Return to Transcripts main page


Interview With Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders; Interview With Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus; Donald Trump's Abortion Comments Anger Both Sides; Clinton Sick of Sanders' Campaign Lying; State of the Cartoonion, the Cheesiest Primary. Aired 9-10a ET

Aired April 3, 2016 - 09:00   ET




JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Whiplash. Donald Trump changing his position on abortion.


TAPPER: Twice in two days.

TRUMP: The laws are set. I think we have to leave it that way.

TRUMP: How will voters respond to the front-runner's flip-flopping?

And delegate derby.

SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Our path going forward is to get 1,237.

TAPPER: But if no one makes it to that magic number, who will win? The stealth strategies under way to swing the convention.

Plus, under her skin.

HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I am so sick of the Sanders campaign lying about that. I'm sick of it.

TAPPER: Clinton accusing Sanders of lying and playing games over a New York debate date.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (VT-I), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: My understanding is, she would like to do it in Brooklyn. I was born in Brooklyn. Let's do it.

TAPPER: Will they face off again?

And the best political minds will be here with insights from the campaign trail.


TAPPER: Hello. I'm Jake Tapper in Washington, where the state of our union is getting testy.

With the Wisconsin primary just two days away, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders spent the weekend sniping at each other. He demanded an apology for being called a liar. She called him desperate. She says he's playing games over a debate day. He says she's the one blocking it.

Last night, they took to the same stage, and each insisted the other will lose to Donald Trump.


SANDERS: For the Democratic Party to succeed, we need a vibrancy, and we need an energy, and we need a level of grassroots activism that we do not have at this moment.

CLINTON: I think we need a nominee who's been tested and vetted already.


CLINTON: And for 25 years, they have thrown everything they could at me, but I'm still standing.



TAPPER: Joining me now is Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont.

Senator, thanks so much for joining us. We appreciate it.

SANDERS: My pleasure.

TAPPER: You have gotten into a back-and-forth with Secretary Clinton about money from the fossil fuel industry.

Hillary Clinton says she is sick of your campaign lying about her. You demanded an apology. Her campaign is now calling you desperate and says that you have clearly decided your only path to victory is through misleading attacks.


TAPPER: I want to give you an opportunity to respond.

SANDERS: Well, according to a Greenpeace analysis of campaign finance reports, the Clinton campaign, in the broader sense, including their super PAC, have received $4.5 million from fossil fuel interests; 43 paid lobbyists of the fossil fuel industry have made maximum contributions, the maximum contributions they could to the Clinton campaign.

No, we were not lying. We were telling the truth. And the point here is that climate change is one of the great crises facing this country. We have got to stand up to the fossil fuel industry, transform our energy system, not take money from paid lobbyists from that industry.

TAPPER: Now, the fact-checker at "The Washington Post" took a look at the exact claims you made just now, and they wrote -- quote -- "The Sanders campaign is exaggerating the contributions that Clinton has received from the oil and gas industry. In the context of her overall campaign, the contributions are hardly significant. It's especially misleading to count all of the funds raised by lobbyists with multiple clients as money given by the fossil fuel industry."

And they gave you three Pinocchios, sir.

SANDERS: Well, let the voters decide whether paid lobbyists who represent the fossil fuel industry, 43 of them give maximum personal contributions to the Clinton campaign, and whether or not these same people are out in some cases muddling, trying to bring in even more money. I don't think that we are distorting reality. That's the simple reality.

TAPPER: But you have taken $50,000 from individuals who work for the oil and gas industry. Why is it OK for you and not for her?

SANDERS: Because I take money in, and she takes money in from individuals. That's right, workers in an industry, nothing wrong with that.

Jake, that is very different from taking money from lobbyists, people who are working day and night in defense of that industry. And that has been a confusing point. Workers, yes. We get money from workers in every industry in the country. So does Clinton. But there is a difference between getting money from a worker and somebody whose job it is, is to represent that industry.

I believe we have got to take on the fossil fuel industry. I think that their greed and their willingness to acknowledge the crisis of climate change is something that has to be dealt with, and I am prepared to do that if elected president.


TAPPER: You have said that you're not going to make an issue out of the FBI investigation into Hillary Clinton's e-mail server.

But a high-profile surrogate of yours, the actress Rosario Dawson, she brought it up this week at one of your rallies in New York.

Take a listen.


ROSARIO DAWSON, ACTRESS: Shame on you, Hillary.


DAWSON: Oh, sorry. Hold on. Let me watch my tone. Well, yes, she is under FBI investigation, thank you.


DAWSON: That's not getting promoted very much, but she is about to be interviewed in a little bit.


TAPPER: Now, when it comes to the FBI investigation, are you trying to have it both ways? You don't make any accusations against her, but one of your highest-profile surrogates does?

