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Standing By For West Virginia Polls to Close; Trump Wins WV, Sanders Leads Clinton in Exit Polls. Aired 7-8p ET

Aired May 10, 2016 - 19:00   ET

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


[19:00:05] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: John, thanks very much. That does it for us. So, thanks for watching our special coverage of the primaries continues right now.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: We're standing by for new presidential primary results.

COOPER: The Democratic candidates are competing until the last vote to face-off against Donald Trump.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANNOUNCER: Right now, the presidential race is winding through the Appalachian Mountains as the general election battle lines are drawn.

HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We cannot let Barack Obama's legacy fall into Donald Trump's hands.

ANNOUNCER: The Democratic frontrunner and the all but certain GOP nominee are zeroing in on one another.

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We cannot take Hillary Clinton anymore. We've had enough of Clinton.

ANNOUNCER: Both parties heading into the final fight to be America's choice. Tonight, in the Democratic race, Hillary Clinton vulnerable in West Virginia but expecting to add to her all-important delegate count win or lose.

CLINTON: Let's have a great election that shapes the future we want.

ANNOUNCER: Bernie Sanders aiming for another upset claiming he can defy incredible odds if he takes the campaign to the convention floor.

SANDERS: We'll going to fight for every last vote.

ANNOUNCER: On the Republican side tonight, Donald Trump the presumptive nominee after crushing his last rival now free to focus on the hall.

TRUMP: Save your vote for the general election. OK? Forget this one, the primary is gone.

ANNOUNCER: Now, it's time for voters to have their say.

CLINTON: We can't have a loose cannon in the Oval Office.

ANNOUNCER: Clinton and Trump seeking more opportunities to defy one another.

TRUMP: That's why we call her crooked Hillary Clinton.

ANNOUNCER: America is choosing the campaign is kareeming toward the convention and the ride will only get wilder in the days and weeks ahead.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer in the CNN Election Center. There are only three candidates left in the presidential race and one of them now is virtually certain to be the Republican nominee with Donald Trump no longer facing any primary opposition. The focus tonight is on the Democrats on going contest and the general election battle ahead. We're counting down to 7:30 p.m. Eastern, less than a half an hour from now. That's when the polls close in West Virginia. We'll have our first chance to project a winner.

Hillary Clinton is facing the possibility of an embarrassing loss even as she closes in on clinching the nomination in a likely face-off with Donald Trump. Bernie Sanders is promising to keep on fighting to the convention in Philadelphia. A victory tonight could strengthen his argument that he still has a path forward. Twenty nine Democratic delegates are on the line in West Virginia. Remember, the Democrats split their delegates proportionally so both Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders will add to their tallies. Heading into tonight, CNN estimates that Clinton has a total of 2224 delegates, that is just 159 short of the number she needs to lock up the nomination.

Sanders has a total of 1448 delegates. All that includes the so- called super delegates. Tonight, the presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump is confident of a win in West Virginia as well as the GOP only primary in Nebraska while he no longer has any opposition, he still needs 157 more delegates to officially secure the nomination -- Jake.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: Thanks, Wolf. We have correspondents on the campaign trail covering candidates. First, let's go to Democrats who already are looking ahead to the next contest.

Jeff Zeleny is with Hillary Clinton in Kentucky and Jeff, Hillary Clinton not only looking ahead to the next contest, she's looking ahead to the general election.

JEFF ZELENY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: She is indeed, Jake. She just finished giving a speech here in Louisville, Kentucky just a few minutes ago and there is no mention of Bernie Sanders at all, perhaps not surprisingly. She did say, I am looking forward to debating Donald Trump in the fall. That is where her focus is. For at least the next few hours, the focus on West Virginia, the Clinton campaign believes they will lose that state. And Jake, a bit ironic, eight years ago she won that state over Barack Obama by some 40 points. Now she's losing that state they believe because of those comments

about coal miners and that she is too tied too closely to the Obama administration. They believe mathematically it doesn't matter and they are right about that. But the Clinton campaign also does not want to limp to the finish line here, Jake. That's why they are back on the air paying advertising here in Kentucky which votes next week. They want to at least get a few more wins here. Tonight they do not think there will be one. She's getting on a plane right now flying back home to New York. She will not be talking at all tonight after those West Virginia results come in -- Jake.

[19:05:05] TAPPER: All right. Jeff Zeleny in Louisville, Kentucky with the Clinton campaign.

Now, let's go to the Sanders campaign where we find Brianna Keilar, he is in Salem, Oregon, the site of one of the future contest. And Brianna, you just heard Jeff Zeleny refer to those controversial comments that Hillary Clinton made about coal and shutting down the coal industry, although she did say she wanted to bring jobs to those neighborhoods. We haven't heard Bernie Sanders talk about those comments, really.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: No, that's a very good point that you make and I actually talked to an aid about that today, Jake, because of some of the suggestions from Clinton backers where they said that Bernie Sanders facing really tough math needs to make this more about issues in the contest going forward. This aide telling me he is making it about issues and also this aide said, quote, "We could have made an ad about her co-miner comment and we didn't." So, shrugging off some of these suggestions that Sanders could be hurting Hillary Clinton when it comes to a potential general election matchup against Donald Trump.

But here in Oregon, the Sanders campaign is very confident, they are confident about West Virginia tonight and they're confident here about Oregon where Sanders will speak. There are hundreds of people that I can see around this armory where he's going to be speaking tonight and where voters will be heard here in a week, but at the same time, we're talking about 29 delegates at stake tonight in West Virginia. And so even a big win for Bernie Sanders isn't going to close the 300 or so delegate gap that Hillary Clinton is enjoying over him. It would be a tall order to do that. At the same time, Bernie Sanders has been telling crowds that he has an outside shot at closing the pledged delegate gap but the math is this, he would need to win 66 percent, two-thirds of the remaining delegates in the contest going forward. It's a tall order.

TAPPER: Indeed. Brianna Keilar in Salem, Oregon with the Sanders campaign. He would need not only to win all of those delegates but also convince many super delegates to change their allegiance.

Let's go to our David Chalian, our political director. David, you're looking at the exit polls. Obviously, some polls in West Virginia. The polls in West Virginia are still open so we're not going to talk about the actual projections but let's talk about the voters who turn down to vote. What can you tell us about who went to the ballot box today?

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Precisely, Jake. I think this is really interesting. You were just hearing the reporting from Jeff and Brianna about how the Sanders campaign is feeling so good about West Virginia and yet, look at the makeup of the electorate there today. It's one of the most conservative we've seen all cycle on the Democratic side. Forty seven percent of the voters in the Democratic primary electorate there today say they are liberal but 53 percent majority say they are either moderate or conservative. We've only seen that moderate conservative number high in two other states, Arkansas and Oklahoma throughout the season.

So, a pretty conservative electorate. And then take a look at this because this points to the fall. Clinton versus Trump, so we asked West Virginia Democratic primary voters how would you vote in November if it was Clinton versus Trump. Forty four percent Clinton, 33 percent Trump, we asked the same against Bernie Sanders. Take a look at this. How would you vote in November, 48 percent for Sanders, 32 percent for Trump, 18 percent for neither. Jake, my big takeaway there is look at that, Donald Trump is winning a third of the Democratic primary voters in West Virginia irrespective of who his Democratic opponent is. This is why West Virginia is likely to be in the Republican column come November. It just is a conservative electorate in there.

