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AT THIS HOUR WITH BERMAN AND MICHAELA

Trump, Cruz Dueling Rallies in Wisconsin; Cruz Communications Director Talks Cruz Campaign; Clinton Attacks Trump in TV Ad. Aired 11:30a-12p ET

Aired March 30, 2016 - 11:30   ET

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


[11:30:00] DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: So I'll leave it there.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Josh, quick final thought.

JOSH HOLMES, POLITICAL STRATEGIST: Look, to paraphrase Marco Rubio there, let's dispel the notion that Donald Trump knows what he's talking about. He doesn't have any idea what he's talking about. I think we're taking this seriously. And Barry -- Barry does know what he's talking about. His candidate does not. When he enters into conversations as a Republican front runner, it's dangerous. It's dangerous. This is not a nuclear policy that makes any sense for the United States or any nation in maybe the history of time. The fact that we dignify it with sort of an analysis of, well, does it make sense to get every nation a nuclear weapon, that's crazy. It's just madness. It's unbelievable that we've tolerated it this long.

BOLDUAN: We'll continue the conversation because that's exactly what we need to do.

Barry, great to see you. Thank you so much.

Dana, Donna, Josh, thank you all very much.

We're watching and standing by right now waiting for these dueling rallies to get under way. I believe Donald Trump may have just taken to the stage. We are watching them.

We're going to get in a quick break. We'll be right back. Let's hear what they have to say. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[11:35:31] BOLDUAN: Welcome back. Dueling rallies taking place right now. Ted Cruz on the left, and Donald Trump on the right. Let's dip in right now to Ted Cruz who is talking about his -- he's rolling out his Women for Cruz strategy. Let's listen in.

SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It's a women's issue.

(APPLAUSE)

CRUZ: This campaign at its core, I believe, is about three issues, jobs, freedom and security. And women, every bit as men, care about jobs, freedom and security. You look at jobs, you look at the economic stagnation, every one of us, we want to get back to that incredible economic growth that is characterized America from the beginning of this country. We want to get back to an environment when manufacturing jobs are coming into Wisconsin instead of going overseas to China and Mexico.

(APPLAUSE)

CRUZ: We want to see wages going up again instead of stagnating year after year after year while the bills go up, wages stay stuck. We want to see young people coming out of school with two, three, four, five job opportunities.

(APPLAUSE)

CRUZ: I think the young people heard that one.

(APPLAUSE)

CRUZ: Jobs are women's issues and men's issues. They are issues for America.

And then there's freedom, the incredible freedom in our Bill of Rights that protects every one of us, free speech, religious liberty, the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms.

(APPLAUSE)

CRUZ: One of the most fun things I got to do on the campaign was take my darling wife, Heidi -- we were up in New Hampshire at a firing range. Now, Heidi is a California native. But an image that I will always love is a picture of her firing a full-auto machine gun with a pink hat that said "armed and beautiful."

(LAUGHTER)

(APPLAUSE)

CRUZ: But protecting the Bill of Rights, protecting life, protecting marriage, protecting our fundamental liberties, all of that is at stake in this election. And those are women's issues, those are men's issues, those are adult issues, those are children issues. Those are the issues for America.

And finally --

BOLDUAN: We're listening to Ted Cruz speaking in Wisconsin. We're soon going to have the Ted Cruz communications director for the Ted Cruz campaign on to discuss this and many of the issues Cruz is talking about right now.

We're going to go to the Donald Trump event next after a quick break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[11:43:06] BOLDUAN: You're looking live once again at dueling rallies happening right now at the battleground state of Wisconsin. On your left, Ted Cruz is speaking, as you see right there, with his wife, Heidi Cruz, and his mother, Eleanor, is at the event as well.

On the right, you can see Donald Trump. Let's dip in and listen to see what he's saying right now.

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: -- because I was attracted to him because he was in my business. I didn't care about the entertainment people. I cared about him. And I said, "Mr. Levin, how are you doing? Donald Trump." He said, "Yes, I know. He said, "I'm not doing well. I'm not doing well at all." I said, "I read that, and it's too bad. What went wrong?" I'll never forget the expression. He said, "Donald, I totally lost my momentum." It's a thing you probably never heard. He lost his momentum. He took that time off, he came back, and it was a different world, and he lost his momentum.

Now, the real lesson there is you have to know if you've lost your momentum so that you don't get hurt. And it's just something that I talk about because it's so different. And I watched him sitting in this corner. I don't even know why he was there because he was no longer successful. But I guess Steve knew him and respected him for what had he accomplished, because what he had accomplished was amazing. He was the forerunner to so many massive developments that you see all over. But he said, "I lost my momentum, Donald. I've lost my momentum."

I never, ever forgotten those words and I've always remembered them. What you want to do is you want to keep going, keep going, keep going. If you think you lost your momentum, slow down and refocus on maybe something else, because it's so important to keep the momentum going. OK? So important. And so that's one of the many, many elements or stories.

