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Reaction to GOP Presidential Town Hall; Trump Abandons GOP Loyalty Pledge; Trump on War Over Wives; Cruz Says He Would Ask Trump Campaign Manager to Resign; Trump Says NATO Is Obsolete; Trump Talks About Nuclear Weapons; Cruz on the Muslim Brotherhood is False; Trump on Self-Funding is False; Kasich on Electability Is True; Trump Earns Politifact's "Lie of the Year"; Dirty Tricks and the GOP Race; Poll: Kasich is Most Honest GOP Candidate; Trump: I Believe In Apologizing If You're Wrong. Aired 11p-Midnight ET
Aired March 29, 2016 - 23:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[23:00:00] DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: It is breaking news. Sparks right fly at our Republican Town Hall in Milwaukee. This is a special CNN tonight. I'm Don Lemon. We are just one week away from Wisconsin primaries. Ted Cruz, John Kasich and Donald Trump each trying to make their case to the voters. Who's up, who's down and what happens next? Can you answer all of that?
Well let's discuss now with my dream team. Yes they are. A very handsome and lovely group of people. Douglas Brinkley, his latest book is "Rightful Heritage, Franklin D. Roosevelt and the Land Of America." Sitting in political commentator, Kayleigh McEnany, and our newest colleague, political analyst, Mr. David Gregory. He's the author of "How's Your Faith." Also with me Bob Beckel, the author of "I Should Be Dead: My Life Surviving Politics, TV and Addiction." And CNN Political Commentator, Buck Sexton and Amy Holmes is with us as well. Amy is the anchor of the TheBlaze TV. As I said a very lovely, smart, talented, handsome group of people. David since you're our news colleague, welcome by the way to CNN.
DAVID GREGORY, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Thank you, Don.
LEMON: What's your assessment of the night? What's your reaction?
GREGORY: Well, I mean, you know, we've seen the tenor of this race continue to deteriorate. And I think one the things that really stands out is that there's no pretense anymore. That there is anything other than an unraveling going on, on the Republican Side. You now basically have all the candidates walking away from the pledge. You know, the pledge to support whoever is the GOP nominee. And I think Ted Cruz notably is the one who was in the best decision to deny Trump the nomination is saying, he'd be a disaster if he got the nomination, he would hand it to Hillary Clinton.
LEMON: Did anybody come out ahead?
GREGORY: I thought that Cruz made a pretty strong conservative pitch, particularly I a state that he's in a good position to win, or at least to win the most delegates in. That will be important if he's going to put an important stumbling block in front of Trump. LEMON: So the new guy stole my news about the pledge. Donald Trump
making news tonight. Let's listen. Then we'll talk about it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Do you continue to pledge whoever the Republican nominee is?
DONALD TRUMP, REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: No, I don't anymore.
COOPER: You don't?
TRUMP: No. Let's see who it is.
COOPER: You won't promise to support the Republican nominee.
TRUMP: And he was essentially saying the same thing. Let me tell you, he doesn't have to support me. I have tremendous support right now from the people.
COOPER: So the pledge you took is null and void, the idea of supporting whoever the Republican nominee is, you say you will no longer guarantee you will support the Republican nominee.
TRUMP: I've been treated very unfairly. Look I won the State of Missouri, right. No, I have.
TRUMP: Ahh, truly Cruz people. I've been treated very unfairly. I'll give you an example.
COOPER: Unfairly by who?
TRUMP: I think by basically by the RNC, the Republican Party, the establishment. I honestly, I watched him tonight with you and I watched how tormented he was when you asked him that question. I don't want to have him torment, I don't want to have him be tormented. Let me just tell you I don't want his support, I don't need his support, I want him to be comfortable. Now if he wants to support me that would be wonderful because I think I'm going to win. But let me just tell you. I watched him skirt around like any politician would, skirt around the issue.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: That's a big deal at the beginning of the campaign. Is he going to sign it? Are they all going to sign it? Really was he going to sign it? He just renounced that saying he was not going to sign it. Was that news to, Kayleigh?
KAYLEIGH MCENANY, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: No, because it's important to consider where we are now. You know, we're at a place where virtually it's impossible for any candidate to go into the convention with more delegates than Donald Trump. For Ted Cruz to outpace him and get to a majority, he would have to win 87 percent of the delegates going forward. That's a tremendous task, especially as we go into New Jersey and New York, states that Ted Cruz is not poised to do well in. So I think the way the landscape is now, Donald Trump is going into a convention where the nomination is either going to be taken from him, because You have guys like Mitt Romney in smoke filled backrooms, plotting to put someone like Paul Ryan in, or you have guys plotting to put Ted Cruz in, even though Donald Trump is poised to go in with more delegates. So I think when you consider that that this is going to be taken from him, I think he's exactly right. I'm not going to support a nominee if it's not myself if I go in with the most delegates.
LEMON: Literal smoke-filled back rooms. You think of people smoking a cigars. You know like a legacy. I get your meaning. Go ahead Buck.
