Return to Transcripts main page


Trump Foreign Policy; Cruz Big Announcement; Linda McMahon on Trump. Aired 2-2:30p ET

Aired April 27, 2016 - 14:00   ET



[14:00:26] ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: Breaking news here. You're watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin. Thank you so much for being with me here.

A lot to get through on this Wednesday afternoon, one day after establishing his biggest lead yet in the race for the presidency, Donald Trump decries current U.S. foreign policy. It was a speech that was long on criticism, but short on detail. And Donald Trump gave it using a teleprompter, using those prepared remarks. Many are seeing this as Trump's opening move to win over a wider audience and the Republican elite.


DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It's time to shake the rust off America's foreign policy. It's time to invite new voices and new visions into the fold. Something we have to do. America first will be the major and overriding theme of my administration. Foreign policy is a complete and total disaster. No vision, no purpose, no direction, no strategy.

Our allies are not paying their fair share. And I've been talking about this recently a lot. Our allies must contribute toward their financial, political and human costs, have to do it, of our tremendous security burden. But many of them are simply not doing so. They look at the United States as weak and forgiving and feel no obligation to honor their agreements with us. In NATO, for instance, only four of 28 other member countries, besides America, are spending the minimum required 2 percent of GDP on defense.

We've had a president who dislikes our friends and bows to our enemies. Something that we've never seen before in the history of our country. He negotiated a disastrous deal with Iran. And then we watched them ignore its terms even before the ink was dry.

Israel, our great friend, and the one true democracy in the Middle East, has been snubbed and criticized by an administration that lacks moral clarity.

We've made the Middle East more unstable and chaotic than ever before. We left Christians subject to intense persecution and even genocide. We have done nothing to help the Christians. Nothing. And we should always be ashamed for that. For that lack of action.

We're a humanitarian nation. But the legacy of the Obama/Clinton interventions will be weakness, confusion and disarray. A mess.


BALDWIN: A lot to go through. Let me bring in CNN military analyst, retired Army General Mark Hertling, international diplomatic editor Nic Robertson, and our chief national security correspondent Jim Sciutto, who happens to be with me here today in New York.

So, Mr. Sciutto, let me just turn to you. What a difference a teleprompter makes, you know, in sort of watching that and clearly thoughts laid out ahead of time, well thought out, but overall what did you think?

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think a couple things. First, he's clearly focused on the general election because he's staking out a position and criticizing the Obama foreign policy, which he's, in effect, equating with the Hillary Clinton foreign policy. So he's looking to November right now. He's assume that he's the Republican candidate.

But he's also brought up as his platform a lot of statements and positions that he's road tested on the campaign trail that have been some of his applause lines -

BALDWIN: Such as?

SCIUTTO: Like, you heard him there, our allies don't pay. We're - our friends -

BALDWIN: They don't respect us.

SCIUTTO: They don't respect us. They're not paying their fair share, for instance, in NATO. That our friends don't trust us. We're not rock solid enough with Israel. That no one respects us, in effect. There was also some criticism there of the Obama administration standing by as North Korea makes progress with nuclear weapons, et cetera.

What's interesting about those positions is that, yes, they're delivered with the Trump brashness, but many of these positions are not out there, foreign policy positions, they are mainstream, or at least they - these are criticisms you've heard from some certainly in the Republican Party, but even in the Democratic Party, they're not outlandish, many of them, despite the way they may be delivered.

BALDWIN: On that, and, general, I want to - on Jim's point, you know, where he was talking about the respect bid, which I can imagine would resonate with a lot of folks, red meat for follows and potential followers, when he was talking about, you know, when President Obama landed in Cuba, no one came to greet him. When he was in Saudi Arabia, no one came to greet him. He told (ph) the Copenhagen Olympic story, you know, embarrassing, he referred to it as. And then again bringing up the military. The military over and again, saying it's depleted and we're focused on climate change. I mean, to a degree, does Mr. Trump have a point?

[14:05:15] GEN. MARK HERTLING, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Well, there were certainly a lot of interesting points in the speech, Brooke, but delivered with a lot of hyperbole. You know truthfully I said to myself before the speech, you're a former soldier, be professional, take some notes, discern what he's trying to say before you comment. And what I found was just this rambling, somewhat incoherent approach to history that wasn't often true and policy which was confused. Through -

BALDWIN: Give me examples.

