Return to Transcripts main page

CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL

The Final Five: Interview with Gov. John Kasich; Interview with Sen. Ted Cruz. Aired 8-9p ET

Aired March 21, 2016 - 20:00   ET

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


[20:00:05] WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: We're talking to all the remaining candidates in the race for the White House on the eve of more crucial contests.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: It's an unprecedented moment. Just hours after Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump launched high-profile attacks against one another on foreign policy.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Tonight, from the nation's capital, the final five presidential candidates on volatility around the world.

HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We need steady hands. Not a president who says he's neutral on Monday, pro-Israel on Tuesday and who knows what on Wednesday.

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, I think I'm very different than Hillary Clinton. She doesn't know anything about my policy. She wouldn't know anything about it. Her policies, obviously, didn't work. All you have to do is look at Libya.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Closer to home, tough questions about a turbulent campaign.

SEN. TED CRUZ (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You want to beat Donald Trump, the way to do it is beat Donald at the ballot box.

GOV. JOHN KASICH (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: They're going to pick the most experienced, the person who can beat Hillary Clinton, me.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Supporting each other will always Trump selfishness.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is a CNN presidential primetime event unlike any forum you have seen before.

CLINTON: This may be one of the most consequential campaigns of our lifetime.

TRUMP: You're going to say that with the greatest vote I have ever cast.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Five candidates, two parties, one network, one night. It all begins right now.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: And welcome to our CNN election special. We are about to hear from the final five. All the presidential candidates still in contention for the nation's highest office. The Republican governor of Ohio, John Kasich, joins us now.

Thanks very much for starting us off tonight. Appreciate it.

KASICH: Good to be with you.

COOPER: Let's talk about APAC. A speech today there, you said there is not any prospect for peace until the Palestinian authority, Hamas and Hezbollah, in your words, take real steps to live peacefully. They also have to recognize Israel as a Jewish state. That doesn't sound like there's really a chance for peace in your opinion because I mean, Hezbollah, Hamas?

KASICH: Well, you know, Anderson, why we are living in a dream world until they recognize Israel's right to exist? How could you ever have a two-state solution? I mean, you know, this is pretty clear. You know, when the prime minister came here and talked about the Iran deal, he talked about the fundamental change that he thought they should have exhibited before we signed an agreement. I found it to be pretty compelling.

COOPER: Is there anything you can do as president to move Hezbollah, to move Hamas, to move the Palestinian authority in that direction?

KASICH: Well, there's always a way in which you would talk back channels. And then we do have some limited leverage over the Palestinian authority. And look, the Palestinian authority has been, you know, they have been feeding a lot of hatred for, what, 30, 40, 50 years and teaching their kids about suicide killers and all these other crazy things. So, I mean, is there -- are there back channels in which you can say, look, two-state solution is possible but there's some just preconditions. You don't ever go to an event or negotiation where you don't have some sense of how it's going to work out because then it becomes an experience in nothing but frustration. And that's not where you want to be.

COOPER: In the speech today, you also said we cannot be neutral in defending our allies reference no doubt to Donald Trump who talked about being neutral in negotiations. Would Donald Trump be a staunch enough ally of Israel?

KASICH: Well, you ask him, OK? I can just tell you about me, 35 years I have supported Israel. But it's not just Israel. You know, we clearly have to make sure we strengthen NATO. We have to make sure that Putin understands we will arm the Ukrainians so they can fight for freedom, would providing them with a lethal defensive equipment that they need. We need to make it clear to the Chinese what we expect from them.

And it doesn't mean we have to rattle sabers. We should not get involved in civil wars but, clearly, you know, when it comes to ISIS, we have to destroy ISIS with a coalition of the Arabs and also the Europeans led by us. These are simple things really.

COOPER: What about military aid to Israel. When you are the senior Republican on the house budget committee, you proposed cuts to a lot of federal programs, freezing military aid to Israel, Israel currently receives I think about $3 billion in aid. Would that still be on the table? Would that be an area to cut or --?

KASICH: Look. We still have to continue to make sure that Israel has military superiority, particularly in the air. And of course, I was a supporter of the iron dome which is really critical in early days, the Arab program. No, I think we don't want to ever put them in a position where they don't have superiority.

COOPER: So no cuts to Israel at all military aid?

KASICH: I don't see any reason to do that or to say that today. We want to make sure that they're strong and that they the strongest in the region.

COOPER: You also said today Jerusalem is the eternal capital of Israel. That's your quote. The last three Republican presidents, though, did not move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem, did not recognized Jerusalem as the capital. Why were they wrong?

[20:05:07] KASICH: Well, take the statement for what it is. It is the eternal capital of Israel.

COOPER: Should the embassy be there?

KASICH: Well, I would prefer that. But I think we have other things we have to do up front which is to make sure they have security. Back channels to the Palestinians. And you know, I'm told today that there are -- there's some progress with the Palestinians in terms of keeping some of the lid on the violence. I mean, the stabbings have been terrible. But perhaps there are still some things that they do to try to keep a lid on the situation.

My whole point, Anderson, as regard Israel and the whole Middle East is we look for stability. We are not going to have any long-term peace. It's a matter of getting through each day with a lid on things over there. We can make more progress but it's tough right now.

COOPER: Ted Cruz talked about acknowledging Jerusalem as the capital day one, moving the embassy there. You are saying that's a mistake?

KASICH: No. I'm just saying let's take one thing at a time.

COOPER: Does it impact the peace process?

KASICH: Well, look. There's some things you say that you know are just going to get you nowhere. Nobody made a stronger speech today about my support over all of my professional career for Israel. And what I think we need to do vis-a-vis the Palestinians, Hamas, Hezbollah, Iran. I called for the suspension of the Iran nuclear agreement because of their ballistic missile violations and basically violating the spirit of the agreement. But look, Anderson, it's easy to make a lot of statements. But when you have a lot of experience in this matter, which I had serving 18 years on the armed services committee and then being in the Pentagon after 9/11 at the request of Secretary Rumsfeld to help solve some of their problems over there, you learn to choose your words carefully. And I think today I was very strong in that speech. I received, you know, an overwhelming response from the beginning and all the way through that talk, and I think I've said enough at this point.

