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THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER

Final Hours of Voting in Crucial Indiana Primary; Cruz Goes Off on Trump. Aired 4-4:30p ET

Aired May 3, 2016 - 16:00   ET

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


[16:00:07]

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Ted Cruz is letting loose, after Donald Trump links Cruz's father to the Kennedy assassination? Cruz calling Trump narcissistic, a pathological liar and a serial philanderer.

And we're just getting started, folks. A special Election Day edition of THE LEAD begins right now.

Good afternoon, and welcome to a special edition of THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.

What a day it has been. We're just two hours away from polls closing in Indiana, and the stakes could not be higher in the Republican race for the presidential nomination. If Ted Cruz and the anti-Trump forces cannot stop Trump in the Hoosier State, they may not be able to stop him at all.

Befitting the stakes, Trump and Cruz engaged in a bitter and stunning exchange today. Every time you think this race cannot get any more ludicrous, it does. This latest episode started this morning when Trump cited a bizarre and completely uncorroborated report -- and I use the term report loosely -- in "The National Enquirer," the supermarket tabloid.

"The National Enquirer," which has endorsed Trump and is published by a friend of Trump's, has launching smear after smear against Cruz and his family. This story shows a photograph from August 1963 of a man standing with soon-to-be-John F. Kennedy assassin Lee Harvey Oswald handing out pro-Castro literature.

And the story suggests that the man is Cruz's father, Rafael. Now, the problem is, there's really no proof that the photograph is in fact Cruz's dad, and Cruz's dad says it's not him. Nonetheless, Mr. Trump called into the FOX morning show this morning and said the following:

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: His father with was Lee Harvey Oswald prior to Oswald's being, you know, shot. I mean, the whole thing is ridiculous.

What is this, right prior to his being shot? And nobody even brings it up. They don't even talk about that. That was reported, and nobody talks about it. What was he doing with Lee Harvey Oswald shortly before the death, before the shooting?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: I cannot believe I need to say the following, but here goes. There is no corroborated evidence that Ted Cruz's father ever met Lee Harvey Oswald, or, for that matter, any other presidential assassin.

We in the media don't talk about it because there's no evidence of it. In fact, there is contrary evidence. Well before the picture was taken, Rafael Cruz's sister was brutally beaten by Castro forces and Rafael Cruz had denounced the regime.

So, any suggestion that Cruz's father played a role in the Kennedy assassination is ridiculous and, frankly, shameful. Now, that's not an anti-Trump position or a pro-Cruz position. It's a pro-truth position.

Cruz, for his part, is in the middle of two of the work weeks of his campaign, having been clobbered in a number of primaries in the last few weeks, not to mention having made some campaign missteps.

Today, he went after the front-runner, Donald Trump, in his harshest remarks to date.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Listen, Donald Trump is a serial philanderer, and he boasts about it. This is not a secret. He's proud of being a serial philanderer.

I want everyone to think about your teenage kids. The president of the United States talks about how great it is to commit adultery, and how proud he is, describes his battles with venereal disease as his own personal Vietnam.

Even though he boasts about his infidelity, he plants in David Pecker's "National Enquirer" a lie about me and my family, attacking my family.

He accuses others of doing what he is doing. I will tell you, as the father of two young girls, the idea of our daughters coming home and repeating any word that man says horrifies me.

That is not who America is. And I would say to the Hoosier State, the entire country's depending on you.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: I'm joined by our special Election Day panel right now.

But we're going to begin tonight with Jim Acosta. He's at Trump headquarters in New York.

Jim, the JFK assassination? Really? JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Jake, this

campaign United States is a mystery wrapped in a riddle inside an enigma.

But I have to tell you, Jake, the Trump campaign, they feel like this is a huge win. A Trump source put it exactly like that, huge with a Y, for the GOP front-runner today, in response to that testy reaction from Ted Cruz that was offered up earlier today.

The Trump campaign clearly feels it threw Cruz off of his game, off of his message at a critical moment. Just as the senator was trying to paint Trump in recent days as unfit to be president, the real estate tycoon was able to fire off a statement that you just mentioned that cast Cruz as desperate and flailing.

