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AT THIS HOUR WITH BERMAN AND MICHAELA

Trump Clinches Nomination; Sen. Joe Manchin Calls Trump/Sanders Debate B.S.; Will Democratic Race be Settled at Convention. Aired 11- 11:30a ET

Aired May 27, 2016 - 11:00   ET

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


[11:00:00] PAMELA BROWN, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Pamela Brown, in for Carol Costello.

AT THIS HOUR with Berman and Bolduan starts now.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE & CEO, TRUMP ORGANIZATION: We hit the 1,237, right? 1,237.

(CHEERING)

HILLARY CLINTON, (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE & FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE (voice-over): An unqualified loose cannon is within reach of the most important job in the world.

TRUMP: Here I am watching Hillary fight, and she can't close the deal.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS, (I), VERMONT & DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Donald Trump has agreed to debate me.

TRUMP: I'd love to debate Bernie.

JEFF WEAVER, CAMPAIGN MANAGER, BERNIE SANDERS PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN: We hope Donald Trump does not chicken out.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. I'm Kate Bolduan. John Berman is off today.

The finish line has been crossed. The Republican nomination locked in. Now one day after clinching the magic number of 1237, Donald Trump is headed to, not Ohio, not Florida, the unlikeliest of places, the Democratic stronghold of California, and he's revealing what his general election game plan may look like. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: What I'm going to do is I want to focus on 15 or so states because we have to win. And I want my energy to be put in the states where it could go either way. And we're going to play heavy, as an example, in California. Now, no other Republican would -- you know, they wouldn't even go to dinner in California. They wouldn't do it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BOLDUAN: All three presidential candidates are campaigning today in California, including Trump. And if you think I misspoke just a second ago, let me repeat. He's not in battlegrounds like Florida or Ohio. He is in California today.

CNN's Dan Simon is in Fresno where the Trump rally is going to be kicking off shortly.

But first, let me bring in national correspondent, Jason Carroll, for more on this.

So Donald Trump, he was in Montana last night when he made this announcement. 15 states he mentioned. It's unclear, unless you know better than me, if it's just these 15, if that's in addition to kind of the traditional Republican playbook. But lay it out.

JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Let's just say it this, there is a method to his madness. He's going to be getting resources into some of those traditional battleground states, places like Florida, Michigan, Ohio, but he also wants to win the states that have traditionally gone blue. He wants to turn them red. He has said repeatedly during rallies, I am going to win Pennsylvania. He believes he can take places like California. He'll be focused on places like Washington, New York as well.

Here's some of his problems. When it comes to some of those western states, places like California, he's going to have to do better with Latino voters. He says he's polling well with them. The reality is he's not. It certainly doesn't help him when he goes after people like Susana Martinez, the governor of New Mexico, very popular, a Republican, a Latina. He clearly is going to have some work out there to meet his goal of turning some of those blue states red.

BOLDUAN: And a big part of turning blue states red would be a ground game, and that means money, and that means staff and --

(CROSSTALK)

CARROLL: And resources. Well, if you listen to what the campaign is saying, they are going to have resources in those battleground states, no surprise there. And he's got a good team behind him. He's got people like his campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, so he's got a team of people behind him who have certainly done it before. The question is, can they do it this time?

BOLDUAN: The interesting part about it, the inside intrigue right now, is the person who would be making a lot of these hires, Rick Wiley, he was just fired after being on the campaign for just six weeks.

CARROLL: Six weeks, now he's out. They're going to have to bring someone else in. But Trump will tell you, don't want to put words in the man's mouth, but Trump will tell you he's a man who is used to running businesses, he can run a campaign. Someone is not doing the job, what do you do? You get them out quickly and move someone in who can do the job.

BOLDUAN: He didn't really lay out all 15 of those states. We'll see. I'm sure he will be asked.

Thanks. Great to see you, Jason.

CARROLL: You bet.

BOLDUAN: Let's go now to Dan Simon. He's in Fresno where the crowd for the Donald Trump rally -- it's going to be in a couple of hours -- is already lining up.

Dan, I think you were in the middle it earlier this week when some of the rallies earlier this week were met with violence. What are you seeing so far this morning?

DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, hi, Kate. We are just outside of the arena in Fresno where you see this group of protesters has gathered. It's a modest-sized crowd, maybe 50 or so. On the other side of the protesters, you can see the Donald Trump supporters filing into the arena. It's always an interesting dynamic with both sides basically yelling at each other.

