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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL

Too Close to Call Kentucky, Clinton & Sanders in Tight Race. Aired 7-8p ET

Aired May 17, 2016 - 19:00   ET

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


[18:59:50] WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: The polls closed in the Eastern part of Kentucky and the last hour, the top of the last hour they are about to close in the rest of the state right now. Will we be able to make a projection or not, let's take a closer look right now. We got a pretty close contest shaping up in Kentucky among the Democrats. Let's get a key race alert.

We are not able to make a projection right now. Too close to call right. Take a look how close it is with seven percent of the vote actually counted in Kentucky right now. Bernie Sanders maintains his lead. 47.2 percent. 45.7 percent for Hillary Clinton. He's only up by 647 votes. He's got 20,300. She's got 19,700. Very, very close contest right now. We are not able to make a projection, at least right now it is too close to call -- Anderson.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Wolf Blitzer, thanks very much. We're now been joined by our panel with Michael Smerconish, also David Axelrod. David, I mean, for Hillary Clinton losing Kentucky, how bad would that be?

DAVID AXELROD, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Honestly, I don't think it will be that bad. Because you look at this it's a basically an even race. They distribute delegates proportionally. She's still on route to being the nominee of the party there are optics involved obviously as Mike -- mentioned earlier, I remember very clearly the end of the 2008 race when she ran off a series of victories against Barack Obama even as he was on route to the nomination, but it didn't really impact him moving forward, and I don't expect this will impact her moving forward. The issue is that she does have this to attract kind of deal going right now and that was -- McCain was not really an effective force against back Obama in 2008 when he was wrapping up the campaign. You know, she's in this war with Trump. She's got this side battle here. So it in terms of resources and attention, it's an annoyance. But that's what it is, it's an annoyance, it's not a major setback.

COOPER: Michael, do you agree with?

MICHAEL SMERCONISH, CNN ANCHOR, "SMERCONISH": I do. I agree with everything David said. And I would just add that it prevents her from garnering a sense of momentum that she needs to now pivot toward the general election and fully engage with Donald Trump but the D's do things proportionately. So, you know, even if Bernie Sanders wins but a little in Kentucky and does likewise in Oregon, he really doesn't move the needle anywhere near where he needs to do in order to shift the metrics of this race.

NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER: Yes. And in some ways, I think Hillary Clinton did her homework early. I mean, she swept the south. She won the big states, Ohio, Pennsylvania, obviously won New York, Florida and she can in some ways, I mean, not exactly coast but she can afford to lose this contests in demographically, these are the states that she would always going to have problems with. States that don't have a lot of African- Americans. States that are overwhelmingly white. So, you know, if she loses tonight, I think it will continue that sort of pattern that we've seen so far but, you know, I think she's done what she was supported to do early on and she's benefitting from that now.

COOPER: By the way, Hillary Clinton now in the lead just by 86 votes. But just gives you the sense of the switching back and forth.

Right. You know, she spent money in the state which she probably didn't want to spend --

COOPER: Right.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: She had ten or 11 appearances in the state because it's clear as David is talking about the so-called optics of the race, you know, she would rather win Kentucky then lose Kentucky but, you know, John King was pointing out earlier, you know, Bernie Sanders has to win 67 percent of the delegates going forward. And what she's got is Paul Begala's Super PAC doing an ad that takes on Donald Trump frontally while she's busy doing these other things and doesn't particularly as a candidate is not yet ready to do that herself and the ad speaks to the problems Trump has with women and what they are doing is not so much trying to redefine him because he's already defined himself pretty well during this race, they want to look at him under a magnifying glass and point out every single thing he has said about women to make sure those voters come out in the fall.

COOPER: It's interesting. Donald Trump has already now responded to that ad.

PAUL BEGALA, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: We want to thank him for that.

COOPER: But it's interesting he responded not by taking on any of the things that were said except for the one thing which he says he was essentially misquoted on. And he's said he was talking about China, wasn't talking about women.

BEGALA: Well, he's wrong about that. He's actually talking about outsourcing. Something he knows a lot about, his ties are made in China. His Trump shirts are made in Bangladesh. But the ad doesn't say this is on women. It just says, does Donald Trump speak for me? And so, of course, he just do freight into it. I'm glad he did. He just made more people take a look at our ad. You can't misquote someone when you run audio tape of their voice unless it's this guy John -- what's his name? John Barron?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: John Miller. John Barron --

BEGALA: But these are Trump's voice, these are the things that he said and the audience has changed. The audience has grown. These types of attacks failed against Donald Trump in the primary.

COOPER: Right. They were used by the GOP.

BEGALA: Yes. They were. They were used too little and too late if you ask me but also in too narrow of a universe. The Republican primary for example in Ohio, key swing state where we're not advertising in our Super Pac, 94 percent white in the Republican primary. In the general election, 79 percent white. It's a much more diverse country that Donald Trump now has to run in. I want to make sure folks who did not pay attention to the primary see who is running on behalf of the Republican Party.

