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ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT

Awaiting Trump's Acceptance Speech; GOP Piles on Cruz For Refusing to Endorse Trump; Final Night of Convention Under Way. Aired 7-8p ET

Aired July 21, 2016 - 19:00   ET

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


[19:00:23] ERIN BURNETT, CNN ANCHOR: And good morning. I'm Erin Burnett. Welcome to a special edition of OUTFRONT. We are live from the National Republican National Convention. The breaking news, it is Donald Trump's biggest night yet. The final night of the convention about to be called to order in just a few moments and on the stage below me, right behind where we are Donald Trump going to take the podium for the most important speech of his life. He is going to officially accept his party's nomination for President of the United States.

Donald Trump addressing the nation and frankly, the world tonight, making his case he is the right person to be president of the United States. He's going to give a wide-ranging speech, heavy on law and order, talking about everything from the recent violence in America to other issues, illegal immigration, cutting taxes, school choice, a lot in there. His daughter Ivanka Trump will be center stage tonight. She's going to introduce her dad with a speech he says he left completely up to her.

She said today the moment is, quote, "terrifying." We are covering this historic night from every angle. And we begin with Jim Acosta. And, Jim, it all comes down to tonight for Donald Trump. Safe to say is truly is the most important night of his life thus far.

JIM ACOSTA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Erin, and at times this week it has felt like a Trump rally broke out at the Republican convention but Donald Trump has the opportunity to put some of the problems of this week behind him from those mistakes made with the speech delivered by his wife Melania to Ted Cruz's refusal to endorse him. That we saw last night. Trump has the opportunity to hit the reset button and if there is one overarching theme in a speech tonight from what we can tell in these transcripts are these excerpts in the transcripts so far is that he is going to tell Americans I can keep you safe.

He's going to be talking about national security. He's going to be talking about cutting taxes. He's going to be talking about cutting regulation even the conservative bread and butter issue of school choice. But Erin, it appears that he is going to take the recent problems that we've seen across the world, these terrorist attacks both around the globe and here in the United States and lay the responsibility for that violence at the feet of Hillary Clinton and here's one excerpt. We can put it up on screen. Donald Trump is going to say in this speech tonight according to his

campaign. "I have a message for all of you. The crime and violence that afflicts our nation will soon come to an end. Beginning on January 20th, 2017, safety will be restored. America is far less safe and the world is less stable, than when Obama made the decision to put Hillary Clinton in charge of America's foreign policy. But Hillary Clinton's legacy does not have to be America's legacy."

And we know Erin from talking to sources inside the Trump campaign. The speech will run about 45 minutes. He will use a teleprompter. The theme of tonight is to Make America One Again. I will tell you, I saw an image of that on the screen behind me here on the convention hall and at the bottom of that screen, below the words, Make America One Again, was an image of the wall along the U.S.-Mexican border -- Erin.

BURNETT: All right. Jim Acosta, thank you very much. And overshadowing Trump's big night though is the clear divide within the Republican Party, a growing number of Republicans piling on Ted Cruz today because of course he so publicly refused to endorse Trump and doubled down on it again this morning. Cruz unapologetic saying he stands behind his move.

Dana Bash is OUTFRONT. And Dana, this is a big night for Donald Trump with Ted Cruz this morning doubling down, tripling down against Donald Trump. What does Trump need to do tonight?

DANA BASH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, the irony is that this is based on sort of anecdotally talking to a lot of delegates here on the floor, that even those who really loved Ted Cruz, supported him from the get go, raised money for him think that many -- actually most of them think that it was a mistake to come here and give that speech and not endorse. For example, I spoke to one person who ran Ted Cruz's campaign in the state of Idaho. He now says he is doing what he needs to do as a Republican in getting behind Donald Trump and he says that, just like somebody from Virginia said to me yesterday, he's not sure he can support Cruz, so from now on.

And so that sort of speaks to the idea that in a way Ted Cruz and what happened last night might have helped Donald Trump in the way that he will be perceived because a lot of people are rooting for him in a way that maybe they weren't before last night. Not to say that everybody thinks that Donald Trump is great on the floor, not to say that Ted Cruz supporters, a few of them I've found here don't think that he did the right thing in coming here and, you know, standing up for his principles and maybe his family, so that's sort of the backdrop here.

I have to say I have been a little bit surprised even the fact that just today post-Cruz, Erin, but all week at how many people I have found who have say that they've come around to Donald Trump. It's a self-selecting group because a lot of people across the country who say no way, no how to Donald Trump, they didn't even come here. But those who are here who are the diehards, who are working hard in their home states and districts, they're more behind him than I would have thought. [19:05:26] BURNETT: Which is interesting and of course, one of the

great goals obviously of this convention for him to get that the broader Republican base aside from his base onboard with his candidacy. OUTFRONT now, David Gergen joins me, advised four presidents. Our national political reporter Maeve Reston. Political director David Chalian. Former president of Trump Productions Andy Dean, a Trump supporter. Our political commentator Ana Navarro and Hillary Clinton supporter Bakari Sellers.