TAPPER: It used to be a state that Democrat really competed for but really not anymore and looking at these numbers.

Let me bring in my colleague Dana Bash looking at these numbers. It really does seem that it's unlikely that either Senator Sanders or former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will be campaigning in West Virginia when a third of those turning out to vote in the Democratic primary, although we should point out there also is a competitive gubernatorial Democratic primary going on in that state. Still, a third of them are already in the Trump camp and that's the Democrats.

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right. I think that people inside the Trump campaign and I guess now at the Republican National Committee looking ahead to November can maybe cross West Virginia off their list. But as you said, for the past, I don't know, what, six or so election cycles, maybe five it has been Republican and it was not that long ago though that it was kind of the heart of the Democratic south, not anymore.

TAPPER: Bill Clinton won, I believe, twice.

BASH: Right.

TAPPER: -- truth squatting on these statements because I'm trying to remember.

BASH: Yes. I remember covering the Gore campaign back in 2011 and he was campaigning hard there --

TAPPER: Yes.

BASH: -- although not hard enough and all the should have, would have, could have, part of that.

TAPPER: I remember Senator Rockefeller telling the people of West Virginia that Al Gore was an Appalachian just like us -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Thank you. We're counting down at the end of voting in West Virginia. Bernie Sanders can pull off a new win, what would it mean for Hillary Clinton and the Democrats delegate race? The first results, that's ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[19:14:00] BLITZER: Sixteen minutes until the polls close in West Virginia. The Democratic presidential primary, the first chance we have to make a projection.

I want to go over to John King over at the magic wall. You heard Bernie Sanders say he feels it will be difficult but he has on outside shot to catching up to Hillary Clinton when it comes to these delegates.

JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR: An outside shot. The math is very difficult Wolf for starters. But Bernie Sanders needs tonight is what Hillary Clinton got in 2008. He needs a big win. Not just a win but he needs a big win. Let me explain why he would love to be. For Bernie Sanders to have probable math, a possible math, he needs to be up where that is tonight. Let me show you why as we switch match here and go to our delegate map. Here is where we are right now entering today.

This is just pledged delegates up here. You can do the math pretty easily there. Three hundred and one, Hillary Clinton has the lead among pledge delegates. Let's assume Bernie Sanders wins West Virginia tonight 60-40. Right? Remember, 301, if he wins 60-40 because of the number of delegates at stake, it's a net gain of only five delegates. That's the problem for Bernie Sanders right now. The same rules that have kept him competitive. The proportionality of the Democratic rule make it hard for him to catch up right now. He has to win 66 percent of the remaining delegates.

So if he gets 60 percent out of West Virginia tonight, his math actually gets harder even though that's a huge win with 60 percent, his math gets harder. He needs 66 percent from here on out to catch her in pledged delegates. That would put him one ahead. If he got 66.2 percent or so. The Clinton campaign says that's not going to happen even if Bernie Sanders wins in New Jersey, it's not going to be by 66 percent. Even if Bernie Sanders wins in Kentucky, the Clinton campaign thinks it can win both mind you. But even if Sanders doesn't win, there is no way he's going to win that big. They say out in California even if Sanders wins, there is no way he's going to win that big. So, that is the challenge for Bernie Sanders tonight, not just winning and then frustrates the supporters because a win is a win.

And Bernie Sanders is racking up some wins. If he wins with 60 percent tonight, it's not good enough when it comes to the long term delegate math. Let me explain why that matters. Because she continues to pick up delegates, too. The Clinton campaign thinks it will win New Jersey, they think it will win Kentucky. I think they'll win New Mexico and California. Let's just flip them. Let's just give them. Let's give this one to Senator Sanders. Let's pick one more. Let's say he keeps on going and gets Kentucky as well. Even if that happened, this is Clinton winning California 55-45. Let's say Sanders wins 55-45. Even under that scenario, now the Democrats will be having a conversation about Sanders momentum at this point, but look, Hillary Clinton still pulls away and as long as she keeps the super delegates in her back pocket, bring them into play, she crosses the finish line.

She has 516 Democrats, super delegates who have pledged their support to her right now. Sanders has only 41. If he starts winning like this, will some of these people possibly peel away? Possibly. We need to keep in touch with them. But at the moment they have shown no willingness to back away. So, Sanders needs a win tonight, Wolf, he really needed to be 65, 66 percent for him to say, I need 66, the remaining way but I did it tonight and I'm going to keep on doing it. The math is -- not impossible but extraordinary difficult.

BLITZER: As he himself acknowledges. Very, very difficult. But he promises to keep on going. Anderson, over to you.

COOPER: Wolf, John, thanks. Bernie Sanders says he still a chance to beat Hillary Clinton with pledged delegates. Listen to what he said earlier today in California.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We have a chance. It's an uphill struggle. We have a chance to end up with a majority of the pledged delegates, and if we do that, I think you are looking at the Democratic nominee for president.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Bernie Sanders earlier today in California, let's turn to our panel. Gloria Borger, do you see that same chance?

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Look, I think that as John was talking about earlier, this is very uphill winning 66 percent of anything is not easy but I think what this does for Bernie Sanders supporters, it's sort of gives them a sense of purpose heading into this convention. I mean, he could win tonight in West Virginia. He could even win California.

COOPER: Right.

BORGER: If he wins California, he heads into that convention and he's going to ask the super delegates to change their minds. They are not going to change their minds. But he heads into that convention with an awful lot of leverage and an awful lot of power and he can say to Hillary Clinton, you know what? I think you've got to do campaign finance reform in the first six months of your administration.

COOPER: Does it also make Hillary Clinton, I mean, a damaged weakened candidate?

MICHAEL SMERCONISH, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes.

BORGER: It doesn't help her.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yeah.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How many of the last ten did she win against then Senator Obama?

BORGER: Nine.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Everyone says he was weakened and he went on to win the electorate -- so you can't automatically say that. There is no evidence of that.

BORGER: And compared to what? Compared to the lack of unity in the Republican Party?

SMERCONISH: Anderson, when you look a look at the exit surveys in West Virginia and you see that 38 percent of Democrats who voted, 77 percent of Bernie Sanders supporters believe this to be an unfair process, the nomination process, that's a reflection of exactly what you're talking about.

BORGER: Uh-huh.

COOPER: We're going to take a quick break. We are just minutes away from our first chance to project the winner in West Virginia's Democratic primary. The key contest tonight. Much more of our coverage ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[19:22:58] BLITZER: All right. Just minutes from now, 7:30 p.m. Eastern. Polling places close in West Virginia, we could learn who wins the Democratic presidential primary. Bernie Sanders certainly hoping for an upset victory against Hillary Clinton that would give him fresh momentum. He says, he still has a chance to deny Hillary Clinton the nomination, though he acknowledges his path is very, very narrow. After tonight there are only eight more state contests left for the Democrats. Clinton is already looking beyond that to her anticipated race against Donald Trump. Tonight the presumptive Republican nominee expects to get closer to making status official with a win in West Virginia -- Jake.

TAPPER: Thanks, Wolf. Let's check in with our correspondent covering Donald Trump the presumptive Republican presidential nominee.