BUCK SEXTON, CNN, POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: The rules have to be respected across the board tough. The rules are that if someone gets to 1,237, they're the nominee. If you don't get to 1,237 then the rules of the convention kick in. And what Ted Cruz's pitch is, is that in head-to-head competitions, when you don't have this very fractured field, he does very well against Trump. If he continues to beat Trump or if in the future, I should say, is able to beat Trump in head-to-head competitions, and no one gets to 1,237 and no one wins on that first ballot. Then the rules say that Cruz can in fact be the nominee. So this notion that's being stolen from him, nothing is being stolen from him.
[23:05:03] LEMON: Those are the rules.
SEXTON: There's some artificiality of all this process in the first place with the RNC setting the rules of the game.
LEMON: Bob, let's talk about the message here. Because he keeps saying, "I'm a unifier. I'm a unifier." But that's not a message of reconciliation, is it?
Not in my book, no. In Wisconsin, he'll get the majority of the delegates. He loses to Cruz, it's math.
BOB BECKEL, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: That's not my definition, no. But I'll tell you what we're missing the big point here is that this Wisconsin primary is now becoming the most important primary of the entire campaign.
LEMON: How so?
BECKEL: Well, because if Donald Trump wins in Wisconsin he'll get the majority of the delegates. If he loses to Cruz then it's going to be an issue of math. And he just can't get enough.
LEMON: So if he wins, this smoke-filled backroom thing is null and void.
BECKEL: I don't know any smoke-filled backrooms. Who are these power brokers? I remember when there used to be power brokers. Have you to go kiss them -- LEMON: Kiss the rings so to speak.
BECKEL: Yes, that's right. But they don't exist anymore. Particularly in the Republican Party.
AMY HOLMES: ANCHOR, "THE BLAZE TV": But in 25 the power brokers are those delegates. And if this convention contested that's when it gets important. Scott walker endorsing Ted Cruz today. It's not so important in terms of the election is happening a week from now, but the signal it sends to those party insiders, that if there is a round two vote at the Republican convention, that if Trump were to win Wisconsin, that they could abandon Trump and go ahead and cast their vote for Ted Cruz.
GREGORY: We see battles that are ugly and they get mean. But this is different. I mean at some point there will be a Republican nominee, however we get there. And you're going to want some consolidation. Because the front-runner has very high negatives. So does the Democratic front-runner. What you're seeing now is a real shot across the bow saying this would be dangerous to party and the country. That's what Ted Cruz is saying. If Trump is the nominee, I think Trump is in a tough position to consolidate.
HOLMES: But to that point I think that Trump is threatening the Republican Party with what he said tonight. That he wouldn't support the front runner and a big threat to that is would he then launch an independent or third-party campaign?
LEMON: And if anybody knows about these power brokers and who has actually seen the back smoke filled back rooms, it would be Douglas Brinkley. He's an historian here. So what of this whole pledge thing?
DOUGLAS BRINKLEY, CNN, PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: Well it's out the window now. It's a big deal everyone was afraid Donald Trump was going to be the third party guy and it was about getting Trump to agree to the pledge. I was surprised even Kasich at the end said, "No pledge for me either." It makes Reince Priebus, I think, look a little foolish in history, that that whole pledge thing is meting down and it reinforces what he said, a kind of unravelling of the Republican Party --
LEMON: I want you to continue to answer but I want to listen to what you just refered to. Let's hear what the candidates say. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: You're not ironclad standing by the initial pledge to support whoever the nominee is?
JOHN KASICH, REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You know, frankly, all of us shouldn't have even answered that question. But it was the first debate and you know, what the heck. Sometimes you answer questions you ought to just say I'm not answer it.
COOPER: And so now just to be clear. KASICH: I'm as clear as you're going to get out of me.
COOPER: You're not standing by that one.
KASICH: I don't want to be political here. I've got to see what happens. If the nominee is somebody that I think is really hurting the country and dividing the country, I can't stand behind them.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: So more evidence that the country is not unified. This is not a --
BRINKLEY: I echo what Bob said. Look Wisconsin really matters here. And so we saw their strategies for Wisconsin tonight. Donald Trump jumped immediately with Anderson Cooper on the fact that Cruz misspoke and said he was from Florida at one point. He said, "You're from Texas or are you from Canada?" Later in the town hall, Trump went on that his real name is Raphael Cruz from Canada or somewhere else. Where you saw Cruz tonight with Heidi, in the audience, she cancelled Ted Cruz's wife all over New York City meetings. Is going to be campaigning the next few days. I think Cruz's wife is a huge asset trying to attract women on his side and build momentum over that. I think the mistake that Trump made about that --
LEMON: Let me say something. I don't mean this to come off as sexist. But I saw Heidi Cruz in the audience and I went what a beautiful woman, what a lovely woman. I didn't understand this whole thing.
BRINKLEY: The two kids, Ted Cruz has a 5-year-old and 7-year-old. And I think at the very end Trump reluctantly said I better stop retweeting a little. So he did back off. But I thought there was an early opportunity for Trump to have healed that situation with Cruz that was lost.
SEXTON: We may be overstating the demise of the pledge, by the way. They can re-pledge the pledge as soon as it's clear. Right now in this moment of -- this moment of unraveling. And who said they care what Kasich said.
LEMON: An hour or two ago.