[16:05:01]

And we should point out the Trump campaign, as you mentioned, Jake, has not provided any evidence to us to back up the claim that Cruz's father was somehow involved in the Kennedy assassination. But now Cruz has done something he swore he would never do, and that is get in a cage match with Donald Trump.

And that suits team Trump just fine, considering their record in the cage with other candidates, whether it be Marco Rubio, Lindsey Graham, Jeb Bush, and so on.

Now, as for the primary itself, later on this evening, we're going to get those returns coming in. The Trump campaign believes a convincing win makes their candidate the presumptive nominee. They won't hit obviously that magic number of delegates needed to clinch tonight, Jake, but they point out the math is just getting easier week by week.

And one Trump source told me earlier today that they believe that they will hit that 1,400-delegate goal that they set a few weeks ago. They feel like that goal is actually within reach at this point -- Jake.

TAPPER: All right, Jim Acosta with the Trump campaign.

Sunlen Serfaty is traveling with the Cruz campaign. She's at Cruz headquarters in Indianapolis tonight.

Sunlen, this has been a pretty rough couple weeks for Cruz, colossal losses in those Northeastern primaries. The Fiorina announcement of a running mate didn't seem to do as much as he had hoped. He really needs a win today. How are they feeling?

SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jake, it's quite clear that the Cruz campaign is feeling very anxious going into tonight.

And there's just been a striking shift in tone coming from Ted Cruz himself, really sensing the urgency of the moment, the moment tonight that his campaign does face. And it was such a remarkable press conference, as you guys have been talking about today, with Senator Cruz really almost feeling unshackled in this moment, clearly frustrated by Donald Trump, really feeling at liberty to unload a litany of charges going against Donald Trump.

Now, Cruz a campaign official tells me that if he loses here tonight, he does intend to continue on with his campaign. Another Cruz official telling me that they are going leave everything on the field going forward.

But, of course, intrinsic in that statement is the admission of such a rough path, a rough road that they have ahead, that, of course, determined by how well they do here tonight. The Cruz campaign already trying to announce campaign stops in the future. They just announced that Senator Cruz will be campaigning tomorrow in Nebraska and Washington state, two states going forward, of course, that intended to send a message we are going on -- Jake.

TAPPER: All right, Sunlen Serfaty in Indianapolis with the Cruz campaign, thank you so much.

Joining me here for the entire hour, our panel.

David Gergen served as presidential adviser for four presidents, including Reagan and Clinton. Senior political reporter Nia-Malika Henderson, chief national correspondent and host of "INSIDE POLITICS," John King, chief political analyst Gloria Borger, Trump supporter Kayleigh McEnany. Amanda Carpenter served as communications director for Senator Ted Cruz.

Trump supporter Jeffrey Lord, who served as White House political director for Ronald Reagan, and last, but certainly not least, Democratic strategist Donna Brazile.

(LAUGHTER)

TAPPER: Thanks, one and all, for joining me.

John, a man who endorsed Ted Cruz, former Governor Pete Wilson of California, said, I believe today, that if Cruz does not win Indiana, that's going to make the whole road much, much more difficult, especially California. True?

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: First, let me endorse the pro-truth position you took...

(CROSSTALK)

TAPPER: Thank you. I appreciate it.

KING: How quaint of you in this campaign to try...

TAPPER: I'm trying.

KING: ... to try something like that.

Yes, it does. Look, the Republican Party is preparing tonight, like it or not, those who are reluctantly embracing Donald Trump, those who will never embrace Donald Trump, that Trump, with a big win in Indiana tonight, they believe will able to be step forward as the presumptive nominee of the Republican Party.

No, he can't clinch with math tonight, but Ted Cruz in every way possible said Indiana was his firewall. He said conservatives were standing at the edge of a cliff. They think, from a math perspective, more from a momentum and psychology perspective, if Trump wins tonight, especially if he wins by a healthy margin, by all accounts, it is over, over.