Sara Murray, she is in New York and Sara, a busy day today for the Trump campaign talking a lot about vetting and picking a vice presidential nominee.

SARA MURRAY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Jake. Even though campaign advisors say this process of the veepstakes still in its infancy, they are confirming what Donald Trump said to the Associated Press. He's correct. He is narrowed down his list of five or six experienced politicians and a lot of people thought that because Chris Christie was leading the transition team, he would be out of the running. They are saying that is not the case. That he's not been ruled out. And look, Trump is looking for someone that is of course, qualified for this job but he is also someone that he feels personally comfortable with and someone who can enact his legislative agenda.

That doesn't necessarily mean someone with Congressional experience. It could be a well-known governor, a governor with ties to Washington. But above all, a campaign advisor tells me they are not looking to pander with this pick. They are not going to choose a woman just because they want to appeal to women, they are not going to choose a Hispanic candidate just because they are trying to appeal to Hispanics. They are really looking for someone who can help Donald Trump when he gets to Washington as this outsider -- Jake.

TAPPER: All right. Sara Murray with the Trump campaign in New York, New York. And Dana, they can say that they are just going to pick the best candidate but there are always other considerations including gender, including race and ethnicity and one imagines with an electorate this divided right now, they are taking other things into account.

BASH: I mean, in some ways we kind of hope so, right? Because as David Gergen has been saying earlier and I think this is very true, this is the first real presidential decision. The first decision that a candidate makes that shows how they would approach other big decisions and obviously a huge personnel decision. But one of the many, many, many things that is different about the Trump process than any other candidate previously is that for the most part, if somebody was being thought about for V.P., they would say yes, sign me up.

You know, show me which way to go. And, you know, at this point because people are still trying to figure out who he is and which way he's going to go, you're seeing people rule themselves out. Not everybody. There are a lot of people who say that they would do it eagerly. But it's part of the different dynamic because of the Trump candidacy.

TAPPER: Still a very divided Republican Party as of now. Who knows if that will continue. Anderson, we already have several former presidents, both Bushes as well as Mitt Romney, John McCain saying they are not going to go to the convention and Marco Rubio when I asked him if he was going to the Republican convention in Cleveland, he said he didn't have plans to. He wasn't ruling it out but he didn't have any plans to.

COOPER: Fascinating developments. We got about three minutes until the polls close in West Virginia. Paul, before the break, we were talking about West Virginia, you had a point.

PAUL BEGALA, ADVISER, PRO-HILLARY CLINTON SUPER PAC: Well, it's throwback Tuesday, I guess. I look back because I remembered I was helping -- help run a Super PAC and it was Super PAC that helped President Obama. In a West Virginia primary last time around, President Obama was essentially unopposed. Right? No Democrat to come on. Well, a guy named Keith Judd, a federal prison inmate in Texarkana, Texas got on the ballot, West Virginia is very liberal ballot access laws. He got 40 percent of the vote against President Obama and carried ten counties. It's just a tough, tough place.

COOPER: Was he qualified?

BEGALA: He was both a super hero and religious leader according to his page. So, yes, that's the best qualifications.

COOPER: So, Van for Hillary Clinton tonight, I mean, is a loss in West Virginia -- I mean, after what she said in -- is it that big a surprise after --



[19:00:05] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: John, thanks very much. That does it for us. So, thanks for watching our special coverage of the primaries continues right now.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: We're standing by for new presidential primary results.

COOPER: The Democratic candidates are competing until the last vote to face-off against Donald Trump.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANNOUNCER: Right now, the presidential race is winding through the Appalachian Mountains as the general election battle lines are drawn.

HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We cannot let Barack Obama's legacy fall into Donald Trump's hands.

ANNOUNCER: The Democratic frontrunner and the all but certain GOP nominee are zeroing in on one another.

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We cannot take Hillary Clinton anymore. We've had enough of Clinton.

ANNOUNCER: Both parties heading into the final fight to be America's choice. Tonight, in the Democratic race, Hillary Clinton vulnerable in West Virginia but expecting to add to her all-important delegate count win or lose.

CLINTON: Let's have a great election that shapes the future we want.

ANNOUNCER: Bernie Sanders aiming for another upset claiming he can defy incredible odds if he takes the campaign to the convention floor.

SANDERS: We'll going to fight for every last vote.

ANNOUNCER: On the Republican side tonight, Donald Trump the presumptive nominee after crushing his last rival now free to focus on the hall.

TRUMP: Save your vote for the general election. OK? Forget this one, the primary is gone.

ANNOUNCER: Now, it's time for voters to have their say.

CLINTON: We can't have a loose cannon in the Oval Office.

ANNOUNCER: Clinton and Trump seeking more opportunities to defy one another.

TRUMP: That's why we call her crooked Hillary Clinton.

ANNOUNCER: America is choosing the campaign is kareeming toward the convention and the ride will only get wilder in the days and weeks ahead.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer in the CNN Election Center. There are only three candidates left in the presidential race and one of them now is virtually certain to be the Republican nominee with Donald Trump no longer facing any primary opposition. The focus tonight is on the Democrats on going contest and the general election battle ahead. We're counting down to 7:30 p.m. Eastern, less than a half an hour from now. That's when the polls close in West Virginia. We'll have our first chance to project a winner.

Hillary Clinton is facing the possibility of an embarrassing loss even as she closes in on clinching the nomination in a likely face-off with Donald Trump. Bernie Sanders is promising to keep on fighting to the convention in Philadelphia. A victory tonight could strengthen his argument that he still has a path forward. Twenty nine Democratic delegates are on the line in West Virginia. Remember, the Democrats split their delegates proportionally so both Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders will add to their tallies. Heading into tonight, CNN estimates that Clinton has a total of 2224 delegates, that is just 159 short of the number she needs to lock up the nomination.

Sanders has a total of 1448 delegates. All that includes the so- called super delegates. Tonight, the presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump is confident of a win in West Virginia as well as the GOP only primary in Nebraska while he no longer has any opposition, he still needs 157 more delegates to officially secure the nomination -- Jake.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: Thanks, Wolf. We have correspondents on the campaign trail covering candidates. First, let's go to Democrats who already are looking ahead to the next contest.

Jeff Zeleny is with Hillary Clinton in Kentucky and Jeff, Hillary Clinton not only looking ahead to the next contest, she's looking ahead to the general election.

JEFF ZELENY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: She is indeed, Jake. She just finished giving a speech here in Louisville, Kentucky just a few minutes ago and there is no mention of Bernie Sanders at all, perhaps not surprisingly. She did say, I am looking forward to debating Donald Trump in the fall. That is where her focus is. For at least the next few hours, the focus on West Virginia, the Clinton campaign believes they will lose that state. And Jake, a bit ironic, eight years ago she won that state over Barack Obama by some 40 points.

Now she's losing that state they believe because of those comments about coal miners and that she is too tied too closely to the Obama administration. They believe mathematically it doesn't matter and they are right about that. But the Clinton campaign also does not want to limp to the finish line here, Jake. That's why they are back on the air paying advertising here in Kentucky which votes next week. They want to at least get a few more wins here. Tonight they do not think there will be one. She's getting on a plane right now flying back home to New York. She will not be talking at all tonight after those West Virginia results come in -- Jake.

[19:05:05] TAPPER: All right. Jeff Zeleny in Louisville, Kentucky with the Clinton campaign.