David Gergen, interesting in light of what Dana is saying that obviously people here, who came here were perhaps willing to be convinced but many of them were not diehard Trump supporters. They were diehard Cruz supporters or Rubio supporters or someone else's supporters that she is saying more of them are getting onboard than she would have thought. And tonight so much is at stake. The biggest night of his career.

DAVID GERGEN, FORMER PRESIDENTIAL ADVISER: Absolutely. And I really think it's a night for both Trump and his daughter. You know, after all of the stumbles this week and all of the distractions they can still turn this convention around, they can rescue this convention, and I think the two Trumps together. After all, the best speech so far has been by the son, Donald Trump Jr., (audio gap), so if she can deliver, he can deliver, (audio gap) it can erase a lot of memories earlier in the week. It would be a big lift for him.

All right. That's a hard challenge and I think one of the questions that we might want to ruminate on here is this seems to be a reprise, what we've seen from the excerpts is a reprise, a very familiar theme from Trump again and again. Are people looking for that or are they looking for something fresh? And I think -- I don't know the answer to that. I would think something fresh, but I may be wrong.

BURNETT: David Chalian, you hear on this question of something fresh. And he's going back to his original themes. We know from these brief excerpts that we've had, had very heavy on law and order, other issues he's talked about. Donald Trump Jr. today when I talked to him he said, it's going to be, quote-unquote, "disciplined which is important," but yet not what some people want from Donald Trump.

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Right. But remember, there is a whole new audience tuning in to Donald Trump that haven't been following every one of his rallies or events over the course of the last 13 months.

BURNETT: Right.

CHALIAN: So he does need to present some of those core principles that sort of brought him here to that larger audience, as well. This is my big question when I am looking for tonight is to see if this floor and this crowd is so energetic and into him on this very big night, can he resist leaving the teleprompter for a little bit and turning it into a moment of a Trump rally?

BURNETT: Let me answer that question.

(LAUGHTER)

CHALIAN: And I think that would be very good for him.

BURNETT: Right.

CHALIAN: You know, and so I'm curious to see how he balances the discipline of the teleprompter and if that feels like a strait jacket around him or if he is able to really embrace the moment because he is going to feel something on that stage tonight that he has felt before and it's huge, this moment.

BURNETT: And it's a rush for him, Andy.

ANDY DEAN, DONALD TRUMP SUPPORTER: Uh-hm.

BURNETT: To feel that. Right?

DEAN: Right.

BURNETT: He loves to talk about these crowds of thousands and thousands and now it's, you know, thousands plus tens of millions.

DEAN: Right.

BURNETT: This is new for him.

DEAN: It is. And I think a lot of it will be sticking to the teleprompter. But I think what Trump is a master of is non-verbal communication. And so when the audience is laughing or cheering, Donald's reactions in and of themselves are very genuine and that's something that you can't put in the teleprompter and that's something that the American people love. And I think there are two things in the speech that it will surprise people. One is a mention of Bernie Sanders and he's going to say, it's not just me questioning Hillary Clinton's judgment, it's Bernie Sanders which is very smart. And second, infrastructure. If we're going to build this country back again, who is a better to do it than a builder who understands budgets and Donald Trump is the guy.

BURNETT: And so, Donald Trump, Jr. today, and I spoke to him and I spoke to about obviously the tension underlying tonight which is, he's got to move this past the whole Ted Cruz fiasco, move it on and put that in the rear-view mirror, Donald Trump Jr., I asked him about Ted Cruz's snub and whether he needs Ted Cruz's supporter, whether they even care about his endorsement and here's how he answered that question.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, JR., SON OF DONALD TRUMP: I don't care. We don't need it. We got it defacto from the people that matter. Those are the voters, the people that my father has been speaking to directly.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: Is he right? Over. Gone. Doesn't matter? ANA NAVARRO, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Like I said last night, I

think Donald Trump should be sending Ted Cruz a fruit basket and thanking him for what he did yesterday because it's the most unity we have seen in this convention for Donald Trump. And because he changed the topic. We are not talking about Melania and the plagiarism story. Now, my advice to Donald Trump, Jr. who is not going to take it and is not going to seek it is, winners should be gracious, should be magnanimous.

Yes, you won. Your father won, and you need every single Republican you can get under that tent if you are going to build a majority in order to win a general election. There is no need to be haughty. There is no need to be dismissive. They won. They took their victory lap. This is their victory lap. This is the spiking of the football.

