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THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER
Terror Fears; Battle for Wisconsin; Clinton, Sanders Get Testy Before Wisconsin Primary. Aired 4-4:30p ET
Aired April 4, 2016 - 16:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: Will Donald Trump trade his "Make America Great" hat again for a cheesehead?
THE LEAD start right now.
Just the two of us. Wisconsin voters in fewer than 24 hours -- Wisconsin votes in fewer than 24 hours, right, as Donald Trump and Ted Cruz say their names are the only ones that should be on the ballot come convention time.
Secret memo. A campaign document we were not supposed to see reveals what Donald Trump's brain trust really thinks about the Republican establishment and the national media. And, surprise, surprise, the language is not G-rated.
The ISIS spider web; 20-plus terrorists, some who helped orchestrate massacres in Paris and Brussels, have escaped a continent-wide dragnet and now they're plotting their next attack.
Good afternoon, everyone. I'm Jake Tapper. Welcome to THE LEAD.
A busy day on the campaign trail in Wisconsin, Donald Trump raising the stakes, telling the voters the world is watching and warning his fans that a loss tomorrow could slow his momentum. Senator Ted Cruz, meanwhile, finally giving a definitive denial to that tabloid smear that has dogged his campaign.
Both Cruz and Trump are trying to push Governor John Kasich -- quote -- "the hell out of the race," in the immortal words of Mr. Trump.
CNN senior White House correspondent Jim Acosta is live in Superior, Wisconsin, where Donald Trump just spoke.
Jim, Cruz is favored to win tomorrow's primary, according to polls, but it's an open primary, and Donald Trump has made it clear he thinks he can get independents and Democrats to come his way.
JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Jake, and he's doing everything he can to get them to all show up.
Donald Trump is looking to pull off a big come-from-behind victory here in Wisconsin. He's not only trying to catch Ted Cruz, who appears to be way out in front, as you said. The GOP front-runner is also doing some cleaning up after a messy week.
ACOSTA (voice-over): Donald Trump knows the stakes all too well. After a bruising week, a big W. in Wisconsin could change everything.
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: But if we do well here, folks, it's over. If we don't, if we don't if we don't -- if we don't win here, it's not over. But wouldn't you like to take the credit in Wisconsin?
ACOSTA: While he's scrambling to catch Ted Cruz, who's leading in Wisconsin, the GOP front-runner is attacking John Kasich, accusing the Ohio governor of being nothing more than a spoiler.
TRUMP: He's lost like 29 or 30 or 31 times, whatever the hell it is, every single state and every single island. He ought to get the hell out. And let me tell you, he hurts me much more than he hurts Cruz.
ACOSTA: Already looking ahead to New York, Kasich's message for Trump, don't hold your breath.
GOV. JOHN KASICH (R-OH), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Donald Trump said that I need to get out of the race because I'm getting his voters. Well, wait, no, no, I have got news for him. I'm going to get a heck of a lot of his voters.
ACOSTA: Trump is also busy mopping up his recent messes, telling "The New York Times" he made a mistake retweeting an unflattering picture of Cruz's wife. But he is still dominating headlines, with "New York" magazine saying Trump is sweaty and spent after wearing a bulletproof vest at his rallies and he raised eyebrows when he predicted over the weekend the country is heading towards a very massive recession, a comment he tried to clean up today.
TRUMP: What I said is, we're going to go into a massive recession, but I also say, if I'm president, that's not going to happen, because I'm going to straighten things out.
ACOSTA: Add to that Trump's furious attempts to clarify his position on abortion.
TRUMP: Right now, the laws are set and that's the way the laws are.
ACOSTA: The real estate tycoon's team is lashing out at its critics. One internal Trump campaign memo titled "Digging Through the Bull" says America is sick of them. "Their idiotic attack just reminds voters why they hate the Washington establishment, Donald Trump 1, Washington establishment/media 0."
As for Cruz, he's confident that Trump's stumbles are keeping him in the hunt, especially if the race goes to a contested convention, where he wants to hold Kasich to GOP rules requiring candidates to rack up eight wins to qualify for the nomination.
SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: There are only two candidates who will have met that threshold. The choice will be between me and Donald Trump.
