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AT THIS HOUR WITH BERMAN AND MICHAELA

Ted Cruz Explains Cruz/Kasich Alliance; Context of Cruz/Kasich Alliance, Potential Impact; How Will Trump Counter Cruz/Kasich Deal. Aired 11-11:30a ET

Aired April 25, 2016 - 11:00   ET

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


[11:00:00] SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I invite Donald Trump to do a town hall before real Hoosiers. Let's have a debate, one-on-one debate in front of the people of Indiana, a town hall, and answer the questions. Donald is fond of telling everyone what a strong, tough man he is. Well, he could demonstrate his strength by not hiding in Trump Tower, by coming to Indiana and actually defending his positions. The reason he's been afraid to do so, so far, is he has no answer when he's asked, how do you bring jobs back to America. He has no answer when he's asked, how do you keep America safe from radical Islamic terrorism? This is a serious time. And the American people want and deserve a serious leader focused on jobs, freedom, and security. That's exactly what I will be and what I will do as president.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: How do you justify that, Senator, when you look at this, Donald Trump has hit you already on this both on Twitter and elsewhere.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: If you do win Indiana, what is to stop you from doing a bait and switch and competing in New Mexico?

CRUZ: We are all in on Indiana. We are competing in this great state. Indiana is a crossroads. It is a crossroads for the country. It is big news today that John Kasich has decided to pull out of Indiana, to give us a head-to-head contest with Donald Trump. That is good for the men and women of Indiana. It's good for the country to have a clear and direct choice. After discussions with the Kasich campaign, we made a decision about allocating resources. We decided to allocate our time and energy and resources on the state of Indiana. Governor Kasich decided to allocate his resources elsewhere. I think that made sense from both campaigns.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: What would you say --

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: The divide-and-conquer strategy, even if you're not a Trump supporter, nonetheless, kind of subverts the will of the people.

CRUZ: This is entirely about the will of the people. This is about winning the votes of the Hoosier state, giving Indiana the opportunity to choose, and we're at a fork in the road. We're at a fundamental fork in the road. If Donald Trump is the nominee, Hillary Clinton wins. Hillary beats Donald Trump by double digits. And if Hillary wins, and wins in a landslide, that not only costs us the presidency, we lose the Senate, we may lose the House, we lose the Supreme Court for a generation, we lose the Bill of Rights. It becomes put into real jeopardy. And I'll tell you here in the state of Indiana, Donald Trump at the top of the ticket losing in a landslide would cost Republicans seats all throughout the state of Indiana. We're not going to let that happen. The stakes are too high to allow our kids and grandkids to be buried in trillions more of debt, to continue down another four or eight more years of the failed Obama/Clinton economy, the stagnation that we've been facing. If Donald Trump is the nominee, Hillary Clinton wins, and Indiana's coal industry will be bankrupted. Tens of thousands of jobs will be lost in the state of Indiana if Donald Trump is the nominee because it guaranteed Hillary Clinton a win. If I'm the nominee, we beat Hillary Clinton.

(CROSSTALK)

CRUZ: We beat Hillary Clinton in key swing states. We beat Hillary Clinton among independents. We beat Hillary Clinton with young people.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Did you -- (INAUDIBLE QUESTION).

CRUZ: We had conversations, and both campaigns agreed to focus our energies. We're focusing our energy on the state of Indiana and governor Kasich is focusing his energies elsewhere. I think that is a decision, an allocation of resources, that makes a lot of sense, and it's devoted to the principle of beating Hillary Clinton in November and turning this country around.

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: (INAUDIBLE) -- a Hail Mary.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Some are seeing this as a sign of desperation from both of those camps, that they have beat Donald Trump together and you can imagine Donald Trump is going to use that today as he talks about what's being done.