SANDERS: Hey, Jake, Jake, we have dozens of surrogates, and Rosario is doing a great job for us. She was with me in the South Bronx when we had 18,000 people coming out to start our campaign in New York.

We have many, many surrogates who say many, many things. Many of these surrogates do not agree with everything I say. And I do not agree with every approach and everything that they say. And that's the simple reality.

What we have done -- and, by the way, there are a lot of people who say, Bernie, why don't you go after her on her FBI investigation? Why don't you go after her on the Clinton Foundation money? We have chosen not to do that.

What we have chosen to do is run an issue-oriented campaign as to why for 30 years the middle class of this country has been disappearing, why we have massive levels of income and wealth inequality, why we are the only major country on Earth not to guarantee paid family and medical leave, why health care to all our people. Those are the issues that we have been focusing on.

TAPPER: So you would rather your surrogates not talk about the FBI investigation, though?

SANDERS: Look, we have people who are volunteering their time. As you know, Rosario is a very well-known actress. She has been kind enough to stand with me. She will say what she wants to say. That is not what I want to be focusing on, and I would hope my surrogates do not focus on that issue.

We have enormous issues facing the American people. One of the issues we're talking about every day is kids leaving college $40,000, $50,000 in debt, which is why I want to make public colleges and universities tuition-free and have Wall Street tax on speculation pay for that.

TAPPER: Let's talk about taxes, specifically about your tax returns. I have to say, I'm kind of surprised that you haven't gone further on transparency. You released the summary page of your 2014 tax returns. Hillary Clinton has posted on her Web site the last eight years of her personal returns, all of the returns.

Before the New York primary, will you match her? Will you post your full returns for the last eight years?

SANDERS: You know, we are not -- you know, to be very honest with you, you know who does our tax returns? My wife does our tax returns. We have been a little bit busy lately.

So, we will get out as much information as we can. There ain't going to be very much exciting in that. I get a salary from the United States Senate. You know, there's not going to be anything new in it that there hasn't -- people haven't seen for the last many years, but we will get it out as soon as we can.

TAPPER: But nobody -- nobody has seen them at all, I guess, is the point. And whether or not there's anything exciting in them...

SANDERS: No, that is not true. That is -- that is not true. Of course, we have released them in the past.

Our financial situation, to the best of my knowledge, has not changed very much, but we will get out all of that information as soon as we can.

TAPPER: You and Hillary Clinton have been trading fire over the timing of a potential debate. You said it was ludicrous for her to propose debating tomorrow night, which, of course, is the final night of the NCAA Finals, Nova vs. Chapel Hill.

Hillary Clinton said this morning she's up for debating on Thursday, April 14. Are you in?

SANDERS: I'm not quite sure how that works on our schedule. We may have a major rally being scheduled.

We have been talking, I think, to NBC and to CNN, and we're working on a number of dates. First, I'm very glad that the secretary has accepted the challenge to debate in New York. I think we can work out a date that works for her schedule, that works for my schedule.

Doing it during the NCAA Finals or whatever makes no sense. Doing it in the morning, when people are going to -- not going to be watching it in large numbers, makes no sense. But I'm confident we work -- will work out a time that's good for both of our schedules and when large numbers of people will be watching.

TAPPER: Do you think she proposed tomorrow night because it was competing with the NCAA finals, that she was trying to avoid a lot of viewers?

SANDERS: Well -- well, I think, you know, who knows?

But, you know, if you look at some of those Democratic debates that we have had in the past, many observers have noted that they're often scheduled on days when the voter turnout -- the viewer turnout would not be particularly high.

So, I would hope that she would agree with me, let's do it in a mutually convenient time. She has a rough schedule. I have a rough schedule. Let's get it on a network where people are going to be watching it, at a time when people are going to be watching it. I think we can work that out.


TAPPER: Amen to that, hopefully here on CNN.

Senator Bernie Sanders, thanks for joining us. We appreciate it.

SANDERS: Thank you.

TAPPER: In the Republican race for the 1,237 delegates needed to clinch the nomination, every single one of them matters.

There are 25 delegates up for grabs today in North Dakota. We will go there live for an update after this quick break.


TAPPER: Welcome back to STATE OF THE UNION. I'm Jake Tapper.

This weekend's biggest Republican primary isn't a primary at all; 25 of North Dakota's delegates will be picked in Fargo, North Dakota, today, not by voters, but by the state's party insiders. And when those delegates who are chosen today get to the Republican Convention in July, they will be able to support whomever they like, which makes them a very hot commodity.


SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It is entirely possible the men and women gathered here will decide this entire primary, will decide this nomination. I am here asking for you to stand with us.


TAPPER: Our Phil Mattingly is live in Fargo, where the election's about to begin.

Phil, these delegates could actually be very crucial.