Let's listen to Ted Cruz's answer on that question.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
I'm not in the habit of supporting someone who attacks my wife and attacks my family. I think that is going beyond the line. I think our wives, I think our kids should be off limits. They don't belong in the attacks.
[23:10:00] CRUZ: And, listen, I'm not an easy person to tick off, but when you go after my wife, when you go after my daughters, that does it. And I think -- I want this race to stay focused on policy and issues and solutions to the real problems facing America. That's where I'm going to stay focused. But if other candidates don't, I think that's beyond the pale.
And I think nominated Donald Trump would be an absolute train wreck. I think it would hand the general election to Hillary Clinton. Poll after poll after poll shows Donald Trump losing 10, 11, 12 points or more. I don't want to see the White House given over to Hillary Clinton.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: Okay, so Donald Trump would be a train wreck but he's still going to support him as a nominee. I wonder if he wants to change his answer now after listening to Kasich and Donald Trump, but go ahead.
HOLMES: Perhaps he does, but I want to get back to the original sound bite there when he was defending his wife. I thought this was a great moment for Ted Cruz. And what did Wisconsin voters learn about him tonight? They learned he was a proud Christian. He talked about his Cuban-American background and he also talked about the strong woman in life including that wonderful story about his mother. Contrast that with Donald Trump who spent the first 20 minutes defending a campaign manager putting his hand on a female reporter and then defending his own remark about Ted Cruz's wife. I think when you draw that contrast, plus the fact that over half of Republican women in a recent poll said they could not imagine voting for Donald Trump, tonight was not a good night for Donald Trump.
LEMON: And Ted Cruz I thought it was a very personal moment when he talked about the drug abuse in his family and the family member who had died from a drug overdose. I thought that was a very personal and very poignant moment that I didn't get from any of the other candidates.
SEXTON: The place where Ted Cruz has the most trouble is in authenticity. A lot of people that I think are open to the messages that Ted Cruz has from within the GOP, from within the conservative movement, they hear him and they say he seems a little fake, it seems a little staged, sometimes it sounds a little too preachy. Tonight I think he broke through some of that. I think especially in the story with his sister. He was able to connect with people in a way that seemed more authentic and more human.so that's a win for him. We know he has the substance and the policy and everything else. I think everybody knows he's really smart. He's not no substance, no policy.
LEMON: Do you think he was trying too hard?
MCENANY: Yes, I think he came off very hostile with Anderson at the beginning. Anderson was asking very fair questions and he came off in a very petulant, angry manner in the beginning. And likewise when answering the comment about will you support the eventual nominee, he didn't answer the question. Anderson asked three or four times. That happened again when Anderson asked about the efficacy of patrolling Islamic neighborhoods. He didn't answer the question. He said respectfully when asked again, again and again. Contrast that to Donald Trump who just said point blank, "I'm not going support the nominee at this point." I think that's refreshing and people appreciate the honesty.
SEXTON: I was thinking of the connection to voters and how he goes back and forth with Anderson is kind of a separate issue for me.
BRINKLEY: I think one of the worst moments for Cruz was when they asked him what mistakes you make in life? What do you regret that you did? He said, "Well --." He Quinn think of one thing he's ever done wrong. He said "I'm hard charging and I'm your man."
LEMON: Nobody has an answer to that question. If you have one fault, what is it? I've worked so hard that I forget to cash my paycheck. I want you guys to listen to Donald Trump on the attack on Cruz's wife. Here he is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: You retweeted an unflattering picture of her next to a picture of your wife.
TRUMP: I thought it was a nice picture of Heidi. I thought it was fine.
COOPER: Come on!
TRUMP: I thought it was fine. She's a pretty woman.
COOPER: You're running for president of the United States.
TRUMP: Excuse me, I didn't start it. I didn't start it.
COOPER: So with all due respect, that's the argument of a 5-year-old.
TRUMP: I didn't started. No, it's not the --
COOPER: The argument of a 5-year-old is he started it.
TRUMP: You would say that. That's the problem with our country.
COOPER: Every parent in the country knows a kid who says, he started it.
TRUMP: Excuse me. No, no, no. That's the problem. Exactly that thinking is the problem this country has. I did not start this. He sent out a picture and he knew very well it was a picture. It was a picture of --
COOPER: He didn't send it out. A super PAC sent it out.
TRUMP: it was a cover story of a picture taken by Antoine Verglas, one of the great photographers of the world, by the way. My wife was a very, very successful model. Like one of the most. It was a picture for the cover of "GQ," which is a very good magazine. Are you going to give me some of that?
COOPER: it wasn't even a pro-Cruz super PAC. It was in anti-Trump super PAC.
TRUMP: They were Romney people. Romney, you know, very embarrassed that he did so badly for years ago. The guide choked like a dog. He lost an election.
COOPER: Do you have proof that he sent it out?
TRUMP: Everybody knows he sent it out. He knew the people in the super PAC. I would be willing to bet he wrote the phrase.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: OK, so at first he blamed Ted Cruz for sending out the risque picture. Then he said it was Mitt Romney. But if the picture is out there of his wife, why does it matter?
