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CNN TONIGHT

Trump's Takeover of GOP Continues as Kasich Drops Out; Clinton Preparing to Take on Trump; Trump's VP Vision. Aired 10-11p ET

Aired May 4, 2016 - 22:00   ET

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


[22:00:00] DON LEMON, CNN HOST: Here is one thing you can say for sure about this campaign, you isn't seen nothing yet.

This is CNN TONIGHT. I'm Don Lemon.

Donald Trump's takeover of the GOP marches on as John Kasich drops out and the presumptive nominee sets his sights on Hillary Clinton.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, (R) U.S. PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: She can't put it away. It is like a football team, can't get the ball over the line. I put it away. She can't put it away.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: Clinton giving as good as she gets, preparing to take on the republicans' last man standing.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HILLARY CLINTON, (D) U.S. PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think he is a loose cannon and loose cannons tend to misfire.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: If there is one thing the improbable rise of Donald Trump has taught us, it's that anything can happen. Well, probably not this, though.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOE BIDEN, U.S. VICE PRESIDENT: Well, I'm anticipating he'll ask me to be vice president.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: I want to begin tonight with Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton in their own words, tough talk from each of the candidates and interviews with CNN today. Hillary sitting down exclusively with our very own Anderson Cooper and answering the question on everybody's mind.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Are you ready for Donald Trump? I mean, he's already got an unflattering nickname for you. He's unlike any other candidate probably you've ever run against, anybody has seen in a long time.

CLINTON: You know, Anderson, I've seen the presidency up close from two different perspectives. And I think I know what it takes. And I don't think we can take a risk on a loose cannon like Donald Trump running our country.

COOPER: If he is a loose cannon, though, he's certainly willing to say things during a race against opponents and we've seen this already that a lot of candidates were not prepared for on the GOP side. Are you ready for that?

CLINTON: Well, I've sort of been in the arena for 25 years and I think nearly everything that can be thrown at somebody in politics and public life has come my way.

COOPER: You feel like you know how to run against him.

CLINTON: Oh, absolutely. But I'm not running against him. I'm running my own campaign. I'm running to become president.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: Donald Trump going one on one with our very own Wolf Blitzer and promising to take the fight to Hillary Clinton.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Do you think the general election campaign has already started, you versus Hillary Clinton, that for all practical purposes Bernie Sanders is out?

TRUMP: Well, I think what has happened, it has been a little flip. And I'm even surprised by it. I thought that I would be going longer and she would be going shorter. She can't put it away. That's like a football team. They can't get the ball over the line. I put it away.

She can't put it away. So, I thought I would be out there and she would be campaigning against me. I didn't realize. So, yes, I'll be campaigning against her while she's campaigning in the...

(CROSSTALK)

BLITZER: So, the general election campaign from your perspective starts today.

TRUMP: Essentially it started. I mean, yes. It started today. It started actually three months ago when I hit her pretty hard and she went down...

(CROSSTALK)

BLITZER: And your tone supposedly more presidential or will you really go after her?

TRUMP: Look, you know, I went to the best school, I'm a smart person, I did well, you know, I am who I am. I don't like to change. A lot is going to depend on how they treat me. I mean, if they treat me on a certain level, I'm not looking to do more.

You know, you've seen me I'm a counterpuncher more than anything like -- I don't like -- I don't really like hitting people first, because I don't know how -- I guess -- I always felt that I'm better, like certain boxers, they're better counterpunchers. I've been very successful. I've only been doing it for 10 months.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: What does that say? Fasten your seat belt it going to be a bumpy ride all the way until November.

So, here to discuss Mark Preston, CNN politics executive editor, CNN contributor, Bakari Sellers, and republican strategist, Kevin Madden.

Good to have you here, gentlemen. Thank you very much for joining me. The path now, Mark, now clear for Donald Trump on a potential matchup you see. It's Hillary Clinton's 13 percent. Do you think it is going to remain this way?

MARK PRESTON, CNN POLITICS EXECUTIVE EDITOR: Well, I still think that there is a lot of ground that we need to cover before we get to November. Look, inherently if you look at the map and you are to believe what the polls are right now and historically, yes, Donald Trump has a big hill he needs to climb.

But this has been a very unconventional campaign and politics has been very unconventional, not just this year but you could argue probably in the past decade.

LEMON: He says that he is a counterpuncher, he said his strategy in the primary, Kevin, was to knock out his opponents to ridicule and demean them, to knock it out. Do you think that same playbook is going to work against Hillary Clinton come in general?

KEVIN MADDEN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I think it's going to work to his advantage. I think what worked in the primary that would work against Hillary Clinton is constantly being on offense, constantly dictating the tempo of the race, and making sure that all of his opponents were reacting to him.

And look, I think that draws a strong contrast against Hillary Clinton in the sense that whereas, he plays with a certain reckless abandon, Hillary Clinton is very cautious, she's very calculating. And I don't think that necessarily works when you have a general election matchup. You want to be the one that is setting the terms of the debate versus reacting to your opponent. So, it could work to his advantage.

LEMON: Bakari, Hillary Clinton, you heard her say, she said that she -- that Donald Trump is a loose cannon. She doesn't think that's going to play well. Let's listen to a little bit more and then we'll discuss.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

[22:05:01] CLINTON: You know, Donald Trump has said it's OK for other countries to get nuclear weapons. I think that's just downright dangerous. He has said wages are too high. I think we need to have a raise for the American people. Raise the minimum wage, get wages back going up.