[19:05:07] COOPER: All right. Bernie Sanders now had 553.

(LAUGHTER)

VAN JONES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I appreciate your good effort. I mean, let me just say something about Kentucky though. For Clinton, Kentucky, nothing. For Bernie, Kentucky everything. Okay? If you are a part of the Sanders' movement, tonight you may get a chance to say, we won on the West Coast and we won in the mid-south, our candidate is legit in a lot more places. For the math, it doesn't matter. But for that sense of momentum and that sense of dis-argument needs to carry for the Democratic Party, tonight could be a very big deal for Bernie Sanders.

COOPER: We were talking about this for those who haven't seen it and those getting a lot of coverage. Let's just play part of that so our viewers know what we're discussing.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You know, you can see there was blood coming out of her eyes, blood coming out of her wherever.

Does she have a good body? No. Does she have a fat ass? Absolutely.

If Ivanka weren't my daughter perhaps I would be dating her.

I think a person that is flat chested is very hard to be a ten.

And you can tell them to go (bleep) themselves.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Does Donald Trump really speak for you? Priorities USA Action is responsible for the content of this advertising.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: So Paul, your organization, the Super Pac put that ad out.

BEGALA: Right. COOPER: This was a technique used by Republicans against Donald Trump. You said that it was just done too late.

BEGALA: Too little too late and too narrow of universe. There is also as second ad were running that actually does talks about issues as well, points out, quotes Donald Trump in his own words saying he wants to defund Planned Parenthood. Something women of America don not like to hear and he says that there should be some punishment for women who exercise the right to choose. These are things that --

COOPER: He did walked back the punishment of the women and voters --

KELLYANNE CONWAY, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: And Paul, Donald Trump was the one --

BEGALA: Look --

CONWAY: Donald Trump was the one person on the Republican stage who said that he is for women's health funding. He has been very clear on that. He's the first Republican candidate in modern history to advocate for women's health funding.

BEGALA: And as he said specifically that he would defund Planned Parenthood. This is the problem Trump is in.

CONWAY: But he would move the funding --

BEGALA: He won the primary by saying everything different every day. I'm going to hold him into account. When he says these things, I am not going to say, isn't that quant? Isn't that exciting? Isn't he a reality star? I am going to say he might be your president and he has said he will defund --

CONWAY: But it's important to understand the new ones there. He didn't say that he ever -- he never said it would defund women's health. He said, it might not be moved from Planned Parenthood which have a host of problems as we've seen this year and move it elsewhere but he is the one candidate who has firmly said, I think women's health has to be funded by the government.

S.E. CUPP, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Let me just speak to what I think the effectiveness of Paul's ad is. It hits a number of different problems that Donald Trump will have in a general election. Not only are you watching women having to parrot some of the more indefensible things that Donald Trump has said about women to women, but it also, I think, shows just how unpresidential, unprofessional Donald Trump is in, you know, in a room full of grownups.

And so, I think to use his own words against him in an ad about running for president, I think is exactly the kind of problem that he's going to face going through and this is the tip of the iceberg. I mean, there is a whole lot of this stuff that could be used against him. I see an ad where someone is using Donald Trump's word in the Oval Office or in a meeting with a world leader. I mean, it's just -- he has got tone problems. COOPER: I want to get David in but before I do, I just want to say, I

think you were showing extraordinary restrain, S.E. in not wearing a t-shirt that said, I won $50,000 in charity on jeopardy last night and beat Chuck Todd --

(APPLAUSE)

CUPP: I wasn't going to go there.

COOPER: Enormous strength. Congratulations.

CUPP: Thank you. Thank you.

AXELROD: I'm awe struck. But I do, but now I know that you're a jeopardy champion. I agree with you completely.

CUPP: Finally.

AXELROD: I think that -- I really have said this before here. I don't think it's any one issue or even the slight of people that we've seen from Donald Trump that ultimately is this biggest problem. It's temperament.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Right.

AXELROD: It's temperament. People understand that it may be kind of cathartic, to see someone, punch someone verbally in the nose and to say whatever they think but they also understand that when a president of the United States does it, it could have mortal consequences. It can send as I've said before armies marching or markets tumbling and I think this is an unsettling thing to imagine as S.E. suggests a president of the United States saying these things.

BORGER: Uh-huh.

HENDERSON: Yes.

