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AT THIS HOUR WITH BERMAN AND MICHAELA

High Stakes in Pennsylvania for GOP Candidates; Clinton Expected to Do Well in Maryland; Cruz/Kasich Alliance Against Trump Showing Strains; "Politico": Trump Resistance Advice to be "More Presidential." Aired 11-11:30a ET

Aired April 26, 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] KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: five states, you are now on the clock. Voters right now are at the polls in five states along the eastern seaboard, Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Rhode Island, and Pennsylvania with time running out in both nominating contests.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: For the Republicans, 172 delegates up for grabs. 172 key delegates all on the march to 1,237. As it stands now, Donald Trump is at 846 delegates. 391 away from the magic number he needs. Ted Cruz and John Kasich, they essentially can't get there at all before the convention.

BOLDUAN: And so for the Democrats, 384 delegates are at stake today. Hillary Clinton now has a 253 lead over Bernie Sanders in pledged delegates. If you add in the super delegates, that lead grows to a big 713.

BERMAN: Now, there is one twist today for the Republicans. The biggest prize, Pennsylvania, it will award 17 pledged delegates to the winner of the state, but there will be 54 unpledged delegates. They will be elected. They're essentially free agents, and they can change their minds up until the last possible minute.

BOLDUAN: So voter turnout is expected to be high. Add to that, high interest and the insanely high stakes. Too much? Maybe not. Both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, they are hoping for sweeps.

Let's begin with CNN national correspondent, Jason, Carroll who is at a polling station in Pittsburgh.

So, Jason, what's happening there?

JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, just outside of Pittsburgh, just a few miles out of it in Mount Lebanon, an affluent area. You can see right here, this is our polling station. A few folks trickling in.

Hi there, how is it going?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Fine. How are you?

CARROLL: Well, thank you.

As you know 71 delegates up for grabs here in the state of Pennsylvania. You heard John talking about this. 54 of those are unbound, which basically means they can vote for whomever they want. Donald Trump has done everything on his part, really upping his ground game. We all know what he thinks of the delegate system. He's called it crooked, corrupt, called the system rigged. In terms of the ground game in Pennsylvania, he's upped his game in terms of having more volunteers on the ground, making sure the delegates here are loyal to him.

Let's talk quickly about John Kasich. The hometown hero, if you will. He was born actually just about 15 minutes from where I'm standing in McKee's Rocks, but he's not getting that hometown bump that one might expect. He's trailing way behind Trump here in the polls.

Spoke to one voter out here who he said I'm going to come out here and support Kasich even though I don't think he can go all the way.

Donald Trump looking for a big just here in the state, looking for a sweep of all of the states up for grabs today, hoping that will give him the momentum he needs heading into Indiana -- John, Kate?

BERMAN: All right. Jason Carroll for us outside Pittsburgh. But enough with Pennsylvania.

Let's go to Maryland now. CNN's Brian Todd at a polling station in Baltimore.

Good morning, Brian. What are you seeing there?

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, John and Kate. Yeah, enough with Pennsylvania. Let's talk about Maryland. Hillary Clinton, on the Democratic side, expected to do well here. She has been ahead in the polls very handily throughout the process here.

Also doing well in this particular precinct. We're at Mt. Washington Lower School in north Baltimore. We've sampled almost 50 voters as they've come out. Hillary Clinton very, very strong in support, leading Bernie Sanders in the number of voters that we sampled here.

Hillary Clinton does have a stronghold here and in all five states that are voting today throughout the northeast, expected to do well.

Here in Maryland, I just talked to a person running for city council in Baltimore. She told me you have to win four places here in Maryland, Baltimore city, Baltimore County, Montgomery County and Prince George's County, those two counties near Washington, D.C. And Hillary Clinton is doing very well in those areas and expected to do well there. These are her strongholds. She is looking to seal the deal with the primaries in the northeast. She is expected to do very well here in Maryland, and there's been a very good turnout all morning long here on primary day as well as in early voting which took place between April 14th and April 21st -- John and Kate?

BOLDUAN: Brian Todd, thank you so much. Watching folks head to the polls all day today.

BERMAN: Yeah. So besides the voting, there's also some machinations behind the scenes as well. Two of the remaining Republican candidates making moves to stop Donald Trump from reaching the magic delegate number he needs to take the nomination. John Kasich and Ted Cruz, they have teamed up sort of trying to divide up some of the future states as these primaries move on.