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that wasn't hyperbole by Ted Cruz there, Jake. And here's why.


The 25 delegates that will be selected today, 28 in total coming from this state, will be unbound. That means they're free agents. And when they get to Cleveland in July, they could break any way. So, say, hypothetically, Donald Trump needs 15 or 16 delegates to get to that magic 1,237 number continue, if he can lock up that number of delegates out of this group in North Dakota, that could help him secure the nomination.

Or Ted Cruz could use that number to help block that. So, that's why we have seen, Jake, behind the scenes has been amazing, not just on the convention floor, but the lobbying over at the Ramada Inn just three miles away. There's hospitality suites from all three Republican campaigns. Ben Carson holding private meetings all night last night for Donald Trump, Carly Fiorina doing the same for Ted Cruz, all trying to secure the support, if not publicly, at least privately from the delegates, that are likely to come out of this convention today, Jake.

TAPPER: Ah, the wheeling and dealing at the Fargo Ramada.

Phil Mattingly, thank you so much.

And joining me now is the chairman of the Republican National Committee, Reince Priebus.

Reince, good to see you. Thanks for joining us.


TAPPER: So, if Donald Trump secures the nomination, he would start this general election campaign as the least popular candidate in modern times.

Take a look at this from the latest "Washington Post"/ABC News poll -- quote -- "Three-quarters of women view him unfavorably. So do nearly two-thirds of independents, 80 percent of young adults, 85 percent of Hispanics, and nearly half of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents."

How do you begin to turn those numbers around, sir?

PRIEBUS: Well, I think in a general election campaign, all the candidates know that, you know, that it's a little bit different, and the message has to be very broadly-based, not just at the base of the Republican Party and participants in the primary process.

But, look, our party's the party of the open door. And the only way we're going to grow is by adding people in the door, and not subtracting and dividing people out. So, I think there will be plenty of time to speak to the general public. But, right now, we're having a conversation within a pretty confined space.

TAPPER: How does that open door figure with the giant wall that Mr. Trump wants to construct? Because he's certainly sending a message that is apparently, according to polls, chasing away a lot of potential Republican voters, Latinos, Muslims, independents, women, Republican-leaning independents.

Are they going to be able to make their way to that door?

PRIEBUS: Well, look, I think that immigration and a secure border is something that every American's worried about.

And if you look at the numbers, you're seeing lots of independents and Democrats saying, yes, I think that we need to secure that border. They're not happy with the president's policies on immigration. And, quite frankly, if you look at the people that are coming into the Republican Party, we have got the first-time voter registration edge on Democrats in over, like, 25 years in battleground states, Jake. No one can deny the fact that we're seeing record turnout. We're up

70 percent. The Democrats are down by 30 percent. And who knows? I mean, you might be talking about an open convention on the Democrats' side if Hillary Clinton gets indicted or charged. Who knows? Maybe they will open up the delegates on their side and Joe Biden will reappear.

It's possible. I'm not just saying it in tongue in cheek. I think it's possible.

TAPPER: It's certainly possible, but let's turn back to the Republicans, because you're talking about securing the border, and I take your point.

But it's been three years since you and the GOP put out your autopsy report, looking at the reasons why you felt the party lost the 2012 election. And the report said that the party needs to improve its image with Latino voters.

This is what you said back in 2013 on the issue of immigration -- quote -- "Using the word self-deportation, it's a horrific comment to make. I don't think it has anything to do with our party. When someone makes those comments, obviously, it hurts us."

In retrospect, self-deportation compared to what we're hearing from Mr. Trump on the campaign trail, I mean, that's practically La Cucaracha.


PRIEBUS: Well, look, as a party -- as a national party, one of our problems was that we weren't in Hispanic and black communities on a full-time basis.

And the big changes we have made here is getting to a place where you have got 10 people every 10 blocks in Cleveland, in Cincinnati, in Pueblo County, Colorado. I mean, if you look at what we have done as a party, we had 46 percent of the Hispanic vote in Colorado in 2014.

We spent about $7 million or $8 million on the ground there. We got 28 percent of the black vote in Ohio. That didn't just happen by accident. It happened because we were committed to communicating and getting Hispanic and black voters to the polls and telling them about our party of equality and freedom and opportunity.

That's some of the biggest changes we have made in our party. But, sure, candidates have to watch their mouth. They have to watch their tone and their tenor. And the only way you can be the party of the open door is if you keep that in mind.

And so, you know, it's going to be my job, and it's our obligation here to work with our candidates when we get to the general election and make sure that we're doing our best and putting our best foot forward in communicating our message to every American, no matter who they are or where they live.


TAPPER: Have you communicated to the front-runner that perhaps he needs to watch his tone and tenor when it comes to this general election electorate that is paying attention and, according to polls, not liking what they hear from him?