HERTLING: I picked up zero policy or strategy pieces in this - in this speech. The only thing I picked up was just some of the same things Mr. Trump has said in the past. I can give you many examples. The, you know, if you're not going to pay - you know, allies, if you're not going to pay for what we do for you, you're out. I was thinking to myself, of all my friends in Estonia, who are members of NATO, who are desperately trying to make the 2 percent GDP cap and they can't do it, and yet they're threatened by the - by the Russians right now. The fact that he's saying, hey, if you're our enemies, you're going to have to respect us. How do you do that? I mean this is a very interesting approach.

And the very fact that he says, our resources are overstretched and I'm going to make the military great. The military's pretty damn good right now, Brooke. And, yes, they have some problems. We have gone low in terms of our personal manning and we've had to make some tough choices on the re-stat of either personal, equipment or training. And the president and the Joint Chiefs are trying their best to do that with a Congress that is not providing the right sort of funding. But to just say all of this is going to change without providing any details other than, trust me, I'll make it happen, doesn't wash with me as a guy that has to actually execute policy.

BALDWIN: I was just in touch - you know, I was in the Persian Gulf a couple of weeks ago and my U.S. Navy sailor friends were watching along as well and they said the same, he hit on certain buzz words but lacking in specifics.

Nic Robertson -

HERTLING: Yes, it -

BALDWIN: Go ahead. Go ahead.

HERTLING: No, I was just going to say, the - not only did I think about my friends in Estonia, but I also thought of all my friends who are currently in either the national or the Army or the Navy war colleges right now trying to discern what the next potential president might ask them to do. And, truthfully, Brooke, I'd put down my pen after his list of five because it was just hard to keep up.

BALDWIN: Nic, critics will say, as we've been hearing, still no details. One thing he did say that will certainly get attention of supporters, he said it several times, I want to play this sound bite, "radical Islam." Roll it.


DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We need a long-term plan to halt the spread and reach of radical Islam. Containing the spread of radical Islam must be a major foreign policy goal of the United States and indeed the world. Events may require the use of military force. But it's also a philosophical struggle. In this we're going to be working very closely with our allies in the Muslim world, all of which are at risk from radical Islamic violence, attacks and everything else.


BALDWIN: Nic, radical Islam. What did you think?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: We keep hearing from world leaders that tackling radical Islam is going to be a generational issue. And when he was speaking there, Donald Trump echoed the same thing. But he also said, under me, ISIS will be gone very, very quickly. That seemed to be an inconsistency. He talked about working with Muslim allies in the world. This is a man whose speeches about Muslims and banning them from coming to the United States has caused the prime minister of Britain to call it divisive, stupid and wrong. Never mind what the potential Muslim allies might think about this.

However, there are things that Donald Trump said that would be (INAUDIBLE) for potential gulf allies like Saudi Arabia, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, when he talked about Iran's growing influence in the - in the region, how it's growing its influence in Iraq and other places. So, you know, potentially, (INAUDIBLE) work with those Muslin allies. But, again, it was a very mixed message on the nature of the fight against radical Islam, re: ISIS. On the one hand, it's going to take a long time. On the other hand, no, we're going to do it very, very quickly, Brooke.

BALDWIN: Nick, let me throw two tweets on the screen just to show the two different ways this is already going politically. And, Jim Sciutto, this is for you. So, first up, Senator Graham. "Question number one for Trump, are we sure the guy running the teleprompter has the pages in the right order? #notmakinganysense." On the flip side, you have Ari Fleischer's tweet, which is, "Trump is helping himself a lot with this speech. It will resonate well with a lot of traditional peace through strength Republicans." The response has begun in both directions.

[14:10:05] SCIUTTO: Well, listen, I mean, it is true that some of these positions, while not backed up with specifics, are positions that other Republicans and other foreign policy thinkers hold, right?

BALDWIN: Stand by.

SCIUTTO: So, you know, of course you have to deliver them and loads of politicians make promises they can't keep. So, I mean, that is true. So then the question is, and this goes to Lindsey Graham, who's, of course, a fellow Republican, right, saying, does he have the experience to back this up? I mean in classic Lindsey graham style, poking him at the teleprompter.

But that's also a substantive question from people again on both sides of the aisle, not just democrats, but Republicans saying he doesn't know this stuff and a lot of his positions are contradictory. But (INAUDIBLE) so in effect you're seeing there. And, keep in mind, Fleisher and Graham, both Republicans, right? So two very different views of this candidate.

BALDWIN: Right, Jim Sciutto, thank you very much. General Hertling, as always, appreciate it. Nic Robertson, thank you.