SEXTON: First of all, Ted Cruz had nothing to do with the photo. If he did have anything to do with the photo, he would be violating federal election law. We all know that, right. It came from a PAC, it wasn't Cruz. You think that Ted Cruz would risk that for this?
LEMON: For other things maybe. We're not talking about bags of cash.
BECKEL: We're not close to the Wizard of Oz.
[23:15:00] GREGORY: He does expose I think a fundamental flaw. One thing you've seen in this ridiculous discourse this week is that Trump is getting under Cruz's skin. This is what Trump has done. He's eviscerated other candidates by going -- his strength is the personal, the kind of gutter. Whether he had nothing to do with it or not, I understand the rules with super PACs. Cruz come have come out and he could have denounced the super PAC. You have certainly done that. And said I don't want any part of that. Knowing what could come next.
SEXTON: If he spent all his time denouncing super PAC ad, which would be unfair. And the most important point that I see from this whole situation is that he looked completely preposterous saying, "Well he started at first." Anderson was absolutely right.
HOLMES: Anderson had the sound bite of the night. That's the argument of a 5-year-old.
LEMON: OK, speaking of, they're talking to me in my ear. You got to take a break. Is this working -- you said it's getting under Cruz's skin. But is this really working for Donald Trump at this moment or is it going to work for him in the long haul? We shall see. We'll be right back.
LEMON: Breaking news, CNN's Republican town hall tonight in Milwaukee, one week before the important Wisconsin GOP primary. As you can see, I'm surrounded with my dream team. Back with me now Douglas Brinkley, Kayleigh McEnany, David Gregory, Bob Beckel, Buck Sexton and Amy Holmes. OK, so Bob, Anderson asked Ted Cruz about the Trump campaign manager, about Corey Lewandowsky, who was arrested today for allegedly manhandling a reporter. Let's listen to what he said.
[23:20:07] (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: If he was your campaign manager, would you ask him to resign?
CRUZ: Of course. Look, it shouldn't be complicated that members of the campaign staff should not be physically assaulting the press. I mean, that shouldn't be a complicated decision.
COOPER: He says he's innocent of all the charges.
CRUZ: Well --
COOPER: -- Do you believe it was assault?
CRUZ: He has just been charged. I know that the reporter alleged that she was physically assaulted. That I will say, it's consistent with the pattern of the Trump campaign.
COOPER: Do you think it says something about the campaign itself? About the leadership?
CRUZ: The culture of the campaign has been a campaign built on attacks, on insults, and I think there is no place in politics for insults, for personal attacks, for going to the gutter, and there should be no place for physical violence either.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: Bob Beckel, is this is a weak spot for Donald Trump? Was that effective how we did it?
BECKEL: No, no. Listen, you go back in history, and first ladies or wives of candidates have been beat up from the very beginning, from the beginning of time. They're going to be a big part of this campaign. You can't get away from it.
LEMON: You know, I'm talking about Corey Lewandowsky, the campaign manager.
BECKEL: Yes, I mean look, if you believe the video, and it's hard not to believe a video, right, Don? It's pretty clear he did.
LEMON: But according to Donald Trump, there's the video right there. According to Donald Trump, it no big deal, they're downplaying it, she should be stronger. That is the response from the campaign. Go ahead.
BRINKLEY: I thought Trump handled that fairly well. He's talking about loyalty of defending his guy. Was he going to fire the campaign manager for that incident? So he doubled down, tripled do you on it like Trump did. It's a big news story. It will be headline news tomorrow, but I think in about three days it will kind of taper away. There'll be more headlines. I don't think it that big of a story in the end.
LEMON: Here's Donald Trump's response.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Will he continue as your campaign manager?
TRUMP: Yes, he will. I looked at the tape. The answer is yes.
And by the way speaking of something else, I watch Ted Cruz, his home state is not Florida. His home state is Texas. It may be Canada. But to the best of my knowledge it's Texas. So he made that -- I was surprised you didn't correct him actually.
COOPER: Let me ask you about Lewandowsky. Initially your campaign said, this never happened. There was no video of it. You came out and said you thought this person was perhaps making it up. This reporter -- Lewandowsky himself tweeted saying I never met this reporter, I never touch this person. Now the videotape shows he clearly did touch this person. Whether or not you think it was battery or not.
TRUMP: I don't know what touch means. Do you mind if I read you her statement? I mean give me a break. The problem is everybody dumps people when there's like a sign of political incorrectness. I'm just going to read, if I can find it --
COOPER: She said she was almost knocked off balance.
TRUMP: She said she was almost knocked off balance, right. Here's what she said. You want to read it? Or you want me to do it?
You're a professional announcer. Why don't you read it? The bottom part.
TRUMP: The bottom. Now that's an exact quote from her prior to seeing the cameras, and now she says, oh, I better change my story, I guess.
COOPER: This quote says, "I was jolted backwards. Someone had grabbed me tightly by the arm and yanked me down. I almost fell to the ground but was able --"
TRUMP: Yanked you down. Did you see it? Did she almost fall to the ground, Anderson?
COOPER: "-- was able to maintain my balance nonetheless. I was shaken. Campaign managers aren't supposed to try to forcefully throw reporters to the ground."
No, she did not go down on the ground.