BOLDUAN: What does John mean with the sort of? It appears that is this alliance is already showing signs of strain before it even seemed to have a chance to take shape.

Let's discuss this and what today means with Ron Nehring, national spokesman for the Ted Cruz campaign; and Craig Dunn, a Republican party chairman in Indiana, the great state of Indiana.

Great to see you Craig and Ron. Thank you so much for joining us.

So, Ron, first to you.

(CROSSTALK)

BOLDUAN: John Kasich yesterday, he was asked about this alliance and specifically asked what is your message to Indiana voters? What should they do, and he says I never said they shouldn't vote for me. They ought to vote for me. What does that mean for your deal?

[11:05:10] RON NEHRING, NATIONAL SPOKESMAN, TED CRUZ PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN: It's nothing unusual at all. The arrangement that we worked out with the Kasich campaign is a resource allocation strategy, and that is that we're going to concentrate our time, energy, and effort in Indiana. He's going to concentrate his effort in Oregon and New Mexico, and that's it. Nobody said we would ask anybody to vote for any other candidate and the like. So this is perfectly consistent with what's been worked out and what we already announced.

BERMAN: Remain calm, all going according to plan.

Ron, last week on this show, you called John Kasich insufferable. Is he still insufferable?

NEHRING: You know, John Kasich is going to concentrate on the states he's going to concentrate on. The next state up is Indiana. We have a clear --

(CROSSTALK)

BERMAN: My question --

(CROSSTALK)

NEHRING: Hold on, I'm answering your question.

John Kasich will not be campaigning in the state of Indiana, and that's good. That increases the likelihood that Senator Cruz will emerge from Indiana as the victor and that Donald Trump will be further behind where he needs to be in order to be the Republican nominee. John Kasich, I stand by my statements before. I don't think John Kasich will ultimately be the nominee but I won't get into unnecessary disparagement at this point given the fact we have to make sure Donald Trump is not the Republican nominee because if he is, Hillary Clinton is going to be in the White House and that's one thing that all Republicans can agree we don't want to see.

BOLDUAN: So John Kasich has become maybe sufferable.

BERMAN: Is that a word?

BOLDUAN: I made it a word.

NEHRING: I guess it depends what state you're in.

(LAUGHTER)

BOLDUAN: There you go, Ron.

Craig, what does this alliance mean for you? What does this mean? You are a supporter of John Kasich. You are in the great state of Indiana. What does this alliance mean for you?

CRAIG DUNN, INDIANA REPUBLICAN PARTY CHAIRMAN & JOHN KASICH SUPPORTER: Well, I have never been part of the stop Donald Trump movement. I have been from the very beginning part of the pro-John Kasich movement. He's from a neighboring state, Ohio. Has done an absolutely wonderful job in Ohio of eradicating their massive debt that they had, instituting a budget surplus, done it in a compassionate yet conservative manner, so I don't think it's about stopping Donald Trump. Now, right now, and it always has been, the strategy to get to 1,237. That's what this is about. It doesn't matter who won in Iowa or New Hampshire. It's all about getting to 1,237, and as Ben (sic) said, you have a limited amount of resources, money, manpower, and time, and John Kasich has just decided to use his resources in other states at this point in time.

BERMAN: Are you still voting for John Kasich in Indiana next week?

DUNN: I think I will, yes.

(CROSSTALK)

BERMAN: Are you going to tell your friends to vote for John Kasich?

DUNN: Well, you know, if you knew Indiana people well, you would know they don't take kindly to anybody telling them how to vote. I'm always real judicious with making endorsements. All I can really say is that this is what I'm going to be doing, but you don't tell Hoosiers how to do anything, how to vote or what actions they should take. We'll leave it up to them to make that decision.

BOLDUAN: So, Craig, as a Hoosier though, do you think it's a smart deal, a dumb deal, a too late deal? What do you think of the deal that they struck?

DUNN: Well, I don't want to second guess the deal. I will say that like a lot of other people in Indiana, we've always had this dream of having candidates prowl around our state the way they do in New Hampshire and proclaim to the world we have the best tenderloins in the world, and so from that standpoint it's a little disappointing that we're not going to have all three of the candidates going door to door and business to business here campaigning. But time will tell. We're in unchartered waters right now. I think this is totally unprecedented, and when you're in unchartered water, you don't know, it's like Christopher Columbus, you're going to fall off the edge of the world or discover new world and only time will dictate that.