CRUZ: Listen, I don't doubt that Donald Trump is going to scream and yell and curse and insult and probably cry and whine some as well. That has been Donald's pattern. Now, I recognize everyone got all excited because last week Donald won his home state, which I am amazed that's news anywhere. Of course, Donald won his home state. I can tell you in the five elections that preceded New York, over the course of three weeks, we won landslide elections in all five starting with Utah, North Dakota, Wisconsin, then Colorado, then Wyoming. We won five landslides in a row beating Donald Trump five times in a row and 1.3 million people voted in those five states. It was a massive turnout. We won landslides. And indeed, I earned more votes in the state of Wisconsin than Donald Trump did in New York. So, yes, I agree, there is desperation on the Trump side, and the reason Donald Trump is desperate is because it is now abundantly clear nobody is getting to 1,237.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Is it a Hail Mary? [11:04:57] CRUZ: It is abundantly clear that nobody is getting to

1,237. We are headed to a contested convention. And at a contested convention, Donald Trump is in real trouble. Why? Because he cannot earn the support of a majority of the delegates elected by the people. Donald has had consistently a hard ceiling of about 40 percent that he can't break. Donald has been a minority candidate, a fringe candidate. Now, he's benefited early in the race by having a multitude of opponents where the opposition to Donald was diffuse. But what we have seen happening over the last month is the Republican Party uniting behind our campaign. Indeed, of the 17 candidates who started this race, five have now endorsed our campaign, Rick Perry, Lindsey Graham, Jeb Bush, Scott Walker and Carly Fiorina. We are seeing the full spectrum of the Republican Party uniting.

And let me say something about the Hoosier state. There is a common sense sensibility about this great state. You've had leaders like Governor Mitch Daniels, like Governor Mike Pence, who roll up their sleeves and solve problems, who understand that when you cut taxes and lift regulations, the result is small businesses grow and jobs expand. We need a president in the spirit of Mitch Daniels and Mike Pence. That is exactly what this campaign is based on. My number-one priority as president is jobs and economic growth. If I'm elected president, we'll repeal every word of Obamacare. We will pass a simple flat tax and abolish the IRS. We will rein in the EPA and federal regulators, especially the EPA that is killing the coal industry, killing tens of thousands of job in the state of Indiana. And we will stop amnesty sanctuary cities.

(CROSSTALK)

CRUZ: And the affect of all of that is that we will see millions and millions of new high-paying jobs coming back to America. We will see wages rising again. We'll manufacturing jobs coming back to Indiana, coming back from China, coming back from Mexico. And we're going to see young people coming out of school having two, three, four, five job opportunities again. That's what this election is all about.

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Last question.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: To voters who have watched you run as an outsider, all these making this deal with John Kasich, how do you justify that as not collusion?

CRUZ: Listen, I have been from day one an outsider. And the proof is in the pudding.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: But now --

(CROSSTALK)

CRUZ: Let me answer your question, please. The proof is in the pudding. The voters can ask who has stood up and led the fight against the Washington cartel from day one. And I am the only candidate in this race that has taken on not just Democrats but leaders in my own party over and over and over again. When I ran for Senate, I promised the people of Texas I would lead the fight against Obamacare. That's what I did in the Senate, much to the annoyance of the Washington cartel. And as president, I will repeal every word of Obamacare. When I ran for Senate in Texas, I promised the voters I would lead the fight against amnesty. That's what I did in the Senate, leading the fight against the Gang of Eight amnesty bill. At the same time that Donald Trump was funding the Gang of Eight, giving over $50,000 to the proponents of amnesty, I was leading the fight, and we defeated amnesty in Congress. As president, I will stop amnesty, we'll secure the borders, we'll end sanctuary cities, and we'll end welfare benefits for those here illegally.

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: How is it not collusion? What do you say to those people though who say it's collusion, Senator? I just respectfully go at you with that again. Donald Trump is saying you are colluding and we expect to hear that from him again and again.

CRUZ: I understand that Donald will whine. That's what he does. Donald is a sore loser. When he lost five states in a row in landslide elections, Donald threw a tantrum. And his response is to attack the voters. His response is to attack the people. Yes, I get that the Trump campaign is scared. They're scared of Indiana. If Donald wasn't scared, he'd show up in Indiana and have a debate, but he would much rather hide in Trump Tower. He would much rather stay in northeastern states that tend to be more liberal, than actually come to the heartland and come to the heartland and defend his policies. In the past week, Donald Trump came out and agreed with Hillary Clinton on raising taxes. In the past week, Donald Trump came out and agreed with Hillary Clinton that adult grown men should be able to go into little girls' restrooms.

