Return to Transcripts main page

AT THIS HOUR WITH BERMAN AND MICHAELA

Cruz Doubles Down After Refusing to Endorse Trump; Brazil: 10 Arrested for Plotting Olympic Terror; RNC Response to Ted Cruz. Aired 11-11:30a ET

Aired July 21, 2016 - 11:00   ET

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


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

[11:00:25] (CHANTING)!

SEN. TED CRUZ, (R), TEXAS & FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: If you love our country, stand and speak and vote your conscience.

(BOOING)

CHRIS CHRISTIE, (R), NEW JERSEY GOVERNOR: It was awful. It was selfish. It was too cute. He signed a pledge.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He lied to America. He lied to the Republican Party.

AVA NAVARRO, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: If you get invited to a dinner party, you don't show up, you eat the food, you drink the wine and then take on the carpet.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Well, hello, everyone. I'm Kate Bolduan.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: I'm John Berman, live from the Republican National Convention in Cleveland.

Yes, it might be a Donald Trump convention but it is a Ted Cruz moment. And that moment just got louder and borderline loopy. It was just last night Ted Cruz notably did not endorse Donald Trump on the convention floor. But moments ago, in front of his own Texas delegation, he double mega didn't endorse Donald Trump with feeling. He made clear that this time it's personal.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. TED CRUZ, (R), TEXAS & FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I will tell you when I stood up on that stage and they asked every candidate there if you don't win will you support the nominee, I raised my hand enthusiastically with full intention of doing exactly that. And I'll tell you the day that pledge was abrogated. The day that was abrogated was the day this became personal and, as I said at the time, and I'm not -- I'm not going to get in to criticizing or attacking Donald Trump but I'll just give you this response. I am not in the habit of supporting people who attack my wife and attack my father.

(APPLAUSE)

CRUZ: And that pledge was not a blanket commitment that if you go and slander and attack Heidi that I'm going to, nonetheless, come like a servile puppy dog and say thank you very much for maligning my wife and maligning my father.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BOLDUAN: Tell us how you really feel, Senator Cruz.

(LAUGHTER)

The hatchet clearly not buried. Old wounds from the Republican primary fight now laid bare in pretty spectacular fashion. In just a few minutes, we will hear from Donald Trump Jr.

BERMAN: Right now, let's bring in CNN's Jason Carroll. He was at that event where Ted Cruz double-mega triple-downed on his non endorsement, as John said.

What was it like being in that room?

JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: A servile puppy dog. That is not something a lot people expected to hear this morning. It was really extraordinary to hear Ted Cruz speak to the Texas delegation at this breakfast. Once again, he said he was not going to turn tail and run. He said it would have been easy to do that. It would have been easy not to face the people. But he wanted to come down here, explain himself a little more about his speech last night and what he had to say and it was incredible. He opened it up for questions. Allowed anyone who stood in the room, any part of the delegation, to ask whatever they wanted. Everyone wanted to know the same thing. Why not just simply say the why not put the party ahead of any personal feelings?

Well, once again, he double, triple downed and said this is about something bigger, it's about principles, it's about voting your conscience.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CRUZ: What does it say when you stand up and say vote your conscience and rabid supporters of our nominee begin screaming, "What a horrible thing to say"?

(APPLAUSE)

CRUZ: If we can't make the case to the American people that voting for our party's nomination system with voting your conscience is consistent with defending freedom and being faithful to the Constitution, then we are not going to win and we don't deserve to win.

(END VIDEO CLIP) CARROLL: No apologies there. One of the delegates stood up at one point, guys, and her name is Geraldine Sam, and she really motivated the room. She said this is not about you. This is not about Heidi Cruz. This is not about your father. It's not even about Donald Trump. This is about uniting the party. So why can't you do that after taking this pledge? Why can't you do that for the good of the party?

I want you to listen to an exchange she had with another delegate who supports Ted Cruz and the position that he took.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

[11:05:07] GERALDINE SAM, TEXAS GOP DELEGATE: I'm a former mayor of the city of La Marque, Texas. I was called the "N" word many times. And guess what, I still support my city. I still support those council members. I still support my town that I live in. So you have to, hey, that's been said and done, you know, whatever was said about his wife, whatever was said about his father, you know, that's a personal thing b you have to get over some of that. I'm not trying to belittle it or say hey, it doesn't count. I'm just saying that we're here today to support and unite the Republican Party and what he did was to tear the Republican Party down and it's not going to work.

