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AT THIS HOUR WITH BERMAN AND MICHAELA

Trump V.P. Decision Expected Soon; Revealed: RNC Speaker List Includes Celebs, Ex-Rivals; Today's Rules Meeting Is "Never Trump" Last Stand; Republican National Committee Prepares for Convention. Aired 11-11:30a ET

Aired July 14, 2016 - 11:00   ET

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


(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

[11:00:00] DONALD TRUMP, (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE & CEO, TRUMP ORGANIZATION: I'm narrowing it down. I mean, I'm at three, potentially four, but in my own mind I'm probably thinking about two.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Donald Trump making an unscheduled stop at the home of Indiana Governor Mike Pence.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MIKE PENCE, (R), INDIANA GOVERNOR: It was just very warm, one family meeting with another.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Not so fast. There is another.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: Chris Christie is somebody I have liked a long time.

NEWT GINGRICH, (R), FORMER SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: In many ways, Donald Trump is like a pirate. Do you really want a two-pirate ticket?

TRUMP: I'm not looking for an attack dog.

I'd rather be talking about policy.

I just want to pick somebody that's very good.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BOLDUAN: Hello, everyone. I'm Kate Bolduan.

BERMAN: I'm John Berman.

Exactly 24 hours from now, Donald Trump will publicly unveil the person who will be his running mate here in New York, which all but guarantees it will leak way earlier, maybe even within hours. It's all happening here at Trump headquarters in New York, and maybe there, in Indiana, at the governor' mansion. These are live pictures. Why? Because new this morning, there is a clear front runner and he lives in that house. A senior adviser tells CNN's Jim Acosta Trump is leaning towards Indian Governor Mike Pence but it's not a done deal.

BOLDUAN: Also just in, Newt Gingrich tells our M.J. Lee he expects to hear from Team Trump as soon as 1:00 or 2:00 today. This, after Gingrich decided he needed to make a last-minute pirate pitch for himself and flew to Indiana to meet with Trump.

And behind door number three, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. A source said Trump's gut is with Christie but, last night, Trump said he's no longer looking for an attack dog, instead, someone with solid policy expertise.

Or are these just all head fakes? In a surprise plot twist? Can you handle --

(LAUGHTER)

BOLDUAN: Let's get to Sunlen Serfaty, in Indiana.

Governor Mike Pence just fished an event there. He's back at the mansion now. There's a lot going on, Sunlen.

SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, John. Governor Pence giving a complete and total poker face when he spoke here just a few minutes ago. Largely going along his business as the state's governor, delivering an economic address without any single word that had anything to do with the veep-stakes, not even a mention of all the excitement and buzz in the room due to all the speculation around his name being a potential final contender. As he was leaving, did not take any questions from press. He ignored every press question. He got right into his car and got right back to the governor's mansion.

Earlier today, it did seem like he was trying to clear his head a bit amid all of this buzz and speculation. He went for about a half an hour bike ride this morning with his wife and then came here to deliver his economic address.

So what we're seeing from Mike Pence is keeping his focus on being governor, going about his day. So much speculation. And as our own Jim Acosta is reporting, the thinking within the Trump campaign right now is Donald Trump is leaning towards Mike Pence but of course there are other names, Newt Gingrich, Chris Christie, still out there as well. That announcement coming tomorrow at 11:00 a.m.

BERMAN: All right, Sunlen Serfaty in Indiana for us.

BOLDUAN: Nothing like a bike ride to clear your head.

Now to New Jersey, outside the home of Governor Christie, also on Trump's V.P. short list. That is where CNN's Miguel Marquez is live for us.

Miguel, what is happening there? MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, it is so serene and leafy

here in Mendham, New Jersey, but there is great drama in the house behind me. Governor Chris Christie is in there. He's one of the favorites. He came out early and strongly for Donald Trump, something that Donald Trump appreciates loyalty. Also somebody Donald Trump is said to get along with. This is somebody who could act as an attack dog, somebody to really go after Hillary Clinton and hit her where it hurts.

But there are also concerns with Governor Christie. The fact that he is facing, you know, this ongoing Bridgegate scandal throughout New Jersey. That could be a problem for him. And he has also not said anything. He was not in Indianapolis like the other candidates were yesterday. He was in Washington, D.C., doing work for the Donald Trump campaign. He named Christie to be the person to head-up the transition team so he is clearly somebody who is trusted.

One of the biggest problems for Christie may be Jared Kushner, Donald Trump's son-in-law, doesn't care for him very much. There has been some tension there. Back in 2004, when Christie was a U.S. attorney in New Jersey, he put away Kushner's father in prison for political malfeasance, so that is something that hangs on the campaign as well.