TRUMP: Oh no, let me just say -- look, before she knows -- folks, look, I'm a loyal person. I'm going to be loyal to the country. I'm going to be loyal to Wisconsin. We have to tell it like it is. It would be so easy for me to terminate this man, ruin his life, ruin his family. He's got four beautiful children in New Hampshire, ruin his whole everything, and say you're fired.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: All of that is true. It would be awful, but does it matter if he in fact assaulted someone? Here's when her response was on May 10th of this year. She said -- excuse me, March 10th. She said, "Trump acknowledged the question but before he could answer, I was jolted backwards, someone had grabbed me tightly live by the arm and yanked me down. I almost fell to the ground," she said she never fell to the ground, "but I was able to maintain my balance. Nonetheless, I was shaken." Is there anything different in the video than what she said?
HOLMES: Well listen, we can try to litigate this case right here and now on CNN. I don't think that's really the point. The point is that Donald Trump has in his employ a campaign manager who is now being charged with battery of a female reporter. He spent 20 minutes of this town hall going back and forth about these issues. He says that she wasn't knocked off balance. Well he was knocked off message. When you're spending your time defending your campaign manager about a court case which is apparently going to keep moving forward, because the campaign manager says he's pleading not guilty. That's drip, drip, drip. That's not speaking to the American voter.
MCENANY: He was loyal and that's what the American people respect. He was driven off message by this, but nonetheless, where every other politician would have dropped their operative, he was loyal to him. And I think people really respect that.
[23:25:01] If any one of us on this stage had a close family member or close friend who was accused of something like this, what's the first thing you would do? You would go to that person, a very close personal adviser to Mr. Trump, you would go to that person and you would and you would ask them, did do you this? Which is what he did on day one. He asked the secret service, he asked Corey Lewandowsky, they said, no, he didn't do this and he stood up for the guy and he was loyal to him from day one. I respect that. He put loyalty before politics.
HOLMES: But when does loyalty become blindness?
MCENANY: Well, as you just mentioned --
HOLMES: -- told the "daily beast" today that Donald Trump has a blind spot when it comes to this gentleman. If you can even call him that.
Amy, as you mentioned this is pending litigation. That's why we have courts of law. By the way, we give Dzhokhar Tsarnaev the benefit of innocent before proven guilty. But if you're with the Trump campaign it's guilty until proven innocent.
HOLMES: You're actually calling him a terrorist?
LEMON: I know everyone, I don't want to be rude and cut you off. I just have to get to a break, and we'll continue this conversation on the other side. We'll be right back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
LEMON: John Kasich, Ted Cruz, Donald Trump taking questions from voters in town hall tonight in Milwaukee. Back with me now is my political dream team.
[23:30:00] You wanted to say David, about this Corey Lewandowsky --
GREGORY: This is not about the legal aspect of this case, wherever that goes. It's certainly a distraction. But again, if you're the Trump team, what are you doing? Why are you leaning into this? You've already got the problem at your rallies where you have violence. You have a candidate who talks about his desire to punch protesters in the face. So what are we learning about the leadership style of Donald Trump as a potential president? What are we learning about the people he surrounds himself with? What are we learning about the way he respond it criticism or adversity. He had more granular detail about whether there were adequate print markings on this reporter's arms and does about the fact that he wants to get rid of NATO. And doesn't even know the basic facts of the fact that NATO has been fighting terrorists in Afghanistan for the past decade. I would think that as Commander and Chief he'd want to have a better grasp of that. Why does he want anyone working with him putting his hands on a reporter?
MCENANY: Because this is bigger than him. That's the thing. This is detrimental to his own self-interest, but he's standing up for him because he's making the point I don't want someone's life to be ruined. Unfortunately in the country today you through out an accusation. He did this and you're guilty in the court of public opinion, and forever you are the guy who assaulted a reporter and was fired by Donald Trump.
LEMON: But you just made the point as a legal matter this is highly defendable.
MCENANY: No, I'm making the point that in the court of public opinion today, someone says you're guilty of punching a reporter, whatever it was, he fires him and for the rest of his life he's known as the guy who was fired for punching a reporter.
GREGORY: Why do want -- you're running for president -- why would you want an operation, why would you want somebody --
LEMON: I don't think anyone is saying they're guilty. They're saying that he put his hands on a reporter. And usually people who work for campaign don't put their hands on reporters. Isn't that the bottom line?
SEXTON: It's not a good or defensible move. From a purely political perspective, while I agree it's certainly un-presidential. And by the way, some of Trump's most defenders, between that and also tweeting out the photo of Heidi Cruz, have started to waver a little bit. But to Kayleigh's point loyalty -- not backing down, and being willing to take anything on. Take it right in the chin is Trump's brand. So if you were to back off on -- GREGORY: Couldn't you be loyal to him and say, look, he's my guy, I'm not going to rush to judgment on this thing but we certainly don't want any reporters who are covering us, they do a good job. We don't want anybody to get hurt in all this, we're looking into all of this.
SEXTON: He should have said, look Corey, apologize right away. We don't do this. Don't be a jerk. But at this point he can't fire him.
HOLMES: In fact Corey calls her delusional. And to your point --
SEXTON: And said he never touched her in the first place.