And one quick one that we also talk about and that I talk about --

BOLDUAN: Listening right there to Donald Trump. He's giving his thoughts on the keys to success, is what he's speaking about right there, as he's speaking in Wisconsin.

We're going to continue to listen to that and bring you any big moments that we hear.

Right now, let's turn back to the dueling part of the dueling rallies. Ted Cruz is in Wisconsin rolling out his Women for Cruz coalition. Heidi Cruz, Eleanor, and Carly Fiorina, on the stage with Ted Cruz.

Let's bring in Alice Stewart, communications director for Ted Cruz.

Alice, thanks for coming in. I really appreciate it.

[11:45:40] ALICE STEWART, COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR, TED CRUZ PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN: Great to be here, Kate. Thank you.

BOLDUAN: Thank you very much. The point, they are focusing on women issues with the Women for Cruz

coalition. He said right off the top when he started this event, this is about our families and this is about our children. And when he talks about his family, that has been part of the campaign conversation in the last couple of weeks. You and I have talked about this. This all came up last night when we were talking about the pledge, the loyalty pledge, if Republican candidates are going to support the eventual nominees. Ted Cruz said, no, he would not. His reason being because Donald Trump had been taking on his wife and he said that crossed the line. At this point, from what you can see, Alice, now dropping the pledge, is there anything that Donald Trump could do to regain that loyalty to regain the support of Ted Cruz, if Donald Trump becomes the eventual nominee?

STEWART: You know, I think time will tell. It's important to note that, look, Ted Cruz has made it quite clear that it's difficult, it's hard for someone to support a person who that is constantly criticizing and harassing your wife the. At the end of the day, he's going to be the nominee.

In terms of answering the specific question, Ted's nominee, it will be a moot point. Listen, the American people have learned quite a lot about Donald Trump since that loyalty pledge was made. We learn that he spent a lot of time at night tweeting about women he doesn't know, making disparaging and disrespectful tweets to women and that's troubling and that's why he's doing so poorly in the favorability and this morning the events going on right now are a classic case of what we're seeing in these campaigns.

Ted is at an event talking about women issues and as he said last night in the town hall, all issues are women issues. He's sitting down and talking with them about jobs, freedom and security and values their input and thoughts on this, and as a contrast we have Donald Trump, we just heard, talking about Donald Trump, and this is the way this campaign has been from the very beginning. Ted is out there talking about the issue that people are concerned with. He's done that in a positive way of integrity, not criticizing their opponents or spouses, and that's the reason why the more people learn about Ted Cruz, the better we're doing in these states. And conversely the more people learn about Donald Trump, the more he is losing support and his unfavorability ratings are through the roof, specifically with women, and that's because of this very behavior.

BOLDUAN: Alice, let's talk about the fight for delegates and the fight as they work towards the convention. Marco Rubio is now trying to hold on to the delegates that he has won before he dropped out of the race, 170-plus delegates. Do you think he should be able to hold on to those delegates going into the convention?

STEWART: Well, there's a lot going on with regard to the delegates. That's clearly something Donald Trump is just now realizing. This is an important part of the nomination process. What each person does with their delegates is their own prerogative. We would expect Ted will reach the necessary 1237 delegates prior to the convention. If we take it to the convention floor, we have plans in place to fight it out then. But -- (CROSSTALK)

BOLDUAN: Right. But Marco Rubio --

(CROSSTALK)

BOLDUAN: -- hold on to his delegates if he's dropped out of the race? That's pretty unusual.

STEWART: Ideally, we'd have him turn the delegates loose and we'd be able to acquire the delegates and continue to do what we're doing and working the delegate process and finding it out on the convention floor. But this is something that will play out. And more and more people are learning that every state has different rules and regulations with regard to the delegates and bound and unbound delegates. And we are, as we have throughout the primary process, we have a very organized ground game to winning primaries and caucuses and organized delegate process that we are working

BOLDUAN: It's important. Donald Trump's campaign, one of his advisers was on a short time ago. He said, especially with one of the states that's kind of -- not in question -- but the one they are fighting over about is the delegates from Louisiana. He called it shenanigans. Trump said it was bad politics. He said if he gets the most votes, he should get the most delegates. What do you say?

[11:50:17] STEWART: Al Gore thought the same thing and it didn't work out that way. Donald Trump is new to the process and new to how the election process works. There are different ways to go about securing the nomination and a lot of it has to do with primaries and caucuses and acquiring the delegates. And right now, we're working on acquiring as many delegates in as many states as we possibly can and --

(CROSSTALK)

BOLDUAN: His advisers say it will be seen as stealing the nomination.

STEWART: Well, they don't understand the process, Kate. You are familiar with how it works. It is a process in terms of acquiring the delegates. That's how the Republican process works. What we have made a commitment to from the beginning is to be organized on the ground and have a strong grassroots game in place. It is about winning states, but more importantly, it's about making sure a plan in place to acquire delegates and racking up the necessary 1237. As you know, some are winner-take-all states, some proportional. But it's a matter of bringing the delegates to the table and, if necessary, fighting it out at convention, and we have a strong strategy in place to win, if it comes to a convention floor.