PRIEBUS: Well, I mean, obviously, we have got to talk to all of our candidates about those things, and I think I have. And it's been, in some cases, pretty well-documented that I have.

But, look, we're in the middle of a pretty tight race right now. And, as you know, people are talking about the potential for an open convention, and no one really knows, obviously, who's going to be the nominee. But it's our job to be fair and give credence to the voice and vote of our delegates and voters across the country.

TAPPER: People in Washington, D.C., are waking up to this headline at "The Washington Post," "The Future According to Trump: Massive Recession."

Are you concerned at all about that message, a message of doom and gloom?

PRIEBUS: Well, certainly, people are afraid in this country, and they're angry with the president that hasn't delivered. And whether you're on Main Street or whether you're in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, or wherever you're from, things have not improved.

And so I think, you know, when people are afraid and when they're angry, sometimes, people say things that they regret. But the truth is, is that people are concerned about the future. And every candidate is going to communicate their message differently.

But it's up to us to choose a nominee along with the voters across the country, and then get our message out to the people and win in November. I think we're going to do that. You look at Hillary Clinton, she's in the ditch. Her numbers are backwards. She's losing to a socialist in Vermont.

I get that we have got some drama on our side of the aisle. I won't shy away from that. But, certainly, when you look at the -- what's going on on the Democrats' side, I think they're on the verge of a fiasco at their convention. And I don't know what Comey is going to do at the FBI either.

TAPPER: On Thursday night, there was a town hall meeting, and Donald Trump was asked about whether he -- not -- whether or not he thought women who get abortions should be punished. And he said, yes, there has to be punishment.

Now, he's since walked back that answer. But Rush Limbaugh, who is a major conservative voice, as I'm sure you know, expressed real concern about what that answer will mean to Democrats. Take a listen.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP) RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: I'm telling you, what happened last night was huge in terms of rejuvenating the Democrats. They were moribund. They were falling asleep. They were depressed. They don't have a candidate they could give a damn about. They're excited not at all. Their turnout is nothing. Now they're energized.


TAPPER: Are you concerned at all? Is Rush Limbaugh right?

PRIEBUS: Well, he's right about the first part, that they have nothing to be excited about.


PRIEBUS: He said it better than I could.

But, look, I mean, he's since walked that back. Of course, we don't want women prosecuted. But, again, as I said before, we're the party of the open door. That means anyone can come in. Obviously, we have our principles that we're a pro-life party. We believe that. I expect that, obviously, to be the case moving forward. And I'm happy he clarified his comments.

TAPPER: Former Bush adviser Karl Rove said this week that a fresh face might be the thing that could give Republicans a chance in November. John Boehner has said that that person should be Paul Ryan, your fellow Wisconsinite.

From the standpoint of the party rules, is there a possibility that House Speaker Paul Ryan could end up as the Republican nominee maybe on the fourth or fifth ballot, something of a consensus candidate?

PRIEBUS: No, because, number one, he doesn't want to do it. And I know Paul very well. And, you know, he doesn't seek out these things. He's one of the unique people in Washington where, you know, his ego is, like, not even there. And he's not selfish. And he doesn't think like that.

So, here's the thing. If anything like that were to happen, which I think is highly, highly unlikely, I think our candidate is someone who's running, OK? That's pretty obvious. But, number two, even if something like that were even remotely possible, that candidate would actually have to have a floor operation and an actual campaign going on with the delegates to make something like that possible.

And Paul's not going to do that. So, my answer is no. But, clearly, there's a lot of information out there that people are spreading around to cause a lot of confusion. But I think that our candidate is someone who's running.

TAPPER: All right.

RNC Chairman Reince Priebus, thank you so much. Always a pleasure to have you on, sir.

PRIEBUS: You bet, Jake.

TAPPER: Coming up: A Badger State crowd warmly welcomes Ted Cruz, but did they give Trump loyalist Sarah Palin something of a cold shoulder?


SARAH PALIN (R), FORMER ALASKA GOVERNOR: I didn't get booed. I don't know.


TAPPER: Will Wisconsin slow Trump's momentum?



TAPPER: Welcome back.

It's a rare political feat. Donald Trump angered both abortion rights supporters abortion rights opponents this week when he said this.


CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: Do you believe in punishment for abortion, yes or no, as a principle?

TRUMP: The answer is that there has to be some form of punishment.

MATTHEWS: For the woman?

TRUMP: Yes, there has to be some form.


TAPPER: Pressed again about abortion laws on Friday, Trump said this:


TRUMP: At this moment, the laws are set. And I think we have to leave it that way.


TAPPER: The Trump campaign responded with a clarification that the GOP front-runner gave an account of the laws today, but he would seek to change them through his judicial appointments as president.