ACOSTA: Cruz is trying to capitalize on Trump's weakness among women, blaming him for a "National Enquirer" story that claimed the Texas senator was being unfaithful to his wife.
CRUZ: It's completely made-up nonsense. It's simply not true. I have always been faithful to my wife. I love my wife.
ACOSTA: Now, speaking have wives, Trump will be with his wife, Melania, when he appears in Milwaukee later on this evening.
That rally will be just down the street from an event held by Bernie Sanders. That is a potentially volatile mix, as so many Sanders supporters have spoke up as protesters at Trump rallies -- Jake.
TAPPER: Jim Acosta, thank you so much.
Joining me now, John Kasich supporter and former Wisconsin Governor Tommy Thompson, and a senior adviser to Donald Trump, Ed Brookover.
Thanks so much to both of you for being here.
Governor Thompson, let me start with you.
You support John Kasich, but the current rule would prevent anyone from becoming a nominee if that candidate hasn't won a majority of delegates in eight states or territories, which Kasich obviously has not. How can you and Governor Kasich get around that rule?
TOMMY THOMPSON, FORMER HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES SECRETARY: Well, first off, that rule was for the last convention. I was chairman of the rules committee in 1996, and we had the opportunity to pass the rules at that time for that convention.
There are two individuals from every state that's going to be representing their candidates at the rules committee when it meets a day before the national convention starts. And I'm fairly confident that this rule is going to go by the wayside.
This rule was put in four years ago for Governor Romney. And it's going to be changed. And even if it isn't changed, there's nothing to say that the rules cannot be changed after the second or third ballot. So I think the rules -- I think that's just a smokescreen for people trying to say we have got to make sure it's just only two candidates. We got three candidates. And I think John Kasich is by far the best candidate of the lot.
TAPPER: What do you make of that, change the rules?
ED BROOKOVER, SENIOR DONALD TRUMP ADVISER: Well, Jake, these rules have been in place since 2012, most of them, and every candidate has been running under them. These are the rules we have been chasing this nomination under.
And it seems only fair that these rules we have been playing by don't get changed in the last two-minute drill in the fourth quarter.
TAPPER: Governor Thompson?
THOMPSON: Well, Ed just said it. The rule was in place in 2012. It was put in for Governor Romney.
Governor Romney wanted that rule. That rule has never been in any other conventions. We have had 10 contested conventions. The first Republican National Convention was a contested one. Abraham Lincoln was number three going into the convention in Chicago and won out and became one of the great presidents of the United States of America.
And I certainly believe that John Kasich is going to present himself extremely well in Ohio. And a Republican cannot win without Ohio and no Republican has any chance of beating Hillary Clinton, except, for sure, John Kasich.
If you want a winner, go with John Kasich. The rules will be changed. John Kasich is going to be nominated and John Kasich is going to get the nomination.
TAPPER: Ed, let me just change the subject for a while. Obviously, we're not going to have a meeting of the minds over rule 40-B, yes.
BROOKOVER: I like the governor's history lesson, though.
TAPPER: If Mr. Trump loses Wisconsin tomorrow, that obviously only increases the chance that there will be a contested convention. How crucial is Wisconsin?
BROOKOVER: I think the shoe is on the wrong foot here.
We have never had a win in Wisconsin as part of our path to 1,237. However, the anti-Trump forces need to shut us out to keep us down and have a chance to keep us below. Any delegates we gain tomorrow is a huge win for us. And if Cruz doesn't sweep Wisconsin, he's just in really bad shape.
TAPPER: Governor Thompson, let me ask you about Wisconsin. Governor Kasich isn't really in the hunt in the Badger State. Isn't Wisconsin exactly the kind of Midwest, blue-collar state where he should be doing well?
We came in late. We didn't have the resources that the other two candidates had. But we're going to do better than a lot of people think tomorrow. Let's have this conversation between Ed and me on Wednesday and we will discuss it at that time, who was the big winner on Tuesday's election.
TAPPER: All right. Drinks on me.
TAPPER: Ed, let me ask you, Mr. Trump has said it was a mistake to retweet that unflattering picture of Heidi Cruz. Do you think that that retweet hurt Mr. Trump? Is that one of the reasons why he's trailing in Wisconsin?