I think when he says women should be punished for having abortions, that is, you know, just beyond anything that I could imagine. I think most women can imagine.

COOPER: He did walk that back.

CLINTON: Well, he's a loose cannon. I mean, he's somebody who has said so many things, and I'm sure he'll be scrambling and his advisers will be scrambling, but he's already said all of these things.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: Is that a peek at the Clinton playbook.

BAKARI SELLERS, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, I think it is. And one of the things that you saw her do was something that republican candidates didn't have, the formidable network to do, which is define Donald Trump.

And she's going out and called him repeatedly today a loose cannon, a loose cannon, a loose cannon. You'll start to hear that more and more. But Donald Trump to win a general election, just to push back to Kevin a little bit, in the republican primary, Donald Trump got 10 million votes. That is a very small microcosm of what he needs to be president of the United States.

Barack Obama got 66 million votes to be the president. So, this fly by night, this fly by the seat of his pants, down in interviews, that's not going to work in a general election. There is going to have to be some there-there.

He's going to have to actually begin the campaign in some of these states to have a ground game which Hillary Clinton already has. And also focus on data which we know democrats have a superior of anything.

MADDEN: Yes. The thing I'll be watching is how long is she a disciplined candidate trying to keep him in that frame of being a loose cannon. And the other part of it is, she can -- she tends to look programmatic when she's saying it, whereas, Donald Trump looks like a master brander when he's putting his opponents on the race.

So, that will be the dynamic I think I want to watch into the first few steps around the ring with these two.

PRESTON: You know, it's worth noting too, you know, Bakari brings up a good point about Donald Trump doing this fly by night calling it to a, you know, it's the television shows, basically running a communications presidential campaign. You know, it basically media.

However, he is now plugging into the Republican National Committee, which is that's all they do, they raise money, they build a program, and they do have field staff in the 50 states. He is now going to plug into that.

LEMON: But to her peril, she underestimates Donald Trump, which a lot of people have. Is she underestimating him?

SELLERS: Well, I don't think that she is. I mean, one of the things that we have to look at right now the campaign already has staff in Virginia, in North Carolina, in Ohio, New Hampshire, Colorado, Nevada, and Florida.

They've already invested in Ohio, Virginia and Florida. And they actually have ad buys ready to go out June 7th after California. So, there is no underestimating Donald Trump. In fact, the game -- the game is set. Now whether or not Donald trump can actually play this game is something totally different.

MADDEN: Yes. One thing I would say too, is that the Clinton campaign has a history of warring camps inside it. From the get-go, from this day forward, they can't have any -- they can't have any of that, you know, the dissension inside the camp that they are going to beat him.

LEMON: Yes. Can we talk, I'm sure you guys saw the polls. Let's talk about the issues, right? Because in a new poll, Hillary Clinton she beats Trump on handling terrorism, immigration, health care, and education, every issue except the most important one, which is the economy. That's the most important one to 88 percent of voters. Is that a red flag for the Clinton campaign, Mark?

PRESTON: No, I mean, listen, I think, listen, I think we all agree as we sit here at the table that Donald Trump is somebody who is an anomaly. We don't quite understand what his appeal is, but we do know he does have appeal and it is magnetic in many ways, right?

So, I do think that the Clinton campaign is not going to underestimate him. And I do think they're going to try to define him now, they're going to try to knock him out in the first round and not try to go to the 12th round.

LEMON: But is this campaign going to be about issues?

SELLERS: Well, that's the thing.

PRESTON: Yes, the issue will be.

SELLERS: I think it will be to a certain point. There is going to be gamesmanship. I mean, look, you have Hillary Clinton versus the loose cannon. We already know that. But the fact to the matter is, one of the things that the Democratic Party has that the Republican Party does not is you've seen Elizabeth Warren kind of come out and say, we're going to beat back Donald Trump.

You are going to have Barack Obama and Michelle Obama, you are going to have Joe Biden. At some point you have Bernie Sanders, so you'll have this coalescing, you'll have this momentum going forward.

And I'm not sure when you have 41 and 43 sitting at home, when you have Mitt Romney hanging out in Utah, I'm not sure that the Republican Party is going to have enough to coalesce around a loose cannon.

MADDEN: Well, look, Trump has done best during this campaign when it's been less about issues, you know, rolling -- not rolling out white papers that giving policy speeches and it's more about attributes.

And the big attribute that he wants this race to come down to is who do you -- who understands people like you? Who do you relate to? And I think it's very tough for Hillary Clinton to answer that affirmatively. That's going to be where Donald Trump goes during this campaign.

LEMON: They both have -- go ahead.

SELLERS: And I was going to say. One attribute that she does have in her favor and we have been debating this for the past two weeks, but the electorate is changing, the electorate in this country is becoming browner, but also women.

Female voters are the number one electorate and we have not had an opportunity to fully vet and discuss the fact that it is very popular to have the first female president in the history of this country.

PRESTON: Well.

SELLERS: And you can call it playing a woman's card all you, I mean, that is a fact of the matter and people appreciate that.

[22:10:00] LEMON: But is Indiana an indicator? Because it was 50/50 when it came to women and between Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton. Is that an indicator to this?

PRESTON: I don't think one state -- I don't think one state defines it. And Bakari is right. I mean, that is his Achilles' heel, women is Donald Trump's Achilles' heel.