In terms of what we can see today, I'm joined by the chief of the Fresno Police Department, Chief Jerry Dyer.

I appreciate you joining me. Tell me how you're preparing for this day.

JERRY DYER, CHIEF, FRESNO POLICE DEPARTMENT: The preparation has been all week, not only with personnel but with equipment, making sure we have plans in place, contingencies, a sufficient number of officers that will be in uniform and out of uniform, both inside and outside of the event. We also have a react team on stand by in the event we need that. As you can see, the crowd is under 100 right now and we're monitoring very, very closely. And the goal for us today is to have a peaceful protest. That's the purpose of having the barricades to separate the Trump supporters from the protesters. And we anticipate it's going to be a peaceful event, but we're prepared for the worst as well.

[11:05:17] SIMON: When you say you're prepared, you have police officers in riot gear who will be out here?

DYER: We have police officers that are fully equipped if they need to come in and address the crowd should things get violent. They have the ability to move crowds, and we also have the ability to deploy chemical agents should we need to, but we don't anticipate it. But, again, we're planning for that should the crowd get unruly.

The main thing is making sure that, at the onset, if we start to see any type of behavior that's going to be inciting a riot, that we remove those individuals, and we will. We're not going to tolerate violence in our city. SIMON: Chief Jerry Dyer, thank you very much.

Kate, as you heard, they are fully prepared for any eventuality here in Fresno. Obviously, they do not want to see a repeat of what they saw in Albuquerque and Anaheim earlier this week. Based on the crowd, thus far, I'm not sure we'll see any problems, but we will see how the day unfolds -- Kate?

BOLDUAN: Absolutely.

Dan Simon there for us in Fresno. Dan, thanks so much.

Let's discuss this right now. Joining me now, CNN political commentators, Kevin Madden, he was a senior official in Mitt Romney's campaign, also a Republican strategist; Patti Solis Doyle, a former Hillary Clinton presidential campaign manager; Van Jones, a former Obama administration official; and Boris Epshteyn, a Republican strategist and Donald Trump campaign surrogate.

Guys, thanks so much for joining me.

So, Kevin, back to where we began this show, try this playbook on for size as someone who was part of Mitt Romney's campaign. A Republican campaign taking on California and New York. They're going to focus there along with some other unlikely states. Was that under consideration for Mitt Romney?

KEVIN MADDEN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: No. One of the big challenges is the voters Donald Trump appeals to the most, which are middle-class white voters, where they are most prevalent in places like California, in the central valley, there's not enough of those voters to make that a strong play. Where Donald Trump is weakest, with minority populations, suburban voters, women voters, those populations are dominant in many of those states like California, like New York. If you couple that with the fact that Donald Trump is behind on building the infrastructure that you need to build in order to prosper in some of those states, where the Democrats have had a natural advantage, both electorally, and I think with the infrastructure for probably a decade, it makes it a very sizable challenge.

BOLDUAN: Mitt Romney got 27 percent of the Latino vote in the general election. They don't think they need to surpass that number. Do you agree with that?

MADDEN: I wouldn't agree with that. If you look at the share of the white vote, it has declined pretty steadily over the last few years and the projected share -- the percentage of the projected white vote in 2016 probably going to be closer to 69 percent, whereas in 2000, when we last saw President Bush win his first election, it was 78 percent. So we're seeing an electorate that's getting more and more diverse, so you have to do a much better job of competing amongst those minority voters. I would expect a Republican candidate in 2016 would probably need somewhere in the area of about 40 percent of the Hispanic vote to be competitive on Election Day.

BOLDUAN: That is a big number. That is some big room for improvement.

Patti, you ran a campaign. Donald Trump thinks he can make a play in some of these states. I mean, a Democrat -- I guess we can say really hasn't had a lot of competition in some of these states in decades. Should Hillary Clinton, or whomever the Democratic nominee, be nervous?

PATTI SOLIS DOYLE, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, no, and it's really for all the reasons that Kevin just said. And just to sort of amplify what he said in terms of Hispanic voters, Donald Trump is not only -- does he not only have a huge deficit, but he's also inspiring Hispanics to register to vote and he's also inspiring people to become naturalized citizens, if they're eligible, just for the opportunity to vote against him. So I think in places like California, it's going to crucify Donald Trump. I don't think he has a chance at all.