DIANNE WILLIAMS, TEXAS GOP DELEGATE: My personal opinion is Donald Trump has a lot work to do. A lot of us upset not just what he did to ted what he did to many people. He needs to come in and promise us he's going to be the president we were hoping for. That he will stand by the constitution. That he will preserve our values. That he will do the right thing and shut up his ugly mouth and quit saying nasty things about people. That hurts our country. That hurts all of us. He's got to grow up and be presidential.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CARROLL: Well, very strong feelings as you can see on both sides of this issue. He told the Trump camp three days ago he was not going to endorse and he was allowed to speak anyway. Donald Trump for his part tweeting, as we know he likes to do that, saying just a short while ago, quote, "other than a small group of people who have suffered massive and embarrassing losses, the party is very" --all in caps, that word -- "very united, great love in the arena."

Having said that, if he goes forward with the speech tonight and doesn't extend some olive branch to some people still feeling unsure about him, I think there are a lot of people who would say that might be a mistake -- Kate, John?

BERMAN: If there's one thing that shut up his ugly mouth spellings to me --

BOLDUAN: What?

BERMAN: -- it's unity.

Jason Carroll, thank you so much. Let's bring in our panel of CNN commentators. Alice Stewart is a Republican Strategist and used to be communications director for Ted Cruz; Andre Bauer is a Donald Trump supporter, former lieutenant governor of South Carolina; and Mary Katherine Ham is a senior writer at "The Federalist"; Bakari Sellers is a Hillary Clinton supporter and a former state representative in the state of South Carolina; and Mark Preston is the birthday boy --

(CROSSTALK)

BERMAN: -- and executive editor at "CNN Politics."

BOLDUAN: Had to get it in.

(CROSSTALK)

BERMAN: We'll play a game in honor of Mark Preston's birthday. It's called what the "H" just happened.

Mary Katherine Ham, you saw Ted Cruz this morning. What happened?

MARY KATHARINE HAM, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Last night, Rubio and Kasich were like, I wasn't aware that was something a person could do. I think when it comes to him making the decision going on that stage, a couple things. One, self-interest. That's a part of this. Politically. They're politicians. And this party is not united. There's a group in that room. A group of conservatives in the nation who feel their values are not being spoken to and this is an issue that really does have to do with character. And these values we believe in. History has its eyes on you. What are you going to do about this? That's one part. The interesting part is he wants to be set up with those people and he wants to say you'll be back and I'm going to be here.

BOLDUAN: Ted Cruz this morning saying it has nothing to do with him. He says it's all to do with the country and principles.

Alice, as the former communications director for the Trump Cruz campaign, what just happened?

ALICE STEWART, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: As he said, keep in mind, first off, from the very beginning, there was never any agreement between ted and the campaign that this would require an endorsement. They spoke a few days ago. Never saw the endorsement. They had concerns, understandably, they had every single right to say absolutely not, I'm sorry, you cannot speak, this is our convention. They shouldn't have done that if there was this kind of frustration with it. He went about the speech. And he congratulated Donald Trump. He said, you know --

(CROSSTALK)

BOLDUAN: It was a little more than a non endorsement. It was vote your conscience!

STEWART: Look back to '76 when Reagan at the convention with Gerald Ford. He didn't endorse him. He said let's bring about unity in this party. Ted called for that last night. I'm sure there's a lot of folks frustrated and that's not exactly what people wanted to see. The bottom line is it's incumbent upon, you know, the nominee to help bring about unity. And there's a possibility maybe they will work to that. At this point, as ted said this morning, it became personal. They all agreed to support the nominee. When Donald attacked his father and his wife, then things changed.

[11:10:10] BERMAN: He's not going to be a servile puppy dog, saying thank you. A little different than calling for unity there.

Andre Bauer, you were a Donald Trump supporter. I imagine you look at this through different lenses in your view.

ANDRE BAUER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I do. First, I look back. I lost an election for governor to Nikki Haley. After I lost, I decided to conduct myself with grace and dignity. And support the party. And Lindsey Graham talked about how hated Ted Cruz was. Now the entire world knows. He took everything off the table. He didn't have to come to this. This wasn't about him. This was about party unity. It was about the Republican Party. He could have chosen to stay home. He could have chosen not to say anything. He could have at least chosen at the very end to congratulation Donald Trump. Not at the beginning and go downhill from there. He had a multitude of different avenues he could have taken. He took the one that defined who he really is.

BOLDUAN: Is Ted Cruz now more hated or is he now the principled conservative, standing for principle? Are you getting any clear idea of where this lands?