BROOKOVER: I don't think it's the reason he is trailing in Wisconsin.
Certainly, Mr. Trump has said that was a mistake. We're moving on from that. Senator Cruz says he is moving on from that. Wisconsin has been a state where all the forces have amassed against Mr. Trump. And we're still going to do pretty well there tomorrow, although it's not a must-win for us.
TAPPER: Governor Thompson, how about that? Donald Trump today said that the machine in Wisconsin was against him, especially conservative radio hosts, the state's governor, Scott Walker. But he has pulled off surprise wins before.
TAPPER: Do you think Mr. Trump has any chance to win Wisconsin tomorrow?
THOMPSON: Yes, he does. I think I think he does and I think it's going to be a very close race. And I think all three of them are going to come in very close tomorrow and it's going to be an interesting election, probably the most exciting election we have seen so far outside of Super Tuesday.
TAPPER: It's been a very exciting -- well, the whole year has been exciting.
I will say that.
THOMPSON: Yes, it really has.
TAPPER: Ed, Senator Cruz said today of Trump's team -- quote -- "They have no idea how the basic process works of shoring up delegate support."
And we have seen some issues where the delegate amassing didn't go the way you guys wanted it to. In Louisiana, you won the Louisiana contest and yet because of the delegate rules in Louisiana, Cruz ended up with more delegates.
There were issues in North Dakota. How much more work does your campaign need to do to prepare for the convention, given the back and forth over delegates?
BROOKOVER: Well, first of all, we expect to have more than 1,237 on day one.
But having said that, we're prepared for a fight. And the Cruz spin machine is out there, but not their delegate machine. For example, in North Dakota, where they're claiming this massive victory, Phil Mattingly CNN correspondent, culled through, found a little bit different result than what Cruz was claiming, found far less delegates committed to Mr. Cruz than was on his slate.
In Tennessee, we didn't lose the delegate battle. We lost a battle over who may sit on these committees. But we got every delegate we deserved in Louisiana.
TAPPER: All right, Ed, Governor Thompson, thank you so much. We appreciate it.
And, obviously, we're going to have to have that beer over brats on Wednesday after the results come in.
BROOKOVER: Always love having a beer with Governor Thompson.
THOMPSON: Ed, and I will tell you, if you win the 1,237, I will sign up and be one of your biggest supporters.
BROOKOVER: Thanks, Governor.
TAPPER: On the other side of the trail, Hillary Clinton in danger of losing both Wisconsin and her adopted home state of New York, as she tries to defend herself against Bernie Sanders' attacks -- that story next.
[16:15:07] TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.
Just a day before the Wisconsin primary, things are getting a little testy on the Democratic side. Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders are accusing each other of lying and scheming.
Right now, we're waiting for Senator Sanders to take the stage in Green Bay, Wisconsin. That's actor and activist Tim Robbins who's introducing him before Sanders takes the stage.
Sanders continues to make his final push to convince working class and independent voters that he is the right candidate for them.
Meanwhile, Secretary Clinton, she's not in the Badger State today. She's already looking ahead, campaigning in the Empire State, New York. With New York Governor Andrew Cuomo.
Let's bring in CNN senior political correspondent, Brianna Keilar.
Brianna, today, two of the biggest blue states, New York and California, signed legislation that will gradually raise the minimum wage in their states to $15 an hour. Now, remind me, where do the Democratic candidates stand on raising the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour?
BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jake, Hillary Clinton stands behind the concept of increasing the minimum wage, but she hasn't endorsed this idea that there should be an increase in the federal minimum wage. She thinks it should be left up to the states.
Bernie Sanders has stood behind this idea of there being a federal minimum wage of $15. It's something that could endear him to working class and labor voters here in Wisconsin.
KEILAR (voice-over): Here in the Badger State, Bernie Sanders is looking to narrow Hillary Clinton's delegate lead.
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I don't want to get Hillary Clinton more nervous than she already is. She's already under a lot of pressure. So don't tell her this. But I think we win here, we win in New York state, we're on our way to the White House.
KEILAR: He's counting on college students and union workers to give his campaign a boost in Tuesday's primary.
SANDERS: I am not a candidate who goes to the unions and goes to workers and leaves and goes to a fund-raiser with Wall Street. You are my family.