BURNETT: Yes.

NAVARRO: What he needs to be is the bigger man, be conciliatory because there are a lot of people who may not agree with what Ted Cruz did here, but do agree with Ted Cruz's motives and Ted Cruz's principles and share some of Ted Cruz's doubts about Donald Trump.

BURNETT: And this is his chance, Bakari to also, to bring in the whole country because there are a lot more people watching tonight and that is crucial.

BAKARI SELLERS, HILLARY CLINTON SUPPORTER: I'm not sure that Donald Trump or his campaign team because they're so insulated, know how to do. That is his biggest challenge because the challenge is not this room. You know, if they stand up and start cheering, they've been cheering all week for hang her and put her in prison and all these other things. Donald Trump is not speaking to this room. He needs to speak to a broader audience and especially on his message of law and order, if he's divisive, if he's divisive and he singles out African- Americans and Hispanic, we're going to drill him for that from this point forward.

BURNETT: All right.

NAVARRO: It's going to be good point. If he is going to stick to his usual themes against illegal immigrants, you know, on law and order, I also hope that he finds a good immigrant story to tell.

BURNETT: That would be very powerful if he could do that.

All right. All of you staying with me, as you hear the music starting we're getting ready for the biggest night of the Republican convention just moment away from the formal kickoff right here in Cleveland.

And coming up, Ivanka Trump, the biggest night of her life, perhaps. Her brother tells CNN today she does the princess thing well. So what are we going to see on stage tonight?

And an openly gay Silicon Valley billionaire, prime time speaker tonight leading in to Donald Trump. A major statement from Mr. Trump to the Republican Party. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[19:15:49] BURNETT: Welcome back to a special edition of OUTFRONT. We are live from the Republican National Convention here in Cleveland. The breaking news moments from now the convention will be called to order. That will kick off formally tonight's prime time festivities as you can see already the music is playing as the delegates are arriving on this most important night for Donald Trump. He will formally accept the Republican nomination in the most important speech of his life and he'll be introduced by his daughter Ivanka certainly one of his most trusted advisers. Her brother Eric telling CNN she'll win over the crowd adding, quote, "She does the princess thing very well and she's immensely close with my father."

Sunlen Serfaty is OUTFRONT.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Donald Trump has never left any doubt over how he feels about his oldest daughter.

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: Has anyone heard of Ivanka? Our great Ivanka. We love Ivanka, right? Ivanka, famous Ivanka.

SERFATY: Ivanka Trump calling her speaking slot tonight intimidating and terrifying.

IVANKA TRUMP, DAUGHTER OF DONALD TRUMP: He's totally left it up to me. I wish he'd given me input, but I think he wants it to come from my heart. He says, don't worry, you'll do a great job. Don't worry. So I'm trying to take that advice.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.

SERFATY: It's a role the 34-year-old mother of three has been playing since day one.

Introducing her father as he launched his presidential bid.

I. TRUMP: I remember him telling me when I was a little girl, Ivanka, if you're going to be thinking anyway you might as well be thinking big.

SERFATY: Campaigning alongside her father and stepping out on her own on the trail.

I. TRUMP: He says what he means and he means what he says.

SERFATY: Quickly becoming a key surrogate for the campaign.

I. TRUMP: Please come out and caucus for my father. He will over deliver.

SERFATY: Widely seen as poised and polished.

I. TRUMP: I can tell you firsthand that there's no better person to have in your corner when you're facing tough decisions or tough opponents.

SERFATY: In trying to smooth out some of her father's rough edges, vouching for him in personal terms.

I. TRUMP: He is non-gender specific in his criticism of people, and people that he doesn't particularly like or people that he does like, but thinks they're wrong on a particular issue.

SERFATY: Behind the scene, her impact possibly more significant.

I. TRUMP: He respects me, and because I'm candid in my opinion, and I share them, solicited or otherwise.

SERFATY: Serving as one of Trump's key advisers.

I. TRUMP: My daughter Ivanka says, dad, be presidential.

SERFATY: Giving her father feedback, telling him at times to tone it down.

I. TRUMP: While I do sometimes tell him to withhold some of that sort of fire, I also understand it.

SERFATY: Ivanka also giving input on her father's choice of a running mate in helping to craft key speeches.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What happens if there is a disagreement because your brothers are also involved in the organization with your dad, your brothers and you?

I. TRUMP: I win, of course.

(LAUGHTER)

SERFATY: Within the Trump family, she is seen as the favorite.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Who is his favorite?

DONALD TRUMP, JR., SON OF DONALD TRUMP: No one Ivanka.

SERFATY: A view shared by some outside the family considered such a strong asset that her name even came up during the vice presidential search.