BORGER: Well, you know, but the language succeeded during the Republican --

AXELROD: It did. But Donald Trump had got 11 million votes. There are 135 million people who voted in the general election in 2012. He has to appeal to a much broader electorate now. He has an unfavorable rating of somewhere between 55 and 65 percent and so I don't think you can extrapolate from the primary and assume what did or didn't work in the primary won't have an impact --

[19:10:19] BORGER: Well, and that's why Hillary Clinton keeps talking about how he's a loose cannon I think in your interview --

HENDERSON: And I also think that these ads, I mean, it sort of reminds me of the 47 percent ads that you guys ran against Mitt Romney in 2012. Every time you saw that ad and heard those words, it was shocking and in some ways, it's the same thing with these ads with Donald Trump. COOPER: We're going to take a quick break right now. It's very close

Democratic contest in Kentucky. The lead is been switching back and forth. Will it be Hillary Clinton tonight or Bernie Sanders? More votes straight ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[19:14:38] COOPER: All the polls in Kentucky closed about 15 minutes ago. We are not able to make a projection too close now right now. Let's get a key race alert. Take a look at this. Fifteen percent of the vote is in. Bernie Sanders has a lead 47.4 percent to Hillary Clinton's 45.4 percent. He's up by almost 2,000 votes. He's got 40 -- it's 2300 votes I should say, just changed. He's got 44,500. She's got 42,100. Sixteen percent of the vote is now in the Democratic presidential primary in Kentucky. Let's check in with John King over at the magic wall -- John.

JOHN KING, CNN CORRESPONDENT: And Wolf, those close numbers suggests we've got a lot of counting to do. We've got to watch the place out. As I mentioned earlier, the two keys for Secretary Clinton are the areas where you have a significant African-American population, she has over performed, outperformed Bernie Sanders among African- Americans in previous states. Fayette County only eight percent of the vote and so far she's holding a ten-point lead there. Again, she needs to hold that maybe even build a little bit to expect Jefferson County, the biggest base, maybe largely for Secretary Clinton here but only eight percent of the vote.

And so, let's hold off there about jumping to conclusions. We'll watch the play out. Another big question. Remember Hillary Clinton's comments about coal mines closing, coal miners losing their jobs. She says they were taken out of contest, she says she went on to say, the government needs to do a lot to help those people and help those communities. But that's been an issue in this campaign. Wolf, if you want to look through the state here, this part in Eastern Kentucky and this part over here in Western part of the state, these are major coal producing counties here and here as you see the map filling in so far, again, it's early in the night.

Senator Sanders is winning the bulk of them here in the Eastern part of the state. We're just waiting, we're starting to get the results out here in the Western part of the state. That will be something else to watch as we go forward. I just want to note here and look at one of them though, here in Knox County, 90 percent of the vote in, Secretary Clinton with the narrow lead there. Look how small some of these counties in terms of the Democratic votes tonight and then you move up here into Clay County, a coal producing county where she won again. Very small turnout in the county so far. But 100 percent of the vote reported in Clay County. So not a wipeout in the coal country in the Eastern part of the state but as you can see, Senator Sanders winning far more leading in far more of those counties so far and again, we're waiting to coal vote here.

And these are the coal-producing counties. And also in Kentucky, they would call coal impact counties, Anderson. The coal might be taken out of the mines here but coal affects the economy in much of the state, so one of the things we're watch as we count the votes late in tonight where those comments again which Secretary Clinton suggests were taken out of context but do they hurt the results tonight as we keep counting the votes -- Anderson.

COOPER: Uh-hm. John King, thanks very much. We'll continue to check with John throughout the night as we'll continue to watch the votes coming. From Kentucky, 20 percent of the votes in right now. Very close race, indeed, between these two candidates. We were talking right before the break about this new ad put out by Super PAC in favor of Hillary Clinton. Paul Begala is partially responsible.

BEGALA: Senior advisor.

COOPER: Senior advisor.

(CROSSTALK)

BEGALA: Team effort.

COOPER: But Donald Trump one of the ways he's responded and he's sort of tweeted up a number of responses to this. Again, is to go after former President Clinton for his relationships with women and in the past Donald Trump has called Hillary Clinton an enabler of this. How vulnerable do you think and capable is she of fighting back against that charge?

BEGALA: Well, you're seeing I'm doing it. She doesn't have to. She's going to run on issued and ideas.

COOPER: She's standing on a debate stage, right face to face with him.

BEGALA: I don't worry about that.

COOPER: You don't?

BEGALA: Not in the least. And I checked the rule book, she has got to attack him too. Everywhere I go, and I guess because Liberals are wimps, they all say to me, what are you going to do when Donald Trump attacks? What are you going to do? Someone needs to go to Donald Trump and say, we're going to attack you buster. And we've gotten under his toupee. This has bothered him. That is why he's tweeting up a storm like this. So, he's a very vulnerable politician himself --

COOPER: Let me just show the response Bill Clinton was actually asked about Donald Trump's comments today on just kind of looked like, caught him by surprise. Here is what the former president said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. President, any response to Donald Trump today calling you one of the least political leaders in U.S. history?