And the fact that he tried to downplay the fact that she was playing the woman's card, who cares. I mean, that's not offensive.

(CROSSTALK)

SELLERS: She had millions in fact.

PRESTON: It is not offensive to say you're playing the women's card. Playing the race card, yes, well, then you start to walk down a different road and, you know, people react differently to that.

LEMON: But, I mean, he will still try to use that saying she's playing the women's card, she hasn't been good to women.

(CROSSTALK)

PRESTON: Oh, there's no doubt because she tried to win to the angry white voters. No doubt

SELLERS: And as Kevin knows, Barack Obama got the 332 electoral votes against Mitt Romney and the way he got there was by female voters and he got there through voters of color. And if Donald Trump can't expand his base, which he hasn't been able to prove himself to do, it's going to be a long road.

LEMON: So that's for women. But then they're both -- look at their likability or unfavorable numbers, right? Fifty six percent of voters have a negative view of Donald Trump versus 49 percent for Hillary Clinton. How's that going to play out in this?

MADDEN: Well, this is where, you know, republicans look at and say, you know, Donald Trump has the historically -- the highest historically negative ratings of any major party nominee. That distinction would have belonged to Hillary Clinton if we nominated anybody else, but we didn't. So, that's one of the big things that I think many republicans are going to rue during this general election.

SELLERS; And that's where democrats get excited because you have people who are fretting like Ron Johnson, Pat Toomey, like John McCain.

PRESTON: Right.

SELLERS: These people who are running in the Senate races where you have such an anchor, Donald Trump is an anchor on the Republican Party. He just also happens to be the standard bearer.

LEMON: He has bloodied so many opponents you're talking about. John McCain is not one of his opponents, but so many people in the party have concerns about him. How does he -- how do they coalesce, how does he unite?

PRESTON: Well, I mean, listen, there is going to be some folks that are party folks, they are going to say let's get behind Donald Trump for it is good for the party. And then you are going to have a segment of republicans who are going to say, you know what, I'm not going to vote for him. And maybe Kevin you can speak to that.

LEMON: Not to make a difference, is that going to happen?

MADDEN: Look, I think there is nothing that unites a party like a common opposition, and I think more and more you'll see republicans say, well, anybody but Hillary Clinton.

I think one of the other things he'll do, he'll start to pick very popular issues that will rally a lot of conservatives around them.

LEMON: Yes.

MADDEN: Whether that's national security, and what happened with the last eight years, the economy, you name it, he's going to try and unite some of the folks by finding those common interests.

LEMON: Kevin, Bakari, and Mark. Thank you, guys, I appreciate it. When we come right back, Donald Trump is the -- is in the market for a running mate, but will his top picks turn him down?

[22:15:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: Now that he's the GOP presumptive nominee, Donald Trump is already considering vice presidential candidates. That was fast. Current holder of that office still weighing in today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Donald Trump as the presumptive nominee any comments about -- any regrets about not being in the race?

BIDEN: Well, I'm anticipating he'll ask me to be vice president. I have nothing serious to say.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: I want to bring in now Matt Lewis, senior contributor to the Daily Caller and author of "Too Dumb to Fail," John Phillips, the talk radio host at KABC in Los Angeles, and republican strategist Kellyanne Conway.

Good to have all of you here. I said that was fast. But not as fast as Ted Cruz because he had...

KELLYANNE CONWAY, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: That's right.

LEMON: Yes, you know, he had picked his already. So, John, I'll start with you. A Trump/Biden ticket?

JOHN PHILLIPS, KABC RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: Yes, that would be the turret's ticket, wouldn't it? I think that Bill Clinton is actually is the guy that kind of change the whole philosophy on picking the vice president in 1992.

You used to think that if you're from the northeast that you had to have a southerner or someone from the West Coast to balance the ticket out. And Bill Clinton said, no, I'm going to pick a southerner with a very similar political profile to me because you want to reinforce an image, you want to reinforce the product that you're selling.

I think Donald Trump should do the same thing. I think he needs to go in and pick an outsider, pick someone who doesn't come from the beltway or someone who comes from outside.

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: So, no Kasich?

PHILLIPS: Yes, I would go with a general or maybe a defense secretary Bob Gates I think would help alleviate a lot of the fears of the establishment republicans. I think that that would also help him with the moderates, help him with people in the middle, show someone who hasn't drawn blood so far in this campaign, someone who has been out of the fray. I think that would probably be the best choice for him.

LEMON: But, Kellyanne, that's not going to be so easy because people are afraid of being tainted with -- you know, as Hillary Clinton said, he's a loose cannon, people don't know him politically, doesn't have a track record. They may be afraid to be associated with him. This is going to be -- this may not be an easy pick for him.

CONWAY: Yes, maybe. But it sounds like Donald Trump himself disagrees with John Phillips in that he said he needs an insider, he needs a seasoned politician who can help him get the legislation passed.

LEMON: So, you think Kasich might be a good pick?

CONWAY: Well, maybe. But I also think that you never know what you're going to say until you're actually asked the question. And Newt Gingrich I think put it best last week, which is when you're asked to serve at that level of government, the highest echelon as vice president, then it's very difficult to say no to that job.

I do think if you picked a governor, than other governors would say, OK, well, one of our own is there now. And I think he should recognize that there are people out there, Don, and gentlemen, who instead of banging on the glass and stomping that they're upset about, maybe they want to improve from the inside.