SEN. BOB CORKER (R), TENNESSEE: His best running mate by the way would be Ivanka. I know that would not pass muster, but she's most impressive.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SERFATY: And Ivanka Trump certainly seems very aware of the weight of this moment both for her and her father's campaign. She is almost downplaying expectations for her speech tonight in an interview saying that she just hopes to deliver her remarks in an articulate way, adding that if she bombs tonight she hopes that her father won't hold it against her -- Erin. BURNETT: All right. Sunlen, thank you very much. And my panel is

back with me. So, Andy, you know Ivanka personally. Her brother Eric talking to CNN and I'll quote him again, she does the princess thing very well, she's immensely close with my father. So, obviously, she's going to be articulate and she's being very humble, there's no question, she's going to be articulate tonight, but will she be able to succeed in humanizing him in showing that the depth and emotion of that relationship?

DEAN: Right. Well, I can speak personally because I worked with her day to day that she's an incredibly intelligent businesswoman. I mean, she has an incredible mind and the close relationship with her father I can't emphasize it enough, and I think if you ask anybody, they all think that his kids are wonderful. And I think if Donald needs to improve in one area is the gender gap because we all know he's dominating with men in this election. But he is struggling with women. And I think having Ivanka introduce him on a night with the whole country is watching, is a way to say that this is a guy that truly cares about women. And Ivanka, I think she is the best ambassador for that message.

[19:20:25] BURNETT: And Maeve, obviously just like Donald Trump himself, obviously this is the call to order so everyone knows what's happening behind us. Reince Priebus doing that. But this is crucial. He's down double digits with women and this is her night just like his where a lot of people who haven't seen her are going to see her.

MAEVE RESTON, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER: We have to remember that throughout the campaign when he's been accused of being, you know, misogynist or sexist, she has been the most important surrogate to step out and talk about the way that he raised her and the way that he encouraged her to find something that she truly loved and go into it, and her most important role is as a sounding board to the extent that there is anyone in the Trump family or the organization that can rein him in, pull him back a little bit. You know, she's the one, and sources say that, you know, she certainly says that he doesn't always listen to her, but he listens to her a lot and of course that's why she was so influential in the vice presidential selection process.

BURNETT: Right. And just so everyone knows what we're watching, you see on your screen, as well. Heavenly joy, a little six-year-old girl singing. Let's just listen in for a moment so you can see this very talented little girl.

(HEAVENLY JOY SINGING "LET THERE BE PEACE ON EARTH")

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

BURNETT: The real ovation here, David Chalian from this six-year-old girl singing with a voice a lot more powerful than that of a six-year- older than any of us all. And let's just listen in of course to "America the Beautiful."

(HEAVENLY JOY SINGING "AMERICA THE BEAUTIFUL")

BURNETT: Now Donald Trump wants to get -- if he gets the audience going like this I'm sure he'll be pretty happy.

GERGEN: One of the most unifying moments of the convention.

BURNETT: Yes. Absolutely.

SELLERS: The biggest star we've seen on stage.

(LAUGHTER)

That's the daughter of Rodney Jenkins, the producer known as Darkchild, that produced Michael Jackson, Patti Labelle, Mary J. Blige and the list goes on and on and on. And I'm very proud of Heavenly Joy.

NAVARRO: I found it poignant. This is a six-year-old African- American girl singing "Let Peace Begin With Me" in a day when my hometown in Miami, an African-American man was shot again today trying to help an autistic man and with his hands up and saying, I am not armed. I'm trying to help my patient. I just think it's such a beautiful, healing moment with so much salt in the wounds this time.

BURNETT: It certainly was and of course, the colors are going to come out now. This is part of, I think the pomp and circumstance, David, that we have -- you appreciate when you cover these conventions, the colors come out, the pledge of allegiance, the National Anthem.

CHALIAN: Not just at conventions, but the Republican National Committee.

BURNETT: That's right. That's right.

ANNOUNCER: About face! Present colors!

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: To lead us in tonight's Pledge of Allegiance, please welcome --

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[19:29:37] BURNETT: And welcome back to a special edition of OUTFRONT here from Cleveland. Right now behind me, you can hear the invocation, we just had the National Anthem by Ayla Brown, of course from Senator Scott Brown's daughter.

The breaking news, the convention has now been formally called to order, the indication. And now we are going to begin the program here for this very, very crucial night for Donald Trump. We are awaiting the biggest speech of Donald Trump's life. And in fact, part of the biggest night of his life, he is going to be speaking to the nation to the world, to people who have not listened to him before. It is a huge chance for him to win over more voters.