Watch Republican money for the candidates to dry up. Watch Republicans to take that money and try to get it into House and Senate races, because the fact that you just started this program with talking about JFK assassination and conspiracy theories -- I asked a senior Republican strategist tonight, if Trump is your nominee, what is the advice you give a House candidate or a Senate candidate?

The response was two words: Run away.

TAPPER: Run away. Interesting.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I think run locally, because if you can't support Trump all the time, I was told that you have got to run like you're running for sheriff, because they're now assuming that Trump is going to be the nominee.

Look, this...

TAPPER: There are other Republicans -- just to point out, there are other Republicans who say, no, embrace him, he's the candidate.

BORGER: Yes. Right.

TAPPER: Who knows what...

(CROSSTALK)

BORGER: Well, it depends where you are.

TAPPER: Right.

BORGER: It depends where you are.

But Cruz tonight, to get back to your original point, this is kind of an existential political moment here, for Kasich as well, I might add. And some say he should have had that existential moment a while ago. But for Cruz, an existential moment -- they say they're continuing on.

They're continuing on to the convention. But if they do that, it will be from a position of weakness. And that's a tough place to say to superdelegates, who kind of look at this and say, all right, maybe never Trump. Now it's maybe Trump. And maybe we ought to get on the bandwagon.

(CROSSTALK)

[16:10:03]

TAPPER: By the way, I was talking with a never Trump person over the weekend who says the money that they were hoping for did not come in.

BORGER: Yes. Exactly.

TAPPER: Kayleigh, I want to go to you.

I want to play a little bit more of Ted Cruz's remarkable press conference earlier today and get your response. Let's play that tape.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CRUZ: I'm going to tell you what I really think of Donald Trump.

This man is a pathological liar. He doesn't know the difference between truth and lies. He lies practically every word that comes out of his mouth. And in a pattern that I think is straight out of a psychology textbook, his response is to accuse everybody else of lying.

He accuses everybody on that debate stage of lying. And it's simply a mindless yell. Whatever he does, he accuses everyone else of doing. The man cannot tell the truth, but he combines it with being a narcissist, a narcissist at a level I don't think this country's ever seen.

Donald Trump is such a narcissist that Barack Obama looks at him and goes, dude, what's your problem?

He is lying to his supporters.

Donald will betray his supporters on every issue. If you care about immigration, Donald is laughing at you. And he's telling the moneyed elites he doesn't believe what he's saying, he's not going to build a wall. That's what he told "The New York Times."

He will betray you on every issue.

Donald Trump is a serial philanderer, and he boasts about it. This is not a secret. He's proud of being a serial philanderer.

I want everyone to think about your teenage kids. The president of the United States talks about how great it is to commit adultery, and how proud he is, describes his battles with venereal disease as his own personal Vietnam.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: Wow. Tell us how you really feel, right?

So, Kayleigh, what do you make of all that?

KAYLEIGH MCENANY, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: It's rather interesting to me, because, despite all of the things that Ted Cruz claims, he's such a bad guy, philanderer, liar, two of the people with the most integrity, I think, in my party have either endorsed him or tacitly supported him. We look at Ben Carson, man of extreme integrity, endorsed Donald

Trump. Mike Huckabee didn't endorse him, but his daughter currently works for him. These are the evangelicals that should be endorsing Ted Cruz.

But rather than doing that, they're supporting Donald Trump. And I think we should really be asking ourselves, what has Donald Trump done to get probably more Republicans than ever in the history of the Republican nomination to get on board with him?

By the end of this election, I predict he will have the most votes of any Republican nominee ever in history.

TAPPER: Amanda, obviously, the JFK assassination charge, crazy. I made that very clear at the start of the show.

But here's a question. Did Ted Cruz take the bait?

AMANDA CARPENTER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I don't think so.

Listen, when your father's under attack, I think you have to defend him. When your wife has been under attack by "The National Enquirer," it's a good thing to defend them. The thing that boggles my mind is that the Trump supporters don't like it when somebody gives Trump a dose of his own medicine.

Cruz was being relatively tame there, considering all of the things that Donald Trump has thrown at him.