HOLMES: -- well exactly. And to your point you saw one of the voters in the audience ask Mr. Trump why can't you be more like your son? This is an issue of temperament. Why can't you be a little bit more mellow?
LEMON: I want to move on. I want to talk about foreign policy, because you mentioned it a little bit when you talked about NATO and what have you. So, Douglas, this is for you. Anderson asked Trump about nuclear weapons in the world and who should have them. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: At some point we have to say, you know what, we're better off if Japan protects itself against this maniac in North Korea, we're better off, frankly, if South Korea is going to start to protect itself, we have--
COOPER: Saudi Arabia, nuclear weapons?
TRUMP: Saudi Arabia, absolutely.
COOPER: You would be fine with them having nuclear weapons?
TRUMP: No, not nuclear weapons, but they have to protect themselves or they have to pay us.
Here's the thing, with Japan, they have to pay us or we have to let them protect themselves.
COOPER: So if you said, Japan, yes, it's fine, you get nuclear weapons, South Korea, you as well, and Saudi Arabia says we want them, too?
TRUMP: Can I be honest with you? It's going to happen, anyway. It's going to happen anyway. It's only a question of time. They're going to start having them or we have to get rid of them entirely. But you have so many countries already, China, Pakistan, you have so many countries, Russia, you have so many countries right now that have them.
Now, wouldn't you rather in a certain sense have Japan have nuclear weapons when North Korea has nuclear weapons? And they do have them. They absolutely have them. They can't -- they have no carrier system yet but they will very soon.
Wouldn't you rather have Japan, perhaps, they're over there, they're very close, they're very fearful of North Korea, and we're supposed to protect.
COOPER: So you're saying you don't want more nuclear weapons in the world but you're OK with Japan and South Korea having nuclear weapons?
TRUMP: I don't want more nuclear weapons. I think that -- you know, when I hear Obama get up and say the biggest threat to the world today is global warming, I say, is this guy kidding?
The only global warming -- the only global warming I'm worried about is nuclear global warming because that's the single biggest threat.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: Douglas Brinkley, what do think of that answer?
BRINKELY: I thought it was Trump's worst moment of the night. When he gets on to foreign policy and he doesn't come off as Commander in Chief. And the idea that we're just going to start opening nuke shops in Japan and South Korea. Nuclear proliferation at the same time we're saying we don't want nuclear proliferation. I think it's problematic. That's what scares people the most about Donald Trump. And I thought by in large he had a pretty good night. I thought he answered a lot of these campaign thing.
[23:35:00] He was very comfortable, but in foreign affairs talking about NATO being obsolete, but maybe we'll create a new kind of NATO. It doesn't have enough specifics to it. It's very radical and I think it's frightening people.
BECKEL: It's radical but there are people out there that are listening to what Trump has to say about this. I don't find myself defending Trump very often. But the fact is that we have 40,000 troops in Japan, we have 50,000 in South Korea. They're the ones that would be right in the harm's way. I think a lot of people are saying why? Why are we doing this? It's been 70 years since the end of the Second World War. I think he may be hitting a marker here that a lot of people in Wisconsin probably would think is the right thing.
BRINKLEY: Did we forget a few years ago what happened in the nuclear meltdown in Japan? One of the worst disasters in world history. Now we're going to encourage more nuclear for Japan? If you're going to did that, I don't think you can destroy --
LEMON: A lot of people are sitting at home tonight wondering what all these candidates said tonight was it true? How much truth was in it? Well, Tom Forman is up next and he's going to give us a fact check on all of it. We'll be right back.
[23:40:06] LEMON: We heard the GOP candidates at our Town Hall tonight in Milwaukee. Now let's do a reality check on what they said. Here's CNN's Tom Forman. Tom, we're ready for you. What do you have?
TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Don, Ted Cruz said that Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton have promoted bad policies in the Middle East. In effect encouraging terrorism.
CRUZ: Egypt was handed over to the Muslim Brotherhood, Mohamed Morsi. The Muslim Brotherhood is a terrorist organization. That was profoundly harmful for U.S. national security interests.
FOREMAN: There is no question that the administration here was happy when the long time ruler of Egypt stepped aside, Hosni Mubarak. And yes, the Muslim Brotherhood took over for a period of time. This is a group of Islamists who believe that their religion should dictate the principles of government, and it is viewed by some governments in the Middle East, including Egypt, as a terrorist group. But the U.S. State Department has an official list of 59 foreign terrorist groups at the U.S. sees as terrorists and the Muslim Brotherhood is not on that list, never has been. Mr. Cruz wants to be the president of the United States, that's the State Department. His statement is false.
Donald Trump admitted that he is not entirely self-funding his campaign, but he trivialized the idea of any outside money. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I'm in for about $35 million right now.
TRUMP: We take the small loans, the people that send $17.50, or $250, even $1,000 --
COOPER: And you solicit those on your website.
TRUMP: No, I sell hats and shirts and --
COOPER: No, but you do solicit donations on your website?
TRUMP: No, I don't really think so.
COOPER: Yes, you do. You have two thoughts, where you do.