Let move along because we have some big breaking news in the world of politics right now.

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

BALDWIN: Let me bring in CNN's senior political reporter, Nia-Malika Henderson and CNN's political director David Chalian.

David Chalian, we know Senator Ted Cruz has a big announcement less than two hours from now. What do you know?

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Our John Berman and Sunlen Serfaty both have spoken to sources familiar with Senator Cruz's plans for this afternoon for that 4:00 p.m. Eastern Hour announcement where he will announce, according to their sources, that Carly Fiorina will be his pick for his vice presidential running mate.

Now, you may ask, Brooke, wait a second, I don't recall Ted Cruz getting the nomination just yet to actually pick a vice presidential running mate.

BALDWIN: Why now?

CHALIAN: That is true. But obviously, after suffering bruising losses last night, he came in third place in four of the five primaries last night, he's trying to turn the momentum back his way a bit. He's trying to steal the spotlight from Donald Trump. I think this announcement is less about who he's choosing and much more about the fact that he is naming a VP candidate because he's trying to do the things that a nominee does. He is trying to take control of this race again in some way, build momentum towards Indiana and act in the minds of delegates, in the minds of Republican convention delegates, that he is still very much a viable contender for this nomination. He is not willing to seed that Donald Trump's victories last night has got this thing all sewn up.

BALDWIN: So, Nia, do you think this will work for him?

NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER: You know, it certainly, I think, moves some attention to Ted Cruz after that drubbing last night, after the drubbing not only last night but before that all across the south. So here he is really pulling a Ronald Reagan move. This is what Ronald Reagan did in 1976 going into that contested convention against Gerald Ford.

BALDWIN: But that was just before the convention, was it not, in '76?

HENDERSON: It was. You're right. You're right. It was. You're right. (INAUDIBLE).

BALDWIN: OK. Let's just be fair.

HENDERSON: But I - but I will say, I do think it's significant that it's Carly Fiorina. That it's someone who has a business career. I think that business career is, obviously, going to be up for scrutiny, as it has been so far as it was in her Senate race over in California.

But, again, remember what we were talking about and what we've been talking about today and last night, this whole idea of the gender card in the deficit of that Donald Trump, for instance, has among women voters if you look at the general election.

So here you have Ted Cruz saying, here, I'm picking someone who's a woman, who has a business background as well, just like Donald Trump and can talk about the economy, and also went toe-to-toe with Donald Trump in those debates. She was probably the best debater in those debates that didn't do her much good in that contest, but it certainly bought her some goodwill among Republicans. A lot of folks I talked to in some of these early states very much were drawn to Fiorina, thought she should have done better overall.

So I think it is significant. Any time you're sort of breaking from precedent and the precedent for centuries in this country has been that the running mate is a man, is the same sex as the top of the ticket, which has typically been a man, I do think it's significant and notable think that he's doing.

BALDWIN: Sure. Sure. And, trust me, we're having an entire conversation built around the women - the woman card -


BALDWIN: Coming up in just a couple of minutes. But let's just go back to January when Carly Fiorina had this to say about Senator Cruz, David Chalian.


CARLY FIORINA (R), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Ted Cruz is just like any other politician, he says one thing in Manhattan, he says another thing in Iowa, he says whatever he needs to stay to get elected and then he's going to do as he pleases. I think the American people are tired of the political class that promises much and delivers much of the same.


BALDWIN: I have - I'm also being told dana Bash is joining us in this conversation as well. So, Dana Bash, we just played that sound, Carly Fiorina highly

critical of Ted Cruz just mere months ago. Do we just have short memories in politics?

[14:15:01] DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Of course we do. And, actually, that was during an interview on "State of the Union," which I was conducting. I was filling in for Jake Tapper that day. And I remember her being incredibly critical. And it really did stick with me, particularly later when she not only dropped out but then endorsed Ted Cruz.

I just want to add to the conversation that you've been having about kind of the why now and why her?

BALDWIN: Please.

BASH: Two things. One is the why now. And forgive me if I'm repeating some of what my very esteemed colleagues probably said (INAUDIBLE) I didn't hear all of it. But the fact of the matter is, what are we talking about right now? We're talking about Ted Cruz. We're not talking about Donald Trump's foreign policy speech. I'm not saying we won't continue to talk about it (INAUDIBLE) -

BALDWIN: Well, we just did for the last (INAUDIBLE).