BILL CLINTON (D), 42ND PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: No, I think people are smart enough to figure this out. (END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: He said no, I think people are smart enough to figure this out.

CUPP: No, I mean, look, look, I think there's a smugness coming out of Clinton camp. A little smugness when it comes to dealing with Donald Trump, and he is much better at this than I think they acknowledge, and I don't think -- I don't think this is getting to Trump. I think Trump has been dying for this moment to come. "The New York Times" story comes out right, with all the tales of the women. This was a gift. Donald Trump has been waiting for a moment to have permission to talk about Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton and all of their past discretions and has much as he loves a non-secreter, he can't just bring Monica Lewinsky just up of nowhere. He wants these kinds of attacks on him so that he can look like he's just counter-punching. He's dying to go after this stuff.

[19:19:38] BEGALA: If that was a gift he looked awfully ungrateful.

(LAUGHTER)

CUPP: Well --

JEFFREY LORD, DONALD TRUMP SUPPORTER: Let me just say first of all to my friend Paul, it's not a toupee and there is the first --

(LAUGHTER)

BEGALA: OK. Retract that. I retract that.

CUPP: Well, everything is different.

LORD: What this is going to do is bring the fundamental question with Hillary Clinton. I mean, I heard my friend David over here talking about temperament and the corresponding issue was going to be judgement that from all of the Clinton scandals, so-called, in the 1990s and earlier, all the way through now, there is just this trail. It's like the pig pen, a little bit of character in "peanuts" where everywhere he went there was a cloud around him. She gets to be secretary of state, everything is wiped clean, she gets starts fresh and sure enough we're in it with Benghazi and e-mails.

I mean, this stuff just keep happening and happening and happening. It also has to do with women who are saying all these things about her, who, you know, that she's an enabler, et cetera. The women who were the subject of the abuse. So what this gets to be is a question of Hillary Clinton's judgment. Do you want somebody in the White House who consistently over decades has repeatedly exercised bad judgment?

CUPP: But that's exactly the kind of conversation that conservatives were really looking forward to having and litigating this season and haven't been able to do so because we're constantly distracted by stories about Donald Trump's dating history or the weird things he said about his daughter or I mean, all of this stuff that never allows us to get to the questions around Hillary Clinton's judgment, and I just wish her candidate would stop engaging in all of this stuff so that we could have those very important conversations about Hillary Clinton's judgment.

COOPER: Van, certainly Donald Trump feels that he was probably quite effective in shutting down Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton when Hillary Clinton came talking about sexism, he responded with calling her an enabler and that did seem to quiet I think as far as the Trump campaign is concerned, that seemed to quiet Clintons.

JONES: Part of this is, I think most people, when you think about what they want from the presidential campaign is not to litigate whether or not this person is enabler or that person or whether this person said something about somebody. All this stuff is -- what Donald Trump is able to do is to diminish American politics to the point where this seems like a rational conversation and it's not. The reason they went after Bill Clinton is not for any actual concern about anybody who complained about Bill Clinton is they want to take Bill Clinton off the board as a surrogate.

All of this stuff is very, very cynical. I think part of the problem here is that ordinary people look at this stuff and they say, this makes me sick. This is not going to give me a job. It's not going to get my kid into college, it's going to do anything for me. It's a bunch -- it's two rich people arguing about which one sucks worse. I think ultimately, that's part of why there is still some energy and some dynamos. They just don't want to be in this whole mess.

BEGALA: Hillary has not sunk to that level, neither has her husband. There were some folks minutes ago saying, that was bad that President Clinton didn't respond. I thought it was good. Because he's trying to focus and more importantly his wife was candidate trying to focus on your life, right? This is the dirty little secret about these things that Clintons, they are healthy, they are wealthy, they have a great family. The Trumps are healthy and wealthy with the great family. They are going to be fine.

JONES: Right.

BEGALA: And Hillary's campaign, I believe, and I'm watching her carefully, watching her husband, they are trying to focus on voters but meanwhile, the notion that somehow this has taken Bill Clinton off the table or made it impossible for us to raise his sexes, we're putting $6 million behind Donald Trump's sexist attacks like this week. So no, it hasn't worked, it hasn't stopped us. You know, and Donald Trump was going to say this no matter what. This is what he does. The same guy who invited President Clinton and his wife to his wedding who said President Clinton was a great president, now says he's some kind of a horrible person.

JONES: And -- by the way, did say -- if you said something bad things about Hillary Clinton. I'm thinking to myself, Donald Trump used to praise Hillary Clinton.

