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AT THIS HOUR WITH BERMAN AND MICHAELA

Trump Ramps Up Attacks on GOP Delegate Selection, Cruz Responds; RNC Chair, Chief Strategist Respond to Trump Delegate Complaints; Up to 20 Hurt in Jerusalem Bus Blast; NY High-Stakes for GOP Candidates. Aired 11-11:30a ET

Aired April 18, 2016 - 11:00   ET

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


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[11:00:43] KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. I'm Kate Bolduan.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: I'm John Berman.

Brace yourselves. Less than 24 hours to go, which is 14,040 New York minutes until the New York primary. The candidates are making every last one of those minutes count. The two front runners, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, are hoping for big wins in the Big Apple after some sour grapes the last few contests.

BOLDUAN: 95 Republicans and 247 Democratic delegates are up for grabs.

And the Democrats are doing everything they possibly can to grab every last one of them. Sanders holding a huge rally in Brooklyn Sunday. Hillary Clinton continuing her pitch to voters, even showing off some dance moves at a block party in Washington Heights over the weekend.

For the Republicans, Donald Trump is ramping up his attacks against his new chief target, it seems, the RNC. This comes after Ted Cruz swept Wyoming over the weekend. Trump continues to hammer away that the delegate system is rigged. Cruz, not surprisingly, had something to say about that this morning. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You can't get the nomination without earning a majority of the delegates elected by the people. And I believe Donald's highest total will be on that first ballot, and he will go steadily down because Donald cannot win, and we don't want to nominate someone who is a loser in November.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BOLDUAN: Let's get straight to Jason Carroll outside the Trump Tower here in New York.

So, Jason, where do things go from here just hours before the big vote in New York? JASON CARROLL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, first, a couple things. You

can be sure, Kate, Donald Trump is going to have something to say about that Ted Cruz comment on the first ballot. And in terms of Donald Trump and his complaints about what's happening with the delegate system, we continue to hear those criticisms. Heard it last Friday when we were in upstate New York, heard him complain about it then. Heard him complain about it again this weekend, especially at a rally in Poughkeepsie last night.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We have a system that's rigged. We have a system that's crooked. We have a system that's got a lot of problems. And we have a system that doesn't allow the people to vote in many cases. And if they do vote, their vote isn't really representative of what it should be. We have this delegate system which is a sham. So in Colorado, the people are going crazy out there because they never got a chance to vote.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CARROLL: As you know, Kate, the chairman of the RNC says the system is not rigged, that the rules have been in place for decades.

In terms of what we're expecting here in Trump Tower, looking ahead, within the next hour, Trump is expected to meet the group called the National Diversity Coalition for Trump. That's expected to take place at about noon, a press conference. We will be following that. Trump, as you know, needs to do much in terms to reach out to communities of color and female voters. The executive director of this particular coalition basically saying he wants to do his part to try to dispel this notion that Trump's campaign is sexist and racist -- Kate?

BOLDUAN: Voters will have their say, at least in New York, tomorrow.

Jason Carroll, thanks so much.

BERMAN: Want to bring in CNN's chief political correspondent, Dana Bash.

Dana, you heard Jason talking about the delegate battle between Donald Trump and the RNC. Well, you had a chance to talk to the man, the RNC chair, Reince Priebus.

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right. And what I wanted to get at with him was the fact that a big part of the issue here is that usually at this point of the campaign the front runner or the maybe presumptive nominee is working very much in tandem with the Republican party. And right now, they are at odds because of so many different factors in this race. And so we talked a little bit about that, but also about the fact that Donald Trump spent all last week and some of this weekend effectively threatening party leaders, including Reince Priebus. Listen to his response to that.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) REINCE PRIEBUS, CHAIRMAN, REPUBLICAN NATIONAL COMMITTEE: It depends what you think -- I mean, if you think it's rhetoric, if you think it's hyperbole, look, there's nothing that the RNC can do to alter the rules between now and the convention. It's not the RNC's place. So I don't internalize -- I don't sit here and internalize the charge because there's no "there" there because there's nothing --

BASH: So do you think this is hyperbole for effect and for theater and that that's what this is about, or do you think there's --

(CROSSTALK)

PRIEBUS: I think you'd have to ask him.

BASH: What do you think?