COOPER: You have a lot of government experience. Donald Trump Trumpets his business experience.

KASICH: I have that, too.

COOPER: Making deals. What is the difference - I mean, is experience in business, making deals in business, does it transfer to statesmanship? Does it transfer between making deals between countries or is that a whole other --

KASICH: No. That's a good question because, frankly, when you are a politician, people wonder if you can transfer it to business. I did. I had good success when I worked as a banker and as a board member. Secondly, you know, in business, there's not an automatic ability to understand politics. It's not the same. Some people can make the transition. Other people cannot.

COOPER: Is it only deals in business or more are there a lot more kind of moving - I mean, you are dealing with countries, you are dealing with a lot of factors.

KASICH: Yes. I think it's more complicated, more nuanced. And -- but you know, I had great success in terms of business agreements. And, of course, the balanced budget, you know, which I was able to do with the Clinton administration in addition to welfare reform. And, by the way, massive reform of the Pentagon. I was involved in significant things there. And then in Ohio.

But I have to say that the time I was in business, almost ten years I was out, was absolutely invaluable to me to understand in a real way what moves the economy. But it's back and forth. I'm the only one that has the legislative and executive and business experience in the race.

COOPER: You talked about the Pentagon. Donald Trump said to CNN today it's time to rethink NATO because it costs too much. That NATO partners should be ponying up more. Does that make any sense to you?

KASICH: No. We are going to have to strengthen NATO. In fact, NATO has to be stronger not only vis-a-vis Putin and what could happen over there in central and Eastern Europe. But at the same time, we want our allies to be able to share intelligence with us. We need to come closer together. And frankly, they have to be part of the coalition to be able to destroy ISIS.

COOPER: Is it reckless then of a potential leader to talk about --? KASICH: I would never speak that way because we need NATO. NATO is

important. Now, we all wish they would do more.

COOPER: So, you are saying it sends a wrong message to say that kind of thing?

KASICH: I don't think anybody is paying that much attention right now. But as a leader of this country you want to be careful. And I wouldn't say that now. Because, Anderson, look. It's cooperation on the intelligence side. It's cooperation, frankly, on the ability to put coalitions together, to work against Iran if they violate the agreement. There's so many reasons which we need to have stronger relationships around the world and not just with NATO. We have to strengthen our relationship with some of our allies in the Middle East, particularly the Egyptians, the Jordanians, the Gulf States. The Saudis, that's a tricky situation. They are now, I tell you another place we have to keep our eye on. It is really valuable and that's Turkey. And you know, now the talk with --

COOPER: Suicide bombing there.

KASICH: I know that. And they are blaming that on ISIS. But a situation is in Europe now, they're trying to work a deal both with most particularly Turkey to try to deal with the problem of the migrants, the refugees. What's interesting is they are now beginning to talk about perhaps this is an opening for Turkey to get in the EU. We need to pull Turkey to the west. We don't need Turkey to go to the east. They are a gateway to what we need to do in the Middle East.

COOPER: You are talking about ISIS. You said today one of the pillars of your presidency would be to keep ISIS out of Libya. Would you actually use U.S. troops to do that?

[20:10:04] KASICH: No. First of all, I have to tell you, that's a major mistake of the administration and Hillary. We should have let Gadhafi stay there. He was cooperating with us. And by knocking him out, we turned this into the Wild West. There's about six or seven cities in Libya that we have to pay attention to. We could use some air power but I would not be foregoing on the ground. In Libya, we can support people that want to deal with the situation there but when it relates to ISIS in both Iraq and also in Syria, it's going to be necessary to do it.

COOPER: So you are saying Libya is worse now than it was under Gadhafi?

KASICH: Yes.

COOPER: You would have kept Gadhafi in power?

KASICH: Listen. Any time you mess in the civil war, anytime you start getting in the middle of these kind of problems directly, which is what we did, you create problems.

COOPER: So it was a mistake to overthrow Gadhafi? KASICH: It was a terrible mistake and it was Hillary that really

pushed it. And let me tell you. When I was a very young congressman we had troops in Lebanon in the (INAUDIBLE) civil war.

COOPER: Ronald Reagan tried to knock out Gadhafi.

KASICH: Stay on one thing here. In Lebanon, when they wanted to keep the troops there, President Reagan actually did. I said, no. Civil wars are bad and it was soon after that we withdrew our troops because of the bombing in the barracks. But Reagan sent a message to Gadhafi with a basically with a missile. He didn't put troops on the ground. And it got Gadhafi's attention. And Gadhafi, you know, really disarmed his nuclear operation.

One other thing I wanted to tell you that I pointed out today that may have been lost. And I have been talking about giving the kind of support that we need to the people in Afghanistan. But I don't want to stay there forever. Give them the support. Give them the air power that they need. Let them be able to manage on the ground and in the air. But the United States should not be in Afghanistan for the rest of our lives.

COOPER: Can the U.S. effect change in Afghanistan without having a presence on the ground?

KASICH: Well, I think there's a way we could, in fact, be able to deal with trouble when they pop up. But to have a huge troop presence there for a very long time --

COOPER: -- or Special Forces or something like that?

KASICH: Yes. But you don't want to set a time timeline. That's another big mistake, so.

COOPER: Which is something President Obama did early on.

KASICH: Yes. And then he had a changed the timeline and you send a message, OK, well, let's wait them out. This is not smart. That's why you have to understand foreign policy and how to conduct it and how to leverage the support you have and how do you bring people in and manage these things.

COOPER: Let's talk about Cuba. President Obama is there today. You have been critical of the opening to Cuba, Starwood Company, Airbnb are now going to the island because of the president's new policy. Under your presidency, would companies like that be forced out?

