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AT THIS HOUR WITH BERMAN AND MICHAELA

Trump, Cruz Call on Kasich to Drop Out; Clinton, Sanders in Heated Battle for Wisconsin; Susan Collins Meets with Obama Supreme Court Nominee. Aired 11:30a-12p ET

Aired April 5, 2016 - 11:30   ET

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


[11:29:55] JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: So it went from telling him to get the hell out to calling him now downright stubborn. New calls this morning from Donald Trump for John Kasich to withdraw from the presidential contest, something Ted Cruz is also calling for.

This is what Donald Trump said a few minutes ago.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, GOP PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think he has 32 losses and one victory. That had I spent another day in Ohio, I would have won, but I wanted to make sure I won in Florida. But we won really -- you know what I mean? It's pretty close. He's won 32. So I don't think he should stay. If you think of it, Jeb did better than him, right? Marco did much better than him. Many people did much better than him and they got out. He's a stubborn guy. Let him play the game. But I believe he hurt me than more than the others.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: That was this morning at a retail stop.

CNN's Jim Acosta is joining us from Milwaukee.

Jim, you don't see Trump doing a lot of retail politics. He's sure putting up a fight in Wisconsin is what that shows, huh?

JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely. He's concerned about losing the race. On the scoreboard in the campaign, Trump has not lost a lot of primaries. He's loses came in caucus states. So if Ted Cruz pulls this off today, it does change the narrative of this race. It shows Donald Trump is a potentially weakened front runner. Conversely, if he comes from behind and wins the state of Wisconsin, hold onto your hats. This means he is essentially in control of this race and Ted Cruz and him are going to start wrapping things up.

Speaking of hats, earlier this morning, Donald Trump was invited --- speaking of the campaign stop you just mentioned, Kate -- invited to put on a cheese head. Ted Cruz apparently declined to do that yesterday. Donald Trump did as well.

Listen to the historical reasons that the real estate tycoon laid out for declining that invitation. Here's what he had to say. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: I've seen too much of Michael Dukakis.

(LAUGHTER)

TRUMP: You understand?

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: The helmet.

TRUMP: That was one of the great mistakes of history, putting on the helmet. No, I'll take a pass.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ACOSTA: there you go. Trying to figure out what the big deal is.

(CROSSTALK)

BOLDUAN: Do it. Do it.

ACOSTA: Kate, sometimes they're sensitive about the hair.

BERMAN: Oh, my.

ACOSTA: This is one size too small.

BOLDUAN: It doesn't fit on your head. That's how big your head is, Jim Acosta.

ACOSTA: It's just a crown.

BOLDUAN: It's just a crown.

ACOSTA: I don't see what the big deal is. Why can't the candidates put it on?

BOLDUAN: I don't know.

(CROSSTALK)

BOLDUAN: I'm about to tweet that picture out. That's why.

BERMAN: Jim Acosta, you are a brave man.

ACOSTA: I think it was on just long enough.

BERMAN: I think you're right.

BOLDUAN: Just long enough.

ACOSTA: Let the gifts begin.

BERMAN: Winner of the Wisconsin primary.

Jim Acosta, thank you so much. Appreciate it. (LAUGHTER)

ACOSTA: Thanks, John.

BERMAN: I want to bring in Trent Duffy. He's the national communications advisor and spokesperson for the Kasich campaign.

BOLDUAN: Who's also going to put on the cheesehead.

BERMAN: It might come to that.

He knows what a political mistake that is all the time.

Trent, how's John Kasich going to do in Wisconsin tonight. Is Kasich going to win?

TRENT DUFFY, NATIONAL COMMUNICATIONS ADVISOR & SPOKESMAN, JOHN KASICH PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN: No, but he's going to win the state but he'll win some delegates, some congressional districts and further demonstrate where Kasich is completing and winning are those suburbs, swing districts that elect the president of the United States in a general election. That continues to be his path to victory by showing he's the only one that with can beat Hillary Clinton.