Instead of complaining about it, try to get on the inside as the vice president or as an adviser and change what you think is wrong.

LEMON: Matt Lewis, you say that a V.P. pick is one of the most important decisions a candidate makes. I want you to listen to what Donald Trump said today about what he is looking for in a running mate?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: They have to be a good president, potentially have to be a good president. So, that's the number one thing.

BLITZER: But that's the most important fact. You need someone potentially, God forbid if a president...

(CROSSTALK)

TRUMP: Oh, no. Look, there for that reason primarily. But I would want somebody that would help me from a legislative standpoint, getting things passed through Senate, through Congress, and to me, that's why I think probably in terms of vice president I'm going to go the political route. I don't need the business route. I've got that covered.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: All right. Sounds like he's similar to what Kellyanne is saying, an anti-establishment candidate who wants a establishment V.P. is it going to work? MATT LEWIS, "TOO DUMB TO FAIL" AUTHOR: Well, look, I do think it's an

important thing. You know, you get three opportunities basically in a general election that everybody pays attention to, the convention, the debates, and then the running mate selection.

[22:20:03] The running mate selection is actually a governing decision, that's why it is maybe the most important, but then it is also a political decision.

And so, this is Trump's big opportunity to mend fences, to send a signal. I mean, if he wants to solve the never Trump problem, he goes -- maybe he picks Rubio. You know, if he wants to win Ohio, he obviously goes John Kasich.

If he wants to get cover to attack Hillary Clinton, maybe he picks a woman. I think that what he really needs is gravitas and I agree, double down on the outsider image. I don't think he should go with an insider. If you can get gravitas and reinforce that brand as an outsider, I think that's the sweet spot for him.

LEMON: You said a woman. Nikki Haley everyone thinks would be perfect. She already said that her plate is full then other women are saying, you know, I just don't have the time right now. So, I'll ask the question again, do you think he'll have a hard time finding a running mate especially, you know?

CONWAY: No, I don't actually.

LEMON: You don't?

CONWAY: And women are the original multitasks. I just think people don't like to answer hypothetical questions, Don.

LEMON: I got you.

CONWAY: And I think that's very fair that you don't want to open up -- that you don't want to answer a hypothetical question. And, look, I think before he starts picking V.P.'s, I would imagine he and his team are talking to the RNC, as the nominee he'll get their data, which is huge, he'll get the resources, their field staff, their ground team, he'll start to hire people out in the states. That's even more important right now to get these fundamentals that he's been lacking in place.

LEMON: Yes. We've established that. But let's -- this is the first night I've said, since I've introduced you, I haven't said that you're a Ted Cruz supporter, right? Because Ted Cruz dropped out. Are you and other Cruz supporters going to rally around Donald Trump?

CONWAY: I'm still a Ted Cruz supporter. I'm so proud of the campaign that the man I thought was masterful against so many ads.

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: But he's out. CONWAY: He is out, and by the way, he deserves the mantle this week,

Don, of the person who unified the party the most by avoiding this contested convention, by not fractioning the GOP all the way to Cleveland.

LEMON: Are you going to support Donald Trump?

CONWAY: Yes, I'm going...

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: You think he will?

CONWAY: I don't know -- I can't speak for Senator Cruz and I respect his timeline and his whatever his decision ends up being, but his wife was attacked, his father was attacked yesterday morning, so, you know, these are not flesh wounds, they're fresh wounds.

And for me, I'm in the never Hillary camp. So, I'm for never Hillary.

LEMON: Yes.

CONWAY: And look, the most liberal -- the most liberal president in my lifetime outside of President Obama has been Richard Nixon, but if I could have voted in 1968 or '72, I wouldn't have gone for McGovern, for example.

LEMON: Yes.

CONWAY: And so, I think people just saying I can never support him, even if he's a republican nominee should rethink how detrimental to the conservative movement and this country a Hillary Clinton presidency would be.

LEMON: All right. John, we'll get you into the next block. Don't go anywhere. We'll be right back. We'll continue our discussion.

[22:25:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: Donald Trump is now the last man standing in the republican race with John Kasich dropping out just today.

Back now with Matt Lewis, John Phillips, and also Kellyanne Conway.

John, what is the campaign and party why are they going to do about people like Steve Deace. This is what he tweeted out today. "Since leaving the GOP, I feel liberated like the breakup chick in a Gretchen Wilson song, it's like soul cleansing.' What are they going to do about that?

PHILLIPS: Well, we just got out of the very contentious primary. So, some people will still have their feelings hurt and there are being drama queens on Twitter when they're up late at night. I say just give it time.

The more that Donald Trump goes after Hillary Clinton, the more he finds a common enemy with these people, and the more it becomes a traditional republican versus democratic race, a lot of these upset republicans right now are going to come back in the tent because there is nowhere for them to go.

If you live in Atlanta you fly Delta because it's the only option. And right now if you're a republican, you may be upset, you may not love Donald Trump, you may not even like him. But guess what, he's the only option and if you don't go with Donald Trump in the general, then you're going to be looking at president Hillary Clinton.

LEMON: Kellyanne, you didn't like the term drama queen. Is that, why not?

CONWAY: I didn't like that at all. And I think that's no way to actually coalesce and get people to unify around Donald Trump or even not fracture the whole Republican Party. I know Steve Deace very well. He's an insightful writer.