Huge, huge stakes. Everybody waiting. The governor has not left the house so far, but if he does, we will follow.

[11:05:17] BERMAN: We know. We know.

Miguel Marquez for us --

BOLDUAN: A promise and a threat.

BERMAN: -- in the serene and leafy Mendham, New Jersey.

Thanks, Miguel.

BOLDUAN: But wait, there's more. We're also watching the former House Speaker Newt Gingrich. He is also a finalist for the second spot on the Trump ticket. Last night, Gingrich talked about what he and Trump have in common.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GINGRICH: In many ways Donald Trump is like a pirate. He's just outside the normal system. He gets things done. He's bold. He's actually like the figure out of a movie. In a lot of ways, my entire career has been a little bit like a pirate. I have taken on the establishment of both parties. I've been very prepared to fight in the media. One of the really hard questions he got on the way to California is, do you really want a two-pirate ticket.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: That is the question that's been asked since the time of George Washington, do you really want --

BOLDUAN: Since the beginning of time.

BERMAN: -- a two-pirate ticket.

M.J. Lee is with us now. Why? Because she just talked to Newt Gingrich on the telephone.

I have a lot of question, M.J. How does that call work? Hey, Newt, it's me, M.J. Are you going to be the next vice president?

M.J. LEE, CNN POLITICAL REPORTER: Basically.

BOLDUAN: Does he answer?

BERMAN: What did he have to say? You had a fascinating discussion.

LEE: He says he's expecting to hear about the decision around 1:00 this afternoon. I think he's hunkered down, waiting to get that phone call. He's downplaying right now his chances of being pick the as Trump's V.P. He told me he wouldn't be surprised if Mike Pence ended up being the pick. He mentioned Pence's age. He noted that Pence is a lot younger than Trump, whereas, he is very close to Trump in age, and having a younger voice might not be the worst thing for the ticket and the party. At this point in time, you know, his interview yesterday saying he and Trump were too similar, and today telling me he wouldn't be surprised if it was Pence. Clearly, he's lowering the expectations that it's him right now.

BOLDUAN: Lowering expectations, but at the same time, making a kind of unbelievably public campaign for the job.

LEE: That's right. The fact that all of this has been playing out in such a public fashion is really pretty incredible.

I did want to point out, the whole two-pirates visual --

BOLDUAN: Where did that come from?

LEE: I think that's actually quite effective.

BERMAN: Sure.

LEE: I think when Trump and his advisers, especially and his family members, think about what kind of ticket could be effective, they know that Trump, you know, shoots off his hip and he says whatever he wants to do, and that can be a big vulnerability, as much as it did help him win the primary race. The idea of having Newt, who wouldn't actually calm him, wouldn't actually be a calming sort of presence on the ticket, I think has to be a factor.

BERMAN: All right, M.J. Lee, thanks.

Fascinating to hear from Newt Gingrich just hours before Newt Gingrich hears from Trump.

BOLDUAN: Hunker down, but taking calls. BERMAN: Let us talk about this more. Joining us, CNN political director, David Chalian; chief political correspondent, Dana Bash; and our "CNN Politics" executive editor, Mark Preston.

Guys, we have a lot of information on the state of play.

David, I want to start with you on Newt Gingrich and the pirate play, as it were. It seems to me he's almost taunting Donald Trump into picking him, subtle warfare saying, I'm not the safe pick, I'm so very dangerous.

BOLDUAN: I'm so risky.

BERMAN: I'm so risky. It's almost saying, you know what, you have to pick me.

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Let's start with the fact that they all want the job. There's no doubt about that. And clearly, Gingrich is painting this as exactly like you say, sort of the opportunity to double down on the Trump brand, the guy who can take it to the press, take it to Democrats, really bring the fight. Not get thrown off course by sort of the controversy of the day. And Newt thinks he's pretty practiced at that. He thinks that could be an asset to Trump. At least Trump would see some of himself in that. As M.J. was saying, you know, I think that is exactly what the people closest to Donald Trump, his closest advisers, his family, the people he really does listen to, though obviously we all know he's a guy who goes with his own gut more than anything else. I think the folks around him this of having a different an asset through the rest of this campaign.

BOLDUAN: It really does sound like the family, everyone in the family has an opinion and they're clearly not the same. It's actually been hard to follow all of the reporting coming out of which family member is backing which candidate rig now for V.P. Where do things stand? What are you hearing?