BERMAN: Ron Nehring, before we fall off the edge of the world, if that's what's going to happen, there are elections in five states today, Republican primaries being held in five states today. How many delegates does the Cruz campaign expect to win today?

NEHRING: Oh, come on. You know we're not going to get into that type of prediction business. The voters will have their same soon enough and we'll know in a few hours how many delegates are won by each of the candidates. But remember we're at the top of the sixth inning still. A long ball game. Going to wind up in California at the end of the day. I was just reading a couple articles about the Trump campaign continuing to flail around in California announcing headquarters openings, canceling headquarters openings, canceling events, three events in a row that have been canceled in California. I don't know. It looks like the same type of drama that we see in management struggles at the Trump headquarters nationally continue to be reflected in some of the later states going on. I think it's going to be more interesting than some people in the media might be projecting right now.

BERMAN: So no predictions on today at all?

[11:10:08] NEHRING: No. Come on. We'll find out soon enough and then we move on to Indiana. We'll move on to Nebraska. We'll move on to West Virginia, Oregon, and Washington, and then wind up in California with the five states that vote on June 7th.

BOLDUAN: I do feel like I remember you guys making predictions in places like Wisconsin though, Ron. I'm just saying.

Ron, Craig, thank you so much.

(CROSSTALK)

BERMAN: Super Tuesday coverage will continue all day long and night right here on CNN.

BOLDUAN: So no matter the result is still mathematically and, again, we're not math geniuses, but we do know this, it is mathematically impossible to lock up the nomination for Republicans after tonight's results. So heading into a contested convention, the party may not have a presidential nominee, but what about a V.P.? We'll get the inside scoop on the V.P. track from the RNC.

BERMAN: And millionaires versus billionaires. Hillary Clinton blasts Donald Trump's lavish lifestyle. But is the battle for the 1 percent one she really wants to be fighting?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

[11:15:01] DONALD TRUMP, (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE & CEO, TRUMP ORGANIZATION: He cannot do it. You know, he's a joker. He cannot do it. So he said, let me form a partnership, which I call -- what do we call it? It's called collusion, folks.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BOLDUAN: Collusion, folks. Donald Trump thinking there's something a little beyond shady about the Ted Cruz/John Kasich deal.

But Donald Trump may have bigger problems with a deal of his own. "Politico" is reporting he's resisting his top adviser's attempts to make him more presidential.

BERMAN: It's like My Fair Trump and the professor is having trouble with Eliza Doolittle.

Let's talk about this with Sean Spicer, communications director and chief strategist for the Republican National Committee, joins us now.

SEAN SPICER, CHIEF STRATEGIST & COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR, REPUBLICAN NATIONAL COMMITTEE: I appreciate you having me. I like the purple, and I assume Prince.

BERMAN: Of course. Obviously, all week long.

BOLDUAN: Where is your purple?

BERMAN: Five states voting today, Sean. How much clarity will we get out of today?

SPICER: Well, once I know the outcome, I'll tell you. 172 delegates at stake. As Donald Trump pursues 1,237 bound delegates, it could continue to move him forward or we'll have an idea whether we're headed more towards an open convention.

BOLDUAN: When do you say you're guaranteed?

SPICER: June 7th, you have 303 delegates, 272 in California alone.

(CROSSTALK)

BOLDUAN: You don't say guaranteed until California?

SPICER: You can't.

BOLDUAN: What about Indiana.

SPICER: Once you hit that, you will know whether or not somebody has the bound delegates requisite to be the presumptive nominee or not.

BERMAN: Sean, you spend your time listening to voters, right, in trying to figure out what voters want. SPICER: Yeah.

BERMAN: We've been voting for three months now in these primaries so far. What have the Republican primary voters been saying?

SPICER: Well, I think there's a need for change. I think they're tired of Washington, D.C. I think they're frustrated. I think most Americans right now look at a government whether it's the Veterans Administration not providing services to those who have served, the IRS that can't tell you how much you owe or trying to make your life more complicated. Simple functions of government not working right, and not feeling as though anybody is their advocate.