Here to break down the week, Andre Bauer, the former lieutenant governor of South Carolina and a Trump supporter, Nina Turner, former Ohio state senator and Bernie Sanders supporter, and CNN political commentators Amanda Carpenter, who is a former communications director to Ted Cruz, and Bakari Sellers, former South Carolina state representative and Hillary Clinton supporter.

Thanks, one and all, for being here.

So, let me start with you.

As the Trump supporter, are you at all troubled by the fact that he's given so many different answers about abortion this week?


And while every time he's landed where the pro-life community wants him to be, it does seem to signal to a lot of pro-life supporters that he doesn't really have a lot of principle on this issue? Thought process? I mean, what do you think is going on here?

ANDRE BAUER, FORMER SOUTH CAROLINA LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR: You know, I think, again, as a businessman, it's a misstep, no question. He should have really worked on, I'm going to be the guy that appoints the right judges. I'm going to be the guy that works with Congress. If they bring me a bill, we have a Republican-controlled Senate and House. I want to work with those guys. We're going to get things done.

So it was not the best week for Donald Trump.

TAPPER: What do you think, you're somebody who is against abortion, and you oppose Mr. Trump as well. What do you think this week has been about?

AMANDA CARPENTER, FORMER COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR FOR TED CRUZ: Well, here's the thing. A gaffe is bigger than a gaffe when it taps into a broader concern about a candidate. And the thing that happened with Donald Trump here is that he was unable to clearly articulate and defend a conservative position in the face of liberal opposition, which was Chris Matthews here.

Chris Matthews baited him into adopting the most extreme position on abortion that really is out of step with the pro-life community. And so this really gets to Donald Trump as a candidate. People are worried that he's going to fold under pressure. He likes to tell people what they want to hear, and that's exactly what he did in that interview.

TAPPER: Well, you know, but what's interesting, though, Bakari, is that network, NBC, MSNBC, they have asked that exact question of Republican presidential candidates before, anti-abortion ones, whether Huckabee or Santorum, I think Russert (ph) did it once and David Gregory did another time, and both times those candidates had an answer, no, you don't punish the woman.

BAKARI SELLERS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: You would think running in this Republican primary, you would have an answer for that. You would have an answer on abortion. And this is not, you know, the first month into the race. We are a month away from -- or two months away from the Republican convention and you are the presumed front-runner.

I don't understand how you give an answer that literally makes Mike Huckabee look like a social moderate. I mean, he went to the right of Mike Huckabee on abortion, and that's very difficult to do. It was completely out of step. And I think that he's attempting to repair that, but it also goes to show another problem that Donald Trump has, which is why he has such high unapprovals amongst women. I mean, people are really concerned about the words that come out of his mouth. And rightfully so.

TAPPER: Although I have to say, Hillary Clinton also attacked Bernie Sanders on this issue because Bernie Sanders, when asked about it, he condemned what Mr. Trump said, but then ultimately went on to say something along the lines of but the press has to stop covering every single thing out of Donald Trump's mouth. That's a distraction. Clinton said, this is not a distraction. This is a big issue. And she went after Sanders.

NINA TURNER (D), FORMER OHIO STATE SENATOR: Well, the senator's remarks should not be measured by what the secretary believes he should say or should not say. He did condemn Mr. Trump, but he went on to say that we do have other problems that go along with that like income inequality, you know, making sure that people have universal health care in this country, taking care of the business of this country.

Women care about other issues, too. They care about the economics. They care about a future for themselves and their children or people in their neighborhood. So I think Senator Sanders was just right on that.

He does not have to say what the secretary wants him to say. He speaks his mind on these issues and all of them are vitally important. And he has 100 percent record with the pro-choice community.

SELLERS: But it does highlight an issue that many of us bring out when talking about Senator Sanders, which is that it's one note that when talking about any issue, it's pivoting right back to income inequality.

And what Senator Sanders left out of that answer and what Secretary Clinton hit him on was the fact that abortion is an issue of income inequality. Abortion is an issue of access. Because many times you have poor women, many times women of color, who don't have access, and that is a fundamental issue of income inequality. And that is the message. That you just can't pivot to income inequality when we're talking about an issue that is that near and dear and of that outmost (ph) importance (ph).

TURNER: But Bakari, he does not have to measure his remarks based on what the secretary --


SELLERS: I agree.

TURNER: He has 100 percent record with the pro-choice community. So he was saying yes, that is important. And his point about the fact that I think Mr. Trump has gotten almost $2 billion worth of air time, I mean, every time -- this man sneezes, if he trips, whatever he does, the media is going to cover it. And I think that what Senator Sanders --


TAPPER: We'll talk about the Democrats in the next block.

Andre, I want to ask you about a question about something that I thought was interesting in the Trump interview with Maureen Dowd in "The New York Times" this morning.