[19:30:01] Moments before though his speech, something unprecedented and frankly very unexpected for many. A Silicon Valley billionaire is going to take to the stage here in Cleveland at the RNC, PayPal co- founder Peter Thiel is his name. As I said, Silicon Valley billionaire, he is going to say he is gay and he is proud of being gay. He will be the first speaker ever to openly do so, to declare he is gay here on stage at a Republican National Convention and he is going to come out against the party for refusing to embrace LGBT rights.

Sara Murray has been covering this story for us and we're going to have more from her in a couple of moments.

But now, I want to go to the Republican Governor Rick Scott of Florida who is here with me up on our platform here, as this program, this big night has begun, Governor.

Let me start by asking you this, because this is a crucial decision by Donald Trump, right? He's got his huge speech tonight. His daughters are going to be doing his introduction. The two speeches before that are businessmen obviously which you yourself were before being governor. Peter Thiel, though, going to be speaking openly as a gay Republican. I'm gay, I'm a Republican.

This is the first time this has ever happened. What does that say?

GOV. RICK SCOTT (R), FLORIDA: Well, first off, wouldn't you love to be able to sing as that young girl that --

BURNETT: Very, very talented child.

SCOTT: That was great.

So, there's going to be a lot of great speakers tonight. Look, this party is a party that we'll do everything we can to get all of the votes. I think t election's going to be about jobs. I think it's going to be destroying ISIS, but it's going to be interesting to hear all of these speakers.

BURNETT: Yes, but let me ask you the question directly because this is important. A lot of the independents Donald Trump wants to win over, they do not agree with the Republican Party platform on gay rights. They agree with Peter Thiel. They don't think we should be having discussions about who should be able to use what bathroom. It's a distraction, which is what he's going to call that conversation tonight.

Do you agree?

SCOTT: Well, I've been here since I'm 19. I believe in the traditional marriage. The Supreme Court has made a decision. In my state we are following the Supreme Court's decisions.

As you know, we just had our gay community attacked in Orlando. I'm going to do everything I can to bring that community back, along with my Hispanic community which was attacked, and make sure everyone feels a part of my state.

BURNETT: And --

SCOTT: I don't believe in any discrimination. I want everybody to have the dream of this country and that's what I talked about last night. This election is about the very essence of the American Dream. Are we going to have it or not?

BURNETT: And, you know, Donald Trump on this issue, he's declared himself the most gay friendly candidate. It was a significant thing to say on the transgender bathroom issue. He said anybody can use whatever bathroom they want in Trump Tower. I don't care whether you say you're a man or woman, whatever you say.

Peter Thiel speaking in prime time just before the nominee, Donald Trump knows what he's going to say. That in and of itself is a very big statement.

Do you support that statement from your nominee?

SCOTT: Here -- look, I support Donald Trump. I believe Donald Trump is going to be a great president because he's going to focus on jobs, focus on building our military, supporting our law enforcement and destroying ISIS. There is say clear choice between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.

She's a career politician, never carried a private sector job, has not supported our military, has not -- has not destroyed ISIS. She had a chance to destroy ISIS and she failed. That's why I support Donald Trump.

BURNETT: So, in other words, social issues don't -- you may not agree, but you believe what the law of the land is, which is the Supreme Court has spoken. So, you stand by that. You are not offended by Peter Thiel speaking here?

SCOTT: Absolutely not. I don't want anybody in my state to be discriminated against. I want everybody to have the chance to live the dream of this country.

BURNETT: Ted Cruz obviously dominating the conversation today, and I would be remiss if I didn't ask you about it. Some of your Republican colleagues have been slamming him for what he said. Here are a couple of them, including Governor Chris Christie.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)

GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: I think it was awful and quite frankly, I think it was selfish.

REP. CHRIS COLLINS (R), NEW YORK: This is just plain rude.

REP. PETER KING (R), NEW YORK: He's a fraud, he's a liar, he's self- centered and he disqualified himself from ever being president of the United States.

(END VIDEO CLIPS)

BURNETT: Selfish, rude, disqualifying. What word would you use?

SCOTT: I'd say these are two candidates. If you're going to be here, support Donald Trump. He's our nominee. I want to win. If you are not supporting Donald Trump you are clearly supporting Hillary Clinton. And I believe that we ought to be here supporting Donald Trump as our nominee.

BURNETT: So, does he need an endorsement from Ted Cruz? Donald Trump said to me fine, we don't need it and we have 500 delegates here who supported Ted Cruz. Does that endorsement matter for Donald Trump at this point?

SCOTT: You should come to this convention and help unify this party. My speech was the goal was to unify the party as part of that and support Donald Trump. Anybody here, that's what they should be doing. He's our nominee. It's a clear choice between he and Hillary Clinton.

BURNETT: You have given your speech and a longtime supporter, friend of Donald Trump. You were very clear about that early on. Tonight is the biggest night of his life.