KEILAR: As Clinton tries to defend herself.
HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: When trade is done right, it helps put thousands of Wisconsin companies in a better position to export billions of dollars.
KEILAR: Sanders is targeting Clinton's support of NAFTA in the '90s and a trade pact that she supported as secretary of state, an accord she now opposes. The latest polls show the race a dead heat, perhaps why Clinton added a last-minute swing through Wisconsin.
But her campaign is downplaying expectations.
KAREN FINNEY, SENIOR SPOKESPERSON, HILLARY FOR AMERICA: We always knew it was going to be tight. I think Wisconsin to some degree favors Senator Sanders, but, look, it's going to be close.
KEILAR: Clinton spent today campaigning in her adopted home state of New York, attending an event touting New York's move to raise the state's minimum wage ahead of the April 19th primary with 247 delegates at stake.
CLINTON: This is what makes America great.
KEILAR: Taking a shot at GOP front-runner, Donald Trump.
CLINTON: Donald Trump has said that wages are too high. He's fired, that's funny.
KEILAR: This as a debate over debates is raging in the Democratic primary, both campaigns agreeing to one but not a date.
TAPPER: Hillary Clinton said this morning she's up for debating on Thursday, April 14th. Are you in?
SANDERS: I'm not quite sure how that works on our schedule. I think we can work out a date that works for her schedule, that works for my schedule.
KEILAR: The Clinton campaign offered a day Sanders has a rally planned near New York University, five days before the primary.
JOEL BENENSON, CHIEF STRATEGIST, HILLARY FOR AMERICA: One of the obstacles we're told is this rally that the Sanders campaign wanted to move. I think both camps want to work this out. And, you know, I think it's interesting, we spend a lot of time having debates about debates.
KEILAR: Now, part of the tension in all of this decision, Jake, decision-making about when a debate will be, is that the Clinton campaign does not think Hillary Clinton has much to gain when it comes to a debate in New York. It's her home state, she's very well known.
Bernie Sanders on the other hand has a lot to gain and really nothing to lose. He has to make up a tremendous number of delegates, he has to win disproportionately on these races moving forward, an almost impossible feat, and he wants an opportunity to make an impact -- Jake.
TAPPER: All right. Brianna Keilar, thank you so much.
Let's bring in Paul Begala, CNN political commentator and an adviser to Priorities USA, a pro-Clinton super PAC. Also joining us from Milwaukee is Barbara Lawton, former lieutenant governor of Wisconsin and a Sanders supporter.
Thank you both for joining me.
Lieutenant Governor Lawton, let me start with you. Polls are suggesting that Secretary Clinton and Senator Sanders are neck in neck in Wisconsin. It appears from his campaign stops that Sanders is taking the same approach in Wisconsin as he did in some other states going for working, white male voters, independent voters.
[16:20:01] Lieutenant Governor Lawton, do you think it's going to work for him tomorrow?
BARBARA LAWTON, FORMER LT. GOVERNOR, WISCONSIN: Huh! Well, that's interesting, because I see him going for a much broader swath of voters, as he did in Michigan. I think we'll see him get a good, solid win. You know, there's been criticism that some of his ideas and policies are pie in the sky, but when I talk to independent or even Republican business owners, they would give their right arm to have single payer health care, and be rid of the hassle and the paperwork and the expense, and the concern to their employees. So, he's pulling from a broad swath of voters and it's very exciting.
TAPPER: Today, Sanders hinted that the Clinton campaign is in New York instead of Wisconsin because she feels nervous. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SANDERS: If we win in New York state, between you and me, I don't want to get Hillary Clinton more nervous than she already is. She's already under a lot of pressure.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: Do you think that Hillary Clinton is nervous, and should she be?
PAUL BEGALA, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes, I lack Senator Sanders gift for mind reading, but that was a good line. It's just a joke, as well.
I can't coordinate with her because I'm the super PAC side.
BEGALA: But there's only two ways to run, Jake, unopposed and scared. This one is definitely not unopposed.
Senator Sanders is running a great campaign. He was born and raised in New York. Hillary was a senator from New York. It will be a terrific primary there. She does have the advantage, obviously, in New York. She did win two statewide elections there.
