they certainly do not agree with Donald Trump and there were other reasons, you know, that they didn't go too.

CARPENTER: Yeah, and she's doing what Donald Trump should be doing now as a long standing frontrunner within Republican Party, she's running against the Republican Party the Republicans haven't figured out how to run against the Democrats at this point.

But I'm just noticing how free she was in that interview, she did a phoner for a Prime Time cable show to capitalize on news of the day. This is Hillary Clinton giving lightning speed compared to just maybe a few months ago, where I think she was so kind of uncomfortable. She's capitalizing on Donald Trump's mistake so quickly. This is a good preview of how formidable she'll be on a general election.

[21:45:10] COOPER: And for those who are just join us, let's play briefly what she -- some of her -- what she just said before the break.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

CLINTON: This is about whether abortion is legal and whether women make our own health care.

It's very clear that Donald Trump wants to repeal that fundamental right. Just like all the other Republican candidates. And when he was asked whether women should be punished, he said yes. And that is absolutely unacceptable. It is outrageous.

No other Republican candidate really took on Donald Trump because they fundamentally agree with him. And the issues that he is hitting upon. And I think this latest incident demonstrates that.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

COOPER: It's also interesting, Kristen, because clearly, she is pivoting away from the individual comments of Donald Trump about women should be held responsible, should be punished, and his backtracking on that. And basically kind of enlarging it out to the issue of abortion in America and keeping abortion legal in America which is a much broader issue and one that probably has more resonance beyond just today's news cycle in Trump's comments off

ANDERSON: Well, certainly and for the last couple of years, Democrats have started to believe that in the culture wars, this is an issue that's trending their way.

If you take a look at polling, I think America is little more divided than that, not because it's a clear slam dunk issue for the Democrats. But certainly you've got a lot of Republicans. We're going to be running for re-election in the Senate in blue states. States like New Hampshire and state like Ohio, state like Wisconsin.

Places where the Democrats believe that not only do the demographics of a presidential your favor them, but if they really push on some of these devices issues and link Republican candidates, in my view, unfairly, to the rhetoric of Donald Trump. That not only can Hillary Clinton win the White House but they can pick up a significant number of seats in the Senate.

GERSON: Actually starts near to sadly missed opportunity. If you have a Trump/Hillary Clinton race, there will be a lot of groups in the Republican coalition that are loosely attached on the Republican side. Including some that are concerned about social justice and may not have completely pro-choice views. They have been pushed away from the Democratic Party in recent elections.

You used to have people like Governor Casey of Pennsylvania and others who were pro-life Democrats. There was some voice for those views in that party. If they could re-establish that, I think they could mix up politics in a way that would be very favorable to the Democratic Party.

COOPER: Everyone, thanks so much on the panel.

Coming up next conservative talk radio in Wisconsin is buzzing with anti-Trump sentiment. I'll speak with the host, remember this so called #nevertrumpmovement who interviewed the candidate just a few days ago.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[21:51:41] COOPER: As we motioned in a New Marquette University Law School poll shows Ted Cruz leading Donald Trump by 10 points in Wisconsin with the GOP primary less than a week away.

Joining me now is Wisconsin Best Talk Radio Host Charlie Sykes who took out Trump task in a number of issues just a few days ago which is firmly the Never Trump camp. Charlie, thanks very much for joining us.

Really fascinating interview you did with Donald Trump just two days ago. But let's talk first about poll numbers. Latest numbers, Ted Cruz with his 10-point lead. What do you think is behind that? It just last month Trump was leading in the state.

CHARKLIE SYKES, TALK RADIO HOST: Right. Well if you look at the numbers. His numbers are solid. I mean Donald Trump has been about 30 percent, which means that 70 percent of Republicans have been anti- Trump. What's happening is that the field has been winnowed and the field is now coalescing, the voters are now coalescing around Ted Cruz. Now that is the interesting point.

Is that voters in Wisconsin are savvy, they're engage engaged, they've been paying attention, they've never bought what Donald Trump was selling him, but now they've made the decision that they're willing to get behind, you know, the one candidate who can beat him. And I think so that 30 percent is kind the pivot and frankly I think that the margin maybe even greater next Tuesday.

COOPER: Do you think, I mean in Wisconsin, that he has problem with women voters? And if you do, how do you think the latest news about Trump's comments about abortion today play with conservative women?

SYKES: Well, it's not going to help. And that was the point when I was talking to him the other day. Is that we have a tradition here on Wisconsin of civility, decency, reasonableness, and rationality, none of which characterize by Donald Trump's campaign. He is deeply underwater with women. In fact, you know, is southeast in Wisconsin where most of the votes were going to be cast, he is got like a 24 percent approval rating among Republicans. I mean right now he has 70 percent disapproval rating statewide and that is being driven by conservative women in part who are -- it's not about of the issues. Its about they're repelled by his attitude and treatment of women. Which again is why I raise the issue and by the way, Anderson, I going to give you a shout out for calling him out on his juvenile response, that whole, you know, he started it thing.

You know, it's about time that people begin to point out to the man, once you the president of the United States is so juvenile and a state like Wisconsin, that does not play well.

COOPER: Well, you know, I was reading the -- I was reading the transcript of the interview you did with him today and I should give you a shout out because you're the one who actually pointed that out first. I think you said it was a 12-year-old's comments, I happened to say a 5-year-old's.

SYKES: Right.

COOPER: But it was the same kind of point. You know, you raised, you say same really interesting and I was thinking about this last night during this Town Hall.

The decency and the kind of civility, just in that audience last night I was really struck by. Is that a hall mark -- I don't pretend to know the details ...

SKYES: Yes.

COOPER: ... and the electorate of Wisconsin. Is that a hall mark that you find in Wisconsin? Because I was really struck by just how gracious the audience members were with the candidates, with me and everybody.

SYKES: Yeah. It's very much a part. Now, we're not Minnesota nice necessarily and it doesn't mean that we are not strong or we don't push for strong reforms, but there is a certain culture here, you know.

At one time I said on my show that Scott Walker should be more like Chris Christie. I regret that now. And in his book Scott Walker explained why I was wrong that in fact that wouldn't play in Wisconsin, that you need to be respectful and even during the height of attempt (ph). People like Paul Ryan and Scott Walker and other leaders here in Wisconsin always tried to have a certain level of decorum.

[21:55:05] So there's a real jar when somebody like Donald Trump comes in. And you know what he's now asking the question was, look, are you at some point going to pivot and begin now getting away from the petty insults? Are you going to start being gracious? And what struck me was that he is never going to apologize. And obviously, listening to your interview with him last night, he's not only not going to apologize, he's not even going to change his message from day to day even after it turns out to be embarrassing.

I mean, here's a man that wants to be president of the United States and yet he does sound like a playground bully. And trust me, voters in Wisconsin who are very engaged and very informed have been paying attention to this for a long time which why he's so deeply underwater and why he's going to lose next week very badly.

COOPER: Charlie Sykes, it's good to got you on, I appreciate it. Thanks very much.

We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: We got quite a night after quite a day. Donald Trump's sparking political and turn over abortion at a moment when he's battling for the support of women voters in Wisconsin. We saw a new poll there signaling trouble for him, as well as for Hillary Clinton.

Saw a renewed defense by Trump of his campaign manager, who's now facing a simple battery charge, a misdemeanor. And we'll also almost certainly see a whole heck of a lot more in the days ahead.

That does it for now. Thanks very much for watching.

Time right now for "CNN Tonight" with my colleague, Don Lemon.

[22:00:09] DON LEMON, CNN TONIGHT HOST: There has never been a candidate like Donald Trump. Listen to this.