TAPPER: I don't know. That was...

(CROSSTALK)

CARPENTER: No, no, considering everything that's been thrown at him, not only by Trump, but his campaign, his social media people, this has been very nasty, and Ted Cruz has acted with a lot of integrity.

And so -- but this really gets to the main problem with Trump. This is how he's acting tonight when he's winning. This is how he acts when he's winning. What does he act like when he's losing? I'm terrified to see.

And this is a problem, why Trump is not unifying the party. Sure, he can stand next to Ben Carson, but he's not going to be a man of integrity through osmosis. At some point, he has to try, because people can't fall in line and say, hey, I'm going to follow that guy, he's going to be my leader, when you're spreading "National Enquirer" tabloid trash.

TAPPER: Jeffrey?

JEFFREY LORD, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: You know, since we brought JFK into this -- and I hate to confess to the gray hair -- but watching Ted Cruz today reminds of what was known in the day, which is to say November of 1962, Richard Nixon's last press conference. He lost a difficult race for governor of California. Against all advice, he descended to the ballroom of the hotel in Los Angeles. He had his 5:00 shadow. And he went in those days for what passed for nuts, ending up with the famous line, "Gentleman, this is my last press conference. You won't have Nixon to kick around anymore."

It was emotionally off the charts. I would just suggest, if Senator Cruz ever wants to be president of the United States, this kind of stuff, not just to Senator Cruz, but to everybody who runs for president -- Governor Kasich's campaign manager sent out a tweet calling him a liar. The Kasich campaign super PAC put out a commercial with his nose going around and around and calling him a liar.

This is what goes on in presidential campaigns. And you have got to show ability to be steady and calm.

(CROSSTALK)

TAPPER: We're going to come back.

(CROSSTALK)

CARPENTER: ... people who play dirty to win?

TAPPER: Have to take -- believe me,

[16:15:00] Amanda, we're coming back to you.

But coming up next, a video that's gone viral, 1,400 workers told their jobs are gone.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The best way to stay competitive to move production to Monterrey, Mexico.

(CROWD ERUPTS)

(EXPLETIVE DELETED)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: Now, those lost jobs moving to Mexico, a central issue in campaign in Indiana. Who will win their vote?

Plus, a raw and candid moment on the campaign trail, Hillary Clinton apologizing. Find out why.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: What I said was totally out of context from what I meant and it was a misstatement.

(END VIDEO CLIP) TAPPER: We're counting down to the first exit poll results from the critical Indiana primary. That's just minutes from now. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

TAPPER: Welcome back to a special edition of THE LEAD.

We are fewer than two hours away from when polls begin to close in Indiana. A local issue there is looming very large in the primary, an air-conditioning plant, home to 1,400 manufacturing jobs in Indianapolis, is relocating to Mexico. And that heartbreaking announcement caught on camera went instantly viral.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

[16:20:00] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The best way to stay competitive and protect the business for long term is to move production from our facility in Indianapolis to Monterrey, Mexico.

(CROWD ERUPTS)

(EXPLETIVE DELETED)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: Donald Trump, among others, has not let voters forget about it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'm the one that brings up Carrier all the time. Carrier's my baby, I want to do the number on Carrier.

I'm going to tell them, right now, I'm going to get consensus from Congress and we're going to tax you when those air conditioners come. So, stay where you are or build in the United States!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: Chris Frates is live at a polling place in Indianapolis for us.

Chris, nearly one in five jobs in Indiana is in manufacturing. Is the closure of the Carrier air-conditioning plant, is it influencing how some Hoosiers are voting today?

CHRIS FRATES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Jake.

Well, you know, we talked to a couple of dozen voters, majority said this would influence them in a major way. The ones who did have this on their mind on a voting booth, you know, not surprisingly, voted for Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump.

I talked to a 78-year-old woman who said Carrier's decision helped her make her decision. He said Donald Trump was saying things that her and her husband were saying in their living rooms.