KASICH: I'm not fore-doing anymore to advance anything in Cuba until they - look. We can't even meet with these ladies who have been marching every single Sunday to ask for human rights and people to be --

(CROSSTALK)

KASICH: Yes. Since what happens -- the president hasn't even touched ground and Castro is criticizing the United States. The president says, well, that means we are communicating.

COOPER: Has that ship sailed? I mean, business is going in. Under your presidency, would you take it out?

KASICH: I don't want to expand anymore. I would have to think about exactly what I would do. But let me say one other thing, Anderson. We talk about NATO. It's absolutely critical that the president be work with NATO now so that if Iran does violate that nuclear deal that he put together that we put the sanctions back on.

You know, some people say rip it up right now. Well, I have called for a freeze on the nuclear deal because of the ballistic missile violations and violating the spirit of the deal. But if they in fact violate the deal in principle, we wouldn't have to want to do this alone. We would want to do this with the Europeans. And you know, what the problem gets to be? Money. People go over, they make money. And then time comes to take action and we put money ahead of what we know is a security.

COOPER: When I asked you about NATO and Trump you essentially kind of said, look, as leader you wouldn't say that kind of thing.

KASICH: I'm not saying it now.

COOPER: Right. And you have been very careful not to directly attack Donald Trump.

KASICH: Look. He's dead wrong on NATO. He's dead wrong.

COOPER: Do you think he's ready to be leader of the free world?

KASICH: Look. That's up to the people to decide. That gets to be personal about my feelings about his competence. Just look at his statements. And I'm telling you what I think about it. And to say that we need to withdraw from NATO? We're not going to trade.

COOPER: He's not saying withdraw. He's saying lower --

KASICH: What does that mean? What we need to do is we need to have deeper relations. I mean, imagine that when the folks at Charlie were murdered, the magazine. They had a service, a million people in Paris. We didn't send anybody. I mean, what are we thinking? I mean, how do we dis an ally like Israel and not have the president meet with the prime minister. These are very -- or a red line or dumping Gadhafi out. I mean, these are things that really soak confusion in the finds of not only our friends but in the minds of our enemies.

COOPER: Let's talk to you immigration. Arizona votes tomorrow. You know that no major issue there, obviously, immigration. The last debate you said you could pass a bill to put undocumented immigrants on a path to legalization in your first 100 days in office which really puts you at odds with the two remaining Republican candidates, but closer to Hillary Clinton than you tor the Republicans.

KASICH: Well, look. Anderson, Ronald Reagan himself tried to solve this problem. We never finished the border. My position has been clear. You finish the border. No one comes in. I don't want to hear any excuses. You're going back if you try to sneak in. A guest worker program, OK. You've come in, work, you go back. And for the 11.5 million who are here, if they have not committed a crime since they have been here, they will pay back taxes, a fine, probably be delayed in terms of when they can get benefits and then they can be legalized, and not citizens. The notion that we'll go into homes and we are going to grab people out of their homes with their kids on the front porch crying, are you kidding me? This isn't going to happen in America.

COOPER: There is not going to be a deportation force? No matter what Trump or others say?

KASICH: Well, it's never happened. And they quote these things that are just not accurate. I mean, look. If you have a deportation order you are going to have to leave. That's the law in America. But the idea that we are going to go around in the neighborhoods picking these people up is just not, first of all, it is not practical. And secondly, that is not the way we behave. What are we going to do, just yank them out, you know, handcuff them and put them in a car, and their kids are there, they are breaking up families? Come on. That's not - and I didn't say it could pass in 100 days. I will get them a plan in 100 days coupled with the economic changes I want on tax cuts and balanced budgets and common sense regulatory.

[20:15:34] COOPER: There's a new CNN poll out tonight. The good news and bad news for you. The good news -- do you like good news or bad news first?

KASICH: Whatever you want, Anderson. You choose.

COOPER: I'm a bad news first guy, but I'll give you the good news first. You are the only Republican that beats Hillary Clinton in a head-to-head matchup, 51 percent to 45 percent. Seventy percent of Republicans, though, think you should drop out because it's impossible for you to win enough delegates to be the party's nominee.

KASICH: Well, I don't think anybody is going to have enough delegates to win the nomination before the convention.

COOPER: No matter what this goes.

KASICH: Yes. This is going to go to the convention. Look. If I hadn't won Ohio, if I did dropout and Trump had won Ohio, he would be the nominee, but he didn't.

COOPER: So the 70 percent of Republicans who say you should drop out you say --?

KASICH: I don't know who they are. And look, these polls, I mean, people have been telling me all along what the polls are and pundits tell me what's going to happen and they have never been right yet. I think God created pundits to make astrologers look accurate, to tell you the truth. But look, let me just tell you that I'm moving forward because I have

the skill, the experience, the vision and record to fix the country. That like really matters. And we are going to get to a convention and delegates are going to think about two thing, who can win? I'm the only one that can win a general election. And number two, who can be president? I have the experience to do it.

COOPER: Let me ask you couple of question on that. Last week you had Governor Romney campaigning with you in Ohio. Didn't endorse you but urging people in Ohio to vote for you. A proponent of strategic voting. He in Utah and Arizona he's put outs the robo call. I just want to play it for you and get you to talk about it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MITT ROMNEY, FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Hello, this is Mitt Romney. And I'm calling to ask you to join me in supporting Ted Cruz for president this Tuesday in the Utah Republican caucuses. This is the time for Republicans across the spectrum to unite behind Ted. He is the only Republican candidate who can defeat Donald Trump. At this point, a vote for John Kasich is a vote for Donald Trump.

COOPER: Campaigning for you last week in Ohio. Does it make any sense?