Now, let's go to the Sanders campaign where we find Brianna Keilar, he is in Salem, Oregon, the site of one of the future contest. And Brianna, you just heard Jeff Zeleny refer to those controversial comments that Hillary Clinton made about coal and shutting down the coal industry, although she did say she wanted to bring jobs to those neighborhoods. We haven't heard Bernie Sanders talk about those comments, really.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: No, that's a very good point that you make and I actually talked to an aid about that today, Jake, because of some of the suggestions from Clinton backers where they said that Bernie Sanders facing really tough math needs to make this more about issues in the contest going forward. This aide telling me he is making it about issues and also this aide said, quote, "We could have made an ad about her co-miner comment and we didn't." So, shrugging off some of these suggestions that Sanders could be hurting Hillary Clinton when it comes to a potential general election matchup against Donald Trump.

But here in Oregon, the Sanders campaign is very confident, they are confident about West Virginia tonight and they're confident here about Oregon where Sanders will speak. There are hundreds of people that I can see around this armory where he's going to be speaking tonight and where voters will be heard here in a week, but at the same time, we're talking about 29 delegates at stake tonight in West Virginia. And so even a big win for Bernie Sanders isn't going to close the 300 or so delegate gap that Hillary Clinton is enjoying over him. It would be a tall order to do that. At the same time, Bernie Sanders has been telling crowds that he has an outside shot at closing the pledged delegate gap but the math is this, he would need to win 66 percent, two-thirds of the remaining delegates in the contest going forward. It's a tall order.

TAPPER: Indeed. Brianna Keilar in Salem, Oregon with the Sanders campaign. He would need not only to win all of those delegates but also convince many super delegates to change their allegiance.

Let's go to our David Chalian, our political director. David, you're looking at the exit polls. Obviously, some polls in West Virginia. The polls in West Virginia are still open so we're not going to talk about the actual projections but let's talk about the voters who turn down to vote. What can you tell us about who went to the ballot box today?

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Precisely, Jake. I think this is really interesting. You were just hearing the reporting from Jeff and Brianna about how the Sanders campaign is feeling so good about West Virginia and yet, look at the makeup of the electorate there today. It's one of the most conservative we've seen all cycle on the Democratic side. Forty seven percent of the voters in the Democratic primary electorate there today say they are liberal but 53 percent majority say they are either moderate or conservative. We've only seen that moderate conservative number high in two other states, Arkansas and Oklahoma throughout the season.

So, a pretty conservative electorate. And then take a look at this because this points to the fall. Clinton versus Trump, so we asked West Virginia Democratic primary voters how would you vote in November if it was Clinton versus Trump. Forty four percent Clinton, 33 percent Trump, we asked the same against Bernie Sanders. Take a look at this. How would you vote in November, 48 percent for Sanders, 32 percent for Trump, 18 percent for neither. Jake, my big takeaway there is look at that, Donald Trump is winning a third of the Democratic primary voters in West Virginia irrespective of who his Democratic opponent is. This is why West Virginia is likely to be in the Republican column come November. It just is a conservative electorate in there.

TAPPER: It used to be a state that Democrat really competed for but really not anymore and looking at these numbers.

Let me bring in my colleague Dana Bash looking at these numbers. It really does seem that it's unlikely that either Senator Sanders or former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will be campaigning in West Virginia when a third of those turning out to vote in the Democratic primary, although we should point out there also is a competitive gubernatorial Democratic primary going on in that state. Still, a third of them are already in the Trump camp and that's the Democrats.

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right. I think that people inside the Trump campaign and I guess now at the Republican National Committee looking ahead to November can maybe cross West Virginia off their list. But as you said, for the past, I don't know, what, six or so election cycles, maybe five it has been Republican and it was not that long ago though that it was kind of the heart of the Democratic south, not anymore.

TAPPER: Bill Clinton won, I believe, twice.

BASH: Right.

TAPPER: -- truth squatting on these statements because I'm trying to remember.

BASH: Yes. I remember covering the Gore campaign back in 2011 and he was campaigning hard there --

TAPPER: Yes.

BASH: -- although not hard enough and all the should have, would have, could have, part of that.

TAPPER: I remember Senator Rockefeller telling the people of West Virginia that Al Gore was an Appalachian just like us -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Thank you. We're counting down at the end of voting in West Virginia. Bernie Sanders can pull off a new win, what would it mean for Hillary Clinton and the Democrats delegate race? The first results, that's ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[19:14:00] BLITZER: Sixteen minutes until the polls close in West Virginia. The Democratic presidential primary, the first chance we have to make a projection.

I want to go over to John King over at the magic wall. You heard Bernie Sanders say he feels it will be difficult but he has on outside shot to catching up to Hillary Clinton when it comes to these delegates.

JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR: An outside shot. The math is very difficult Wolf for starters. But Bernie Sanders needs tonight is what Hillary Clinton got in 2008. He needs a big win. Not just a win but he needs a big win. Let me explain why he would love to be. For Bernie Sanders to have probable math, a possible math, he needs to be up where that is tonight. Let me show you why as we switch match here and go to our delegate map. Here is where we are right now entering today.

This is just pledged delegates up here. You can do the math pretty easily there. Three hundred and one, Hillary Clinton has the lead among pledge delegates. Let's assume Bernie Sanders wins West Virginia tonight 60-40. Right? Remember, 301, if he wins 60-40 because of the number of delegates at stake, it's a net gain of only five delegates. That's the problem for Bernie Sanders right now. The same rules that have kept him competitive. The proportionality of the Democratic rule make it hard for him to catch up right now. He has to win 66 percent of the remaining delegates.

So if he gets 60 percent out of West Virginia tonight, his math actually gets harder even though that's a huge win with 60 percent, his math gets harder. He needs 66 percent from here on out to catch her in pledged delegates. That would put him one ahead. If he got 66.2 percent or so. The Clinton campaign says that's not going to happen even if Bernie Sanders wins in New Jersey, it's not going to be by 66 percent. Even if Bernie Sanders wins in Kentucky, the Clinton campaign thinks it can win both mind you. But even if Sanders doesn't win, there is no way he's going to win that big. They say out in California even if Sanders wins, there is no way he's going to win that big. So, that is the challenge for Bernie Sanders tonight, not just winning and then frustrates the supporters because a win is a win.

And Bernie Sanders is racking up some wins. If he wins with 60 percent tonight, it's not good enough when it comes to the long term delegate math. Let me explain why that matters. Because she continues to pick up delegates, too. The Clinton campaign thinks it will win New Jersey, they think it will win Kentucky. I think they'll win New Mexico and California. Let's just flip them. Let's just give them. Let's give this one to Senator Sanders. Let's pick one more. Let's say he keeps on going and gets Kentucky as well. Even if that happened, this is Clinton winning California 55-45. Let's say Sanders wins 55-45. Even under that scenario, now the Democrats will be having a conversation about Sanders momentum at this point, but look, Hillary Clinton still pulls away and as long as she keeps the super delegates in her back pocket, bring them into play, she crosses the finish line.