PRIEBUS: I think you'd have to ask him. You're a reporter. Listen, you're a reporter. Everyone know what is the rules are. Everyone knows that the RNC can't actually change rules between now and --

(CROSSTALK)

BASH: But you're the one --

(END VIDEO CLIP)

[11:05:20] BASH: Not only not change the rules, Kate and John, there is a big Republican National Committee meeting this coming week in Florida. There will be just a regular meeting of the party rules committee, which is different from the convention rules committee, which will set out exactly how the nominee is going to be formally chosen. And what Reince Priebus said to those people is don't even go there yet because there's so much that's going to happen between now and the end of the nominating process. June 7th is the last contest. It's already clearly such an issue, such a controversy that they just don't even want to touch it until they really do have the ability to affect it.

BOLDUAN: The man running in second place in New York, John Kasich, he's also jumping into this conversation saying that Donald Trump needs to stop complaining. What is he telling you?

BASH: That's right. Where you stand very much depends on where you sit and vice versa, particularly in this arena, and at this time and place. And so John Kasich has no chance, none, of being able to be the nominee with the actual voting process, unlike Donald Trump. So he says that Donald Trump needs to stop complaining about how it works. Listen to what he told me.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. JOHN KASICH (R-OH), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It's like saying I made an 83 on my math test, so I should get an "A" just because I think it's rigged that you have to make a 90 to get an "A." I mean, come on. Act like -- you know, like you're a professional. Be a pro.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BASH: Now, going forward to tomorrow's primary, guys, you know, Donald Trump is hoping to win so big that maybe he can get all 95 delegates in New York, which would be huge for him. And John Kasich is hoping that he's doing that, win some of the congressional districts where he is running strong right now in the polls. And, you know, it certainly matters. Donald Trump would say, you know what, John Kasich, you're a spoiler, and he would say this is how it works.

BOLDUAN: John Kasich is hoping that will quiet some of the calls for him to drop out.

BASH: Exactly.

BOLDUAN: Dana, great to see you. Thank you so much.

BASH: You, too.

BOLDUAN: Let's talk more about this. Joining us is the RNC's chief strategist and communications director, Sean Spicer.

Sean, thanks for coming in.

SEAN SPICER, CHIEF STRATEGIST & COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR, REPUBLICAN NATIONAL COMMITTEE: You bet. Good morning.

BOLDUAN: Good morning.

So let's jump ahead to the convention. Donald Trump says the 2012 convention was a bore. Then this convention needs to bring a little bit more. It needs to have some showbiz in it. What does showbiz look like at the convention? What do you think about that?

SPICER: Well, first thing we need to do is conduct business. We're going to have a nominee. We have to pass rules and a platform. But I understand what his point is and -- but the difference this year is I think if you look at the debates and the turnout we've seen, the eyes of the world, not just the country and the party, are going to be on us in Cleveland because the excitement and the enthusiasm on the Republican side, not the Democratic side. I get his point. We have an amazing team preparing for this convention and I think all Republicans will be very proud of the show that gets put on there. But more importantly, we're going to have a great nominee, come out unified, and be prepared to win in November.

BERMAN: On the subject of unified in November, usually at this point there's a presumptive nominee who takes a big role in planning the convention. If not, the preeminent role in planning the convention. You don't have that this time. But shouldn't the front runner, shouldn't Donald Trump, who will likely go into the convention with the most delegates, shouldn't he have a say in how the convention is set up?

SPICER: Well, look, I think the chairman said this before, but he is in constant contact with all of the candidates that are still in the race, talking to them about what the RNC is doing in terms of our data and digital operations, field operation, and, of course, the convention. We won't do this without having some of their input and suggestions. But at the end of the day, it's the job of the party to put the party's convention on, to make sure we have the business that needs to get done, the rules, the platform, and, yes, the nomination of our next president and vice president. So the candidates will all be consulted as far as, you know, not just the convention, but what we're doing out in the field and the amazing ground game we have going on in our updated digital and data techniques. So we're in constant communication with them all and we're going to put on an amazing convention in Cleveland.

BOLDUAN: On that amazing convention, on the delegates -- these are the delegates we're talking about now. On the delegate front and what they'll be doing at the convention, Donald Trump has had quite a few things to say about it. I know you know them all, but just to remind our viewers, here I one of the latest things he said on the delegates. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

[11:09:53] TRUMP: It's a corrupt and crooked system where you're allowed to take delegates -- look, nobody has better toys than I do. I can put them in the best planes and bring them to the best resorts anywhere in the world, Doral, Mar-a-Lago. I can put them in the best places in the world. California, I have something that blows everything away. But it's a corrupt system. You're basically buying these people.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BOLDUAN: Look, you might not like the way he says it, Sean, but on some level isn't Donald Trump right?

SPICER: With all due respect, no. I mean --

(CROSSTALK)

BOLDUAN: How so?