BORIS EPSHTEYN, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST & DONALD TRUMP CAMPAIGN SURROGATE: That's a big word.

BOLDUAN: That is a big word. But as you say, two folks who have been very senior people in campaigns, they do not think this is smart strategy. They don't think this is anywhere he should be spending his time. As a Trump surrogate and Trump supporter, do you think this is a good use of his resources?

EPSHTEYN: Of course. There's over five months left until the election and these are real opportunities in big states that have not gone Republican in a long time, but did in 1988, California voted Republican. In '84, New York went Republican. So it's a point to note that. And so as we look at the whole election, New York is a home state for Trump. California is a state where Hillary Clinton is now doing very badly against Bernie Sanders. You have seen numbers that a lot of those Sanders supporters are not necessarily going to be going behind Clinton if she's the nominee, which we could presume right now. Again, with five months to the election, smart people on the Trump campaign, like Paul Manafort, are making the calculation that it's good to go there. And listen, let's be honest, Donald Trump is driving the campaign. He believes that his natural charisma and his message will be appealing to voters in California and New York, and those other states, and you have to take him at his word. He's done well so far.

[11:10:26] BOLDUAN: Maybe California is going to get a lot more attention than they have in cycles past. There you are.

EPSHTEYN: That's right.

Van, you know California. They are all in California today. As Boris was talking about, he thinks Hillary Clinton is doing very badly against Bernie Sanders right now. If you take a look at the headlines, the headline in "The New York Times" today, "California looking less like a sure thing for Hillary Clinton." How ugly do you think it's going to get in the primary that she's still in over the next -- well, now we're less than two weeks away.

VAN JONES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, first of all, let me just say that Donald Trump has about the same chance of winning California that Hillary Clinton has of winning Mississippi. It's just completely absurd that he would even --

(CROSSTALK)

BOLDUAN: So you say she's got a chance.

(LAUGHTER)

EPSHTEYN: A lot of the GOP establishment said that about the primary overall, and they were proven very wrong

BOLDUAN: Good point, Boris.

JONES: That's true, but that doesn't mean if I say gravity works that I'm wrong. People were wrong about how extreme the Republican primary voters had gotten. That doesn't mean that you can flip the math in a state like California.

EPSHTEYN: He's appealing a lot to his moderates and Independents as well.

VAN: Yeah. That's just not going to happen, but to your point.

EPSHTEYN: That's your opinion.

VAN: -- about Bernie -- listen, can I finish? I didn't interrupt you at all.

BOLDUAN: Keep going. Keep going, Van.

VAN: The problem with the Trump people is they have the same no manners and no class of their candidate. Let people finish their comment. You get a chance to speak when I'm done.

(CROSSTALK)

BOLDUAN: I am going to be the manners judge at this dinner table.

Van Jones, you have the floor.

JONES: Thank you.

So when it comes to Sanders versus Hillary here in California, I think that Bernie is coming on, and I think that there's still this hope I think among a lot of the Sanders people that a very, very strong showing here in California might change the minds of some of the super delegates. It's a very odd strategy for a populist candidate to sort of hang his last hat on the super delegates that he didn't like earlier in the thing. But I think Hillary Clinton is going to have a very, very tough run here in California. I think it's surprising a lot of people. But you have a lot of young voters here. You have a lot of very, very strong progressives, especially in northern California, and I think it's going to be a nail-biter right to the end. BOLDUAN: One thing that also isn't going away is this conversation

now about Donald Trump versus Bernie Sanders in a debate. I'm still not sure if it's a joke or if it's serious, Kevin, but would you have advised Mitt Romney to get into that boxing ring?

MADDEN: Well, if it was Bernie Sanders, yeah, I would have loved that contrast. I think that's one of the Donald Trump wants it. What I think excites most Trump supporters is this idea that Donald Trump is unafraid to have this clash of political civilizations, the right versus the left. And Bernie Sanders would offer that perfect, sort of, you know, emblematic symbol of what many of his strongest supporters, Donald Trump that is, believe is wrong with the country, that, you know, we're moving towards Socialism. And I think in a debate like that where it would be pure entertainment and it would be more "American Idol" than it would be CSPAN, that Donald Trump would flourish. So I think that's something that -- that's one of the reasons why you see so much of this chatter right now about it.

BOLDUAN: I'll leave you this to ponder as we head to commercial break. What does Hillary Clinton do that week? Does she watch? Or does she --

SOLIS DOYLE: She watches.