SCOTT: He's going to do great.

BURNETT: What advice do you give to him for his speech?

SCOTT: Be himself.

I mean, they told me when I first ran in 2010. I'm a business person. They said, don't do an ad, don't do anything that you don't believe in because no one would believe you.

If Donald Trump is who he is and he speaks from the heart everyone will see it.

[19:40:04] I believe that's what he's going to do. He cares about his country. Look at his kids. Aren't you impressed about those --

BURNETT: They have certainly been the stars of this convention.

SCOTT: Yes.

And so, that says a lot about individual. He cares about them. He cares about my family and your family. He's going to be a great president.

BURNETT: All right. Governor Scott, I really appreciate it. Thank you very much for coming up and talking to us. Obviously, one of the primetime speakers here at this convention as well this week in Cleveland.

And OUTFRONT next, our special edition of OUTFRONT continues here in the convention as the final and most crucial night comes to order in Cleveland. How will Donald Trump handle race relations in America? It's a crucial question that we have today. An African-American pastor, a close friend of Trump's is my guest.

We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BURNETT: All right. We are back here from the floor in Cleveland getting ready for this big night. I'm here with Dana Bash.

Dana, this is the big night. The biggest night of them all and the biggest night of Donald Trump's career.

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: And very crowded.

BURNETT: And very crowded.

Everyone, of course, wants to be here, every night it's crowded and tonight there is more energy thus far coming into tonight.

[19:40:01] BASH: Oh, absolutely. There is energy.

And I have to say just walking around here, it is one of those moments where we have all been so caught up in the fact that Donald Trump has been the front-runner and is now the nominee. We kind of had forgotten that it was 13 months ago that everybody thought this was going to be a joke, and it's not.

He's taken the Republican party by storm, and I think that he is going to get his due tonight, and it has surprised me, Erin, how many people on this floor who never thought they would support somebody who used to be pro-choice, used to be for universal health care, supporting him for the Republican nomination, for the White House.

BURNETT: When you think about it, this speech and what we understand is Donald Trump Jr. used the word to me when I was trying to describe it as disciplined, but that is a relative term for Donald Trump. I'm sure that means obviously we understand it will be 45 minutes as Jim Acosta has been reporting.

But there will, I'm sure, be those moments when you get the faces and the gesticulations and the mimics and the miming that he might do.

BASH: Right. Discipline for Donald Trump means sticking to script, right? And it is going to be hard to see if that happens especially when -- look, he's used to interactive crowds. That's what his rallies are like it's a pretty riled-up crowd.

Even -- check it out. The Texas delegation, you can see them moving their hats and they're sort of getting ready to dance. This is what a convention generally feels like and the buildup has been a little slower, but it's here now.

BURNETT: And what about the whole fallout from Ted Cruz and that situation today? I mean, a pretty stunning moment obviously last night and today, Ted Cruz doubling down and making it personal and saying, he came out and he maligned my father and my wife and I'm not in the habit for supporting someone who does that, obviously taking a lot of backlash for that.

But there are some conservative publications that have come to his defense and that is significant because Donald Trump needs that core conservative base to win. BASH: That's right. The conservative publications like "The National

Review," and "The Weekly Standard," to be fair, they were a hard core never Trump camp, and they absolutely didn't move. I found one person here, Erin, one person out of maybe 20 to 30 that I've talked to, maybe even more, who were Cruz supporters who thought he did the right thing and they hoped he had endorsed.

BURNETT: All right. Dana Bash, thank you very much. As this final night begins of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, as we get ready for Donald Trump's crucial speech tonight.

We hand it off to "AC360."

(MUSIC)

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: And good evening, everybody. We are live in Cleveland where Donald Trump will appear on stage tonight and give the most important speech of his life.

I'm Anderson Cooper. Welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world.

Donald Trump about to face a huge audience and an enormous challenge on this closing night of the Republican National Convention. Presidential nominee expected to deliver a message of unity just hours after his party's divisions were on public display in this hall as Ted Cruz refused to endorse him.

Tonight, Ivanka Trump will help Republicans try to keep the focus on electing her father, which introduces him, lending her star power to the convention finale. This is Donald Trump's night. There's no doubt about it.

We'll be watching from the studio and our skybox on the other side of the arena. Wolf Blitzer is there.

Wolf?

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Anderson, this has been an unconventional convention as Trump promised, but not only because he planned it that way. We have an unprecedented moment.

Tonight, we're told Peter Thiel, a Silicon Valley tycoon and Trump supporter plans to tell Republicans that he's openly gay and chide the GOP for its refusal to embrace LGBT rights. This as delegates still are reeling from that unprecedented Ted Cruz.