I commend to your viewers, Don, there is a piece he wrote in conservativeview.com just today, he called the nine things I learned from the Cruz campaign. Very influential talk show host.

But there are many people who feel that way, feel that never means never, and until they see Donald Trump giving a little bit more robustness to what they consider to be conservative issues -- conservative positions on issues, it's going to take a long time.

Plus, you know, many of us are personal friends of Ted and Heidi Cruz and there have been some really hurtful gratuities, and personal insulting things. And I hope that when Donald Trump said he had regretted or wish he hadn't done the re-tweet of the Heidi Cruz picture, we hear more of that like the JFK assassination conspiracy or like, you know, that like 'lyin' Ted.'

LEMON: Matt.

CONWAY: You know, you got to coalesce the party. Cruz got out. He's done his part to not fracture the GOP.

LEMON: OK. So, why did...

PHILLIPS: Isn't that the definition of being dramatic, though, if you say if my guy doesn't win, I'm taking my toys and going home?

CONWAY: You're asking me. I mean, I support the nominee who looks like it's going to be Donald Trump. I absolutely -- and look, I had to swallow plenty of non-conservative nominees in my lifetime. But you get on board, and you get on board if you want to stop Hillary Clinton's corrosive policies.

And I'm also not in the camp of these people saying Hillary Clinton will win at running away. I don't think she quite knows what to do with Donald Trump. Calling him a loose cannon will probably will enflame him to bring her husband back into the conversation.

LEMON: So, Matt, what about the people who said they can't swallow, you know, the prospect of Donald Trump as president, this talk of a third party candidate. Do you think that ends now with Donald Trump or do you think it keeps going?

LEWIS: I think it keeps going, but it doesn't matter. We could hold a meeting of the true never Trump, never Trump supporters in a phone booth, I bet you within two months. The people who are going to be the real never Trump people are people who are, you know, deeply committed about concerned about conservative philosophy, ideology, esoteric things like the Constitution.

Unfortunately, most Americans are not there. They're worried about people taking their jobs, they're worried about China ripping us off and trade imbalances. I man, that is where I think most conservatives are, and most Americans.

[22:30:01] So, maybe it's a bad thing. But I don't know -- I think the most sort of principled and philosophically, you know, focused people are just happened to have like talk radio shows and block...

(CROSSTALK)

CONWAY: But there is another group, Matt. There is another group, there is another group, the McCain and Romney advisers who have publicly said now maybe they'll vote for Hillary, they won't support Trump, they're not the constitutional conservatives that they're sort of the high minded.

(CROSSTALK)

LEWIS: That's like -- that's like 250 people. That's like 250 people.

CONWAY: This is beneath me...

PHILLIPS: They all live in Washington.

CONWAY: This is beneath me to vote for Donald Trump and I hope they reconsider that too, because, look, I respect Governor Mitt Romney and Ann Romney tremendously. I appreciate their service to this nation, but a lot of us had to swallow hard to have the guy with Romney care run against ObamaCare, if he doesn't...

LEWIS: But it's a character -- no, it's a character issue with Donald Trump and that's the difference. You know, Mitt Romney.

CONWAY: I get that.

LEWIS: Mitt Romney and John McCain were, you know, philosophically not conservative enough for my taste but we never really questioned their character, their judgment.

CONWAY: It was a strength for them.

LEWIS: Yes, and it's not a strength for Donald Trump.

LEMON: So, John, listen, you know, Kellyanne brought this up earlier, the loose cannon thing. Hillary Clinton has been referring to him as a loose cannon. Here's what she told Anderson Cooper, and then we'll talk. Just today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CLINTON: You know, Anderson, I've seen the presidency up close from two different perspectives and I think I know what it takes. And I don't think we can take a risk on a loose cannon like Donald Trump running our country.

You know, Donald Trump has said it's OK for other countries to get nuclear weapons, I think that's just downright dangerous. He has said wages are too high. I think we need to have a raise for the American people. Raise the minimum wage. Get wages back going back up.

I think when he says women should be punished for having abortions, that is, you know, just beyond anything that I could imagine. I think most women can imagine.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: John, your reaction?

PHILLIPS: Well, it was a great interview that Anderson Cooper conducted. And what I thought was interesting is if you look at the transcripts, you look at the line of attack that Hillary Clinton is taking on Donald Trump and you just saw the words and you didn't have her name on it, this could have been an interview that Jeb Bush gave.

Her criticisms were directed at the media for not asking tough enough questions. That's exactly what Jeb did. She referenced to family dynasty and public policy achievements that they committed decades ago.

And I just don't think that going in that direction, questioning his temperament, questioning his political pedigree, I don't think that's going to be effective. That's what didn't work for Jeb, that's what didn't work for the other republicans and she is repeating the same mistakes.

So, I think that Donald Trump is going to be a much stronger candidate in the general than people were giving him credit for right now.

LEMON: Matt?

LEWIS: Yes, I totally agree. Look, if you look at this race, and if you look at it right now in the very beginning and you say, look, it's about demographics, who can win women, who can win Hispanics, who can win this state or that state, then I think you bet on Hillary.

But if you look at it from a messaging standpoint, who is the candidate who is inspirational, who is the candidate who is the revolutionary, the insurgent versus who represents the status quo and the establishment. I think it is advantage Donald Trump.

