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THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER
Five Pivotal Primaries Today Could Be Key To Final Election Outcomes; Trump Tweets That Sanders Should Run As An Independent; Interview With Sen. Bob Casey. Aired 4:30-5p ET
Aired April 26, 2016 - 16:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Five pivotal primaries this afternoon, contests that could be key to the final outcomes in this election. Hillary Clinton 1,954 delegates and a strong showing will move her within striking distance of the Democratic nomination.
Meanwhile, it's a critical night for Bernie Sanders. The Vermont senator acknowledging he now has a narrow path to victory.
[16:30:02] And just a short time ago, Donald Trump tweeted this message to Sanders -- quote -- "Bernie Sanders has been treated terribly by the Democrats, both with delegates and otherwise. He should show them and run as an independent."
TAPPER: Our Brianna Keilar is live at the Sanders headquarters.
But, first, I want to get to Jeff Zeleny at the Clinton headquarters in Philadelphia.
And, Jeff, how confident is the Clinton campaign going into tonight?
JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Jake, the Clinton campaign is definitely confident.
At this point in the campaign cycle, they have gotten to trust their metrics, they have gotten to trust their numbers of turnout. But, listen, this is her second presidential campaign, as you know all too well here. And they are never fully confident until they actually win.
But Pennsylvania was such a good state for her in 2008. They really believe that the demographics will also help her here. But they believe that this is a night where they turn the corner, turn a page, not actually into the general election, but for all practical purposes, mathematically speaking, sort of setting Bernie Sanders aside.
Now, Secretary Clinton is campaigning in Indiana today. That's a state that comes next week and they are actually less confident about that, but for the collection of states voting today, tonight, everything they have looked across the board, they feel like that they have will strong wins, possibly in all five states, certainly they believe in four states, and definitely they think here in Pennsylvania, which, as you know, has the biggest trove of delegates of all the states tonight -- Jake.
TAPPER: All right, Jeff, thank you so much.
And Brianna Keilar is live at the Sanders headquarters in Huntington, West Virginia.
Brianna, you saw Trump tweeting that Sanders should run as an independent. Obviously, I'm sure the Vermont senator suspects that Mr. Trump might have an agenda there. But you did just speak to the campaign.
What are they saying about their next steps after this evening?
BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it sounds, Jake, like they're going to continue as they have, and I think they understand the deck being stacked against them tonight in these five primaries.
Talking to the Sanders campaign, the state they seem most comfortable with, that they may have a shot at is Rhode Island. And obviously that's a pretty tiny delegate prize. But they're looking beyond obviously the states tonight, and that's part of the reason why you see Bernie Sanders here in Huntington, West Virginia, tonight.
They're also looking West toward California and to Oregon and really going into June, these final contests, and then going all the way to the convention. You have been hearing advisers and the campaign manager to Bernie Sanders saying, this is about securing the pledged delegates, but it's also about furthering his agenda.
They certainly are not letting go of the idea that he's pushing towards the nomination. The math is very difficult, though, because even if you're just looking at pledged delegates, Bernie Sanders would from here on out have to win six out of each 10 delegates.
He would have to clear six-tenths of those. That's a very difficult thing to do. He'd really have to outperform how he's been doing. But certainly he's showing no sign of changing strategy. I don't think that we're expecting to hear anything differently. You see all of the people here in Huntington, West Virginia, who are here to see him and to listen to his message.
And certainly coming from the Sanders campaign, they feel that this is a situation where everyone should have a vote, everyone should be able to pick who they want, and they're going to give that to all of these Democratic voters moving certainly beyond April and into May and June.
TAPPER: All right, Brianna, thank you so much.
Joining me now, Pennsylvania Senator Bob Casey. He has endorsed Hillary Clinton.
Eight years ago, you endorsed Barack Obama. That was a big deal. The endorsements this year pretty much going in Clinton's favor, not as contentious. Clinton's ahead of Sanders by more than 700 pledged and
superdelegates. Do you think if she does well tonight the race is basically over?
SEN. BOB CASEY (D), PENNSYLVANIA: Well, Jake, I think it's very difficult at this stage, if she wins as significantly as I think she can -- I think she's going to win Pennsylvania with a lot of cushion, and a lot of -- a big lead -- but the math is difficult.