[11:09:31] And in the past week, Donald Trump's campaign manager, who is a long-time Washington lobbyist -- and this is important for people to understand. The entire Trump campaign is run by Washington lobbyists. It is the Washington cartel. Donald is the system. It is the lobbyists who are running his campaign. His lobbyist campaign manager went and talked to the top brass of the RNC and said, Donald is just putting on an act. This is a role he's playing. He's just on stage. He's just pretending. He doesn't mean what he said. At first, the Trump camp denied that. That's their standard, is to deny everything. Unfortunately for them, it was actually caught on tape, so we have the tape of Donald Trump's lobbyist campaign manager saying this is all an act, this is all a fake, and he's a phony. Almost the expect same thing Donald Trump told "The New York Times" back in January when he sat down with a "New York Times" editorial board. Trump told them he doesn't believe what he's saying on immigration, he's not going to build a wall, not going to deport anyone. Once again "The New York Times" has a tape. The Trump campaign denies he said that, but it won't let the "Times" release the tape. If he didn't say he's not going to build a wall, he's not going to deport anyone, and he's simply faking it on immigration, Donald should release the tape, and his supporters should demand he release the tape and prove his innocence. Donald won't do that for the same reason he won't show up at a debate, because this is a fraud that the lobbyists in Washington are attempting to perpetuate on the American people. This is a fraud.

The stakes are too high for us to get fooled again. And we're all used to politicians who betray us after they get elected. Donald is betraying us before he gets elected, and he's telling us he's lying to us. And so we are fighting to beat Donald Trump for the nomination. We are going to beat Donald Trump for the nomination. No one is getting to 1,237. We're headed to a contested convention, and at that convention, the nominee will be decided by whoever can earn the support of a majority of the delegates elected by the people. And I believe the only candidate who will be able to do that is me. And when we earn the support of a majority of the delegates, we're going to go forward and beat Hillary Clinton in November. Donald cannot beat Hillary Clinton in November. Nominating Donald would be a disaster for Republicans, for conservatives, and for the country. And, yes, I understand that the Trump campaign is --

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Listening right there to Ted Cruz in Borden, Indiana, explaining this extraordinary alliance that was announced overnight between the Ted Cruz and John Kasich campaigns. Basically, it's like our favorite movie "Ghost Busters." Dogs and cats living together, mass hysteria, their attempt to stop Donald Trump.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: You said explaining. You could say he was defending. He was facing very tough questions there from the press corps in Indiana, the traveling press, but also the little Indiana press. And it is the people of Indiana who will ultimately have to decide just how good of a deal this is, not for the candidates, but for them.

Here to explain exactly what deal is and the potential impact on the campaign, CNN politics executive editor, Mark Preston.

Mark, who gets what here?

MARK PRESTON, CNN POLITICS EXECUTIVE EDITOR: If all works out well for Ted Cruz, he would take Indiana or certainly able to take a bulk of the delegates in Indiana. Right now, 57 delegates on the table. And the way that that works is that whoever wins the statewide vote gets 27 of them immediately, puts them in their pocket. The remaining 27 are divided up on whoever wins each congressional district. This is very concerning right now to Ted Cruz because Donald Trump has a big lead over Ted Cruz with John Kasich in the race in Indiana. Now, John Kasich, what does he get in return? By pulling out of Indiana, although he just gave a news conference --

(CROSSTALK)

BERMAN: We'll talk about that in a second.

PRESTON: -- about 20 minutes ago -- I don't know it. He's out. He is going to put all his chips in on the states of Oregon and New Mexico. 52 delegates on the table right there. So they're throwing everything and the kitchen sink at Donald Trump.