Look, I think there is a -- something that's happening out there in America, something is afoot, there is an anti-establishment zeitgeist, and I don't think it's exclusive to the republican primary. I think that it's out there and Hillary is a standard issue politician and that's what we just saw in that interview.

LEMON: Thank you very much. I appreciate it.

(CROSSTALK)

LEWIS: Hillary is the democrat's Nixon.

LEMON: Thank you very much, I appreciate it. John, Matt, and Kellyanne.

When we come right back, looks like the never Trump movement has officially run out of gas. So, who is going to get their vote?

[22:35:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: Here is something we have all learned from this campaign. Be careful how you use the word "never" as in never Trump, just might come back to haunt you.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Donald Trump is not going to be the republican nominee. Period.

CARLY FIORINA, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: When I am firmly convinced of is that Donald Trump will not be our nominee.

JOHN KASICH, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I believe that Donald Trump will not be the nominee.

MARCO RUBIO, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Donald Trump will never be the nominee of the party of Lincoln and Reagan.

JEB BUSH, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Donald Trump, I don't believe, is going to be the party's nominee.

TED CRUZ, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Donald Trump will not be the nominee.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He's leading right now. You talk in the camera and said he is a coward.

CRUZ: Donald Trump will not be the nominee.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Will you support him as the nominee?

CRUZ: Donald Trump will not be the nominee.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: Joining me now, Philip Klein, senior writer for the Washington Examiner, and Jamie Weinstein, senior editor of the Daily Caller. A lot of people were wrong.

Hi, gentlemen. Thanks for joining me. Philip, you first.

PHILIP KLEIN, THE WASHINGTON EXAMINER SENIOR WRITER: Thanks for having me.

LEMON: We just heard all those republicans say that Trump is not going to be the nominee. And yet, here we are, he's the last man standing. You tweeted this out, used a photo, and you said, showing that you officially deregistered as a republican. Why is that?

KLEIN: Well, I'm not a professional republican. I'm a journalist, who happens to have conservative views. And the Republican Party to me is just a tool to advance those views in the sense that they're more likely to advance conservative ideas than the Democratic Party.

However, in Donald Trump, there is somebody who doesn't accept any -- who doesn't share those views. And who is displayed an unfitness for office, an unseriousness about policy, and who has exploited racism and sexism and enflamed it.

And so, the Republican Party wants to go in that direction, by nominating Trump, they're certainly entitled to, but I don't want to be along for the ride.

LEMON: Why is it working for him then? All of those things you said, in spite of all those things that still working, he is the nominee now.

KLEIN: I mean, clearly it was not disqualifying for the republican electorate, which has embraced him, but it is disqualifying for me.

LEMON: OK. Jamie, you weren't quite as nice as just deregistering as a republican because your latest piece in the Daily Caller, you said, "In a White House race between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, I prefer Clinton, just as I prefer malaria to Ebola. In most cases, malaria is curable, Ebola is more often deadly."

[22:40:00] That is not a pretty picture that -- yes, I mean, you're a long -- life-long conservative. Why do you -- would you vote for Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump?

JAMIE WEINSTEIN, DAILY CALLER SENIOR EDITOR: Well, usually when you compare someone to political malaria, it's not a compliment. But in this case, it's I guess better than being political Ebola which is why I think Donald Trump is. And that's for several reasons.

The first is I think that he's an authoritarian. I think there is a chance, maybe a small chance, that he would want to become an honest to God dictator. He has no -- very little knowledge of and less abiding respect for our constitutional system. He praises dictators all the time as if he aspires to be them.

The very risk that there is any chance, 5 percent, 10 percent is enough to make it -- I would never support him for president. But I'll take it a step further.

You know, he's no conservative. And neither is Hillary Clinton. She's been terrible on domestic policy, her entire career, there's probably not a single issue I agree with. But she's never proposed a 45 percent tariff on Chinese goods coming into the United States, which may be the single worst economic proposal proposed during this election season that would be economic catastrophe.

Her foreign policy, Hillary Clinton's has been abysmal. She's probably single-handedly responsible for the Libya invasion. She pushed for it. That was a disaster.

But unlike Donald Trump, she hasn't called for basically removing America's military infrastructure, national security infrastructure that is built up since World War II, which once removed, moving military bases from Japan and South Korea can't be easily rebuilt.

So, given those two options, and I believe you should vote in election, you have to choose between who is there and without any third party candidate that I could vote for who would be a serious candidate, I would have to cast my ballot for Hillary Clinton, which is amazing that I'm telling you this over the republican nominee who is Donald Trump.

LEMON: I am shocked that you're actually saying it. Because I want to ask...

WEINSTEIN: So am I, believe me.

LEMON: I want to follow it with this then, you know, our Dana Bash spoke with the never Trump supporter Erick Erickson, and he wants to lay out the ground work for another candidate to run against Donald Trump and Clinton's names are already being floated.

Donald Trump and Clinton, the names are already being floated. Would you both support a conservative challenger to Trump, even if that means essentially throwing away this 2016 election? Philip, you first?

KLEIN: I would consider voting for a third party challenger. Obviously, I don't know who that person is. But I would consider that if that option presented itself.

LEMON: You would. Even if it means throwing away the election? But basically giving it to a democrat.

KLEIN: I mean, I just don't think that -- I know that some people try to say that, that if you vote for a third party, it's the equivalent, I don't think that. I think that a vote in some sense is you giving your moral sanction to the candidate you're voting for.