We've got three more months to go, 16 states after Wisconsin. The map starts to favor John Kasich, who's returned to Pennsylvania and to the northeast and mid-Atlantic. And as he continues to get traction, you are seeing these two other campaigns calling for him to get out, so they have a free pass, which is a stark change from what they've been saying, which is let the voters decide. Apparently, they don't want the voters to decide. They want him to bow out and hand the nomination to Donald Trump. That's not going to happen.

BOLDUAN: Well, Trent, the voters have decided in a lot of states already. You guys have a Midwestern governor running right now and you have not won in any states other than Ohio. Why haven't you guys been doing better?

DUFFY: We have done pretty well in Michigan. The field has been very saturated up until now. I think in Wisconsin, you see the establishment, frankly, aligning behind Ted Cruz. But he's claiming to be the anti establishment candidate. We think John Kasich is the anti-establishment candidate because he's not getting big names like Jeb Bush, Scott Walker and the like. But going forward, since people get to see he has the only record, which is why Donald Trump and Ted Cruz wants them out, because they don't have a record like John Kasich, balancing budgets, streaming-lining government and making it work for the men and women of this country. That's why they want to take the spotlight off him and hope he goes away, and he's not going to.

BERMAN: Let's talk nuts and bolts. We both have a hard time understanding how you win the nomination. Let's figure out how you win at the convention.

DUFFY: Absolutely. [11:35:14] BERMAN: How do you plan to do it? What ballot would Kasich win on at the convention?

DUFFY: It's impossible to predict, John. No candidate is going to have that 1,237 we've been talking about for several weeks now. It's going to be very clear after today that Donald Trump's path gets really, really bumpy and then it gets tougher for Ted Cruz. He's not going to be able to do it either.

(CROSSTALK)

BERMAN: To be clear, it gets more tougher for you than anybody. You say it's tougher for Donald Trump and Ted Cruz. You're trailing Marco Rubio in this campaign, and he's not running.

DUFFY: That's right. I was going to get to it, which is we get to an open convention where the delegates who have pledged for John Kasich are for him and then there are others who are unbound, go to other candidates. There are others still to come where they're not bound and you get to a second, third, or some other ballot, and the party delegates, the people deciding the best path forward for the Republican party, representing its agenda, values, and which candidate can best win in November, you take a good hard look and that's John Kasich.

BOLDUAN: Trent, going forward, does Kasich win any other states?

DUFFY: We're certainly going to work hard to do that, Kate. He's going to Pennsylvania. We're tied for first there. I think you had a Trump supporter earlier --

(CROSSTALK)

BOLDUAN: You think you can be the nominee if you only have one state heading into the convention?

DUFFY: We feel good about going to an open convention and having delegates look at who's best able to represent the party, best able to represent our values, best able to unite Americans, get the country going again, and beat Hillary Clinton in November.

BOLDUAN: Uniting Americans, what about uniting Republicans in a primary?

DUFFY: They're starting that right now. Three candidates left. It's the first time John Kasich has had a platform, able to talk to people about this record of job creation, cutting taxes. That's just starting to get traction. That's why we're going to do well in Wisconsin and win some congressional districts and move on to New York and Pennsylvania and some other states. There's still a long way to go.

Look what happened last week. I mean, you saw an implosion by Donald Trump, the front-runner. What is -- we still don't know about Donald Trump. He hasn't released his taxes. We still don't know a lot about Donald Trump. And I think as the race goes forward, the people are going to realize he's not the guy.

BERMAN: Trent Duffy, come see us when you come to New York in the next two weeks. Appreciate it.

DUFFY: OK, you got it.

BOLDUAN: Thanks, Trent.

It's not only a crucial vote today for Republicans, but it's also the battle. And the battle is on between the Democrats. Bernie Sanders' campaign has said a loss in Wisconsin would be, quote, "devastating." How are they setting those expectations? How likely is that? Hillary Clinton isn't even in Wisconsin. What should that tell you? We're going hear from the Clinton campaign, coming up next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[11:42:28] BOLDUAN: Bernie Sanders says if he wins Wisconsin and then he wins in New York, Hillary Clinton's home turf, of course, then he wins the White House.