BOLDUAN: We will watch it play out if it does.

Alice, great to see you. Thank you so much.

We are continuing watching live pictures of Ted Cruz on the stage with his wife, mother and another key supporter, Carly Fiorina. We'll keep an eye on this. We'll be right back.

And Hillary Clinton is campaigning, and has this to say to New Yorkers, "We know better," slamming Donald Trump for his policies. Is it the start of Hillary Clinton's general campaign? A lot more to discuss. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[11:55:05] BOLDUAN: A brand new attack this morning from Hillary Clinton in her first TV ad in New York ahead of the April 19th primary. She is not targeting Bernie Sanders. Instead, she is setting her sights on the Republican candidate and fellow New Yorker, Donald Trump. Listen here.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: When some say we can solve America's problems by building walls, banning people based on their religion, and turning against each other, well, this is New York, and we know better.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BOLDUAN: We know better.

Let's bring in Jeff Zeleny, senior Washington correspondent; and Angela Rye, CNN political commentator; and Jackie Kucinich, senior politics editor with "The Daily Beast."

Great to see you both.

Jeff, first to you.

You were at the event where Hillary Clinton will be speaking any minute. Tell us, what is the view on this ad? What is the story behind it? Why take on Donald Trump in New York before she is even past Bernie Sanders?

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Late, there is one reason to take Donald Trump on in New York and his name is Bernie Sanders. Hillary Clinton would not be running this ad, the Clinton campaign would not invest time and money in to this New York primary, taking on Donald Trump, if they were not concerned about the threat that Bernie Sanders still poses to them. The best way to galvanize Democrats in the minds of Clinton campaign is by presenting her as the strongest, most credible candidate to hold the White House, to stop Donald Trump from winning the White House. That's what this ad is all about. It is so diverse. It's about the tapestry of New York's diversity. And it's narrated in her voice, something we have not heard yet this year. That's why this ad is being aired today, starting the next three-week stretch of the primary in New York is because of the incursion of Bernie Sanders.

BOLDUAN: I love that Jeff Zeleny can keep his composure with the fabulous music in the background. Angela, folks will be saying, why is she looking past Bernie Sanders,

and looking as if this is the turn to the general election candidacy, she is ready to take on Donald Trump. Do you think this is her making the turn? Do you think there's a risk?

ANGELA RYE, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I don't think there's a risk. I think the larger risk is what everyone has been saying. Everyone with some sense that. That is the threat and the fear of a Donald Trump candidacy is becoming more and more real every day. It is critical, given the national stature of Hillary Clinton, the fact she's been vetted four times before, or at least been exposed to national level attention as a former first lady, as a former presidential candidate, as a former Senator of New York, which we know because of her stature was a national campaign, it wasn't just central to New York. She has been exposed, of course, then as secretary of state. She has to realize she has to take on this leadership role of saying we can take him down but we have to do it collectively and together.

I think the other reality is -- of course, we are not talking about L.A., but I think it is worth mentioning. In this California poll, some of Bernie Sanders' supporters are saying we love the idea of Bernie Sanders but don't know if he is a realistic choice for president and whether or not he could win in the general. Her turning her attention to the most credible threat to her is very important at this stage.

BOLDUAN: But, Jackie, Bernie Sanders, they say they have the momentum that campaign says and they are pushing an fighting for a debate in April right there, right here in New York. What do you think the chances are that will happen as the Clinton campaign keeps calling it a publicity stunt?

JACKIE KUCINICH, SENIOR POLITICS EDITOR, THE DAILY BEAST: You heard Hillary Clinton say, yeah, she would totally debate in Brooklyn. I think we will see another Democratic debate.

When you talk to the Hillary Clinton campaign, it is interesting what they are doing with Bernie Sanders. They're clearly going after Trump and turning that corner, but keeping a foot in the primary. If you listen to the speech about the Supreme Court she gave earlier this week, she talked about single-issue candidates, something she uses to describe Bernie Sanders, but she also criticized Trump. They are playing a two-front war. Do they want to start talking about the general? Absolutely. There is definitely a reality that they still have a primary opponent and they are keeping an eye on him.

BOLDUAN: We'll keep an eye on it.

Final thought, Jeff, to you. She is keeping an eye on a primary opponent. Are you expecting to hear more about Bernie Sanders or Donald Trump when she takes the stage?

ZELENY: Kate, we will hear about Donald Trump. I'm told by adviser to the Clinton campaign that she will be talking, expounding on what we have seen in the ad. She will talk about how she believes Donald Trump has been divisive. That's what she will talk about today.

One thing to point out about the New York primary, it is a closed primary. If you are not already registered to vote in New York, you cannot vote in that primary. That's a big draw back, a big difference compared to other states like Wisconsin that as an open primary here. That's why the Clinton campaign feels better about New York. It's a Democratic primary for Democrats who always vote here -- Kate?

BOLDUAN: Guys, it's great to see you. Thank you so much. We're keeping an eye on that event.