BOLDUAN: But what is in the kitchen sink? It seems the waters have been muddied. The plan, as it was revealed overnight, it seemed clear, John Kasich pulls out of Indiana, Ted Cruz doesn't campaign in New Mexico and Oregon. John Kasich spoke to reporters and it sounded like he said not so much. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. JOHN KASICH (R-OH), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I don't see this as any big deal, other than the fact that I'm not going to spend resources in Indiana. He's not going to spend them in other places. So what? What's the big deal? I never told them not to vote for me. They ought to vote for me. But I'm not over there campaigning and spending resources. We have limited resources. You know, you ought to feel good about it. Mine is like the people's campaign.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BOLDUAN: That's directly to a question of, what do you say to your supporters in Indiana? He says, I never said they shouldn't vote for me.

BERMAN: They ought to vote for me.

PRESTON: Right. This is what's confusing about it for both Cruz and Kasich, as we just saw Ted Cruz just moments ago talking about it as well. They're not really selling this message very strongly. After tomorrow night, which holds five contests, there are only 10 remaining contests left on the table. Four of those contests are winner-take- all. They're very concerned Donald Trump right now, who has 846 delegates in his pocket at this point, only needs 400 more to get there. Now, that is about 58 percent of the remaining delegates to get there. However, if Donald Trump runs the tables tomorrow night and does very well, that would be quite a boost going into Indiana. If he picked up Indiana, then Donald Trump has a very good shot at 1,237.

BERMAN: Obviously, the concern.

(CROSSTALK)

[11:15:11] BOLDUAN: But John Kasich not concerned enough to say vote for Cruz in Indiana. We'll wait and see if that changes.

Mark Preston, thanks so much for being with us.

BOLDUAN: Let's talk more about this with RNC's chief strategist and communications director, Sean Spicer. He's joining us.

Sean, an extraordinary day. A day -- one of the few days I have been able to quote "Ghost Busters" on television. That's how extraordinary it really is.

You have been a student of politics for a very long time. Have you ever seen anything like this announced so publicly?

SEAN SPICER, CHIEF STRATEGIST & COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR, REPUBLICAN NATIONAL COMMITTEE: Not in recent memory, no. And as Mark Preston noted just a minute ago, we're down to 15 remaining states, five going tomorrow.

But what's really interesting about that, in my mind at least, is when you look back on the last several cycles, Mitt Romney was the presumptive nominee on April 24th, four years ago, John McCain in March of 2008. We're actually seeing states and voters that have probably never participated for real in the primary system having a real impact in who our nominee is going to be, and that's a really positive thing when you think about the number of people in states that are participating in this process.

BERMAN: Sean Spicer, you just admitted on national TV that you have the never seen anything like this before, not in recent memory. Donald Trump calls it an act of collusion. He says it's a horrible act of desperation. Your reaction to his comments?

SPICER: Well, as you guys know, this isn't the first time I have said this before, but the RNC's job is to be sort of the fair arbiter of this process to make sure all the candidates have a process by which to play by as we head into Cleveland. I'm not going to comment on the strategy that each campaign employs for what's best for their candidate. That's up to them to decide.

BOLDUAN: Sean, but what Donald Trump says is just that, it's not fair. This needs arbitration. This isn't fair. This is collusion.

(LAUGHTER)

SPICER: No, I think this is two campaigns trying to make a decision for what's in the best interest of their candidate. Mr. Trump is obviously going to decide he best for his, where he goes, how he spends his resources and time, but that's what each candidate is supposed to do. If Donald Trump gets to 1,237 bound delegates before we head to Cleveland, he'll be our presumptive nominee. If not, we'll head to an open convention and the case will be made to the delegates.

BERMAN: Sean, you guys have worked really hard, particularly the last two weeks, to make this process transparent, to tell people, look, this is fair. Are you concerned at all with the impression that this leaves? This feels like a game of Monopoly. You get Indiana and Marvin Gardens. I get the railroads and Oregon.

SPICER: We have been very fair about this. We launched conventionfacts.GOP. But at the end of the day -- you just talked about it -- it's up to the voters to decide. They can heed the advice of the candidate they support or they can stick with them, but it's ultimately up to these voters and grassroots activists from around these states, whether they're going to heed the advice from the different candidates they support. They may still go out and vote for the candidate they're supporting. They may heed their advice and vote for one of the others. They may not vote for either. But, again, what each of the candidates has to do is go out and make that case to the voters in each of these remaining 15 states and hope that that case is something that the voter will listen to and act on.