She has 516 Democrats, super delegates who have pledged their support to her right now. Sanders has only 41. If he starts winning like this, will some of these people possibly peel away? Possibly. We need to keep in touch with them. But at the moment they have shown no willingness to back away. So, Sanders needs a win tonight, Wolf, he really needed to be 65, 66 percent for him to say, I need 66, the remaining way but I did it tonight and I'm going to keep on doing it. The math is -- not impossible but extraordinary difficult.

BLITZER: As he himself acknowledges. Very, very difficult. But he promises to keep on going. Anderson, over to you.

COOPER: Wolf, John, thanks. Bernie Sanders says he still a chance to beat Hillary Clinton with pledged delegates. Listen to what he said earlier today in California.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We have a chance. It's an uphill struggle. We have a chance to end up with a majority of the pledged delegates, and if we do that, I think you are looking at the Democratic nominee for president.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Bernie Sanders earlier today in California, let's turn to our panel. Gloria Borger, do you see that same chance?

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Look, I think that as John was talking about earlier, this is very uphill winning 66 percent of anything is not easy but I think what this does for Bernie Sanders supporters, it's sort of gives them a sense of purpose heading into this convention. I mean, he could win tonight in West Virginia. He could even win California.

COOPER: Right. BORGER: If he wins California, he heads into that convention and he's

going to ask the super delegates to change their minds. They are not going to change their minds. But he heads into that convention with an awful lot of leverage and an awful lot of power and he can say to Hillary Clinton, you know what? I think you've got to do campaign finance reform in the first six months of your administration.

COOPER: Does it also make Hillary Clinton, I mean, a damaged weakened candidate?

MICHAEL SMERCONISH, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes.

BORGER: It doesn't help her.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yeah.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How many of the last ten did she win against then Senator Obama?

BORGER: Nine.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Everyone says he was weakened and he went on to win the electorate -- so you can't automatically say that. There is no evidence of that.

BORGER: And compared to what? Compared to the lack of unity in the Republican Party?

SMERCONISH: Anderson, when you look a look at the exit surveys in West Virginia and you see that 38 percent of Democrats who voted, 77 percent of Bernie Sanders supporters believe this to be an unfair process, the nomination process, that's a reflection of exactly what you're talking about.

BORGER: Uh-huh.

COOPER: We're going to take a quick break. We are just minutes away from our first chance to project the winner in West Virginia's Democratic primary. The key contest tonight. Much more of our coverage ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[19:22:58] BLITZER: All right. Just minutes from now, 7:30 p.m. Eastern. Polling places close in West Virginia, we could learn who wins the Democratic presidential primary. Bernie Sanders certainly hoping for an upset victory against Hillary Clinton that would give him fresh momentum. He says, he still has a chance to deny Hillary Clinton the nomination, though he acknowledges his path is very, very narrow. After tonight there are only eight more state contests left for the Democrats. Clinton is already looking beyond that to her anticipated race against Donald Trump. Tonight the presumptive Republican nominee expects to get closer to making status official with a win in West Virginia -- Jake.

TAPPER: Thanks, Wolf. Let's check in with our correspondent covering Donald Trump the presumptive Republican presidential nominee.

Sara Murray, she is in New York and Sara, a busy day today for the Trump campaign talking a lot about vetting and picking a vice presidential nominee.

SARA MURRAY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Jake. Even though campaign advisors say this process of the veepstakes still in its infancy, they are confirming what Donald Trump said to the Associated Press. He's correct. He is narrowed down his list of five or six experienced politicians and a lot of people thought that because Chris Christie was leading the transition team, he would be out of the running. They are saying that is not the case. That he's not been ruled out. And look, Trump is looking for someone that is of course, qualified for this job but he is also someone that he feels personally comfortable with and someone who can enact his legislative agenda.

That doesn't necessarily mean someone with Congressional experience. It could be a well-known governor, a governor with ties to Washington. But above all, a campaign advisor tells me they are not looking to pander with this pick. They are not going to choose a woman just because they want to appeal to women, they are not going to choose a Hispanic candidate just because they are trying to appeal to Hispanics. They are really looking for someone who can help Donald Trump when he gets to Washington as this outsider -- Jake.

TAPPER: All right. Sara Murray with the Trump campaign in New York, New York. And Dana, they can say that they are just going to pick the best candidate but there are always other considerations including gender, including race and ethnicity and one imagines with an electorate this divided right now, they are taking other things into account.

BASH: I mean, in some ways we kind of hope so, right? Because as David Gergen has been saying earlier and I think this is very true, this is the first real presidential decision. The first decision that a candidate makes that shows how they would approach other big decisions and obviously a huge personnel decision. But one of the many, many, many things that is different about the Trump process than any other candidate previously is that for the most part, if somebody was being thought about for V.P., they would say yes, sign me up.

You know, show me which way to go. And, you know, at this point because people are still trying to figure out who he is and which way he's going to go, you're seeing people rule themselves out. Not everybody. There are a lot of people who say that they would do it eagerly. But it's part of the different dynamic because of the Trump candidacy.

TAPPER: Still a very divided Republican Party as of now. Who knows if that will continue. Anderson, we already have several former presidents, both Bushes as well as Mitt Romney, John McCain saying they are not going to go to the convention and Marco Rubio when I asked him if he was going to the Republican convention in Cleveland, he said he didn't have plans to. He wasn't ruling it out but he didn't have any plans to. COOPER: Fascinating developments. We got about three minutes until

the polls close in West Virginia. Paul, before the break, we were talking about West Virginia, you had a point.

PAUL BEGALA, ADVISER, PRO-HILLARY CLINTON SUPER PAC: Well, it's throwback Tuesday, I guess. I look back because I remembered I was helping -- help run a Super PAC and it was Super PAC that helped President Obama. In a West Virginia primary last time around, President Obama was essentially unopposed. Right? No Democrat to come on. Well, a guy named Keith Judd, a federal prison inmate in Texarkana, Texas got on the ballot, West Virginia is very liberal ballot access laws. He got 40 percent of the vote against President Obama and carried ten counties. It's just a tough, tough place.

COOPER: Was he qualified?

BEGALA: He was both a super hero and religious leader according to his page. So, yes, that's the best qualifications.

COOPER: So, Van for Hillary Clinton tonight, I mean, is a loss in West Virginia -- I mean, after what she said in -- is it that big a surprise after --

[19:27:16] VAN JONES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: It's not that big a surprise. You know, but the Clinton -- Clinton Bill Clinton did well there. I think there was -- overwhelmingly. I think there was some hope that she would be able to do well there and begin to show that that Clinton magic is back with the working class and then she made a mistake. If you look at the whole sentence, the whole speech, she actually --

COOPER: Yes?

S.E. CUPP, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I just want to remind people that she said those remarks. I had wrote it down March 13 at one of our town halls, but two weeks before in a poll in West Virginia, Bernie Sanders was up double digits on Hillary Clinton. So, I don't know that it's actually fair to Hillary to be just be blaming these comments on why Bernie Sanders -- if I were Bernie, I would point this out. He was always doing well in this state if he resonates with these voters.

COOPER: In the exit polls that David Chalian was looking at several hours ago, one of the things was a high percentage of Democrats and I can't remember the exact percentage said that they wanted the future policies of a Democratic candidate to be less liberal than President Obama.

BEGALA: Yes, this is the only game in town --

COOPER: Excuse me -- West Virginia.