KASICH: Of course it doesn't. I mean, how you come out one week and say he's got a great record and the next week -- but look. You know, if he says that a vote for somebody else is, you know, a vote for Trump or whatever. You just read the polls. I'm the only one that wins the general. Are we thinking about -- I don't get this. Are we thinking about just what happens in a Republican primary? We have to win the general election and beat Hillary and have somebody that has domestic and foreign policy experience, which I have.

COOPER: Today, Senator Ted Cruz, and he is going to be out here shortly said if you weren't in the race he could get enough delegates to win the nomination and he suggested that you are staying in as an audition to be Trump's vice president. What do you say?

KASICH: Well, first of all, there is zero chance that I would be vice president with either of them.

COOPER: No chance?

KASICH: No chance. Zero. Below zero, actually. And secondly --

COOPER: Wouldn't be interested?

KASICH: Not interested. And secondly, Anderson, if I hadn't won Ohio, Trump would - he would be the nominee right now. People forget that they wanted me to get out and get behind Marco. Great guy, by the way. I didn't. And you know what, let me just tell you. My message of hope, my message of how we can fix the problems of income insecurity, how we can fix the problem of lack of wage increases and what's going to happen to our children is a vital message.

COOPER: So Cruz --

KASICH: It's important to be out there for me be out there to have this voice and the voice of my team heard across the country.

So when Cruz calls you a spoiler candidate, you say?

KASICH: That's name calling. That's name calling. Don't name call.

COOPER: John Boehner, former house speaker, good friend of yours going back to your days in Congress, he said quote "if we don't have a nominee who can win on the first ballot, talking about the convention, I'm for none of the above. They all had a chance to win. None of them won. I'm for Paul Ryan to be our nominee." Should he --?

KASICH: He walked that statement back. He said he was for me.

COOPER: He did?

KASICH: Yes.

COOPER: Should the nomination be limited to somebody who ran?

[20:20:04] KASICH: I'm not going to tell the delegates what to do on this. I mean, I have been to a convention in 1976 when Donald Reagan, by the way, took on an incumbent president by the name of Gerald Ford. We got together. The delegates were extremely serious as they always will be. And they will measure, because they are going to be political types, you know, local party officials, former members of Congress, members of the legislature. They will go try to decide who can win in the fall and who can be president.

Today, when we talk about all this process, it's all like, who is going to be nominated? We shouldn't forget the most important thing. Who can lead this country?

COOPER: Finally, at the convention, Donald Trump has said there could be riots if he's not made the nominee. You are the governor of Ohio. This would happen under your watch. Are you planning to call out the Ohio National Guard just in case?

KASICH: We always manage events where we think there could be problems as best we can. But that kind of language is not acceptable. In addition to that --

COOPER: Not acceptable for a leader to make?

KASICH: Yes.

COOPER: What kind of language should a leader say?

KASICH: Well, you know what? I went to the convention. I gave it the best I could and I didn't win. And you know, God bless everybody here and God bless America. And let's get behind the person that won and let's move forward and win the White House.

COOPER: Do you think that encourages people to riot? KASICH: Well, I don't think that kind of language is good. I mean,

you don't think it is. I know you don't think it is. So either do I, either do people when they hear it. It's not a head shake. We're running for president of the United States of America to be the leader of the world, the commander in-chief and lead this country forward. And we have to be better than that kind of language.

COOPER: Governor John Kasich, thanks very much. Always a pleasure.

KASICH: Thanks. Thank you.

COOPER: We're going to hear from Donald Trump shortly. But next it's senator Ted Cruz's turn.

Much more of our election's special final five ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[20:25:49] BLITZER: Welcome back to our CNN election special. The final five candidates still in contention for the nation's highest office. Texas senator Ted Cruz is with me right now.

Senator, thanks very much for joining us.

CRUZ: Thank you for having me, Wolf.

BLITZER: All right. You've attacked Donald Trump in our APAC speech. You went after him suggesting he is not pro-Israel enough. That he is against the Iraq. That he's not necessarily against the Iran deal. What do you back any of that up? Because I listened to his speech very carefully. He was against the Iran deal, very pro-Israel. What do you say?

CRUZ: Well, you know, it's interesting. You can listen to Donald Trump on any given day and he can give you three different answers in the course of the day.

BLITZER: Did you listen to his speech?

CRUZ: I listened to part of his speech.

BLITZER: What did you think?

CRUZ: Look. I think his speech was actually an improvement. He clearly hired someone to write that speech for him and he said some good things. Now, they were different from what he said in the course of the campaign?

BLITZER: What was different?

CRUZ: Well, for example, he said two debates ago that if he were president he would be, quote, "neutral" between Israel and Palestine.

BLITZER: To try to negotiate a deal.

CRUZ: Yes. And I think that gets it exactly wrong. What that suggests is that he buys into the moral equivalency many in the media pitch. And I think if you don't know the difference between your friends and enemies, if you think that the state of Israel that is defending itself against terrorism is somehow morally equivalent to terrorists who are murdering Americans, murdering Israelis who are strapping dynamite to their chest.

BLITZER: He was not neutral in that speech today.

CRUZ: Well, he didn't say that. But that's, you know, Donald is an interesting fellow because he can say totally different policy positions in the course of a day from one end to the other. But on -- with respect to the Iran deal also in the debates. He said, no, he would not rip up the Iranian nuclear deal. Instead, and this is his answer to everything, he would renegotiate it. He would get a better deal. Anyone who says that doesn't understand the ayatollah Khomeini.

BLITZER: Let's talk about peace negotiation in the Middle East. You've repeatedly criticized Trump suggesting there's no difference between him and Hillary Clinton, that they both say they want to negotiate a peace deal. What's wrong with negotiating a peace deal?

CRUZ: Nothing is wrong with negotiating a peace deal if the Palestinians will come and seek peace. The barrier to peace is not Israel. Israel wants peace, has wanted peace every day of its existence. The barrier is the Palestinians.

BLITZER: So what do the Palestinians need to do from your perspective in order for you as president to negotiate a peace agreement?