SPICER: -- we have a system that's been in place since 1856. Explain to me how it is. It's out there for everyone to see. If you go to --

(CROSSTALK)

BERMAN: Sean, can't --

(CROSSTALK)

SPICER: Hold on.

(CROSSTALK)

BERMAN: OK, go ahead.

SPICER: I was asked a question. I'm answering it. The answer to the question is, look, we are a state's rights party. Each of these states submitted a plan as to how they allocate and select their delegates. It's out there for the world to see. It's been available for everybody, including these campaigns, since October of last year. Donald Trump right now has gotten 37 percent of the vote and he's got 45 percent of the delegates. He went into a state like Florida that had 99 delegates, he got 50 percent of the vote and yet he got all the delegates. So some states when they win and they do well, it's not rigged. If they don't like it in a certain state, it's rigged. At the end of the day, it's a great system. It's more Democratic than what the Democrats do with their super delegates, who are unaccountable party bosses, who aren't elected by the grassroots of their party. Everyone who is going to Cleveland is someone that represents the grassroots in their state, county, or congressional district. I think that's a pretty darn good system.

BERMAN: What we were asking about there though, Sean, you're responding to the idea that Donald Trump has said the game rigged. What he was saying right there though is that to woo delegates who are unbound, you can put them on a plane, take them to Mar-a-Lago, pay for their hotel rooms, give them goody bags, that's where we're saying he's not wrong. That's all within the rules, as we understand it, of trying to woo delegates for the convention. And the question is then, you know, is that on optimal system? Giving them rounds of golf and giving them goodies is the way to do it? Is that democracy at work?

SPICER: No, I don't think that you should be -- I think you should be going to delegates and explaining why you're the best candidate, why your solutions will put America moving forward again. But I can't -- so, yeah, I agree with Donald Trump. I think going out and lavishing delegates with gifts is probably not the best way. I would rather see folks wooed by the vote of their district or talking to them about how they're going to make the party better why they've got the best chance to win in November. So in that we probably agree, but I don't know that that's going on right now.

BOLDUAN: Sean, it's been swirling for about a week now, this talk of, if Donald Trump is the nominee, would he keep on Reince Priebus as chairman. He's left the door open in yet another interview to replacing Reince Priebus as chairman if he would become the nominee. You don't speak for Reince, I know you speak for the RNC, but are you nervous about your job?

SPICER: No, I'm not, and I'll tell you why. Reince Priebus was elected unanimously by 168 members of the Republican National Committee. He will serve until January of 2017 because those are the people who elect the chairman.

But more importantly, I think the bigger issue is this. Any candidate that got the nomination would beg Reince Priebus to stay as chairman because he's been so successful. I mean, under this chairman, we've put together the best resources and staff and equipped political party in the history of the United States. When you look at our field operation and data and digital operation and our opposition research on Hillary Clinton and potentially Bernie Sanders, it's amazing. We're the gold standard of political parties. I think any candidate would be lucky to have Reince Priebus as a chairman and they should be begging him to keep continuing the success that he's had. BERMAN: Maybe gold-plated fixtures on airplanes meets the gold

standards of parties, it could be a successful merger going forward.

Sean Spicer, thank you so much for being with us.

(CROSSTALK)

BOLDUAN: Great to see you, Sean.

SPICER: Thank you.

(CROSSTALK)

(LAUGHTER)

BERMAN: There is so much at stake on both sides of the aisle in tomorrow's crucial New York primary. Watch CNN all day and all night for the coverage.

BOLDUAN: Still ahead for us, attacks over big money. Even George Clooney calling the amount of cash in politics obscene. The battle now between Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton just 24 hours out from the New York primary.

BERMAN: Plus, breaking news out of Jerusalem. An exPLOsion rips through a bus injuring at least 10 people. The cause of that blast is still unknown. We have a live update ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[11:18:23] ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

BOLDUAN: Some breaking news out of Jerusalem right now. A bus exPLOsion there. Reports of several injuries.

Oren Liebermann is in Jerusalem with much more.

Oren, tell us what you know. We're seeing video coming in. What are you hearing?

OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: They're about to come to me.

BOLDUAN: Oren, can you hear us?

All right.

BERMAN: We're having a hard time getting communication with Oren.

But what we do know is somewhere between 10 and 20 people have been injured in a bus exPLOsion in Jerusalem. We do not know the cause. You're looking at pictures right there of the area, the incident scene. We'll try to get more information for you, what neighborhood it's in, what bus line. Always a cause of concern when this type of thing happens there. But as of now, we don't know the cause. So those are pretty disturbing pictures we're looking at right now. We'll get more information as soon as we can. BOLDUAN: We'll get more on that. When we do, we'll bring that to

you.