BOLDUAN: Sean, what do you think of when they make this deal, this extraordinary deal, and then you've got John Kasich saying today, I never told the voters in Indiana not to vote for me. They ought to vote for me. What do you think that message is?

SPICER: I don't know. As I said, I'm not going to get in the middle of them -- what the particular strategies of their campaign is. I have enough on my plate to deal with. Never mind analyzing particular strategies or non strategies.

(LAUGHTER)

(CROSSTALK)

BERMAN: You have more on your plate as of today with this, Sean Spicer.

Listen, Sean, thank you very much. We'll check in with you over the next few days. A lot of states vote tomorrow and then on to Indiana.

SPICER: Thank you.

BOLDUAN: Thank you, Sean.

Speechless.

BERMAN: Yeah, left him speechless.

BOLDUAN: Success on a Monday.

All right, remember this, everybody, five states holding primaries tomorrow. Working title, Super Tuesday, part 75. I don't know. You can come up with one probably better than me. CNN will have special coverage starting at 4:00 p.m. eastern, but don't worry, we're on at 11:00. It really starts here.

BERMAN: Donald Trumps calls the latest move by Cruz and Kasich, a horrible act of desperation but what is he going to do about it other than some strongly worded tweets? We will ask one of his senior advisers.

BOLDUAN: And new details are also coming out surrounding the death of Prince, and about the days just before he was rushed to the hospital after his plane made an emergency landing for an unresponsive person on board. That's also ahead.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

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(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[11:23:35] BOLDUAN: So Donald Trump does not seem to have woke up happy today. Ted Cruz and John Kasich are now friends, sort of. So how did we get here overnight? The surprise divide-and-conquer agreement between Ted Cruz and John Kasich has the potential of reshaping this entire race. Trump calls it desperate and collusion. Cruz and Kasich might see it more though as survival. BERMAN: A pretty big shift in the tone between the two candidates who

have taken some serious shots at each other over the last several weeks.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CRUZ: At this point, Kasich's role is essentially as a spoiler. A vote or John Kasich is a vote for Donald Trump.

KASICH: A vote for Cruz or Trump, frankly, is a vote for Hillary Clinton.

CRUZ: As we stand here today, there are two people and only two people that have any plausible path whatsoever to winning the Republican nomination, me and Donald Trump. As I said, plausible path.

KASICH: Ted, Senator Ted, the smear artist, you know, they're attacking me.

CRUZ: John Kasich has no path whatsoever to the nomination.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: Well, now the spoiler has a deal with the smear artist. The smear artist has a deal with the spoiler. As Kate said, dogs and cats living together.

Let's talk more about it, senior adviser to Donald Trump's presidential campaign, Barry Bennett is with us; and Ted Cruz surrogate and chairman of the conservative advocacy group, ForAmerica, Brent Bozell.

Barry, we have not yet heard from the Trump campaign on this deal. Your reaction?

BARRY BENNETT, SENIOR ADVISOR, DONALD TRUMP PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN: I thought we'd seen it all, but apparently we haven't yet. I'm going with smoilers. That's what I like.

BOLDUAN: Smoilers?

BENNETT: Yeah.

BOLDUAN: That does not have such a ring to it though, Barry.

[11:25:12] BERMAN: Barry, Donald Trump says this deal, it's a horrible act of desperation. Is that how you see it, Barry?

BENNETT: Yeah, it is a desperate act. Last week they both said, both of them in their own words, said that Donald Trump had no chance of getting to 1,237. And then obviously they believe he does. Because he does. Five states vote tomorrow. Ted Cruz is going to finish last in all five, maybe not one of them, but at least four of the five. And then we go to Indiana where we're up -- in fact, I think we're up in every state remaining. So, you know, I think this is a desperate attempt. Kasich is running out of money. That's really the root of all this. He can't afford to keep his offices open in Indiana. He's going to go to New Mexico and Oregon, which are proportional states, which makes absolutely no sense. Bad strategy, bad theater, stupid deal.