TAPPER: Do you think it's disqualifying if she loses New York?
BEGALA: No. As a practical matter, she's the Democratic nominee. Her lead is insurmountable.
Senator Sanders has run a great campaign, I think he should continue. It's really good that he's raising these issues. Governor Lawton was raising some of these really important issues that Bernie is running on. I think it's great.
But, no, it's not. None of this. She's trailing in Wisconsin. Which I'm biased, though I love Hillary, I married a girl from Wisconsin, so I love Wisconsin.
BEGALA: But he definitely has the advantage here. Does that change the fundamental math? No.
TAPPER: Lieutenant Governor Lawton, I want to play Hillary Clinton talking to Chuck Todd. She has made the point when confronted with a Greenpeace activist that she's sick and tired in her view of the Sanders campaign lying about her taking money from people who work for the fossil fuel industry. Take a listen to what she said yesterday.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CLINTON: I feel sorry sometimes for the young people who believe this. They don't do their own research. And I'm glad that we now can point to reliable independent analysis to say, no, it's just not true. (END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: Lieutenant Governor Lawton, what did you make of those remarks?
LAWTON: Well, one has to be careful before you insult young people who actually do careful research, and as I understand it, there are 43 lobbyists who have maxed out to her campaign who work for the fossil fuel industry.
What's going to be interesting in New York is that Bernie Sanders has put the issue of money and politics and campaign finance reform right at the fore, because it doesn't matter if you're talking about job creation and the economy or health care, you have to run the traps of money and politics and campaign finance reform. And, actually, Governor Cuomo let the people down there a year or two ago, and so, it's time for someone vision that we can actually restore trust in our elected officials and strength to our democracy so that it works for all of the people.
TAPPER: Paul, I'll give you the last word on this.
BEGALA: On this one, Senator Sanders, who promised not to be negative, has broken a vow. Glenn Kessler, the gold standard --
TAPPER: "The Washington Post".
BEGALA: Oh, my God, is he a pain in the neck? He is so scrupulous. He is so careful. He gave Senator Sanders three Pinnochios for this.
Hillary's campaign is not being funded by fossil fuels. In fact, it's less than 2/10 of 1 percent of her donations are from employees, may be some accountant at Exxon has donated to. But that's a really unfair charge and we ought to get back to the issues.
TAPER: But money in politics is an issue.
BEGALA: It's a big issue. It's a huge issue. Good for Bernie for raising it. Good for Hillary for raising it. She's got a plan to try to clean this up, to put super PACs like mine out of business, to overturn Citizens United. That's what we ought to be talking about.
I mean, I'd rather see the pressure being forced from Senator Sanders, a member of the Senate, on his colleagues in the Senate and the Republican Party to bring up Judge Garland on the Supreme Court that can fix Citizens United.
TAPPER: All right. Mr. Begala, Lieutenant Governor Lawton, thank you so much, appreciate it.
Lost jobs, high crime, abandoned communities. What's driving voters in Wisconsin? We went to Wisconsin to find out.
Plus, officials chasing dozens of ISIS operatives as a wider terrorist cell is uncovered. Several terrorists believed to be linked to the Paris and Brussels attacks. How many are still out there? That's ahead.
[16:29:13] TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.
Sticking with our politics lead now: in fewer than 24 hours, Wisconsin voters head to the polls. There is a lot at stake on both sides: 86 Democratic delegates and 42 Republican delegates up for grabs.
But what issues are the most pressing in the Badger State?
We sent CNN's Jean Casarez to Wisconsin's largest city, Milwaukee, where she found a diverse electorate deeply concerned about the state's economic future.
JEAN CASAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Did you ever think that you were going to be one of those statistics?
STEVEN YOUNG, JR., BERNIE SANDERS SUPPORTER: No. No, I really didn't.
CASAREZ: The road hasn't been easy for 18-year-old Steven Young Jr. Convicted last year of armed robbery, his future seemed bleak. In Milwaukee, the statistics show that 50 percent of African-American men end up in prison by the time they are 35.
YOUNG: Two years ago, I was stuck on violence.
CASAREZ: Then, an educational program called the Right Path helped Young attend a Milwaukee area technical college while serving time.