CRUZ: Look, in order for there to be a peace agreement, the Palestinians need to acknowledge Israel's right to exist as a Jewish state.

BLITZER: They've acknowledged that.

(CROSSTALK)

BLITZER: The Palestinian authority has acknowledged a two-state solution of Israel and Palestine.

CRUZ: But they do not acknowledge Israel's right to exist as a Jewish state. And the Palestinian authority is in a so-called unity government with Hamas, a terrorist organization. The PA celebrates when terrorists murder innocent people. Taylor Force, an American Texan who has just recently murdered by a Palestinian terrorist. The PA celebrates that and they compensate the families of the terrorist for murdering innocent Americans.

BLITZER: So if the Palestinians say they accept Israel's right to exist as a Jewish state --?

CRUZ: And they have to renounce terrorism. They have to stop inciting terrorism. Stop paying the families of terrorists.

BLITZER: Then they will try to broker a deal? CRUZ: Look. I'm happy to try to broker a deal from the beginning.

But the difference is you need a president who stands with Israel who doesn't accept this moral equivalence that the Palestinians are somehow the same as the Israelis when the PA is celebrating terrorists murdering women and children. It's not a moral equivalence and it's the same -- what Donald Trump does is the same thing Hillary Clinton does. You know, when Hamas was raining rockets on to Israel and it was discovered that Hamas was keeping their missiles in schools, in elementary schools, Hillary Clinton gave an interview where she said you have to understand, Gaza is really small. So they don't have any other place to put them.

BLITZER: When did Trump say that?

CRUZ: That's Hillary Clinton.

BLITZER: Yes. But you said they're the same.

CRUZ: They both accept the moral equivalence. They both refuse to acknowledge how they are different. You know, what was striking in Trump's speech? He repeatedly referred to Palestine which was just very odd. Palestine hadn't existed since 1948.

[20:30:00] And it was clearly a speech where, you know, one of the challenges with foreign policy is that Donald's knowledge of the world is very, very limited. At a CNN debate, you recall, you asked him about the nuclear triad --.

BLITZER: All right, let's get back to the Middle East. We'll talk about the triad another time. Let's talk about the Middle East right now. You've said you want to move the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem ...

CRUZ: Yes.

BLITZER: ... and you would start the process on day one.

CRUZ: Yes.

BLITZER: You know that President Reagan said the same thing. He wants to move the embassy. Both President Bushs said the same thing. When they took office, they didn't do it citing security concerns. Why do you think you would be different?

CRUZ: I will do what I said. We will move the embassy to Jerusalem. And you're right. Republicans and Democrats have said this for year after year after year. And it's actually U.S. law. You know, in every other country on earth, our embassy ...

BLITZER: But there is a waiver in there. And every six months, the president of the United States ...

CRUZ: You're right.

BLITZER: ... can sign a waiver saying I'm not doing it for national security considerations. CRUZ: And what has happened is ...

BLITZER: And every president has done that.

CRUZ: You are right. We have had presidents, both Democrats and Republicans, who have exercised their waiver. Today at AIPAC, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton before him, both promised to move the embassy to Jerusalem. Everyone watching them knows if they get into the White House, they will exercise the waiver and they won't move it to Jerusalem.

Indeed, Hillary's husband, Bill Clinton, that's what Bill Clinton did, is exercise the waiver. The difference is when I say I'm going to do something, I do it.

BLITZER: Irrespective of the consequences, the anger that it would generate, the security concerns it could cause, the diplomatic repercussions from the rest of the Arab world.

CRUZ: The difference is when I say it, I say it taking the consequences into account. So, it's not just empty campaign rhetoric. But rather on day one, beginning the process of moving the embassy to Jerusalem, sends a message both to our friends and allies. To our friends, look, for seven years, the Obama administration hasn't stood with us ...

BLITZER: All right.

CRUZ: ... has abandoned -- but let me explain this, Wolf, this is important. We have been abandoning and alienating our friends and allies. Moving the embassy to Israel -- to Jerusalem makes a statement to everyone of our allies that America is back. And it also makes a statement to the enemies, yes, many in the Arab world would be very upset. Iran will be furious at moving the embassy to Jerusalem.

And it makes a statement to the radical Islamic terrorists who want to kill us that America will stand up to them. Again, that the era of appeasement under the Obama-Clinton foreign policy is over.

BLITZER: Today, Donald Trump suggested that the U.S. should reconsider its role in NATO, diminish that role, stop spending all that money for NATO commitments. Do you agree?

CRUZ: I don't. I found his remarks really quite astonishing.

BLITZER: Why?

CRUZ: To suggest that he would voluntarily weaken NATO, either withdraw America from NATO or decrease our involvement from NATO ...

BLITZER: He didn't say withdraw, he said decrease.

CRUZ: Well, but he wasn't clear on the details which is ...

BLITZER: Let's speak under NATO allies, for example, take care of Ukraine. He said Germany has got more of an interest there than United States.

CRUZ: Well, Donald in all likelihood has no awareness of this, but with regard to Ukraine, the United States has a deep involvement. Ukraine used to be the third largest nuclear country on the face of the earth. Ukraine voluntarily gave up its nuclear weapons because the United States of America came in and said if you hand over those nuclear weapons, we will ensure your territorial integrity from Russia. We made a commitment.

And then, the Obama administration has broken its word. What nation on earth that has nukes would ever voluntarily give it up again? Now, everything I just said, I bet you dollars to doughnuts, Donald Trump has no idea about any of that when he said Ukraine is not our problem. He is not focusing on protecting our selves against nuclear war. And, it has been Russia's objective. It's been Putin's objective for decades to break NATO, to break it apart.

BLITZER: He says it's a U.S. problem but Germany and other NATO allies in Europe has a bigger interest there than the United States.

CRUZ: That is so hopeless.

BLITZER: And there's a lot of money that could be spent here as opposed to being spent over there.