So, I could not in good conscience vote for Hillary Clinton. I could not in good conscience vote for Donald Trump. If there is a third party candidate who is compelling to me, I would consider voting for that person. But I may not decide to vote.

LEMON: Yes. Jamie?

WEINSTEIN: I hope there is a third party candidate...

LEMON: Really?

WEINSTEIN: ... that is a conservative third party candidate or at least better than those two who is a serious candidate, who can get enough percent to at least get on the debate stage. I would absolutely vote for that candidate. It may probably and most likely throw the election to Hillary. But at least that would prevent Donald Trump and there would a small chance.

LEMON: Who would you put there?

WEINSTEIN: Very small. I could see Ben Sass, I could see Mitt Romney, I could see even someone like General James Mattis is who I reconsider. I could do -- I could support any woman who is better than, you know, Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump, which is a very low bar.

LEMON: Philip, who would you put there?

KLEIN: I don't know. I mean, I haven't given it enough thought. I'm not trying to sort of activate a third party. I'll leave that up to other people.

LEMON: OK. I want you to take a look. This is what the former White House secretary Under George W. Bush, Ari Fleischer put out there. He said, this is on Twitter. He said, "There is a lot about Donald Trump that I don't like, but I'll vote for Trump over Hillary any day."

He's getting a lot of flak by some conservatives who are saying that he is capitulating. What do you think about the folks who are now changing their tune? First, Philip.

KLEIN: Well, I think that you're going to see a distinction between as I laid out in the beginning between professional republicans and people who are conservative.

Professional republicans that work in republican politics as a career and are interested in whoever the Republican Party nominates, they're going to support Donald Trump.

Or they're going to be more likely to than people who are mainly got into politics or got involved because of an ideological cause. And if the -- when the candidate doesn't represent that, then they're not going to get behind that person.

So, I think that that's the distinction that you're going to look for and you're going to see between conservative writers, conservative think tank people, conservative policy people, versus republican pollsters, republican consultants, republican advertising folks.

LEMON: Yes. All right, that's all the time we have. Thank you very much, gentlemen. I appreciate you joining me.

[22:45:01] Philip Klein and Jamie Weinstein, I'll see you soon.

When we come back, Bernie Sanders campaign gets a shot in the arm in Indiana, but is it -- is he actually helping Donald Trump by staying in the race?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: Donald Trump has sealed the deal with the republicans. But on the democrats side, Hillary Clinton is not quite there yet.

So joining me now is Bob Beckel, the author of "I Should be Dead, my Life Surviving Politics, TV, and Addiction," and Angela Rye, CNN political commentator, and Clay Aiken is here as well, former congressional candidate.

Good to have all of you. I'm going to start with Bob. The cantankerous one. Bernie Sanders is the Indiana upset was a much needed shot in the arm for his campaign, Bob. And here he is at a rally in Kentucky just hours ago. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS, (-VT) DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: When we began this campaign, we were considered to be a fringe candidacy. Well, last night, we have won the 18th state of this campaign.

(CROWD CHEERING)

And with your help, Kentucky will be the 20th state we're going to win West Virginia in between.

(CROWD CHEERING)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: So, Bob, he picked up 44 new delegates in Indiana and he's expected to do well in Kentucky and also in West Virginia. But, I mean, what's the goal here, the math really is not in his favor, is it?

[22:50:02] BOB BECKEL, "I SHOULD BE DEAD" AUTHOR: No, it's not. I think what the goal is to get to the convention, as many people who have been second place have done in the past, and that is to get a platform fight that he thinks is necessary to have.

I don't know what he's going to pull out, whether it's trade or whether it's health care. But I suspect that what he wants is to have a floor fight and to win it. And I wouldn't be surprised by the way that he would.

But more importantly than that, people say, people are going to support Hillary Clinton. The biggest issue here is will Sanders get out and take on Donald Trump? That would be the best thing that the Clintons could hope for, that he goes out there. Because he can speak to those people, he can speak trade, blue collar workers, young people. They desperately need Bernie Sanders not just as voters, but him in Donald Trump's face.

LEMON: All right. Well, speaking of Donald Trump. Of course, he is just too good for Donald Trump, right? Because he tweeted this out, Angela. He said, "What a great evening we had," he writes, "so interesting that Sanders beat crooked Hillary, the dysfunctional system is totally rigged against him."

Is Sanders actually helping Donald Trump by staying in the race? You think it's going to hurt Hillary Clinton the longer this goes on?

ANGELA RYE, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: I don't. I actually think it is a good thing that Bernie Sanders is staying in the race. I've said often that Hillary Clinton has been vetted on a national level for decades. But this is a different kind of vetting.

We know that she's already been through a presidential in 2008. This is to me, still a cakewalk compared to what we saw in 2008. I know, Don, you said, have you ever see anything like this? Yes, it was so much worse. She didn't get out until June.

LEMON: And she admits that. She admitted that with Anderson.

RYE: Yes, exactly.

LEMON: She said she won like 9 of the last 12 contests, but things didn't change for her at all.

RYE: And her supporters also said they wouldn't support Barack Obama. And by the time August came around, those numbers started to turn around.

LEMON: But he's still hitting her, though, on.

CLAY AIKEN, FORMER CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE: There's a little bit of difference between them and 2008.

RYE: Oh, there is a lot of difference.

AIKEN: The people -- you know, the Bernie Sanders supporters are outsiders, the underdogs, they are the folks who are fighting to have their voices heard. That group won in 2008.