Quote -- "Given his" -- this is Maureen Dowd now, not me. "Given his draconian comments sending women back to back alleys, I had to ask, when he was a swinging bachelor in Manhattan, was he ever involved with anyone who had an abortion?" "Such an interesting question," Trump said. "So what's your next question?"

Does that bother you?

BAUER: Clearly it bothers me. I didn't see the footage, so it's hard for me to respond on it. You know, it's kind of like tweeting these days. You don't really know what somebody is saying till you actually see it.

TAPPER: Yes. It was just a newspaper column and I'm just reading it verbatim.

I mean, it seems to me like he's avoiding the question altogether. Is it relevant if Donald Trump as a bachelor ever was involved with a woman and a woman then aborted her pregnancy?

BAUER: When you're running for president, everything is relevant.


TAPPER: What do you think?

CARPENTER: Yes, I mean, Donald Trump has a history. He was pro- choice. You know, in the past, it's not -- I mean, it's likely that he would be OK with a woman doing that, but that's not something he's going to talk about now.

But it gets to the issue, who is Donald Trump? What are his values? Can you trust him to defend a conservative position should he become president? And when he just walks away from a question like that, I mean, Maureen Dowd put it in a column because it's powerful that he wouldn't address it. So that naturally is just going to invite more questions.

SELLERS: I think even Amanda and I agree on this, which we won't probably agree on politically but it's breaking news, Donald Trump has no principles.

I mean, Donald Trump will say whatever it takes to become the president of the United States.

CARPENTER: Yes. SELLERS: I think that is what drives Republicans crazy. That's what makes Democrats fear him. I mean, that's what we highlight on issues like this. I mean, he literally has no principles.

CARPENTER: Well, I do think it's going to hurt him now because his brand is so strong as being the guy who tells it like it is, doesn't back down. But really when you take a closer look at his statements, you see that he just tells people what he wants to --


TAPPER: Andre, get in here a little bit. This is your guy they're talking about (ph).

BAUER: Yes. I'm sitting here thinking Bakari is beating on Trump. His candidate has -- whew!


TAPPER: We'll get --


TAPPER: ... in the next panel, but, I mean, this is -- I'm sure you hear this from other Republicans, although Trump won South Carolina quite handily, that he doesn't have any principles, he'll say whatever he needs to say to get elected. You obviously don't believe that.

BAUER: That's not what I'm hearing. I'm hearing folks that never got involved in a primary before say, finally somebody's willing to take on the establishment within the party and within Washington. We're tired of the same old thing.

Quite frankly when I checked out of politics five years ago, you know, I disengaged a little bit. But I've become frustrated as so many just working Americans that don't engage in party politics every day, and that's why it has been so good, I think, for the Republicans. The record turnouts -- nobody has gotten more votes in a primary in South Carolina history ever than Donald Trump. And so he is invigorating people that feel like government's left them and they have no chance to have a voice.

TAPPER: And is that fact, that he is taking on the establishment, is that almost more important than anything else including whether or not he answers abortion in five different ways, the question about abortion in five different ways over three different days, whether or not he refuses to answer a question about whether or not a woman he has ever been involved with had gotten abortion? That stuff doesn't even matter anymore even in a pro-life state like South Carolina?

BAUER: Well, it definitely matters. No question it matters.

But the large percentage of the voters that are coming out now have gotten so frustrated -- look, politicians have told them everything they've wanted to hear for years. It hasn't changed what's happened. The results are not getting any better. So any politician, anyone -- anybody representing up here can say whatever they want, but they haven't gotten -- she's not happy. We're not -- everybody up here says Washington's not working like we want it to. And so people are so refreshed to see something different, somebody says, look, I'm beholden to no one. I'm up here to really make a difference and not support big business, corporate lobbyist, whomever. And that's refreshing.


CARPENTER: The strength and weakness of Donald Trump's candidacy, it is built solely on his personality. It's not about a campaign infrastructure. He hasn't been fund-raising, it is just about him. And ultimately that's going to be the hardest box for him to get out of because he doesn't have principles. He doesn't have a uniting vision for the country. It's just about Donald Trump. And I think there's a pretty hard ceiling on that, which we'll see what happens in Wisconsin.

TAPPER: Nina, we'll bring you in in the next panel. We're going to take a very quick break.

When we come back, no more Mr. Nice guy. Hillary Clinton accusing Bernie Sanders of lying and Sanders is firing back as the Democratic race heats up. Stay with us.




UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If you protect -- with climate change, will you act on your word and reject fossil fuel money to pay for your campaign?

HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I do not. I have money from people who work for fossil fuel coops. I am so sick -- I am so sick of the Sanders campaign lying about that. I'm sick of it!