BERMAN: Isn't the president's approval rating higher than it has been --

(CROSSTALK)

SPICER: That's not saying much. Being in the high 40s and low 50s isn't something to write home about.

BERMAN: Hasn't been that way for a long time though --

(CROSSTALK)

SPICER: But that's nothing -- look, I think on both sides you're seeing this with Bernie Sanders and you're seeing it on our side as well, I think the American people are tired of what they're seeing out of Washington. After eight years they're ready for a change. They're ready for someone to talk to them and tell them about the solutions this country needs to present a vision of where this country can go.

BOLDUAN: Do you know where a lot of those come up? Debates. Ted Cruz is calling for two more debates in the great state of Indiana. Would the RNC support that?

SPICER: If the three candidates that are remaining in the race want something, our position has always been and will continue to be if they want to debate and all three of them want to do it, we're in.

BOLDUAN: Are more debates better?

SPICER: I think that as long as there's discussion, the town halls have been great. I think they really pull a lot out of folks. CNN has done a really good job of sitting down with people, letting average Americans talk to these candidates back and forth. I think as long as there's a dialogue going on, that's a positive thing. Whether it's in the format of a debate or a town hall or a one-on-one interview, that's not for me to say, but I think we've heard a lot of candidates, what they have to say, what their positions are. To your point about today, think about where we've been historically. The idea that these states, Massachusetts and Rhode Island, are part of this process, something they haven't been in decades is really important. You will see all 50 states and six territories and the District of Columbia part of the Democratic process. That's a healthy upside. BERMAN: So goes Rhode Island, so goes the nation.

(CROSSTALK)

SPICER: That's not a good thing --

(CROSSTALK)

BERMAN: Let's talk about the vice president --

(CROSSTALK)

SPICER: By the way, just so you know, Gina Romundo (ph), the Democratic governor there, for all the talk, closed 67 percent of the polling places in Rhode Island. So all the talk about voting rights and voter suppression coming out of Hillary Clinton and the DNC, not once have they spoken out against Gina Romundo's (ph) decision to cancel 67 percent -- they like to talk on every Republican governor when they talk about early voting, but you have a huge massive disenfranchisement of voters by a Democratic governor and Hillary Clinton has been silence. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, silence.

BERMAN: We would like to talk to the governor. She would be a great guest on this show. We will pursue that.

Let's talk about the vice presidential selection process. Ted Cruz apparently now far along the way in the vice presidential process. He has a short list of possible contenders. If there is a contested convention, if there is no nominee headed into Cleveland, doesn't the Republican Party then and the convention itself need to take a role in selecting the vice president?

SPICER: It's a great question because as we head into Cleveland, this is going to be unchartered territory.

BOLDUAN: Right.

SPICER: And there's two strategies. One is a candidate could say if you select me, this is who I'd like the delegates to choose as my running mate. Or you could -- a candidate could leave that option vacant and say, hey, I'm going to use it as a bargaining chip going in or let the delegates ultimately decide, but this will be an exciting Cleveland convention no matter how you slice it.

[11:20:15] BERMAN: How do you schedule it?

BOLDUAN: Seriously.

SPICER: It's a work in progress. We have a great team in Cleveland. We're talking about the chairman.

BOLDUAN: Is there any way a V.P. nominee vote would happen before --

(CROSSTALK)

SPICER: It's possible but that's unlikely. You'd want the presidential nomination to occur first. But, again, all of these decisions get made by the delegates when they go to Cleveland. One of the things they do is set the schedule for how things are going to flow, and I think while it may make common sense, it's going to be up to them to make a recommendation to the delegates how those things proceed.

BOLDUAN: Do you want to comment on the Cruz/Kasich deal?

SPICER: No.

(LAUGHTER)

BERMAN: You have had a day to think about it.

SPICER: I have. I would say -- look, I've said this before. Every campaign will decide what's best for their candidate. Our job at the RNC is to be a fair arbitrator of the process. We continue to shed transparency, to inform people how it works. We've set up convention facts. The GOP that lays it out. We've launched five new videos that talk about the allocation and selection of the delegates in the five states that have primaries tonight. We're out there educating people, making sure they understand the process. I'll let the campaigns run the strategy that they see best for their campaign.