TRUMP: Okay, whatever. Whatever. It's peanuts.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
FOREMAN: Peanuts, peanuts, that's the word he uses there. The federal election commission though says, he has $9.5 million from outside sources. That's about a quarter of his funding. Maybe that's not much to him. I've had peanuts before, they don't cost that much. His statement about this is false. And John Kasich cut right to the chase. He said if Republicans want to win in November, they have to look closely at his campaign.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) KASICH: In virtually every national poll, I am the only one that beats Hillary Clinton consistently. In fact, in the last poll that came out I was up 11 points.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
FOREMAN: Well, we took a look at the numbers, and yes, in the past two weeks, there have been six national polls that say, yes, he would defeat Clinton by 4-11 points. That's better than Cruz or Trump does overall. And a CNN/ORC poll found very recently would defeat her by six point. However, however, to even get the nomination for his party, he has to rely on a contested convention at this point and a lot can change before the general election. But we will say for now his claim about this is true. You can find out a whole lot more, Don, about all the things that our crack reality check team has done, go to cnn.com/realitycheck.
LEMON: Very well done, Tom Foreman. We always look forward to you. Right guys, didn't we love that. Yes, we love that. So back now with my political dream team here. David, I want to go to you. Donald Trump was the winner of the Politifact's liar of the year award. Here's what they say. That when it came down to the only real contenders were Trump statement, so they lumped all of Trump's lies into one big trophy, yet he's still the front-runner. Does the truth even matter in this election cycle anymore?
GREGORY: Well, of course it matters. It always matters. And the reality is that a lot of Trump's appeal is about attitude over the truth in some cases or hard core policy positions. That's more true this than in past years, but I think in a lot of elections it's more true than not. But part of what Trump is dealing with is that in a still crowded field of three, he is not yet a majority candidate this deep into the cycle. He's still a front-runner, but he's got a lot of liabilities on his side and they seem to be gathering, not diminishing as he goes along, which I think becomes a real problem. And it's why a guy like Ted Cruz is really -- Cruz doesn't have a lot of room here. He either says the guy who is a front-runner is a fraud or he says we got to unite against him because he can't win.
LEMON: But Donald Trump is not the only one accused of doozies, right. Because Ted Cruz is accused of some dirty tricks as well. I mean even if you look at the fact check, he's wrong about Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton not turning the places over to the Muslim Brotherhood. Trump is not self-funding his campaign. So does the truth really matter in this campaign?
HOLMES: Well, as liberals used to like to say, there is the larger truth and in Trump's defense --
LEMON: Depends on your definition of truth, is that what you're saying?
HOLMES: What it is I suppose. Truth with a capitol T in Donald Trump's defense, he is hitting upon some big truths. While his answer to nuclear proliferation was incoherent, what is consistent is he says the United States is getting the bad end of the deal, the bad end of the stick.
[23:45:03] And there a lot of voters agree with that. And you can look a different policy positions, when it comes to trade. China for example, dumping steel on the U.S. and global markets. Driving steel producers out of business. Trump speaks very clearly to those issues.
BECKEL: But the thing about Trump is that he does capture a certain breed of voter out there that really does -- is sort of isolationist, it is very, very committed to the idea of doing away with the idea of trade agreements. Because they think -- it may not be the case -- but they think they're taking their jobs away. You listen to what Trump's positions have been it's been very consistent. Trade, immigration, illegal immigration and the wall.
SEXTON: Immigration is the one, by the way. That's the one that launched him in the stratosphere. It's what put him ahead of rest of the pack. And it's why, by the way, someone like John Kasich, despite all of polls you can show has absolutely no shot. Because he's too close to Hillary, Bernie and too close to the rest of the Democratic Party on the one issue that has been so difficult for the rest of the candidates on the GOP side to catch up with Trump on and that's immigration.
LEMON: David I want you to respond, but let's let our viewers see these numbers. This is a new CBS News/"New York Times" poll found that 70 percent of Republican primary voters think Kasich is honest and trust-worthy, compared to 54 percent for Trump and 53 percent for Cruz. So is dishonesty being rewarded? I mean Kasich, many people say looks like the adult in the room when you look at even the Town Hall tonight. Go ahead David.
GREGORY: I was just going to say on immigration. What's striking about that and I agree with you, what really launched Trump is his position on immigration. But you look at a lot of this exit polling and you see in some cases a majority of the Republican electorate favoring some pathway to illegal status for illegal immigrants. And they don't support mass deportations. There's that inconsistency there in terms of the electorate. But this trustworthy issue will be an issue for Donald Trump if he's a nominee. It's certainly an issue for Hillary Clinton on the Democratic side as well. So I think they both have these problems that we're going to see magnified over time. Kasich may be seen as above the fray. That doesn't mean that he's really capturing what people are angry about and --
SEXTON: No one really -- pardon me, Bob. No one has really looked at his record yet. Because they haven't had to. Kasich has been getting essentially a free ride because no one has been taking him seriously. That will probably continue because he's not going to win the nomination.
HOLMES: How valuable is that free pass if he's the only one right.