TAPPER: Ouch. That was Hillary Clinton unloading on a Greenpeace activist. Tensions between the Clinton and Sanders camps rose this week with both campaigns accusing the other of lying.

We're back with the panel. Nina, I'll start with you. It really is getting very ugly between Clinton and Sanders. And you heard Sanders earlier on the show...


TAPPER: ... saying that the charges are completely accurate, even though "The Washington Post" fact checker gave him three Pinocchios on his accusation against Clinton taking oil and gas money.

TURNER: Well of course, you know, we don't agree with "The Washington Post" and the senator was very clear about what he had to say.

There is a difference between -- he has signed a pledge with Greenpeace that says any donations that come from an executive of that industry or lobbyist, that he will not take. There is a big difference. And the fact that people are bundling money for her in that industry is very clear about who they want to be the commander in chief and what they think may or may not happen if she's there.

TAPPER: Bakari?

SELLERS: I mean, I understand Hillary Clinton's frustration.

Back in May when Bernie Sanders launched his campaign for presidency, he said it wasn't going to be about Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders, it was going to be about the American people and we were going to have a substantive debate about issues.

The tenor of his campaign has changed. Whether or not it's surrogates or whether or not it's the candidate himself. And I think that Representative Barney Frank actually hit the nail on the head that it's these McCarthyite type attacks. That if you're going to challenge Hillary Clinton's character, if you're going to challenge her character and say that for somehow because these people are contributing to her that her character's going to be compromised, then show us over her two decades-plus of service where her character has been compromised and the campaign hasn't done that. They failed on that.

In fact, you know, we talk about the fossil fuel industry that Bernie Sanders has taken money from, Hillary Clinton, when she was secretary of state, laid the framework for this international compact to combat climate change.

TAPPER: Are you worried that Sanders is hurting Hillary Clinton...

SELLERS: Not at all.

TAPPER: ... in such a way that if she gets the nomination, damage will have been done?

SELLERS: No because -- and this may be my youthful naivety, but I believe that there will be a moment that Nina Turner and myself and Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton and Bill Clinton and Michelle and Barack Obama will stand on a stage together, unite the party. And we're not at that point yet but we will get to that point and then go out because we have a fight literally for the soul of this country versus Donald Trump or Ted Cruz.


CARPENTER: Yes. Well, in the meantime, I think you guys should have a debate about it. There's so much...


CARPENTER: ... in the Republican side. But really, there's some substance to be drawn out between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders on this issue. And it should just be caught on a hot mic moment. Let's have a full debate. I'd love to watch.


TAPPER: Let me ask you a question, Andre. When you watch Bernie Sanders' attacks against Hillary Clinton, and I know you support Donald Trump and you don't like either one of them or you don't care for their politics anyway, do you think Sanders is doing damage against Clinton? Because a lot of Democratic officials out there are saying, OK, Senator Sanders, now you're actually doing Donald Trump's work for him for November.

BAUER: Well, absolutely he is. But that's what primaries do. Everybody goes -- comes out of a primary damaged in some way. And Sanders is doing a good job of that right now.

TURNER: It's a contrast, though, Jake. I mean, for us, again, Secretary Clinton becomes the center of the universe. Is Senator Sanders doing damage to the secretary? Well, how about the other way around?

I mean, you had surrogates come out, Bakari, to try to impugn the record -- the civil rights record of Senator Bernie Sanders. You had surrogates come out to say that he was going to take away CHIP and the Affordable --

TAPPER: The Children's Health care program.

TURNER: -- and the Affordable Care Act, all which are wrong knowing his solid progressive credentials on every single one of those issues. So to me, this is not about damage to one or another. This is about contrast.

TAPPER: What do you say to that?

SELLERS: It's more than that, though. I mean, whether or not -- it's the illusion. It's the proximity, too.

I mean, it's challenging her, when you challenge her on Wall Street, you simply -- you make this illusion. You draw this framework that all of a sudden while as secretary of state, she was trying to chip away Dodd-Frank or something. Or she's going to repeal a roll back many of the progresses we made on Wall Street reform and that's just not the case.

And I understand the frustration. I mean, that is not a valid line of attack, and that is what we're seeing right now. "The Boston Globe" called it best. They said that the tenor has ratcheted it up. And this is coming from Senator Sanders who stated at the beginning of his race that it is above people. That it's about issues. And his campaign is not making it about issues.

BAUER: And I would disagree. I think he's showing, look, I'm someone that isn't going to be controlled by Wall Street, and she is.

I think there's a clear delineation there of fair shot, and if she can't take that...


TAPPER: That's right --


BAUER: ... whoever the Republican --


SELLERS: I mean, that -- you see that again is absurd because we -- people say that all of a sudden Hillary Clinton needs to get thicker skin. I've heard some reporters say that. But we're talking about the same woman who's been attack for over two decades. And she's still here.