Today, Cruz remains defiant defending his decision to speak at Trump's convention but not support him.

Jake Tapper is with us tonight, will be with us all night.

What are we looking look as we go forward.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: First, let's just take a moment. One year ago today if you had told anyone except for maybe Donald, Eric, Don Jr., and Ivanka, that we were going to be here and Donald Trump was about to accept the Republican nomination for the presidency beating what was empirically what was the most gifted and deep benches of Republican governors, senators and otherwise, to run for president in generations, there are very few people that would have believed you.

And not only did he do it, he did it overwhelmingly, and he did it while sometimes often at odds with the Republican establishment and he did so by breaking almost every single rule that people like you and I thought were fairly established rules.

[19:45:09] It is an unbelievable moment in American history.

BLITZER: It certainly is. I'm not even sure Donald Trump himself believed that he was going to get the Republican presidential nomination.

We've got a lot more to discuss. Our political team is spread out across this huge arena.

Let's go to CNN's Sara Murray. She is on the convention floor for us right now.

Sara, what are you anticipating?

SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICS REPORTER: Well, Wolf, I spoke to someone close to Donald Trump today who says it is critical, critical that after what we've seen in this convention, Donald Trump delivers a solid speech tonight, but this person said Ivanka Trump's speech might be just as important as her father's tonight. She can offer a humanizing perspective. She can flesh out who he is as a man.

That was their main goal at this convention and it is something that was overshadowed throughout the week by controversy after controversy. Now, in talking to this person, of course, the goal is for Donald Trump to deliver a speech that they say is presidential, is steady and strong, but even people close to him say there is still a little heartburn.

There are still lingering doubts you never know if Donald Trump could set off a firestorm because according to this person, of course, Donald Trump can always go off-script -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right. Sara, I want to go to Jim Acosta also here on the convention floor.

Jim, what are you hearing?

JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, getting to what Sara was just saying, yes, I talked to a source inside the Trump campaign who said that the main worry inside the campaign at this point is this, can Donald Trump stick to the script? It has been a challenge for him throughout this campaign, and there are Republicans, high-level Republicans in this party who have been clamoring for discipline.

Now, we do know that Donald Trump will be delivering a 45-minute speech. He will use teleprompters. He used to mock Hillary Clinton for using those teleprompters, but after the calls for discipline he started using them himself and when you talk to people inside the Trump campaign, they will say he's gotten better at this.

But I talked to another Trump campaign source who said that after this week that they've had, a week that some inside the campaign will acknowledge has been bumpy, it is very important, critical that Donald Trump deliver a strong performance tonight, Wolf.

BLITZER: All right. Jim Acosta, thanks very much.

Dana Bash, you are on the floor, as well. This place already is rocking.

BASH: It sure is. This is the energy that we normally see in campaigns and just to dovetail off of what Jake said at the top of the show, told these people where we are, that they would be supporting a presidential nominee for the GOP who at one time was for abortion rights, was for universal health care and for a whole host of other liberal issues that were non-starters for even the most qualified of candidates in the past, they would have told you no way.

But here we have a lot of people dancing in the aisles ready to unite behind Donald Trump, and I think that's something that, frankly, surprised me, walking through the aisles here, talking to scores of delegates all week long. I expected more division. I expected more reluctance.

And even the people who I've spoken to who supported Ted Cruz or Marco Rubio or John Kasich from the get go, most of them say that you know what? We're Republicans. We want to beat Hillary Clinton and we're going to get behind Donald Trump.

It's a self-selecting crowd. A lot of people who said were never Trumpers didn't show up, but these are important people for Donald Trump. They seem excited and they're going go home and they're going to vote for him.

BLITZER: All right. Dana, thank you.

Jake, Jerry Falwell Jr., who earlier endorsed Donald Trump, he's going to be the first speaker.

TAPPER: The ability of Donald Trump for those of us who lived in the Northeast know in the '80s and '90s was a tabloid king because of his personal life, one that would not have passed muster with Reverend Falwell, the ability of Mr. Trump to win over Christian conservatives, voters and leaders in this primary season has been one of the most remarkable things that has been part of this campaign.

He has not led the lifestyle that one would typically assume evangelical conservatives would support and yet he has convinced them that the system is so messed up, and that he wants to be a good Christian, and he has won them over, most of them.

BLITZER: Yes, evangelical support he got especially in those Southern states helped propel him to win the nomination.

TAPPER: Absolutely. And while there has been a great deal of suspense last night, we all wondered what is Ted Cruz going to say? I have to say, the suspense I'm feeling right now is what is Donald Trump going to say tonight? Is he going to rise to this moment?

I think there are a lot of people out there, a lot of political experts who acknowledge that this could be a very, very tight race and Donald Trump could theoretically win.