BASH: No, no, exactly. No, no, absolutely. I was - I was not - the point I was trying to make was, he got himself into the news cycle street.


BASH: And he's part of the conversation, he's part of the narrative right now. And that's a big deal given the drubbing that Ted Cruz took last night in all of the states that he expected to do poorly in, but maybe not as poorly as he did. And he needs a very, very decisive win in Indiana on Tuesday. So he needs to continue to be a part of the narrative and not just completely be buried by a very big and important speech that Donald Trump just gave.

But then the other question, of course, is, why her? And, you know, she has - I've been on the campaign trail with him quite frequently in that - she's there with him. I mean she doesn't necessarily, you know, have a big public presence, but she's there shaking hands, she is there - she was there a lot of the time in Wisconsin, to kind of just, you know, be with him and be kind of a - an added presence, somebody who shows not just that, you know, he can attract a business person, somebody who was a former rival and so forth, but somebody who is a female presence. I mean, let's face it.

So the fact that - the fact that he's choosing her, I actually was surprised because they have spent so much time together in that, you know, thinking, well, if he wants to have more bang for his buck, maybe he wants to bring someone else in. But, you know, maybe we're clearly thinking too much into this, Brooke. And the fact of the matter is, he's comfortable with her. And he does think if things were to change, and it's entirely possible, and if he were to be able to secure the nomination at the convention, then he believes that she would be a legitimate vice president and presidential candidate.

BALDWIN: I have more for all of you just following up, but I know we have Sunlen Serfaty, who has now dialed in. She's on the phone. She's with the Cruz camp.

And, Sunlen, just tell me, do you have any kind of tick tock? I mean what will this roll-out look like when Senator Cruz makes this announcement at 4:00 Eastern?

SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (via telephone): Well, Brooke, very little details about this sort of formal program that they are putting together in Indianapolis. But we were, you know, starting to hear rumors of a big announcement, a major announcement as early as last night and then, of course, got confirmation a few moments ago that Senator Cruz at 4:00 p.m. today here in Indianapolis will choose Carly Fiorina to be his running mate. You know, echoing what other people have said, Fiorina has been one of the most visible surrogates. She originally endorsed him the days leading into the Florida primary in March. And since that time, she has really put in the work. She has been one of his highest profile surrogates, going all around this country with him.

And I was particularly struck just a few weeks ago. It was the night of the New York primary where Senator Cruz was in Pennsylvania, in Philadelphia, and she was - he - he was holding an a-typical campaign event near Independence Hall. And it was Carly Fiorina who had the only speaking spot from the podium introducing him that night. It seemed like that was almost a formal audition. And a few people came up (INAUDIBLE) of that speech and said, you know, she gave a much better speech than the senator did. So I think that sort of high- profile event certainly contributes to the Cruz campaign making their decision, the sense that maybe she appeals to a group of people that perhaps the senator doesn't.

You know, Senator Cruz likes to follow-up when Carly introduces him to say, you know, Carly gives Hillary Clinton nightmares. I think that is a very clear message that Fiorina in some sense anticipates being - you know, going on the attack against Hillary Clinton, like we saw when she was a candidate. We saw her really bring this full argument against Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. So it will be - that will be most interesting to watch how Fiorina approaches Donald Trump, how she approaches Hillary Clinton, how she is viewed on the campaign trail in now this more formal capacity.

[14:20:17] BALDWIN: Sunlen Serfaty with the scoop, along with our own John Berman that at that big 4:00 Eastern announcement, according to their sources, Ted Cruz will announce he has chosen Carly Fiorina at his running mate. We shall see if Donald Trump preemptively sort of says, wait a minute, if anyone should be picking a running mate, it's the guy who's winning, aka, me. We'll look for that.

I want to ask all of you to standby and also wondering if Carly Fiorina jumps on the woman card note last night from when Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton will be speaking. We have more on that.

Also today, a harsh preview of a possible general election match-up. Donald Trump says if Hillary Clinton were a man, she wouldn't even get 5 percent of the vote. We'll discuss that battle over gender.

Plus, she led the WWE, she ran for Senate twice. What does Linda McMahon think of Trump as a candidate. She will join me live.

And, this is a man who was once two heartbeats away from the presidency. But today, a judge calls him a serial child molester just before sentencing him. The fate of Denny Hastert and what he said in court, ahead.

You're watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin.


[14:25:31] BALDWIN: Welcome back. You're watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin.