CRUZ: That is so hopelessly naive. And what Donald Trump is saying is that he would unilaterally surrender to Russia and Putin. Give Putin a massive foreign policy victory by breaking NATO and abandoning Europe. That's going backwards. You know what? You know who would agree with that? Barack Obama. Trump's policy idea is entirely consistent with Obama withdrawing from Utah. You know, after the Paris attack.

BLITZER: Exactly where?

CRUZ: ... withdrawing from Europe, rather. You know, you look at after the Paris attacks, when you saw leaders of the world marching with Paris and singularly absent was America. Obama wasn't there. Kerry wasn't there. Nobody was there. That reflects Obama's leading from behind.

And, you know, Trump's foreign policy is the Obama/Hillary leading from behind. What he said is we need to withdraw from the whole world. This is a dangerous world. If America withdraws, we get the kind of chaos Obama/Clinton has produced.

BLITZER: Let's talk about your national security advisers. Last week, you released a list of your foreign policy advisers. Frank Gaffney was on that list, the former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense during the Reagan administration.

[20:35:00] Mr Gaffney, has said that President Obama is a Muslim. That the Muslim brotherhood placed operatives throughout the Federal government, that Saddam Hussein probably was behind the Oklahoma City bombing, that Chris Christie may have been complicit in treason by appointing a Muslim American to New Jersey's State Judiciary. Is this someone whose views you agree with?

CRUZ: Wolf, look I recognize that folks in the media get really nervous when you actually call out radical Islamic terrorism. And, Frank Gaffney is someone I respect.

Frank Gaffney is a serious thinker who has been focused on fighting Jihadism. Fighting Jihadism across the globe. And he's endured attacks from the left, from the media because he speaks out against radical Islamic terrorism because speaks out against, for example, the political correctness of the Obama Administration that effectively gets in bed with the Muslim brotherhood. Muslim Brotherhood is a terrorist organization.

BLITZER: Let's be precise. When he said back in 2009, Barack Hussein Obama would have to be considered America's first Muslim president. Do you agree with him on that?

CRUZ: I don't know what he said in 2009.

BLITZER: I read to you the quote.

CRUZ: I don't have the full context. I'm interested in planning the media got regain. But, here's every quote, every person supporting you, who said at any point, do you agree with every statement. That's silliness.

Here's my view. We need a commander in chief that defends America. And defending America means defeating radical Islamic terrorism and defeating ISIS. What is completely unreasonable is Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton's consistent pattern of refusing to even say the words radical Islamic terrorism.

When we see a terror attack -- let me finish this point. Wolf, when we see a terror attack in Paris and San Bernardino and President Obama says, "Gosh, I didn't realize people were upset. I guess I wasn't watching the cable news," and then he gives a national T.V. conference where he doesn't call out radical Islamic terrorists but instead lectures Americans on Islamophobia. We need a commander in chief keeping us safe.

And one of the reasons why I'm going to win on November ...

BLITZER: But I just want to be precise.

CRUZ: ... is people are fed up with this silliness.

BLITZER: Would he be considered your National Security Adviser if you were president?

CRUZ: Look, Frank is one of a number of people part of the team advising me. And I appreciate his good counsel. For example, Frank ...

BLITZER: And so these statements ...

CRUZ: ... Frank has been leading the effort to focus on the threat of an EMP and electro magnetic pulse which would be a nuclear weapon detonated in the atmosphere that could take down our electrical grid. It could kill tens of millions of Americans. And all Iran would have to do is fire one nuke into the atmosphere. They did hit anything but they just need to get it above the eastern seaboard. And they could kill tens of millions. That is valuable work focusing on national security.

BLITZER: Shall we hear ...

CRUZ: And I'm curious, Wolf, when does the media focus on threats like an EMP?

BLITZER: I think we focus on a lot of those. Let me just read one of the thing, he says, "There's on some pretty compelling circumstantial evidence of Saddam Hussein's Iraq being involved with the people who perpetrated the 1993 attack on the world trade center and even the Oklahoma City bombing." Are you a smart guy? Have you seen any circumstantial evidence to back that up?

CRUZ: You know, I told a minute ago I'm not going to gotcha game of every quote every adviser may have given 20 years ago. You are welcome to throw them out.

BLITZER: That was in 2009.

CRUZ: But, I'm actually interested in talking about the problems in this country. And not, this is silliness. You know, let's focus on real problems facing America.

BLITZER: Let's talk about Cuba.

CRUZ: Great.

BLITZER: President Obama is in Cuba right now. You are a Cuban American as we all know. You've said you would shut down the U.S. Embassy in Cuba if elected president. Would you also terminate what U.S. businesses are now doing in Cuba immediately upon taking office?

CRUZ: I would enforce the law. And federal law prohibits doing business with Cuba. And there's a reason for this. So to understand what Obama is doing in Cuba you have to put it in broader context.

You know, today Obama is there in Cuba with movie stars and rock stars. And the far left has always glamorized the Castro's in Cuba. They are chic and, you know, Che Guevara was such a good looking young revolutionary.

Mind was a homicidal maniac who tortured murder people. But he looked good on shape. And, you know, as Barack Obama is sitting there sipping Mojitos wit brutal communist dictators, he can't be bothers to meet the dissidents. He can't be bothered to visit with the ladies in white. He can't be bothered to hear the screams of oppression.

And what Obama is doing in Cuba is actually very much the same as what he's doing in Iran. In Iran he's giving over $100 billion to the Ayatollah Khomeini, the worlds leading states sponsored of terrorism who chants death to America. And Cuba he's giving billions of dollars to the Castro's. Communist dictators is 90 miles ...

BLITZER: You'd reverse all of that?

CRUZ: We should be standing up to enemies of America and shouldn't give billions of dollars to people who hate us and want to kill us. This is not

BLITZER: The Cuban people don't hate us.