BOLDUAN: We need a lot of educating because the delegate rules not so easy. Not so easy, Sean Spicer.

SPICER: It's a states' rights party. That's how we roll.

BOLDUAN: Sean Spicer --

(CROSSTALK)

BOLDUAN: thanks very much.

SPICER: Thank you.

BOLDUAN: Gold, pure gold.

Thank you so much.

So today's results will change tomorrow's race. You're looking live at polling stations up and down the eastern seaboard. We're going to play one of our favorite games coming up. It's called, it's already tomorrow morning. What's happening now? Our panel gives their predictions, coming up next.

BERMAN: And the world's most fascinating marriage of convenience, but are Ted Cruz and John Kasich already engaged in a conscious uncoupling?

BOLDUAN: Marriage.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

STEPHEN COLBERT, HOST, THE COLBERT REPORT: Ted Cruz and John Kasich are teaming up, the dream team.

(APPLAUSE)

Except, except it's one of those dreams where no matter how fast you run, a Trump presidency keeps getting closer and closer.

(LAUGHTER)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[11:26:43] BERMAN: Confident front-runners, increasingly, shall we say, concerned opponents, and an unprecedented alliance that appears to be pretty fragile right now. This is the state of the presidential race as voters in five states head to the polls today.

BOLDUAN: Let's discuss. Let's talk about this with CNN political analyst, David Gregory; "New York Times" national political reporter, Alex Burns; and the executive editor of "CNN Politics," Mark Preston, everyone's favorite boss.

Great to see you, Mark Preston.

MARK PRESTON, CNN EXECUTIVE EDITOR, MARK PRESTON: Great to see you.

BOLDUAN: Alex, first to you.

We're going to play a game. This is one of our favorite games on voting games, it's called it's already tomorrow morning.

(LAUGHTER)

It is tomorrow morning Alex Burns. What is the surprise headline from "The New York Times"?

ALEX BURNS, NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER, THE NEW YORK TIMES: I think if there's any surprise I think it's possibly just the scale of Trump's victory. I think we're more are likely to see a New York-like scenario emerge. If he scores really big in some of the states that are not winner-take-all but winner-take-most like Connecticut and Maryland, he could really extend his delegate lead very substantial if Cruz and Kasich continue to split the anti-Trump vote down the middle. That's almost a catastrophe for them.

BERMAN: David Gregory, the other side. It's already tomorrow morning. Bernie Sanders wakes up feeling --

DAVID GREGORY, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Like he's got almost no path left. I mean, I think the more we move forward, the bigger her wins, even if she doesn't win everything today and tonight, the reality is that he just doesn't have the ground to make up. So he doesn't have time on the calendar even if he scores some later victories. The lead is too big so it becomes a different kind of management game which is how to bring him into the fold of the Democratic Party and try to consolidate that vote. Not that he'd be getting out anytime soon but I think it would be more difficult for him to make a momentum argument after tonight.

BOLDUAN: How does his messaging and the campaign's messaging then change after tonight? That will be interesting and key.

So this "Politico" article, Mark Preston, that says Donald Trump is not so happy with the management and the power that's been given to Paul Manafort as he's come in, with all of this going back and forth, who is in charge, who should be in charge, and what is Donald Trump happy with, Paul Manafort or Corey Lewandowski, who is running Donald Trump's campaign?

PRESTON: Donald Trump is running his campaign. Donald Trump has run his campaign. A couple things about the internal struggle we've been talking about, this happens in every campaign, OK? It's just been magnified because it's Donald Trump and the fact is that he's an undisciplined candidate that only does what he wants to do. Now, let's assume the story is right. We probably have seen it play out publicly because Donald Trump has been fairly disciplined given Donald Trump, certainly his history. However, we see him yesterday giving speeches where he lost any of that discipline that he had built up over the last couple weeks. I do think it's an internal struggle right now for Donald Trump, more so than an internal struggle in the campaign.

BERMAN: Both of you guys are picking up signs there may be a new- found organization on the ground. You're saying they may be wrangling some of the delegates in Pennsylvania.

[11:29:56] PRESTON: There's been a lot of talk there's 54 unpledged delegates meaning they could go for anybody. However, what I have been told is in the last six, seven days, that they've actually put in a ground game. Trump has actually engaged in it himself, talking to these folks himself.