BERMAN: This programming note. The two will go head to head in Brooklyn on April 14th in an event hosted by CNN and New York One News. That will be big. Before that, we have the matter of the Wisconsin primary, which is today.

CNN's Chris Frates live in Green Bay where they're voting now -- Chris?

CHRIS FRATES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey, John. So both Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton say if there's high turnout, they'll do well. I've got good news. About 300 people have come through the doors since 7:00 a.m. Get about 1,600. I even talked to a Republican who's a never Trump Republican who cast a vote for Sanders. That's good for Sanders as he tries to run up the score, grab as many of those 86 as possible.

Hillary Clinton was campaigning not here in Wisconsin ahead of the big contest but here in New York. That's because there are those 250 delegates in New York that are going to be crucial. So Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton, I will tell you, guys, the action is here in Wisconsin today but starting tomorrow the center of the politic university goes back to you guys in New York.

BOLDUAN: We'd like to think it's at the center of the universe wherever we are.

BERMAN: Political or otherwise.

BOLDUAN: Thank you, Chris.

(LAUGHTER)

Let's talk about the state of play here and in New York. Let's bring in right now press secretary for Hillary Clinton, Brian Fallon.

Nice to have you.

BRIAN FALLON, PRESS SECRETARY, HILLARY FOR AMERICA: Thanks for having me.

BOLDUAN: What's a win today in Wisconsin?

FALLON: We're going the best we can.

(CROSSTALK)

BOLDUAN: The best we can. Is that a win?

BERMAN: How come no one wants to win?

FALLON: We're going to try to maximize our delegate haul out of Wisconsin. I saw yesterday a poll, had us at close to double digits. We know we have a hard task ahead of us today, but we're running through the tape. Secretary Clinton spent three days in there in the final week. I think that regardless of the outcome today, it will not have too a great an effect.

Right now, we have lead by 230 delegates, so even if Sanders were to win in Wisconsin and slightly eating into the delegate lead, the real test will be the New York primary on April 19th because, as Chris just mentioned, that's one of the four remaining most delegate-rich states. Bernie Sanders will need to start winning with 60 percent of the vote, and there's no reason to believe he can do that. The only two states today who have held primaries where he's earned 60 percent is New Hampshire and Vermont. As a result, that's why you see the Sanders campaign coming out for how they might clinch the nomination. Now they're talking open convention.

[11:45:40] BERMAN: Let's talk about the convention. This morning, Jeff Weaver said it could be an interesting convention, that it will doom a floor fight. What do you think of that statement?

FALLON: I'll make a prediction. You can hold me to this and play the tape. By the end of the voting, we'll know who the nominee is, because we'll have a clear majority of the pledge delegates, and even if that clear majority of the pledge delegates does not reach the magic number to clinch the nomination outright, the super delegate that Sanders is trying to poach -- he's trying to go around and convince super delegates to --

(CROSSTALK)

BERMAN: There's nothing wrong with that. They're not pledged until they vote.

(CROSSTALK)

BOLDUAN: Why shouldn't he? He's running for president.

FALLON: Everything is fair game except, a couple of months ago, Senator Sanders and MoveOn were going around saying if super delegates were thwarting the will of the people, that would be something that should not be acceptable to Democrats.

(CROSSTALK)

FALLON: That would be thwarting the will of the popular vote. We're going to see Senator Senators contradicting his earlier statements because he's becoming so desperate to find a path.

BOLDUAN: Let's look at New York. Is it a must-win?

FALLON: I think we'll do quite well.

BOLDUAN: Is it a must-win?

FALLON: I don't think any state for us is a must-win, but I think New York is a state we feel comfortable about.

BOLDUAN: Her home turf isn't a must-win?

FALLON: I don't think -- it's actually true, 100 percent true that Sanders needs to win by 66 percent of the vote.

(CROSSTALK)

BOLDUAN: What would your reaction have been if Sanders had not won Vermont?