But, look, that's a decision that Senator Sanders has to make.
TAPPER: And she refused to call for him to exit the race. Take a listen to her. This is at a town hall last night.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I would never tell him what to do. Nobody told me. I concluded after it was over in June that Senator Obama was going to be the nominee and I didn't want to hurt him. I didn't want to keep this going.
So I stood up and said that it's over and I withdrew. It was the right thing to do.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: As you know, though, one of the concerns that a lot of Clinton campaign officials have is that Sanders and the rhetoric he's using is doing real damage to Clinton, potentially damage that could last until November. Are you concerned about that as well?
CASEY: I have some concerns, but I also believe that, as a party, we have had fights like this before. We have unified. I think we will.
I have had some personal experience. As a state candidate, I had four primaries, and two of them were much more contentious than this presidential, and we were able to unify and win in November. I think that is what people are most concerned about, getting to unity as fast as we can.
TAPPER: There's an issue where you and Secretary Clinton really disagree. That's the issue of abortion.
She has said that she wants to overturn the Hyde amendment, so that taxpayers would fund for abortions for poor women who can't afford them for themselves. You are anti-abortion. Do you think of her as an extremist on this position? Do you have a real issue with that?
CASEY: No, Jake, I have known her a long time. I knew her in the Senate. We served together. And I got to know her even better when she was secretary of state, when the two of us had to work on very contentious issues in the Middle East and South and Central Asia, so everything from Pakistan all the way through the Middle East. And I saw her then as someone who was a consensus-builder, someone who
always sought common ground. I think the same is true on issues where there is a divide either in the country, even within our party. She's talked not only about getting to common ground, but I think her record shows she can get there.
TAPPER: Donald Trump has talked about his ability, he thinks, to redraw the map. And one of states he talks about is Pennsylvania.
Do you think that he will bring enough white working-class voters to the polls in November, if he's the nominee, that Pennsylvania could really be in play? And I say this especially to you, because you are somebody who has been able to win over those white working-class voters in between Pittsburgh and Philadelphia.
CASEY: I think -- I actually think Hillary Clinton's going to be the one who can win some of those voters back.
You know the history of our state. You have got roots there. Southwestern Pennsylvania used to be a rather easy region for Democrats. Now, outside of the city of Pittsburgh and Allegheny County, it's very difficult.
My belief is that, by the end of the general election -- I think she will be the nominee, of course. By the end of the general election, she will be able to get votes especially in Southwestern Pennsylvania, both from conservative Democratic men and women that some of us, even I in the last election, weren't doing as well with.
So, I think she has real potential there. Now, look, our state tends to be, as you know, a 52-48 kind of state.
CASEY: So, we're going to have to work very hard to make sure that any inroad that he or anyone else can pursue, that we have to be able to block that. But I think she's the candidate that can do it, especially because I think she's spoken specifically on I think the number one economic issue, which is the lack of income or wage growth, not just over years, but over decades now.
By one estimate, Jake, 40 years, we have had 9 percent wage growth. That's hitting a lot of people in our state and across the country.
TAPPER: All right, Senator Casey, always good to see you. Thanks so much. Tell everybody back in Pennsylvania I said hi.
Coming up: Senator Minority Leader Harry Reid weighing in on Bernie Sanders' chances in the race. That's next.
And if Clinton runs the table tonight, she could have about 90 percent of the delegates she needs to win the nomination. Would it, therefore, then be time for Sanders to work towards unifying the party? That's the question Clinton officials are asking.
We will talk about that next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
TAPPER: Breaking news now from Washington, where Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid just weighed in on the Democratic race and what he sees as the next steps for Senator Bernie Sanders.
Senior political reporter Manu Raju was there.
Manu, tell us about your conversation with Senator Reid.
MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Jake.
Now, Harry Reid and Bernie Sanders actually have a very close personal relationship. Several weeks ago, when Harry Reid endorsed Hillary Clinton, he actually called up Bernie Sanders, and they had a long, personal, emotional conversation, even when he discussed why he's supporting Clinton over Sanders.
And today, when I asked him whether or not he's OK with Bernie Sanders staying in this race potentially until that July convention, Reid said he was OK with that. He said Bernie should do what Bernie wants to do.