BEGALA: There's not a Republican primary there tonight. And so, a whole lot of people voted in that primary who may not in fact be real core Democrats. Right? And not to disparage, I think Bernie is going to have a great night. He is going to earn it. But there's something else going on there. As a huge percentage of Sanders, voters I keep hearing, people today are voting for Sanders but I can't wait to vote for Trump.

CUPP: Right.

COOPER: Let's go back to Wolf and John.

BLITZER: All right, Anderson. John, you know, Donald Trump, he's got the nomination for all practical purposes going into tonight, he's got 1,014, he still needs to reach 1,237. That shouldn't be a problem at all.

KING: Shouldn't at all. The only thing we are looking forward tonight, Wolf, is there any protest vote against Donald Trump now that he's the only active candidate in the race. Donald Trump, look at the map. John Kasich, Ohio, this part of the country is been very favorable to Donald Trump. He's looking for a win there to add to his delegate total. This would be the first time in this part of the country. Cruz has been doing very well as Nebraska votes tonight. Donald Trump looking to add all the delegates here, all the delegates here as you mention and he goes for magic number of 1237. He does a forgone conclusion but watch the results also both states at the Republicans hope.

So, Mr. Trump certainly hopes and can expect to stay in the Republican column when we get to November on the Democratic side, that is where you more of the race. I'll go back to the 2008 map here in the Democratic primaries, it's been said before tonight and will be said a lot tonight, Hillary Clinton won the state in a walk over then Senator Obama back in 2008 but Bernie Sanders who is favored tonight, Bernie Sanders trying to a make a statement that he's still winning states, still racking up delegates, still moving forward as he continues his campaign throughout. But as we head into the final contest of this campaign, Wolf, what Secretary Clinton is hoping out is to keep it close enough, so that even if Bernie Sanders gets a win, he can't narrow the delegate math that much.

BLITZER: All right. Thanks very much. Take a look at this. We're only a couple seconds away from the bottom of the hour, that is when the polls close in West Virginia. Here is what we can give you right now. A key race alert in West Virginia. Bernie Sanders is the early leader based on the exit poll information that we have. We are not able to project a winner right now but we have -- are able to say that Bernie Sanders in West Virginia is the early leader in the Democratic presidential primary. Once again, remember, these are exit polls.

VAN JONES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: It's not that big a surprise. You know, but the Clinton -- Clinton Bill Clinton did well there. I think there was -- overwhelmingly. I think there was some hope that she would be able to do well there and begin to show that that Clinton magic is back with the working class and then she made a mistake. If you look at the whole sentence, the whole speech, she actually --

COOPER: Yes?

S.E. CUPP, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I just want to remind people that she said those remarks. I had wrote it down March 13 at one of our town halls, but two weeks before in a poll in West Virginia, Bernie Sanders was up double digits on Hillary Clinton. So, I don't know that it's actually fair to Hillary to be just be blaming these comments on why Bernie Sanders -- if I were Bernie, I would point this out. He was always doing well in this state if he resonates with these voters.

COOPER: In the exit polls that David Chalian was looking at several hours ago, one of the things was a high percentage of Democrats and I can't remember the exact percentage said that they wanted the future policies of a Democratic candidate to be less liberal than President Obama.

BEGALA: Yes, this is the only game in town --

COOPER: Excuse me -- West Virginia.

BEGALA: There's not a Republican primary there tonight. And so, a whole lot of people voted in that primary who may not in fact be real core Democrats. Right? And not to disparage, I think Bernie is going to have a great night. He is going to earn it. But there's something else going on there. As a huge percentage of Sanders, voters I keep hearing, people today are voting for Sanders but I can't wait to vote for Trump.

CUPP: Right.

COOPER: Let's go back to Wolf and John.

BLITZER: All right, Anderson. John, you know, Donald Trump, he's got the nomination for all practical purposes going into tonight, he's got 1,014, he still needs to reach 1,237. That shouldn't be a problem at all.

KING: Shouldn't at all. The only thing we are looking forward tonight, Wolf, is there any protest vote against Donald Trump now that he's the only active candidate in the race. Donald Trump, look at the map. John Kasich, Ohio, this part of the country is been very favorable to Donald Trump. He's looking for a win there to add to his delegate total. This would be the first time in this part of the country. Cruz has been doing very well as Nebraska votes tonight. Donald Trump looking to add all the delegates here, all the delegates here as you mention and he goes for magic number of 1237. He does a forgone conclusion but watch the results also both states at the Republicans hope.

So, Mr. Trump certainly hopes and can expect to stay in the Republican column when we get to November on the Democratic side, that is where you more of the race. I'll go back to the 2008 map here in the Democratic primaries, it's been said before tonight and will be said a lot tonight, Hillary Clinton won the state in a walk over then Senator Obama back in 2008 but Bernie Sanders who is favored tonight, Bernie Sanders trying to a make a statement that he's still winning states, still racking up delegates, still moving forward as he continues his campaign throughout. But as we head into the final contest of this campaign, Wolf, what Secretary Clinton is hoping out is to keep it close enough, so that even if Bernie Sanders gets a win, he can't narrow the delegate math that much.

[19:30:00] BLITZER: All right. Thanks very much.

Take a look at this. We're only a couple seconds away from the bottom of the hour. That's when the polls close in West Virginia.

Here is what we can give you right now: a key race alert in West Virginia. Bernie Sanders is the early leader based on the exit poll information that we have. We're not able to project a winner now but are able to say that Bernie Sanders in West Virginia is the early leader in the Democratic presidential primary.

Once again, remember, these are exit polls. They are estimates based on our early survey of voters as they left the polling location. The final outcome may be different. We can expect those numbers to change throughout the night, but Bernie Sanders the early leader in West Virginia.

As fully expected, no surprise here on the Republican side, we can project obviously that Donald Trump is the winner in West Virginia. He had no opposition in West Virginia. All of the other Republican candidates dropped out, but he still needs to get to the 1,237 number. This will help him clearly tonight. Donald Trump easily wins without any opposition the Republican presidential primary in West Virginia.

Jake? Dana?

Big win for Donald Trump.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN CHIEF WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Big win.

BLITZER: Without any opposition.

TAPPER: Big win for Donald Trump without opposition, although, he probably would have won even if he had opposition in this state today. Let's be honest, he's been cleaning up and that's why he no longer has opposition, Dana.

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPODENT: That's right. Dan was mentioning one of the questions was how much of a protest vote we were going to see not only here but also in Nebraska, you know, the fact that we could call it so early is not a surprise but as we see later on in the night, it will be interesting to see how much people say, you know what? No, I'm not going to vote for Donald Trump, going to the poll, knowing that he's going to be the nominee.

But I do think really quickly the fact that West Virginia is Trump territory is really perfect illustration of the kind of voter that he appealed to so successfully all throughout the past, you know, however many months, what, six months, five months?

TAPPER: Yes.

BASH: The people who are just sick of Washington but also they are desperate for somebody to say, we get you and we get things need to change and West Virginia is a classic case of that.

TAPPER: And a big part of his message, Donald Trump's message has been against over regulation.

BASH: Exactly.

TAPPER: Against trade deals that sent jobs over seas and that seems ripe for a West Virginia voter. Let's bring in our political director, David Chalian, who can tell us a little bit more about the voters who turned out to the polls today to explain how Trump did so well and how Bernie Sanders seems to be doing so well.