MCENANY: But virtually everyone has gotten a free pass, which I like facts for instance, summing up Donald Trump as the biggest liar. Well how much scrutiny have they given to Hillary Clinton and the statements she's made in her e-mails which have been incredibly inconsistent? You can --
SEXTON: I think there's been a fair amount of scrutiny --
MCENANY: No, no, no, far more scrutiny as we get into Donald Trump
LEMON: Saw the questions for all of you, remarkable.
Just raise your hand, have you ever apologized to anyone?
HOLMES: Of course. Are you human?
LEMON: Have the candidates ever apologized? We'll see, coming up. Don't go anywhere.
[23:51:55] LEMON: And we're back talking about tonight's CNN GOP Presidential Town Hall. So, Kayleigh, this is for you. Anderson asked Trump when was the last time he apologized for something. Let's listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
When was the last time you actually apologized for something?
TRUMP: Oh, wow.
TRUMP: No, I do -- I don't know -- I'll think. Can I think? But look, I do believe in apologizing, if you're wrong. But if you're not wrong, I don't believe in apologizing.
For instance, I could have apologized, you brought up -- we started this with Corey, my campaign manager. Will you apologize? I said, apologize for what? I see the tape. Apologize for what? I've love to apologize. It would be so much easier. Apologize, Corey, you're fired --
COOPER: But you don't know any specific examples that you've apologized, ever.
TRUMP: Yes, I mean -- apologized -- I apologized to my mother years ago for using foul language.
TRUMP: I apologize to my wife for not being presidential on occasion. She's always saying "Darling, be more presidential."
COOPER: She told me she's talked to you about that.
TRUMP: No, she does, because she thinks I'm very presidential.
That last debate -- and by the way, Cruz talked about I don't want to -- I debated this guy like 112 times. (CROSSTALK)
COOPER: She didn't like you reusing the word, a dirty word, or a bad word I guess -- I sound like a 12-year-old--
TRUMP: She doesn't like it even a little bit.
COOPER: -- that somebody in your audience shouted out and you repeated. She didn't like that.
TRUMP: Oh, she didn't like that. And really, it was just a repeat, but that didn't work out too well. No, she didn't --
TRUMP: Repeats don't work either. And it wasn't horrible.
COOPER: What is it with you, like, repeats and retweets don't count.
TRUMP: Do you ever notice my biggest problems are repeats and retweets. I don't in problem with what I say; it's when I repeat such -- I think I'm going to be careful.
COOPER: Well, maybe that's one of those things you should learn from your behavior and not retweet things.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: Golden advice. But listen, in the real world where people apologize all the time. Even if it's not your fault, you don't think you did some wrong, because you have feeling and you care about other people, you will say I apologize if I hurt your feelings or what have you. Is there a lesson in humility --
GREGORY: Sorry if you think I was wrong.
LEMON: It's not the same thing. Especially if you're in relationship with somebody and you hurt their feeling. And maybe you don't think you did anything wrong but just to keep the peace and because you care about someone, you will apologize. Is there a lesson in humility for Trump here?
MCENANY: No, because I think he does apologize. I think that was some fun back and forth banter. He admitted he apologize to his mom. I'm sure he's apologized since then. But I do think it was an interesting contrast to Cruz who was asked what his greatest downfall or failure was, and instead of naming something, he launched into spiel about memorizing the constitution when he was 10 years old. So I thought it was a pretty -- at least Donald Trump admitted something he apologized for.
SEXTON: It took him ten years, Kayleigh. It took him ten years to memorize it.
LEMON: Does anyone think there's a lesson in humility here. Because when I hear someone say that, I say, I don't know.
SEXTON: I mean, one man's narcissistic megalomaniac is another man's huge winner, right. I mean that's a lot of Trump's appeal. He says he doesn't apologize.
GREGORY: I don't understand why -- because I think these questions are hard. You know, what are the biggest mistakes you made? Or what your biggest flaw?
LEMON: That's a Town Hall question. Is not a debate question.
[23:55:00] GREGORY: I think it can be but I think any of us when asked the question, particularly in a public forum -- my wife once said, "You know, when you're asked that question, what I would say is, I have many flaws, I've made many mistakes, I think I'll talk about it privately and not in front of everyone."
LEMON: Listen I have less than a minute, but where do we go from here?
BECKEL: Being in alcoholics anonymous for 15 years, I've apologized to people I've harmed north of 200. It made me feel good but I don't think that's necessarily the case for running for President of the United States. The fact is if we didn't pay attention to Kasich in the show tonight. But he holds the balance in Wisconsin. Every vote that he gets will be a vote away from Cruz. And if that happens, you look back on this and you'll say, if Trump wins, you're going to say that Kasich was the one who got in the middle of it.
GREGORY: There's a lot of energy to try to help Cruz win Wisconsin. I think he's got do that there. If Trump wins it, it's very hard.
HOLMES: The irony is, the tea party favorite, the anti-establishment is asking the establishment to make him the primary winner.
And we will be right back.
LEMON: I think you guys were kind of good tonight. I enjoyed it.
HOLMES: Well, thank you, Don.
LEMON: That's it. We're done. That's it for us tonight I'll see you back here tomorrow night. And if you missed any of our CNN Republican Presidential Town Hall you can see the whole thing starting in about ten seconds.