MARK PRESTON, CNN POLITICS EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR: Basically what Ted Cruz did. The fact that Donald Trump did attack his wife, said she was ugly, that's true, he said that, that Donald Trump accused Ted Cruz's father of being part of the conspiracy that killed John F. Kennedy --

(CROSSTALK)

BOLDUAN: No, no. Stop it.

(CROSSTALK)

BOLDUAN: Did you accuse Nikki Haley's father of trying to assassinate JFK?

BAUER: No, but there were ugly things said and --

(CROSSTALK)

BAUER: Southern Republican primaries, is happens.

PRESTON: But, Andre, the bottom line is what Ted Cruz did last night is he went to the cocktail party. He was invited to a cocktail party. Had a couple drinks, took the glasses and started smashing them on the floor. You just don't do that, right. If he has a problem with Donald Trump, which he clearly does, he shouldn't have come here.

(CROSSTALK)

HAM: Here's how he did it.He sent Donald a note in the form of a speech that said, I have a problem with you, would you still like to invite me to this cocktail party, and he said sure, come on down.

BAKARI SELLERS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: There's a larger theme at play. Each one of these days, Donald Trump and his campaign have stepped on his message. There's not been one positive message out of each one of these campaigns. Out of each one of these convention days that's come out. We talked about Melania Trump. For 36 hours too long. Now we're talking about Ted Cruz. We're not talking about making America safe again, measure not talking about putting America back to work again. If a vote for Donald Trump apparently is a vote for your country being run like this convention. I think the world is really having a problem with that.

(CROSSTALK)

PRESTON: We're not talking about Mike Pence --

(CROSSTALK)

BOLDUAN: That's what I was going to say. Stealing my thunder.

PRESTON: Mike who?

BOLDUAN: Exactly.

I want to ask you what the "H" just happened. None of you said Mike Pence had a very well-received speech. Isn't that a huge problem, Andre?

BAUER: It's a real loss. You're talking about hundreds of millions of dollars in free advertising the Republican Party has this week to get a clear consistent message. That opportunity is squandered.

BOLDUAN: You think Trump should be regretting he invited Cruz to speak? He made no secret he wasn't going to endorse.

(CROSSTALK)

BAUER: I think it was gracious but I think it was the wrong call.

BERMAN: In the realm of gracious, did Ted Cruz know he was hijacking this convention?

(CROSSTALK)

BERMAN: It wasn't intentionally to hijack this convention not just last night but he just did it again.

STEWART: No, here's the thing. Certainly he knew there was going to be some opposition to this and there were people going to be frustrated with this. To the degree it has become -- it might not have been part of the plan. But keep in mind, as he said this morning, as he said, he congratulated Donald Trump. He said let's vote your conscience and let's vote up and down the ticket. This morning, he said, look, it became personal. This is about his personal principles. At this stage of the game, it was not about politics, it was about --

(CROSSTALK)

SELLERS: The only person Ted Cruz gave an endorsement to was Lebron James.

(LAUGHTER)

I mean, that was absolutely it. The fact of the matter is, what we're seeing right now is the Republican Party is fractured. The Republican Party is just falling apart he seams. There's no way you leave on Thursday and say the party's unified.

BOLDUAN: To that point -- yeah, the crack up is here.

HAM: It came before the convention. A different kind of year for many reasons. We've talked about that a lot. The idea it was going to be normal unification process I think was always made up.

BOLDUAN: Right.

HAM: And Ted Cruz and many people who don't support Trump look at this candidate and go this is a crosses lines constantly that have never been crossed before. Yet he requires the most tender treatment in return without ever even -- he didn't even ask for the endorsement. It's standard practice.

BOLDUAN: So if the catchphrase of 2016 so far is binary choice, who wins in "vote your conscience" gate, Trump or Cruz?

PRESTON: Let me answer it this way.

BERMAN: No, no, binary choice.

(LAUGHTER)

(CROSSTALK)

PRESTON: Donald Trump is really excited about what's happening and the reason why is because after Melania, his wife, plagiarized that speech and they went radio silent for 48 hours they lied about it. Then he comes out tweeting yesterday, like, hey, isn't it great, everyone's talking about my wife. Loves this. Donald Trump's a showman. He loves this.

[11:15:23] BERMAN: Binary choice, Mary Katherine, Trump or Cruz who looks better right now?

HAM: I think coming out of the convention Trump probably wins. Many Republicans even with just like muscle memory will just --

(CROSSTALK)

BOLDUAN: Muscle memory. I love that ad. Interesting.

I don't have an answer to it, but that's why I get to say thank you everyone. We'll talk a little bit later.