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: That's right. Let's look at the Democratic side, Jake, we took a look at the candidate qualities, what mattered most to the voters showing up in the West Virginia Democratic primary today.

Take a look at this, among the candidates that say they were looking for a candidate that cares about people like me, these are empathy voters. They're looking for a candidate that has their back, 70 percent went for Sanders, 24 percent went for Clinton. They made up 34 percent of the electorate.

Let's look at another quality. Who has the right experience? Clinton wins this category overwhelmingly, 76 percent to Sanders 24 percent, but only 24 percent of the electorate there was looking for experienced candidate.

So, the empathy quality, there were more voters looking for that quality than were looking for experience. We also looked at what about Barack Obama's policies? Those looking for less liberal policies than Barack Obama, I know this might be counterintuitive are actually supporting Bernie Sanders. Sixty-two percent to 29 percent and 39 percent of the Democratic primary electorate is looking for the next president to pursue less liberal policies than Barack Obama.

And as we've seen before, Hillary Clinton does well with those voters looking to continue Barack Obama's policies. She wins them here 67 percent to 32 percent. But again, they made up a smaller share of the electorate. Only 27 percent of the voters today in this primary were looking to continue the president's policies.

TAPPER: It's very interesting. And, David, so fascinating how much Hillary Clinton's electorate in the primaries versus Bernie Sanders is the complete flip --

CHALIAN: It's amazing. TAPPER: -- of what she had versus Barack Obama eight years ago. She

in 2008 was the voter -- I'm sorry, was the candidate who appealed to working class voters, who appeal to white voters and now she loses them to Bernie Sanders almost every time.

CHALIAN: She's become the Barack Obama of this race. That is her coalition is what he was putting together in a lot of primary states.

TAPPER: Very interesting.

Dana, as Jeff Zeleny reminded me earlier today, Barack Obama in the tail end of the last month or so of the Democratic contest eight years ago, he lost contest after contest after contest but because he had a 100 or 200 delegate lead and the Democrats give out delegates proportionally, he stayed ahead.

[19:35:08] It's almost like what's going on with Clinton with the assumption, of course, that it ends the way. Although, who knows?

BASH: That's right. I was talking to a Clinton source who tongue firmly in cheek, means this seriously but shows how things were flip- flopped now and said, look, you know, Obama didn't do as well as he should have for a sitting president and look at 2008, Hillary Clinton won and she ended up losing the nomination. So, maybe by losing she'll win the nomination, it sort of backwards.

Before we go, I just -- Begala stole my thunder a bit, talking about what did happen in 2012. I had a surprise for you. It's a Tapper flash back.

You actually wrote a story in 2012 about this guy from prison got 40 percent of the Democratic vote. I don't know if you remember this.

(LAUGHTER)

TAPPER: I don't.

BASH: From -- got 40 percent of the Democratic vote over a sitting president and was somebody in prison in Texas.

TAPPER: OK. Now, I do. I do.

BASH: That is the perfect illustration of how unpopular Obama is --

TAPPER: Some people don't want to vote for a certain candidate.

Wolf?

BLITZER: All right. Thanks very much. Coming up, we have new results coming in for West Virginia. Bernie Sanders is the early leader over Hillary Clinton, according to our exit polls. Will that poll, though, our coverage continues right after this quick break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[19:40:17] BLITZER: Welcome back. Bernie Sanders is the early leader in the West Virginia Democratic

presidential primary. We're not able to make a projection yet but he's the early based on the exit poll information. As you know, no surprise at all, Donald Trump with no opposition is the winner in the Republican presidential primary in West Virginia.

We're about to get some numbers. We'll share them with you.

In the meantime, let's go over to Anderson.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Wolf, thanks very much.

How does Hillary Clinton -- I mean, moving forward both fend off Bernie, continue to fend off Bernie Sanders and also go after Donald Trump?

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: I think she continues doing what she's doing. She's already pivoted as we've seen.

COOPER: To Trump.

BORGER: To Trump. She's taking him on at every turn and called him a loose cannon and every other name to you and that was the beginning of the pivot, I think.

COOPER: Right, she's the term "loose cannon" like two or three times in the interview.

BORGER: At least, right? That he's risky.

And I think what she does with Bernie Sanders is continues to campaign with Donald Trump and embrace a lot of things Bernie Sanders has said. I mean, if you look at the polling in West Virginia tonight, Sanders is beating her in early polls by like 16 points among women. She's got to work on her numbers with young women, with suburban women.

COOPER: But traditionally in a general election, you would have Hillary Clinton sort of trying to come back more to the center in order to reach out to those. She can't really do that, Michael.

MICHAEL SMERCONISH, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: You know what is interesting is that Bernie Sanders is really not campaigning against her at this stage. He has a message all his own and we talked earlier about the comments about coal are probably coming back to haunt her today in this election but it's not because he played that card. He stayed away from that card.

COOPER: Didn't run a commercial about it, which they could have very easily.

SMERCONISH: Absolutely. Arguably he didn't need to if these trends continue, I guess, is the lingo I should use. He's got this pretty well on its track.

NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER: I think one of the things that hurt him in West Virginia or hurt Hillary Clinton was guns. You remember this was the state where Joe Manchin was running for the Senate and had an ad shooting the cap and trade bill with a gun. So, I think, in some ways that kind of hurt Hillary Clinton. She was trying to make Bernie Sanders throughout this campaign look like he was sort of pro-gun and closer to the NRA than she was. I think in some ways, that kind of came back to haunt her, too, in this state and may have benefited Sanders.

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hillary Clinton is not going to win West Virginia if she's the Democratic nominee.

HENDERSON: Right, exactly.

KING: I do think it is interesting to the point that she's spending money on television again in Kentucky and she's probably not going to win Kentucky in the general election either, but she wants to make sure that the margin, either she wins Kentucky, which would be -- if she can win Kentucky, she can tell Senator Sanders, fine, let's trade states for the rest of the way. But if he's going to -- if Sanders keeps winning, her job is to keep it as close as possible. So, he doesn't eke up again.

The test for Bernie Sanders, a lot of Clinton supporters say get out and Bernie Sanders supporters are energized. It's called the Daytona 500 for a reason. Let him, you know, he has every right to stay in the race because he has still a possibility.

COOPER: He's still winning.

KING: But it's very hard to see he has to win 66 percent of the remaining pledged delegates to beat her by one. It's very unlikely but crazy year. Let's play on.

JEFFREY LORD, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think there is another campaign going on here that has nothing to do with Bernie Sanders getting nominated. It's with the future of the Democratic Party and what's in this platform, it's what goes on in a presumed Clinton administration assuming there is one. Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders wing of the party. They want their positions taken seriously. They want to inject them into the bones, if you will, and skeleton of the Democratic Party and that's really going on.

COOPER: Like they did with "Wolverine."

(LAUGHTER)

COOPER: Sorry, Van, doing movie reference to the --

(LAUGHTER)

VAN JONES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Listen, I think that probably what happens is Hillary Clinton wins on delegates but I think Sanders won the debate about what this party is going to be, how it's going to stand and who is going to stand for and with.

I really do think it's -- you're right the Democrats aren't going to win West Virginia but I think it hurts Democrats everywhere when it looks like we can't. When it looks like we're the kind of party that just can't resonate with that level of pain.