[11:09:54] DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it certainly seems as though, based on my reporting, that if we need to take the temperature right now of where his family -- when we're talking about his family, the most influential members of his family are his adult children who actually flew out early, early yesterday morning, after Donald Trump had plane troubles, had to make a unplanned sleepover in Indianapolis, flew out to have a discussion with him and, more importantly, decide to go over to Mike Pence's resident, the governor's mansion in Indianapolis. So those are the ones who certainly have the most influence. The fact they made that trip, then they took that drive over to Mike Pence's house and had that breakfast gives you a very, very strong indication of where they stand.

And I think David is exactly right, that Donald Trump is somebody who wants to be comfortable and Newt Gingrich might be somebody does make him comfortable. But the person who he is most comfortable with out of the three is Chris Christie. But Mike Pence brings a whole different dynamic and it could be a yang to Donald Trump's yin that perhaps his family and other close advisers thinks he needs right now, in terms of temperament, never mind the signal it sends to the conservative base and the establishment that Mike Pence is an evangelical, is somebody who served a dozen years in Congress and can talk the talk of Congress in Washington. And those are all big benefits to those who are trying to steer him towards Mike Pence, which according to our reporting, is at this point where Donald Trump is leaning.

BERMAN: Mark Preston, one of these guys is going to get a phone call or text message. I suppose it could happen that way.

BOLDUAN: Maybe he'll tweet it.

BERMAN: Maybe in the next two hours, maybe in the next hour. That's the first part. The second part, then, is this person has got to be the number two on a presidential ticket. Do we know if the Trump campaign has a team in place to shepherd the running mate through? Because campaigns do that.

MARK PRESTON, CNN POLITICS EXECUTIVE EDITOR: I do. Look, I think in the past three or four weeks we've seen the Trump campaign turn around in a way they're becoming more professionalized. There's a lot going on behind the scenes that hasn't necessarily been reported. The Trump campaign has been careful to really keep it under wraps. They are developing a team that will immediately go into place that will join this vice presidential pick Donald Trump chooses and will then hit the road.

What's interesting is the consolation prize. If he is leaning towards Pence, which we think that is happening, where would Newt Gingrich go? I think a perfect position for him would be the chief of staff, somebody who can run the government. There is precedent. Let's go back to Rahm Emanuel, a Democratic leader in the House, on the fast- track to becoming speaker of the House if Nancy Pelosi were to step down. He decided to leave and become President Obama's chief of staff. Think about Newt Gingrich. I think that's exactly what he wants. If Chris Christie doesn't get it, Gingrich could become the head of the Justice Department, something that he has a long history in. So there are some pretty good consolation prizes for the final two if they were not able to get it.

BOLDUAN: Look, David, this is an important pick, one of the most serious decisions a candidate makes during a presidential election. Do V.P. picks move votes? Is it a different calculation when it comes to Donald Trump?

CHALIAN: Yeah, I don't think they have huge impact in moving votes towards a candidate. I think they may -- sometimes if it doesn't go well move votes away from a candidate. Here's the thing, I think it's a good question. It is the -- basically, the only truly presidential- style decision-making moment that a candidate has who's running to become president. And it gives much insight into the way they think, they way they make decisions, how they execute on that. Those are important. How it reflects on Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton is so much more important I think than the candidate themselves, the number two on the slot, especially with these two candidates who are dominant characters.

(CROSSTALK)

BASH: Can I just add to that question quickly?

BOLDUAN: Yeah.

BERMAN: Quickly, yeah.

BASH: I actually -- this is a rare moment where I slightly disagree with my friend, David Chalian, in that I think he's right, it doesn't really matter. Do not harm, that's the first rule. But in this case, because Donald Trump has still had so much trouble making inroads with many in the conservative base and the establishment, that's one of the major arguments I'm hearing from those pushing for Pence. The fact you have the House speaker who has tepid support from Donald Trump at best is saying he thinks Pence would be a good guy and a good pick. Certainly, not endorsing him, but saying it would be a good move. And others like him. That gives you a sense that he could be a different kind of choice that could actually help him coalesce the base.

[11:15:15] BERMAN: All right, Dana Bash, David Chalian, go work out your differences.

Mark Preston, thanks to you as well.

(LAUGHTER)

Don't go far. There could be phone calls in the next few minutes.

(LAUGHTER)

More news coming up for us. From Trump to Tim Tebow to Antonio Sabatto Jr, the guy on the left there, we're learning who will speak at next week's Republican convention.