Let's turn back to politics, as we turn back here. It is the battle for the Big Apple and for the rest of the Empire State as New York voters hit the polls less than 24 hours from now.

BERMAN: On the Republican side, it's a high-stakes fight over Donald Trump's home turf. 95 delegates up for grabs there.

Joining us to discuss, CNN political commentator, Errol Louis; CNN political reporter, Sara Murray; Republican pollster, Kellyanne Conway, president the pro Ted Cruz super PAC Keep the promise; and New York City Councilman Joseph Boreli, co-chair of Donald Trump's campaign.

Errol Louis, man of New York, we want to start with you.

One day to go, big primary for the Republicans. How do things look today?

[11:20:07] ERROL LOUIS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: The way things look right now is pretty much the way they look throughout, which is Donald Trump has a commanding lead if you look overall, but the way New York allocates delegates is sort of a modified sort of congressional district basis. And so you have to look district by district, including some districts like some up in the Bronx, up in Harlem where there are very, very few Republicans. So Ted Cruz and John Kasich have actually been campaigning here. Something we haven't seen in a long time because it makes sense to go into some of the districts and try to grab a few thousand votes here and there. The ground game is going to be really interesting to watch. Donald Trump hasn't bothered with that. He's going to try to sweep past all of that, capsize everybody, win most of all the districts and take every one of the 95 delegates.

BOLDUAN: Interestingly, Sara, it seems that while Donald Trump has kind of foregone traditional campaign in many states, there seems to be a more focused approach here in New York. What are you picking up?

SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL REPORTER: I think that's absolutely right. There was a moment of reckoning as we have reported on where Paul Manafort and really focused the campaign. When we talk about how he's there to help with convention strategy, this is delegate strategy and so that means winning as many delegates in New York as possible. They would like to win all of them. I think that's why you saw them blow up the schedule, focus in on New York. And you're seeing Trump do these different events. You saw him go to the 9/11 museum, and saw him do more photo-ops, more opportunities to meet with constituents. That's all by design because they want to leave New York with as many delegates as possible. They do not want a second ballet.

Kelly Conway, you're on the other side. Is it working? How many delegates do you think Ted Cruz will come away with?

KELLYANNE CONWAY, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: He won't come up with zero, which Donald Trump has got in some of the states. And I have to say winning your home state is such an easy thing to do, even John Kasich did it. So I know it's going to be a big news story when Donald Trump wins here but he's had two weeks to campaign in one state. When Ted Cruz won Texas, it was Super Tuesday. There were 12 contests and five people in the race.

BERMAN: Ted Cruz has had two weeks to campaign here.

(CROSSTALK)

BERMAN: You're setting the bar pretty low at zero.

CONWAY: No, no, no. We will get delegates tomorrow. It sounds like he's in on our PAC strategy. We have focused on some of the heavily Democratic districts. If you're a Republican in districts that President Obama carried more than 70 percent of the votes, you really, really mean it, so you're very committed. They award the same three delegates as any other district. And we've also been very robust in our outreach to voters in the Western and upstate parts of New York. But look at what Ted Cruz has been doing on the weekends. The Trump people spent their weekends on TV. Cruz and his people spent their weekends on conventions picking up delegates.

BERMAN: Joseph Boreli, Councilman, what are you seeing?

JOSEPH BORELI, NEW YORK COUNCILMAN & NEW YORK CO CHAIR, DONALD TRUMP CAMPAIGN: I'll set the bar for Ted Cruz at zero. With 27 congressional districts in the state, he's only at 20 percent. The number you need to get one delegate. These are districts in Brooklyn where it's a heavy Orthodox Jewish vote and he's done a good job reaching out to that community. I think it's more likely than not that if anyone other than Donald Trump gets delegates, it will be John Kasich.

BERMAN: What about John Kasich? Kelly, you have to listen to Sara and Errol in this first. Supporters of Ted Cruz have been saying Kasich should get out for a long time. Yet, Kasich running in second place, poised to get more delegates than Cruz. Isn't that an argument for the anti-Trump movement to keep Kasich in?