We also talked to a younger voter who said that Bernie Sanders convinced him to vote for Sanders. Remember, Sanders has been campaigning hard here in Indianapolis against the Carrier CEO, saying that he should stop the greed and he should stop hurting the middle class. So, that's not surprising either.

And when you look at the turnout here and the polls today, very big turnout here, Jake. In fact, the officials here telling me that they have seen more people come through the doors than they have in the past years. We've talked to county clerk as well. She said early voting in Marion County, which includes Indianapolis, up 95 percent.

So, there may be a lot of balance to count just here today 1,200 people already cast their vote and we still have a couple of hours left of voting. So, lots of votes to cast and we'll see how this issue plays out as final votes come in throughout the night, Jake.

TAPPER: All right. Chris Frates, thank you so much.

Joining me now, the chairman of the Indiana Republican Party, Jeff Cardwell.

Mr. Cardwell, thanks so much for joining us.

Do you think Donald Trump's focus on the Carrier plant relocating from your state to Mexico is resonating with voters heading to the polls today?

JEFF CARDWELL, CHAIRMAN, INDIANA REPUBLICAN PARTY: Well, I think it certainly is resonating. I think that's one of the reasons why job and economic development is so important to Hoosiers across the state. I think what we're looking for most with the work that Governor Pence has been doing across the state of Indiana, we're looking for a partner in the White House.

TAPPER: Our own Chris Cuomo asked Donald Trump about how he would try to bring jobs back to America. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP (voice-over): It's very simple. We're going to put -- we're going to make them pay. There's going to be consequences. You're not just going to take your company, move to Mexico, make air conditioners and now start selling them in our country and not have consequences. The consequences are a tariff or a tax.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: Will that work, sir, a tariff or a tax? Will that keep those jobs in the United States?

CARDWELL: Well, I think one of the things, as a business leader, Donald Trump certainly had a lot of experience in leading businesses. A lot of regulation has really driven a lot of companies out of the United States, not only just Indiana but also across the United States.

TAPPER: Is that why Carrier's relocating?

CARDWELL: So, I think there's going to be a combination.

Well, I think that's part of the reason. I mean, you have more than 260 new regulations that have affected that company directly and regulations do matter. And it does increase the cost of doing business and, therefore, you lose businesses, not only in Indiana but throughout America. I think we really do need to look at what we're doing to our companies across the United States with regulations.

TAPPER: What about the fact that you can pay people, workers in Mexico, much, much less?

CARDWELL: Well, I think, again, you know, Indiana across the United States, we are the country of innovation and efficiencies. We have the talent here all across America. We have the talent in Indiana. We can overcome those obstacles by removing some of the restrictions that businesses are facing, manufacturing especially.

TAPPER: I know that you're staying neutral in the Republican race until after the Republican convention, but today, Donald Trump cited a completely unsubstantiated story in the "National Enquirer" that attempted to link Ted Cruz's father to JFK assassination. Is that OK with you?

CARDWELL: I'm not aware of that particular allegation. I've been working and running the polls all day, and going around to different election sites. But I can tell you that both teams have had an extraordinary ground game here.

Cruz has had a great ground game. He's made ten stops yesterday. I know that Donald Trump made three stops yesterday across Indiana. And this is a historic time for people across Indiana. This is the first time, in my lifetime that Indiana's going to have a say in the next nominee for the president of the United States.

[16:25:02] We're seeing record amount of turnout across state. And we could set an all-time record for our state for our primary election.

TAPPER: All right. Mr. Chairman, thank you so much. Appreciate it.

CARDWELL: Thank you.

TAPPER: Coming up next, Hillary Clinton under fire over this --

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CLINTON: We're going to put a lot of coal miners and coal companies out of business, right, Tim? And --

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: But she says that comment is out of context. How is she explaining it now as she campaigns in Coal Country? Plus, some breaking news, new details about the highly coordinated

attack by ISIS terrorists -- the attack that killed a Navy SEAL in Iraq.

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD.

The Hoosiers are now heading back to the polls. For Democrats, it's a tight race in Indiana. Both Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders have canvassed the state, shaking hands, shoring up support.