CRUZ: But he's not giving the money the Cuban people his giving it to the dept. ...

BLITZER: But the Cuban people will benefit from all this investment that's coming in.

CRUZ: No, they won't. And this if you look at Cuba. Every dollar it goes in Cuba it goes to the government.

[20:40:00] And what this will do is it will strengthen the repressive regime of Fidel and Raul Castro. It will increase tortures. It will increase the murders.

And it will also increase Cuba spreading terrorism throughout Latin America, anti-America. As you know, my family has firsthand experience with this. My dad was imprisoned and tortured by Batista in Cuba. And my aunt, my Tiya Sonia was imprisoned and tortured by Castro's goons.

And, you know a couple of years ago, I had the privilege of meeting with Natan Sharansky, the famed Soviet dissident. And we met in Jerusalem. And Sharansky described how in the Gulog when Reagan was president that they would pass from cell to cell notes.

Did you hear what President Reagan said? Evil empire, ash heap of history tear down this wall. There is power to the president standing up and speaking the truth to evil. And what this president does is exactly the opposite. He abandons our friends and shows weakness and appeasement and gives billions of dollars to our enemies who hate us. It's exactly backwards.

KING: Let's talk about miracles.

CRUZ: OK.

BLITZER: All right. You said today there is proof that the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob still produce miracles. The proof you said at that Lindsey Graham held a fund-raiser for you here in Washington today, that's a pretty big miracle.

CRUZ: It was remarkable miracle that just a few weeks ago he was openly go calling for my murder, so that's a remarkable thing. I listen, I like Lindsey personally, he's got a wonderful sense of humor. She's a passionate supporter of Israel.

And Lindsey reflects he's part of what we're seeing more broadly across the country. We're seeing Republicans uniting behind this campaign, coming together. We're seeing Republicans to full spectrum from Lindsey Graham and Mitt Romney to Mike Lee and Mark Levin. Now that's a broad spectrum across the full coalition of Republicans are uniting behind our campaign because our campaign is the only campaign that has repeatedly beaten and that can and will beat Donald Trump.

BLITZER: One Republican was not on that list is the Republican presidential front-runner, right now Donald Trump, listen to what he said about you over the weekend.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: He was born in Canada and lived there four years. He was a citizen of Canada 15 or 16 months ago. He was a citizen of Canada. Can you believe it? He became a United States senator and then said, I didn't know I was a citizen of Canada, lying Ted, lying Ted. He didn't know. Lying Ted, lying Ted.

One of that the biggest liars I've ever seen in my life. I really mean it. You know he walks in, the evangelicals are with me because they know one thing about me, I'm not a liar. But Ted Cruz he walks in, bible high, bible high, puts it down and he starts lying, I'll tell you that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: All right. Your response.

CRUZ: Listen, every time Donald gets scared, he begins lashing out, he begins attacking, he begins insulting, he begins yelling. Often he begins cursing. I'm impressed Donald managed not to curse in that particular rift but in the minute, that will change. And, you know, I will say this. Donald's campaign, his entire campaign is built on a lie. I understand the people who are supporting him.

BLITZER: What's the lie?

CRUZ: Let me explain. I understand the people supporting Donald. They are frustrated with Washington. With politicians in both parties that have been lying to us that make promises and they go to Washington and do the exact opposite of what they say. But if you are fed up with Washington, with the corruption of Washington, then it doesn't make any sense to support Donald Trump who has been immeshed in the corruption of Washington.

The lie behind Donald's campaign is that he'll stand up to Washington. He hate, he is the system. Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton are flip sides of the same coin. Donald Trump has made billions buying influence in Washington. Hillary Clinton has made millions selling influence in Washington. And Donald Trump has supported liberal democratic politicians for 40 years from Jimmy Carter to John Kerry to Joe Biden, Chuck Schumer, to Harry Reid to Hillary Clinton as a presidential campaign.

And Donald Trump has enriched himself using government power and in every instance, Donald believes government is the solution. Whether it was supporting the Wall Street bailout, which he did, he supported Obama's bailout, supporting the Obama's stimulus plan or using eminent domain to take the homes of little old ladies or to try to do so in order to build a parking lot for his casino.

BLITZER: Because even though he calls you, "lying Ted" ...

CRUZ: Yeah.

BLITZER: ... you've just heard night it then just sort it right there, I asked him if he might consider you as his vice presidential running mate if he gets the Republican nomination. And he said crazier things happen in politics. Here's the question, are you open to being his vice presidential running mate?

CRUZ: I had a zero interest whatsoever in this. And listen, if Donald Trump is the nominee, it's a disaster. Hillary wins. Donald may be the only candidate on the face of the planet that Hillary Clinton can beat in a general election.

[20:45:04] And the stakes are too high. If you are fed up with illegal immigration, Donald Trump funded the gang of eight that pushed the massive amnesty plan. I led the opposition to it. If you are fed up with wages being driven down by illegal immigration, Donald Trump has supported open border Democrats for 40 years. And if you are unhappy with the economic stagnation with the job loss caused by ObamaCare, Donald Trump funded Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi taking over the congress which led directly to ObamaCare.

BLITZER: So far about half the states have voted in Republican primaries and caucuses. He has 2 million more votes than you have. People have spoken.

CRUZ: At the people have spoken and what they have said, we started with 17 candidates. It was a wonderful diverse, talented, young dynamic field. It's now narrowed. This is effectively a two-person race. There are only two candidates with any plausible path to winning the nomination and getting 1,237 delegate me and Donald Trump.

BLITZER: If he doesn't get that exact number but its get close and you are much further behind and he has millions more votes, do you think he should get the nomination?

CRUZ: Well, let's be clear, my objective is to win 1,237 delegates.

BLITZER: Let's say you don't and let's say he doesn't but he is closer than you are, he has millions more votes.