BEGALA: And donate to her. JONES: And donate to her and said she was wonderful. So, I mean, at some point, where does the authenticity question come in for your guy? He's authentically angry, he's authentically rude but he's authentic. But now, you're going to be able to say, you're authentically against the Clintons, when you praised him, you guys praised him --

LORD: You know, Richard Nixon and John F. Kenney were the best of friends when they were in Congress together and they both got to run against each other for president and somebody said that JFK, you think he's your friend and he said, well, that will change before the campaign. So --

(LAUGHTER)

BORGER: You know, I think what we may be looking at, though, is a formula here for a very low turnout election. If you have two unpopular candidates and Donald Trump is much more unpopular than Hillary Clinton but neither of them are hugely popular, you have two unpopular candidates who have arguments over character issues, not judgment on policy but personal issues, you continue this kind of argument. I mean, to me, it seems that if you're a voter that's not very excited about either one of them, you might just stay home.

COOPER: Unless you're scared.

AXELROD: I mean, it could seem very consequential. The outcome could seem very consequential. So, I would --

[19:24:33] COOPER: Well, and that's what you've got to do if you're Hillary Clinton, make the outcome -- I mean, that's what these ads are about, I think, is that this is consequential for you and I need to mobilize --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We should ask the evil genius.

(LAUGHTER)

COOPER: Michael?

SMERCONISH: I saw the commercial and I thought it was very engaging but I don't know about the short term effectiveness. It seems that there is this never ending search for kryptonite to take down Superman who in this case is Donald Trump. And nothing does far has been able to do it, right?

COOPER: Right.

SMERCONISH: I think the best you can hope for is that collectively in the end, the totality of all of this causes people to pause and say wait a minute, is this the person I really want to entrust in the Oval Office?

COOPER: We have to take a quick break. As we're watching close Democratic race unfolding in Kentucky. Bernie Sanders now ahead by a 4,615 votes, 48 percent to 44 percent with 23 percent of the vote in. There is new reaction from the Clinton camp, are they are worried Bernie Sanders may score a surprise victory? More on that and more votes ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[19:29:27] BLITZER: -- the votes in Kentucky. The Democratic presidential primary. The polls close. Half an hour ago, let's get a key race alert right now. Look at this. Thirty six percent of the vote is in, it's very, very close. 47.2 percent for Bernie Sanders. 46.1 percent for Hillary Clinton. Bernie Sanders up by 2,054 votes. You can see how close it is right there.

I want to check in with Jeff Zeleny covering the Clinton campaign for us in California right now. What are you hearing from insiders there, Jeff?

JEFF ZELENY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, I can tell you what is happening right now. Bernie Sanders is going to be speaking here in California in about four hours or so.

[19:30:04] And take a look behind me here. Again, this line has been gathering for an hour or so, Wolf. But it stretches about three blocks in that direction, and it's beginning to build in the other direction, as well.

We see scores turning into hundreds, turning into probably thousands tonight of Bernie Sanders supporters and you wonder why they are coming out here. Wolf, the California primary on June 7th has 475 delegates at stake.

Now, that is the biggest prize of any state so far. Bernie Sanders has a lot of support here in California and he is going to make the case tonight to voters. He hopes after a couple of wins in Kentucky and Oregon, that they need to stick with him here.

And, Wolf, the question here I these voters are Sanders supporters. The question in the end then Hillary Clinton becomes the nominee, will they support her? And we'll be talking to some of them but the Democrats we generally talked to believe that she would be a stronger nominee than Donald Trump.

But that is not entirely the case. They believe he should fight on and fight forward here, Wolf. But the Clinton campaign, advisors back in Brooklyn, to her headquarters, they are lowering expectations for what they believe will happen in Kentucky tonight. They believe that the state is a closed primary, so it's well-suited for her because only Democrats can vote, but it's also about 90 percent. So, Bernie Sanders has done much better in those states.

So, I asked them why she spent so much time campaigning. You know, she's made 11 stops in the last two weeks or so. They said she simply wanted to narrow the margin here. She can split the delegates.

But no one believes or few people believe in the Clinton campaign, they are trying to lower expectations for her upcoming Kentucky. They believe that Bernie Sanders is likely to win that tonight, Wolf, but again, mathematically speaking, she will pretty much split the delegates here. But here in California, so many people want to see Bernie Sanders tonight and they will in just a few hours time -- Wolf.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: He really gets those big, big crowds, seemingly, wherever he goes, especially a lot of young people. Let's take a look right now, look, 40 percent of the vote is now in. Bernie Sanders maintains his lead, nearly 3,000 votes ahead of Hillary Clinton, 47.3 percent, 45.8 percent.

Let's go back over to Dana and David right now.

It's very close. But if he wins in Kentucky, it gives him momentum going ahead towards that big contest in California.

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely, and despite the fact that they are trying to lower expectations, I've gotten e- mails. I know you have gotten e-mails from inside Clinton head quarters in Brooklyn, here's the reality -- and you know this -- Kentucky has historically been Clinton country. Not just forget about eight years ago where she wiped the floor with Obama. She won I think all but two counties.