Coming up for us, we're going to get to some breaking news involving the Olympics. Let's go down to Brazil. Brazil saying it has arrested nearly a dozen people plotting terror attacks during the games. Let's get to Shasta Darlington. She's in Rio right now.

SHASTA DARLINGTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Time, in fact, that Brazil announces an anti-terror plot and arrests related. They issued 12 arrest warrants. They were able to arrest 10 people. So there are still two outstanding. This happened across 10 different states in Brazil. What the justice minister said in a press conference that is actually still ongoing is that they had been monitoring these individuals, all Brazilian nationals, for a while because of some inflammatory comments they were making on different Internet and telephone applications like what's up. They had pledged allegiance to ISIS. They were celebrating in different comments after the attacks in Orlando and Nice. But it wasn't until this chatter sort of moved towards planning stage, what they believe could have been the planning stages for a terror attack that they moved in. They said one of the individuals was trying to purchase an A.K.-47 from an arms dealer in neighboring Paraguay. They said this wasn't actually an organized cell from what they can tell so far. And they don't know the exact targets they were looking at. Given the proximity of the Olympics and the arrival of tourists, they had to act fast.

BOLDUAN: Shasta Darlington, in Rio for us. Shasta, thank you so much. We'll stay close to that. Things moving very quickly in that.

Coming up for us, the air kiss heard around the world. Mike Pence taking the stage last night. Mike Pence's sister-in-law, Denise Pence, here to speak with us about the whirlwind week that family has had and the kiss.

BERMAN: Plus, just minutes from now, Donald Trump Jr, we will speak to him. What does he think about what Ted Cruz did last night? Also, how about the Republican National Committee? This is all about unity. What's there message? We'll talk to a key strategist next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[11:22:30] BOLDUAN: You hear that? Listen very, very closely. That is the distinct sound of the loudest non endorsement in convention history, still ringing through Cleveland this morning. Just moments ago, Ted Cruz basically said, in case you missed it, the first time, here it is again.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CRUZ: If we can't make the case to the American people that voting for our party's nominee is consistent with voting your conscience, is consistent with defending freedom and being faithful to the Constitution, then we are not going to win and we don't deserve to win.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: That was Ted Cruz, again this morning.

Joining us now, Sean Spicer, chief strategist and communications director for the Republican National Committee.

Sean, thank you for being with us.

SEAN SPICER, CHIEF STRATEGIST & COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR, REPUBLICAN NATIONAL COMMITTEE: Thanks for having me.

BERMAN: You speak for the party.

SPICER: I do.

BERMAN: What would you like to say to Senator Cruz this morning?

SPICER: Look, I think it was gracious for Trump to invite all the 17 candidates, or excuse me, 16 candidates he competed against to be part of this amazing convention in Cleveland.

Senator Cruz accepted that invitation. And it was, you know, frankly was a little disappointed that he didn't get on the stage. He knows what's at stake more than anybody in terms of the choice between Hillary Clinton and Trump. Cruz is a constitutional scholar. He understands the importance of the Supreme Court. So, you know, I think it was gracious of Trump to invite everybody here to participate. I think to some degree when you come here there's an expectation you understand the greater good, right, and you say I'm coming here, he won, he got more votes than anybody else. I respect the decision, the will of the people, and I want to throw my support behind him. I don't think you come to somebody else's event and not do that.

BOLDUAN: But Ted Cruz says he told Donald Trump three days ago he was not going to be getting an endorsement --

(CROSSTALK)

SPICER: It's not a question of endorsement. It's not just that word. You can say, hey, we all know what's at stake. There's millions ways to phrase it. It's not just I hereby endorse. You can make clear to the people that there is a choice. And one choice is not acceptable. And, you know, so it was a little disappointing he didn't do that.

BERMAN: A little bit disappointing.

Peter King called him a "blank" hole. Is that --

(CROSSTALK)

SPICER: Took me a second to register. I appreciate that, on TV.

BERMAN: Is that different than a little disappointing or are you basically in the same place?

SPICER: I would probably use the same verbiage.

BERMAN: You would?

BOLDUAN: Really?

SPICER: No. I think it's disappointing when somebody who's a leader in the conservative movement who knows what's at stake. Ted Cruz more than anybody in terms of his background knows what's at stake and chose to come here. He could have just said I'm not coming, I don't feel comfortable.

BERMAN: So Peter King doesn't need to apologize for calling him a "blank" hole, in your mind?

[11:25:14] SPICER: Peter King's from New York. He uses very colorful language. I'll let him speak for himself.

BOLDUAN: Does Chris Christie need to apologize? He said Ted Cruz is being selfish and he reneged on the pledge. The pledge, you know very well, you guys called for the pledge.