(CROSSTALK)

BOLDUAN: That's right, Patti. There you go.

(CROSSTALK)

Just like the rest of us, she watches.

(CROSSTALK)

EPSHTEYN: A lot of the Bernie supporters will go to Trump. That's why it's good to have that debate as well.

BOLDUAN: We'll see. The pools say a little bit of everything on that one, Boris.

But stick around guys. We've got a lot more to discuss.

Donald Trump says debating Bernie Sanders would be "a dream" -- his words -- but some Democrats, like, let's say, a former secretary of state, who is also a former Senator of New York, who is also married to a former president, she might think of it more of a nightmare. And one of her top supporters is calling B.S. on the whole thing as they try to unite the party.

Plus, they were bitter rivals. That's an understatement. But now Donald Trump may be leading the "Draft Marco" movement should run for his Senate seat once again. You cannot make this stuff up. We're going to hear from Marco Rubio ahead.

And while Trump and Clinton battle historically high disapproval ratings, another party is plotting a way to win over voters. Right now, the Libertarian Party is holding its convention. Why their pick could be a player this cycle.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[11:18:36] BOLDUAN: Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders debate, sure, at first, it sounded like a late-night joke, but Trump says he's into it, but also put a $10 million charity price tag on it. Well, now thanks in part to Jimmy Kimmel, Sanders is getting awfully specific about this still supposedly imaginary prize fight.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SANDERS: You made it possible for us to have a very interesting debate.

(LAUGHTER)

JIMMY KIMMEL, HOST, JIMMY KIMMEL LIVE: That's right.

SANDERS: About two guys who look at the world very, very differently.

KIMMEL: Oh, boy, do you guys look at it differently.

(LAUGHTER)

That would be some debate. I mean, I really think it might be one of the highest-rated events in television history.

SANDERS: Well, I think, you know, the goal would be to have it in some big stadium here in California.

KIMMEL: Yeah. That would be great.

(CHEERING)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BOLDUAN: But at the very same time, some Democrats are getting awfully angry at Sanders challenging Trump to a debate this late in the game. How angry? Senator Joe Manchin, a supporter of Hillary Clinton, Senator of West Virginia, calls it B.S.

Let's bring in Bernie Sanders' campaign manager, Jeff Weaver, for more.

Jeff, it's great to see you. Thanks for coming in.

WEAVER: Happy to be here. Thank you.

(CROSSTALK)

WEAVER: I'm sure, by B.S., he means Bernie Sanders.

BOLDUAN: Maybe. I just can't say it. But I think people get the idea, Mr. Weaver.

So, Manchin calls B.S., the other B.S., not the Bernie Sanders, saying this is not bringing the party together. What do you say to Joe Manchin?

[11:20:03] WEAVER: Well, I think Joe Manchin is absolutely wrong. Look, this process is moving along. Communication between the campaigns, a number of networks have put forward proposals, including some that would put seven-figure amounts into charity. You know, this seems to meet the parameters of what Donald Trump suggested he'd be willing to do. There's a little bit of foot-dragging now it seems on their side. It may be that, you know, there may be some chickening out or, you know, an unwillingness to stand on stage and really debate with Bernie Sanders because they know Bernie Sanders is going to do quite well in that debate, frankly.

BOLDUAN: What do you mean by foot-dragging, Jeff?

WEAVER: Well, you know, I think there was some initial conversations, and I think, you know, those have sort of slowed down a little bit. I think as we all know there's a little bit -- and you have reported it -- there's a little bit of disarray in their campaign and there may be different views in their campaign about whether this should go forward or not, but we would hope Donald Trump would keep to his word, that it wasn't just bluster or flimflam, that he, in fact, really wants to have this debate. Senator Bernie Sanders is fully prepared to debate wherever, whenever in California. And we'd like to see that go forward. I think the American people would like to see it go forward. I think, frankly, you'd get 35, 40, 45 million people watching this. It might be one of the biggest television events of the year.

BOLDUAN: When you say I hope he doesn't chicken out, I think you also said I hope he has the courage to get on the debate stage. Taunting him?