Now, when one of my other colleagues at this press conference asked him if Bernie Sanders has a path to the Republican -- the Democratic nomination, he was very candid with his assessment.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
QUESTION: Senator Reid, about Bernie Sanders, do you think he has a path to the nomination?
SEN. HARRY REID (D-NV), MINORITY LEADER: No, I do not.
QUESTION: Do you think he should shift his campaign to be more about unity at this point?
REID: Bernie is going to do what he feels is appropriate. And I have every confidence that Bernie has -- number one issue is not him. It's the country.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
RAJU: What is really interesting is how Senate Democrats are playing this right now.
There's no overt pressure campaign to get him to leave the race, even as folks are getting pretty impatient and are getting -- and want to focus on a general election campaign. And one reason why is they do not want to alienate Bernie Sanders' supporters.
But watch for -- if Hillary Clinton continues to run the table in coming weeks, perhaps that pressure campaign will start to intensify, something that we're not really seeing at this point right now, Jake. TAPPER: All right, Manu, thank you so much.
Bernie Sanders needs to win a daunting number of delegates, 82 percent of the remaining delegates to clinch the nomination in every contest between now and June.
My panel's back with me.
Bill, let me go to you, as the Bernie Sanders supporter here. Bernie Sanders himself talked to Chris Cuomo this morning about the path to victory. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT), DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It's a narrow path, but we do have a path. And the idea that we should not contest in California, our largest state, let the people of California determine what the agenda of the Democratic Party is and who the candidate for president should be, is pretty crazy. So, we're in this to the end.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BILL PRESS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: First of all, I thank him for recognizing California and the importance of California.
You know, I think what Bernie is saying makes sense. You got to understand -- I think Van Jones said this first -- there's Bernie the candidate and Bernie the cause. And they're both important to him. I mean, he wants the -- he wants to win.
He also wants to shape the agenda of the party going forward, which means particularly the platform. And he wants to shake up the Democratic Party. He's talked about political revolution.
The more delegates he has, the more likely he's going to achieve those three goals, number one. And, number two, he believes, as I do, that as -- and Hillary Clinton did in 2008 -- it's important to let every voter in every state express their choice in this primary.
[16:45:10] So I would say to people who are pushing pressure on Bernie -- by the way, Hillary is not -- just chill. Let it go through and we'll see what happens.
TAPPER: Donna, Bernie Sanders said that it's incumbent upon Hillary Clinton, ultimately, to reach out to his supporters, Hillary Clinton's basic response is, she's won more than 2.7 million votes than Bernie has, has 250 pledged delegates more than Bernie Sanders.
One point, assuming that Clinton, after tonight, is on more of a track to win the nomination than Sanders, at what point -- whose responsibility is it to start taking the first steps to unify the party.
DONNA BRAZILE, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: You know, I want to quote a famous women, it takes a village. It's going to take all of us. It's going to take not just Senator Sanders, Secretary Clinton, hopefully the president, vice president of the United States, everybody.
Because you know what? It's a very big tent party with a lot of passionate people, those who are not just with Bernie but those also with Hillary Clinton. But I remember 2008, that was very contentious. You remember, too.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Absolutely.
BRAZILE: But we came together. We Democrats, after a few beers, couple of hotdogs --
TAPPER: Again with the beer reference.
TAPPER: I like the sound of that, Gloria.
GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: There are discussions inside the Sanders camp about how to do this and how to approach this. Bernie Sanders is not somebody you go to and say, OK, Senator, this is what you have to do and this is how you do it.
He's at that point in this campaign where he feels he's done too well to concede, but not well enough to win, and it's a hard moment for him. He's got to figure out how to keep his people on board and how to do it in an appropriate way.
By the way, he's still sort of has to have enough influence, which he does, to have the impact he wants on the platform, at the convention and that's what he's all about. Telling Hillary you've got to be for $15 minimum wage, no ifs, ands or buts.
MICHAEL NUTTER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I agree with a big part of what Bill said. I think after tonight, part of it is, go back to your message of chill, part of it is, for Senator Sanders, at some point you've got to chill as it relates to Hillary Clinton. All focus on the general election and let's unite, that's a process that everyone has a role and responsibility --
TAPPER: You want him to dial back the rhetoric is what you're saying.
NUTTER: Yes, at some point.
TAPPER: Not today, not tomorrow?