Much more recently, I was down covering the big Senate race there where she and her husband were there constantly, more Bill Clinton than not because they are so popular, at least historically, the Clintons are. So, they were helping the Democratic candidate there.

Bill Clinton won in 1992, in 1996, in the general election. This is Kentucky, right? I mean, that's the reality check we need to get up against.

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: The Clinton campaign can't just get away with saying it' 90 percent white. That's what Sanders' states have looked like. Yes, 90 percent white but eight years ago, she won 72 percent of that white vote. So, there is a question here that is her support eight years ago, we saw this in West Virginia last week has just completely flipped.

And although she's clearly now popular with the coalition of people that her campaign clearly sees as the building blocks to 270 electoral votes in November, there is this other portion of white working class voters in some states, I don't think Kentucky would be competitive come the fall but where her appeal is very limited, and how that gets extrapolated to states that are going to be competitive in the Upper Midwest where Donald Trump indicated he'll go.

That's the question that gets asked for the Clinton campaign when looking at the lack of appeal with some of these voters in these primary states at the end of the season here. And I do think when you see the lines, look at those people lining up to go into that. There is a movement that is happening simultaneously with these elections that won't upend the trajectory. That's the dichotomy that she has to resolve.

BASH: No questions.

And, Wolf, it's obviously about delegates, but the optics are something that's incredibly important and as David was just saying, if you do look at those lines, this rally tonight for Bernie Sanders and probably once we're going to see down the road until June 7th, that's something they won't take for granted in Brooklyn.

BLITZER: Yes, he gets huge crowds and Hillary Clinton will need all of that if she's the Democratic nominee.

All right. Let's take a quick break, a lot more coming up. A close contest in Kentucky. We're not able to make a projection, at least not yet.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[19:39:10] BLITZER: We've got a key race alert right now.

Take a look at how close it is out in Kentucky. The Democratic presidential primary, Bernie Sanders has 47.3 percent. Hillary Clinton 45.8 percent. But take a look. He's up by 3,190 votes. He has 100,852, just went to 102,024. She's got 99,056. Forty-three percent of the vote in Kentucky has now been counted. Too close to call. We're not yet able to make a projection.

Take a look at this. These are live pictures coming in right now from Carson, California. Bernie Sanders will be addressing a big crowd out there in California. You see people walking long lines, a lot of supporters he's got out there. Very impressive group. A lot of young people going out to hear Bernie Sanders make his appeal for support June 7th.

[19:40:00] That's when the California Democratic presidential primary takes place. A lot of delegates at steak on that day.

Let's go to John King over at the magic wall.

John, a very close contest in Kentucky.

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: And, Wolf, let's take a closer look. You mentioned, with 44 percent in, Senator Sanders leading a little more than 47 percent of the vote to nearly 46 percent. The vote for Secretary Clinton, about 3,000 votes there as we count them up a show you look at the map and you say what are we waiting for and any indications of how to lean forward on this one.

I would say this, in the eastern part of the state here, eastern coal country right here, you see Senator Sanders winning by far many more of the counties in eastern coal country from a Sanders campaign perspective, many of these counties are reporting 100 percent so far. If you click through some of them, 100 percent in, 100 percent in, 100 percent in.

That's not the case in all of them but in many of these eastern part of states rural counties, where Senator Sanders is winning, all of the votes are counted, Wolf. If you're inside the Clinton war room, you're thinking, we're trailing right now, but we have a chance to pull this out. Why? You look at Fayette County, she's leading by 10- point margin, only 8 percent of the vote in. We've been stuck at 8 percent in Fayette County for quite sometime. You have a significant African-American vote coming out of Lexington in the area right here. Secretary Clinton counting, if she can keep this cushion as we go from 8 percent to 100 percent in Fayette County, more than enough votes here to come back. No guarantee of that. No guarantee this cushion holds, but if she keeps it there, we'll keep an eye on this, there are plenty of votes for Secretary Clinton to catch up.

In the largest county over here in the state, Jefferson County, just shy of 40 percent and Secretary Clinton with a nearly 15-point lead there. Again, if that margin holds up as the vote count increases and again, zero guarantee of that, if it continues in another area we have a significant African-American vote, more than enough votes for Secretary Clinton to pull this one out. One other thing I'm sure they are watching in both campaign war rooms, here in the western quarter at the moment as you see, Secretary Clinton holding her own.

Now, we're just starting to count votes out here, 16 percent in. So as you watch this play out, if Secretary Clinton can keep some of this dark blue and the numbers keep coming in in Lexington and Louisville areas, she's behind at the moment, Anderson. As you see, it just got closer right there, 46.8 to 46.6. There is more than enough votes for Secretary Clinton to squeak this out, we're going to be counting for awhile.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: No doubt about that. It's very close right there. 46.8 to 46.6, doesn't get much closer than that.

But as just as you -- I mean, you were pointing this out, David. In terms of the actual delegate count, it's going to be divided.