BOLDUAN: Last month, Donald Trump hinted his choice of speakers would be a little different.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: What I'm thinking about doing for the convention, rather than these politicians, you know, they're going to get up and speak and speak. We're going to do it different, if that's OK. I'm thinking about getting some of the great sports people that I know that like me a lot and that I like.

(CHEERING)

TRUMP: And not even sports. We may call it the winner's evening.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BOLDUAN: Then again, there are a lot of familiar GOP faces speaking as well. There's a perfect little picture of them all right there.

Let's talk more about this with CNN's Phil Mattingly, who's live in Cleveland the site of the GOP convention.

Phil, what are you learning about the speakers and, I think very interestingly, the themes of the night of the convention?

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, I think the themes -- we're not necessarily going to get the winners segment at the convention that we all thought. This is a cross section of speakers that is very different than anything we've seen before. You don't necessarily assume Antonio Sabatto Jr, actor, former underwear model, is going to be a major speaker at your convention.

But there is a couple of interesting elements. One, despite Donald Trump saying this was going to be a very unconventional convention, he does have a lot of GOP stalwarts. Mitch McConnell, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, Ted Cruz, all scheduled. It's kind of the unorthodox folks that will be the most interesting, Republican officials.

Look, a lot of people are going to be tuning out as we're all tuning in next week. Granted, millions will watch, but they're trying to reach people who aren't necessarily excited or interested in this convention. And if you say have Tim Tebow talking or UFC Chair Dana White speaking, there might be people watching who maybe weren't planning on doing that.

BERMAN: Phil, the rules committee is meeting now. This could be very important because this could be the last best-chance for the Never Trump movement to stop Donald Trump. What's the latest from there?

MATTINGLY: This is like the 35th last best-chance to get Donald off the ticket we've had over the last couple of months. No, there's a reason why a lot of people are in Cleveland right now, and that's that the platform committee meets on Monday and Tuesday. The rules committee is meeting Thursday and Friday. You know, John, there has been a group of folks that are trying to unbind delegates. What that basically meaning is folks, who even if their state voted for Trump and they are bound to Trump on the first ballot, they're trying to pass a rule that would allow them to not be bound anymore. That would potentially threaten Trump's nomination.

Here's what's going on. The rules committee is in a delay, more or less. The key players of the unbind movement, Senator Mike Lee, of Utah, who's really kind of been on the fence here about what he's going to do, and the RNC and Donald Trump's team are meeting behind closed doors. There's every indication they're going to, more or less, kill this or keep the most dangerous aspects of these proposals outside of things.

One thing to keep in mind, and I think this is really important as you watch everything that's happened over the course of this week. Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus has a lock on how this committee operates behind closed doors. If he doesn't want something to happen, there's a pretty good shot it's not going to happen. He doesn't want that to happen. He doesn't want to threaten Trump's candidacy. That's why he's working behind the scenes. And that's a pretty good indicator that any effort to throw Donald Trump off the ticket isn't likely to succeed. BOLDUAN: Very interesting.

Phil, great to see you. Thank you.

So, this time tomorrow, a new player enters the election game. This time tomorrow, Donald Trump will have a V.P. And this time tomorrow, RNC will officially have the Wednesday night speaking slot filled. What does the RNC say today? Sean Spicer is with us.

BERMAN: Tennis balls, canned goods and hammers not allowed. More than 70 items banned from the event zone at the convention. But you might be surprised what you can bring. That's ahead.

[11:19:34]Plus, just moments ago, Justice Ginsburg expresses regret, a sort of apology, after calling Trump a faker. The Supreme Court justice says she now regrets making those remarks. What changed?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BERMAN: All right, just four days to go now before the Republican National Convention. A lot of business to take care of before, during and after. Thursday night, Donald Trump, by all signs, will accept his party's nomination, but who will be on the ticket with him?

BOLDUAN: Also, party officials have been very busy with the rules of the convention, speakers of the convention and other important details leading up to the convention, the big week in Cleveland.

Here to discuss, Sean Spicer, the chief strategist and communications director for the Republican National Committee.

Sean, we're sitting around thinking this morning, you know, what do I talk to Sean about, and I was just curious, or as John would say, apropos of nothing, what are your three favorite things about Mike Pence?

SEAN SPICER, CHIEF STRATEGIST & COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR, REPUBLICAN NATIONAL COMMITTEE: About Mike Pence? He's a great conservative, a stalwart on conservative issues. I got to know Mike when he was in the House of Representatives. He's a solid individual.

BERMAN: The kind of guy you might want as a vice president? You know, just spit-balling here.