NUTTER: They'll reassess after tonight. He has to make that decision and then the campaign has to make a decision and supporters have to make a decision. It's a step by step process. At some point you have to make that pivot and it has to be authentic.
PRESS: I have to say, I really do think that he has in the last week or so a --
NUTTER: Dialed it back.
PRESS: Particularly after New York, right. Look, it's a primary, he has differences of opinions with her. But point made on the panel so often, little differences or little jabs on the Democratic side, compared --
BRAZILE: To the bloodlet.
PRESS: Lyin' Ted and Little Marco, I mean, come on.
KAYLEIGH MCENANY, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: You know, you make a point. Bernie Sanders has been the most civil candidate in this race. He refused to go after her e-mail situation from the get-go. He hasn't gone after Benghazi. He has avoided attacking Hillary Clinton and I think he deserves respect for being the most civil candidate in the race.
TAPPER: All right, everybody stay right there. Next, what to look for tonight as the poll results come in. And the first exit poll results minutes away. Stay with us. You're watching a special edition of THE LEAD.
TAPPER: Welcome back to our special Super Tuesday 4 edition of THE LEAD. Moments away from our first exit poll results in the five states heading to the polls today. Let's get some closing thoughts from our panel. Bill, what's the one thing you're looking for tonight?
PRESS: I know we have said this many, many times, but I think tonight could be the determinative Super Tuesday. And after tonight, we might very well see the nominees for both parties.
NUTTER: Secretary Clinton probably takes four of the five states and much like Bill, I think it's a definitive moment in this campaign.
JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The margin in Pennsylvania for both frontrunners, if Hillary Clinton wins it big, it sends a powerful message to Bernie Sanders. If Trump wins big, he can say you have a moral obligation to vote for me in Cleveland.
TAPPER: The margins more important for one party than another, Gloria?
BORDER: I think -- I think the margins are very important in the Republican Party. Right now in the Democratic Party, I think it's mathematically getting close to impossible for getting Bernie Sanders at this point.
And I think that if, you know, to play off of what John was saying, if Trump does really well in the state of Pennsylvania and if his organization now is strong enough, so that he can get the commitment of a lot of those uncommitted delegates, I think he's well on his way to 1,237. TAPPER: Before the convention?
TAPPER: Really interesting. Kayleigh?
MCENANY: Trump's going to win all five states. So the question is will he win by 20 percent margin? I think he will in four of the five states and will he get over 50 percent in each of the states? I think he will.
TAPPER: What's the fifth state that you don't think he's not going to get over 20 percent?
MCENANY: I think Maryland is questionable, but I think he can pull it out for sure.
TAPPER: I forgot to ask you, Mr. Mayor, that the fifth state that Hillary Clinton might not win is Rhode Island?
TAPPER: OK, I just want to make sure everybody at home (inaudible). What do you think, Mary Katherine?
MARY KATHARINE HAM, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: My question is, it's a very good night for Trump, whether the margins of victory translate into momentum for him because this has not been a momentum race. It's been a "the demographics work for me in this state so I'm going to win that state."
So he's not going to get 1,237 tonight. He has to deal with Indiana and California. How does that look? Are voters influenced by margins tonight?
JEFFREY LORD, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR TER: Two things, how many of those 54 delegates Donald Trump wins in Pennsylvania and, secondly, how many of the individual congressional districts does he win because you have uncommitted delegates saying I'll go with the district, and if that happens they are effectively Trump delegates as well.
[16:55:05]TAPPER: Let me just ask you as a Pennsylvanian, were you at all concerned at any point about John Kasich being from a neighboring state of Ohio and from --
LORD: What concerned me, I got three phone calls in a day. Here's the kick, they were recommending delegates. They said they were unaffiliated with the candidate. I checked, they were for Kasich.
BRAZILE: Jake, I'm looking forward three more hours, voters have an opportunity to cast ballots and watch CNN and we'll give you the highlights.
TAPPER: Thank you so much. The first exit poll results are just minutes away. Stay with us.
TAPPER: Thanks for joining us today. That's it for THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper. I'll be back at 7:00 Eastern for more of our special coverage of Super Tuesday 4.
I turn you over to Mr. Wolf Blitzer and Mr. Anderson Cooper. They're right next door in "THE SITUATION ROOM."