Donald Trump telling CNN today he heard the advice about being more presidential, thought about it and said, nah, the fighter (ph) spirit. Little surprise for a man who has a long history with WWE and Vince McMahon's wrestling empire.


DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Wince and I have had an amazing relationship for many years.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Look at this! Donald Trump! Donald Trump! Oh, my gosh!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The hostile takeover!






BALDWIN: Joining me now, Vince's wife, Linda McMahon, former WWE CEO, Republican former Senate candidate, also CEO of Women's Leadership Live, a new start-up promoting women in leadership supporting one another. We'll talk about all of that.

Linda, a pleasure to meet you. Thank you so much for swinging by CNN.


BALDWIN: Before we get to Donald Trump, I have to ask you just about the breaking news, how at this 4:00 Eastern announcement Ted Cruz will say Carly Fiorina is my pick for my running mate. Thoughts on that?

MCMAON: Well, I've met Carly. I've talked to her several times. I've met her several times, as a matter of fact. I think she's a very capable and able candidate. I thought she acquitted herself incredibly well in the debates. And she's a smart lady. Good pick.

BALDWIN: Have you decided which way you're going?

MCMAHON: Well, you know -

BALDWIN: Suport-wise? Might this sway you?

MCMAHON: I'm, you know, still in consideration, consideration.

BALDWIN: OK. Not getting an answer on that. Let me try this. Donald Trump, we saw the funny clip -


BALDWIN: But, you know, you've known Mr. Trump for a little while. Think he's capable of being the president of this country?

MCMAHON: Oh, I definitely do. And I've - I've known Donald for over 20 years. And when I've been asked before, I've said, look, let me tell you what I know about him personally. I said he's loyal. I said he absolutely is a good businessman. He hires smart people around him. He's - he is very patriotic. He's a good - he's a good man. And very accomplished. And I think he would make a very good president.

BALDWIN: You know, looking at the exit polls last night and how incredibly he did in all five of those states, he was very strong with women. This is Republican women. But when he made that comment last night, quote, "if Hillary Clinton were a man, I don't think she'd get 5 percent of the vote. I mean, you are a woman's woman.


BALDWIN: Having started this incredible organization. When you heard him say that, and now all these women are reacting today holding up their woman card - I mean you laugh at it, but does that frustrate you as a woman?

MCMAHON: Well, he was speaking, I think, exactly more about Hillary than he was about women in general. He clearly hires many women in his company. His daughter runs one of his companies. I think he has a great respect for women. And I've always found that with Donald any time I've ever been around him.

BALDWIN: Do you agree with him on his thoughts on Hillary Clinton?

MCMAHON: Well, I think time will tell. I think Hillary does play the woman's card. But you know what, I think the people of this country -

BALDWIN: Wait, what does that mean if Hillary plays the woman card in your opinion?

MCMAHON: Well, she talks really more about women, that she's for things especially because she's a woman. She understands them better. I think there are a lot of men who champion women's rights as well.

BALDWIN: Is that a bad thing that she does that? MCMAHON: No.


MCMAHON: No. I think it's a good thing. You keep raising the issues. Everybody should talk about them. But I think the issues for women are really no different than they are for everybody. In fact, in Connecticut, the issues for women are about jobs and the economy and security for their home and their family. And I think that's what all women are looking for.

BALDWIN: You watched Donald Trump's speech, foreign policy. You know, clearly, they were prepared remarks. He had a teleprompter. What did you make overall of his message?

MCMAHON: I think I took away a couple of things from his speech today. And - and one is that he wants to make order out of chaos. He definitely wants to have a plan for our foreign policy. And the other thing that I'll hone in on, is he talked about bringing jobs back here to America. Keeping jobs here and raising the economy. And I think that's exactly what we have to do. Taking care of America first and American citizens first. I thought that was a very strong part of his speech.

BALDWIN: Some critics have already jumped in and saying, again, lack of specifics, lack of specifics. How would he - what specifics would you like spelled out from Donald Trump? And why do you think he hasn't done that yet?

MCMAHON: Well, I think Donald has been as specific as many of the other candidates are. They lay out very broad plans and how you would put the pieces together I think become more apparent as the campaign moves on.

BALDWIN: In comparison to Hillary Clinton who's been secretary of state, she's been quite specific in some ways. It's fine with you that - you know, I've heard you say he's obviously capable of being commander and chief, that he could hire advisers. That's how you feel confident.

[14:30:09] MCMAHON: I think he'll hire very smart people around him. I thought he laid out a very good plan today.