(LAUGHTER)

SPICER: Who I would want? Unfortunately, it's not my choice. Donald Trump is going to make that decision, who he feels would be the best partner for him for the next eight years in the White House.

BOLDUAN: Next eight years in the White House. I love your crystal ball. It's wonderful to see. You're standing there in Cleveland, one of the most watched debates right now, or one of the biggest questions is, what is going to happen with the idea of a vote, allowing delegates to vote their conscious rather than freeing them up so they don't have to vote -- they're unbound if you will. What are the chances that the conscience vote makes it to the floor?

[11:25:18] SPICER: I think little to none. We're having attempts this morning to make sure everyone's on the same page and further unify the party. But I think there's a slim chance that's going to happen. I think, as I've said before, this is more of a media speculation story and a bunch of tweets that have created this. There's no strategy, there's no candidate, there's no organization. We're focused on making sure we have the best convention going forward. As you mentioned, you have some pretty amazing speakers this morning. More are coming. We're going to have videos with people like Marco Rubio and Bobby Knight. Tim Tebow is going to speak. There's a lot of big names that are going to continue to come out of Cleveland here for what's going to be the most spectacular convention either party's put on.

BERMAN: It will be huge I heard, so to say.

Sean, just to be clear, Phil Mattingly reporting there's a meeting about the rules, reporting that there may be some kind of deal to make sure that the conscience vote doesn't get to the floor of the convention. Do you have in details?

SPICER: First of all, there's a lot more than that. There's a lot of issues at stake. We have 42 rules. There's a lot of issues that were coming up. In the interest of time, I think most of these delegates had never met before arriving, and the opportunity was to sit down, find out if there was some more common ground going forward on all the rulings. This is not just about one particular rule. There's a lot at stake and a lot of people had interest. And I think the idea was to find out if we could find some common ground. I feel confident about where we are.

BOLDUAN: By common ground, it's this isn't going to happen?

SPICER: I think, yeah, this isn't going to happen. The votes aren't there. I think what we want to do is make sure everyone understands the bigger picture. The more unified we are as a party, the better chance we have of making sure that Donald Trump is election and Hillary Clinton doesn't get inside the White House.

BERMAN: Sean, the NAACP meeting this weekend. They invited Donald Trump to come speak. John McCain spoke to them in 2008. Trump's not going. Do you think he should?

SPICER: It's not a question of what groups he goes to. I think Mr. Trump knows that demographically and vote-wise, we need to continue to reach out to different groups the party hasn't done well with in the past. He has already made a commitment to do that. I think it's not much to do with one particular group though. I don't see too many folks in the media reporting when folks don't go meet with conservative groups. And the NAACP definitely has an agenda. I don't think it's the sole way you can reach out to the issues and concerns that plague members of that group.

BOLDUAN: Of course not, but if you look at the new Maris poll that's out, Donald Trump is polling at zero percent with African-American voters in Ohio and zero percent with African-American voters in Pennsylvania. You know, Trump not showing up to speak before the NAACP, how does that help with that number though?

SPICER: It's not a question of help or hurt. You're making this sound like some kind of binary proposition where it's an either/or. It's not. When you look at Donald Trump's record on race in particular, in 1985, when he bought Mar-a-Lago, and the liberals in Florida didn't open --

(CROSSTALK)

BOLDUAN: He can push the message to the group, Sean--

SPICER: Hold on, Kate. No, no.

(CROSSTALK)

BOLDUAN: -- at the NAACP.

SPICER: I know, but you make it sound like if he doesn't show up to one particular meeting that that's the only way he can reach out. I think he's shown a willingness to talk to different groups. I think the liberal media wants to talk about one particular group --

BOLDUAN: Oh, come on.

SPICER: -- as if that's the only way to communicate -- no. Look, the point is --

(CROSSTALK)

BOLDUAN: Don't liberal media us. Come on, Sean.

SPICER: Well, I mean, but you don't ask Hillary Clinton about groups that she's refusing to speak to or doesn't go down to. So I think there's a double standard when it comes to what groups we, on the Republican Party, choose to speak to or not.

BERMAN: Sean Spicer, on behalf of all the media, we thank you for being with us.

BOLDUAN: Liberal and non liberal alike.

BERMAN: Great to speak to you, Sean.

BOLDUAN: Thanks, Sean.

SPICER: I look forward to seeing you guys in Cleveland.

BOLDUAN: Thank you.

BERMAN: Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is now apologizing for calling Donald Trump a faker and joking about moving to New Zealand if he becomes president. That's next.

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