From 1992 before there was Obamacare and it was Hillary care, when they went to war, when the Republican Party went to war with Hillary Clinton and she's still here. So I don't think she needs to get thicker skin. I think she's prepared for anything.

TAPPER: But don't you think that the attacks coming against her from Bernie Sanders are likely the same ones that you're going to hear from either Donald Trump or Ted Cruz?

SELLERS: I think they -- to be honest with you, I think they pale in comparison to whatever we may hear from Donald Trump. I don't think --


SELLERS: I agree with that. If anybody knows what Donald Trump is going to say --

TAPPER: I could agree with that -- no, it's a g-rated version.

SELLERS: It's a g-rated version.


SELLERS: I do agree with that. And listen, but all I'm saying is we deserve -- the Democratic Party deserves to have a debate about the issues, unlike what the Republican Party is having.

I mean, the Republican Party is in the mud. And my father always told me, you know, you don't play in the mud. You don't wallow with the pigs. And that is what's happening. And we want to make sure that we stay above fray. And that's all I'm saying. We can have a debate about issues. Bernie's having a great debate about issues.

CARPENTER: But I will say...


CARPENTER: ... (INAUDIBLE) someone else comes up, Donald Trump is unpredictable, but Republicans are most certainly going to make the Wall Street critique and will certainly going to go after on speaking fees and will certainly going to go after e-mails. You know, things that Bernie Sanders would not touch.

And so if I were advising Hillary Clinton, I'd say figure out a way to handle this now. Get it out there.


TURNER: This is a real reality that money is now speech in this country. And so the middle class is gone. Let's just be honest. We have those who are ultra wealthy and those who are poor and those who are barely hanging on. And a lot of that has to do with a corrupt system that rewards money as speech.

And what Senator Sanders has been consistent on this, he has been an honest broker on this. He doesn't change based on polls. He doesn't change based on what audience he's talking to. This is his thing. And that's simply all that he is saying. This is contrast. This is not attacks.

SELLERS: But it was false. "The Washington Post"...


SELLERS: ... call it had false.


TAPPER: I have to say what a great panel. What a great panel. You guys, I love you.

TURNER: I love you, too, Bakari.

TAPPER: Thank you so much. Very lively and welcome.

Campaigning in Wisconsin turning predictably cheesy. The candidates are making their hard and soft pitches in this week's "STATE OF THE CARTOONION". That's next.



TAPPER: Welcome back. On Tuesday, the campaign trail winds into Wisconsin, America' dairy land. So if you're going to be asking for votes in Wisconsin, you better be Gouda ready to show these cheese heads that you're willing to get grilled. All of these bad puns are part of this week's "STATE OF THE CARTOONION".


TAPPER (voice-over): On Wisconsin. The next presidential primary takes the candidates to the Badger State where chilling for votes might mean getting a little cheesy. CRUZ: My favorite food in all the world is cheese. And I am not saying that to pander in Wisconsin. But if you wouldn't point it out here, where would you point it out?

TAPPER: Campaigning in America's dairy land Trump claims cheese credentials as well touting his preference for the American slices that topped McDonald's Big Macs and something he referred to as fish delight.

TRUMP: Fish delight sometimes.

TAPPER: Of course, cheese pandering is a bipartisan matter.

Hillary Clinton once declared macaroni and cheese issues just as important as macro issues. And she described what some Wisconsinites might consider the perfect meal.

CLINTON: We had about 15 courses of cheese.


I mean, it was cheese stuffed in things, it was cheese on top of things. It was melted cheese, it was hard cheese. It was unbelievable.

TAPPER: But with the cheese comes cheese heads. Those die hard Green Bay Packer fans who can be very sensitive. (INAUDIBLE) John Kerry discovered in 2004 when he referred to their venerated football form Lambeau Field as "Lambert Field".

JOHN KERRY, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: In deference to Lambert Field and Vince, whom I've quoted a few times, I've got to go to this Packer fan here.

TAPPER: Then candidate George W. Bush immediately hit back.

GEORGE W. BUSH, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Listen, I've got some advice for him. If someone offers you a cheese head, just put it on your head and take a seat at Lambeau Field.

TAPPER: But don't hate Wisconsinites for loving cheese so much. They just want to make America great again.


TAPPER: You can see all the action in the Badger State this Tuesday. CNN will have all day coverage of the Wisconsin primary from around the state as the dairy land votes in a very crucial primary.

Thank you for spending your Sunday with us. You can catch me here every Sunday and weekdays on "THE LEAD" at 4:00 p.m. Eastern. Go to, that's STATE OF THE UNION for extras from the show.

I'm Jake Tapper in Washington.

"FAREED ZAKARIA GPS" is next. Thanks for watching.