DAVID AXELROD, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Almost no different. They're going to split these delegates obviously. They're involved in a very close race here.

I do think as we look at these results, though, David Chalian made an important point, which is how predictive is it of a general election in which in particularly states like Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, white working class voters are going to be cross pressured in a race between Clinton and Trump and, you know, the other question is, how many people who normally vote Republican might be driven the other way by Donald Trump offsetting that.

So, these are things we'll look for going forward. Donald Trump cannot win unless he breaks through particularly in those states.

COOPER: I mean, the flip side of that, of course, is how many people who might normally vote for Democrat are going to go for Trump.

AXELROD: Right.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How many --

AXELROD: That's exactly the question. I mean, part of these white working class voters in those states who may -- a lot of them have already voted Republican. This is a good point. I mean, Mitt Romney did very well with the voters in 2012. Can Trump get more of them is the question? COOPER: Yes.

We got to take a quick break. As we watch the close Democratic race in Kentucky, there is growing concern within the party about the possibility of a revolt by Bernie Sanders supporters, the convention in Philadelphia. We'll have new information on that and talk to Sanders' campaign manager ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Look how close it is in Kentucky right now. Let's get a key race alert. How the vote has been counted. Bernie Sanders has a lead of 625 votes. He's got 46.8 percent. Hillary Clinton 46.6 percent. He's up by only 625 votes, more than 200,000 votes have been counted already.

Anderson, look how close it is.

COOPER: It's amazing. It's been going back and forth like that really over the last hour o so and we'll continue to watch it very closely, simply too close to call at this point.

You know, what we saw in Nevada with some of the Sanders protests, how concerned do you think Democrats should be about something like that at the convention?

NIA MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER: I think they should be very concerned. I think they are very concerned. You have folks in the Democratic Party in Nevada pushing back against Sanders saying that he needs to sort of set the record straight.

You know, I think one of the problems with the Sanders campaign is they didn't learn some of the lessons of the Obama campaign. Obama -- the Obama campaign in 2008 was very much the upstart campaign. But they also knew the rules better than the Clinton and it seems like the Sanders campaign wants to change some of the rules mid-stream and then they get upset when things don't turn out.

But, you know, I think at some point Sanders has to come out and sort of level with supporters. I think he's been setting some of expectations really high in terms of the outcome of this, this idea he's going to be able to change superdelegates minds. So, I think he's going to have work to do.

MICHAEL SMERCONISH, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think Nia made an important point when she says that Bernie Sanders will have to come say something at the appropriate junction tour. But here's my question, I don't know that he can control the movement that he's now created and has harnessed, thus, far. And this really presents an interesting situation as we draw near to Philadelphia because this crowd and you saw them now in that footage that we're showing as they are headed to that event in California tonight, you know, they have a mind of all their own and regardless of what Bernie says, they might not be ready, Anderson, to come to terms with Secretary Clinton as the standard bearer of the party. Then what happens?

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: I think they can take a queue from Bernie Sanders. He is their standard bear.

SMERCONISH: They didn't this weekend.

BORGER: Well, but Bernie Sanders' statement today did not say, you know, slow down or stop or anything else. I think they could take a queue from him if he were to give it and figure out a way to do it without saying, OK, don't give up on your passion for what we're trying to do but don't disrupt the process.

AXELROD: I think he missed the moment.

[19:50:00] I really do. I think this was -- this was -- you say he should speak out at the appropriate time. This is the appropriate time and he came up short today.

COOPER: All right. Jeff Zeleny is standing by with some breaking news.

Jeff, what have you got?

ZELENY: Wolf, the Clinton campaign is responding aggressively to Donald Trump's suggestion in that "Reuters" interview earlier this afternoon, earlier this evening that he would, in fact, hold a discussion with the leader of North Korea, Kim Jong-un.

Jake Sullivan, a senior adviser to the Clinton campaign, just gave us a statement a few moments ago. Let me read just a part of it here. He said Donald Trump has a fascination with foreign strongmen, like Vladimir Putin and Kim Jong-un. He said, but his approach to foreign policy makes no sense for the rest of us.

So, Anderson, even on a primary night like tonight, this is clearly a sign of the Clinton campaign watching Donald Trump's words very carefully here and picking apart every interview he does, particularly as it relates to foreign policy here, putting a statement very quickly. This is something we're likely to hear from Hillary Clinton as well in the coming days, directly criticizing Donald Trump's foreign policy -- Anderson.

COOPER: Interesting to hear this.

Jeff Lord, should Donald Trump talk to Kim Jong-un?

JEFF LORD, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Sure, as long as he can get "The Art of the Deal" done and get it done his way. And I might add, it was President Clinton who negotiated with the North Koreans, as I recall.

COOPER: There's a difference between people having negotiations with North Korea around a president of the United States actually meeting with and talking with them.