CRUZ: Well, and look I think the hypothetical you're giving is totally fanciful and it's not going to happen. There are one of two scenarios, number one, I believe we're going to win 1,237 delegates and win the nomination before the convention. The second outcome far more likely is nobody gets to 1,237 and we go to the convention with Donald having a bunch of delegates and me having a bunch of delegates. And we'll be neck and neck and if that happens then the convention is going to decide.

Now they're not going to do what people in favor with Trump and Washington want which is bring in a white horse who wasn't on the ballot, he wasn't running, that's not going to happen. The delegates are going to decide between Donald and me. And if we go in with a bunch of delegates each, I believe we win that and win that by earning the support of the delegates elected through the Democratic process.

BLITZER: Let me get your reaction about a politico, a political report as saying your campaign, at the Cruz campaign, is exploring the possibility of forming a unity ticket with Marco Rubio. You are smiling, your laughing, that you had considered that possibility.

CRUZ: Listen, people write all sorts of things in the media.

BLITZER: Is it true?

CRUZ: I haven't had any conversation with Marco about that. That that is not accurate. Our staff hasn't had any conversation with Marco's staff. Is it true that a lot of people have suggested that Marco and I should join forces. And I think very, very highly of Marco, Marco's he's a friend, he's talented, he's an incredible communicator. And he inspired millions in this campaign. And what we are seeing right now is the overwhelming majority of the Rubio supporters are coming to support us ...

BLITZER: That sounds like you think that could be a good idea to team up with him.

CRUZ: Listen, we welcome Marco's supporters with open arms, and I would enthusiastically welcome Marco's support. I think very, very highly of him. But what we're seeing, that is a manifestation and by the way, I would enthusiastically welcome John Kasich's support.

We are seeing republicans come together 65 to 70 percent of Republicans recognize that Donald trump would be a disaster that he loses to Hillary. And if Hillary wins, we lose the supreme court for a generation, lose the bill of rights and our kids are buried in trillions more debt.

BLITZER: Very quick, yes or no, if Trump is the nominee, will you support him?

CRUZ: I have said many times, yes. That's a commitment I made. And as we started on moving the embassy to Jerusalem, when I say I'm going to do something, I do exactly what I said. But let me be clear, Trump is not going to be the nominee because that hands the general election to Hillary, were going to beat Trump and what we are saying, our campaign is the only one that's beaten him now nine times all over the country and we're seeing republicans come together and unite and we're going to keep on winning primaries and caucuses going forward, including I hope we do very well in Utah and Arizona and coming up tomorrow.

BLITZER: Senator, thank you very much.

CRUZ: Thank you. God bless.

BLITZER: Senator Ted Cruz. Coming up the republican front-runner Donald Trump, our CNN election special, the final five continues in a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[20:53:10] COOPER: And welcome back to our interviews with the final five candidates. Coming up, we're going to hear from Secretary Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, Senator from Vermont. And you'll also going to hear from Donald Trump coming up in just a few minutes.

Well, let's get some quick thoughts from our panel. So far, we've heard from Governor Kasich, we've also heard from Senator Cruz, Gloria.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I think neither these guys are getting out any time soon. And, you know, Kasich believes he's the most electable. Doesn't sound like Cruz actually wants to be on the ticket with Donald Trump when Wolf was talking to him ...

COOPER: Kasich either, doesn't he?

BORGER: No, Kasich -- well, and these things can change, you know, of course. But Cruz in particular seemed to be really belittling Donald Trump's grasp of foreign policy tremendously.

COOPER: It's interesting, John King, because Cruz is much more willing to go after Donald Trump than John Kasich is.

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Kasich has decided, I'm going to be the nice guy and I'm going to somehow try to parlay my Ohio win into more delegates. Tell me where he's going to win.

They do hope when the schedule, his schedule is west this week, Arizona, which is winner take all, Trump is favored, he gets those, his path continues.

But Utah could be the most important state whether Ted Cruz can get above 50 percent, he get about 50 percent, he get all those delegates.

Kasich is waiting on Pennsylvania. He says only the plan on Wisconsin which is on the 5th's, a few weeks from now, right, to two weeks from Tuesday.

Where is he going to win? I don't know. But, they all seem to hope, they all keep hoping for this moment and they're hoping this meeting of AIPAC, all of the candidates who set Senator Sanders a year, the pro-Israel group AIPAC.

And I hope that there is this moment where someday people say, Donald Trump is not up to it. He's not ready for it.

COOPER: Hasn't happened yet?

KING: Hadn't happened yet. COOPER: Nia?

NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER: No, I mean, you look at our poll and for instance, 70 percent say, listen, Kasich should probably drop out of this race. And you also just look at the trajectory of Donald Trump, something in like 12 percent in June.

He's at like 47 percent now and all along the way they've have this hope and dream and plan to -- that he would implode or that something would happen that the anti-Trump or never Trump movement would work and it never has.

[20:55:05] COOPER: Right.

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yeah. And I was actually at AIPAC this afternoon and there's no question John Kasich gave a very rousing speech.

He had the entire place, which was tens of thousands of people on their feet applauding. He gave a speech really like I haven't been before and Donald Trump did as well. And the whole room was ...

COOPER: Donald Trump actually gave a speech.

HENDERSON: He gave his speech from a teleprompter. And the room just sort of didn't know what to do with it, because that was not the Donald Trump that they were used to seeing on their television for six months.

But one thing I would say about what John Kasich said to you was about the fact that he believes, firmly believes that once he gets the convention floor, if there is no nominee that the delegates will turn around and look at the poll that you just showed that he is the most electable and that that's why he's going just buckle in and wait until it get to ...

COOPER: Coming up next, the Republican front-runner weighs in. Donald Trump joins us here in the CNN election center, that interview right after this quick break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[21:00:00] BLITZER: Welcome back to our CNN election special. The final five joining us now. The Republican presidential front-runner, Donald Trump.

Mr. Trump, thanks very much for joining us. This is your first day in Washington in quite a while.