LOUIS: Kasich thinks it is. He said -- I interviewed him yesterday. He said, look, we're going to go to a contested convention in Cleveland and that's my strategy. So he's here trying to sort of keep hope alive, if you want to put it that way, pick up as many delegates as he can, make outreach and position himself in a way some of the other candidates we haven't talked about for a while, the Marco Rubios and so forth, who have, in his case, over 100 delegates that he has not released, Kasich is trying to make some inroads, make some connections, position himself as somebody who will be a plausible candidate --

(CROSSTALK)

MURRAY: They're trying to be a little sneaky in the delegate strategy so they can come into Ohio and maybe pull off a surprise, but you know, they have issues. The Kasich campaign can't point to you a state they're going to win between now and then. That means there will be a really negative narrative for them. They are also running on a shoestring budget, and at a certain point if you want to get to the convention, you have to at least be able to compete in these states and pick up delegates along the way. That means they have to be careful in how they manage their resources. And they have become a thorn in the side of Kellyanne Conway, which means her group is going to spend more money.

(CROSSTALK)

CONWAY: We thought John Kasich would be well in the 30s in New York by now because he's basically been living here. I do live here and I feel like he's been here more than me recently. I have been to Ohio more than he's been. The fact is even the night of the Wisconsin primary, he was already in New York campaigning. He really should be much stronger in New York. And I think, to Sara's point, on the weekends, he's not spending his weekends at these conventions either. So Cruz basically had Colorado to himself, Wyoming to himself, North Dakota to himself, going back and pulling out delegates in Virginia nine and other places. Look, the way you perform now in conventions on the weekend portends how you will perform at the convention in Cleveland.

[11:25:16] BORELI: All those states were wonderful that Ted Cruz was able to compete in. You're right to a large extent about what you said about John Kasich. But tomorrow will have the lion's share of votes, these 95 delegates in New York State, and then a week from tomorrow, we'll be competing for 172 delegates which nearly all may go to Donald Trump. At this point, in 10 days, I think the American public is going to have to start digesting the fact that Donald Trump will be the presumptive nominee.

BERMAN: David Chalian, our political director, brought up that point. Right now, we're at the slimmest delegate lead for Donald Trump for several weeks.

CONWAY: Less than 200.

(CROSSTALK)

BERMAN: However, by this time on Wednesday, it could be the largest delegate lead --

(CROSSTALK)

CONWAY: He should have it wrapped up by now.

BERMAN: It could be the largest delegate lead for Donald Trump. And one week from today, you have primaries in, Maryland, Delaware, Connecticut, other states, where I think the Trump campaign, Sara, thinks it will do well.

MURRAY: These are all states where the Trump campaign believes they will do well. They believe they will do well in West Virginia, which they feel is Trump country. The reality is the map is much more favorable for Donald Trump between here and June than it is for someone like Ted Cruz or even to John Kasich. But I don't think they've necessarily cared when they wrap it up, as long as they have it wrapped up by June 7th and they don't have to go to a second ballot. That is 100 percent of the Trump campaign --

(CROSSTALK)

BERMAN: Joseph, let me ask you this though. To Kellyanne's point, you could it wrapped up, you brought in Paul Manafort to fix the delegate situation and you still have to watch what happened in Wyoming, the mauling behind closed doors in Georgia, it doesn't change the number of delegates you have in the first ballot, but it hurts on a second and third ballot. Are you concerned that the campaign doesn't have its act together despite these changes when it comes to wrangling delegates?

BORELI: Here in New York, first of all, we made a 108-degree turn and we've gotten the endorsement of the majority of county chairs. States like Georgia, I don't know if this is a message Ted Cruz wants to be portraying out there, that he may not win with voters but he's going to win in back-door deals. 500,000 people came out in Georgia to vote for Donald Trump with the expectation that the people they elect as delegates would go there earnestly and honestly and support Donald Trump. When they don't get that, they have a right to be upset.

Why not just tell people, if you're Ted Cruz, don't even bother voting in this primary because --

(CROSSTALK)

CONWAY: I read the rules somewhere between last August and this April.

BORELI: I'm not saying anything Ted Cruz is doing is illegal. I'm saying it's not --

(CROSSTALK)

BORELI: -- what the American voters want to here. If you're in one of these next 20-odd states, you want to hear that their vote matters. They want it that way.

CONWAY: Look, Donald Trump won Missouri by 0.2 percent point. That's recount type of numbers. He got 70 percent of the delegates.

(CROSSTALK)

CONWAY: You don't see us all the harrumphing and whining that, oh, that's not fair, 0.2. Those are the rules. Those were the rules of the game.

BERMAN: We will see who is harrumphing Wednesday morning.

(LAUGHTER)

Kellyanne, Councilman, Sara, Errol, thanks so much for being with us. Really appreciate it. We have breaking news out of Iraq. More U.S. troops heading to that region as the defense secretary makes an unannounced stop in Baghdad.

New attacks from Bernie Sanders hitting Hillary Clinton on her ties to big money. Even George Clooney calling the amount of cash in politics obscene. And if George Clooney says it, man!

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