LORD: I understand, but the end result was that an agreement on nuclear weapons that wasn't kept.

COOPER: So, you would have no problem with the president of the United States talking with --

LORD: So, as long as the -- Richard Nixon talked to Mao Tse Tung, you know? Things worked out.

Reagan did not talk to the first several leaders and they kept dying on him he said, the Soviet Union. He finally did sit down with Gorbachev and changed the world. I think in this case, you've got to be really tough. And if there's somebody you want in that room, it's Donald Trump.

COOPER: It's interesting to hear the Clinton campaign pushing back on this. I mean, I remember then-Senator Sanders talked -- excuse me, Senator Obama through the campaign talked about sitting down or talking with the Iranians.

AXELROD: You know, there were two other elements of the interview that got little attention, because that was sort of the headline item. But he also said he would pull out of the Paris Accord that was negotiated around climate change and he would dismantle the Dodd-Frank financial reform.

These are big things to kind of throw out in an interview and we talk about whether the Bernie Sanders supporters will rally behind Hillary Clinton. If they begin to think we're going to be pulling out of climate change agreements and financial reform, my guess is that's going to be pretty motivation.

BORGER: The Kim Jong-un, I mean, this is not Dennis Rodman going to talk to Kim Jong-un. This would be the president --

LORD: It's like Nixon going to China.

BORGER: No, it's not like Nixon going to China, because how would you lay the groundwork, OK, with who would the people who work for the United States government lay the groundwork before a presidential visit? I mean, this is a situation into which --

COOPER: I didn't see the interview. Was he talking about a visit or was he talking about phone call or just --

LORD: Talking to them.

BORGER: Meet with, talk to. Are we talking about a phone call?

LORD: The point is whether you talk to them or whether you don't, the point is how do you deal with North Korea at the end of the day?

(CROSSTALK)

S.E. CUPP, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: The point isn't whether you talk, it's what you say when you do and that's why getting answers out of Donald Trump is so important. Is he going to talk to them and say, hey, nukes for all? Because that's been on the table by Donald Trump. Nuclear proliferation is going to keep us safe now.

I want to know what he's going to say and that's why it's been so difficult to understand when he says, well, this thing that I just said was a suggestion, whereas this one might be a promise. Where is he on any of this stuff and what does he mean? He likes to keep it vague and flexible and casual. And as a voter then, how do I know what I'm getting?

COOPER: I want to quick break. We're going to discuss this more head.

The Democratic contest in Kentucky, still incredibly close right now. Coming up, live interview with Bernie Sanders campaign manager Jeff Weaver about the primary battle and the fallout from what happened in Nevada.

We're also following the large crowds at a Sanders campaign rally in California. We'll carry Sanders remarks live. That's all ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[19:58:05] COOPER: And welcome back.

The key race alert results from the Democratic primary in Kentucky. Let's take a look at the numbers. This has been switching back and forth over the last hour.

Hillary Clinton now ahead, but only by 302 votes, 46.7 percent to 46.6 percent; 55 percent of the vote counted, still too close to call.

Let's go to John King -- John.

KING: Anderson, it doesn't get much closer than that, but as the votes come in, Senator Sanders had been narrowly behind. What are we looking for, as we continue to count the votes here. Number one, the reason Secretary Clinton has pulled ahead is because of the vote count from Jefferson County, the largest in the state, African-American population, key to her Democratic support in the Louisville area.

Fifty-seven percent from that county in so far. She has a 17 point lead there, 16-point lead there. So, you see, that's one of the reasons she came back, a big vote count there.

What she's counting on is the other 40 percent plus of that vote comes in. If that margin stays the same, she's hoping to pad the lead.

The other hopeful sign if you're the Clinton campaign is we have a very slow count in Fayette County. Just shy of 7 percent of the state population, includes the Lexington area, includes again, for Kentucky purposes a significant African-American population here. She has a ten-point lead in Fayette County and a very slow count.

So, if this margin holds, no guarantee, but the Clinton campaign is counting on more votes here to add to its basket going forward.

You look to see what else we're looking for here. In the western coal corridor of the state, the vote is starting to come in. Senator Sanders leading but just narrowly in this rural county. Secretary Clinton leading by a little bit more of a margin there. So, she's holding her own in the rural counties out here, the western part of the state, that's critical for Secretary Clinton, Anderson, because she's losing most of the rural counties, the eastern part of the state. But from the Sanders campaign perspective as we're up to 61 percent statewide now, very, very close here, is that a lot of these rural countries are 100 percent in.

So, as we continue to wait, very close race, Anderson. We'll keep counting them.

COOPER: All right. John King -- John, thanks very much.

(MUSIC)

COOPER: And it's the top of the hour, 8:00 here on the East Coast. The results are coming in from the Democratic primary in Kentucky.