[19:50:08] He could be the next president. Will he rise to the moment? That's a big question.

BLITZER: It's probably, I'm sure, it's the most important speech he's got to give,.

But let's listen in to Jerry Falwell Jr., who is our first speaker.

JERRY FALWELL JR., LIBERTY UNIVERSITY PRESIDENT: Thank you. I am so honored and humbled to be here tonight.

In 1984, my father stood at this convention and offered the opening prayer before our party's candidate, Ronald Reagan, went on to accept the nomination and win in a landslide.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

A little over 30 years later I stand here with the sincerest prayer that history is about to repeat itself with the election of Donald J. Trump.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

You know, most of our nation's founders had strong faith as I do in our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

My family has lived in Virginia since the 1600s and in the Lynchburg, Virginia, area since 1834. My wife Becky is a descendant of George Washington's family. Every day I drive past Poplar Forest, the summer home of Thomas Jefferson, who wrote in the Declaration of Independence, "We are endowed by our Creator with certain unalienable right, and among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness." Our Founding Fathers envisioned a government that existed only to protect these God-given rights, and a nation governed by citizen legislators.

The most effective politicians were never career politicians, but surveyors, architects, ministers, farmers, businessmen and even actors who were successful in the private sector before serving in government.

Donald Trump follows in this rich tradition. He has created jobs for thousands and is one of the greatest visionaries of our time.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

I first supported Mr. Trump after I spent 20 years as a young lawyer working with my father to restore Liberty University to financial health. Since 2007, Liberty has become the largest and most prosperous Christian university in the world.

And I am convinced that Donald Trump can work that same magic for a nation with $19 trillion in debt.

My family and I have grown to love and respect the Trumps for other reasons. We have never met such a genuine and loving family. I truly believe Mr. Trump is America's blue collar billionaire.

He is down to earth. He loves America, and the American people. He is a -- he is a true patriot, and a champion of the common man. Mr. Trump has added a plank to this party's platform, to repeal IRS rules sponsored by Lyndon Johnson in 1954, barring churches and non-profits from expressing political free speech.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

Conservative universities in churches, however, have been investigated while authorities have too often turned a blind eye toward liberal groups including universities where left-wing ideology is so pervasive that they have, in effect, become Democratic voter indoctrination camps. Trust me, the repeal of the Johnson Amendment will create a revolution of conservative Christians and for free speech.

We are at a crossroads where our first priority must be saving our nation. We must unite behind Donald Trump and Mike Pence.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

If you are a conservative, a decision not to vote or to vote for a third-party candidate is a de facto vote for Hillary Clinton.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

[19:55:09] If Hillary Clinton is allowed to appoint the next few Supreme Court justices, that in itself can be a fatal blow to our republic.

On the other hand, a vote for Donald Trump is a vote to uphold the second amendment right to bear arms.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

A vote for Trump is a vote to stop Iran, a nation committed to destruction of the state of Israel, from becoming a nuclear power.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

A vote for Trump is a vote to appoint conservative pro-life justices to the Supreme Court.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE) In the days before my father passed away in 2007, he joked with CNN that he dreamed that Chelsea Clinton had interviewed him about the three greatest threats facing this nation. He replied, those three greatest threats are Osama, Obama and your mama.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

Well, Osama is now gone. Obama has six months left in his term --

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

And the only way to make America great and won again is to tell Chelsea's mama, you're fired.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

And the only way to do that is to elect Donald Trump and Mike Pence president and vice president of the United States.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

Thank you. God bless you, and God bless America.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

ANNOUNCER: From Maricopa County in Arizona, please welcome Sheriff Joe Arpaio.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

SHERIFF JOE ARPAIO, MARICOPA COUNTY, ARIZONA: Thank you. Thank you. Thank you, Arizona, and Chairman Robert Graham. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

You know -- I have spent 55 years in law enforcement -- 55 years, I've always regarded my work, mission is critical, but my most important mission has just begun to help elect Donald Trump, president of the United States.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

The stakes are high. We need a strong leader who will stand up for America and put the interests of her citizens first.

Unfortunately, we are losing the battle. We are the only country in the world whose immigration system puts the needs of other nations ahead of ours. We are more concerned with the rights of illegal aliens and criminals than we are with protecting our own country. That must change. We need a leader who will protect our border and enforce our laws because a nation without borders and a nation without laws is no nation at all.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

And now more than ever we must respect -- have respect for the police.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

We must give them the tools and the support they need to do their jobs. The highest levels of government must have our backs as they risk their lives every single day to perform their jobs and protect our citizens. As someone who for 35 years has been a top law enforcement official, living and working on both sides of the border, I can tell you firsthand about the dangers of illegal immigration and drugs.