I was just in Indiana, you know, different set of problems there but you have a lot of places that just feel like the whole world has thrown them under the bus. And they don't just want -- another thing is people -- places like that, the Rust Belt, we want them back -- they just want the stores back. They are tired of seeing empty stores.

COOPER: We're going to have more on this top pick. We're taking a quick break. More ahead from West Virginia.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[19:48:41] COOPER: Welcome back.

We're awaiting for the first votes out of West Virginia. Bernie Sanders is the early leader over Hillary Clinton. But we cannot get -- make a projection in the Democratic primary.

A while ago, Clinton made it clear she's planning for an expected general election fight with Donald Trump. Listen to what she said in Kentucky.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: So I got to tell you, I am, if so fortunate enough to be the nominee, I'm looking forward to debating Donald Trump come the fall.

(CHEERS)

And you know, finally, finally, we've got to unify America. I mean, a house divided against itself, as Abraham Lincoln said, cannot stand. We can't be -- we can't be scapegoating and finger-pointing and blaming and demeaning and degrading and insulting our fellow Americans.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Hillary Clinton a short time ago. Let's go back to our panel.

Paul, that idea of a loose cannon, which is the term she kept using against Donald Trump I think it was last week in that interview with me, is that what you see running ads on?

PAUL BEGALA, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: There are some Trump people who pay their cable bills and watch CNN --

(CROSSTALK)

JONES: Your strategy now.

BEGALA: Right. But I think this whole notion that you hear from Republicans as well as Democrats, you know, as Marco Rubio who call them a con man, I think you may hear that again, it's just go back to the Mitt Romney speech attacking Donald Trump, which is a target rich zone.

[19:50:09] These questions of temperament and judgment really matter.

JONES: I like the conman better than the loose cannon.

The idea that he is a weapon that's going to go in D.C. and shoot the place up is not a bad thing to a lot of people. So, I think it's more of a question, he's actually not who he says he is. I think -- his one card, I was talking to Jeffrey Lord about this.

I was in a cab. Everybody has a cab story. I was in a cab today. My cab driver says I hate the fact that Barack Obama can't run for a third term. I said I love you man. And he goes that's why I'm voting for Donald Trump.

(LAUGHTER)

S.E. CUPP, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Because they're similar.

JONES: I said, what? What? What?

And he said I would vote for Bernie if I could, but I'm for Donald Trump and Barack Obama. I said, why? He goes because they're real.

This authenticity question, that's the problem. And you got to peel that away from Donald Trump. And I think it's better to say conman than loose cannon.

CUPP: Donald Trump has managed to convince a large group of voters that "National Review", Glenn Beck, people like me and people like Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, all part of the establishment, libertarians, Tea Party, it doesn't matter. He is convinced if you're not with Donald Trump, you are establishment.

LORD: But I know about your secret meetings.

(LAUGHTER)

CUPP: So I'm not really sure that there's this strong desire among his supporters to know truth from fiction. It's whatever Donald Trump says it is. I don't know that it needs to be authentic. He's just selling it.

LORD: I have an antidote as I was trading with Van here.

This morning leaving here I was at the little ATM and a guy comes in and recognizes me and he starts talking and he's a Democrat. He loves Donald Trump. Why?

Answer number one to me was, they go after the Bushes. He goes after the Bushes. I always thought we were not being told the truth. He's going after the Bushes. That's great.

So I'm waiting for number two to be left in that sentence. He says, I can't stand Obamacare, then he gives me his personal story about wife and family and now he's $10,000 out of pocket. He was one upset guy by the time he was finished telling this tale.

He's for Donald Trump until hell freezes over. And he's a Democrat from Pennsylvania.

(CROSSTALK)

SMERCONISH: The similarity in all of this, I don't know that there is one. It emerges as a grab bag for all discontent and all complaints about whatever is going on in your life that you can now empathize with Donald Trump's complaints against the system. The system is whatever you think is putting the screws to you.

CUPP: The technical term for this is: sick of it, right? I'm sick of it. Whatever it is.

SMERCONISH: Whatever it is.

BORGER: If Obama, we always used to talk about Barack Obama was the vessel that you put in your hopes.

COOPER: It was like a Rorschach test.

BORGER: Right.

Well, Donald Trump is just the opposite. He's the vessel into which you put all of your fears and all of your complaints, all of your complaints about the way things are going, and he's unpredictable and that is exactly what a lot of people like about Donald Trump because, by the way, he is to the left of Hillary Clinton in certain ways on foreign policy.

(CROSSTALK)

JONES: He's a con man.

BEGALA: We're looking at the wrong pool of voters. It's interesting to look at Trump voters because they're interesting. But they're for Trump. They're not up for grabs.

If you're actually strategizing this race, you're not looking at the people who Donald Trump quite rightly says, I can shoot a guy on 5th Venue and not lose their votes. They're locked in.

The people he needs and doesn't yet have are terribly concerned about the judgment, temperament, about the comments toward women and Mexicans and Muslims and John McCain.

CUPP: Right, and this is the problem. He's essentially insisting he can get there without us and that's the disconnect between Paul Ryan and Donald Trump. When Donald Trump says, I don't need you to do this, he has essentially made a campaign for these fringy old right, which is kind of racist and bigoted, and honestly for moderate liberals. That leaves this wide open swath of moderates who have no candidate. And he thinks he doesn't need us.

COOPER: The authenticity, which a lot of Trump supporters say, look, he's authentic, he tells it like it is or at least he just seems to be talking in not sort of political speak which critics of Hillary Clinton will say, you know, she sort of will lapse into rather than being authentic in a time she has been sort of peeling away the onion. It's been very appealing to people. It's made headlines, does that matter to these voters?

BEGALA: It does. If he's not challenged, which is I think Van's phrase which came from Marco Rubio, calling him a conman, is really important. It's the antithesis of authenticity.

You know, a few years ago he was giving money to Hillary Clinton. Said she would be a great president. Said his husband was a terrific president.

[19:55:03] Now he says they're the worst thing in the world. He could go on and on. As Van says, in the same sentence, he contradicts himself.

So, this question of authenticity is going to be the heart of it, and if Donald Trump starts out with the advantage with his voters, you think he's the real deal? Once you expand to people who are skeptical about him and then fill in these facts --

(CROSSTALK)

LORD: The reason this won't stick, we talked about this before. He's a cultural figure who's been around in American life for 40 years.

COOPER: They've already formed an opinion.

LORD: They've long since formed their opinion. With all due respect to Paul, I don't think as all these Republican opponents have found out, you can run commercials against him until the cows come home and the people that are already out there are thinking, but that's Donald. We know Donald. We know these stories.

(CROSSTALK)

JONES: What about the people he's conned?

(CROSSTALK)

JONES: The Trump University people.

LORD: The Trump University was not a con. The con -- I'll make this argument, sorry, the con is from the New York attorney general and, boy, he can get into that in two seconds about the legal system being conned.

JONES: Absolutely. Maybe you guys have a counter. But I think when you start hearing from people who are ordinary Americans who have been mistreated by this guy I think it begins to hurt him with people he needs.

COOPER: Donald Trump is looking at vice presidential prospects and he's made a short list. We'll tell you what we're learning about his choices ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: And welcome to this primary night edition of "AC360".