LEMON: Yes.

RYE: Yes.

AIKEN: And so, the establishment with Hillary Clinton was able to rally behind Barack Obama.

LEMON: Do you want him to stay in the race?

AIKEN: I do. Absolutely.

LEMON: Why?

AIKEN: You know, also, I mean, for all the reasons that Angela has just said, but also I think that Hillary is going to have a little bit of a challenge trying to get as we know get some of Bernie Sanders' people to come and vote for her.

The longer Bernie stays in the race, the more he keeps those people activated. And I think there is a seamless transition at some point, whether that be at the convention, whether it be before the convention, or after the convention. There is going to be a more seamless transition if he doesn't step out and disappear for three months.

LEMON: Because that sort of takes away his power, right? And this ability to speak to those people. That is actually a very good point because at some point, if he does, because you saw he needs 101 percent of the delegates in order, if you do it mathematically, if there is not a contested convention, right?

RYE: Right

LEMON: There it is. So, if he says at the convention, you know what, Bob, he says, so it's time for me to bow out, but all of you people who are supporting me, I think it's really time for you to go and support Hillary Clinton, do you think they'll do it?

BECKEL: Yes, I think he will. I mean, one of the big nights will be Bernie Sanders will get a primetime speaking spot at that convention. And he's earned it. And at that point, he's going to say, I hope as very much like Jesse Jackson did for Walter Mondale, when I met at his campaign, he was very strong in support of him.

Now, or he could go the other way. The way Teddy Kennedy did against Jimmy Carter, where he sort of walked away from the stage. But I suspected that Bernie Sanders to stay relevant himself will give a very strong speech for Hillary Clinton and as much about why you don't -- this country can't afford Donald Trump.

And he's the perfect spokesman, because he's speaking to the same group of people in essence about jobs and trade and that sort of thing, he's very important to Clinton.

LEMON: So, Clay, if he doesn't do that, if he doesn't say, hey, listen, go vote for me, can the Clinton camp run over the supporters without his help?

AIKEN: I think it will be a challenge. I think she has -- she has the potential of bringing in someone like Elizabeth Warren or maybe a Sherrod Brown who would be able to speak to that group of people. But I don't know that Hillary is going to be able to do it on her own.

LEMON: You don't?

AIKEN: She's not going to be able to change her message enough to convince those people. She's going to need a surrogate of some kind like Bernie Sanders.

LEMON: OK. So, before...

(CROSSTALK)

RYE: A multiple.

LEMON: ... before you answer this, Angela.

RYE: Go ahead.

LEMON: So, if she were to do something on her own, or something to, you know, I guess sort of -- I don't know if capitulate is the right word or to see like she's trying to be nice to him, right? What would you -- what do you want to hear her say, nice to him and nice to his supporters.

AIKEN: I mean, I think she's been doing it.

LEMON: Yes.

AIKEN: I think in the past week, especially, she's been, you know, talking about how she wants him to stay in the race. She's encourage -- I mean, her surrogates are encouraging him to stay in the race.

LEMON: Right.

AIKEN: I think she's going to have to speak to a little bit more of the issues. She hasn't talked as much about college loans as he has, he's talked about free college. But she could probably hit a little bit harder on some of the issues that are important to his supporters especially the young folks.

LEMON: Go ahead, Angela.

RYE: So, that to me is I think interesting. I want to talk about the issues point first. I would argue that she has not only talked about issues, but she has clear policy platforms whereas Bernie Sanders platform is really pie in the sky.

He's got a bill he introduced in the Senate, talking about free college, is very clear, right? That free state college would mean that you still maybe accountable for room and board.

[22:55:01] You have to have all this partnerships with republican governors all over the country, they're tough. And so, I think we shouldn't minimize the fact that she fought through some of this, I'm sure he has, too. But it's going to cost this argument.

(CROSSTALK)

AIKEN: Well, there are some college students are dreamers.

RYE: Yes.

AIKEN: You know, and the people who are following -- the people who are following Bernie are dreamers. And they don't necessarily want to hear pragmatism.

LEMON: Right.

AIKEN: And I think that a lot of people are supporting Bernie because he is dreaming and they know his north star. I totally agree that Hillary being pragmatic is really important.

RYE: Yes.

AIKEN: But I think she's going to have to figure out a way to thread a needle where she's being pragmatic. (CROSSTALK)

LEMON: Let's let Bob in. Bob, quickly, I got to run, what happens to this Bernie Sanders revolution, speaking of dreamers, what happens after November. Is it...

(CROSSTALK)

BECKEL: Well, that's for sure. They are going to be. Look, you have a contested campaign for presidency, you do polls and everybody on the other side will say I'm not going to support that person. And it goes away. As the reality start to keep clear and clearer they got to run against a republican. The best recruiting tool for Hillary Clinton is Donald Trump is the Sanders support.

LEMON: All right. Thank you, everyone. I appreciate it, good seeing you all.

When we come back, the Trump/Clinton war of words what the candidates said when they sat down with CNN today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CLINTON: And I don't think we can take a risk on a loose cannon like Donald Trump running our country.

TRUMP: She can't put it away. That's like a football team, they can't get the ball over the line. I put it away.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[23:00:00] LEMON: So, you're looking live at the White House. Just imagine it with Donald Trump living there.

This is CNN TONIGHT. I'm Don Lemon.