WEAVER: It's not about taunting him. I mean, the question is, does the Trump campaign have the fortitude to get on the stage with Bernie Sanders one-on-one in front of tens of millions of Americans and defend his vision of America, where he wants to give tax breaks to the rich, where he thinks wages are too high, he thinks climate change is a hoax made up by the Chinese, against Bernie Sanders, who wants to deal to raise wages, create new jobs in this country, deal with wealth and inequality and a corrupt campaign finance system? Is Donald Trump, is he prepared to stand up and defend himself against Bernie Sanders with those views which, on substance, are wildly unpopular? It may become increasingly clear that he's not willing to do that.

BOLDUAN: We will see. You will keep us updated, please, Mr. Weaver.

Also happening on Jimmy Kimmel last night, I want to play for our viewers another bit of the conversation between Kimmel and Bernie Sanders.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KIMMEL: I have a clip I'd like to play it for you just to get your reaction to it. Here we go.

CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR, NEW DAY: Do you get into the general election, if you're the nominee for your party -- (CROSSTALK)

CLINTON: I will be the nominee for my party, Chris.

(CROSSTALK)

CLINTON: That is already done, in effect. There is no way that I won't be.

KIMMEL: Does that make you mad seeing that?

(BOOING)

SANDERS: Just a tench of arrogance there, I think.

(LAUGHTER)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BOLDUAN: They laughed, but how is she being arrogant?

WEAVER: Well, look, the contest is far from over. We're going to have a bunch of big primaries and caucuses coming up over the next week and a half, including California, which has 475 delegates. The polls there are closing rapidly. As the secretary had a wide lead in California, that's evaporated. Bernie Sanders has a tremendous amount of momentum in California going forward.

And, look, the truth of the matter is as I have said many times on this show and others, when this process is over, neither candidate will have the requisite number of pledged delegates to seal up the nomination. Now, I know a bunch of networks at 5:00 p.m. on the 7th will say she's the presumptive nominee based on their poll of super delegates, but super delegates don't vote until we get to the convention, and there's a lot going on out in the world, as you well know, because you cover it every day, and things change very quickly in American politics. So let's see what happens on the 7th and then let's go to the convention and see where everything comes down. If the super delegates, at the end of the day, stay with the secretary, she will get the nomination. If they don't, she won't. That's really --

(CROSSTALK)

BOLDUAN: Jeff, we're talking about math. She was talking about math. She was alluding to the math in that interview with Chris Cuomo. If that's arrogant, to be talking about it, it's mathematically impossible for Bernie Sanders to reach the number needed in pledged delegates, plus super delegates, by the time all of the voting is closed. That math is fact. Hillary Clinton is less than 80 away. You could have -- she could even have that number before California polls are closed come June 7th. If that's arrogant for her to be saying that mathematically she will be the nominee, is it equally as arrogant to be staying in the race if it's mathematically impossible to clinch it? WEAVER: But, Kate, it's not mathematically impossible to clinch it.

Those super delegates don't actually vote until we get to the convention. They may express a preference now. I mean, for instance, you could do a poll in California today and make an estimate on what the delegates will be on Election Day, but until we have the final election, you don't know the outcome. That's the same with the super delegates. Some may have indicated a preference. Hundreds indicated a preference before they knew Bernie Sanders was in the race. But they won't actually vote until we get to the convention. So until we get there, that's just an estimate.

BOLDUAN: But arrogance? But arrogance? Was that the right word to use?

WEAVER: Well, I think it was not just the statement but the demeanor. I think it was -- I might have used the word "presumptuous," but I think it's too early in the process for the secretary to feel like she's locked it up. There's millions of people left to vote in this process. Their votes should count. They should have a say in this process. And then the super delegates, whose job it is to make sure we nominate the strongest candidate in the fall to beat Donald Trump and the rest of the Republicans, you know, they'll have an opportunity to take a second look at this race once the voting is done in the various states and territories and the District of Columbia. So it's not over until it's over. And we won't know what the final vote is in terms of who will be the nominee until we get to the convention.

[11:25:36] BOLDUAN: Bernie Sanders is in it, says his campaign manager, Jeff Weaver.

Jeff, thank you very much. Have a good weekend.

WEAVER: In it to win it.

BOLDUAN: In it to win it.

WEAVER: Thank you.

BOLDUAN: Have a very good weekend, Jeff. Thank you very much.

WEAVER: Take care.

BOLDUAN: So, still ahead, he called Donald Trump a con artist. He called Donald Trump a fraud. But now Marco Rubio says he'd speak at the convention if Donald Trump asked. How did these enemies become so friendly? Can't even believe I'm saying that.

We'll be back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)