SPICER: The pledge -- this is a source of misinformation. The pledge has gone back several cycles. When you agree to take the RNC's data, it says in the data agreement, by taking all of the data on Republican voters, I agree to support the nominee, whomever the voters choose.

(CROSSTALK)

SPICER: Which part?

BOLDUAN: Both, that he's selfish and he reneged on the pledge?

SPICER: Yes, I do.

BERMAN: What are you going to do about Ted Cruz?

(CROSSTALK)

SPICER: And that's fine, but at some point, Ted Cruz has made it clear he's siding with Hillary Clinton. That's the choice. It's a binary decision. Either support the nominee, the will of the voters, or support Hillary Clinton.

BOLDUAN: You know he doesn't support Hillary Clinton.

SPICER: You have two choices on that ballot. Either you're supporting the Republican nominee or you're supporting Hillary Clinton, if you're not with Trump and Pence. Here's the other thing, Donald Trump knows what a conservative stalwart Mike Pence is. When it comes to fiscal, social issues, there's no one stronger than Mike Pence. That speech he gave last night was amazing. You may have a problem with Donald Trump as he clearly does but to not understand his vice presidential pick is unbelievably the strongest conservative pick we've seen in a long time, then I think that says a lot. BERMAN: To be clear, did you just say that Ted Cruz is aiding and

abetting Hillary Clinton?

SPICER: Well, no, what I said is there's a binary choice, there's two people on that ballot, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. For him not to recognize that is a major problem.

BOLDUAN: What does this mean in four years when he's probably absolutely going to run for president again?

SPICER: I'll tell you this, anecdotally last night walking through the convention, I bumped into self-people who supported Ted Cruz very aggressively, very passionately through the process and they said what he did was disgraceful. People who supported him believed at least he could come and rise to the occasion.

BOLDUAN: Have you talked to him?

SPICER: No.

BOLDUAN: Do you want to?

SPICER: No.

BERMAN: You don't want to talk to Ted Cruz?

SPICER: No. I don't know that Ted Cruz wants to talk to me. There's no reason to. He had his opportunity. Look, what I'm focused on is tonight. Donald Trump is going to speak tonight. I think he's going to present his case. He's going to lay it all out. Obviously my boss Reince Priebus is going to speak. I've seen the speech, it's a great speech. It lays out where the Republican party is and the binary choice between Clinton and Trump.

BERMAN: Can we talk one last time about Monday night, Melania Trump's speech. You defended her against accusations and the Trump campaign and that sections of it were plagiarized and, at the time, you basically said no.

Let's just play the sound of you invoking "My Little Pony."

BOLDUAN: It's just too good. You need to see it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SPICER: We had a 2,000 word statement. We're talking about 20 words, three passages. This idea of plagiarism, let's talk to it. Melania Trump said you work hard for what you get in life. John Legend said, work hard to be anything you want in life. Kid Rock said, work hard to be anything you want in life. Melania Trump said, the strength of your dreams and willingness to vote for them. Twilight Sparkle, from "My Little Pony," said anything you can do in your dreams you can do now. If we want to take a bunch of phrases and run them through Google and say who else has said them, I can come up with a list in five minutes.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: So now the Trump campaign has come out and said it wasn't Twilight Sparkle from "My Little Pony."

BOLDUAN: It wasn't.

SPICER: Nor was it Rainbow Dash.

(CROSSTALK)

SPICER: All of the ponies are clear.

BERMAN: But they took the words, the speechwriter said these words cam from Michelle Obama's speech.

Do they owe you an apology? You were out there basically taking them on their word it wasn't plagiarized.

SPICER: At the time, the information we had and the same information that Paul Manafort had from the campaign -- he went and he checked. He asked everyone involved. He asked Mrs. Trump how did this come to happen. Everybody agreed it was Mrs. Trump's words. And let's be honest, the speech was amazing. She delivered it phenomenally. I think the world is really lady. Subsequently, it was made clear there was somebody else that no one was aware of that had worked with them. They made it clear. At the time, the information everybody had this was Mrs. Trump and the speechwriters here.

BOLDUAN: Did they apologize?

SPICER: No.

BOLDUAN: No. Can we compliment Cleveland for how great the weather's been?

SPICER: Look, anybody that's been here or seen anything, you cannot say enough about how well Cleveland has done in this convention. They wanted this more than anything. Probably more than the Cavs win --

(CROSSTALK)

BERMAN: Wait a second.

(LAUGHTER)

(CROSSTALK)

SPICER: But the people here have just risen to the occasion.