FALLON: I'm predicting victory in New York. I think Hillary Clinton will run strongly in New York. It will be a competitive contest but there's no doubt, for Sanders, New York is absolutely a must-win as is Pennsylvania and California and New Jersey.

BERMAN: Do you think he has a right to fight at the convention if Hillary Clinton does not have a majority of pledged delegates?

FALLON: She is going to.

BERMAN: If doesn't put her over the top in terms of the nomination, do you think she has the right to fight it on the convention floor if super delegates would be the determining factor?

FALLON: Here's what I can guarantee. She's going have a majority of the pledged delegates. There's still a chance that the pledged delegates may reach the number. Even if not, we have so many committed elected officials that serve as super delegates we're going to reach the number by the end of the voting. Probably even before June. There's not going to be any doubt going well ahead of the convention on either side. The fact Sanders is talking about an open convention is just the latest incidence of them moving the goal post.

After March 15th, when we swept all five states that voted that day, the Sanders campaign say, wait till New York, New York is where we'll make the stand. Now they're trying to suggest that the goalpost is in June and California and then they say the goal posts are in June in California. Now talking about this open convention prospect. In reality, a picture tells a thousand words and "The New York Times" story with on-the-record quotes from the Sanders campaign second guessing their own strategy tell you everything about their relative confidence level is about. It just doesn't exist.

BOLDUAN: Let's see what happens here in Wisconsin -- not here in Wisconsin -- in Wisconsin and then in New York.

Brian, thank you.

FALLON: Thanks for having me.

BOLDUAN: All right.

A reminder, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, they will be facing off for a presidential Democratic debate live from Brooklyn, New York, thursday, April 14th, right here on CNN. Let's see how many more debates they do after that.

We'll be back right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[11:53:09] BERMAN: Looking at live pictures right now, live from the White House.

(CROSSTALK)

BOLDUAN: It is a protester. Just kidding. It's the White House.

President Obama will be heading to the White House briefing room to talk about the economy, the state of the economy. He will be making remarks any minute now. We'll see if he takes questions, because that could be interesting.

BERMAN: This comes as the Supreme Court nominee, Merrick Garland, tries to gather support on Capitol Hill. He met with Republican Senator Susan Collins, of Maine. What came of the meeting?

We are joined by CNN senior political reporter, Manu Raju, on Capitol Hill.

Manu, give us the highlights.

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER: Collins is still in the meeting with Merrick Garland. And we will hear what she had to say. She is one of two Republican Senators open to having confirmation hearings, the other, Mark Kirk, from Illinois. What we are seeing overall, John, is there are 54 Republican Senators and the vast majority, almost all of them, oppose moving forward with the confirmation hearings.

Over the two-week recess that just happened, we are seeing Republican resolve strengthen. A couple of Senators have been open to hearings and walked that back. The Kansas Senate got attacked after suggesting there should be hearing by his party. He may face a primary challenge by floating that idea. You are seeing a lot of pressure from Republicans not to consider Merrick Garland, which is one reason why the chances of slim.

One other thing, Chuck Grassley has agreed to have a meeting with him but will not hold hearings -- John and Kate?

BOLDUAN: The difference between having a meeting and holding hearings, I think that is lost on a lot of people. Why hold the meetings if you are going to say you are not having hearings.

RAJU: I think they don't want to look unreasonable to constituents and they want to be clear they want to vote on the nomination -- Kate?

[11:55:16] BERMAN: We had a big important meeting. Why do we what need hearing at all.

Manu, let us know what Susan Collins has to say when she comes out of the meeting. We are keeping an eye on that.

And also keeping an eye on the White House where President Obama is due to speak any minute.

(CROSSTALK)

BERMAN: There it is.

BOLDUAN: There's the White House.

And then you are going to see the voting booth, where all of the votes are happening in Wisconsin. Big primary for the Republicans and Democrats. We will watch them throughout the day.

Thank you all for joining us.

BERMAN: Stay with us. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)