BOLDUAN: Stupid deal, desperate.

Brent, what say you?

BRENT BOZELL, CHAIRMAN, FORAMERICA & TED CRUZ PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN SURROGATE: Well, let's start here, the idea that Kasich and Cruz, who have criticized each other, now coming together is some kind of novelty. Look, what did Donald Trump do to Ben Carson? He ripped the hide off of him. What did he do to Chris Christie? He insulted him at every opportunity. Christie and Carson are now supporting him. That's called politics.

But here is the reality. Yes, they're joining forces in these three states. It's a smart move to make, and what they're also saying to the Republican Party and saying to America is Donald Trump simply cannot win the presidency. He cannot beat Hillary Clinton. With the 65 percent disapproval rating, where he's shown his strength is in northeastern states like New York, and she's going to take all those states, what they're saying you better look at us because, if not, you're going to sit in on the inauguration of Hillary Clinton next January.

BERMAN: Barry -- Brent, you make a fair point about politics.

BOLDUAN: It is, yeah.

BERMAN: Ben Carson is now supporting Donald Trump and they said nasty things about each other before that. However, you know, couldn't you also say that Ted Cruz is now effectively saying I can't win Indiana without John Kasich getting out? I mean, he's been saying that John Kasich, you know, was the standing between himself and the presidency. Now he says he needs John Kasich's machinations to beat Donald Trump at the convention.

BOZELL: I think that Ted Cruz has been saying since this whittled down to a three-man race that he hoped John Kasich would get out because he going one-on-one can beat Donald Trump. And in the Indiana situation, that's exactly what he's saying.

BOLDUAN: Barry?

BENNETT: Oh, my.

BOLDUAN: Barry, does this also mean -- you already kind of said that you're ahead, you're ahead, you're ahead, but if they really work together, if Kasich voters go to -- supporters go to Cruz, you have problems in Indiana, man.

BENNETT: But this is just it. This is something Washington doesn't understand about politics. Nobody's supporters 100 percent go to anybody, and to assume -- Take California, where we're 27 points ahead, Ted Cruz is not going to get 100 percent of John Kasich's supporters. That's lunacy. It's just not going to happen. It never happens. They just don't -- this is really pathetic. They both understand they're not going to go to the convention with enough delegates to win and now they're trying everything they can to stop somebody else. It's just crazy.

BERMAN: Brent, is --

(CROSSTALK)

BOZELL: But, Barry, can I ask a question? Barry, would you be willing to concede and maybe even crazy enough to apologize for once more Donald Trump lying through his teeth by saying that this is collusion when the definition of collusion is that it's a secret deal and this could not be more public. Would you be willing to concede your guy has lied once again?

BENNETT: Will he release a transcript of what happened last night? Will you release a transcript --

(CROSSTALK)

(LAUGHTER)

BENNETT: Would you? Come on, it's a secret deal. It's not a secret deal. It's public. You guys won't release this transcript, what went on, what were the negotiations, what donors were involved, were there any super PAC donors involved in the deal?

BERMAN: Go ahead, Brent.

BOZELL: Then so long as the Donald "New York Times" editorial --

(CROSSTALK)

BENNETT: We don't have it to release. You know that.

BOZELL: -- where he said to them, don't believe anything I'm saying to these conservatives right now. I think both sides would be very, very -- it would be very interesting if both sides agreed to release those transcripts.

(CROSSTALK)

BERMAN: All right, guys, I think we're not getting any transcripts. Let's leave the transcripts discussion there.

But, Brent, I want to ask you this. Is Governor Kasich doing this deal the right way now? Because we just heard him on TV a few minutes ago. He was asked would he tell his --

(CROSSTALK)

BOLDUAN: What would you tell voters in Indiana? He said, I never said they shouldn't vote for me. They ought to vote for me.

BOZELL: Honestly, I don't know the answer to that. You're going to have to ask him. I honestly can't answer that question.